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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 apprehenfion of approaching evil, or impending danger.
The word poos, comes from a + verb that fignifies flight; this is not always finful, but it is always the fruit, and confequent of fin. Since fin entered into our nature, there is no fhaking off fear. No fooner had Adam tranfgreffed, but he feared and fled, hiding himself among the trees of the garden, Gen. iii. 8. When he had tranfgreffed the covenant, he prefently feared the execution of the curfe: first he eats, then he hides; and his afflictive paffion is from him tranfmitted, and derived to all his children.
To this natural fear, it pleafed our Lord Jefus Chrift to subject himself, in the days of his flesh; he was afraid, yea, he was fore amazed, Mark xiv. 33. for though his human nature was abfolutely free from fin, yet he came in the "liknefs of finful "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 diftraction of the mind: if the fear be exceeding great, reafon is difplaced, 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 wifdom is fwallowed up. And this is the meaning of Deut. xxviii. 25. that they fhould go out against their enemies one way, and "flee before "them seven ways," (i. e.) fo great fhall be the fright, and diftraction, that they fhall attempt now one way, then another, ftriving every way, but liking none; for fear fo far betrays the fuccours of reafon, that their counfels 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 ftronger the fear must needs be, and therefore the terrors of an awakened and terified conscience must be allowed to be the greatest of terrors, because in that cafe a man hath to do with a great and terrible God, and is fcarred with apprehenfions of his infinite and eternal wrath, than which, no evil is, or can be
+ boμa fugio, perfect. med. roba, inde poßog timor, fuga. Rector in incerto eft, nec quid fugiatve petatve, invenit z
Pavidi femper confilia in incerto,
greater. You fee at what height Chrift's conflict wrought with it when it made him sweat as it were great clots of blood. Of all temporal evils, death is the greateft, and therefore Job calls it the King of terrors, Job xviii. 14. or the most terrible of terribles. Thuanus * relates two strange inftances 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 fled a "kind of bloody tears." Thefe are ftrange and terrible effects of fear, but vaftly fhort of what Chrift felt and fuffered, who grappled with a far greater evil than the terrors of death, even the wrath of an incenfed 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 imminent or near approaching evil, which we fee not how to efcape or put by, that provokes fear, and rouzes this lion. And therefore the faints in glory are perfectly freed from fear, because they are out of the reach of all danger: nor do we, that are here in the midst of evils, fear them till we see them approaching us, and we fee not how to avoid them. To hear of fire, plague or the fword in the Indies, doth not affright us, because the evil is fo remote from us; it is far enough off, we are in no danger of it; but when it is in the towa, much more when within our own dwellings, we tremble. Evil hurts us not by a fimple apprehenfion of its nature, but of its union; and all propinquity is a degree of union, as a‡ learned divine fpeaks. And it is worth obfervation, that all carnal fecurity is maintained by putting evils at a great diftance from us; as it is noted of thofe fecure fenfualifts, Amos vi. 3. "They put far from them the evil day." The meaning is not that they did, or could put the evil one minute farther from them in reality, but only by imagination and fancy; they hut their own eyes, and would not fee it, left it should give an unpleafing interruption to their mirth; and this is the reafon why death puts the living into no more fear, because it is appre
* Dux quidam indigno mortis metu, adeo concuffus fuit, ut fanguincum fudorem toto corpore fudit. Hift. lib. 11.
↑ Juvenis ob levem caufam a Sixto V. damnatus, prae doloris vehementia fertur lacrymas cruentas fudiffe. Lib. 8o.
hended as remote, and at an undetermined diftance, whereas if the precife time of death were known, especially if that time were near, it would greatly fcare and terrify.
