« הקודםהמשך »
his power he would molest us daily, and we had never escaped so far as we have done: our daily experience telleth us that we have a protector.
Directions against the sinful Fear of Men, and sufferings by them.
Direct. 1. “Bottom thy soul and hopes on Christ, and lay up thy treasure in heaven; be not a worldling that liveth in hope of happiness in the creature; and then thou art so far above the fear of men, as knowing that thy treasure is above their reach, and thy foundation and fortress safe from theirassaults".’ It is a base, hypocritical, worldly heart that maketh you immoderately afraid of men Are you afraid lest they should storm and plunder heaven? Or lest they cast you into hell? or lest they turn God against you? or lest they bribe or overawe your judge? No, no! these are none of your fears l No, you are not so much as afraid lest they hinder one of your prayers from prevailing with God; nor lest their prison walls and chains should keep out God and his Spirit from you, and force you from your communion with him! You are not afraid lest they forcibly rob you of one degree of grace, or heavenly mindedness, or hopes of the life to come ! (If it be lest they hinder you from these by tempting or affrighting you into sin, (which is all the hurt they can do your souls,)then you are the more engaged to cast away the fears of their hurting your bodies, because that is their very temptation to hurt your souls.) No, it is their hurting of your flesh, the diminishing your estates, the depriving you of your liberty or worldly accommodations, or of your lives, which is the thing you fear. And doth not this shew how much your hearts are yet on earth? and how much unmortified worldliness and fleshliness is still within you? and how much yet your hearts are false to God and heaven? O how the discovery should humble you! to find that you are yet no more dead to the things of the world, and that the cross of Christ hath yet no more crucified it to you! to find that yet the fleshly interest is so powerful in you; and the interest of Christ and heaven so low ! that God seemeth not enough for you, and that you cannot take heaven alone for your portion, but are so much afraid of losing earth! O presently search into the bottom of this corruption in your hearts, and lament your worldliness and hypocrisy, and work it out, and set your hearts and hopes above, and be content with God and heaven alone, and then this inordinate fear of man will have nothing left to work upon, Direct. 11. “Set God against man, and his wisdom against their policy, and his love and mercy against his malice and cruelty, and his power against their impotency, and his truth, and omniscience, and righteousness against their slanders and lies, and his promises against their threatenings; and then if yet thou artinordinately afraid of man, thou must confess that in that measure, thou believest not in God.” If God be not wise enough, and good enough, and just enough, and powerful enough to save thee, so far as it is best for thee to be saved, then he is not God: away with atheism, and then fear not man. Direct. 111. “Remember what man is that thou art afraid of.” He is a bubble raised by Providence, to toss about the world, and for God to honour himself by or upon. He is the mere product of his Maker's will: his breath is in his nostrils he is hasting to his dust, and in that day his worldly hopes and thoughts do perish with him. He is a worm that God can in one moment tread into the earth and hell. He is a dream, a shadow, a dry leaf or a little chaff, that is blown awhile about the world". He is just ready in the height of his pride and fury, to drop into the grave; and that same man or all those men, whom now thou fearest, shall one of these days, most certainly lie rotting in the dust, and be hid in darkness, lest their ugly sight and stink be an annoyance to the living. Where now are all the proud ones that made such a bustle in the world but awhile ago? In one age they look big, and boast of their power, and rebel, and usurp authority, and are mad to be great and rulers in the world, or persecute the ministers and people of the Lord ; and in the next (or in the same) they are viler than the dirt; their carcases are buried, or their bones scattered abroad, and made the horror and wonder of beholders. And is this a creature to be feared above God, or against God? See Isa. li. 7. “Hearken to me ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation. Isa. ii. 22. “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his mostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Psal. cxlvi. 3, 4. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help: his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” When Herod was magnified as a god, he could not save himself from being devoured alive by worms. When Pharaoh was in his pride and glory, he could not save his people from frogs, and flies, and lice. Saith God to Sennacherib, “The virgin, the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn,-and hath shaken her head at thee; whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice and lifted thine eyes on high?" O what a worm is man that you are so afraid of: Direct. Iv. “Remember that men as well as devils are chained, and dependant upon God, and have no power but what he giveth them, and can do nothing but by his permission.’ And if God will have it done, thou hast his promise that it shall work unto thy good". And are you afraid lest God should do you good by them? If you see the knife or lancet in an enemy's hand only, you might fear it; but if you see it in the surgeon's or in a father's hand, though nature will a little shrink, yet reason will forbid you to make any great matter of it, or inordinately to fear. What if God will permit Joseph's brethren to bind him, and sell him to the Amalekites? and his master's wife to cause him to be imprisoned? Is he not to be trusted in all this, that he will turn it to his good? What if he will permit Shimei to curse c Rom. viii. 28.
