OF THE GRACE OF FEAR MORE IMMEDIATELY INTENDED IN THE TEXT.
I shall now speak to this fear, which I call a lasting godly fear; first, by way of explication; by which I shall show, FIRST. How by the Scripture it is described. SECOND. I shall show you what this fear flows from. And then, THIRD. I shall also show you what doth flow from it.
[How this Fear is described by the Scripture.]
FIRST. For the first of these, to wit, how by the Scripture this fear is described; and that, First. More generally. Second. More particularly.
First. More generally.
1. It is called a grace, that is, a sweet and blessed work of the Spirit of grace, as he is given to the elect by God. Hence the apostle says, "let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Heb 12:28). For as that fear that brings bondage is wrought in the soul by the Spirit as a spirit of bondage, so this fear, which is a fear that we have while we are in the liberty of sons, is wrought by him as he manifesteth to us our liberty; "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," that is, where he is as a spirit of adoption, setting the soul free from that bondage under which it was held by the same Spirit while he wrought as a spirit of bondage. Hence as he is called a spirit working bondage to fear, so he, as the Spirit of the Son and of adoption, is called "the Spirit of the fear of the Lord" (Isa 11:2). Because it is that Spirit of grace that is the author, animater, and maintainer of our filial fear, or of that fear that is son-like, and that subjecteth the elect unto God, his word, and ways; unto him, his word, and ways, as a Father.
2. This fear is called also the fear of God, not as that which is ungodly is, nor yet as that may be which is wrought by the Spirit as a spirit of bondage, but by way of eminency; to wit, as a dispensation of the grace of the gospel, and as a fruit of eternal love. "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me" (Jer 32:38-41).
3. This fear of God is called God's treasure, for it is one of his choice jewels, it is one of the rarities of heaven, "The fear of the Lord is his treasure" (Isa 33:6). And it may well go under such a title; for as treasure, so the fear of the Lord is not found in every corner. It is said all men have not faith, because that also is more precious than gold; the same is said about this fear—"There is no fear of God before their eyes" ; that is, the greatest part of men are utterly destitute of this godly jewel, this treasure, the fear of the Lord. Poor vagrants, when they come straggling to a lord's house, may perhaps obtain some scraps and fragments, they may also obtain old shoes, and some sorry cast-off rags, but they get not any of his jewels, they may not touch his choicest treasure; that is kept for the children, and those that shall be his heirs. We may say the same also of this blessed grace of fear, which is called here God's treasure. It is only bestowed upon the elect, the heirs and children of the promise; all others are destitute of it, and so continue to death and judgment.
4. This grace of fear is that which maketh men excel and go beyond all men, in the account of God; it is that which beautifies a man, and prefers him above all other; "Hast thou," says God to Satan, "considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8, 2:3). Mind it, "There is none like him, none alike him in the earth." I suppose he means either [that Job was the only most perfect and upright man] in those parts, or else he was the man that abounded in the fear of the Lord; none like him to fear the Lord, he only excelled others with respect to his reverencing of God, bowing before him, and sincerely complying with his will; and therefore is counted the excellent man. It is not the knowledge of the will of God, but our sincere complying therewith, that proveth we fear the Lord; and it is our so doing that putteth upon us the note of excelling; hereby appears our perfection, herein is manifest our uprightness. A perfect and an upright man is one that feareth God, and that because he escheweth evil. Therefore this grace of fear is that without which no part or piece of service which we do to God, can be accepted of him. It is, as I may call it, the salt of the covenant, which seasoneth the heart, and therefore must not be lacking there; it is also that which salteth, or seasoneth all our doings, and therefore must not be lacking in any of them (Lev 2:13).
5. I take this grace of fear to be that which softeneth and mollifieth the heart, and that makes it stand in awe both of the mercies and judgments of God. This is that that retaineth in the heart that due dread, and reverence of the heavenly majesty, that is meet should be both in, and kept in the heart of poor sinners. Wherefore when David described this fear, in the exercise of it, he calls it an awe of God. "Stand in awe," saith he, "and sin not" ; and again, "my heart standeth in awe of thy word" ; and again, "Let all the earth fear the Lord" ; what is that? or how is that? why? "Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him" (Psa 4:4, 119:161, 33:8). This is that therefore that is, as I said before, so excellent a thing in the eyes of God, to wit, a grace of the Spirit, the fear of God, his treasure, the salt of the covenant, that which makes men excel all others; for it is that which maketh the sinner to stand in awe of God, which posture is the most comely thing in us, throughout all ages. But,
Second. And more particularly.
1. This grace is called "the beginning of knowledge," because by the first gracious discovery of God to the soul, this grace is begot: and again, because the first time that the soul doth apprehend God in Christ to be good unto it, this grace is animated, by which the soul is put into an holy awe of God, which causeth it with reverence and due attention to hearken to him, and tremble before him (Prov 1:7). It is also by virtue of this fear that the soul doth inquire yet more after the blessed knowledge of God. This is the more evident, because, where this fear of God is wanting, or where the discovery of God is not attended with it, the heart still abides rebellious, obstinate, and unwilling to know more, that it might comply therewith; nay, for want of it, such sinners say rather, As for God, let him "depart from us," and for the Almighty, "we desire not the knowledge of his ways."
