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himself; not only to love God's testimonies, but to stand in awe of his judgments. We need all affections to keep us within our duty, both fear and love.
DOCTRINE.—That, when God is angry, and his judgments are abroad in the world, it becometh his own people to observe them, and have a deep awe and sense thereof.
Here I shall show you, —
1. How far the people of God do and ought to take notice of his judgments.
2. This fear that is wrought thereby, whether it be an infirmity or a duty.
3. The reasons why it becometh them to have a deep awe and sense of these things.
For the First, Ist, His ancient judgments in former times ought to be laid to heart by us, especially when like sins abound. The Scripture referreth to the days of Lot and Noah, and biddeth us“ remember Lot's wife” (Luke xvii. 26—32). God biddeth his people, “But go ye now to my place which was in Shiloh, vhere I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it, for the wickedness of my people Israel” (Jer. vü. 12). And the Apostle tells us, that all the punishments that befell the stubborn Israelites are for our caution and warning (1 Cor. x. 1-10): “All these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come ;" so he concludeth in verse 11. And the Apostle tells us, that Sodom and Gomorrha were “an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter ii. 6). A people might easily read their own doom and destiny if they would blow off the dust from these ancient providences, and mark the prints of God's justice and truth in them, and how the word of God was verified upon them; for these are but copies and patterns. The desert of sin is still the same, and the exactness of Divine justice remaineth still the same. These providences are pledges of the same wrath, of the like for substance, to come upon us also, if we walk contrary to God. Others have smarted; why not we? God is impartially and immutably just, he is but one (Gal. iii. 20); always consonant unto himself, like unto himself; his power is the same, so is his justice; and therefore we should take warning. Exemplo qui peccat, bis peccat ; he that will plunge himself into a bog or quagmire, where others have miscarried before him, is doubly guilty of folly, because he neither feareth nor will take warning by their example. Tbis is one great benefit we have by the historical part of the word, that it doth not only preserve the memory of the saints, that we may imitate their graces and enjoy their blessings; but also records the sins and punishments of the wicked, that we may know God hath owned the historical part of the word, and fear for ourselves: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip ; for, if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward" (Heb. ii. 1, 2); “ The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. i. 18). So the historical parts are also to justify the prophetical. It is not only a register and chronicle of what is past, but a calendar and prognostication of what is to come. God might have blotted out the memory of sinners, that it should be no more thought or heard of;
but he would secure it upon record for our learning; as some malefactors, their bodies are not buried, but quarters set upon places of greatest resort, ut qui vivi noluerunt prodesse, morte eorum respublica utatur. Or as Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt, to season after ages. So that our flesh may tremble at the old judgments, that Adam for one sin was turned out of Paradise, the whole world swept away with a flood, Dathan and Abiram swallowed up of the earth, Achitophel and Judas brought to the halter, Herod eaten up with worms for his pride. And all these have their use.
2ndly, Judgments that light upon other countries ought to be made use of by us, because usually they go in a circuit, the cup of trembling goeth round (Jer. xxv. 32); and because by this means we may learn to be wise, and have all our schooling at other men's costs; as God expresseth it, “I have cut off the nations, their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, however I punished them; but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings” (Zeph. iii. 6, 7). God would have us take warning at a distance, and, while he is yet a great way off, to send for conditions of peace; otherwise it is a new provocation, and the judgment is hastened (Jer. üïi. 7-10). A fire in one house alarmeth all the street; and they make provision for their safety.
3rdly, When the judgments of God break in upon us, and are executed before our eyes, that must be the more considered : “ When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. xxvi. 9). God looketh to be more reverenced and obeyed for this, because then what was before matter of faith, is made matter of sense ; and we need not doubt any more whether God will punish the disobedient, when his threatening is made good. Smoke is a sign of fire, much more when the fire is breaking out, and we see what we only heard before, and we feel what we would not believe before.
4thly, Though we should be well at ease in our own persons, yet the judgments upon others should be considered by us. Nehemiah preferred at court, yet hath a sad resentment of the state of Jerusalem. So Daniel, a great man in Babylon, yet layeth to heart the judgments upon the people of God (ix. 5).
5thly, Though the judgment pursue but a few, yet all should fear. When Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead, it is said that “great fear came on all them that heard these things" (Acts v. 5). God, in one or a few, giveth an instance of his severity, that others may tremble; as it is said of David, when the breach was made upon Uzzah, “ And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall í bring the ark of God home to me?" (1 Chron. xiii. 12.) The sin was Uzzah's, the breach only upon him; but the stroke was God's, and that maketh David tremble. Yea, the Pagan mariners, when Divine vengeance had pursued Jonah, “ Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows" (i. 16). The danger was for Jonah's sake; when he was thrown overboard, there was a calm ; but the men feared greatly.
