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the world, and have been often distressed between its abominable customs, and their own virtue, can do justice to the magnanimity of such a man.
In the next place, The fear of God will rid us of all apprehensions about future events, whether wished or dreaded by vain men, under an imagination, that good or ill success are in all things suitable to the precarious judgments they form of themselves, and what is fit for them. Why should we fear that which can never happen, but by the appointment or permission of Him, who disposes all events, and will certainly so dispose them, as to promote the principal happiness of such as fear and obey him? Fortune is the idol of fools. Providence alone directs and orders all things. If they ever seem accidental, it is owing to our short-sightedness, who cannot comprehend the unsearchable schemes of infinite wisdom; and to our vanity, who think there must be evil, or accident, in that which we cannot account for. But it is quite otherwise with him, who, fearing God, finds there is nothing else to be feared. The event of his suit at law, or of his interest at court, give him no concern. He knows God is in both places, and will order every thing for the best, by a wisdom, which he dare not presume to judge of. If he is in battle, he knows the God of battles is there also, and will choose life or death for him, with infinitely more wisdom and goodness, than he is able to choose with for himself. While others, in the same ship with him, are at sea in a storm, anxiously wishing for one thing, and miserably dreading another, he is on a rock, calmly waiting for the will of him, whom he feared as much at land, as here at sea. For the same reason, the whole train of superstition, dreams, omens, goblins, devils, with which the imaginations of others are so haunted, make no impression on his. In fearing one reality he is guarded against all these imaginary terrors. He knows that which hath no being cannot possibly hurt him; and that which hath both being and malice, he considers as destitute of power to injure him, because subject to that all-ruling hand, which binds the great dragon in chains. If his fear of God enables him to triumph over the devil in his more dangerous capacity, as a seducer, he hath reason to look with contempt on him, as a terrifier or tormentor.
Lastly, The fear of death, that last and greatest of temporal terrors, is swallowed up in the fear of God. He that rightly fears God, considers himself as equally under the divine power in life and death, and in either world. As to death itself, he knows it is a gate that leads to God; a gate, at which he is to take a final leave of all his infirmities, to pass beyond the reach of temptation, beyond the art and malice of the devil, beyond a moral possibility of ever falling from God. His body, he is sensible, may be loaded with sickness, and his spirits sunk in the gloom, which nature throws on this passage; but he knows this will soon be at an end, at a happy end, where he will meet his Comforter, ready to disperse his fears; and his Redeemer, prepared to present him in peace to the Father of mercies. This draws the sting out of death, and gives him that wellgrounded calmness and courage at the last, which he never felt who fell for ambition in the field of battle, nor he who sacrificed his blood to false honour in a duel, nor he who, like a coward, took shelter in self-murder from a small part of that calamity his sins had deserved.
Every one fears according to his sense of things. One fears pain; another poverty; another shame; some dread the frowns of the great, and some the agonies of death. Almost every one fears somewhat that he need not fear; that is, every one is a coward in something, but he who, having wisely balanced the weight of things, and finding all things light and insignificant, in comparison of God, fears God alone. Of all men the martyr may be most truly said to fear God; for he would tremble at the most distant thought of denying him, who purchased him with his blood. But does this fear unman him? No; it gives him a resolution, in cold blood, infinitely surpassing all that drums, trumpets, armies, and the prospect of empires, can raise in the breast of the most ambitious. Let persecution seat itself on a throne, and try him with the frowns of power ; let it shake its lash, and rattle its chains, and point to its loathsome dungeons, it shall find his soul raised infinitely above all its menaces. Let death present itself in its most hideous dress; let it foam on the jaws of the wild beast ; let it groan from the cross; let it devour in the fiery furnace; he shall meet it with a smile, he shall embrace it with a calm and steady joy; nay, he shall bless and pray for those who inflict it. Is it not true then, that in the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence ?'
But here some will say, How comes it to pass, that we so seldom see the fear of God produce these courageous effects? Why 'have they who seem to fear God most, as quick a sense of danger as other men? Granting the fact, which may very well be questioned, it will not affect what I have been saying; because I have been recommending the religious application of this passion in its highest perfection, such as it shews itself in saints and martyrs; and not the partial use of it, as it appears in men who are but half religious. Did we fear God as we ought, we should be lost to common sense, before we could possibly dread any thing else; because all things else, as I have already observed, are only instruments in his hands, and can neither strike nor wound but as he directs them. We do not fear a gun, nor a sword, although instruments of death, in the hands of a friend. Now had we, by fearing and obeying God, made him our friend, we should have as little reason to fear the instruments of vengeance in his hands. Nay, I must insist, that, guilty as we are, or possibly can be, our fear of every thing, but God, is ridiculous, because nothing, but God, can hurt us. I know a thief dreads the gallows. But is he not in this as much a fool as a thief? What would the gallows be to him, more than any other tree, were there no laws nor magistrates to make that gallows an instrument of justice on him ?