2. This fear is called "the beginning of wisdom," because then, and not till then, a man begins to be truly spiritually wise; what wisdom is there where the fear of God is not? (Job 28:28; Psa 111:10). Therefore the fools are described thus, "For that they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord" (Prov 1:29). The Word of God is the fountain of knowledge, into which a man will not with godly reverence look, until he is endued with the fear of the Lord. Therefore it is rightly called "the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Prov 1:7). It is therefore this fear of the Lord that makes a man wise for his soul, for life, and for another world. It is this that teacheth him how he should do to escape those spiritual and eternal ruins that the fool is overtaken with, and swallowed up of for ever. A man void of this fear of God, wherever he is wise, or in whatever he excels, yet about the matters of his soul, there is none more foolish than himself; for through the want of the fear of the Lord, he leaves the best things at sixes and sevens, and only pursueth with all his heart those that will leave him in the snare when he dies.
3. This fear of the Lord is to hate evil. To hate sin and vanity. Sin and vanity, they are the sweet morsels of the fool, and such which the carnal appetite of the flesh runs after; and it is only the virtue that is in the fear of the Lord that maketh the sinner have an antipathy against it (Job 20:12). "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Prov 16:6). That is, men shun, separate themselves from, and eschew it in its appearances. Wherefore it is plain that those that love evil, are not possessed with the fear of God.
There is a generation that will pursue evil, that will take it in, nourish it, lay it up in their hearts, hide it, and plead for it, and rejoice to do it. These cannot have in them the fear of the Lord, for that is to hate it, and to make men depart from it: where the fear of God and sin is, it will be with the soul, as it was with Israel when Omri and Tibni strove to reign among them both at once, one of them must be put to death, they cannot live together (see 1 Kings 16): sin must down, for the fear of the Lord begetteth in the soul a hatred against it, an abhorrence of it, therefore sin must die, that is, as to the affections and lusts of it; for as Solomon says in another case, "where no wood is, the fire goeth out." So we may say, where there is a hatred of sin, and where men depart from it, there it loseth much of its power, waxeth feeble, and decayeth. Therefore Solomon saith again, "Fear the Lord, and depart from evil" (Prov 3:7). As who should say, Fear the Lord, and it will follow that you shall depart from evil: departing from evil is a natural consequence, a proper effect of the fear of the Lord where it is. By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, that is, in their judgment, will, mind, and affections. Not that by the fear of the Lord sin is annihilated, or has lost its being in the soul; there still will those Canaanites be, but they are hated, loathed, abominated, fought against, prayed against, watched against, striven against, and mortified by the soul (Rom 7).
4. This fear is called a fountain of life—"The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death" (Prov 14:27). It is a fountain, or spring, which so continually supplieth the soul with variety of considerations of sin, of God, of death, and life eternal, as to keep the soul in continual exercise of virtue and in holy contemplation. It is a fountain of life; every operation thereof, every act and exercise thereof, hath a true and natural tendency to spiritual and eternal felicity. Wherefore the wise man saith in another place, "The fear of the Lord tendeth to life, and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil" (Prov 19:23). It tendeth to life; even as of nature, everything hath a tendency to that which is most natural to itself; the fire to burn, the water to wet, the stone to fall, the sun to shine, sin to defile, &c. Thus I say, the fear of the Lord tendeth to life; the nature of it is to put the soul upon fearing of God, of closing with Christ, and of walking humbly before him. "It is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." What are the snares of death, but sin, the wiles of the devil, &c. From which the fear of God hath a natural tendency to deliver thee, and to keep thee in the way that tendeth to life.
5. This fear of the Lord, it is called "the instruction of wisdom" (Prov 15:33). You heard before that it is the beginning of wisdom, but here you find it called the instruction of wisdom; for indeed it is not only that which makes a man begin to be wise, but to improve, and make advantage of all those helps and means to life, which God hath afforded to that end; that is, both to his own, and his neighbour's salvation also. It is the instruction of wisdom; it will make a man capable to use all his natural parts, all his natural wisdom to God's glory, and his own good. There lieth, even in many natural things, that, into which if we were instructed, would yield us a great deal of help to the understanding of spiritual matters; "For in wisdom has God made all the world" ; nor is there anything that God has made, whether in heaven above, or on earth beneath, but there is couched some spiritual mystery in it. The which men matter no more than they do the ground they tread on, or than the stones that are under their feet, and all because they have not this fear of the Lord; for had they that, that would teach them to think, even from that knowledge of God, that hath by the fear of him put into their hearts, that he being so great and so good, there must needs be abundance of wisdom in the things he hath made: that fear would also endeavour to find out what that wisdom is; yea, and give to the soul the instruction of it. In that it is called the instruction of wisdom, it intimates to us that its tendency is to keep all even, and in good order in the soul. When Job perceived that his friends did not deal with him in an even spirit and orderly manner, he said that they forsook "the fear of the Almighty" (Job 6:14). For this fear keeps a man even in his words and judgment of things. It may be compared to the ballast of the ship, and to the poise of the balance of the scales; it keeps all even, and also makes us steer our course right with respect to the things that pertain to God and man.
What this fear of God flows from.
SECOND. I come now to the second thing, to wit, to show you what this fear of God flows from.
First. This fear, this grace of fear, this son-like fear of God, it flows from the distinguishing love of God to his elect. "I will be their God," saith he, "and I will put my fear in their hearts." None other obtain it but those that are enclosed and bound up in that bundle. Therefore they, in the same place, are said to be those that are wrapt up in the eternal or everlasting covenant of God, and so designed to be the people that should be blessed with this fear. "I will make an everlasting covenant with them" saith God, "that I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me" (Jer 32:38-40). This covenant declares unto men that God hath, in his heart, distinguishing love for some of the children of men; for he saith he will be their God, that he will not leave them, nor yet suffer them to depart, to wit, finally, from him. Into these men's hearts he doth put his fear, this blessed grace, and this rare and effectual sign of his love, and of their eternal salvation.
