Sivut kuvina

hear it femel, quants. And

perplexity of mind, like Naves that tremble at the whip which is held over them; thus many thousands lige under the lash; fo terrible is the name of Death, especially a violent death, that they åre not able with patience to hear it mentioned; which gave the ground of that saying, Praestat semel, quam femper mori ; it is better to die once, than to be dyiog always. And . furely there is por a more miserable life any poor creature can live, than such a trembling life as this is. For,

1. Such a bondage as this destroys all the comfort and pleasure of life; no pleafure can grow or thrive under the shadow of this cursed plant. Nil ei beatum cui femper aliquis terror impendet, faith Cicero *, all the comforts we possess in this world are embittered by it. Id is storied of Democles, a flatterer of Dionysius the tyrant, that he told him he was the hap. piest man in the world, having wealth, power, majesty, and abundance of all things: Dionysius fets the filarterer in all his own pomp at a table furnished with all daintes, and attended upon as a king, but with a heavy sharp sword hangiog by a liogle horse hair right over his head; this made him quake and tremble, so that he could neither eat nor drink, but desired to be freed from that estate. The design was to convince him how miserable a life they live, who live under the continual terrors of impending death and ruin.' It was a fore judgment which God threatened against them in Jcr. v. 6.“ A lion out “ of the forest fhall say them, and a wolf of the evening " thall spoil them; a léopard shall watch over their cities, every " one that goeth out thence, shall be torn in pieces.”. What a miferable life must those people live, who could not fir out of the city, but they presently were seized by lions, wolves, and leopards, that watched over them, and Jurked in all the avenues to make them a prey! and yet this is more tolerable than for a man's own fear to watch continually over him.

2. And yet I could wish this were the worst of it, and that our fears destroyed no better comforts than the natural comforts of this life : but, alas, they also destroy our fpiritual comforts, which we might have from God's promises, and our own and

fures meb have in this world : but as no creature comfort is pleasant, fo do promile relishes like itself to him that lives in this bondage of fear; when the terrors of death are great, the confolations of the Almighty are small. :'.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

.fo the written word are found all sorts of refreshing, strength: ening, and heart-reviving promises, prepared by the wisdom and care of God for our relief in the days of darkness and trouble; promises of support under the heaviest burdens and preffures, Isa. xli. 10. “ Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dif“ mayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right-hand of my " righteousness.” A promise able to make the most timorous and trembling soul to shoot with the joy of men in harvest, or as they that divide the spoil. • There are found the encouraging promises of defence and protection, Ifa. xxvii. 2, 3. aod la. Xxxüi. 2. promises that lead us un to the almighty power of God, and put us under the wings of his care in time of danger.

Promises of moderation and mitigation in the day of Charp afiliction that we may be able to bear it, Isa. xxvii. 8. i Cor. X. 13. Promises of deliverance out of trouble, if the malice of man bring us into trouble, the mercy of God will assuredly bring us out, Plal. xci. 14, 15. and Psal. cxxv. 3. Aod, wbich is inost comfortable of all the rest, promises to fanctify and bless our troubles to our good, so that they shall not only cease to be hurtful, but, by virtue of the promise, become exceed: ing beneficial to us, Isa. xxvii. 9. Rom. viii. 28.

All these promises are provided by our tender Father for os, agaiost a day of straits and fears; and because he knew our weakoess, and how apt our fears would be to make us suspect our security by them, he hath, for the performance of them, engaged his wisdom, power, care, faithfulness and uachangeableness, 2 Pet. ii. 9. Isa. xxvii. 2, 3. 2 Cor. xvi. 9. I Cor. X. 13. Isa. xliii. 1, 2. In the midit of such promises fo fealed, how chearful and magnanimous should we be in the worst times ! and say as David, Psal. xlix. 5. " Why should I fear in the day $ of evil ?” Let those that have no God to flee to, no promise to rely upon, let them fcar in the day of evil, I have no cause to do so. But even from these molt comfortable refuges in the promises our own fears beat us; we are so scared that we mind them not, so as to draw encouragement, resolution, and courage from them. Thus the shields of the mighty are vilely cast away.

So, for all the choice records of the saints experiences in all former troubles and distresses, God hath, by a singular providence (aiming at our relief in future distresses) preserved them for us ; if danger threaten us, we may turn to the recorded experiences his people have left us of the frange and mighty influccce of

[ocr errors]

his providence upon the hearts of their enemies, to shew theme favour, Geo, xxxi. 29. Pfal. xvi. 46. Jer. xv. 11.

There are also found the antient rolls and records of the ad. mirable methods of his peoples deliverance, contrived by his in finite and unsearchable wisdom for them, when all their own thoughts have been at a loss, and their understaodings poled and staggered, Exod. xv. 6. 2 Chron. XX. 12, 15. 2 Kings xix. 3, 7.

There are the recorded experiences of God's unspotted faith, fulness, which never failed any foul that durst trust himself in its arms, Micah vi. 4, 5. Joshua vii. 9.

There are also to be found the records of his tender and most fatherly care for his children, who have been to himn as a pecoliar treasure io times of danger, Plal. xl. 17. Deut. xxxii. 10, 11, 12. Ifa. xlix, 16. Job xlix. 16. Job xxxvi. 7. 2 Chroo. xvi. y. • All thefe and many more supports and cordials are made ready to our hand, and provided for a day of trouble ; but alas ! to what purpose, if our owo fears so transport us, that we can Deither apply them, nor so much as calmly poader and consider them.

