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ciled with such a passage as that “God is love;" every work of his, which follows—" perfect love cast-, hand, every act of his Providence, eth out fear ?". If all the true ser- the face of nature, the history of vants of God are to fear him, how our lives, all constitute, as it were, is it that “perfect love,” the per- one vast volume, which proclaims, fect love of God, “ casteth out the love and the compassion of God fear ?" Now, instead of at once Almighty, The Bible may be said replying to this question, I, per- to be one continued commentary haps, shall be forgiven, if I venture upon the single text, “ God is to offer a few plain observations love." True "religion, therefore, upon the four following points: evidently casts out all such fear as
I. In the first place, there is, this. True religion, I may say, I conceive, a wrong fear in religion. “ detests” such fear; bolds no al
II. There is a fear which is right. liance with it, because it dishonours
III. In the first stages of religion, Him who is the great object of fear is apt to prevail over love. religion: it puts an idol in the · IV. In the last stages of religion, place of God, Far, far, therefore, love gradually banishes fear. be such fear from all your readers,
In the tirst place, there is a fearand from all who serve the God of in religion which is wrong; and of Israel, the God of mercy, the this I will mention two cases. “ God who so loved the world, as
That fear is wrong which pro- to give his own Son to die for it.” ceeds from false views of God.- Again; that fear is wrong which There are minds which delight to proceeds from wrong views of our draw the most tremendous pictures own character. There are persons of the Almighty. They take, for who, with right views of God, liave instance, some earthly potentate, false views of themselves; who the severity of whose justice is soft- either mistake the requisitions of ened by no touches of mercy; and, the Gospel, and then tremble beadding to the portrait the qualities cause they do not comply with its of infinite power and purity, they demands; or who, though having call this their God. I do not mean just views of the Gospel, form a to say that such a state of mind is wrong estimate of their own faith common; for excessive fear of God and obedience to its doctrines. is by no means common, and, where One individual, for instance, deit exists, often arises from other spairs because he has sinned after causes. Still such cases are to be receiving the sacrament; another, found; and persons are still more because he imagines that he has commonly to be found, who, with committed the sin against the Holy out going all the lengths of those Ghost; a third, because he thinks to whom I have referred, yet form that he has not the witness of the such notions of God, as are incon- Spirit in himself, which witness be sistent with the love of God, and the imagines to be, some direct com. hope of salvation. They contemplate munication from Heaven; another, God as armed for vengeance, not because sin is not altogether subas clothed with love; as thuodering dued in him; another, because he from the throne of judgment, not is uuable to discover, in his own as smiling on the seat of mercy, works, sufficient to justify him in They remember that " in Adam all the sight of God. Now it certainly die," but forget that “in Christ is very far from my intention to all shall be made alive." Now, encourage myself, or your readers, can we hesitate to say that such to bope upon false grounds; to views of tbe character of God as veil that sword of vengeance which are calculated to give us low no- is really lifted agaiust the impeni. tions of his mercy, and to fill us teot; to increase our courage by with slavish fear, are, wrong? concealing our enemies. On the
contrary, it will be my endeavour not more conveniently treat this hereafter to shew, tbat fear-strong, position than under the arrangeactive, lively fear-is essential to ment already adopted.- In the the Christian character. But those first place, then, that fear is right of whom I am now speaking are which proceeds from right views of not either the careless or the con- the character of God. God is deceited. They are, some of them, scribed in the Bible as an infinitely men whose very humility, perlaps, pure and holy Being. The angels is shutting their eyes upon the are said not to be pure jo his sight. hopes and happiness of the Chris- Indeed, these heavenly hosts appear tian. They are, some of them, to have their other feelings absorbmen who' bow' so very low before od in the contemplation of the hothe throne of God, as not to see the liness of God. .“ Holy, holy, holy, sceptre of mercy which is stretched is the Lord of Hosts." Now he out to them. They are nien whose that is holy must hate sin; and eyes are so occupied and absorbed accordingly of God it is said, that by the sword of wrath, which hangs he hates it with a "perfect hatred," over the path of the sinner, as not with a hatred, that is, unmitigated, to see the sheath which mercy car- as in 'man, by the touches of in. ries beside it for the true penitent. ward depravity. He hates it as Is there any one of those who is perfect light abhors perfect darkhonouring this paper with his ness.-But that which God hates attention, wretched because he is and punishes, man must evidently not sinless? Then let him remem- fear. We must fear, therefore, the ber, that Christ " came to seek commission of sin. We must fear and to save that which was lost," the consequences of sin. All that Or is he wretched because he has is sinful must fill us with horror. not some inward revelation of his We must shrink from it as from own safety? Let him remember, the touch of pollution-as from that the witness of the Spirit is the the dagger of death-as from that & fruit which the Spirit of God which if unrepented of, if unwashed produces in our lives and tempers. by the blood of Christ, is to sepaOr does lie despair because his rate us from God, and to give us own works, though holy, are not to the ".worm that never dies.” sufficiently holy to justify him? But, it may be asked, is not this Then let him call to mind, that we to contradict what has been said are “justified, not by works of before ? I answer, No. Wbat bas righteousness which we have done,” been affirmed amounts to this--Bebut that “ according to His mercy fore we have sinned, we pust fear He saves us :" and that salvation sin, because God is holy: when is “ the gift of God through Jésus unhappily we have sinned, we must Christ our Lord.” In this case not despair, because God is merci then, I venture to repeat the de- fül. claration --"Love casteth out fear," Again; that fear may be said to where “ fear" is founded on false be right which proceeds from right views of ourselves where we ex- views of ourselves.- If man were pect in ourselves, that which God as upright as he originally proceedexpects not-where we are turning ed from the hands of his Maker, our eyes from the Rock of our re- even then, the example of Adam fuge--when we are miserable may teach us, that we have suffithough God permits and invites us cient cause for the fears suggested to be humble and happy. ri by the weakness of our nature and
But I now turn to the second the strength of our temptations. point which I proposed to notice, And I need not say how greatly the viz. that there is a fear in religion causes of fear are increased by that which is right; and perhaps I can corruption which the sin of our first parents has entailed upon us. But triumph was achieved, on the one upon this point I will not dwell. hand," by a distrust in themselves, If any of your readers doubt the and on the other by a spirit of necessity of caution and apprehen- confidence in the Alniighty. Their sion, let him look into the state song of gratitude was, “Not unto either of the world, or of his own us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto heart, to be convinced. Who, for thy Name be the praise.” instance, can look into himself, III. But without more delay, I and not discover his weakness and shall now notice the third proposi. corruption ? Who has not, at times tion, which I stated in the opening felt himself break down at what of this paper, viz. that in the first appeared to be his strongest point? stages of religion, fear is naturally Who has not, in some particular io- apt to prevail over love.When the stance, felt the most despicable temp, eyes of a sinner first open upon the tation overcome him? Who bas not truths of religion, an awful prospect passed, with the most painful rapi- appears to lie before him. He disdity,from a state of communion with covers, that he has long been sinGod and delight in religion, to ning against a holy and just God Gaat of coldness, and worldliness, that he has been “ dead in tresand guilt? In like manner, let any passes and sins”--that he has stood person who doubts upon this point on the very edge of perdition. He look at the histories of Noah, of looks behind him, and shudders to Lot, of Abraham, and of David; behold the mere plank, as it were, and then say whether it does not by which he has crossed the gulf. become us to“ pass the time of our He looks before him, and sees chasm sojourning here in fear." May I within chasm, wbich must be pass. then be permitted to express my ed, rock upon rock which must be hope, and to offer my humble sup- climbed. He looks around him, plication to God, that all your read and searches in vain for many comers may be distinguished by a panions of his march, who he has holy distrust of themselves-by a reason to fear have fallen, and pedeep sense of weakness-by a con- rished for ever. He looks within, viction that their safety is to be se- and finds nothing which correcured, not by "might nor by power," sponds to the size and complexion but by the “ Spirit" of “ the of his dangers. Unaccustomed as Lord." Let us remember, that yet to east himself upon God, to when in Scripture we are encou- prove the abundance of the mercy raged to be strong, it is to " be of God, and the power of his arm, strong in the Lord, and in the his heart sinks within him. The power of his might;" that when we terrors of the Lord seem to be let are stirred up to “ work out our loose upon him, and no deliverer salvation, it is by the considera- appears. The awful picture given tion, that “ God worketh in us in Job, seems almost to describe both to will and to do;" that when his own circumstances : " In the author of the Hebrews collects tboughts from the vision of the from their graves, and causes to pass night, when deep sleep falleth on in review before us the mighty men, fear came upon me, and dead wbo have fought and con- trembling, which made all my bones quered in the spiritual conquest, to shake: then a spirit passed behe attributes lheir victory, not fore my face; the hair of my flesh to their strength, but to their stood up.” I am well aware, in"faith:"-" by faith they subdued deed, that the awe which thus kingdoms, wrought righteousness, seizes upon the mind is not the obtained promises, quencbed the same in all cases ; that it will be violence of the sword." Their proportioned, in some degree, to the APRIL; greatness of our sins-to the vers the disease before he recoge strength of our imagination—and to nizes the Physician. But, when the fulness with which we are led to such a person continues to pray to contemplate the vengeance of God. God, to study his Bible, to use diliNor do I by any means deem it gently and devoutly the means of right for the preacher of the Go- grace which a good God has prospel to busy himself in exciting vided for him, comfort by dethose intense and tumultuous feel. grees breaks in upon bim-" light ings which are, perhaps, as much springeth up in the darkness." calculated to disorder the mind as He gradually, by the Divine mercy, to reform it: but still I know, that discovers how precisely the relifeelings analogous to these are often gion of Jesus Cbrist is suited to awakened—and awakened, I be his state-how tenderly it treats lieve, not by the language of enthu- the penitent sinner-how ample a siasm, but by the language of Scrip. remedy it proyides for his case ture-by just views of the couse- how it strives to bind up the bruis. quences of sin--and I may add, by ed reed. He discovers, also, the inthe merciful movements of that finite tenderness of the Divine Cha, Spirit, who prefers that his ser facter. From the cleft of the rock, vants should “ suffer" for a time as it were, he sees the skirts of the here, in order to their “ reigning" Divine Glory pass by him-and for ever in heaven. Now, then, in hears the title and attributes of this stage of religion, when the sin- God proclaimed-—" the Lord, the ner is familiar only with a part of Lord God, merciful and gracious, its system, when he has not over- long-suffering, and abundant in come the shock of discovering his goodness and truth.” Especially, own guilt and danger, is it wonder- he beholds God as the God of the ful that for a season fear should Gospel--as the “ God and Farber prevail over love -- that he should of our Lord Jesus Christ"-as the overrate his difficulties—that be God who "spared not his own Son, should darken the avenue by which but freely gave him up for us all." hope enters that he should per. Can be fail, then, under the Divine ceive little but clouds and shadows blessing, to love a God such as this? hanging over the path of his pil. Will not the fears springing from grimage? And need any of your his views either of the character of readers who are in such a state of God or of his own defects insenmind be urged to hasten their es- sibly lessen ? Will he pot, feel an cape from it; not by shutting their increasing confidence, that so mercyes upon their dangers, not by ciful, a God will not abandon, so taking the awful leap, as it were, infirm and helpless a creature ? Is in the dark- but to escape from it not every weaker feeling likely to by a farther advance in religion. be absorbed by the growing sense
And this was the fourth point to of the Divine goodness ? Is not the which I proposed to call the atten- love of God, of bis Saviour, likely tion of your readers, viz. Ihat, in by degrees, to become his masthe last stages of religion, “ love ter passion, his ruling principle ? begins to prevail over fear."-At If I may be allowed to borrow first, as has been said, the man who an illustration from those two per. discovers his guilt is naturally sons, who seem to have been the more occupied by his dangers than appointed heralds of the dispensaa by any hopes of deliverance from tions of fear and love, I should say, them. He naturally surveys the that the words of St. John, with depth and darkness of his dungeou, reference to himself and to his before he discovers the ray by Master, apply to the case I am des which it is lighted. He disco cribing-to the decay of fear and growth of love-"He must increase, its enemies, or by exposure in an but I must decrease.” The stars atmosphere unfavourable to it? . must fade as the sun arises; and Do we desire to reach heaven, twilight vanish in the blaze of and taste of that perfect love which day.
casteth out fear? Then may we all' And now, by way of bringing remember, that we are not to be this, I fear too much extended, dis- transported thither in a chariot of cussion to an end, I will simply fire, but are to rise to it 'by the say, that I must not be considered patient and laborious steps of as stating, that the love of the penitence, and faith, and obedi., Cbristian is ever so complete in this ence, and self-denial, and watchful. state of being as entirely to banish ness and prayer-are to rise to it fear--that his perception, either of from the lowly foot of a Saviour's the goodness of God or of his own cross. O, then, may one and all of growth in grace, may ever entitle us, in order to this end, under Dihim bere to cast away a feeling so vine grace, adopt the resolution salutary and so suited to a fallen and practice of St. Paul: “I therecreature. The perfect love which fore so run, not as uncertainly ; so casteth out fear probably re- fight I, not as one that beateth the fers to heaven; that perfect state air; but I keep under my body, to which the true servant of God and bring it into subjection, lest is daily and rapidly advancing that by any means, when I have to that day of wbich he now preached to others, I myself should sees but the dawn-to that hour be'a cast away." i. when he shall no longer see through
. C. a glass darkly, but see even as he is seen, and know as he is known, and love as he is loved. Then indeed, shall love, in the strongest sense, FAMILY SERMONS. No. LXXVI. cast out fear. Then shall fear ut terly cease, when danger is entirely
Gen. vi. 8. “ And the Lurd said,
Gen; : . removed, and corruption complete
My Spirit shall not always strive Jy annihilated. Then shall we be ; with man." slike God, for we shall see bim as IN “the days that were before the be is."
in Alood,” it is said, “ they were eating And now let me be allowed to and drinking, and knew not till the say, especially to the inexperienced food came and took them all away." in religion, to whom alone, indeed, So completely were they absorbed, I have the smallest pretensions to either by the pleasures or business speak; Let them look at this pic of life, that when the floodgates of ture of religion:-it does not present wrath were opened, only one fato them, as some have imagined, à mily had prepared to encounter the system of terrors, but a dispensa- overwhelming tide. But had God, tion of love. It shews them, if I without warning, at once devoted his may so describe it, a chain of gold creatures to destruction ? Had the by which the joys of angels are let floodgates of wrath been opened down to man. Who, then, will not without preparation ? Had the Fa. value religion ? Who will trample ther of the universe at once ernpupon this pearl of great price? tied the vials of indignation upon Who will not sell all he has, that he his creatures? An examination of may buy this? Who will put such the text will enable us to reply to a possession to hazard - stake it these and some other important upon a remote chance of long life. questions. And to this end, it will upon the uncertain penitence of a be my endeavour to offer some obsick and dying bed ? Who will servations in proof of the four folfisk it in a rash intercourse with lowing positions,