Second. This fear flows from a new heart. This fear is not in men by nature; the fear of devils they may have, as also an ungodly fear of God; but this fear is not in any but where there dwelleth a new heart, another fruit and effect of this everlasting covenant, and of this distinguishing love of God. "A new heart also will I give them" ; a new heart, what a one is that? why, the same prophet saith in another place, "A heart to fear me," a circumcised one, a sanctified one (Jer 32:39; Eze 11:19, 36:26). So then, until a man receive a heart from God, a heart from heaven, a new heart, he has not this fear of God in him. New wine must not be put into old bottles, lest the one, to wit, the bottles, mar the wine, or the wine the bottles; but new wine must have new bottles, and then both shall be preserved (Matt 9:17). This fear of God must not be, cannot be found in old hearts; old hearts are not bottles out of which this fear of God proceeds, but it is from an honest and good heart, from a new one, from such an one that is also an effect of the everlasting covenant, and love of God to men.
" I will give them one heart" to fear me; there must in all actions be heart, and without heart no action is good, nor can there be faith, love, or fear, from every kind of heart. These must flow from such an one, whose nature is to produce, and bring forth such fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? so from a corrupt heart there cannot proceed such fruit as the fear of God, as to believe in God, and love God (Luke 6:43-45). The heart naturally is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; how then should there flow from such an one the fear of God? It cannot be. He, therefore, that hath not received at the hands of God a new heart, cannot fear the Lord.
Third. This fear of God flows from an impression, a sound impression, that the Word of God maketh on our souls; for without an impress of the Word, there is no fear of God. Hence it is said that God gave to Israel good laws, statutes, and judgments, that they might learn them, and in learning them, learn to fear the Lord their God. Therefore, saith God, in another place, "Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn and fear the Lord your God" (Deut 6:1,2, 31:12). For as a man drinketh good doctrine into his soul, so he feareth God. If he drinks it in much, he feareth him greatly; if he drinketh it in but little, he feareth him but little; if he drinketh it not in at all, he feareth him not at all. This, therefore, teacheth us how to judge who feareth the Lord; they are those that learn, and that stand in awe of the Word. Those that have by the holy Word of God the very form of itself engraven upon the face of their souls, they fear God (Rom 6:17).
But, on the contrary, those that do not love good doctrine, that give not place to the wholesome truths of the God of heaven, revealed in his Testament, to take place in their souls, but rather despise it, and the true possessors of it, they fear not God. For, as I said before, this fear of God, it flows from a sound impression that the Word of God maketh upon the soul; and therefore,
Fourth. This godly fear floweth from faith; for where the Word maketh a sound impression on the soul, by that impression is faith begotten, whence also this fear doth flow. Therefore right hearing of the Word is called "the hearing of faith" (Gal 3:2). Hence it is said again, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Heb 11:7). The Word, the warning that he had from God of things not seen as yet, wrought, through faith therein, that fear of God in his heart that made him prepare against unseen dangers, and that he might be an inheritor of unseen happiness. Where, therefore, there is not faith in the Word of God, there can be none of this fear; and where the Word doth not make sound impression on the soul, there can be none of this faith. So that as vices hang together, and have the links of a chain, dependence one upon another, even so the graces of the Spirit also are the fruits of one another, and have such dependence on each other, that the one cannot be without the other. No faith, no fear of God; devil's faith, devil's fear; saint's faith, saint's fear.
Fifth. This godly fear also floweth from sound repentance for and from sin; godly sorrow worketh repentance, and godly repentance produceth this fear— "For behold," says Paul, "this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you! yea, what clearing of yourselves! yea, what indignation! yea, what fear!" (2 Cor 7:10,11). Repentance is the effect of sorrow, and sorrow is the effect of smart, and smart the effect of faith. Now, therefore, fear must needs be an effect of, and flow from repentance. Sinner, do not deceive thyself; if thou art a stranger to sound repentance, which standeth in sorrow and shame before God for sin, as also in turning from it, thou hast no fear of God; I mean none of this godly fear; for that is the fruit of, and floweth from, sound repentance.
Sixth. This godly fear also flows from a sense of the love and kindness of God to the soul. Where there is no sense of hope of the kindness and mercy of God by Jesus Christ, there can be none of this fear, but rather wrath and despair, which produceth that fear that is either devilish, or else that which is only wrought in us by the Spirit, as a spirit of bondage; but these we do not discourse of now; wherefore the godly fear that now I treat of, it floweth from some sense or hope of mercy from God by Jesus Christ—"If thou, Lord," says David, "shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared" (Psa 130:3,4). "There is mercy with thee" ; this the soul hath sense of, and hope in, and therefore feareth God. Indeed nothing can lay a stronger obligation upon the heart to fear God, than sense of, or hope in mercy (Jer 33:8,9). This begetteth true tenderness of heart, true godly softness of spirit; this truly endeareth the affections to God; and in this true tenderness, softness, and endearedness of affection to God, lieth the very essence of this fear of the Lord, as is manifest by the fruit of this fear when we shall come to speak of it.
