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The Benefit of Fearing always.
PROV. xxviii. 14.
HAPPY IS THE MAN, THAT FEARETH ALWAYS: But he that hardeneth his heart, fhall fall into mifchief.
LL know, that a large part of the book of Proverbs confifts of fentences unconnected, or obfervations and maxims indepen
dent on each other. Where that is the case, little light is afforded by the coherence.
SERM. Nevertheless I fhall read the verfe immeXVIII. diatly preceding. And if any connexion was intended, poffibly we may perceive it, at left hereafter, when we have confidred the meaning of the words of this text.
Ver. 13. and 14. He that covereth his fins, Shall not profper: but whoso confeffeth and forfaketh them, fhall have mercie. Happy is the man, that feareth always: but he that bardeneth his heart, shall fall into mischief. In difcourfing on this text
I. I fhall describe the fear here recommended.
II. I would fhew the happineffe of him,
II. I fhall endeavor to fhew, how this
I. In the first place I should defcribe the fear, here recommended: or fhew, what is meant by fearing always.
There is a good counfel of Solomon in the twenty third chapter of this book: Let
not thy heart envy finers: but be thou in the SERM.
fome may gain by unrighteoufneffe, we 17.
But it does not appear very likely, that this is what is here particularly intended by the Wife Man. The fear, here fspoken of, seems to be apprehensivenesse, diffidence, with the fruits thereof, care, caution, and circumfpection as oppofite to fecurity, inconfideration, confidence and prefumption. In this text is meant a temper of mind, which is often recommended by the Wife Man in other words. The fimple believeth ...xiv. every word: but the prudent man looketh well 15. to his goings. And, Keep thy heart with all ...iv. 23. diligence: for out of it are the iffues of life... Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look ftrait before thee: Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy paths be established.
This property, of fearing always, may be expedient and useful in a variety of occa
SERM. fions: in the things of this present life, and XVIII. in the great concerns of our falvation.
It would undoubtedly be of bad confequence, with regard to the affairs and bufineffe of this world, for men to be void of thought and confideration: to prefume upon fucceffe, and depend upon good treatment, and honeft dealings from all men; and relye upon the kind and faithful affiftances of friends, and fervants, and others with whom we may be concerned, without any previous trial or examination.
And it must be expedient and useful for men, to be so far apprehensive of dangers and accidents, fo fenfible of the changes and viciffitudes that attend all earthly things, and fo far aware of the unfkilfulneffe, unfaithfulneffe, art and fubtlety, of other men, as fhall induce them to take care of their own affairs themselves, and ufe a prudent caution and circumfpection.
A like temper may be very useful in the things of religion. And to this the words of Solomon may be applied, if they are not to be directly interpreted in this fenfe.
Indeed there is a fearfulneffe, and timoroufneffe of mind, which religion condemns:
which is mean, and unreasonable, groundless SERM. and indiscreet: when we are too apprehenfive XVIII. of the evils and afflictions of this life, or fear men more than God. Then we are to be blamed, then we act indiscreetly: when for fear of the displeasure of men, and the small evils they can inflict upon us, we do that which will offend God, and expofe us to the long and grievous pains and miseries of another state, with the loffe of all that happineffe, which we might have fecured by refolution and courage in the way of religion
But there is a fear and apprehenfion, which may be very useful. It is a fear of offending God, and a diffidence of ourselves and our own ftrength. It is founded in a perfuation of the great importance of right behaviour in this world, and a fure knowledge of the confequences thereof, either happineffe or miferie in a future ftate. It is alfo owing to a confideration of the power of things fenfible, good and evil, agreeable or difagreeable, to biafs and influence the mind: and that, oftentimes on a fudden, and to a degree beyond most mens expectations whereby many are diverted from Cc right