A Treatise of the Fear of God
"BLESSED IS EVERY ONE THAT FEARETH THE LORD."—PSALM 128:1
"FEAR GOD."—REVELATION 14:7
This exhortation is not only found here in the text, but is in several other places of the Scripture pressed, and that with much vehemency, upon the children of men, as in Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Peter 1:17, &c. I shall not trouble you with a long preamble, or forespeech to the matter, nor shall I here so much as meddle with the context, but shall immediately fall upon the words themselves, and briefly treat of the fear of God. The text, you see, presenteth us with matter of greatest moment, to wit, with God, and with the fear of him.
First they present us with God, the true and living God, maker of the worlds, and upholder of all things by the word of his power: that incomprehensible majesty, in comparison of whom all nations are less than the drop of a bucket, and than the small dust of the balance. This is he that fills heaven and earth, and is everywhere present with the children of men, beholding the evil and the good; for he hath set his eyes upon all their ways.
So that, considering that by the text we have presented to our souls the Lord God and Maker of us all, who also will be either our Saviour or Judge, we are in reason and duty bound to give the more earnest heed to the things that shall be spoken, and be the more careful to receive them, and put them in practice; for, as I said, as they present us with the mighty God, so they exhort us to the highest duty towards him; to wit, to fear him. I call it the highest duty, because it is, as I may call it, not only a duty in itself, but, as it were, the salt that seasoneth every duty. For there is no duty performed by us that can by any means be accepted of God, if it be not seasoned with godly fear. Wherefore the apostle saith, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear." Of this fear, I say, I would discourse at this time; but because this word fear is variously taken in the Scripture, and because it may be profitable to us to see it in its variety, I shall therefore choose this method for the managing of my discourse, even to show you the nature of the word in its several, especially of the chiefest, acceptations. FIRST. Then by this word fear we are to understand even God himself, who is the object of our fear. SECOND. By this word fear we are to understand the Word of God, the rule and director of our fear. Now to speak to this word fear, as it is thus taken.
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