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coming upon them, and he knew if the fond, and immoderate love of life were not overcome, and mortified in them, it would make them warp, and bend under fuch temptations.
This was it that freed Paul from flavifh fears, and made him fo magnanimous, and undaunted; indeed he had lefs fear upon his fpirits, tho' he was to fuffer thofe hard, and fharp things, in his own perfon, than his friends had, who only fympathized with him, and were not farther concerned, than by their own love, and pity: he spake like a man who was rather a spectator, than a fufferer. Acts xx. 24, 25. "None of these things move me," faith he. Great foul! not moved with bonds, and afAictions! how did he attain fo great courage, and conftancy of mind, in fuch deep, and dreadful fufferings! It was enough to have moved the stouteft man in the world, yea, and to have removed the refolutions of any that had not loved Christ better than his own life: but life was a trifle to him, in comparison with Jefus Chrift, for fo he tells us in the next words, "I count "not my life dear unto me," q. d. It is a low-prized commodity in my eyes, not worth the faving, or regarding on fuch finful terms. Oh! how many have parted with Chrift, peace, and eternal life, for fear of losing that which Paul regarded not. And if we bring our thoughts closer to the matter, we shall foon find that this is a fountain of fears in times of danger, and that from this exceffive love of life we are racked and tortured with ten thoufand terrors. For,
1. Life is the greatest and nearest interest men naturally have in this world, and that which wraps up all other inferior interests in itself, Job ii. 4. "Skin for fkin, yea, all that a man hath, "will he give for his life." It is a real truth, thought it came from the mouth of the father of lies; afflictions never touch the quick, till they touch the life; liberty, eftates, and other accommodations in this world receive their value and eftimation from hence; if life be cut off, these accidents perish, and are of no account, Gen. xxv. 32. Behold I am at the point to die, (faid Efau) and what profit fhall this birth-right do to me?" 2. Life being naturally the deareft intereft of men in this world, the richest treasure, and moft beloved thing on earth, to a natural man; that which strikes at, and endangers life, muft, in his eyes, be the greateft evil that can befal him; on this account death becomes terrible to men; yea, as Job calls it, the king of terrors, Job xviii. 14. The black prince, or the frince of clouds. and darkness, as fome tranflate thofe words: Yea, fo is terrible is death upon this account, that the very fear of it hath fomeVOL. IV.
times precipitated men into the hands of it, as we fometimes ob ferve in times of peftilence, the exceffive fear of the plague hath induced it *.
3. Though death be terrible in any fhape, in the mildest form it can appear in; yet a violent and bloody death, by the hands of cruel and mercilefs men, is the most terrible form that death can appear in; it is now the king of terrors indeed, in the most ghaftly reprefentation and frightful form, in its fearlet robes, and terrifying formalities; in a violent death, all the barbarous cruelty that the wit of our enemies can invent, or their malice inflict, is mingled together; in a violent death are many deaths converted into one, and it oftentimes approaches meu by fuch flow and deliberated paces, that they feel every tread of its foot, as it advanceth towards them. Moriatur, ut fentiat fe mori; Let him fo die, (faid the tyrant) that he may feel himfelf to die; yea, and how he dies by inch-meal, or flow, lingering degrees and this is exceeding frightful, efpecially to those that are of moft foft and tender nature and temper who must needs be ftruck through with the terrors of death, except, the Lord arm them againft it with the affurance of a better life, and fweeten these bitter apprehenfions by the foretaftes of it. This is enough to put even fanctified nature into confternation, and make a very gracious heart to fink, unless it be fo upheld by divine ftrength and comfort: And hence come many, very many of our fears and terrors, especially when the fame enemies that have been accustomed to this bloody work, fhall be found confederating and defigning again to break in upon us, and act over again as much cruelty, as ever they have done upon our brethren in times paft.
Caufe 6. To conclude: many of our finful fears and confternations flow from the influences of Satan upon our phantafies. They fay winds, and storms are oft-times raised by Satan, both by fea and land; and I never doubted, but the prince of the power of the air, by God's permiffion, can, and often doth, put the world into great frights and disturbances by fuch tempefts, Job. i. 19. He can raise the loftieft winds, pour down roaring fhowers, rattle in the air with fearful claps of thunder, and scare
*Galen reports, that fome have died fuddenly through fear: It is not therefore a thing to be wondered at, in the opinion of Ariftotle, and almoft all others, that a man fhould die, through the fear. of death. The fear of evil sometimes brings on men that which they dread; as is evident from the example of those whose fear has prevented the death appointed them by the judge. Stern.on Death, p. 167
the lower world with terrible flashes of lightning. And I doubt not but he hath, by the fame permiffion, a great deal of influence and power upon the fancies and paffions of men; and can raife more terrible storms and tempefts within us, than ever we heard or felt without us: he can by leave from God, approach our phantalies, disturb and trouble them exceedingly by forming frightful ideas there; for Satan not only works upon men mediately, by the miniftry of their external fenfes, but by reafon of his fpiritual, angelical nature, he can have immediate accefs to the internal sense alfo, as appears by diabolical dreams; and by practising upon that power of the foul, he influences the paffions of it, and puts it under very dreadful apprehenfions and confternations. Now if Satan can provoke and exafperate the fury and rage of wicked men, as it is evident he can do, as well as he can go to the magazines and flore-houfes of thunder, lightnings, and forms: O what inward forms of fear can he shake our hearts withal, and if God give him but a permiffion, how ready will he be to do it, feeing it is fo conducible to his defign: for by putting men into fuch frights, he at once weakens their hands in duty, as is plain from his attempt his way upon Nehemiah, chap. vi. 13. and if he prevail there, he drives them into the fnares and trains of his temptations, as the fifherman and fowler do the birds and fishes into their nets, when once they have flushed and frighted them out of their coverts. And thus you have fome account of the principal and true caufes of our finful fears.
CHA P. V.
Laying open the finful and lamentable effects of flavish and inordinate fear, both in carnal and regenerate perfons.
Sect. 1. HAVING taken a view in the former chapters of
the kinds and caufes of fear, and feen what lies at the root of flavish fear, and both breeds and feeds it, what fruit can we expect from fuch a curfed plant, but gall and wormwood, fruit as bitter as death itself? Let us then, in the next place, examine and well confider thefe following and deplorable effects of fear, to excite us to apply ourfelves the more concernedly to thofe directions that follow in the close of this treatife, for the cure of it. And,
Effect 1. The firft effect of this finful and exorbitant paffion is distraction of mind and thoughts in duty: Both Cicero and Quintilian will have the word tumultus, a tumult, to come from
timor multus, much fear, it is a compound of thofe two words; much fear raises great uproars and tumults in the foul, and puts all into hurries and distractions, fo that we cannot attend upon any service of God, with profit or comfort. It was therefore a very neceflary mercy that was requested of God, Luke i. 74. "That we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, "might ferve him without fear." For it is impoffible to serve God without distractions, till we can ferve him without the flavith fear of enemies. The reverential, fear of God is the greatest fpur to duty, and choicest help in it, but the distracting fears of men will either wholly divert us from our duty, or deftroy the comfort and benefit of our duties; it is a deadly fnare of the devil to hinder all comfortable intercourfe with God.
It is very remarkable, that when the apoftle was giving his advice to the Corinthians, about marriage in those times of perfe cution, and difficulty, he commends to them a fingle life as moft eligible: Where it may be without finful inconveniencies, and that principally for this reafon, "That they might attend upon "the Lord without diftraction," 1 Cor. vii. 35. He forefaw what ftraits, cares, and fears muft unavoidably distract them in fuch times that were moft clogged and incumbred with families and relations; when a man fhould be thinking, O what shall I do now to get my doubts and fears refolved about my interest in Chrift? How may I fo behave myself in my fufferings as to credit religion, and not become a fcandal and ftumbling-ftone to others! His thoughts are taken up with other cares and fears: O what will become of my wife and poor little ones? What shall I do with them, and for them, to fecure them from danger.
I doubt not but it is a great design of the devil to keep us in continual alarms and frights, and to puzzle our heads and hearts with a thousand difficulties, which poffibly may never befal us, or if they do, fhall never prove fo fatal to us as we fancy them, and all this is to unfit us for our prefent duties, and destroy our com fort therein; for if by frights and terrors of mind he can but once distract our thoughts, he gains three great points upon us, to our unfpeakable lofs.
1. Hereby he will cut off the freedom and fweetness of our communion with God in duties, and what an empty shell will the best duties be, when this kernel is wormed out by fuch a fubtle artifice? Prayer, as Damafcen aptly expresses it is 'Arúßacis to 18, the afcenfion of the mind or foul to God; but distraction clips its wings; he can never offer up his foul and thoughts to God, that hath not the poffeffion of them himself
and he that is under distracting fears poffeffeth not himself. The life of all communion with God in prayer, confists in the harmony that is betwixt our hearts and words, and both with the will of God; this harmony is fpoiled by diftractions, and fo Satan gains that point.
2. But this is not all he gains, and we lofe, by distracting fears; for as they cut off the freedom and sweetness of our intercourfe with God in prayer, fo they cut off the foul from the fuccours and reliefs it might otherwise draw from the promises. We find when the Ifraelities were in great bondage, wherein their minds were distracted with fears and forrows, they regarded not the fupporting promises of deliverance fent them by Mofes, Exod. vi. 3. David had an express and particular promise of the kingdom from the mouth of God, which muft needs include his deliverance out of the hand of Saul, and all his ftratagems to destroy him; but yet, when eminent hazards were before his eyes, he was afraid, and that fear betrayed the fuccours from the promife, fo that it drew a quite contrary conclufion, 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. "I fhall one day perish by the hand of Saul :" And again he is at the fame point, Pfal. cxvi. 11. "All men
are liars," not excepting Samuel himself, who had affured him of the kingdom. This is always the property and nature of fear (as I thewed before) to make men diftrust the best fecurity when they are in eminent peril: But oh! what a mischief is this to make us fufpicious of the promises, which are our chief relief and fupport in times of trouble: Our fears will unfit us for prayer, they will alfo fhake the credit of the promises with us; and fo great is the damage we receive both ways, that it were better for us to lofe our two eyes, than two fuch advantages in trouble. But,
3. This is not all, by our prefent fears, we lofe the benefit and comfort of all our past experiences, and the singular relief we might have from all that faithfulness and goodness of God, which our eyes have seen in former straights and dangers, the prefent fear clouds them all, Ifa. li. 12, 13. Men and dangers are fo much minded, that God is forgotten, even the God that hath hitherto preserved us, though our former fears told us, the enemy was daily ready to devour us. All these sweet reliefs are cut off from us by our distracting fears, and that at a time when we have most need of them.
Effect 2. Diffimulation and hypocrify are the fruit of flavish fear; distraction you fee is bad enough, but diffimulation is worfe than diftraction, and yet as bad as it is, fear hath driven good men into this fpare; it will make even an upright foul