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Father's providential care. Rather as it regards these things, we should consider that the lot which we call ours, has been
apportioned to us by his infinite wisdom and unerring love. “What time,” therefore, of worldly privation-loss-suffering, or fear may come upon us, let us say with David, “I will trust in thee.” He was driven from his kingdom, lost his courtly flatterers, and his foreign friends-was poor, despised, and hunted as a partridge upon the mountains-was in hungriness and thirstiness -and in perils often-yet he could say—“What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.”
2. He has revealed the doctrine of his grace as an antidote to all those fears which result from sin and guilt. Those fears are numerous and alarming which are excited by a sense of sin, when that is produced by the threatenings of the law, and by the convincing energy of the Holy Spirit. These fears may be classed under four different views, which
affect different minds in a different way, and which sometimes do all combine to afflict with fear at the same time the same individual soul. They relate sometimes, (1.) To the possibility of salvation at all. We almost seem to doubt whether a God so just and so pure can extend mercy to us who are so vile and so guilty. To remove this fear, he has exhibited the plenitude of his love in the unspeakable gift of his dear Son. He assures us that whosoeder believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. That he is even waiting to be gracious, and ready to pardon. (2.) Sometimes fears are excited from the power of sin in our nature. We have so often tried to overcome it, and instead of enjoying success, have endured defeat; and hence we have been ready to think it cannot be subdued, and that we must remain under its awful tyrannizing power for ever. A soul quickened by the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit is very liable to fall under the influence of this fear; but, to counteract it, God has, in the riches of his mercy, given his word that he will subdue our iniquities—that sin shall not have dominion over us; nay, he has given his Holy Spirit, whose power is invincible and irresistible, to help. us in our warfare against it, and has encouraged us by recording many instances, both in the Old and New Testa
ments, of victory over it. (3.) Sometimes fears relate to the guilt of sin in the conscience. The corroding sense of wretchedness which it produces, seems incapable of cure, It infixes what we conceive its deadly and envenomed sting in our very heart. We are filled with bitter distress—we are bowed even to the dust-we
“cannot look up”—we cry out with the Psalmist, "We are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.” Now this fear God removes by applying the blood of Jesus to the conscience, and by enabling us to rely on the great sacrifice for sin once offered on the cross, and by a believing view of a crucified Jesus, we feel the anguish all allayed, and the troubled spirit set at rest. He says, whose word cannot fail, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (4.) Our fears may relate to the penal consequences of sin, and then we apprehend after death, that wrath which burns like fire—that judgment-seat from which we feel we may be driven, and cast down to mourning, darkness, and despair for ever. Under the influence of such fears, we sometimes in imagination seem to be standing like the trembling Israelites at the foot of Sinai, our hearts faint its appalling thunders, our faces grow pale before its vivid
or we imagine ourselves standing at the still more awful bar of God, and we fancy that we have heard, through the confusion and agitation of our spirit, the awful words pass the lips of the Son of God, “Depart, ye cursed.” Now to counteract and remove these fears, as well as all the others we have referred to, God has caused it to be written, “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” “He that believeth shall not come into condemnation;" and has taught us to say, in anticipation of that day, “Who is he that condemneth ? it is God that justifieth,” &c.
3. He has revealed the doctrine of immortal glory and blessedness to remove the fear of death and our anxiety concerning another world—and in this respect we may
say, “What time I am afraid” of death—of passing that bourne whence no traveller returns, of entering the awful shadows of that world unknown—" I will trust in thee,” Christ brought
life and immortality to light, and taught us that the departing soul of a penitent sinner passes immediately to glory. Witness the case of the dying thief. “ This day,” said Jesus, “shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Witness the language of the Apostle, “ Absent from the body, present with the Lord." The resurrection of Jesus Christ was designed, besides other important purposes, to subserve this,-viz., of removing our fears concerning death and the grave. In his resurrection we have at once the pledge and the pattern of our own.
III. THERE IS A GREAT BLESSEDNESS IN KNOWING THIS RE.
SOURCE BEFORE OUR FEARS COME.