Seventh. This fear of God flows from a due consideration of the judgments of God that are to be executed in the world; yea, upon professors too. Yea further, God's people themselves, I mean as to themselves, have such a consideration of his judgments towards them, as to produce this godly fear. When God's judgments are in the earth, they effect the fear of his name, in the hearts of his own people—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am," said David, "afraid of thy judgments" (Psa 119:120). When God smote Uzzah, David was afraid of God that day (1 Chron 13:12). Indeed, many regard not the works of the Lord, nor take notice of the operation of his hands, and such cannot fear the Lord. But others observe and regard, and wisely consider of his doings, and of the judgments that he executeth, and that makes them fear the Lord. This God himself suggesteth as a means to make us fear him. Hence he commands the false prophet to be stoned, "that all Israel might hear and fear." Hence also he commanded that the rebellious son should be stoned, "that all Israel might hear and fear." A false witness was also to have the same judgment of God executed upon him, "that all Israel might hear and fear." The man also that did ought presumptuously was to die, "that all Israel might hear and fear" (Deut 13:11, 21:21, 17:13, 19:20). There is a natural tendency in judgments, as judgments, to beget a fear of God in the heart of man, as man; but when the observation of the judgment of God is made by him that hath a principle of true grace in his soul, that observation being made, I say, by a gracious heart, produceth a fear of God in the soul of its own nature, to wit, a gracious or godly fear of God.
Eighth. This godly fear also flows from a godly remembrance of our former distresses, when we were distressed with our first fears; for though our first fears were begotten in us by the Spirit's working as a spirit of bondage, and so are not always to be entertained as such, yet even that fear leaveth in us, and upon our spirits, that sense and relish of our first awakenings and dread, as also occasioneth and produceth this godly fear. "Take heed," says God, "and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life, but teach them thy sons, and thy son's sons." But what were the things that their eyes had seen, that would so damnify them should they be forgotten? The answer is, the things which they saw at Horeb; to wit, the fire, the smoke, the darkness, the earthquake, their first awakenings by the law, by which they were brought into a bondage fear; yea, they were to remember this especially—"Specially," saith he, the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth" (Deut 4:9-11). The remembrance of what we saw, felt, feared, and trembled under the sense of, when our first fears were upon us, is that which will produce in our hearts this godly filial fear.
Ninth. This godly fear flows from our receiving of an answer of prayer, when we supplicated for mercy at the hand of God. See the proof for this—"If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities, whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be: what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men). That they may fear thee all the days of their life, that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers" (1 Kings 8:37-40).
Tenth. This grace of fear also flows from a blessed conviction of the all-seeing eye of God; that is, from a belief that he certainly knoweth the heart, and seeth every one of the turnings and returnings thereof; this is intimated in the text last mentioned—"Whose heart thou knowest, that they may fear thee," to wit, so many of them as be, or shall be convinced of this. Indeed, without this conviction, this godly fear cannot be in us; the want of this conviction made the Pharisees such hypocrites—"Ye are they," said Christ, "which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts" (Luke 16:15). The Pharisees, I say, were not aware of this; therefore they so much preferred themselves before those that by far were better than themselves, and it is for want of this conviction that men go on in such secret sins as they do, so much without fear either of God or his judgments.
Eleventh. This grace of fear also flows from a sense of the impartial judgment of God upon men according to their works. This also is manifest from the text mentioned above. And give unto every man according to his works or ways, "that they may fear thee," &c. This is also manifest by that of Peter—"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" (1 Peter 1:17). He that hath godly conviction of this fear of God, will fear before him; by which fear their hearts are poised, and works directed with trembling, according to the will of God. Thus you see what a weighty and great grace this grace of the holy fear of God is, and how all the graces of the Holy Ghost yield mutually their help and strength to the nourishment and life of it; and also how it flows from them all, and hath a dependence upon every one of them for its due working in the heart of him that hath it. And thus much to show you from whence it flows. And now I shall come to the third thing, to wit, to show you
What flows from this godly fear.
THIRD. Having showed you what godly fear flows from, I come now, I say, to show you what proceedeth or flows from this godly fear of God, where it is seated in the heart of man. And,
First. There flows from this godly fear a godly reverence of God. "He is great," said David, "and greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints." God, as I have already showed you, is the proper object of godly fear; it is his person and majesty that this fear always causeth the eye of the soul to be upon. "Behold," saith David, "as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us" (Psa 123:2). Nothing aweth the soul that feareth God so much as doth the glorious majesty of God. His person is above all things feared by them; "I fear God," said Joseph (Gen 42:18). That is, more than any other; I stand in awe of him, he is my dread, he is my fear, I do all mine actions as in his presence, as in his sight; I reverence his holy and glorious majesty, doing all things as with fear and trembling before him. This fear makes them have also a very great reverence of his Word; for that also, I told you, was the rule of their fear. "Princes," said David, "persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe," in fear, "of thy word." This grace of fear, therefore, from it flows reverence of the words of God; of all laws, that man feareth the word; and no law that is not agreeing therewith (Psa 119:116). There flows from this godly fear tenderness of God's glory.
