Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

and how he will be worshipped and served, and what he would have to be done, or not to be done: And cherefore since the glorious God hath so far condescended, as by his Providence to send us a Transcript of his Mind, Will

, and Law, he will be very thankful for it, very ftudious of it, much delighted in it, very curious to observe it , because it is the Rule and Direction how he may obey, and consequently please that great God whom he fears; this Word he believes and prizes as his great Charter; and in this Word he finds inuch to excite, and regulate, and direa his Fear of God; he sees Examples of the divine : Justice against the Offenders of his Law, of the divine Bounty in rewarding the obedience to it: Threatnings on one hand, Promises on the other. Greater Manifestations of the divine Goodness in the Redemption of Man. kind by Christ Jesus, and therefore greater Obligations as well to fear as to love such a Benefactor. .

II. And thus far of the kinds of the Fear of God, and of the Causes or Objects exciting it: Now let us see how i dath appear that this Fearing Man is the Wise Man,and how the Fear of God discovers it self to be the true, and beft, and only Wisdom; which will appear in these particular Considerations following.

1. Many learned Men considering that great fimilitude and image of Ratiocination, in fome Brutes especially, have therefore declined to define a Man by his Reason, because of that analogical Ratiocination which they find in Brutes, buc define a Man by his Religion, Homo eft animal religiofum; because in this they find no communication or similitude of Natures and Operations between Men and brute Beasts: for Man is the only visible Creature that exprefseth any inclination to Religion or the sense of a Deity, or any exercise of it. I do not stand to justifie this Opi: hion in all particulars, only these things are most certain ; 1. That only the Humane Nature seems to have any fense or impression of any regular Religion upon it. che sense of a Deity and Religion resulting from it, is the great ennobling, and advance, and perfection of the Humane Nacure; 3. That take away the Fear of God, all

sense

2. That

[ocr errors]

sense and ufe of Religion falls to the ground. So that the Fear of God is the great foundation of Religion, and consequently the great ennobling and advance of Humane Nature; that seems almoft as great a prelation of a Man truly religious above an irreligious Man, as to operation and use, as there is between an irreligious Man and a Brute. As Religion advanceth, so Irreligion embaseth the Humane Nature.

2. Juftice is of two kinds; Distributive, which is the Juftice of a Magistrate or Judge, distributing Rewards and Punishments, Favour and Displeasure, and due Retribution to every Man according to the merits of his Caule. 2. Commutative, which is in all civil Contracts and Dealings becween Perions, as dealing honestly, keeping Promises, and using Plainness, Sincerity, and Truth in all a Man faith or doth: And both these kinds of Justice are effects of excellent Wisdom; without thele, States and Societies and Persons, fall into Disorder, Confusion, and Dissolution: and therefore those very Men that have not this Justice and Righteousness, yet honour and value those that have it, and use it. And the Fear of Almighty God is that which begetteth and improveth both these kinds of Juftice. Hence it was that Moses, in his Choice of Judges, directs that they should be Men fearing God, and bating Covetoufnels : Fehoshaphat, in his Charge to his Judges, thought this the best Expedient to contain them within the bounds of Justice, to put them in remembrance before whom, and for whom, they are to judge. And the very Heathens themselves were some of them used to set an empty Chair in the place of Judicature, as an Emblem of the Presence of God, the invisible, and yet all-seeing God, as present in the Courts of Justice, oblerving all the Judges do; and this they esteemed an excellent means to keep Judges to their Duty, by representing to them the Glorious God beholding them. And as thus in Distributive Justice, the Fear of God is a great means to keep and improve it; fo in Conimutative Justice, the Fear of God gives a secret and powerful Law to a Man to keep and observe it. And hence it is, that Joseph could give no greater assurance to

his Brethren of his just Dealing with them than this, Gen. 42. 18. This do, for I fear God: and on the other side, Abrabam could have no greater cause of suspicion of ilí and unjust dealing from the People with whom he converfed, than this, that they wanted the Fear of God, Gen. 20. 11. Because I thought the Fear of God was not in this place, &c. The sense of the Greatness, and Majesty, and Power, and Justice, and all-feeing Presence and Command of Almighty God, lays a greater Obligation and Engagement upon a Heart fearing God, to deal juftly and honestly, than all the Terrors of Death it self can do.

And if any one fay, How came it to pass that the Heathen that knew not, and therefore feared not the true God, were yet great Asserters, Maintainers, and Practicers of all civil Justice and Righteousness between Man and Man ? I say, though they knew not the true God, they knew there was a God, whom (though ignorantly, they feared : And this imperfect and broken Fear of God was the true Cause of that Justice and Righteousness that was fincerely, and not for oftentation, practised among them; and though they mistook the true God, yet in this they were not mistaken, that there was a God; and this Truth had that great prevalence upon them, to do jultly: And if that imperfet Fear of God in them did so much prevail as to make them so just, how much more must the true Knowledge and the Fear of the true God prevail to advance Righteousness and Justice in them that have that Fear of God in their Hearts?