1. In some cases the knowledge of this divine resource has delivered the mind from all fear.-Fear concerning the body or the soul-life or death, the grave or eternity. The experience of Job was remarkable, He said, “ Though he slay me yet will I trust in him :” and thus it is said concerning our exposure to all external dangers, “ The righteous is bold as a lion.”
2. Where it does not do this, it may prevent the worst effects of fear. Though it may not prevent the soul from being shaken and tried, yet it will preserve the true believer from being so shaken as to be removed from the good foundation. Two ships in a storm, the one with a good anchor and anchorage, and the other without either, meet that storm under widely different circumstances. The Apostle says, “ Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Unbelievers and those that know not this resource in a time of fear, are like chaff which the wind driveth away; they are all confusion, distraction, and despair. What is more common than to hear them exclaim in seasons of temporal calamity, “My all is gone?” How opposite the spirit of David in the text, and in that remarkable psalm in which he says, “God is our refuge and strength-therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Similar to this is the language of the church. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom,” &c. Habb. iii. 17.
3. Sometimes in the most fearful circumstances it enables us not only in patience to possess our souls, but to glorify God.
- This was remarkably illustrated in the experience of David. His trust in God enabled him to triumph over all troubles, all obstacles, all enemies, and all fears—and also in Stephen, and in Paul, who feared not the face of any adversary, nor the swelling sea of any billows of trouble—nor the fierceness of any scene of persecution. The honour which such trust brings to God was strikingly exhibited in Daniel and the three Hebrew youths. It was thus David glorified God in the midst of trouble, when he exclaimed “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, The Lord is on my side. I will not fear what man can do unto me,”
IV. THE GREATEST OF ALL FEARS WILL SEIZE UPON THOSE WHO KNOW NOT THIS ONLY TRUE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR.
1. The absence of that salutary fear, which leads to provision against danger, proves the extremity of that danger in which we are involved. It is not the sick man's assurance to his friends, while under the influence of delirium, that he is perfectly well, which would convince them of the fact, but would rather seem to impress them with the severity of his malady. It is not the absence of pain in the mortified limb, however it might deceive the unhappy patient, that would induce the physician to infer that health was at hand. Who is so insensible to the awfulness of death as the dead themselves ? and the absence of fear in the sinner's heart is rather a proof that his danger is becoming extreme; for after his hardness and impenitent heart he is treasuring up to himself wrath against the day of wrath.
2. That fear which is accompanied with utter despair must be the portion of those who have not found the true refuge.They will, like Balaam, behold Christ, but it will be afar off. They will be forsaken of mercy, sealed up in wrath, and given over to the blackness of darkness and despair for ever. We can scarcely conceive in this world of any state of mind more miserable than that of despair; yet the despair of sinners who die impenitent must be eternal. They will be shut up for ever in darkness—no ray of hope will ever beam upon them--the Scriptures declare they shall go away into everlasting punishment—the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever.
3. They will realize infinitely more than they ever feared in the very deepest seasons of their despair in this life.-For it is very certain no man ever formed a sufficiently awful idea of the wrath of God, of the worm that dieth not, and of eternity. Let all these considerations induce sinners to prize that refuge of mercy and grace which the gospel presents, and let us be allowed to turn them all into an occasion for urging upon them the immediate and indispensable necessity of trust in God. This will quiet all their anxieties about this life, without depriving them of any human or lawful resources—this will deliver them from all those fears which a sinful state may well inspire, and bring into their soul that peace which shall flow like a river, and that joy which no man can take from them.
( A Fragment, by the late Rev. Robert Hall,)
[From his own MSS.]
Among the bitter fruits of our common apostasy is to be enumerated the propensity to falsify the dictates of the mind, which prevails to a great extent in the social intercourse of mankind. The wicked, saith the Psalmist, are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, telling lies. It is a principle of that corrupt nature denominated the old man, which the Christian is under the most solemn obligation to put off. It is scarcely necessary to define a lie. To lie is to utter something contrary to the inward sense of the mind. This