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coming upon them, and he koew if the fond, and immoderate love of life were not overcome, and mortified in them, it would make them warp, and bend under such temptations.
This was it that freed Paul from Navish fears, and made him fo magnanimous, and undauoted; indeed he had less fear upon his spirits, tho' he was to suffer thole hard, and sharp things, in his own person, than his friends had, who only sympathized with him, and were pot farther concerned, than by their own love, and pity : he spake like a man who was rather a spectator, than a sufferer. Acts xx. 24, 25.“ None of these things move “ me,” faith he. Great foul! not moved with bonds, and affictions ! how did he attain fo great courage, and coultancy of mind, in such deep, and dreadful sufferings ! It was enough to have moved the stoutest man in the world, yea, and to have removed the resolutions of any that had not loved Christ better than his owo life : but life was a trifle to him, in comparison with Jesus Christ, for fo he tells us in the next words, “ I count " pot my life dear unto me," q. d. It is a low-prized commodity in my eyes, not worth the saving, or regarding ou such sinful terms. Oh! how many have parted with Christ, peace, and eternal life, for fear of loling that which Paul regarded pot. Aod if we briog our thoughts closer to the matter, we shall foon find that this is a fountaig of fears in times of danger, and that from this excessive love of life we are racked and tortured with ten thousand terrors. For,
1. Life is che greatest and acarest interest meo natura!ly have in this world, and that which wraps up all other interior in terefts in itself, Job ii. 4. “ Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, " will be give for his life.” It is a real truth, thought it came from the mouth of the father of lies ; africtions never touch the quick, till they touch the life ; liberty, estates, and other accommodations in this world receive their value and elimation from hence ; if life be cut off, these accidents perish, and are of Do account, Gen. xxv. 32. “Behold I am at the point to die, “ (laid Esau) and what profit shall this birth-right do to me?"
2. Life being naturally the dearest interest of men in this world, the richest treasure, and most beloved thing on earth, to a natural man; that which strikes at, and endangers life, must, in his eyes, be the greatest evil that can befal him; on this account death becomes terrible to men ; yea, as Job calls it, the king of terrors, Job xviii. 14. The black prince, or the prince of clouds and darkness, as some translate those words : Yea, fo is terrible is death upon this account, that the very fear of it hath fome
Vol. IV, . . . E
times precipitated men into the hands of it, as we sometimes of ferve in times of peltileace, the exceslive fear of the plague hath induced it *.
3. Though death be terrible in any shape, in the mildelt form it can appear in ; yet a violent and bloody death, by the hands of cruel and merciless men, is the most terrible form that death can appear in; it is now the king of terrors indeed, in the most ghastly representation and frightful form, in its fearlet robes, and terrifying formalities; in a violent death, all the barbarous cruelty that the wit of our enemies can invent, of their malice inflict, is mingled together; in a violent death are many deaths converted into ooc, and it oftentimes approaches meu by such stow and deliberated paces, that they feel every tread of its foot, as it advanceth towards them. Moriatur, ut sentiat je mori; Ler bin fo die, (faid the tyrant) that he may feel himself to die; yea, and how he dies by inch-meal, or slow, lingering degrees and this is exceeding frightful, especially to those that are of most soft and tender nature and temper who must needs be struck through with the terrors of death, except, the Lord árm them against it with the assurance of a better life, and fweeten these bitter apprehensions by the foretastes of it. This is enough to put eved fanctified pature into consternation, and make a very gracious heart to fink, unless it be so upheld by
divine strength and comfort : And hence come many, very ma. 11y of our fears and terrors, especially when the same enemies
that have been accustomed to this bloody work, shall be fouod confederating and designing again to break in upon us, and act over again as much cruelty, as ever they have done upon our brethren in times past.
Cause 6. To conclude: many of our sinful fears and conster. nations fow from the influences of Satan upon our phantafies. · They say winds, and storms are oft-times raised by Satan, both
hy sea and land; and I never doubted, but the prince of the power of the air, by God's permission, can, and often doch, put the world into great frights and disturbances by such tempelts, Job. i. 19. He can raise the loftiest wiods, pour down foaring fhowers, rattle in the air with fearful claps of thunder, and scare
:' * Galen reports, that some have died suddenly through fear : It is not therefore a thing to be wondered at, in the opinion of Arif. totle, and almost all others, that a man should die, through the fear of death. Tlie fear of evil sometimes brings ou men that which they dread; as is evident from the example of those whose fear has prevented the death appointed them by the judge. Stern.en Death, p.167
The lower world with terrible Aalhes of lightning. And I doubt not but he hath, by the same permission, a great deal of influence and power upon the fancies and passions of men; and cap raise more terrible storms and tempelis within us, than ever we heard or felt without us : he can by leave from God, approach our phan talies, difturb and trouble them exceedingly by forming frightful ideas there ; for Satan not only works upon men mediately, by the ministry of their external senses, but by reason of his fpiritual, angelical nature, he can have immediate access to the internal sease also, as appears by dialolical dreams; and by practising upon that power of the soul, he influences the passions of it, and puts it uoder very dreadful apprehensions and con. Stergations. Now if Satan can provoke and exasperate the fury and rage of wicked men, as it is evident he can do, as well as he can go to the magazines and Nore-houses of thunder, lightpings, and storms: O what inward forms of fear can he shake our hearts withal, and if God give him but a permission, how ready will he be to do it, seeing it is so cooducible to his design : for by putting men into such frights, he at once weakens their hands in duty, as is plain from his attempt his way upon Nehemiah, chap. vi. 13. and if he prevail there, he drives them into the spares and trains of his temptations, as the fifherman and fowler do the birds and fishes into their nets, when once they have fushed and frighted them out of their coveris. And thus you have fome account of the principal and true causes of our sinful fears.
nate fear, both in carnal and regenerate persons.
