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The Fear of God.
DAVID, in the thirty-fourth Psalm, and the eleventh
verse, speaks to you in these words:
* Come, ye children, hearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear
of the Lord.”
David was appointed, when he was young, to be king over Ifrael, God chose him, in preference to his brethren, not because he was ruddy, and of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look upon ; but because he was of a pious disposition-a young man after God's own heart. “For the Lord feeth not as man feeth; man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
This godly king desired, that all his people should fear God; for, then, he knew that God would make them prosperous and happy. He defired, that children, as well as others, should learn to fear God; for they were a part of his people ; and if they feared God when they were young, he hoped they would serve him when they were old; and would also teach their children to serve him ; and thus the people would be virtuous and happy from generation to generation.
He calls upon children to hearken to him. Vol. V.
You, who are children, need instruction. Knowledge is not born with you. You have not had time to learn much by study and experience. What you obtain in your childhood, must come chiefly by information from others.
You have need of knowledge, for you have souls to be saved, as well as they who are older. And the religion by which you are saved must be. gin with knowledge.
If you would understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, you must incline your hearts to understanding-You must hear inItruction and not refuse it.
You must hearken to your parents. God has commanded them to train you up in the way in which you should go-to teach you knowledge and make you understand doctrine—to give you line upon line, and precept upon precept. It is their duty to point out to you the narrow way which leads to life, and to caution you against, and restrain you from, the broad path of sin and death. God will punish them, if they neglect to instruct and warn you. They know what is useful, and what is hurtful to you—they are concerned for your happiness. This is the reason why they so often speak to you about God and heaven, about sin and hell; and why they sometimes deny you the things which you desire.
You must hearken to them-not only hear, but remember what they say, and obey them in the Lord, for this is right. When you are absent from them, you lhould think, what they have told you ; not to lie, or swear, or quarrel, or spend your time foolithly; and you should behave as if you were within their reach, and under their eye.
You inust hearken to ministers. Jesus Chrift, who died for our sins, as soon as he rose from the
dead, met with Peter, one of his apostles and ministers ; and almost the first thing he said to him was, “ Peter, if you love me, feed my lambs ;" i. e. teach my little children. Christ calls
his lambs to signify that you should, like them, be innocent and harmless. He commands his ministers to teach you, that you should be holy and with. out blame before him in love. If ministers are to teach you, then you must hearken to them. When you, on the Lord's day, go to his house, remember that he is there. He has said, that where his difciples meet together, he is in the midst of them. John beheld Jesus, on this holy day, walking in the churches. And He has eyes like a flame of fire. He fees every thing that is done or even thought. Go then, take your place decently, stay in it quietly-watch your thoughts carefully -hear God's word diligently endeavour to understand what you hear, and to remember it, that you may repeat it when you go home, and practise it every day.
Consider now, what the good king of Israel promised to teach children. He says “I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”
“ To fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole duty of man."
1. You must know, that there is a God ; a great, wise and good Being, who created you at first, preferves you still, and supplies your wants continually. You cannot fear and serve him, until you know him.
You have often been taught, and I suppose you believe, that there is a God. You cannot see him, for he is a spirit—No man hath seen him at any time. He is invisible. But his works you may fee, wherever you go, and wherever you look : hence you know that there is a God.
If you should go into the wilderness, and there should find a house neatly built and finished off ; but should find no person near it ; what would you think? Would you suppose the house grew there, just as the trees grow? No ; you would know somebody had been there to build it, as certainly as if you had seen it done. “Every house is builded by some man : And he that built all things is God." You know that this world, and the things which are in it, did not make them. selves ; and therefore you certainly know, there is fome unfeen Being who made them; and this Being is great, and wise and good.
2. If there is a God, you ought to fear him, “ Great is the Lord, and greatly to be feared, and to be had in reverence of all that are about him."
If you would know what it is to fear God, consider what it is to fear your parents. You understand what the word means, when it is applied to them, Its meaning is much the fame, when it is applied to God. To fear your parents is to esteem and honour them, to please and obey them, to speak well of them, and behave decently to them. The fame tempers and dispositions are implied in fearing God. You must remember, however, that as God is infinitely greater, and wiser, and better, than the best earthly parents ;
must regard him more than them.
I will here teach you why you must fear God ; and how you must fear him.
FIRST : I will fhew you, why you must fear God.
1. You must fear him, because he is a haly Bet ing.
“ He is of purer eyes than to behold evil ; he cannot look on iniquity.” “ He cannot be tempted of evil ; neither tempteth he any man.”
angels are often in scripture called holy; and good men are sometimes honoured with the title of faints, or holy persons. But the holiness of God so much exceeds the holiness of the most perfect creature, that it is said, “ He only is holy.” “He charges his angels with folly.' • The heavens are not clean in his fight.” “ He humbleth himself to behold the things which are in heaven.” The glorious train of angels in God's temple above, cover their faces before him, and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."
When Mofes, in the wilderness, saw a bush on fire, and not consumed, he knew that this denot. ed the special presence of God; and therefore it is faid, “ He hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”
When the prophet Elijah heard the still voice of God,“ he wrapt his face in a mantle." He had before felt a strong wind, and a violent earthquake, which rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks ; and he felt them without any terrour upon his mind. But when he heard a voice from the holy God, though it was still and small, yet it seemed folemn and awful ; and he covered his face, because he was afraid of God's prefence.
Now if such holy men, and holier angels fear God, how much should you fear him ? He knows and hates every sinful thought, wicked word, and vile action. How dare you, then, do, or speak, or think, any thing which you know to be wrong?
2. You should fear God, because he is always present with you.
God is fometimes said to be in heaven, because he there makes some special displays of his glorious perfections ; but really he is every where. He is on earth: He is in this place : he hears what