This most senseless mistake of fearing the effect rather than the cause, of dreading the instrument rather than the person who wields it, is the source of all our sins and sufferings. It keeps us busy in eluding effects, when we ought to beware of the causes. It tempts us to fly to weak helps, and insufficient defences, when we ought to make our peace with the First Cause and Governor of all things,'whose mercy,' like his power, 'is over all his works;' and who therefore, did we duly fear and apply to him, would at once remove all vain, all slavish, cause of apprehension from us, and make us perfectly safe against every thing that could hurt us. Then sickness, poverty, death, and the like, if inflicted on us, would change their nature from evil to good, and
would only resemble medicines, that are ten times more salutary to the whole body, than they are bitter to the palate. Then eternal damnation itself, instead of being dreaded by us, would become our security against our enemies, in the same manner as the gallows and gibbet are the security of the honest and peaceable man, against the robber and the murderer.
After all, since I have mentioned the courage inspired into saints and martyrs by the fear of God, as a perfect exemplification of my doctrine, they who differ with me, may ask, how the prophet Elias, and the apostle St. Paul, could shew so much fear of human power, as they remarkably did upon two occasions; the prophet, when he fled from Jezebel ; and the apostle, when he made his escape from the prefect of Damascus; or how St. Peter could, in so dastardly a manner, forswear his master ?
In answer to this, I must remind the objectors, that these holy persons were but men; yet such men, as shewed a resolution in other parts of their conduct, sufficient to justify the truth of what I have endeavoured to establish. did not, I do not, say, the fear of God can be carried to the perfection wherein I have described it, without the assistance of God's grace, which he may increase or remit, on particular occasions, as he shall judge proper. If on any occasion a man shall shew a contempt of tyranny and death, we must conclude he does it on principles and considerations, about which he is more alarmed, than about all that human power can do to him. If on others he shews a lower way of thinking, this may reflect on him, but cannot depreciate either the reality or virtue of his nobler principle. It only shews he cannot always carry his heroism to the utmost height. Gregory the Great gives a good account of this matter, in regard to the three holy men we are speaking of. Of Elias he says, “Lest the saints should be elevated with pride, their very virtues have certain measures and bounds prescribed to them. Hence it is, that Elias, while he rises through so many virtues and powers, is checked and limited by certain bounds, as appears, after all, by his flying from Jezebel, who, although a queen, was nevertheless but a paltry woman. I consider this man, of surprising power, calling down fire from heaven, burning the captains with their fifties,
shutting up the heavens lest it should rain, opening them again for the contrary purpose, raising the dead, and predicting future events; and yet, behold! It occurs to my thoughts, how fearfully this very man flies from one sorry woman. I cannot but reflect on the man, so struck with fear as to ask for death at the hand of God, without receiving it, and yet flying from a woman, lest he should meet with it; for he sought for death, while he shunned it. It is enough for me; take away my life,' &c. Whence therefore was he so strong in the excercise of those surprising powers ? Whence so weak as thus to be terrified by a woman? The holy men of God themselves are both able to do great things by the power of God, and yet, on the other hand, bounded by their own infirmities. Elias knew by those powers, what he had received from God; and by those infirmities, what he was capable of in himself. But as that power was virtue, so that infirmity was the guardian of his virtue. As to St. Paul, he speaks thus; ‘I will utter myself freely, O Paul; dost thou now behold Jesus in heaven? And now fly from a man on earth ? Art thou 'caught up into heaven,'and taught the secret words of God, and nevertheless 'tempted by the messenger of Satan ?? How so strong as to be rapt up into the heavens? How so weak as to fly from a man on earth ? Unless because he who raised you so high, confined you to certain bounds, that, while by your miracles you preach up the power of God, you might by your fear put us in mind of our own infirmity.' He delivers himself in much the same manner concerning the prevarication of St. Peter. •Behold, he, formerly so fearful, now speaks with tongues ; now sparkles with miracles; boldly reproves the infidelity of priests and princes; sets others an example of authority in preaching Jesus; is forbid by the scourge to speak in his name, but not deterred; he despises the lashes of the scourgers, who a little before feared the very words, of those who inquired about him ; he who trembled at the power of a maid, now presses on the power of princes in the midst of stripes; for why? Being now confirmed by the power of the Holy Ghost, he trod on the lofty things of this world with the heel of liberty, that he might shew the despicable lowness of every thing that presumes to swell or exalt itself against the grace of God.' This he seems to have