This fear, I say, will cause a man to afflict his soul, when he seeth that by professors dishonour is brought to the name of God and to his Word. Who would not fear thee, said Jeremiah, O king of nations, for to thee doth it appertain? He speaks it as being affected with that dishonour, that by the body of the Jews was continually brought to his name, his Word, and ways; he also speaks it of a hearty wish that they once would be otherwise minded. The same saying in effect hath also John in the Revelation—"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord," said he, "and glorify thy name?" (Rev 15:4); clearly concluding that godly fear produceth a godly tenderness of God's glory in the world, for that appertaineth unto him; that is, it is due unto him, it is a debt which we owe unto him. "Give unto the Lord," said David, "the glory due unto his name." Now if there be begotten in the heart of the godly, by this grace of fear, a godly tenderness of the glory of God, then it follows of consequence, that where they that have this fear of God do see his glory diminished by the wickedness of the children of men, there they are grieved and deeply distressed. "Rivers of waters," said David, "run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law" (Psa 119:136). Let met give you for this these following instances—
How was David provoked when Goliath defied the God of Israel (1 Sam 17:23- 29,45,46). Also, when others reproached God, he tells us that that reproach was even as "a sword in his bones" (Psa 42:10). How was Hezekiah afflicted when Rabshakeh railed upon his God (Isa 37). David also, for the love that he had to the glory of God's word, ran the hazard and reproach "of all the mighty people" (Psa 119:151, 89:50). How tender of the glory of God was Eli, Daniel, and the three children in their day. Eli died with fear and trembling of heart when he heard that "the ark of God was taken" (1 Sam 4:14-18). Daniel ran the danger of the lions' mouths, for the tender love that he had to the word and worship of God (Dan 6:10-16). The three children ran the hazard of a burning fiery furnace, rather than they would dare to dishonour the way of their God (Dan 3:13,16,20). This therefore is one of the fruits of this godly fear, to wit, a reverence of his name and tenderness of his glory.
Second. There flows from this godly fear, watchfulness. As it is said of Solomon's servants, they "watched about his bed, because of fear in the night," so it may be said of them that have this godly fear—it makes them a watchful people. It makes them watch their hearts, and take heed to keep them with all diligence, lest they should, by one or another of its flights, lead them to do that which in itself is wicked (Prov 4:23; Heb 12:15). It makes them watch, lest some temptation from hell should enter into their heart to the destroying of them (1 Peter 5:8). It makes them watch their mouths, and keep them also, at sometimes, as with a bit and bridle, that they offend not with their tongue, knowing that the tongue is apt, being an evil member, soon to catch the fire of hell, to the defiling of the whole body (James 3:2-7). It makes them watch over their ways, look well to their goings, and to make straight steps for their feet (Psa 39:1; Heb 12:13). Thus this godly fear puts the soul upon its watch, lest from the heart within, or from the devil without, or from the world, or some other temptation, something should surprise and overtake the child of God to defile him, or to cause him to defile the ways of God, and so offend the saints, open the mouths of men, and cause the enemy to speak reproachfully of religion.
Third. There flows from this fear a holy provocation to a reverential converse with saints in their religious and godly assemblies, for their further progress in the faith and way of holiness. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." Spake, that is, of God, and his holy and glorious name, kingdom, and works, for their mutual edification; "a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name" (Mal 3:16). The fear of the Lord in the heart provoketh to this in all its acts, not only of necessity, but of nature: it is the natural effect of this godly fear, to exercise the church in the contemplation of God, together and apart. All fear, good and bad, hath a natural propenseness in it to incline the heart to contemplate upon the object of fear, and though a man should labour to take off his thoughts from the object of his fear, whether that object was men, hell, devils, &c., yet do what he could the next time his fear had any act in it, it would return again to its object. And so it is with godly fear; that will make a man speak of, and think upon, the name of God reverentially (Psa 89:7); yea, and exercise himself in the holy thoughts of him in such sort that his soul shall be sanctified, and seasoned with such meditations. Indeed, holy thoughts of God, such as you see this fear doth exercise the heart withal, prepare the heart to, and for God. This fear therefore it is that David prayed for, for the people, when he said, "O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee" (1 Chron 29:18).
Fourth. There flows from this fear of God great reverence of his majesty, in and under the use and enjoyment of God's holy ordinances. His ordinances are his courts and palaces, his walks and places, where he giveth his presence to those that wait upon him in them, in the fear of his name. And this is the meaning of that of the apostle: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). "And walking"—that word intendeth their use of the ordinances of God. They walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. This, in Old Testament language, is called, treading God's courts, and walking in his paths. This, saith the text, they did here, in the fear of God. That is, in a great reverence of that God whose ordinances they were. "Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord" (Lev 19:30, 26:2).
It is one thing to be conversant in God's ordinances, and another to be conversant in them with a due reverence of the majesty and name of that God whose ordinances they are: it is common for men to do the first, but none can do the last without this fear. "In thy fear," said David, "will I worship" (Psa 5:7). It is this fear of God, therefore, from whence doth flow that great reverence that his saints have in them, of his majesty, in and under the use and enjoyment of God's holy ordinances; and, consequently, that makes our service in the performance of them acceptable to God through Christ (Heb 12). For God expects that we serve him with fear and trembling, and it is odious among men, for a man in the presence, or about the service of his prince, to behave himself lightly, and without due reverence of that majesty in whose presence and about whose business he is. And if so, how can their service to God have anything like acceptation from the hand of God, that is done, not in, but without the fear of God? This service must needs be an abomination to him, and these servers must come off with rebuke.
Fifth. There flows from this godly fear of God, self-denial. That is, a holy abstaining from those things that are either unlawful or inexpedient; according to that of Nehemiah, "The former governors that had been before me, were chargeable unto the people, that had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver, yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God" (Neh 5:15).
Here not was self-denial; he would not do as they did that went before him, neither himself, nor should his servants; but what was it that put him upon these acts of self-denial? The answer is, the fear of God: "but so did not I, because of the fear of God."
