תמונות בעמוד

Every day the Jews were to offer sacrifice. “Every day,” saith the Psalmist, “I will bless thee.” When we can say so too, we prove that it is not fear, nor custom, but a divine principle that regulates our observation of the Lord's day ; and announce to our fellow Christians a meetness for the long and brilliant day of eternity, when the Lord shall reveal himself more gloriously, and our services and enjoyments be more exalted.



Psalm lvi, 3,



Nothing can present a more striking contrast than the two objects included in the words of this text—the Creator, all grandeur, certainty, and independence, the creature, all meanness, feebleness, and insecurity. It is impossible for us to form a conception sufficiently exact of the self-sufficiency and glory of that Being who is here exhibited as the supreme object of David's trust-and it is scarcely possible for us to set forth in a view sufficiently impressive and humbling all those circumstances which should impel our feeble nature to repose under those wide-spread wings, which afford to all who flee to them refuge from every fear, and a security against every foe. He in whom we are invited and encouraged to trust can be subject to no surprise-his power to no decay-his counsels to no defeat. It is delightful to contemplate such a Being against whom there can be no counsel,-in whom there can be no change, as the resource and the rock of our souls amidst the conflicting elements of this world's strife,-the perils of this mortal voyage, and the incessant fluctuations of all sublunary objects. For this life is full of surprise,—every day is full of casualties—every thing we see or touch is fleeting, fugitive, and

uncertain, “ fear is on every side.” We may fear our blessings and fear our sufferings—we may fear our friends and fear our enemies —we may fear for others and fear for ourselves—we may fear the past, the present, and the future—but “ they that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed.”Our own weakness, and God's strength-our own exposedness, and his security-our own feebleness, and the protection of his power, are all so many arguments to evince the wisdom of the Psalmist's resolution in the text, and to show us the propriety of adopting it as our own—“What time I am afraid I will trust in thee."



Here a distinction must be observed between those circumstances or times which do most excite fears, and those which ought to do so. For those cases which ought to awaken the greatest fears, usually occasion the least—and those which should excite the least, commonly call forth the greatest. How extreme is the anxiety of men, when they lose or are only threatened with losing their property-some are driven to desperation, and, in their vexation, abandon their families or friends, and rush unprepared out of life. How great are the fears of others when they are threatened with the loss of some darling object of affection—when their own health is endangered, or when those on whom they have depended are likely to be removed from them. Many cases occur in life of this description, involving only our temporal interest, our natural enjoyments, our mere sensual gratification, which yet appear to most per: sons of a most momentous character, and are found to excite their fears to the highest possible degree. But we design to account all such fears inordinate, and not worthy to be compared for a moment with those which result from spiritual things, or from the spiritual condition of our own souls. All these fears do but regard the habitation, while those of which we speak relate to the inhabitant; the one class result from things which, though now they are, will soon cease to be; the other class relate to things which will for ever retain their importance, and are connected with that part of our nature which will never die.

1. Then our state of sin should awaken fear, great fear in our heart.—The fact that we are transgressors against God, that we are exposed to the sentence of a broken law, that that law is sustained by almighty power, should seize upon our minds, and bring us in the dust of humiliation and penitence before God. It should do so for the following reasons:—the greatness of the evil contained in every act of sin, we cannot compute its malignity, we cannot conceive its hatefulness.

It should do so because of the miseries it has inflicted, is inflicting, and will inflict, and because in its nature it is destructive both to body and soul, and dishonourable to the Creator of both.

2. Well may we fear when conscience convicts and condemns. It is a fearful thing to arm this bitter and severe accuser against us; yet conscience is only a faint echo of the voice of God, its eye fixed upon us is but a feeble representation of that all-comprehending, all-penetrating glance of Jehovah, by whom the guilt of every sin is accurately weighed, and from whose knowledge no transgression can be concealed. 66 And if our heart condemn us," says the apostle, “God is greater than our heart,” that is, in his sense of what is wrong, in his perception of our criminality, in his knowledge of the bearings of sin, in his estimate of its perils and consequences, and in his

power to avenge it. Well then

may conscience make a man afraid; it has made cowards of the most courageous, it has compelled the mighty man to tremble, and loosened the loins of kings seated on their thrones, and attended by all the pomp and splendour of human glory-Belshazzar-Felix.