6thly, Though it should light upon enemies to us and God, yet their fall is not to be insulted over, but God's hand observed with great reverence: “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross ;" then, “My flesh trembleth," saith David. So in Psalm Ixxvi. 6, 7, “ At thy reblike, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and the horse are cast into a dead sleep. Thou, even thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in thy sight, when once thou art angry?" We ought to express a sense of our father's displeasure, as a child quaketh when he heareth his father is angry with or doth correct a servant. Naturalists say, a lion will tremble to see a dog beaten before him: “ The righteous also shall see and fear” (Psalm lii. 6). The godly will be wise observers of God's work and dispensations of justice, and the spiritual advantage they may gain thereby : “ The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked; but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness" (Prov. xxi. 12). Holy men do exceedingly profit by these judgments.
7thly, Much more should we tremble at God's judgments upon his own people, when he cometh to visit their iniquities with rods, and their transgressions with scourges. If this be done in the green tree, what in the dry? If judgment begin at the house of God, “ where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter iv. 18.) Many times they are broken with a great breach and heavy corrections : “ Then took I the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to drink” (Jer. xxv. 17). His own people sip of the bitter cup that others drank the dregs of.' The world shall know that he is a God hating sin, and therefore will punish them for it, lest he should seem to approve their sin. Though God doth not condemn his people to Hell for their sin, yet, by his sharp corrections of them in this life, the world shall know how much he hateth sin; especially when they have made the name of God to be evil spoken of, God will vindicate himself. Now, these should make us tremble, they are ordered for this purpose,
Secondly, I shall inquire what this fear is, an infirmity or a duty ? To many, to fear judgment seemeth slavish, and thereupon they build a false conceit, that God is to be feared for his mercies only, and not for his judgments. Indeed, God is feared for his goodness (Hos, üïi. 5), but not only: judgments are the object of fear; and the fear conversant about them may be so far from being a sin, that it is a grace. Briefly then, it is not such a fear as driveth us from God (Gen. ïïi. 10), but bringeth us to him, keepeth us with him: “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer. xxxii. 40). They are afraid both to sin and to suffer for sin. Afraid to sin, and so it is the fear of caution and circumspection. Certainly, it can be no fault to be afraid of that which deserveth punishment or judgment. And afraid to suffer for sin in this world, where all things come alike to all; and in the world to come, where God will stir up all his wrath. But to fear punishment, is not this servile? No; it is not: first, if it keep its proportion, and doth not exceed its limits, driving us into a despairing anguish, such as the Devil's is (James ii. 19). Secondly, if it have its spiritual use and end, which is the main and principal thing, which is to make us cleave the closer to God: “But I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me" (Jer. xxxii. 40). Or, thirdly, if it be subordinate, which is to make us cautelous and watchful against sin, or such things as may occasion these judgments, flee. ing from wrath to come (Matt. iii. 7), and to use the means for our preservation with the more diligence (Heb. xi. 7).
Thirdly, The reasons.
tions. One of the great and first privileges of grace, is a heart of flesh (Ezek. xxxvi. 26). Wicked men have a heart of stone, a stout, obstinate, stupid spirit; but, when God's hand is upon their persons, they have no sense: “Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved” (Jer. v. 3). But God's children have a heart of flesh, that trembleth at his word, and at judgments at a distance: they are soon affected with a providence. This tenderness, as it is wrought in them by grace at the first, so it is increased by their acquaintance with God and experiences of his love, Familiarity with men, breedeth contempt; familiarity with God, not so. None are moved with reverence to the Lord more than they that know him best, and are most familiar with him. None rejoice more than they, when they find God is pleased, and giveth out demonstrations of grace to the world. None fear more than they when God is angry:“Who knoweth the power of thine anger: Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath” (Psalm xc. 11). The world think not of God's anger, till they feel the terrible effects of it; but God's children, that have a deep awe of God, and observe him in all his motions, have the greatest apprehensions of his displeasure.