* Omnia Christe tui superant tormenta ferendo. Tollere quae nequeunt, hac tolerare queunt. His vita caruisse frui est: posuisse potiri. Et superässe pati est: et superesse inori.
Ad tribunal aeternum judicis justi provocatio salva est: solet is perperam judicata rescindere. Petrarch. Dial. 66, lib. 2.
WOL. III. x
* Job xiii.25. Psal. i. 5, 6. lxviii. 2. lxxiii. 20. Job xx. 8. Victor Uticens, saith of Augustine, that he died of fear. Nunc illud eloquentiae, quod ubertim
per omnes campos ecclesiae decurrebat, ipso metu siccatum est flumen; when Gensericus besieged Hippo.
David; or the king to cast Daniel into the lion's den; or the three confessors into the furnace of fire? Do you believe that your Father's will is the disposer of all? and yet are you afraid of man? Our Lord told Pilate when he boasted of his power to take away his life or save it, “Thou couldst have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above".” I know you will say that it is only as God's instruments that you fear them, and that if you were certain of his favour, and were not first afraid of his wrath, you should not fear the wrath of men. Answ. By this you may see then what it is to be disobedient, and to cherish your fears of God's displeasure, and to hinder your own assurance of his love, when this must be the cause of, or the pretence for so many other sins. But if really you fear them but as the instruments of God's displeasure; 1. Why then did you no more fear his displeasure before, when the danger from men did not appear 2 you know God never wanteth instruments to execute his wrath or will. 2. And why fear you not the sin which doth displease him more than the instruments, when they could do you no hurt were it not for sin 7 3. And why do you not more fear them as tempters than as afflicters? and consequently why fear you not their flatteries, and enticements, and preferments, and your prosperity, more than adversity, when prosperity more draweth you away to sin. 4. And why fear you not hell more than any thing that man can do against you, when God threateneth hell more than human penalties. 5. And why do you not apply yourselves to God chiefly for deliverance, but study how to pacify man? why do you with more fear and care, and diligence, and compliance, apply yourselves to those that you are afraid of, if you fear God more than them? Repent and make your peace with God through Christ, and then be quiet, if it be God that you are afraid of: your business then is not first with the creature, but with God. 6. And if you fear them only as God’s instruments, why doth not your fear make you the more cautiously to fly from further guilt, but rather make you to think of
* John xix. 11. Valentinianus jussus ab Imperatore Juliano immolare idolis, aut militia excedere, sponte discessit: nec mora, qui pronomine Christi amiserat tribunatum, in locum persecutoris sui accepit imperium. Paul. Diaconus, lib. i. p. 1.
stretching your consciences as far as ever you dare, and venturing as far as you dare upon God’s displeasure, to escape man's 2 Are these signs that you fear them only as the instruments of God's displeasure? or do you see how deceitful a thing your heart is ? Indeed man is to be feared in a full subordination to God, 1. As his officers, commanding us to obey him; 2. As his executioners, punishing us for disobeying him; 3. But not as satan's instruments, (by God’s permission) afflicting us for obeying him, or without desert. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil".” Would you have the fuller exposition of this? It is in 1 Pet. iii. 10–17. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers : but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.” See also 1 Peter iv. 13–15'. Direct. v. “Either you fear suffering from men as guilty or as innocent; for evil-doing, or for well-doing, or for nothing! If as guilty and for evil-doing, turn your fears the right way, and fear God, and his wrath for sin, and his
* Rom. xiii. 3, 4. * When Socrates' wife, lamenting him said, Injuste morieris: he answered, An tu juste malles? Diog. Laert. in Socrat, lib. ii. sect. 35. p. 102.