THE SECOND SERMON PREACHED BY THE AUTHOR AFTER HE CAME TO ST. DUNSTAN'S, 25 Th APRIL, 1624.
Psalm xxxiv. 11. Come ye children, hearken unto me, I will teach yon the fear of the Lord.
The text does not call children simply, literally, but such men, and women, as are willing to come in the simplicity of children; such children, as Christ spoke of, Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven1; Come ye children; come such children. Nor does the text call such as come, and would fain be gone again; it is come and hearken; not such as wish themselves away, nor such as wish another man here; but such as value God's ordinance of preaching, though it be, as the apostle says, but the foolishness of preaching3, and such, as consider the office, and not the person, how mean soever; Come ye children; and, when ye are come, hearken, and, though it be but I, hearken unto me; and, I will teach you the fear of the Lord; the most noble, the most courageous, the most magnanimous, not affection, but virtue, in the world; Come ye children, hearken unto me, and J will teach you the fear of the Lord.
To every minister and dispenser of the Word of God, and to every congregation belong these words; and therefore we will divide the text between us; to you one, to us appertains the other part. You must come, and you must hearken; we must teach, and teach to edification; there is the meum et tuum, your part, and our part. From each part, these branches flow out naturally; in yours, first, the capacity, as children; then the action, you como; then your disposition here, you hearken; and lastly, your submission to God's ordinance, you hearken even unto me, unto any minister of his sending. In our part, there is first a teaching; for, else, why should you come, or hearken unto me, or any? It is a teaching, it is not only a praying; and then, there is a catholic doctrine, a circular doctrine, that walks the round, and
goes the compass of our whole lives, from our first, to our last childhood, when age hath made us children again, and it is the art of arts, the root, and fruit of all true wisdom, The true fear of the Lord. Come ye children, hearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
First then, the word, in which, in the first branch of the first part, your capacity is expressed, filit, pueri, children, is, from the original, which is banim, often accepted in three notions, and so rendered; three ways, men are called children, out of that word banim, in the Scriptures. Either it is serm, servants; for, they are filit familiar~es; as the master is pater familias, father of the family, (and that he is, though there be no natural children in the family) the servants are children of the family, and are very often in Scriptures called so,pueri, children; or it is alumni, nurse-children, foster-children, filii mammillares, children of the breasts; whether we minister to them, temporal or spiritual nourishment, they are children; or else it is filii viscerales, children of our bowels, our natural children. And in all these three capacities, as servants, as sucking children, as sons, are you called upon in this appellation, in this compellation, children.
First, as you are servants, you are children; for, without distinction of age, servants are called so, frequently, ordinarily, in the Scriptures, pueri. The priest asks David, before he would give him the holy bread, An <casa puerorum sancta, Whether those children, (speaking of David's followers) were clean from women"; here were children that were able to get children. Nay, David's soldiers are often called so, pueri, children. In the first of the Kings4, he takes a muster, recenset pueros; here were children that were able to kill men. You are his children, (of what age soever) as you are his servants; and in that capacity he calls you. You are unprofitable servants; but it is not an unprofitable service, to serve God; he can get nothing by you, but you can have nothing without him. The centurion's servants came, when he said, Come; and was their wages like yours? Had they their being, their everlasting well-being for their service I You will scarce receive a servant, that is come from another man, without testimony; if you put yourselves out
3 1 Sam. xxi. 5. 4 1 Kings xx. 15.
of God's service, whither will ye go? In his service, and his only, is perfect freedom. And therefore as you love freedom, and liberty, be his servants; and call the freedom of the Gospel, the best freedom, and come to the preaching of that.
He calls you children, as you are servants, (filii familiares) and he calls you children, as you are alumni, nurse-children, filii mammillares, as he requires the humility, and simplicity of little children in you. For, Cum simplicibus sermocinatio ejus, (as the Vulgate reads that place) GocTs secret discourse is with the single heart'. The first that ever came to Christ, (so as he came to us, in blood) they that came to him so, before he came so to us, that died for him, before he died for them, were such sucking children, those whom Herod slew. As Christ thought himself bound to thank his Father, for that way of proceeding, / thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast revealed these things unto babes"; so Christ himself pursues the same way, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven1. Of such; not only of those who were truly, literally children, (children in age) but of such as those, (talium est regnum cwlorum) such as come in such a disposition, in the humility, in the simplicity, in the singleness of heart, as children do. An habitual sinner is always in minority, always an infant; an infant to this purpose, all his acts, all the bands of an infant, are void; all the outward religious actions, even the band and contract of baptism in an habitual sinner is void, and ineffectual. He that is in the house, and favour of God, though he be a child, (a child to this purpose, simple, supple, tractable, single-hearted) is, as Adam was in the state of innocency, a man the first minute, able to stand upright in the sight of God. And out of one place of Esay, our expositors have drawn, conveniently enough, both these conclusions; A child shall die a hundred years old, says the prophet8; that is, (say some) a sinner though he live a hundred years, yet he dies a child, in ignorance; and then, (say others, and both truly) He that comes willingly, when God calls, though he die a child in age, he hath the wisdom of a hundred years upon him.
