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a check to the great sea, yet can they not prevail: though they roar, yet can they not pass over it. Jer. v. 22.

The sum is this: what God permits His Church's enemies to do, is for His own further glory; and reserving this, there is not any wrath of man so great, but He will either sweetly calm it, or strongly restrain it. To Him be praise and dominion for ever.

SERMON XII.

PSALM CXii. 7.

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.

ALL the special designs of men agree in this; they seek satisfaction and quietness of mind, that is, happiness. This, then, is the great question, Who is the happy man? It is here resolved, ver. 1. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth in his commandments.

The blessedness is unfolded, like a rich landscape, that we may view the well mixed colours, the story and tissue of it, through the whole alphabet in capital letters. And take all and set them together, it is a most full and complete blessedness, not a letter wanting to it*. Amongst the rest, that which we have in these words, is of a greater magnitude and brightness than many of the rest, He shall not be afraid of evil things.

* This Psalm, in the Hebrew, consists of twenty-two short verses, each of which begins with one of the letters of the alphabet in their order, till they are all ended. No one letter is here omitted, as is the case in the xxvth Psalm, where the same order is observed.

Well may the Psalm begin with a Hallelujah, a note of praise to Him in whom this blessedness lies. Oh, what a wretched creature were man, if not provided with such a portion! Without which there is nothing but disappointment, and thence the racking torment and vexation of a disquieted mind, still pursuing somewhat that he never overtakes.

The first words are the inscription, The blessedness of that man, &c. So, the particulars follow; where outward blessings are so set, as that they look and lead higher, pointing at their end, the infinite goodness whence they flow, and whither they return and carry along with them this happy man.

And these promises of outward things are often evidently accomplished to the righteous, and their seed after them, and that, commonly, after they have been brought very low. But when it is otherwise with them, they lose nothing. It is good for many, yea, it is good for all the godly, that they should have less of these lower things, in order to raise their eye to look after higher, the eye of all, both of those who are held somewhat short, and of those that have abundance in the world.

These temporal promises were more abounding, and more frequently fulfilled in their very kind, in the times of the Law; yet, still the right is constant, and all ages do give clear examples of the truth of this word. Where it is thus, it is a blessing created by its aspect to this promise, and so differs from the prosperity of ungodly men; and where it is otherwise with the righteous and their seed, it is no shift, but a most solid comfort, to turn their eyes to a higher compensa

tion.

But, howsoever it go with them, this still holds, He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Notwithstanding the hardest news that can come to his ears, of any thing that concerns either himself, or his children, or the rest of God's children in his charge, in the world, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.

First, let us take a view of the character of this blessed

man. Who is it that is thus undaunted? The man that feareth God.

All the passions are but several ebbings and flowings of the soul, and their motions are the signs of its temper, which way it is carried; that is mainly to be remarked by the beating of its pulse. If our desires, and hopes, and fears, be in the things of this world, and the interests of flesh, this is their distemper and disorder, the soul is in a continual fever. But if they move Godwards, then is it composed and calm, in a good temper and healthful state, fearing and loving Him, desiring Him, and nothing but him Him, waiting for Him, and trusting in Him. And when any one affection is right and in a due aspect to God, all the rest are so too; for they are radically one. And He is the life of that soul which is united to Him; and so, in Him, it moves in a peculiar spiritual manner, as all do naturally in the dependence of their natural life on Him who is the Fountain of life.