2ndly, It is the property of God's children, when they look to anything without them, still to draw home the providence, and consider their own case, and to edify themselves by that they see in others, whether it be good or evil. Electorum corda semper ad se solicite videant, saith Gregory. When Uzzah was stricken, “How shall I bring the ark of God home to me,” saith David (1 Chron. xiii. 12). Will not God be as severe to me, if I behare myself unreverently? He observed, how failing about holy things did much incense God's wrath: “Ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. vi. 1). They that rigidly and uncharitably censure others, are usually greatest strangers to their own hearts; but a man that draweth all things home, knoweth that, if God should let loose temptations upon him, he may be as bad as others. A man that usually reflects upon himself, will be afraid, and will not reflect on the judgments executed on others, but tremble. Nunquid ego tali, 8c., was a good question in a Heathen. If God should visit my transgressions, I have broken his laws, and deserve as great a punishment. A spirit of application is a great advantage. Our Lord telleth others, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke xiii. 5). David was afraid, lest he should be cast away with the dross; because they love not God's testimonies, therefore he would not only love his testimonies, but also fear his judgments. Carnal men forget themselves, when they are so bitter against others.
3rdly, The usefulness of this fear showeth it is their duty. It is very necessary,
1. To stir up watchfulness and care for our own safety, that we may not fall into like offences, or do anything that is displeasing to God, lest we fall into his vengeance. We are bidden to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. ii. 12). We have to do with a just and holy God, who is tender of his laws. Now, this fear should be more active and lively when we see his judgments executed; for then God is ready at hand with a whip to awaken us, and to show us he will not be dallied with, and that danger attendeth us, when we begin to straggle out of our duty. He that breaketh through a hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Fear is the great restraint of sin, as the fear of man keepeth the beasts from
hurting him; it is their bridle : “ The fear of you, &c., shall be upon every beast of the earth” (Gen. ix. 2). So fear of God helps to keep from offending him, or breaking his laws.
2. To humble us, when we see that sin shall not escape unpunished. Alas! if God should enter into judgment with us, who could stand? (Psalm cxliii. 2.) Non dicit cum hostibus tuis, sed cum servo tuo; he doth not say, if thou shouldest enter into judgment with thine enemy, but with thy servant. God is a just judge; and therefore, when we see judgınent executed upon others, we may be afraid of his righteousness. Every hum. ble heart is conscious to himself of grievous offences; and, if God, when he cometh to purge out dross, should be severe with us, what miserable, wretched creatures should we be! This striketh a holy fear into our hearts, and so helps us to humble ourselves in his presence.
3. To make us thankful for our mercies and gracious escape. It is fear that maketh us taste the sweetness of the promise of free pardon, when we see from what miseries we are delivered by the mercy of God. When the Israelites had seen the Egyptians drowned in the water, they saw they had cause to triumph in the God of their salvation (Exod. xv. 1, 2). The consideration of our defects is in part represented to us in the bitter experi. ence of others; there we may see what dangers we are liable unto, were it not for his preventing grace, that we are not condemned with the world, and left to perish in our sins.
4. To quicken and sharpen our prayers. God knoweth how to take vengeance on all iniquity, even in his dearest servants : “ Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach" (Joel ii. 17). Sparing is an act of God's mercy, withdrawing and moderating deserved judgments. Now, the more our fear is increased, the more earnest and importunate shall we be to keep off or get the judgment removed,
USE I.-Is reproof of the greatest part of the world, that pass by God's judgments, and take no notice of them, so as to fear and return to him. Not his judgments upon others: when the arrows of God fly round about us, we should fear for ourselves; and, when wrath is making inquisition for sinners, be the more earnest to be found in Christ. But a senseless stupidity possesseth most men, they mind none of these things. The Gibeonites were more wise and cautious : when they saw the cities of Jericho and Ai destroyed, and their inhabitants cut off by the sword, they did not expect the coming of Joshua, but sent messengers to him, and by a wile struck up a covenant with him, before he came any farther (Josh. ix. 3, 4). Or as that captain, when two before him with their fifties were destroyed by fire, he fell upon his knees before the Prophet, saying, “O man of God, I pray thee, let my life and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from Heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties, with their fifties; therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight” (2 Kings i. 13, 14). But, oh! our blindness and stupidness! though others fall under the judgment of God, we are as unmoveable as rocks, and do not fall down before the Lord, to deprecate his anger. Certainly, if we had a due sense of our condition, we are as worthy as they; it is by the mercy of God that yet we stand. Therefore we should fear with a holy fear, that we may bridle the flesh, humble ourselves before the Lord, be thankful for our safety, and be earnest in prayer: this we should do when we see any others in afflictions. Again, when judgments are on ourselves; when God cometh nearer to us,