There is not a graver thing, than to be such a child; to conform his will to the will of God. Whether you consider temporal or spiritual things, you are God's children. For, for temporal, if God should take off his hand, withdraw his hand of sustentation, all those things, which assist us temporally, would relapse to the first feeble, and childish estate, and come to their first nothing. Armies would be but hospitals, without all strength; counciltables but bedlams, without all sense; and schools and universities, but the wrangling of children, if God, and his Spirit did not inanimate our schools, and armies, and councils. His adoption makes us men, therefore, because it makes us his children. But we are his children in this consideration especially, as we are his spiritual children, as he hath nursed us, fed us with his word. In which sense, the apostle speaks of those who had embraced the true religion, (in the same words that the prophet had spoken before) Behold, I, and the children that God hath given me9; and in the same sense, the same prophet, in the same place, says of them who had fallen away from the true religion, They please themselves in the children of strangersTM, in those men, who have derived their orders, and their doctrine from a foreign jurisdiction. In that state where adoptions were so frequent, (in old Rome) a plebeian could not adopt a patrician, a yeoman could not adopt a gentleman, nor a young man could not adopt an old. In the new Rome, that endeavours to adopt all, in an imaginary filiation, you that have the perfect freedom of God's service, be not adopted into the slavery, and bondage of men's traditions; you that are in possession of the ancient religion, of Christ, and his apostles, be not adopted into a younger religion. Beligio d religando; That is religion, that binds; that binds, that is necessary to salvation. That which we affirm, our adversaries deny not; that which we profess, they confess was always necessary to salvation. They will not say, that all that they say now, was always necessary; that a man could not be saved without believing the articles of the Council of Trent, a week before that council shut up. You are his children, as children are servants; and, if he be your Lord, where is his fear? You are his children,
9 Heb. ii. 13. 10 Isaiah ii. 6.
as he hath nursed you, with the milk of his word; and if he be your Father so, (your foster-father) where is his love11?
But he is your Father otherwise; you are not only filii familiares, children because servants, nor only filii mammillares, children because nursed by him, but you are also filii viscerates, children of his bowels. For, we are otherwise allied to Christ, than we can be to any of his instruments, though angels of the church, prophets, or apostles; and yet, his apostle says, of one whom he loved, of Onesimus, Receive him, that is, mine own bowels; my Son, says he, whom I have begotten in my bandsI2. How much more art thou bound to receive and refresh those bowels from which thou art derived, Christ Jesus himself; receive him, refresh him. Carry that, which the wise man hath said, Miserere animw trne, Be merciful to thine own soul, higher than so; and Miserere Salvatoris tui, Have mercy upon thine own Saviour, put on the bowels of mercy and put them on even towards Christ Jesus himself, who needs thy mercy, by being so torn, and mangled, and embowelled, by blasphemous oaths, and execrations. For, beloved, it is not so absurd a prayer, as it is conceived, if Luther did say upon his death-bed, Oremus pro Domino nostro Jesu Christo, Let us pray for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Had we not need pray for him? If he complain that Saul persecutes him, had we not need pray for him? It is a seditious affection in civil things, to divide the king and the kingdom; to pray, to fight for the one, and leave out the other, is seditiously done. If the kingdom of Christ need thy prayers, and thy assistance, Christ needs it; if the body need it, the head needs it; if thou must pray for his Gospel, thou must pray for him; nay, thou canst not pray for thyself, but thou must pray for him, for, thou art his bowels; when thou in thy forefathers, the first Christians in the primitive church, wast persecuted, Christ cried out, Why persecutest thou, me? Christ made thy case his, because thou wast of his bowels. When Christ is disseised, and dispossessed, his truth profligated, and thrown out of a nation, that professed it before, when Christ is wounded by the blasphemies of others, and crucified by thee, in thy relapses to repented sins,
11 Mal i. C.
12 Philem. 12.
13 Colos. iii. 12.
wilt thou not say to them, to thyself, in the behalf of Christ, Why persecute ye me? Wilt thou not make Christ's case thine, as he made thine his? Art not thou the bowels of Christ? If not, (and thou art not, if thou have not this sense of his suffering) thou hast no interest in his death, by thy baptism, nor in his resurrection, by thy feeble half repentances. But in the duty of a child, as thou art a servant, in the simplicity of a child, as thou hast sucked from him, in the interest and inheritance of a child, as thou art the son of his bowels, in all these capacities, (and with all these we have done) God calls thee, Come ye children; and that is our next step, the action, Come.
