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fervable xvxzóyemais, circular generation, vapoors beget showers,
and showers new vapours; lo it is in things moral, and therefore all the skill in the world can never cure us of the disease of fear, till God first cure us of our vnbelief ; Chrilt therefore took the right method to rid his disciples of their fear, by rebuking their unbelief. The remains of this fin in God's Owa people is the cause and fountain of their fears, and more particularly to fhew how fear is generated by unbelief, let a few particulars be heedfully adverted to.
1. Unbelief weakens and stumbles the asserting act of faith, and thereby cuts off from the soul, io a great measure, its priscipal relief against danger and troubles. It is the use and of fice of faith to realize to the soul the invisible things of the world to come, and thereby encourage it against the fears and dangers of the present world: Thus Mofes for fook. Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured, as seeing him that is invisible, Heb. xi. 27. If this affenting act of faith be wcakeded or staggered in the foul, if once io visibles feem uncertainties, and visibles the only realities, po wonder we are fa scared and frighted when these visible and lensible comforts are exposed and endangered, as they often are and will be in this mutable world. That mao must needs be afraid to stand his grouod that is not thoroughly persuaded the ground he stands on is firm and good; it is not to be wondered that men should tremble, who seem to feel the ground (hake and recl voder them.
2. Unbelief shuts up the refuges of the faul in the divine promises, * and by leaving it without those refuges, must needs leave it in the hand of fears and terrors. That which fortifies and emboldens a Christian in evil times, is his dependance upon God for a protection, Psal. cxliii. 9. I Ay unto thee to hide me. The cutting off this retreat (which nothing but unbelief can do) deprives the soul of all those fuccours and supports which the promises afford, and consequently fills the heart with anxi.
ety and fear
3. Uobelief makes med negligent and careless in providing for troubles before they come, and so brings them by way of surprise upon them; aod the more surprising any evil is, the more frightful it is always found to be : we'cangot think that Noah was so affrighted at the flood, when it began to fwell a: bove all the hills and mountains, as all the rest of the world was; por was there any reason that he should, having foreseen
* Multa fidem promisa levant, i.e. Many promises support faith, it by faith, and made provision for it, Heb. xi. 7. By faith Noah, being warned of God, prepared an ark. • Augustine relates a very pertinent and memorable story of Pauliaus, bilhop of Nola, who was a very rich man both is goods and grace: be had much of the world in his hands, but little of it in his heart; and it was well there was 901, for the Goths, a barbarous peo ple, breaking into that city, like so many devils, fell upon the prey; those that trusted to the treasures which they had, were deceived and ruined by them, for the rich were put to tortures to confess where they had hid their movies : This good bishop fell into their hands, and lost all he had, but was scarce moved at the loss, as appears by his prayer, which my author relates thus : Lord, let me not be troubled for my gold and flver : thou knowejt it is not my treasure ; that I have luid up in heaven, according to thy command. I was warned of this judgment before it came, and provided for it ; and where all my intereft lies, Lord, thou knowelt.
Thus Mr. Bradford, when the keeper's wife came running into his chamber suddenly, with words able to have put the most men in the world into a trembling posture : Oh, Mr. Bradford! I bring you heavy tidings; to-morrow you must be burned, and your chain is now buying : He put off his hat, aod faid, Lord, I thank thee; I have looked for this a great while, it is not terrible to me; God make me worthy of such a mercy. See the benefit of a prospect of, and preparation for sufferings !
4. UnbelRf leaves our deareft jotereits and concerns in our own hands, it commits nothing to God, and confcqueolly must needs fill the heart with distracting fears when inimipent dangers threaten us, Reader, if this be thy case, thou wilt be a Magor mislabib, surrounded with terrors, wheploever thou Malt be surrounded with dangers aod troubles. Believers in this, as well as in many other things, have the advantage of thee, that they have cominitted all that is precious and valuable to them into the haods of God by faith, to him they have committed the keeping of their fouls, i Pet iv. 19. and all their eternal concernments, 2 Tim. i. 16. And these being put into safe hands, they are not distracted with fears about other matters of less value, but can trust them where they have entrusted the greater, and enjoy the quietness and peace of a refigged soul to God, Prov. xvi. 3. But as for thee, thy life, thy liberty, yea, which is infinitely more than all these things, thy soul will ly upon thy hands in the day of trouble, and thou wilt Dot know what to
Aug. de Civitat. Dei; lib. 1. cap, 10,
do with them, nor which way to dispose of them. Oh! these be the dreadful straits and frights that unbelief leaves men in; it is a fountain of fears and diltractions. And indeed it cannot but distract and confound carnal men, in whom it reigos, and is in its full strength, when fad experience shews us what fears and tremblings the very remains and reliques of this fin begets in the best men, who are not fully freed from it. If the unpurged reliques of unbelief in them can thus darken and cloud their evidences, thus greaten and multiply their dangers ; if it can draw such fad and unfrightful conclusions in their hearts, notwithstanding all the contrary experience of their lives, as we fee in that fad instance, i Sam. xxvii. 1. What panic fears, and uprelieved terrors mus it put those men under, where it is in its full strength and dominion ?
