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nevolent designs; and beholds God so loving the world as to give his only begotten Son to save them, that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life ; and that a most glorious, happy and eternal kingdom shall be raised out of the ruins of an apoftate world, to the glory of divine grace; and that the greatest good shall be brought out of all the evil that has been, or will exist to all eternity, fo that the issue shall be infinitely better than if there were no evil ; and that this is all included in the eternal plan which was fixed by Infinite Wisdom and Goodness; when all this comes into view, it will excite the most sincere and strong exercises of grateful love, which will continue and increase forever.
And when the pious man attends to the goodness of God to him, in particular, and is sensible that it is the effect of God's eternal counsel, and his benevolent design of good to him, and that it flows from him on whom he is absolutely dependent, who orders all things, so that his hand is to be seen in every event that takes place; all this is peculiarly adapted to excite his grateful love, while he says, “ Not unto me, but unto thy name, be all the praise and glory." And what a foundation is here laid for holy, increasing gratitude forever !
Gratitude to God confifts in a true fenfe and pleasing approbation of the goodness of God to universal being, and to ourselves, and in making all the acknowledgements and returns of which we are capable, in loving and giving ourselves away to him, to be used for his service, giory and praise forever.
The man who has no disinterested benevolence, but is wholly selfish, is not capable of the least degree of this true gratitude. He can love those who love him, but this is nothing but self love, at bottom; for by the supposition, he feeks himself, and is devoted to none but himself in all his exercises, and is not pleased with benevolence for its own sake, or any farther than he may reap some personal benefit by it, to gratify his self love. -He is displeased with that goodness which passes by him, and does good to others, or sceks and promotes the general good.
Eccl. iii. 14. I know that whatsoever God doth, it shall be
forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it, and God doth it, that men should fear before him, THESE words have been explained in the foregoing
discourse, and the truths contained in them have been found to be the following: that God hath in his wisdom and goodness, by his unchangeable decree, foreordained whatsoever comes to pass ; that this truth, considered in its extent and consequences, is the only proper and sufficient foundation of the true piety of men.
The last mentioned truth is now under consideration, and has been in part illustrated and proved, by instancing in true love to God. We now proceed to consider other branches of piety, which are included in love, and grow out of this root or stock, and may be considered as diffcrent modifications of this fame LOVE; and to show that God, viewed as described in the text, is the only proper object of them.
2. The fear of God is an exercise of piety. This is put in our text, and in many other places in holy writ, for the whole of true piety, as has been observed. The reason of this doubtlefs is, because it is in a peculiar manner suited to express the pious exercises of a fallen creature, infinitely vile and guilty, and justly exposed to eternal destruction, into which he will infallibly fail, unless he be rescued by sovereign grace, who with humility and self dislidence, knowing that he is wholly loft in himself, trusts wholly in Christ, the only. Saviour of finners, whom he has offended, and is constantly of fending; yet trufts in him alone, even in his infinite power and sovereign goodness, for pardon, righteoufness, holiness, strength and redemption. And thus it fs peculiarly adapted to express the mode or manner of the pious, religious exercises of finners who believe in Chrift, and are friends to God and the Redeemer; or the holiness of repenting, believing sinners, that is, real Christians.
It is plain, at the first view, that the God who is re. presented in our text, in his absolute independence, decrees and works, as it has been explained, is suited to lead men to fear before him, according to this general, comprehensive sense of fear, including the whole of piety, and that all those doctrines which are opposed to this, have a contrary tendency, and are not consistent with the fear of God, in this sense of it. But it may perhaps give some farther light on this subject, by more particularly considering the fear of God in a more reItrained sense, and as a branch of true love or piety.
It is of importance to observe here, that fear is used in different and opposite senses in the Bible ; because there are two forts of fear, one, that which implies holy love, and is eisential to true piety; the other is opposed to love, and is therefore the fear of those who are not friends to God, but enemies. This latter is intended by fear, in the following passages : 1 John iv. 18. “ There is no fear in love, but perfect love.cafteth out fear; because fear hath torment: he that feareth, is not made perfect in love." 2 Tim. i. 7: “ For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Rom. viii. 15: “ For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
These different kinds of fear may be in some measure illustrated by the following instance. An excellent father has a son and a servant, both of whom have been guilty of injuring him, and have fallen under his just displeasure. The fon heartily repents, and loves his father, and is restored to his favour. But he keeps conftantly in view the evil which he justly deserves, and which his father is able to inflict; he feels that he des
pends entirely upon his father's goodness for an escape from that evil, and that he stands in need of his conftant aid and assistance to preserve him from offending again, and from that evil which he dreads fo much. Both his father's displeasure, and the evil confequence, are dreadful to him. He knows his father is able to punish in the most dreadful manner; he fees some of the family suffering the punishment every day, and others going in the way which will bring it upon them, unless they repent and reforin in season; and has feel. ings answerable to what he fees. He knows he deserves to be thus punished as much as the worst of them, and depends entirely upon his father's goodness to prevent it. He loves his father with all his heart, he approves of his conduct, and knows he does every thing right. He loves to have him fupreme and independent in the family, and to have him order every thing, and to see his will done in all cases; he loves to be absolutely dependent upon him, and to have all the family fo : and in the exercise of this love, and in the views now mentioned, he humbles himself before his father, and fears and trembles before him.
The servant who has offended his master, fears the rod, he dreads the punishment which is threatened, and knows he can inflict it ; but he has no love to the father, his master; he wishes to be out of the family, and not dependent on him in any degree. He tries to pacify and please his master in his outward conduct, from the love of himself, because he fears the rod, and wishes to escape punishment. Thus he lives in continual savish fear of his master, which disinterested love to him would cast out.
Every one must see the difference between the filial fear of the son, who loves his father, and the servile fear of the servant, who loves himself only ; and the opposition of one to the other. And surely the difference and opposition between the godly fear of those who love God with disinterested benevolence, and the lervile fear
of those who do not love him, but are enemies to him, is much greater, and far more evident and ftriking.
Here it may be observed, that this servile fear, by which men are restrained from a careless, bold practice of open sin, and their attention to a future ftate, and prefing concern to escape hell and obtain salvation, is excited and kept up, this servile fear is necefsarily awakened, and fills the soul with painful concern, when finners are convinced of the truth of the doctrine in our text, and are inade in some measure to feel it to be true. So long as God, in his greatness, omnipresence and terrible majesty, is not in their view, and they do not feel or see their absolute dependence upon him for all good, and even to escape hell and obtain heaven, but feel as if they had their life in their own hands, in this respect, they will not be afraid of God, but live in case and security. But when they come to feel that they are in the hands of God, and that he will destroy or save them, as he pleases, they being absolutely dependent on him, they will begin to fear and stand in awe of him. And the more fully convinced they are of the truth contained in our text, the greater will be their fear and terror respecting their state and situation. This every one can witness who has been an observer of others in these matters, or has attended to his own feelings. And it may be asked, Where has any person been found, who has disbelieved the doctrine of God's decrees, of his foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass, who has been under any foul-distrefling fear of God, or of eternal destruction ?
But pious, godly fear implies love to God, in a view of his infinite greatness and importance, and a fenfe of his infinitely beautiful and glorious character, unchangeably wise, good, upright, just, true and faithful, having decreed whatsoever comes to pass, and executing his decrees in creating, preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions, for his own glory, and the greatest good of the universe ; or, which is the same, the greatest happiness and glory of his eternal kingdom,