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REMEDY OF PROFANENESS:
THE TRUE SIGHT AND FEAR
A NEEDFUL TRACTATE.
BY JOSEPH EXON.
IMPRIMATUR. SA. BAKER. OCT. 11. 1627.
I HAD meant to take leave of the press, as one that repented to be guilty of this common surfeit. Yet, once again, my zeal urges me to break silence. I find so little Fear of God in ihis world, which I am shortly leaving, that I could not forbear, after my tears, to bestow some ink upon it. Every man can bewail it: I have studied to redress it. We may endeavour that, which GOD only can effect. I humbly leave this to the work of no less than an Omnipotent Grace: in the mean time, it is both holy and laudable, to project the remedies; and it shall be the no small comfort of my death-bed, that I have left behind me this seasonable advice of better thoughts; which, when I am gone, may survive to the benefit of many.
know, withal, that this Treatise entered the press under the hos noured name of my dear lord, the Earl of Norwich; whose death, preventing the publication, hath sent it forth patronless. Methought I should not endure, that what was once his, in my destination, should ever be any other's. Let this blank be as my last memorial of the honour, that I justly bear to that incomparable friend, both alive and dead; and serve to profess unto the world, that these papers yield themselves not unwilling orphans, upon his loss.
But why do I so mis-name his glory? That blessed soul, not staying the leisure of my present directions, hasted up to the free view of the face of his God, which I could only shew dimly and aloof. There will be more use of the imitation of his practice, than of the honour of his protection. Let us go cheerfully on, in the steps of true piety and conscionable obedience, until our faith, likewise, shall shut up in a happy fruition.
SIGHT AND FEAR OF THE ALMIGHTY.
The Occasion, Nothing is more easy to observe, than that the
no sooner fetched off from Superstition, than it
is apt to fall upon Profaneness ; finding no mean, betwixt excess of devotion, and an irreligious neglect. No wise Christian, who hath so much as sojourned in the world, can choose but feel, and, with grief of heart, confess this truth. We are ready to think of God's matters, as no better than our own: and a saucy kind of familiarity, this way, hath bred a palpable contempt; so as we walk with the great God of Heaven, as with our fellow; and think of his sacred ordinances, as either some common employment or fashionable superfluity. Out of an earnest desire therefore to settle, in myself and others, right thoughts, and meet dispositions of heart, towards the Glorious and Infinite Majesty of our God and his holy services, wherein we are all apt to be too defective; I have put my pen upon this seasonable task: beseeching that Almighty God, whose work it is, to bless it, both in my hand, and in the persual of all readers: whom I beseech to know, that I have written this, not for their eyes, but for their hearts; and therefore charge them, as they tender the good of their own souls, not to rest in the bare speculation, but to work themselves to a serious and sensible practice of these holy prescriptions, as without which, they shall never have either true hold of God, or sound peace and comfort in their own souls. Come then, ye children, hearken unto me, and I shall teach you the fear of the Lord; Ps. xxxiv. 11. There cannot be a fitter lesson for me, in the improvement of my age, to read ; nor, for spiritual advantage, to take out : one glance of a thought, of this kind, is worth a volume of quarrelsome litigation.
which we treat
No one word can As, above, we shall need no words; when we shall express thatGrace be all spirit, and our language shall be all thoughts :
so, below, we cannot but want words, wherein of
to clothe the true notions of our hearts. I never yet could find a tongue, that yielded any one term, to notify the awful disposition of the heart towards God. We are wont to call
it Fear; but this appellation comes far too short: for this signifies an affection; whereas this, which we treat of, is no other than an excellent virtue; yea, a grace rather; yea rather, a precious composition of many divine graces and virtues.
It is no marvel therefore, if the Spirit of God have What it inwont, under this one word, to comprehend all that cludes and inbelongs, either to the apprehension or adoration of a God; Gen. xlii. 18. Deut. vi. 13. Ps. xxv. 12. Eccl. xii. 13. Ps. cxxviii. 1. For this alone includes all the humble constitution of a holy soul, and all the answerable demeanour of a mortified creature: neither is there any thing, so well becoming a heart sensible of infiniteness, as this, which we are fain to mis-name FEAR.
To speak properly, there is no fear, but of evil; Fear is no and that, which we justly call servile: which is a doubt- fit term for
it. ful expectation of something, that may be hurtful to us: and this, when it prevails, is horror and dreadful confusion ; an affection, or perturbation rather, fit for the gallies, or hell itself.
Love casts it out; as that, which is ever companied with a kind of hate : and so will we. We are medic tating of such a temper of the heart; as, in the continuance of it, is attended with blessedness; as, in the exercise of it, is fixed upon infinite greatness and infinite goodness; and, in the mean time, is accompanied with unspeakable peace and contentment in the soul; Ps. ciii. 17. cxxviii. 4. cxlvii. 11. Eccl. viii. 11.
And yet, whoso had a desire to retain the word, Affections, if our Ethic Doctors would give bim leave, might well employed, say, that affections, well employed upon excellent turn Virtues. objects, turn virtues. So Love, though commonly marshalled in those lower ranks of the soul; yet, when it is elevated to the allglorious God, is justiy styled the highest of theological virtues : yea, when it rises but to the level of our brethren, it is Christian charity. So, Grief for sin, is holy penitence. And what more heavenly grace can be incident into the soul, than Joy in the Holy Ghost? Neither is it otherwise with Fear: when it is taken up with worldly occurrencies of pain, loss, shame, it is no better than a troublesome passion; but, when we speak of the fear of God, the case and style is so altered, that the breast of a Christian is not capable of a more divine grace.
But, not to dwell in syllables, nor to examine curious points of morality, that, which we speak of, Fear consists.
Wherein Holy is no other, than a reverential awe of the Holy and Infinite Majesty of God, constantly and unremoveably settled in the soul: a disposition so requisite, that he, who hath it, cannot but be a saint; and he, that hath it not, is, in a sort, without God in the world.
1. To the PRODUCING whereof, there is need What is required of a double apprehension: the one, of an incom- to the attaining prehensible excellence, and inseparable presence of it: the Signt