Now, whether by the fear of God in this place be meant his Word, or the grace of fear in his heart, may perhaps be a scruple to some, but in my judgment the text must have respect to the latter, to wit, to the grace of fear, for without that being indeed in the heart, the word will not produce that good self-denial in us, that here you find this good man to live in the daily exercise of. The fear of God, therefore, that was the cause of his self-denial, was this grace of fear in his heart. This made him to be, as was said before, tender of the honour of God, and of the salvation of his brother: yea, so tender, that rather than he would give an occasion to the weak to stumble, or be offended, he would even deny himself of that which others never sticked to do. Paul also, through the sanctifying operations of this fear of God in his heart, did deny himself even of lawful things, for the profit and commodity of his brother—"I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" ; that is, if his eating of it would make his brother to offend (1 Cor 8:13).
Men that have not this fear of God in them, will not, cannot deny themselves— of love to God, and the good of the weak, who are subject to stumble at indifferent things—but where this grace of fear is, there follows self-denial; there men are tender of offending; and count that it far better becomes their profession to be of a self-denying, condescending conversation and temper, than to stand sturdily to their own liberty in things inexpedient, whoever is offended thereat. This grace of fear, therefore, is a very excellent thing, because it yieldeth such excellent fruit as this. For this self-denial, of how little esteem soever it be with some, yet the want of it, if the words of Christ be true, as they are, takes quite away from even a professor the very name of a disciple (Matt 10:37,38; Luke 14:26,27,33). They, says Nehemiah, lorded it over the brethren, but so did not I. They took bread and wine, and forty shekels of silver of them, but so did not I; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people, "but so did not I, because of the fear of God."
Sixth. There flows from this godly fear of God "singleness of heart" (Col 3:22). Singleness of heart both to God and man; singleness of heart, that is it which in another place is called sincerity and godly simplicity, and it is this, when a man doth a thing simply for the sake of him or of the law that commands it, without respect to this by-end,
or that desire of praise or of vain-glory from others; I say, when our obedience to God is done by us simply or alone for God's sake, for his Word's sake, without any regard to this or that by-end or reserve, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God." A man is more subject to nothing than to swerve from singleness of heart in his service to God, and obedience to his will. How doth the Lord charge the children of Israel, and all their obedience, and that for seventy years together, with the want of singleness of heart towards him—"When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?" (Zech 7:5,6).
They wanted this singleness of heart in their fasting, and in their eating, in their mourning, and in their drinking; they had double hearts in what they did. They did not as the apostle bids; "whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." And the reason of their want of this thing was, they wanted this fear of God; for that, as the apostle here saith, effecteth singleness of heart to God, and makes a man, as John said of Gaius, "do faithfully whatsoever he doth" (3 John 5). And the reason is, as hath been already urged, for that grace of fear of God retaineth and keepeth upon the heart a reverent and awful sense of the dread majesty and all-seeing eye of God, also a due consideration of the day of account before him; it likewise maketh his service sweet and pleasing, and fortifies the soul against all discouragements; by this means, I say, the soul, in its service to God or man, is not so soon captivated as where there is not this fear, but through and by it its service is accepted, being single, sincere, simple, and faithful; when others, with what they do, are cast into hell for their hypocrisy, for they mix not what they do with godly fear. Singleness of heart in the service of God is of such absolute necessity, that without it, as I have hinted, nothing can be accepted; because where that is wanting, there wanteth love to God, and to that which is true holiness indeed. It was this singleness of heart that made Nathanael so honourable in the eyes of Jesus Christ. "Behold," said he, "an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile" (John 1:47). And it was the want of it that made him so much abhor the Pharisees. They wanted sincerity, simplicity, and godly sincerity in their souls, and so became an abhorrence in his esteem. Now, I say, this golden grace, singleness of heart, it flows from this godly fear of God.
Seventh. There flows from this godly fear of God, compassion and bowels to those of the saints that are in necessity and distress. This is manifest in good Obadiah; it is said of him, "That he took an hundred" of the Lord's "prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water," in the days when Jezebel, that tyrant, sought their lives to destroy them (1 Kings 18:3,4). But what was it that moved so upon his heart, as to cause him to do this thing? Why, it was this blessed grace of the fear of God. "Now Obadiah," saith the text, "feared the Lord greatly, for it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water." This was charity to the distressed, even to the distressed for the Lord's sake.
Had not Obadiah served the Lord, yea, had he not greatly feared him, he would not have been able to do this thing, especially as the case then stood with him, and also with the church at that time, for then Jezebel sought to slay all that indeed feared the Lord; yea, and the persecution prevailed so much at that time, that even Elijah himself thought that she had killed all but him. But now, even now, the fear of God in this good man's heart put forth itself into acts of mercy though attended with so imminent danger. See here, therefore, that the fear of God will put forth itself in the heart where God hath put it, even to show kindness, and to have compassion upon the distressed servants of God, even under Jezebel's nose; for Obadiah dwelt in Ahab's house, and Jezebel was Ahab's wife, and a horrible persecutor, as was said before: yet Obadiah will show mercy to the poor because he feared God, yea, he will venture her displeasure, his place, and neck, and all, but he will be merciful to his brethren in distress. Cornelius, also, being a man possessed with this fear of God, became a very free-hearted and open-handed man to the poor—"He feared God, and gave much alms to the people." Indeed this fear, this godly fear of God, it is a universal grace; it will stir up the soul unto all good duties. It is a fruitful grace; from it, where it is, floweth abundance of excellent virtues; nor without it can there be anything good, or done well, that is done. But,
Eighth. There flows from this fear of God hearty, fervent, and constant prayer. This also is seen in Cornelius, that devout man. He feared God; and what then? why, he gave much alms to the people, "and prayed to God alway" (Acts 10:1,2).