Passing thus from the persons to the action, venite, come, we must ask first, what this coming is? The whole mystery of our redemption is expressed by the apostle in this word, venit, that Christ Jesus is come into the world1'. All that thou hast to do, is to come to, and to meet him. Where is he f At home; in his own house, in the church. Which is his house, which is his church? That to thee, in which he hath given thee thy baptism, if that do still afford thee, as much as is necessary for thy salvation. Come thither, to the participation of his ordinances, to the exercises of religion there. The gates of heaven shall be opened to you, at last in that word, venite benedicti, come ye blessed, the way to those gates is opened to you now, in the same word, venite filii, come ye children, come. Christ can come, and does often, into thy bed-chamber, in the visitation of his private Spirit, but, here, he calls thee out into the congregation, into the communion of saints. And then the church celebrates Christ's coming in the flesh, a month before he comes, in four Sundays of Advent, before Christmas. When thou comest to meet him in the congregation, come not occasionally, come not casually, not indifferently, not collaterally; come not as to an entertainment, a show, a spectacle, or company, come solemnly, with preparation, with meditation. He shall have the less profit, by the prayer of the congregation, that hath not been at his private prayer before he came. Much of the mystery of our religion lay in the venturus, that Christ was to come, all that the law and prophets undertook for, was that venturus, that Christ was to come; but
the consummation of all, the end of the law and the prophets, is in the vmit, he is come. Do not clog thy coming with future conditions, and contingencies, thou wilt come, if thou canst wake, if thou canst rise, if thou canst be ready, if thou like the company, the weather, the man. We find one man who was brought in his bed to Christ15; but it was but one. Come, come actually, come earnestly, come early, come often; and come to meet him, Christ Jesus and nobody else. Christ is come into the world; and therefore thou needest not go out of the world to meet him; he doth not call thee from thy calling, but in thy calling. The dove went up and down, from the ark, and to the arkand yet was not disappointed of her olive-leaf, thou mayest come to this place at due times, and mayest do the businesses of the world, in other places too, and still keep thy olive, thy peace of conscience. If no heretical recusancy, (thou dost like the doctrine) no schismatical recusancy, (thou dost like the discipline) no lazy recusancy, (thou forbearest not because thou canst not sit at thine ease) no proud recusancy, (that the company is not good enough for thee) if none of these detain thee, thou mayest be here, even when thou art not here; God may accept thy desire; as, in many cases, thou mayest be away, when thou art here; as, in particular thou art, if being here, thou do not hearken to that which is said here; for that is added to the coming, and follows in a third consideration, after the capacity, children, and the action, come, the disposition, hearken: come ye children and hearken.
Upon those words of David, Conturbata sunt ossa mea", St. Basil saith well, Habet et anima ossa sua, The soul hath bones as well as the body. And in this anatomy, and dissection of the soul, as the bones of the soul, are the constant and strong resolutions thereof, and as the seeing of the soul is understanding (The eyes of your understanding being openedTM) so the hearing of the soul is hearkening; in these religious exercises, we do not hear, except we hearken; for hearkening is the hearing of the soul. Some men draw some reasons, out of some stories of some credit, to imprint a belief of ecstacy, and raptures; that the body remain
15 Matt. ix. 2. "Gen. viii. 11.
« Psalm vi. 3. , Ephes. i. 18.