This is the nature of natural fear, the infelicity of nature, which we all groan under the effects of: it is in all the creatures in fome degree, but among them all none fuffer more by it than man, for hereby he becomes his own tormentor; nor is any torment greater than this when it prevails in a high degree upon us. Indeed all conftitutions and tempers admit not the fame degrees of fear; fome are naturally couragious and ftout, like the lion for magnanimity and fortitude; others exceeding timorous and faint-hearted, like the hare or hart, one little dog will make a hundred of them flee before him. Luther was a man of great courage and prefence of mind in dangers, Melancthon very timorous and fubject to defpondency. Thus the difference betwixt them is expreffed in one of Luther's letters to him: "I am well nigh a fecure spectator "of things, and efteem not any thing these fierce and threaten"ing Papifts fay. I much dislike thofe anxious cares, which, as thou writest, do almost confume thee." There might be as great a stock of grace in one as in the other, but Melanthon's grace had not the advantage of fo ftout 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 intrinfically finful, not only our felicity, but our fault, not our fimple affliction and burden, but our great evil and provocation; and fuch is the fear here diffuaded, 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 fpring and caufe of it which is unbelief, and an unworthy diftruft of God, when we dare not rely upon the fecurity of a divine promise, nor trust to God's protection in the way of our duty. This was the very cafe of that people, Ifa. xxx. 15. "Thus faith the Lord God, the Holy One of Ifrael, in return"ing and reft shall ye be faved, in quietness and in confidence
fhall be your strength; and ye would not. But ye faid, no, " for we will flee upon horfes; therefore ye fhall flee: and we "will ride upon the fwift; therefore fhall they that pursue you " be swift. One thousand fhall flee at the rebuke of one,” &c.
Thus stood the cafe: Sennacherib with a mighty host was ready to invade them; this puts them into a fright; in this
** Epift. ad Melanct. Ann. 1549.
diftrefs God affures them, by the mouth of his prophet, that in "returning and reft they fhall be faved, in quietness and "confidence should be their strength." The meaning is, never perplex yourselves with various counfels and projects to fecure yourselves under the wings of Egypt or any other Protector, but with a compofed, quiet, and calm temper of mind, rest upon my power by faith, take my promises for your fecurity, this fhall be your falvation and your ftrength, more effectual to your preservation than armies, garrifons, or any creaturedefence in the world; one act of faith shall do you better fervice than Pharaoh and all his forces can do.
But ye faid no, q. d. we dare not trust to that, a good horfe will do us more fervice at fuch a time than a good promife; Egypt is a better fecurity in their eye than Heaven. This is the fruit of grofs infidelity. And as wicked men do thus forfake God, and cleave to the creature in the time of trouble, fo there is found a fpice of this distrustfulness of God, producing fear and trouble, in the best of men. It was in the difciples themselves, Mat. viii. 26." Why are ye fearful, O ye of little "faith" A ftorm had befallen them at fea, and danger began to threaten them, and presently you find a storm within, their fears were more boisterous than the winds, and had more need of calming than the fea; and it was all from their unbelief, as Christ tells them; the lefs their faith, the greater their fear. If a man can but rely upon God in a promife, fo far as he is enabled to believe, fo far he will reckon himself well fecured. *Illyricus, in his catalogue of the Witneffes, relates this remarkable paffage of one Andreas Proles, a godly aged divine, who lived fomewhat 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 propofition 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 fword and bow and if it were, yet what could fuch a decripit old man do with weapons? upon which he threw away his weapons, committed himself, his cause, and his journey to God, relied upon his promifes more than fword or bow, and came home safe, and afterwards died quietly in his bed.
Illyriei Cat. Teft, Lib. 19.
2. The finfulness of fear lies in the excefs and immoderacy of it, when we fear more than we ought; for it may be truly faid of our fears, as the Philofopher fpeaks of waters, difficile fuis terminis continentur, it is hard to keep them within bounds; every bush is a bear, every petty trouble puts us into a fright; our fear exceeds the value and merit of the caufe. It is a great fin 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 Ifrael heard of the confederacy and conjunction of their enemies against 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 ufe to say proverbially, like an afpine leaf: It is a fad fight to behold men fhaking and quivering as the trees do on a windy day; yet thus did the house 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 in creature-love, to transgrefs the due bounds of moderation. It is noted of Jacob, tho' a man of much faith, and one that had the fweetest encouragement to strengthen it, both from former experiences, and God's gracious promifes to be with him, yet when Efau was come nigh, he was "greatly afraid and diftreffed," 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 diftreffed, notwithstanding such an encouraging vifion as this
3. The finfulness 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 abfolute 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 finful and evil fear.
To truft 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 a God to hurt us, is exceeding finful, and highly provoking to God: This inordinate truft is taxed and condemned, in Isaiah xxxi. 3. They would needs go down to Egypt for help, and truft in their horfes and horfemen, because they were ftrong; . . in their opinion, they were able to fecure them against all