Did I say that hearty, fervent, and constant prayer flowed from this fear of God? I will add, that if the whole duty, and the continuation of it, be not managed with this fear of God, it profiteth nothing at all. It is said of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, "He was heard in that he feared." He prayed, then, because he feared, because he feared God, and therefore was his prayer accepted of him, even because he feared—"He was heard in that he feared" (Heb 5:7). This godly fear is so essential to right prayer, and right prayer is such an inseparable effect and fruit of this fear, that you must have both or none; he that prayeth not feareth not God, yea, he that prayeth not fervently and frequently feareth him not; and so he that feareth him not cannot pray; for if prayer be the effect of this fear of God, then without this fear, prayer, fervent prayer, ceaseth. How can they pray or make conscience of the duty that fear not God? O prayerless man, thou fearest not God! Thou wouldest not live so like a swine or a dog in the world as thou dost, if thou fearest the Lord.
Ninth. There floweth from this fear of God a readiness or willingness, at God's call, to give up our best enjoyments to his disposal. This is evident in Abraham, who at God's call, without delay, rose early in the morning to offer up his only and well-beloved Isaac a burnt-offering in the place where God should appoint him. It was a rare thing that Abraham did; and had he not had this rare grace, this fear of God, he would not, he could not have done to God's liking so wonderful a thing. It is true the Holy Ghost also makes this service of Abraham to be the fruit of his faith—"By faith Abraham offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son" (Heb 11; James 2). Aye, and without doubt love unto God, in Abraham, was not wanting in this his service, nor was this grace of fear; nay, in the story where it is recorded. There it is chiefly accounted for the fruit of his godly fear, and that by an angel from heaven—"And the angel called out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me" (Gen 22:11,12). Now I know it; now, now thou hast offered up thine only Isaac, thine all, at the bidding of thy God. Now I know it. The fear of God is not presently discerned in the heart and life of a man. Abraham had long before this done many a holy duty, and showed much willingness of heart to observe and do the will of God; yet you find not, as I remember, that he had this testimony from heaven that he feared God till now; but now he has it, now he has it from heaven. "Now I know that thou fearest God." Many duties may be done—though I do not say that Abraham did them— without the fear of God; but when a man shall not stick at, or withhold, his darling from God, when called upon by God to offer it up unto him, that declareth, yea, and gives conviction to angels, that now he feareth God.
Tenth. There floweth from this godly fear humility of mind. This is evident, because, when the apostle cautions the Romans against the venom of spiritual pride, he directs them to the exercise of this blessed grace of fear as its antidote. "Be not high-minded," saith he, "but fear" (Rom 11:20). Pride, spiritual pride, which is here set forth by the word "high-minded," is a sin of a very high and damnable nature; it was the sin of the fallen angels, and is that which causeth men to fall into the same condemnation—"Lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil." Pride, I say, it damns a professor with the damnation of devils, with the damnation of hell, and therefore it is a deadly, deadly sin. Now against this deadly sin is set the grace of humility; that comely garment, for so the apostle calls it, saying, "be clothed with humility." But the question is now, how we should attain to, and live in, the exercise of this blessed and comely grace? to which the apostle answers, Fear; be afraid with godly fear, and thence will flow humility—"Be not high-minded, but fear." That is, Fear, or be continually afraid and jealous of yourselves, and of your own naughty hearts, also fear lest at some time or other the devil, your adversary, should have advantage of you.
Fear, lest by forgetting what you are by nature, you also forget the need that you have of continual pardon, support, and supplies from the Spirit of grace, and so grow proud of your own abilities, or of what you have received of God, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Fear, and that will make you little in your own eyes, keep you humble, put you upon crying to God for protection, and upon lying at his foot for mercy; that will also make you have low thoughts of your own parts, your own doings, and cause you to prefer your brother before yourself, and so you will walk in humiliation, and be continually under the teachings of God, and under his conduct in your way. The humble, God will teach—"The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way." From this grace of fear then flows this excellent and comely thing, humility; yea, it also is maintained by this fear. Fear takes off a man from trusting to himself, it puts a man upon trying of all things, it puts a man upon desiring counsel and help from heaven, it makes a man ready and willing to hear instruction, and makes a man walk lowly, softly, and so securely in the way.
Eleventh. There flows from this grace of fear, hope in the mercy of God—"The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy" (Psa 147:11). The latter part of the text is an explanation of the former: as if the psalmist had said, They be the men that fear the Lord, even they that hope in his mercy; for true fear produceth hope in God's mercy. And it is further manifest thus. Fear, true fear of God inclineth the heart to a serious inquiry after that way of salvation which God himself hath prescribed; now the way that God hath appointed, by the which the sinner is to obtain the salvation of his soul, is his mercy as so and so set forth in the Word, and godly fear hath special regard to the Word. To this way, therefore, the sinner with this godly fear submits his soul, rolls himself upon it, and so is delivered from that death into which others, for want of this fear of God, do headlong fall.
It is, as I also hinted before, the nature of godly fear to be very much putting the soul upon the inquiry which is, and which is not, the thing approved of God, and accordingly to embrace it or shun it. Now I say, this fear having put the soul upon a strict and serious inquiry after the way of salvation, at last it finds it to be by the mercy of God in Christ; therefore this fear putteth the soul upon hoping also in him for eternal life and blessedness; by which hope he doth not only secure his soul, but becomes a portion of God's delight—"The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy."