3. In times of temptation we ought to fear.—Then fear is seasonable and may be salutary. It may prevent that vain confidence in our own strength, which is the almost certain precursor of a fall. It will lead to a dread of the consequences of the sin to which we are tempted—the guilt we shall incur—the pollution of spirit--the bitter reflections—the shame and the anguish;

-we should fear to listen to the tempter—not a moment should be spent in dallying-in hearkening to what may be urged in favour of the evil. Our safety is in fear and flight. There are three things to be specially feared-our own weaknes—the insinuating nature of sin—and the subtlety of the tempter. Observe Joseph in the hour of severe temptation, and mark how salutary was his fear. Sin consists at such times not in being tempted, but in listening for a moment to any argument that can be adduced in favour of a guilty action.

4. A backsliding state may well make us afraid.—This is, indeed, a most affecting and awful state of mind, to have lost the little evidences of piety we may have once enjoyed. Its cause is generally sin indulged, or duty neglected, and it is therefore evil in its cause, nature, and consequences. It should produce fear, because in itself it is a state of danger, and because in its fruits and tendencies it leads to a still worse state-because it is a condition threatened with the divine displeasure, and, if persisted in, it is an evidence we were never truly converted to God. To such, the Saviour says, “Repent, and do thy first works,” We should fear to remain a day or an hour in such a state, for, thus separated from Christ, we have no life in us,

and every day we continue in such a condition we make our return to God more difficult and less probable.

5. To be in affliction and nigh to death in a state of impenitence, is a state which should excite the greatest fears,-For how awful is the condition of a soul, even in health, whose sins are unforgiven, and whose heart is at enmity with God; but how much more fearful the state of such a soul when death is at hand, and when judgment seems already beginning upon his personwhen he is standing on the very threshold of eternity, and is just entering the vestibule of hell. Then, indeed, there is great reason to fear that he is given over to hardness of heart, that there may not be space enough left him for a sound repentance; that mercy, so long slighted and despised, may be clean gone, and that God may design to make him the monument of his justice for ever. The

proper and only safe frame of mind under affliction is humiliation for our weakness and penitence for those sins which may have drawn reluctant judgment from the hand of God. This ought to lead to holy and unreserved confidence in his fatherly intentions; but where the opposite frame exists, and where hardness and impenitence of heart is accompanied with an entire disregard of divine mercy, with reluctance to part with earthly good, a determination to cleave to it as our portion, even to the last, and with murmurs against Providence; surely such a state of mind is most fearful, and indicative that our character bears nothing but briars and thorns, like that ground mentioned in Scripture, nigh unto cursing, whose end was to be burned.



1. God has revealed the doctrine of his providence as an antidote to all those fears which relate to this life.—Let us briefly look to this doctrine as it is brought before us in holy Scripture. God has represented himself as the Father of the whole family of man--the Creator of the world, and of all things in it. He is exhibited as sustaining, guiding, and directing all with a father's anxious solicitude and watchful care, He is intimately acquainted with the dependent nature of all his creatures, and provides, according to his infinite wisdom, for their wants, as long as he sees fit to continue them in this present state. He cannot be absent from us a single moment, nor forgetful of our feebleness, nor unmindful of our numerous and unceasing necessities. The

eyes of all wait upon him,” &c. To excite our confidence in his providence, and to convince us of its comprehensiveness and minuteness, our Saviour has directed us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and has taught us to infer, by a most sound and salutary mode of reasoning, that if God takes care of the different inferior classes of beings and objects of nature, he will much more take care of us. No loss of property-no loss of friends--no loss of earthly enjoyments can necessarily involve us in the loss of our heavenly

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