ing upon the floor, or in the bed, the soul may be gone out to the contemplation of heavenly things. But it were a strange and a perverse ecstacy, that the body being here, at a religious exercise, and in a religious posture, the soul should be gone out to the contemplation, and pursuit of the pleasures or profits of this world. You come hither but to your own funerals, if you bring nothing hither but your bodies; you come but to be entered, to be laid in the earth, if the ends of your coming be earthly respects, praise, and opinion, and observation of men; you come to be canonized, to grow saints, if your souls be here, and by grace here always diffused, grow up to a sanctification. Bonus es Domine animw quwrenti te, Thou art good, O Lord, to that soul that seeks thee; it is St. Augustine's note, that it is put in the singular, animw, to that soul: though many come, few come to him. A man may thread sermons by half-dozens a day, and place his merit in the number, a man may have been all day in the perfume and incense of preaching, and yet have received none of the savour of life unto life. Some things an ape can do as well as a man; some things an hypocrite as well as a saint. We cannot see now, whether thy soul be here now, or no; but, to-morrow, hereafter, in the course of thy life, they which are near thee, and know whether thy former faults be mended, or no, know whether thy soul used to be at sermons, as well as thy body used to go to sermons. Faith comes by hearing, saith the apostle; but it is by that hearing of the soul, hearkening, considering. And then, as the soul is infused by God, but diffused over the whole body, and so there is a man, so faith is infused from God, but diffused into our works, and so there is a saint. Practice is the incarnation of faith, faith is incorporated and manifested in a body, by works; and the way to both, is that hearing, which amounts to this hearkening, to a diligent, to a considerate, to a profitable hearing. In which, one essential circumstance is, that we be not over-afFectionately transported with an opinion of any one person, but apply ourselves to the ordinance, Come, and hearken unto me, to any whom God sends with the seal and character of his minister, which is our fourth and last branch in your part.
David doth not determine this in his own person, that you should hearken to him, and none but him, but that you should hearken to him in that capacity and qualification, which is common to him with others, as we are sent by God upon that ministry; that you say to all such, Blessed art thou that comest in the name of the Lord. St. Augustine, and not he alone, interprets this whole psalm of Christ, that it is a thanksgiving of Christ to his Father, upon some deliverance received in some of his agonies, some of his persecutions; and that Christ calleth us to hearken unto him. To him, so, as he is present with us, in the ministry of his church, he is a perverse servant, that will receive no commandment, except he have it immediately from his master's mouth; so is he too, that pretendeth to rest so wholly in the word of God, the Scriptures, as that he seeks no interpretation, no exposition, no preaching, all is in the Scriptures, but all the Scriptures are not always evident to all understandings. He also is a perverse servant, that will receive no commandment by any officer of his master's, except he like the man, or, if his master might, in his opinion, have chosen a fitter man, to serve in that place. And such a perverseness is in those hearers who more respect the man, than the ministry, and his manner of delivering it, than the message that he delivers. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of GodTM. That is our classis, our rank, our station, what names soever we brought into the world by our extraction from this or that family, what name soever we took in our baptism, and contract between God and us, that name, in which we come to you, is that, the ministers of Christ, the stewards of the mysteries of God, and so let men account of its, says the apostle. Invention, and disposition, and art, and eloquence, and expression, and elocution, and reading, and writing, and printing, are secondary things, accessory things, auxiliary, subsidiary things; men may account us, and make account of us, as of orators in the pulpit, and of authors, in the shop; but if they account of us as of ministers and stewards, they give us our due; that is our name to you. All the evangelists mention John Baptist and his preaching; but two of the four say never a word of his austerity of life, his locusts, nor his camel's hair; and those two that do, Matthew and Mark, they insist, first, upon his calling, and then upon
18 1 Cor. iv. 1.
his actual preaching, how ho pursued that calling, and then upon the doctrine that he preached, repentance, and sanctification, and after that, they come to these secondary and subsidiary things, which added to his estimation, and assisted the passage of his doctrine, his good life. Learning, and other good parts, and an exemplar life fall into second places; they have a first place, in their consideration who are to call them, but in you, to whom they are sent, but a second; fix you, in the first place, upon the calling. This calling circumoised Moses' uncircumcised lips80; this made Jeremy able to speak, though he called himself a child"; this is Esay's coal from the altar, which takes away even his sin, and his iniquity*1. Be therefore content to pass over some infirmities, and rest yourselves upon the calling. And when you have thus taken the simplicity of children, (they are the persons, which was our first step) and are come to the congregation, (that is your action, and was our second) and have conformed yourselves to hearken, (that also is the disposition here, which was our third) and all this with a reverence to the calling before an affection to the man, (that is your submission to God's ordinance, and was our fourth and last step) you have then built our first part in yourselves, and laid together all those pieces which constitute your duty, Come ye children, and hearken unto me; and from hence we pass, to our duty, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