Besides, this godly fear carrieth in it self-evidence that the state of the sinner is happy, because possessed with this happy grace. Therefore, as John saith, "We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). So here, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy." If I fear God, and if my fearing of him is a thing in which he taketh such pleasure, then may I boldly venture to roll myself for eternal life into the bosom of his mercy, which is Christ. This fear also produceth hope; if therefore, poor sinner, thou knowest thyself to be one that is possessed with this fear of God, suffer thyself to be persuaded therefore to hope in the mercy of God for salvation, for the Lord takes pleasure in thee. And it delights him to see thee hope in his mercy.
Twelfth. There floweth from this godly fear of God an honest and conscientious use of all those means which God hath ordained, that we should be conversant in for our attaining salvation. Faith and hope in God's mercy is that which secureth our justification and hope, and as you have heard, they do flow from this fear. But now, besides faith and hope, there is a course of life in those things in which God hath ordained us to have our conversation, without which there is no eternal life. "Ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" ; and again, "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Not that faith and hope are deficient, if they be right, but they are both of them counterfeit when not attended with a reverent use of all the means: upon the reverent use of which the soul is put by this grace of fear. "Wherefore, beloved," said Paul, "as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in mine absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Rom 6:22; Heb 12:14; Phil 2:11).
There is a faith and hope of mercy that may deceive a man (though the faith of God's elect, and the hope that purifies the heart never will), because they are alone, and not attended with those companions that accompany salvation (Heb 6:3-8). But now this godly fear carries in its bowels, not only a moving of the soul to faith and hope in God's mercy, but an earnest provocation to the holy and reverent use of all the means that God has ordained for a man to have his conversation in, in order to his eternal salvation. "Work out your salvation with fear." Not that work is meritorious, or such that can purchase eternal life, for eternal life is obtained by hope in God's mercy; but this hope, if it be right, is attended with this godly fear, which fear putteth the soul upon a diligent use of all those means that may tend to the strengthening of hope, and so to the making of us holy in all manner of conversation, that we may be meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. For hope purifieth the heart, if fear of God shall be its companion, and so maketh a man a vessel of mercy prepared unto glory. Paul bids Timothy to fly pride, covetousness, doting about questions, and the like, and to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience; to fight the good fight of faith, and to lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6).
So Peter bids that we "add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity" ; adding, "for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-11). The sum of all which is that which was mentioned before; to wit, "to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." For none of these things can be conscientiously done, but by and with the help of this blessed grace of fear.
Thirteenth. There flows from this fear, this godly fear, a great delight in the holy commands of God, that is, a delight to be conformable unto them. "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments" (Psa 112:1). This confirmeth that which was said before, to wit, that this fear provoketh to a holy and reverent use of the means; for that cannot be, when there is not an holy, yea, a great delight in the commandments. Wherefore this fear maketh the sinner to abhor that which is sin, because that is contrary to the object of his delight. A man cannot delight himself at the same time in things directly opposite one to another, as sin and the holy commandment is; therefore Christ saith of the servant, he cannot love God and mammon—"Ye cannot serve God and mammon." If he cleaves to the one, he must hate and despise the other; there cannot at the same time be service to both, because that themselves are at enmity one with the other. So is sin and the commandment. Therefore if a man delighteth himself in the commandment, he hateth that which is opposite, which is sin: how much more when he greatly delighteth in the commandment? Now, this holy fear of God it taketh the heart and affections from sin, and setteth them upon the holy commandment. Therefore such a man is rightly esteemed blessed. For no profession makes a man blessed but that which is accompanied with an alienation of the heart from sin, nor doth anything do that when this holy fear is wanting. It is from this fear then, that love to, and delight in, the holy commandment floweth, and so by that the sinner is kept from those falls and dangers of miscarrying that other professors are so subject to: he greatly delights in the commandment.
Fourteenth. Lastly, There floweth from this fear of God, enlargement of heart. "Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged" (Isa 60:5). "Thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged," enlarged to God- ward, enlarged to his ways, enlarged to his holy people, enlarged in love after the salvation of others. Indeed when this fear of God is wanting, though the profession be never so famous, the heart is shut up and straitened, and nothing is done in that princely free spirit which is called "the spirit of the fear of the Lord" (Psa 51:12; Isa 11:2). But with grudging, legally, or with desire of vain-glory, this enlargedness of heart is wanting, for that flows from this fear of the Lord.
Thus have I showed you both what this fear of God is, what it flows from, and also what doth flow from it. I come now to show you some OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THEM THAT THUS DO FEAR THE LORD.
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15. Alas! how few attain to this most blessed state. To delight so in the Word— to make it so much our daily study, and the object of our meditations at night, as to have "its very form engraven upon the face of our souls." Happy is the man that is in such a case. O my soul, why is it not thy case?—Ed. 
16. The filial fear of God is most prevalent when the heart is impressed with a lively sense of the love of God manifested in Christ. As a dutiful and obedient child fears to offend an affectionate parent, or as a person of grateful heart would be extremely careful not to grieve a kind and bountiful friend, who is continually loading him with favours and promoting his true happiness; so, and much more, will the gracious soul be afraid of displeasing the Lord, his bountiful and unwearied benefactor, who is crowning him with loving kindness and tender mercies.—Mason. 
17. It is no new thing for those who are in public places, to seek themselves more than the public welfare; nay, and to serve themselves by the public loss.— Henry. 
18. How does this remind us of the character of By-ends in the "Pilgrim's Progress" !—Ed. 
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