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its authority, by denying it to be his word, and by raising cavils against its authority? Such stumble indeed at the word, being appointed thereunto, but it shall judge them in the last day, 1 Pet. ii. 8; John xii. 48. But thus much for this.
Having thus spoken of the object and rule of our fear; I should come now to speak of fear, as it is a grace of the Spirit of God in the hearts of his people; but before I do that, I shall show you that there are divers sorts of fear besides. For man being a reasonable creature, and having even by nature a certain knowledge of God, hath also naturally something of some kind of fear of God at times, which although it be not that which is intended in the text, yet ought to be spoken to, that that which is not right, may be distinguished from that which is.
I will speak of several sorts of fear of God in the hearts of the children of men. There are, I say, several sorts or kinds of fear in the hearts of the sons of men; I mean, besides that fear of God which is intended in the text, and that accompanieth eternal life.
I shall here make mention of three of them.
1. There is a fear of God which flows from the light of nature.
2. There is a fear of God which flows from some of his dispensations to men, which yet is neither universal, nor saving.
3. There is a fear of God in the hearts of some men which is good and godly, but doth not for ever abide so.
To speak a little to all these, before I come to speak of fear as it is a grace of God in the hearts of his children.
1. And as to the first, to wit, that there is a fear of God which flows from the light of nature.
A people may be said to do things in a fear of God, when they act one towards another in things reasonable and honest betwixt man and man, not doing that to others they would not have done to themselves. This is that fear of God which Abraham thought the Philistines had destroyed in themselves, when he said of his wife to Abimelech, " She is my sister." For when Abimelech asked Abraham why he said of his wife, "She is my sister;" he replied, saying, “I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake,” Gen. xx. 11. thought, Verily that in this place men had stifled and choked that light of nature which is in them, at least so far as not to suffer it to put them in fear, when their lusts were powerful in them to accomplish their ends on the object that was present before them. But this I will pass by, and come to the second thing,
2. Namely, to show that there is a fear of God which flows from some of his dispensations to men, which yet is neither universal, nor saving. This fear when opposed to that which is saving, may be called an ungodly fear of God: I shall describe it by several particulars that follow.
(1.) There is a fear of God that causeth a continual grudging, discontent, and heart-risings against God, when under the hand of God; and that is, when the dread of God in his coming upon men to deal with them for their sins, is apprehended by them, and yet by this dispensation they have no change of heart to submit to him thereunder.
The sinners under this dispensation cannot shake
God out of their mind, nor yet graciously tremble before him, but through the unsanctified frame that they now are in, they are afraid with ungodly fear, and so in their minds are against him.
This fear oftentimes took hold of the children of Israel, when they were in the wilderness in their journey to the promised land; still they feared that God in this place would destroy them, but not with that fear that made them willing to submit, for their sins, to the judgment which they feared, but with that fear which made them oppose God.
This fear showed itself in them, even at the beginning of their journey, and was rebuked by Moses at the Red Sea; but it was not there, nor yet at any other place, so subdued, but that it would rise again in them at times to the dishonour of God, and make them anew guilty of sin before him. See Exod. xiv. 11, 12; Num. xiv. 1-10.
This fear is that which God said he would send before them in the day of Joshua, even a fear that should possess the inhabitants of the land; to wit, a fear that should arise for that faintness of heart that they should be swallowed up of, at their apprehending of Joshua in his approaches towards them to destroy them. "I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee," Exod. xxiii. 27. "This day," said God, "will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heavens, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee," Deut. ii. 25.
Now, this fear is also, as you here see, called anguish, and in another place, a hornet; for it and
the soul that it falls upon, do greet each other as boys and bees do. The hornet puts men in fear, not so as to bring the heart into a sweet compliance with his terror, but so as to stir up the spirit into acts of opposition and resistance, yet withal they flee before it. "I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee," Exod. xxiii. 28.
Now, this fear, whether it be wrought by a misapprehension of the judgments of God, as in the Israelites, or otherwise, as in the Canaanites, yet ungodliness is the effect thereof; and therefore I call it an ungodly fear of God, for it stirreth up murmurings, discontents, and heart-risings against God, while he with his dispensations is dealing with them.
(2.) There is a fear of God that driveth a man away from God. I speak not now of the atheist, nor of the pleasurable sinner, nor yet of that fear which I spake of just now; but I speak now of such who through a sense of sin and of God's justice, flee from him by a slavish, ungodly fear. This ungodly fear was that which possessed Adam's heart in the day that he did eat of the tree concerning which the Lord had said unto him, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," Gen. ii. 17. For then was he possessed with such a fear of God as made him seek to hide himself from his presence. "I heard," said he, "thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself," Gen. iii. 10. Mind that, he had a fear of God, but it was not godly; it was not that which made him afterwards submit himself unto him; for that would have kept him from departing from him, or else have brought him to him again, with a bowed, broken, and contrite spirit. But this fear, as the
rest of his sin, managed his departing from his God, and pursued him to provoke him still so to do: by it he kept himself from God; by it his whole man was carried away from him. I call it ungodly fear, because it begat in him ungodly apprehensions of his Maker; because it confined Adam's conscience to the sense of justice only, and consequently to despair.
The same fear also possessed the children of Israel, when they heard the law delivered to them from Mount Sinai; as is evident, for it made them that they could neither abide God's presence, nor hear his word. It drove them back from the mountain. It made them, saith the apostle to the Hebrews, that "they could not endure that which was commanded," Heb. xii. 20. Wherefore this fear Moses rebukes, and forbids their giving way thereto. "Fear not," said he; but had that fear been godly, he would have encouraged it, and not have forbidden and rebuked it as he did. "Fear not," said he : "for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces," Exod. xx. 20. Therefore, that fear which already had taken possession of them, was not the fear of God, but a fear that was of Satan, of their own misjudging hearts, and so a fear that was ungodly. Mark you, here is a fear and a fear; a fear forbidden, and a fear commended: a fear forbidden, because it engendered their hearts to bondage, and to ungodly thoughts of God and of his word; it made them that they could not desire to "hear God speak to them any more,” ver. 19.
Many also at this day are possessed with this ungodly fear; and you may know them by this:they cannot abide conviction for sin; and if at any time the word of the law, by the preaching of the