In this second part, we made two steps; first, the manner, Docebo, I will teach; and then the matter, Timorem Domini, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Upon the first, we will stay no longer, but to confess, that we are bound to teach, and that this teaching is to preach; Vw si non, Woe be unto us, if we do not preach. Woe to them, who, out of ease, or state, silence themselves; and woe to them too, who by their distemper, and schismatical and seditious manner of preaching, occasion and force others to silenoe them; and think, (and think it out of a profitable, and manifold experience) that as forbidden books sell best, so silenced ministers thrive best. It is a duty, docendum, we must teach, preach; but a duty that excludes not catechizing;
for catechizing seems especially to be intended here, where he calls upon them who are to be taught, by that name children. It is a duty that excludes not praying; but praying excludes not it neither. Prayer and preaching may consist, nay they must meet in the church of God. Now, he that will teach, must have learnt before, many years before; and he that will preach, must have thought of it before, many days before. Extemporal ministers, that resolve in a day what they will be, extemporal preachers, that resolve in a minute, what they will say, outgo God's Spirit, and make too much haste. It was Christ's way; he took first disciples to learn, and then out of them, he took apostles to teach; and those apostles made more disciples. Though your first consideration be upon the calling, yet our consideration must be for our fitness to that calling. Our prophet David hath put them both together, well, O God, thou hast taught me from my youth33; (you see what was his university; Moses was his Aristotle; he had studied divinity from his youth) and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works, says he there. Hitherto? How long was that? It follows in the next verse, Now am I old and grayheaded, and yet he gave not over. Then God's work goes well forward, when they whom God hath taught, teach others. He that can say with David, Docuisti me, O God thou hast taught me, may say with him too, Docebo vos, I will teach you. But what I that remains only, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
There is a fear, which needs no teaching, a fear that is naturally imprinted in us. We need not teach men to be sad, when a mischief is upon them, nor to fear when it is coming towards them; for, fear respects the future, so as sadness does the present; fear looks upon danger, and sadness upon detriment; fear upon a sick friend, and sadness upon a dead. And as these need not be taught us, because they are natural, so, because they are natural, they need not be untaught us, they need not be forbidden, nor dissuaded. Our Saviour Christ had them both, fear, and sadness; and that man lacks Christian wisdom, who is without a provident fear of future dangers, and without Christian charity, who is without a compassionate sadness in present calamities. Now this fear, though but imprinted in nature, is timor
23 Psalm lxxi 17.
Domini, the fear of the Lord, because the Lord is the Lord of nature, he is the Nature of nature, Lord of all endowments and impressions in nature. And therefore, though for this natural fear, you go no farther than nature, (for it is born with you, and it lives in you) yet the right use even of this natural fear, is from grace, though in the root it be a fear of nature, yet in the government thereof, in the degrees, and practice thereof, it is the fear of the Lord; not only as he is Lord of nature, (for so, you have the fear itself from the Lord) but as this natural fear produces good or bad effects, as it is regulated and ordered, or as it is deserted, and abandoned, by the Spirit of the Lord; and therefore you are called hither, Come, that you may learn the fear of the Lord, that is, the right use of natural fear, and natural affections, from the law of God; for, as it is a wretched condition, to be without natural affections, so is it a dangerous dereliction, if our natural affections be left to themselves, and not regulated, not inanimated by the Spirit of God; for then my sadness will sink into desperation, and my fear will betray the succours which reason offereth". This I gain by letting in the fear of the Lord, into my natural fear; that whereas the natural object of my natural fear is malum, something that I apprehend sub ratione mali, as it is ill, ill for me, (for, if I did not conceive it to be ill, I would not fear it) yet when I come to thaw this ice, when I come to discuss this cloud, and attenuate this damp, by the light and heat of grace, and the illustration of the Spirit of God, breathing in his word, I change my object, or at least, I look upon it in another line, in another angle, I look not upon that evil which my natural fear presented me, of an affliction, or a calamity, but I look upon the glory that God receives by my Christian constancy in that affliction, and I look upon that everlasting blessedness, which I should have lost, if God had not laid that affliction upon me. So that though fear look upon evil, (for affliction is malum pwnw, evil as it hath the nature of punishment) yet when the fear of the Lord is entered into my natural fear, my fear is more conversant, more exercised upon the contemplation of good, than evil, more upon the glory of God, and the joys of heaven, than upon the afflictions of this life, how malig
84 'Wisdom xvii. 12.
nant, how manifold soever. And therefore, that this fear, and all your natural affections, (which seem weakness in man, and are so indeed, if they be left to themselves, now in our corrupt and depraved estate) may advance your salvation, (which is the end why God hath planted them in you) Come and learn the fear of the Lord, learn from the Word of God, explicated by his minister, in his ordinance upon occasions leading him thereunto, the limits of this natural fear, and where it may become sin, if it be not regulated, and inanimated by a better fear, than itself.
There is a fear, which grows out of a second nature, custom, and so is half-natural, to those men that have it. The custom of the place we live in, or of the times we live in, or of the company we live in. Topical customs of such a place, chronical customs of such an age, personal customs of such a company. The time, or the place, or the persons in power have advanced, and drawn into fashion and reputation, some vices, and such men as depend upon them, are afraid, not to concur with them in their vices; for, amongst persons, and in times, and places, that are vicious, an honest man is a rebel; he goes against that state, and that government, which is the kingdom of sin. Amongst drunkards, a sober man is a spy upon them; amongst blasphemers, a prayer is a libel against them; and amongst dissolute and luxurious persons, a chaste man is a bridewell, his person, his presence is a house of correction. In vicious times and companies, a good man is unacceptable, and cannot prosper. And, because as amongst merchants, men trade half upon stock, and half upon credit, so, in all other courses, because men rise according to the opinion and estimation which persons in power have of them, as well as by real goodness, therefore to build up, or to keep up this opinion and estimation in them upon whom they depend, they are afraid to cross the vices of the time, so far, as by being virtuous in their own particular. They are afraid it will be called a singularity, and a schismatical and seditious disposition, and taken for a reproach, and a rebuke laid upon their betters, if they be not content to be as ill, as those their betters are. Now, the fear of the Lord brings the quo warranto against all these privileged sins, and privileged places, and persons, and overthrows all these customs, and prescriptions. The fear of the Lord is not a topical,
not a chronical, not a personal, but a catholic, a canonical, a circular, an universal fear; it goes through all, and over all; and when this half-natural fear, this fear grown out of custom, suggests to me, that if I be thus tender conscienced, if I startle at an oath, if I be sick at a health, if J cannot conform myself to the vices of my betters, I shall lose my master, my patron, my benefactor, this fear of the Lord enters, and presents the infallible loss of a far greater master, and patron, and benefactor, if I comply with the other. And therefore as you were called hither, (that is to the explication of the Word of God) to learn how to regulate the natural fear, that that fear do not deject you into a diffidence of God's mercy, so come hither to learn the fear of God, against this half-natural fear, that is, bo guided by the Word of God, how far you are to serve the turns of those persons, upon whom ye depend, and when to leave their commandments unperformed.
Well; what will this fear of the Lord teach us? Valour, fortitude; fear teach valour? Yes; and nothing but fear; true fear. As Moses's serpents devoured the false serpents, so doth true fear all false fear. There is nothing so contrary to God, as false fear; neither in his own nature, nor in his love to us. Therefore God's first name in the Bible, and the name which he sticks to, in all the work of the creation, is his name of power, Elohim; el, is fortis Deus, the God of power; and it is that name in the plural, multiplied power, all power; and what can he fear? God descends to many other human affections; you shall read that God was angry, and sorry, and weary; but non timuit Deus, God was never afraid. Neither would God that man should be. So his first blessing upon man, was to fill the earth, and to subdue the creatures, and to rule over them, and to eat what he would upon the earth; all acts of power, and of confidence. As soon as he had offended God, the first impotency that he found in himself, was fear: / heard thy voice, and I was afraid**, says he. He had heard the voice of lions, and was not afraid. There is not a greater commi nation of a curse than that, They shall be in a great fear, where no fear is"; which is more vehemently expressed in another place, / will set my face against
"Gen. iii . 10. ** Psalm tiii. 5.
you, and you shall fly, when none pursues you; I will send a faintness into their hearts, and the sound of a shaken leaf, shall chase them as a sword". False fear is a fearful curse. To fear that all favours, and all preferments, will go the wrong way, and that therefore I must clap on a bias, and go that way too, this inordinate fear is the curse of God. David's last counsel to Solomon, (but reflecting upon us all) was, Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man*7. E culmine corruens, ad gyrum laboris venit33, The devil fell from his place in heaven, and now is put to compass the earth. The fearful man that falls from his moral and his Christian constancy, from the fundamental rules of his religion, falls into labyrinths, of incertitudes, and impertinencies, and ambiguities, and anxieties, and irresolutions. Militia, vita; our whole life is a warfare; God would not choose cowards; he had rather we were valiant in the fighting of his battles; for battles, and exercise of valour, we are sure to have. God sent a Cain into the world before an Abel; an enemy before a champion. Abel non suspicor qui non habet CainTM; We never hear of an Abel, but there is a Cain too. And therefore think it not strange, concerning the fiery trial, as though some strange thing happened unto you3*; make account that this world is your scene, your theatre, and that God himself sits to see the combat, the wrestling. Vetuit Deus mortem Jobn; Job was God's champion, and God forbad Satan the taking away of Job's life; for, if he die, (says God in the mouth of that father) Theatrum nobis non amplius plaudetur, My theatre will ring with no more plaudits, I shall be no more glorified in the valour and constancy of my saints, my champions. God delights in the constant and valiant man, and therefore a various, a timorous man frustrates, disappoints God.
My errand then is to teach you valour; and must my way be to intimidate you, to teach you fear 1 Yes, still there is no other fortitude, but the fear of the Lord. We told you before, sadness and fear differ but in the present, and future. And as for the present, Nihil aliud triste quam Deum offendere**, There is no just cause of sadness, but to have sinned against God, (for, sudden sadness arising in a good conscience, is a spark of fire in the
"Levit. xxvi. 17. 17 1 Kings ii. 2. 88 Gregory. ** Gregory.
80 1 Pet. iv. 12. 31 Chrysostom. 81 Chrysostom.
sea, it must go out;) so there is no just cause of fear, but in God's displeasure. Mens in timore Domini constituta, non invenit extra quod metuat." God is all; and if I be established in him, what thing can I fear, when there is nothing without him? Nothing simply, at least nothing that can hurt me; Quw sunt in mundo non nocent iis qui extra mundum sunt3*, This world cannot hurt him that made it, nor them that are laid up in him Jonas did but change his vessel, his ship, when he entered the whale, he was not shipwrecked, God was his pilot there, as well as in the ship, and therefore he as confident there. It is meant of Christ, which is spoken in the person of Wisdom, Whoso hearkeneth unto me, shall dwell safely, and be quiet from the fear of evil3>. And therefore, when you hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified; these things must come to pass, but the end is not by and by"; imaginations, and temptations, and alienations, and tribulations must come: but this is not the end; the end that God looks for, is, that by the benefit of his fear we should stand out all these.
So then to teach you the fear of the Lord, is to teach you what it doth, that you may love it, and what it is, that you may know it. That which it doth, is, that it nfakes you a constant, a confident, a valiant man, that which God, who is always the same, loves. How doth it that? Thus. As he that is fallen into the king's hand for debt to him, is safe from other creditors, so is he, that fears the Lord, from other fears. He that loves the Lord, loves him with all his love; he that fears the Lord, fears him with all his fear too; God takes no half affections. Upon those words, Be not highminded, but fear31, Clement of Alexandria, hath another reading; super-time, over-fear; that is, carry thy fear to the highest place; place thy fear there, where it may be above all other fears. In the multitude of dreams, there are divers vanities, but fear thou the Lord33. All fearful things pass away as dreams, as vanities, to him that fears the Lord; they offer at him, but in vain, if he be established with that fear. In Christ there was no bone broken; in him that fears the Lord, no constant purpose is ever shaken. Of Job it is said, that he was per
33 Gregory. 34 Chrysostom. ** Prov. i. 33.
86 Luke xxi. 9. 87 Rom. xi. 20. 38 Eccles. v. 7.
feet and upright; that is a rare wonder, but the wonder is qualified in the addition, He feared God'". So are they put together in Simeon, Justus et timoratus, He was a just man"; how should he be otherwise I He feared God. Consider your enemies, and be not deceived with an imagination of their power, but see whether they be worthy of your fear, if you fear God. The world is your enemy; Sed vicit mundum, Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world*1, saith Christ. If it were not so, yet we are none of it; Ye are not of the world, for I have chosen you out of the world". Howsoever, the world would do us no harm, the world would be good enough of itself, but that the prince of the world, the devil, is anima mundi, the soul of this lower world, he inanimates, he actuates, he exalts, the malignity of the world against us; and he is our second enemy. It was not the apple, but the serpent that tempted; Eve, no doubt, had looked upon the fruit before, and yet did not long. But even this enemy is not so dangerous, as he is conceived. In the life of St. Basil, we have a story, that the devil appeared to a penitent sinner at his prayers, and told him, If you will let me alone, I will let you alone, meddle not with me, and I will not meddle with you. He found that by this good soul's prayers to God, God had weakened his power, not only upon that man that prayed, but upon others too; and therefore he was content, to come to a cessation of arms with him, that he might turn his forces another way. Truly he might say to many of us, in a worse sense, Let me alone, and I will let you alone; tempt not me, and I will not tempt you: our idleness, our high diet, our wanton discourse, our exposing ourselves to occasion of sin, provoke and call in the devil, when he seeks not us. The devil possesses the world, and we possess the devil. But then, if the fear of the Lord possess us, our own concupiscences, (though they be indeed our greatest enemies) because the war that they maintain is a civil war) shall do us no harm, for as the Septuagint in their translation, diminish the power of the devil, in that name Myrmecoleon", (a disproportioned creature, made up of a lion and an ant, because as St. Gregory saith upon that place) Formicis leo est, volatilibus formica, The
devil is a lion to ants, daslieth whole hills of them with his paw, that creep under him, but he is but an ant to birds; they prey upon him, that fly above him. If we fear the Lord, our concupiscences, our carnal affections, ourselves, may prove our best friends, because, as the fire in the furnace did not burn the men, but it burnt off those bands, that fettered and manacled them, (for they were loose, and walked in the furnace44) so our concupiscences, if we resist them, shall burn off themselves, and file off their own rust, and our salvation shall be surer by occasion of temptations. We may prevent mortem mortificatione, everlasting death, by a disciplinary life. Mori, ne moriamur, is his rule too45, to die to the fires of lust here, lest we die in unquenchable fires hereafter; to die daily, (as St. Paul speaks of himself) lest we die at the last day. To end this, this is the working of the fear of the Lord, it devours all other fears; God will have no half-affections, God will have no partners; he that fears God fears nothing else.
