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for then names expressed the nature of the thing so named. And therefore it is that the name of God is the object of our fear, because by his name his nature is expressed. Holy and reverend is his name," Psa. cxi. 9. And again proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty," Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.
Also his names, "I am," Jah, Jehovah, with several others, what is by them intended, but that his nature, as his power, wisdom, eternity, goodness, and omnipotence, might be expressed and declared? The name of God is, therefore, the object of a Christian's fear. David prayed to God," Unite my heart to fear thy name," Psa. lxxxvi. 11. Indeed, the name of God is a fearful name, and should always be reverenced by his people: yea, his name is to be feared for ever and ever, and that not only in his church and among his saints, but even in the world and among the heathen. "So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory," Psa. cii. 15.
God tells us that his name is, dreadful, and that he is pleased to see men afraid before his name, Mal. ii. 5. Yea, one reason why he executes so many judgments upon men as he doth, is that others might see, and fear his name. "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun," Isa. lix. 19. "I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name," Mal. ii. 5.
The name of a king is a name of fear; and "I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts" Mal.
i. 14. The name of master is a name of fear; And if I be a Master, where is my fear, saith the Lord of hosts ?" Mal. i. 6. Yea, rightly to fear the Lord, is a sign of a gracious heart. And again, "Unto you that fear my name," saith he, "shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;" yea, when Christ comes to judge the world. He will give reward to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, and to them that fear his name, small and great, Rev. xi. 18.
Now, I say, since the name of God is that by which his nature is expressed, and since he naturally is so glorious and incomprehensible, his name must needs be the object of our fear, and we ought always to have a reverential awe of God upon our hearts at what time soever we think of, or hear his name ; but most of all, when we ourselves do take his holy and fearful name into our mouths, especially in a religious manner, that is, in preaching, praying, or holy conference. I do not by thus saying intend, as if it were lawful to make mention of his name in light and vain discourses; for we ought always to speak of it with reverence and godly fear; but I speak it to put Christians in mind that they should not in religious duties show lightness of mind, or be vain in their words, when yet they are making mention of the name of the Lord; and "let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity," 2 Tim. ii. 19.
Make mention, then, of the name of the Lord at all times with great dread of his majesty upon your hearts, and in great soberness and truth. To do otherwise is to profane the name of the Lord, and to take his name in vain; and "the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain," Exod.
xx. 7. Yea, God saith, that he will cut off the man that doth it; so jealous is he of the honour due unto his name, Lev. xx. 3.
This, therefore, showeth you the dreadful state of those that lightly, vainly, lyingly, and profanely, make use of the name, this fearful name of God; either by their blasphemous cursing and oaths, or by their fraudulent dealing with their neighbour; but how these men will escape, when they shall be judged, devouring fire and everlasting burnings, for their profaning and blaspheming of the name of the Lord, it becomes them betimes to consider.
3. But as the presence and name of God are dreadful and fearful in the church, so are his worship and service. I say, his worship, or the works of service to which we are by him enjoined while we are in this world, are dreadful and fearful things. This David saith, "But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple," Psa. v. 7. And again, saith he, "Serve the Lord with fear," Psa. ii. 11.
To praise God is a part of his worship. But, said Moses, "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders," Exod. XV. 11. To rejoice before him is a part of his worship; but David bids us "rejoice with trembling," Psa. ii. 11.
Yea, the whole of our service to God, and every part thereof, ought to be done by us with reverence and godly fear, Heb. xii. 28. And, therefore, let us, as Paul saith again, "Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Cor. vii. I.
That which makes the worship of God so fearful a thing is,
(1.) For that it is the worship of God: all manner of service carries more or less dread and fear along with it, according as the quality or condition of the person is, to whom the worship and service are done. This is seen in the service of subjects to their princes, the service of servants to their lords, and the service of children to their parents. Divine worship then being due to God, and this God so great and dreadful in himself and name, his worship must, therefore, be a fearful thing.
(2.) Besides, this glorious Majesty is himself present to behold his worshippers in their worshiping him. " 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," Matt. xviii. 20; that is, gathered together to worship him, I am there, saith he. And so, again, he is said to walk in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, Rev. ii. 1; that is, in the churches; and that with a countenance like the sun, with a head and hair as white as wool, and with eyes like a flame of fire, Rev. i. 14-16. This puts dread and fear into his service; and, therefore, his servants should serve him with fear.
(3.) Above all things, God is jealous of his worship and service. In all the ten commandments, he tells us not any thing of his being a jealous God, but in the second, which respects his worship. Look to yourselves, therefore, both as to the matter and manner of your worship; "For I the Lord thy God," saith he, "am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children," Exod. xx. 5. This, therefore, doth also put dread and fear into the worship and service of God.
(4.) The judgments that sometimes God hath executed upon men for their want of godly fear, while they have been in his worship and service, put fear and dread upon his holy appointments.
Nadab and Abihu were burned to death with fire from heaven; because they attempted to offer false fire upon God's altar, Lev. x. 1—3. And the reason rendered why they were so punished was, because God will be sanctified in those that come nigh him. To sanctify his name is to let him be thy dread and thy fear, and to do nothing in his worship but what is well pleasing to him. But because these men had not grace to do this, therefore they died before the Lord.
Eli's sons, for want of this fear, when they ministered in the holy worship of God, were both slain in one day by the sword of the uncircumcised Philistines, 1 Sam. iv. 11.
Uzza was smitten, and died before the Lord, for an unadvised touching the ark, when the men forsook it, 1 Chron. xiii. 9, 10.
Ananias, and Sapphira his wife, for telling a lie in the church when they were before God, were both stricken dead upon the place before them all, because they wanted the fear and dread of God's majesty, name, and service, when they came before him, Acts v. 1—10.
This, therefore, should teach us to conclude, that next to God's nature and name, his service, his instituted worship, is the most dreadful thing under heaven. His name is upon his ordinances, his eye is upon the worshippers, and his wrath and judgment upon those that worship not in his fear. For this cause some of those at Corinth were by God himself cut off, 1 Cor. xi. 30-32; and on