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pardon for fuch an unusual prefumption, as alfo your charity in cenfuring the faults that will appear in it, when it fhall come under fo exact and judicious an eye; it may be useful, tho' it be not elegant; its feasonableness is its beft commendation, and its aim better than its performance. As for you, Sir, I hope faith hath really placed your foul in that ferene and happy ftation where Seneca fancied moral virtue to have placed a good man, Fatendum eft, cacumine Olympi conftitutus, fupra ventes et procellas, et omnes res humanas: Above the ftorms and tempests of this unquiet and distracting world. But there are many gracious perfons at this day labouring under their own fears, and whofe hearts are ready to fail with looking for those things that are coming to try them that dwell upon the earth; and poffibly fomewhat of relief may be adminiftred to many fuch, by this difcourfe; fome bivious and staggering fouls may be eftablished; fome difcouraged and fainting fpirits may be revived; fome doubts may be diffolved that have long perplexed gracious hearts. Whatever ufe it may be of to any, I humbly call in the aid of your prayers to my own, for a special blessing upon it, and remain, Sir,
Yours to honour, love, and ferve you,
ISA. viii. 12, 13, and part of ver. 14.
Ver. 12. Say ye not, A confederacy to all them to whom this people fball fay a confederacy; neither fear ye [their fear] nor be afraid. 13. Sanctify the Lord of Hofts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; 14. And he fball be for a fanctuary.
Wherein the text, and context, are opened, the doctrines propound. ed, and the general method ftated.
Here is no more diverfity found in the outward features, than in the inward tempers and difpofitions of men; fome are as timorous as hares, and start at every found, or yelp of a dog; others are bold as lions, and can face dangers with
out trembling; fome fear more than they ought, and fome before they ought, and others when they ought not at all. The carnal perfon fears man, not God; the ftrong Chriftian fears God, not man; the weak Chriftian fears man too much, and God too little,
There is a fear which is the effect of fin, springing from guilt, and hurrying the foul into more guilt; and there is a fear which is the effect of grace, fpringing from our love to God, and his intereft, and driving the foul to God in the way of duty. The lefs fear any man hath, the more happiness, except it be of that fear which is our happiness, and our excellency.
It cannot be faid of any man, as it is faid of Leviathan, Job xli. 33. that he is made without fear; those that have moft fortitude, are not without fome fears; and when the church is in the storms of perfecution, and almoft covered with the waves, the ftouteft paffengers in it may fuffer as much from this boifterous paffion within, as from the ftorm without; and all for want of thoroughly believing, or not seasonably remembering that the Lord high admiral of all the ocean, and commander of all the winds, is on board the ship, to steer, and to preserve it in the ftorm.
A pregnant inftance hereof, is furnished to our hands, in this context, where you find the best men trembling in expectation of the worst events both on the church in general, and themfelves in particular. "Their hearts were moved like the trees of "the wood fhaken with the wind," chap. vii. 2,
And, indeed, if their dangers were to be measured by fenfe only, their fears were not above the value of the caufe, yea, their danger feemed to exceed their fears; for it was the invasion of a foreign, and cruel enemy, even the Affyrian, who were to break in upon them, like a breach of the sea, and overflow the land of Immanuel. Ver. 7. "The Lord bringeth up upon them "the waters of the river, strong and many; even the king of
Affyria, and all his glory, and he shall come up over all his *channels, and go over all his banks." And as the 7th verse resembles the enemy to waters, which quickly drown the country into which they break, fo the 8th verfe tells you, how far they should prevail, and how near it should come to a general, and total ruin. "He fhall pass through Judah, he shall over flow, " and go over; he shall reach even to the neck, and the stretching out of his wings fhall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel." All the body fhould be under water, except the capital city, which remained above water.
Having thus defcribed the power, and fuccefs of the invading
enemy, in the 9th, and 10th verfes, he derides their plots, and combinations, affuring them, that although God, for just and holy ends, would permit them, for a time, to afflict his people; yet the iffue of all their councils, and cruelties, should recoil upon themselves, and end in their own ruin and confufion.
And thereupon Ifaiah is commanded to encourage the feeble, and trembling hearts of fuch as feared God, in thofe distracted, and frightful times, Ver. 11, 12, 13. "The Lord fpake unto me "with a strong hand, and inftructed me that I fhould not walk "in the way of this people, faying, Say ye not a confederacy, &c.
God speaking to the prophet by a ftrong hand, imports, the ftrong, and mighty impreffion that was made upon his heart, by the fpirit of prophecy; wherein the Lord did, as it were, lay his hand upon him, as a man doth upon one to whom he is about to impart fome fpecial fecret in a familiar way, q. d. Come hither, Ifaiah, (drawing him to him at the fame inftant, with a friendly hand) take deep notice of what I am now to give thee in charge, both with refpect to thyfelf, and my elect people that follow thee; "Say not you a confederacy to all them "to whom this people shall say a confederacy," (i. e.) let not thefe frightful tidings work upon you as they do upon Ahaz, and the common multitude with him, who are fo terrified, and scared, with the approaching dangers, that all their councils, thoughts, and ftudies, are taken up in preventing it, by making a confederacy, or league, with the Affyrian; Hof. v. 13. or if that cannot be, then with fome foreign power, that may fecure them against the Affyrian: but their eyes are not at all to me for protection and deliverance; they expect more from Egypt, than from heaven; from a broken reed, than from the rock of ages. Fear not you their fear; their fear drives them from God to the creature; it first distracts them, and then enfnares them.
