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sion; but the fear of God, that was rooted in his breast, proved the preservative of his honour in the hour of trial. He nobly resisted the allurement, and reasoned thus: "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
When Nehemiah was appointed Ruler over Judæa, he would not, like the former Governors, "be chargeable unto the people," nor suffer his "servants to bear rule over them." "So did not I," said he," because of the Fear of God."
David, when he had Saul in his power, would not destroy him because he feared to t "stretch forth his hand against the Lord's Anointed."
§ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, so feared the God of Israel, that they would not consent to serve the gods of Nebuchadnezzar, nor worship the golden image which he had set up. They chose to be cast into the burning fiery furnace, rather than disobey their God by a per version of worship which his Word forbad.
* Gen. xxxix. 9.
1 Sam. xxvi. 23.
Neh. v. 15.
§ Dan. iii. 18.
The Apostles, when brought before the Rulers, and Elders, and Scribes, who had lately succeeded in putting their beloved Master to a cruel and ignominious death, filled with the fear of God and the knowledge of the truth, disregarded the power and malice of their enemies, and boldly declared, *“Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." "We ought to obey God rather than men."
Who has not read of the undaunted conduct of Paul before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa; of his travels, his perils, his hardships, his persecutions; all undergone in the fear of God, and without fear of man, for the sake of Christ and his Religion? And who has not heard of the persevering labours and patient sufferings of the Holy Martyrs, all voluntarily undertaken and manfully sustained, in the same cause, from the same motives, and with the same awful impressions of obedience to God?
Acts, iv. 19, 20.—v. 29.
This fear of offending God, which caused such forbearance and fortitude in the good men of old, and which has produced the same effects in a higher degree among the faithful followers and witnesses of Christ, be it your anxious care to cherish in
Without it you will never stand the test of any strong temptation, nor feel a sufficient restraint when an opportunity offers of indulging a favourite passion.
There are many transgressions which, in all probability, you will avoid for the sake of your worldly interest, and lest the scorn or punishment of man should overtake you. These, as the danger and the evil are immediate, may act as checks more powerful, than the better motives of faith and duty. But there are also other transgressions, which, as they may be concealed from the eye of man, and are such as human laws cannot visit, you will be strongly tempted to commit. These are the trials which will chiefly prove whether
you will serve God or not. These are opportunities, constantly occurring, of showing that the sense of piety is deeply impressed upon your souls, and that you will not enjoy an immediate pleasure, with the certainty, before you of remote pain, but will sacrifice a present gratification for the sake of future blessing.
It is your duty to fear God more than Men, and what is your duty, be assured, is always your interest. Man may kill the body; take from you by injustice, violence, or fraud, your property and possessions ; cast with malicious purpose undeserved imputation on your names; oppress, persecute, insult over you, and pour into
your cup of life the bitter ingredients of pain and sufferings. But this is all the mischief he can do you. His power extends not to the soul. His cruelty cannot disturb the pious independence of the mind. His malice cannot reach you beyond the confines of the grave. His enmity cannot pursue you into the regions of peace. Fear not him, therefore, so as to permit his threats and terrors to fright you from the path of duty, or cause you to sacrifice the dictates of Conscience and the will of Heaven to his wicked and arbi
* 6 Fear
trary pleasure. But God is Omnipotent. He has absolute power over the soul as well as the body. He can visit you
with his judgments, vex you with his sore displeasure, afflict you with mental and corporal suffering, bring upon you the sword, pestilence, and famine, and punish you with everlasting destruction. him, therefore, which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.'
When you commit a wrong action, it may be done with so much cunning of heart, and under so thick a veil of privacy, that the world may know nothing of it. It may be concealed by the darkness of the night. It may
in the secret chamber of your own breasts. But God sees, hears, knows every thing. His eye penetrates the darkest shade, and views what is passing in the deepest re
+ " The darkness is no darkness with him; but the night is as clear as the day; the darkness and light to him are both alike. He is about your path, and about your bed, and spieth out all your
* Matt. X. 28,
+ Psalm cxxxix. 2, 7, 11,