Cause 4. Moreover, we shall find many of our fears raised and provoked in us by the promiscuous administrations of providence in this world, when we read in fcripture, that “there is one “ event to the righteous and to the wicked, and all things come " alike to all,” Eccl. ix. 2. that when the sword is drawn, God fuffers it to cut off the righteous and the wicked, Ezek. xxi. 3. The sword makes no difference where God hath made fo
great a difference by grace; it peither distinguishes faces, oor breasts, but is as soon sheathed in the bowels of the best as the worst of men. When we read how the same fire of God's indignation devours the green tree and the dry tree, Ezek. XX. 47. how the baskets of good figs (the emblem of the best men of those times) were carried into Babylon as well as the bad, Jer. xxiv. 5. how the flesh God's faiats hath been given for meat to the fowls of heaven, and to the beasts of the field, Psal. xcvij. 12. apd how the wicked have devoured the man that is more righteous than himself, as it is Hab. i. 13. I say, when we observe fuch things in fcripture, and fiod our observations confirmed by the accounts and histories of former and later ages; when we reflect upon the unspeakable miseries, and butcheries of those plain-hearted and precious servants of Christ, the Albigenses and Waldepses, how they fell as a prey to their cruel advertaries, potwithstanding the convincing simplicity and holiness of their lives, and all their fervent cries and appeals to God; how the very lower of the reformed Protestaot interest in France was cut off with more than barbarous inhumanity, so that the streets were washed, and the canals of Paris ran with their precious blood. What horrid and
unparalleled torture the servants of God felt in that cruel massacre in Ireland, a history too tragical for a tender-hearted reader to stay long upon; and how, in our own land, the most
eminent ministers, and Christians, were sent to heaven in a fiery chariot, in those doletul Marian days : I say, when we read, and consider such things as these, it rouzes our fears, and puts us. in to frights, when we fee ourselves threatened with the same enemies and danger; when the feet of them that carried out the dear fervants of God in bloody winding-heets to their graves, stand at the door, to carry us forth next, if providence loose their chain, and give them a permission fo to do; and our fears, on this account, are heightened, by considering and involving these four things in our thoughts, which we are always more inclined to do, than the things that should fortify our faith, and heighten our Christian courage. As,
1. We are apt to consider, that as the fame race, and kind of men, that committed these outrages upon our brethren, are still in being, and that their rage, and malice, is not abated, in the least degree, but is as fierce, and cruel, as ever it was. Gal. iv. 29." As then he that was born after the flesh persecut" ed him that was born after the spirit, even fo it is now.” So it was then, and just so it is ftill: the old enmity is entailed upon all wicked men, from generation to generation. Multi adbuc qui clavum fanguine Abelis rubentem adhuc circumferunt, Cain's Club is to this day carried up and down the world, stained with the blood of Abel, as Bucholtzer speaks. It is a rooted antipathy, and it runs in a blood, and will run, as long as there are wicked men, from whom, and to whom it shall be propagated, and a devil in hell, by whom it will not fail to be exasperated, and irritated.
2. We know, also, that nothing hinders the execution of their wicked purposes against us, but the restraints of providence; should God loose the chain, and give them leave to act forth the malice, and rage that is in their hearts, no pity would be sewn by them, or could be rationally expected from them, Plal. cxxiv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We live among lions, and them that are set on fire of hell, Pfal. Ivii. 4. The only reason of our safety is this, that he who is the keeper of the lions, is, alfo the shepherd of the sheep.
3. We find, that God hath many times let loose these lions upon his people, and given them - leave to tear his lambs in. pieces, and suck the blood of his faints : how well foever he loves them, yet hath he often delivered them into the hands of their enemies, and suffered them to perpetuate, and act the greatest cruelties upon them; the best men have suffered the worst things, and the histories of all ages have delivered down voto us the most tragical relations of their barbarous usage.
4. We are conscious to ourselves, how far short we come, is holiness
, innocency, and spiritual excellency, of those excellent persons who have suffered these things ; and therefore have no ground to expect more favour from providence, than they found : we know, also, there is no promise in the scriptures, to which they had not as good a claim, and title, as ourselves, With us are found as great, yea, greater fins, than in them; and therefore have no reason to please ourselves with the fond imaginations of extraordinary exemptions. If we think these evils shall not come in our days, it is like many of them though! fo too, and yet they did, and we may find it quite otherwise. Lam. iv. 12. “ Who would have thought that the enemy “ Tould have entered in at the gates of Jerusalem ?" The revolving of these, and such like considerations, in our thoughts, and mixiog our owo unbelief with them, creates a world of fears, even in good men, till, by resignation of all to God, and acting faith upon the promises that assure us of the fanctification of all our troubles, as that Rom. viii. 28. God's presence with us in our troubles, as that Pfal. xci. 15. his moderation of our troubles, to that measure, and degree, in which they are sup. portable, Ila. xxvii. 3. and the safe, and comfortable outlet, and final deliverance from them all at last; according to that in Rev. vii. 17. We do, at last, recover our hearts out of the hands of our fears again, and compose them to a quiet, and sweet fatisfaction in the wife, and holy pleasure of our God.
Cause 5. Our immoderate love of life, and the comforts, and convenieacies thereof, may be assigned as a proper, and real grouod, and cause of our sinful fears, when the dangers of the times threaten the one, or the other : did we love our lives lefs, we should fear, and tremble less than we do. It is said of those renowned faints, Rev. xii. 11. They overcame by the blood “ of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they 66 loved not their lives upto the death."
They overcame not only the fury of their enemies without them, but their sinful 'fears within them; and this victory was atchieved by their mortification to the inordinate, and immoderate love of life. Certainly their own fears had overcome them, if they had not firat overcome the love of life : it was not, therefore, without very great rea on, that our Lord enjoined it upon all his disciples, and followers, to hate their own lives, Luke xiv, 26. not absolutely, but in comparison, and competition with him, i.e. to love it in fo remiss a degree, as to fight, and undervalue it, as a poor, low thing in such a comparison : bs forefaw what Sharp trials, and fufferings were