Thus we have here this fear of God, as often elsewhere, set out as the very substance of holiness and evidence of happiness. And that we may know there is nothing either base or grievous in this fear, we have joined with it, delight and trust: That delighteth greatly in His commandments: which is that badge of love to Him, to observe them, and that with delight, and with exceeding great delight. So then, this fear, is not that which love casts out, but that which love brings in. This fear follows and flows from love. It is a fear to offend, whereof nothing is so tender as love, and that, in respect of the greatness of God, hath in it withal a humble reverence. There is in all love a kind of reverence, a cautious and respective wariness towards the party loved; but especi ally in this, where not only we stand in a lower relation, as children to our Father, but the goodness which draws our love, doth infinitely transcend our measures and reach; thereforc, there is a rejoicing with trembling, and an awful love, a fearing the Lord and His goodness. Hos. iii. 5. This is both fear and trust. The heart touched by the Spirit of God,

as the needle touched with the loadstone, looks straight and speedily to God, yet, still with trembling, being filled with this holy fear.

That delighteth. Oh! this is not only to do them, but to do them with delight: there is somewhat within that is connatural and symbolical with them. Yea, this very law itself is writ within, not standing as a hard task-master over our head, but impressed within, as a sweet principle in our hearts, and working from thence naturally. This makes a soul find pleasure in the purging out of sensual pleasures, and ease in, doing violence to corrupt self, even undoing it for God, having no will but His. The remainders of sin and self in our flesh, will be often rising up, but this predominant love dispels them. So, this fear works with delight.

And further, that we may know how serene and sweet a thing it is, it is here likewise joined with confidence, trusting in the Lord; a quickening confidence always accompanying it, and so, undoubtedly, it is a blessed thing. Blessed is he that feareth. Fear sounds rather quite contrary, hath an air of misery; but add, whom? That feareth the Lord. That touch turns it into gold. He that so fears, fears not: He shall not be afraid. All petty fears are swallowed up in this great fear, as a spirit inured with great things, is not stirred nor affected at all with small matters. And this great fear is as sweet and pleasing as those little fears are anxious and vexing. Secure of other things, he can say, If my God be pleased, no matter who is displeased. No matter who despise me, if He account me His. Though all forsake me, my dearest friends grow estranged, and look another way, if He reject me not, that is my only fear, and for that I am not perplexed; I know He will not. As they answered Alexander, when he sent to inquire what they most feared, thinking possibly they would have said, lest he should invade them, but their answer was, We fear nothing but lest Heaven should fall upon us; which they did not fear neither: so, a believer hath no fear but of the displeasure of Heaven, lest

the anger of God should fall upon him; he fears that; that is, accounts that only terrible: but yet, he doth not fear, doth not apprehend it will fall upon him, he is better persuaded of the goodness of his God. So this fear is still joined with trust, as here, so often elsewhere. Psal. xxxiii. 18, xl. 3, and cxlvii. 11.

There is no turbulency in this fear; it is calm and sweet, Even that most terrible evil, that which this fear properly apprehends and flies, sin, yet, the fear of that goes not to a distraction. Though there is little strength, and many and great enemies, mighty Anakims of temptations from without, and corruptions within, and so, good reason for a holy, humble fear and self-distrust, yea, this should not beat us off: yet, it is most fit to put us on to trust in Him who is our strength. Courage! the day shall be ours. Though we may be often foiled and down, and sometimes almost at a hopeless point, yet, our Head is on high, high. He hath conquered for us, and shall conquer in us. Therefore, upon this confidence, so fear as not to fear. Why should I fear in the days of evil, says the Psalmist, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? Psal. xlix. 5. (Which I take is some grievous affliction, and that with a visage of punishment of sin: guiltiness is to be read in it, yet does he not fear.) If I trusted in wealth, and boasted myself in the multitude of riches, then that being in hazard, I must fear: leaning on that, it failing, I might fall. But this is my confidence, (ver. 15.) God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for he shall receive me. Wealth cannot, but He can. It buys not a man out from his hand, but He buys, from the hand of the grave; so the word is. For the visible heavens even in their fall, and the dissolution of nature, would not affright a believer, Si fractus illabatur orbis, &c.

Alas! most persons have dull or dim apprehensions and shallow impressions of God; therefore they have little either of this fear or of this trust. God is not in all their thoughts, but how to compass this or that design, and if they miss one, then how to compass another: they are cast from one wave

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