3. It is a great part of Wisdom that concerns a Person in the exercise of the Duties of his Relations ; and indeed it is a great part of Justice and Righteousness. Now the Fear of Almighty God hath these two great Advantages therein : 1. The Will of God instructs exactly all Relations in their Duties of those reciprocal Relations; and this Will of God is revealed in his Word, which contains excellent Precepts of all kinds suitable to every several Relation. 2. The Fear of God fets chefe Directions close upon the Heart, and is a severe and constant Obligation to observe them. And so this Fear of God doth effectually fit,

[ocr errors]

habituate, guide, and oblige a Man to the Duties of his several Relations : It makes a good Magistrate, a good Subject, a good Husband, a good Wife, a good Father, a good Child, a good Master, a good Servant ; in all those several kinds of Goodness that are peculiar and proper to the several Relations wherein a Man stands.

4. Sincerity, Uprightness, Integrity, and Honesty, are certainly true and real Wisdom. Let any Man observe it where he will, an Hypocrite, or Diffembler, or doublehearted Man, though he may shuffle it out for a while, yet at the long run he is discovered and disappointed, and betrays very much Folly at the latter end; when a plain, sincere, honest Man holds it out to the very laft; so that the Proverb is most crue, that Honesty is the best Policy. Now the great Privilege of the Fear of God is, that it .. makes the Heart sincere and upright, and that will certainly make the words and Adions fo: for he is under the sense of the inspection and animadversion of that God h that searches the Heart; and therefore he dares not lye, nor difsemble, nor flatter, nor prevaricate; because he knows the pure, all-seeing righteous God, that loves Truth and Integrity, and hares lying and dissimulation, beholds, and fees, and observes him, and knows his Thoughts, Words, and Actions. It is true, that Vain-glory, and Oitentation, and Reputation, and Designs and Ends, may many times render the outward Adions specious and fair, when the Heart runs quite another way, and accordingly would frame the Actions, if those Ends and Designs, and Vainglory and Oftentation, were not in the way; but the Fear of God begins with the Heart, and purifies and recti. fies it; and from the Heart thus rectified grows a Conformity in the Life, the Words, and Actions.

5. The great Occasion and Reason of the folly of Mankind are, 1. The unruliness and want of Government of the sexsual Appetite or Lufts: Hence grows Intemperance and excess in Eating and Drinking, unlawful and exorbitant Lusts; and these exhauft the Estate, waste and consume the Health, embase and impoverish the Mind, destroy the Reputation, and render Men unfit for Industry and Bu

finels.

3.

finess. 2. The exorbitancy, and unruliness, and irregulari. ty of the Passions; as, excessive love of things that are either not lovely, or not deserving so much love ; excess of Anger, which oftentimes degenerates into Malice and Revenge; excess of Joy, in light, trivial, inconsiderable matters; excess of Fear, where either no cause of fear, or not cause of so much fear is: And these exorbitances of Paffions betray the succours of Reason, break out into very foolish, vain, imprudent Actions, and fill the World with much of that folly and disorder that is every where observable.

Those diseases and distempers of the Mind, as Pride, Vain-glory, ambition of Honour, and Place, and Power, Insolency, Arrogancy, Envy, Covetousness, and the like; these, I say, are fo many Sicknesses and Cankers, and rotten Ulcers in the Mind; and as they, like the Furies. that were let loofe out of Pandora's Box, do raise most of those Storms and Tempests that are abroad in the World,

so they disease and disorder, and beset the Mind wherein b. they are, and make their Lives a Torment to themselves;

and put them upon very foolish, vain, and frantick Actions and Deportments, and render Men perfect Fools, Madmen, and without Understanding; and their folly is so much the greater and the more incurable, that, like some kind of frantick Men, they think very goodly of themselves, think themselves passing wise Men, and applaud themselves; though it is most apparent to any indifferent By-ftander, that there are not a sort of vainer foolish Persons under Heaven. Now as we are truly told that the first degree and step of Wisdom is to put off Folly,

- Sapientia prima eft,

Stultitia caruile so it is the method of the Fear of God, the beginning of all true Wisdom, to disburthen a Man of these Originals and Foundations of Folly. It gives a Law to the Sensitive Appetite, brings it in Subje&tion, keeps it within the limits and bounds of Reason, and of those Instructions and Directions that the wise God hath prescribed : It keeps it under discipline and rule: it directs the Passions to their proper Objects, and keeps them within their due Mea

fures,

« PoprzedniaDalej »