3. To conclude, by these fears we are deprived of those manifold advaotages we might gain by the calm, and composed meditations of our own death, and the change it will make u. pon us; could we sit down in peace, and meditate in a famili: ar way upon death : could we look with a composed and wellsettled mind into our own graves, and not be scared and frighted with the thoughts of death, and startle whenever we take it (though but in our thoughts) by the cold hand : To what feriousness would those meditations frame us? And what abua. dance of evils would they prevent in our conversations ? The sprinkling of duft upon new writing prevents many a blot and blur in our books or letters: And could we thus sprinkle the dust of the grave upon our minds, it would prevent maoy a sia and miscarriage in our words and actions. But there is no profit or advantage redounding to us either from promises, ex: periences, or death itself, when the foul is discomposed and put into confusiose by its own fears. And thus you see some of those mapy mischievous effects of your own fears.,

[ocr errors]

; CH A P. VI. Prescribing the rules to cure our finful fears, and prevent the

fad and woful effects of them.

Sea. I. W E are now come to the molt difficult part of the

work, viz. the cure of the sinful and navila fear of creatures in times of danger, which if it might, through the blessing of God, be effected, we might live at hearts êase in the midst of all our enemies and troubles, and, like the fun in the heavens, keep on our fteddy course in the darkest and gloomiest day. But before I come to the particular rules, it will be des cessary, for the prevention of mistakes, to lay down three ofe. ful cautions about this matter. :

1 Gaution. Understand that none but those that are in Chrift are capable to improve the following rules to their advantages The security of our fouls is the greatest argument used by Christ to extinguish our fears of then that kill the body, Mat. x. 28. But if the soul muft unavoidably perish when the body doth, if it must drop into hell before the body be laid in the grave, if he that kills the body doth, by the fame stroke, cut off the foul from all the means and pollibilities of mercy and

[ocr errors]

Ave, it be that king into hell beforely peri

a man against fear and trembling?

life, whilst there are enemies and dangers, there will be fome fears working in the best hearts : If our faith could be perfect. ed, our fears would be perfectly cured; but whilst there is so much weakness in our faith, there will be too much strength in our fears. Aod for those who are naturally timorous, who have more of this passion in their constitution than other men have, and those in whom melancholy is a rooted and chronical disease, it will be hard for them totally to rid themselves of fears and dejections, though in the use of such helps and mean's as follow, they may be greatly relieved against the tyranoy of them, and enabled to possess their souls in much more tranquillity and comfort.

3 Caution. Whosoever expects the benefit of the following prescriptions and rules, must not think the reading, or bar' remembring of them will do the work, but he must work them into his heart by believing and fixed meditation, and live in the daily practice of them. It is not our opening of our cafe to a pbysician, nor his prescriptions and written directions, that will

cure a man, but he must resolve to take the bitter and daufeous potion, how much foever he loath it; to abftaia from hurtful diet, how well foever he loves it, if ever he expect to be a found and healthful man. So it is in this case also. These things premised, the

Rule. The first rule to relieve us against our Davich fears, Is feriously to consider, and more thoroughly to study the covenant of grace, within the blesed clasp and bond whereof all believers are. I think the clear understanding of the pature, extent, and ftability of the covenant, and of our interest therein, would go a great way in the cure of our sinful and Navifh fears.

A covenant is more than a 'paked promise ; in the covenant, God hath graciously consulted our weakoefs, fears, aod doubts, and therefore proceeds with us in the higheft way of solemnity, confirming his promises by oath, Heb. vi. 13, 17. apd by his seals, Rom. vi. 11. Putting himself under the most folema ties and engagements that can be, to his people, that from fo firm a ra. tification of the covenant with us, we might have strong consolation, Heb. vi. 18. He hath fo ordered it, that it might afford ftrong supports, and the moft reviving cordials to our faint and timarous fpirits, in all the pluoges of trouble both from withio, and from without. In the covenant God makes over himself to his people, to be up to them a God, Jer. xxxi. 33. Heb. viii. 10. "Wherein the Lord bestows himself is all his glorious esseatial properties upon us, to the end that whatsoever his almighty power, infinite wisdom, and incomprehensible mercy can afford for our protection, support, deliverance, directie on, pardon, or refrefhment; we might be assured shall be faithfully performed to us in all the straits, fears, and exigencies of our lives. This God expects we should improve by faith, as the most sovereign antidote against all our fears in this world, Ifa. xliii. 1, 2. “ Thus faith the Lord that created thee, " Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel ; fear not, for I " have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou « art mine; when thou passes through the waters, I will be " with thee," &c. Ifa. xli. 10.“ Fear not, for I am with thee, “ be not dismayed, for I am thy God.”

And if thou, reader, be within the bonds of the covenant, thou mayest surely find enough there to quiet thy heart, what. ever the matter or ground of thy fears be : If God be thy cove. Dant God, he will be with thee in all thy straits, waots, and troubles, he will never leave, our forsake thee. From the coveBapt it was that David encouraged himself against all his troubles, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. " Although my house be not fo with God, yet

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »