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1. Natural fear, of which all are partakers that partake of the common nature, not one excepted.
Natural fear is the trouble, or perturbation of mind, from the apprehension of approaching evil, or impanding danger.
The word pocos, comes from a + verb that signifies flight; this is not always finful, but it is always the fruit, and consequeat of sin. Since sin entered into our nature, there is no Thaking off fear. No sooner had Adam transgressed, but he fear. ed and fled, hiding himself among the trees of the garden, Gen. iii. 8. When he had transgressed the covenant, he presently feared the execution of the curse : first he eats, then he hides; and his afflictive passion is from him transmitted, and derived to all his children.
To this natural fear, it pleased our Lord Jesus Christ to subject himself, in the days of his felh; he was afraid, yea, he was fore amazed, Mark xiv. 33. for though his human nature was absolutely free from sin, yet he came in the “ likness of lioful “ flesh,” Rom viii. 3.
This fear creates great trouble, and perturbation in the mind, 1 John iv. 18. Fear hath torment ; in proportion to the danger is the fear, and in proportion to the fear, the trouble, and distraction of the mind : if the fear be exceeding great, reason is displaced, and can conduct us no farther, as the pfalmift speaks of mariners in a storm, “ they are at their wits end,” Pfal. cvii. 27. or, as it is varied in the Margin, all wisdom is swallowed up. And this is the meaning of Deut. xxviii. 25. that they should go out against their enemies one way, and “ flee before " them seven ways," (i. e.) so great shall be the fright, and distraction, that they shall attempt now one way, then another, striving every way, but liking none; for fear fo far betrays the fuccours of reason, that their counsels are always in uncertainty, and at a loss, and the usual voice of a man in this condition is, I know not what to do, I know not which way to turn.
Evil is the object of fear, and the greater the evil is, the stronger the fear must needs be, and therefore the terrors of an awakened and terified conscience must be alowed to be the greatest of terrors, because in that case a man hath to do with a great and terrible God, and is scarred with apprehensions of his infinite and eternal wrath, than which, no evil is, or can be
ť oslovias fugio, perfect. med. nepoca, inde poßos timor, fuga.
Rector in incerto est, nec quid fugiatve petatve, invenit ; vid.
1 Pavidi femper conflia in incerto,
greater. You fee at what height Christ's confict wrought with it when it made him sweat as it were great clots of blood. Of all temporal evils, death is the greatest, and therefore Job calls it the King of terrors, Job xviii. 14. or the most terrible of terribles. Thuanus * relates two strange instances of the fear of death : “One of a certain captain, who was fo terrified with " the fear of death, that he poured out a kind of bloody sweat, “ from all parts of his body. Another is of a young man con“demned for a small matter by. + Sixtus Quintus, who was “ fo vehemently terrified with the fears of death, that he shed a “ kind of bloody tears.” These are strange and terrible cffects of fear, but vastly short of what Christ felt and fuffered, who grappled with a far greater evil than the terrors of death, even the wrath of an incensed God poured out to the full, and that immediately upon him.
But yet evil, as evil, is rather the object of hatred than of fear, it must be an immipent or near approaching evil, which we fee not how to escape or put by, that provokes fear, and rouzes this lion. And therefore the faints io glory are perfectly freed from fear, because they are out of the reach of all danger: oor do we, that are here in the midst of evils, fear them till we see them approaching us, and we see not how to avoid them. To hear of fire, plague or the sword in the Indies, doch not affright us, because the evil is so remote from 'us; it is far enough off, we are in no danger of it; but when it is in the town, much more when within our own dwellings, we tremble. Evil hurts us not by a simple apprehension of its nature, but of its union; and all propioquity is a degree of union, as a I learned divine fpeaks. And it is worth obfervation, that all carnal security is maintained by puttiog evils at a great diftance from us; as it is noted of those secure sensualisis, Amos vi. 3. “ They put far from them the evil day.” The meaning is not that they did, or could put the evil one mjoute farther from them in reality, but only by imagination and fancy; they fut their own eyes, and would not see it, left it should give an unpleasing interruption to their mirth; and this is the reason why death pats the living into ao more fear, because it is appre
* Dux quidam indigno mortis metu, adeo concuffus fuit, ut fanguincum fudorem toto corpore fudit. Hift. lib. II.
+ Juvenis ob levem caufam a Sixto V. damnatus, prae doloris vehenientia fertur lacrymas cruentas fudille. Lib. 8o.
Dr. Reynolds. VOL. IV.
hended as remote, and at an undetermined distance, whereas if the precise time of death were known, especially if that time were near, it would greatly scare and terrify.
This is the nature of vatural fear, the infelicity of nature, which we all groan under the effects of : it is jo all the crea. tures in some degree, but among them ail none suffer more by it thao man, for hereby he becomes his own tormentor; por is any torment greater than this when it prevails in a high degree upon us. Indeed all constitutions and tempers admir not the fame degrees of fear; some are naturally couragious and sout, like the lion for magnanimity aod fortitude; others exceeding timorous and faint-hearted, like the hare or hart, one little dog will make a huodred of them flee before him. Luther was a man of great courage and presence of mind in dangers, * Melaocthon very timorous and subject to defpondency. Thus the difference betwixt them is expressed in one of Luther's letters to him : “ I am well-nigh a secure spectator " of things, and esteem not any thing these fierce and threaten" ing Papifts fay. I much dislike those anxious cares, which,
as thou writest, do almost consume thee." There might be as great a stock of grace in one as in the other, but Melancthon's grace
had not the advantage of fo fout and courageous a temper of body and mind as Luther's had. Thus briefly of natural fear.
Sect. II. There is a fear which is formally and intrinsically sinful, not only our felicity, but our fault, not our simple affliction and burden, but our great evil and provocation ; and fuch is the fear here dissuaded, called their fear (i.e.) the fear wherewith carnal and unbelieving men do fear, when dangers threaten them; and the finfulness of it lies in five things.
1. In the spring and cause of it which is unbelief, and an unworthy diffruft of God, when we dare not rely upon the security of a divine promise, nor trust to God's protection in the way of our duty. This was the very case of that people, Ifa. xxx. 15. “ Thus faith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in return“ ing and reft shall ye be faved, in quietness and in confidence “ fall be your strength; and ye would not. But ye faid, no, os for we will flee upon horses; therefore ye
shall flee : and we " will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you " be swift. One thousand shall Alee at the rebuke of one,” &c.
Thus stood the case: Sennacherib with a mighty host was ready to invade them; this puts them into a fright; in this
* Epift. ad Melanit. Ann. 1549.
distress God assures them, by the mouth of his prophet, that in " returning and reft they shall be saved, in quietness and " confidence should be their strength.” The meaning is, never perplex yourselves with various counsels and projects to secure yourselves under the wings of Egypt or any other Protector, but with a composed, quiet, and calm temper of mind, rest upon my power by faith, take my promises for your security, this hall be your falvation and your strength, more effectual to your preservation than armies, garrisoos, or any creaturedefence in the world; one act of faith shall do you better service than Pharaoh aod all his forces can do. But ye
said d. we dare not trust to that, a good horse will do us more service at such a time than a good promise ; Egypt is a better security in their eye than Heaven. This is the fruit of gross infidelity. And as wicked men do thus forsake God, and cleave to the creature in the time of trouble, so there is found a spice of this diftruitfulness of God, producing fear and trouble, in the best of men. It was in the disciples themselves, Mat. viii. 26. " Why are ye fearful, Oye of little « faith?” A storm had befallen them at sea, and danger begaa to threaten them, and presently you find a storm within, their fears were more boilerous than the winds, and had more need of calming than the sea ; and it was all from their unbelief, as Chrift tells them; the less their faith, the greater their fear. If a man can but rely upon God in a promise, so far as he is enabled to believe, so far he will reckon himself well secured.
Illyricus, in his catalogue of the Witnesses, relates this re. markable passage of one Andreas Proles, a godly aged divine, who lived somewhat before Luther, and taught many points foundly, according to his light then; he was called to a Synod at Milan, and afterwards in the Lateran, where opposing a proposition of the Pope about burdening the church with a new holiday, he was brought into much danger, and escaping very narrowly from Rome, he bought him a bow and weapons; but as he was riding, he began to bethink himself, that the cause was not his but God's, and not to be maintained with sword and bow: and if it were, yet what could such a decripit old man do with weapoos? upon which he threw away his weapons, committed himself, his cause, and his journey to God, relied upon his promises more than fword or bow, and camo home fafe, and afterwards died quietly in his bed.
* Illyriei Cat. Test, Lib. 19.
2. The fiofulness of fear lies in the excess and immoderacy of it, when we fear more than we ought; for it may be truly said of our fears, as the Philosopher speaks of waters, difficile fuis terminis' continentur, it is hard to keep them withio bounds; every bush is a bear, every petty trouble puts us into a fright; our fear exceeds the value and merit of the cause. It is a great Go to love or fear any creature above the rate of a creature, as if they were masters of all our temporal and eternal comforts. Thus when the men of Israel heard of the confederacy and conjonction of their enemies agaiost them, the text faith, “ their “ hearts were moved, as the trees of the wood are moved with " the wind,” Ifa. vii. 1. or as we use to say proverbially, like an afpine leaf : It is a fad fight to behold men shaking and qui. vering as the trees do on a windy day; yet thos did the houfe of David, partly through the remembrance of past calamities, but especially through incredulity in God's protecting care in their present and future dangers ; yea, this is too often the fault of good men in creature-fear as well as io crcature-love, to transgress the due bounds of moderation. It is poted of Jacob, tho* a map of much faith, and one that had the fweetest encouragement to strengthen it, both from former experiences, and God's gracious promises to be with him, yet when Efau was come nigh, he was "greatly afraid and distressed," Gen. xxxii. 7. It was but a little before, that God had graciously appeared to him, and fent a royal guard of angels to attend him, even two hofts or armies of angels, ver. 1, 2. and yet as foon as Efau approached him, he was afraid, yea greatly afraid, afraid and distressed, notwithstanding such an encouraging vifion as this
3. The sipfulnefs of our fears lies in the inordinacy of them to fear it more than we ought is bad enough, but to magnify its power above the power of a creature ; to exalt the power of any creature by our fears, and give it such an afcendant over us, as if it had an arbitrary and absolute dominion over us, or over our comforts, to do with them what it pleafed ; this is to put the creature out of its own class and rank, into the place of God, and is therefore a very sinful and evil fear.
To trust in any creature, as if it had the power of a God to help us, or to fear any creature, as if it had the power of God to hurt us, is exceeding sinful, and highly provoking to God: This inordinate trust is taxed and condemned, in Ilaiah xxxi. 3. They would needs go down to Egypt for help, and trust in their horses and horsemen, because they were strong; 1. e. in their opinion, they were able to secure them against ail