1. the kinds and causes of fear, and leen what lies at the root of slavilh fear, and both breeds and feeds it, what fruit can we expect from such a cursed plant, but gall and wormwood, fruit as bitter as death itself ? Let us then, in the pext place, examioc and well copsider these following and deplorable effects of fear, to excite us to apply ourselves the more concernedly to those directions that follow in the close of this treatile, for the cure of it. And,
Effect 1. The first effect of this linful and exorbitant paflioa, is distraction of mind and thoughts in duty: Both Cicero aod Quintilian will have the word tumultus, a tumuli, to come from
pace, examins bitter as deach a curled breeds and lice
ceatise of Fearhose two wd puts
A Practical Treatise of Fear. timor multus, much fear, it is a compound of those two words; much fear raises great uproars and tumults in the soul, and puts all into hurries and distractions, so that we cannot attend upon any service of God, with profit or comfort. It was therefore a very necessary mercy that was requested of God, Luke i. 74. “ That we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, " might serve him without fear.” For it is impossible to serve God without distractions, till we can serve him without the Navith fear of enemies. The reverential fear of God is the greatest spur to duty, and choicest help in it, but the distracting fears of men will either wholly divert us from our duty, or destroy the comfort and benefit of our duties; it is a deadly snare of the devil-to hioder all comfortable intercourfe with God.
It is very remarkable, that when the apostle was giving his advice to the Corinthians, about marriage in those times of perfecution, and difficulty, he commends to them a fingle life as moft eligible : Where it may be without sinful inconveniencies, and that principally for this reason, “ That they might attend upon “ the Lord without distraction," i Cor. vii. 35. He forefaw what straits, cares, and fears must unavoidably distract them in ✓ such times that were most clogged and incumbred with families
and relations; when a man should be thinking, O what shall I . do now to get my doubts and fears resolved about my interest in
Christ? How may I so bchave myself in my sufferings as to credit religion, and not become a scandal and stumbling-stone to others ? His thoughts are taken up with other cares and fears: O what will become of my wife and poor little ones? What shall I do with them, and for them, to secure them from danger.
I doubt pot but it is a great desigo of the devil to keep us in contioual alarms and frights, and to puzzle our beads and hearts with a thousand difficulties, which posibly may never befal us, or if they do, shall never prove so fatal to us as we fancy them, and all this is to unfit us for our present duties, and destroy our comfort therein ; for if by frights and terrors of mind he can but once distract our thoughts, he gains three great points upon us, to our uofpeakable loss, • 1. Hereby he will cut off the freedom and sweetness of our communion with God in duties, and what an empty shell will the best duties be, when this kernel is wormed out by such a subtle artifice ? Prayer, as Damascen aptly expresses it is 'ArcBack5 78 ye, the ascension of the mind or soul to God ; but distraction clips its wings; he can never offer up his soul and thoughts to God, that hath not the possession of them himself
and be that is under distracting fears poffefseth not himfelf. The life of all communion with God in prayer, coolists in the barmony that is betwixt our hearts and words, and both with the will of God; this harmony is spoiled by distractions, and so Satan gains that point.
2. But this is not all he gaios, and we lose, by distracting fears; for as they cut off the freedom and sweetness of our intercourse with God in prayer, so they cut off the soul from the fuccours and reliefs it might otherwise draw from the promises. We find when the Ifraelities were in great bondage, wherein their minds were distracted with fears and sorrows, they regarded not the supporting promises of deliverance sent them by Moses, Exod. vi. 3. David had an express and particular promise of the kingdom from the mouth of God, which must needs include his deliverance out of the hand of Saul, aod all his stratagems to destroy him; but yet, when eminent hazards were before his eyes, he was afraid, and that fear betrayed the succours from the promise, so that it drew a quite contrary conclusion, i Sam. xxvii. 1. “ I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul :" And again he is at the same point, Pfal. cxvi. 11. “ Alt men “ are liars,” not excepring Samuel himself, who had assured him of the kingdom. This is always the property and pature of fear (as I Chewed before) to make men distrust the best security when they are in eminent peril : But oh! what a mischief is this to make us suspicious of the promises, which are our chief relief and support in times of trouble: Our fears will upfit us for prayer, they will also shake the credit of the promises with us; and fo great is the damage we receive both ways, that it were better for us to lose our two eyes, than two such advantages in trouble. But,
3. This is not all, by our present fears, we lose the benefit and comfort of all our past experiences, and the fingular relief we might have from all that faithfulness and goodness of God, which our eyes have seen in former straights and dangers, the present fear clouds them all, Ifa. li. 12, 13. Men and dangers are fo much minded, that God is forgotten, even the God that hath hitherto preserved us, though our former fears told us, the enemy was daily ready to devour vis. All these sweet reliefs are cut off from us by our distracting fears, and that at a time when we have most aeed of them.
Effeet 2. Diflimulation and hypocrisy are the fruit of Navish fear; distraction you fee is bad enough, but dissimulation is worse than distraction, and yet as bad as it is, fear hath driven good men into this soare; it will make even an upright soul