But, on the contrary, fee that thou, and all the faithful in the. land with thee, do fanctify me in your hearts, and make me your fear, and your dread, (i. e.) rely upon me, by faith, in this day of trouble, and fee that you give me the glory of my wisdom, power, and faithfulness, by relying intirely upon thofe my attri butes engaged for you in fo many tried promifes; and do not betake yourselves to fuch finful, and vain fhifts, as those do, that have no intereft in me, nor experience of me. This is the general scope, and defign of the text, wherein, more particularly, you have,
1. An evil practice prohibited.
2. An effectual remedy prescribed.
3. A fingular encouragement to apply that remedy.
1. An evil practice prohibited, "Fear not their fear, neither "be afraid." This is that finful principle, which was but too apt to incline them to do as others did, to wit, to fay a confederacy. Sinful fears are apt to drive the beft men into finful compliances, and indirect shifts to help themselves.
Their fear may be understood two ways;
1. Subjectively, for the felf-fame fear wherewith the carnal, and unbelieving Jews feared; a fear that enslaved them in bondage of fpirit, a fear that is the fruit of fio, a fin in its own nature, the cause of much fin to them, and a juft punishment of God upon them for their other fins.
2. Effectively, Let not your fear produce in you fuch mischievous effects, as their fear doth; to make you forget God, magnify the creature, prefer your own wits, and policies, to the Almighty Power, and never failing faithfulness of God: if you fay, but how fhall we help it?
2. Why, in the next place, you have an effectual remedy preferibed; but fanctify the Lord of hofts himself, and let him he your fear, and your dread The fear of God will fwallow up the fear of man, a reverential awe, and dread of God will extinguish the flavish fear of the creature, as the fun-fhine puts out fire, or as one fire fetches out another; fo will this fear fetch out that.
By fanctifying the Lord of hofts himself, is meant a due afcrip. tion of the glory of his fovereign power, wifdom, and faithfulnefs, not only in verbal, and profeffsed acknowledgments thereof, but especially in those internal acts of affiance, refignation, and intire dependance on him, which as they are the choiceft refpects of the creature towards its God, and give him the greatest glory, fo they are certainly the most beneficial, and comfortable acts we can perform, for our own peace, and fafety, in times of danger.
If a man do really look to God in a day of trouble, and fear, as to the Lord of hofts, (i. e) one that governs all the creatures, and all their actions; at whole beck, and command, all the armies of heaven, and earth are, and then can rely upon the care, and love of this God, as a child in danger of trouble reposes on, and commits himself, with greater confidence, to the care, and protection of his father: O what peace, what reft, must neceffarily follow, upon this! Who would be afraid to pass through the
midst of armed troops, and regiments, whilst he knows that the general of that army is his own father? The more power this filial fear of God obtains in our hearts, the less will you dread the power of the creature. When the Dictator ruled at Rome, then all other officers ceafed; and fo, in a great measure, will all other fears, where the fear of God is dictator in the heart. This is the remedy.
3. And to enable us to apply this remedy in the worst, and most difficult times, we have a fingular encouragement proposed: if we will thus fanctify the Lord of hofts himself, by fuch an acknowledgment of, and child-like dependance on him in times of danger, then he will be to us for a fanctuary, Afyli loco, (i. e.) he will furely protect, defend, and provide for us in the worlt times, and cafes; then will the Lord " create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud, " and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: " for upon all the glory fhall be a defence, and there shall be "a tabernacle for a fhadow in the day-time, from the heat, " and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm and "from rain." Let the winds roar, the rain beat, the lightnings flash, you are in fafety, and have a good roof over your heads. Hence these two points of doctrine offer themselves : Doct. 1. That the best men are too apt to be overcome with flavish fears, in times of imminent diftrefs, and danger. Doct. 2. That the fear of God is the most effectual means to extinguish the finful fear of men, and to fecure us from danger. These two points take in the substance, and scope of the text; but because I defign to treat, in the following chapters, of the kinds, nature, ufes, caufes, effects, and remedies of fear, I shall not distinctly prosecute them, but proceed in this order, in the following chapters.
CHA P. II.
Wherein the kinds, and nature of fear, are opened, and parti cularly the distracting, flavis fear of creatures.
HERE is a threefold fear found in man, viz. 1. Natural.
2. Sinful. 3. Religious fear.
* Praeftabit vos inacceffos, et inviolabiles ab his regibus. He will render you inacceffible, and preferve you from being violated by these kings.