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small in gifts, small in esteem upon this account; yet if thou fearest God, if thou fearest God indeed, thou art certainly blest with the best of saints. The least star stands as fixed as the biggest of them all in heaven. "He shall bless them that fear him, both small and great." He shall bless them; that is, with the same blessing of eternal life: for the different degrees of grace in saints doth not make the blessing, as to its nature, differ. It is the same heaven, the same life, the same glory, and the same eternity of felicity that they are, in the text, promised to be blessed with. That is observable which I mentioned before, where Christ, at the day of judgment, particularly mentions and owns the least: "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least." The least, then, were there, in his kingdom and in his glory, as well as the biggest of all.
"He shall bless them that fear him, both small and great." The small are named first in the text, and are so the first in rank, it may be to show, that though they may be slighted, and little set by in the world, yet they are much set by in the eyes of the Lord.
Are great saints only to have the kingdom and the glory everlasting? Are great works only to be rewarded? works that are done by virtue of great grace and the abundance of the gifts of the Holy Ghost? No; "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward," Matt. x. 42. Mark, here is but a little gift, a cup of cold water, and that given to a little saint, but both taken special notice of by our Lord Jesus Christ. He will give reward to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, and to those that fear his name, small and great, Rev. xi. 18.
The small, therefore, among those that fear God, are blessed with the great, and as the great, with the same salvation, the same glory, and the same eternal life; and they shall have, even as the great ones also shall, as much as they can carry, as much as their hearts, souls, bodies, and capacities can hold.
13. Dost thou fear God? Why, the Holy Ghost hath on purpose indited for thee a whole psalm to sing concerning thyself; so that thou mayest, even as thou art in thy calling, bed, journey, or wherever, sing out thine own blessed and happy condition to thine own comfort, and the comfort of thy fellows. The psalm is the 128th. I will set it before thee:—
"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel."
And now I have done with the privileges when I have removed one objection.
Object. But the Scripture says, "Perfect love casteth out fear," 1 John iv. 18, and therefore it seems that saints, after that the Spirit of adoption is come, should not fear, but do their duty, as another Scripture saith, "without fear," Luke i. 74.
Ans. Fear, as I have showed you, may be taken several ways.
(1 ) It may be taken for the fear of devils.
(2.) It may be taken for the fear of reprobates. (3.) It may be taken for the fear that is wrought in the godly, by the Spirit as a Spirit of bondage. Or, (4.) It may be taken for the fear that I have been but now discoursing of.
Now, the fear that perfect love casts out cannot be that sunlike, gracious fear of God that I have in this last place been treating of; because that fear which love casts out hath torment; but so has not the sonlike fear. Therefore, the fear which love casts out is either that fear which is like the fear of devils and reprobates, or that fear which is begot in the heart by the Spirit of God as a Spirit of bondage, or both; for indeed all these kinds of fear have torment, and therefore may be cast out, and are so by the Spirit of adoption, which is called the Spirit of faith and love, when he comes with power into the soul. So that, without this fear we should serve him.
But to argue from these texts that we ought not to fear God, or to mix fear with our worship of him, is as much as to say that by the Spirit of adoption we are brought under condemnation, for he that does not fear God is in such a state. But for what I have affirmed the Scripture doth plentifully confirm, saying, "Happy is the man that feareth alway," Prov. xxviii. 14. And again, " It shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him," Eccles. viii. 12.
The fear of the Lord, therefore, is a grace that greatly beautifies a Christian, his words, and all his ways. "Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts," 2 Chron. xix. 1.
THE USE OF THIS DOCTRINE.
Having proceeded thus far about this doctrine of the fear of God, I now come to make some use and application of the whole; and my first use shall be a use of examination.
I. Is this fear of God such an excellent thing? Is it attended with so many blessed privileges, then this should put us, every soul of us, upon a diligent examination of ourselves, namely, whether this grace be in us or not; for if it be, then thou art one of these blessed ones to whom belong these glorious privileges, for thou hast an interest in every one of them. But if it shall appear that this grace is not in thee, then thy state is fearfully miserable, as hath partly been manifest already, and will further be seen in what comes after.
Now, the better to help thee to consider, and not to miss in finding out what thou art, in thy self-examination, I will speak to this,
1. In general.
2. In particular.
1. In general. No man brings this grace into the world with him. Every one by nature is destitute of it, for naturally none fear God; "There is no fear of God," none of this grace of fear, "before their eyes," Rom. iii. 18; they do not so much as know what it is; for this fear flows, as was shown before, from a new heart, faith, repentance, and the like; of which new heart, faith, and repentance, if thou art void, thou art also void of this godly fear. Men must have a mighty change of heart and life, or else they are strangers to this fear of God. Alas, how ignorant are the most of this! Yea, and some are not afraid to say they are not changed, nor desire so to be. Can these fear God? Can these be possessed with this grace of fear? No; because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God, Psa. lv. 19.
Wherefore, sinner, consider, whoever thou art, that art destitute of this fear of God, thou art void of all other graces; for this fear, as I have shown, floweth from the whole stock of grace where it is. There is not one of the graces of the Spirit, but this fear is in it; yea, as I may say, this fear is the flower and beauty of every grace, neither is there anything, let it look as much like grace as it will, that will be counted so indeed, if the fruit thereof be not this fear of God. Wherefore, I say again, consider well of this matter, for as thou shall be found with reference to this grace, so shall thy judgment be. I have but briefly treated of this grace, yet have endeavoured, with words as fit as I could, to display it in its colours before thy face; first, by showing you what this fear of God is, then what it flows from, as also what doth flow from it; to which, as was said before, I have added several privileges that are annexed to this fear, that by all, if it may be, thou mayest see it, if thou hast it, and thyself without it, if thou hast it not. Wherefore, I refer thee thither again for information in this thing. Or, if thou art loth to give the book a second reading,