This then is the operation of the fear of the Lord, this is his working; remains only to consider what this fear of the Lord is: and, beloved in him, be not afraid of it; for, this fear of God, is the love of God. And, howsoever there may be some amongst us, whom the height of birth, or of place, or of spirit hath kept from fear, they never feared anything, yet, I think, there is none, that never loved anything. Obligations of matrimony, or of friendship, or of blood, or of alliance, or of conversation, hath given every one of us, no doubt, some sense in ourselves, what it is to love, and to enjoy that which we do love; and the fear of God, is the love of God. The love of the Lord passeth all things, saith the wise man46: the love, what is that to fear? It follows, The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of his love. As they that build arches, place centres under the arch, to bear up the work, till it be dried, and settled, but, after, all is arch, and there is no more centre, no more support; so to lie at the Lord's feet awhile, delivers us into his arms, to accustom ourselves to his fear, establishes us in his love. Be content to stop a little, even at the lowest fear, the fear of hell. When Saul was upon an expedition,
and did not find himself well followed, he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces47, and proclaimed, that whosoever came not to the supply, all his oxen should be so served; and upon this, (says the text there) The fear of the Lord fell upon all the people, and they came out, as one man, three hundred and thirty thousand. If Saul's threatening of their worldly goods, wrought so; let God's threatening of thyself, thine inwardest self, thy soul, with hell, make thee to stop even upon thy fear of the Lord, the fear of torment. Stop upon the second fear too, the fear of privation and loss of the sight of God in heaven; that when all we have disputed, with a modest boldness, and wondered with a holy wonder, what kind of sight of God we shall have in heaven, then when thou shouldest come to an end, and to an answer of all these doubts, in an experimental trial, how he shall be seen, (seen thus) thou shalt see then that thou shalt never see him. After thou hast used to hear, all thy life, blessedness summed up into that one act, we shalt see God, thou shalt never come nearer to that knowledge, thou shalt never see him; fear the Lord therefore in this second fear, fear of privation. And fear him in a third fear, the fear of the loss of his grace here in this world, though thou have it now. St. Chrysostom serves himself and us, with an ordinary comparison, a tiler is upon the top of the house, but he looks to his footing, he is afraid of falling. A righteous man is in a high place in God's favour, but he may lose that place. Who is higher than Adam, higher than the angels? and whither fell they? Make not thou then thy assurance of standing, out of their arguments, that say it is impossible for the righteous to fall, the sins of the righteous are no sins in the sight of God; but build thy assurance upon the testimony of a good conscience, that thou usest all diligence, and holy industry, that thou mayest continue in God's favour, and fearest to lose it; for, he that hath no fear of losing, hath no care of keeping. Accustom thyself to these fears, and these fears will flow into a love. As love, and jealousy may be the same thing, so the fear and love of God will be all one; for jealousy is but a fear of losing. Brevissima differentia Testamentorum, timor et amor"; this dis
tinguishes the two Testaments, the Old is a Testament of fear, the New of love; yet in this they grow all one, that we determine the Old Testament, in the New, and that we prove the New Testament by the Old; for, but by the Old, we should not know, that there was to be a New, nor, but for the New, that there was an Old; so the two Testaments grow one Bible; so in these two affections, if there were not a jealousy, a fear of losing God, we could not love him; nor can we fear to lose him, except we do love him. Place the affection, (by what name soever) upon the right object, God, and I have, in some measure, done that which this text directed, (Taught you the fear of the Lord) if I send you away in either disposition, timorous, or amorous, possessed with either, the fear, or the love of God; for, this fear is inchoative love, and this love is consummative fear; the love of God begins in fear, and the fear of God ends in love; and that love can never end, for God is love.