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And, if the very delivery of the Law on Mount Sinai were with so dreadfula
pomp of thunder and lightning, of fire, smoke, earthquakes, that the Israelites were half dead with fear in receiving it ; with what terrible magnificence, shall God come to require an ac. count of that Law, at the hands of the whole sinful generation of mankind!
Represent unto thy thoughts, that, which was shewed of old to the Prophet Daniel, in vision. Imagine that thou sawest the Ancient of Days sitting upon a throne like the fiery flame ; a fiery stream issuing and coming forth from before him ; thousand thousunds ministering unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before him; the judgment sel, and the books opened ; Dan. vii. 9, 10. Or, as John, the Daniel of the New Testament, saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and the dead, both small and great, standing before God; and the books opened ; and the dead judged out of those things, which were written in those books, according to their works; Rev. xx. 11, 12. Let the eyes of thy mind see, beforehand, that, which these bodily eyes shall once see; and tell me how thou feelest thyself affected with a sight of such a Judge, such an appearance, such a process : and, it thou findest thyself in a trembling condition, cheer up thyself with this, That 'thy Judge is thine Advocate; That, upon that throne, there sits not greater Majesty than Mercy. It is thy Saviour, that shall sentence thee.
How safe art thou then, under such hands! Canst thou fear, that he will doom thee to death, who died to give thee life? Canst thou fear, he will condemn thee for those sins, which he hath given his blood to expiate? Canst thou fear the rigour of that justice, which he bath so fully satisfied? Canst thou misdoubt the miscarriage of that soul, which he hath so dearly bought?
No, my son, all this divine state and magnificence makes for thee. Let those guilty and impenitent souls, who have heaped unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath, Rom. ii. 5: quake at the glorious Majesty of the Son of God; for whom nothing remains, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries; Heb. x. 26, 27. But, for thee, who art not only reconciled unto God by the mediation of the Son of his Love, but art also incorporated into Christ, and made a true limb of bis mystical body; thou art bidden, together with all the faithful, to look up, and lift up thy head; for now the day of thy redemption is come ; Luke xxi. 28. Eph. iv. 30.
And, indeed, how canst thou do other, since, by virtue of this blessed union with thy Saviour, this glory is thine? every member hath an interest in the honour of the Head.
Rejoice, therefore, in the day of the Lord Jesus; Phil. ji. 17, 18: and, when all the tribes of the earth shall wail, (Rev. i. 7.) do thou sing and rejoice; and call to the heavens and the earth to bear thee company : Let the heavens rejoice, and let the carth be glad : let the sea make a noise, and all that is therein. Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; and with righteousness to judge the world, and the people with his truth; Ps. xcvi. 11, 12, 13.
Frequent meditation and due preparation, the reinedies of our fear. Thou art affrighted with the thought of that great day :- Think of it oftener, and thou shalt less fear it. It will come, both surely and suddenly : let thy frequent thoughts prevent it. It will come, as a thief in the night; without warning, without noise : let thy careful vigilance always expect it; and thy soul shall be sure not to be surprised, not to be confounded. Thine audit is both sure and uncertain : sure, that it will be; uncertain, when it will be. If thou wilt approve thyself a good steward, have thine account always ready : set thy reckoning still even, betwixt God and thy soul: Blessed is the servant, whom his Master shall find so doing; Matt. xxiv. 46. Look upon these heavens and this earth, as dissolving; and think, with Jerome, that thou hearest the last trump, and the voice of the archangel shrilling in thine ears, as once thou shalt, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment. Shortly, let it be thy main care, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself för US, that he might redeem us from all iniquity; Titus ii. 12, 13, 14: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body ; according to the working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself ; Phil. iii. 21.
COMFORTS AGAINST THE FEARS OF OUR SPIRITUAL ENEMIES.
The great power of evil spirits, and their restraint. Thou art affrighted at the thought of thy spiritual enemies:- No marvel : neither earth nor hell hath any thing equally formidable. Those three things, which are wont to make enmity dreadful and dangerous (power, malice, subtlety,) are met in them: neither is it easy to say, in which of these they are most eminent. Certainly, were we to be matched with them on even hand, there were just cause ; not of fear only, but of despair.
* I could tremble,” thou sayest, “ to think that Satan hath done what he can do: What contestation he enabled the Egyptian sor, cerers to hold with Moses : how they turned every man his rod into a serpent; so as they seemed to have the advantage, for the time, of many serpents crawling and hissing in Pharaoh's pavement, for one ; Exod. vii. 11, 12 : how they turned the waters into blood; v. 22 : how they brought frogs upon the land of Egypt; ch. viji. 7: as if, thus far, the power of hell would presume to hold competition with heaven : What furious tempests he raises in the air ; as that, which, from the wilderness, beat upon the four corners of the house of Job's eldest son, and overthrew it; Job i. 19: lo, Job was the greatest man in the east; Job. i. 3: his heir did not dwell in a cottage: that strong fabric could not stand against this hurricane of Satan: What fearful apparitions he makes in the upper regions ; what great wonders he doth, causing fire to come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men; Rev. xiii. 13: Lastly, what grievous tyranny he exerciseth upon all the children of disobedience ;" Eph. v. 6.
Couldst thou look for any less, my son, from those, whom the Spirit of God himself styles, principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickednesses in high places, and the prince of the power of the air ? Eph. vi. 12. ii. 2. Surely, it were no mastery to be a Christian, if we had not powerful opposites.
But dost thou not, withal, consider, that all this power is by concession; and the exercise of it but with permission, with limitation? What power can there be in any creature, which is not derived from the Almighty? This measure the Infinite Creator was pleased to communicate to them, as angels; which they retain and exercise still, as devils : their damnation hath stripped them of their glory; but we know not of how much of their strength.
And, seest thou not how their power is bounded? Those, that could, in appearance, turn their rods into serpents, could not keep all their serpents from being devoured of that one serpent of Moses : those, that could bring frogs upon Egypt, cannot bring a baser creature, lice: those, that were suffered to bring frogs, shall not have power to take them away ; Exod. vii. 12. viii. 18, 19; 9-11. Restrained
powers must know their limits; and we, knowing them, must set limits to our fears. A lion chained up can do less barm, than a cur let loose. What is it to thee, how powerful the evil spirits are, while they are, by an over-ruling power, tied
up to their stake that they cannot hurt thee?
The fear of the number of evil spirits, and the remedy of it. Thy fears are increased with their number : they are as many, as powerful. One demoniac was possessed with a legion : how many legions then shall we think there are, to tempt those millions of
men, which live upon the face of the earth, whereof no one is free from their continual solicitations to evil! That holy man, whom our counterfeit hermits would pretend to imitate in the vision of his retiredness, saw the air full of them, and of their snares for mankind; and, were our eyes as clear as his, we might perhaps meet with the same prospect : But be not dismayed, my son.
Couldst thou borrow the eyes of the servant of a holier master, thou shouldst see, that there are more with us, than they that are against us ; 2 Kings vi. 16. Thou shouldst see the blessed angels of God, pitching their tents about thee; as the more powerful, vigilant, constant guardians of thy soul : lo, these are those valiant ones, which stand about thy bed": They all hold swords, being expert in war : every one hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night; Cant. iji. 7, 8.
Fear not, therefore; but make the Lord, even the Most High, thy habilation. Then, there shall no evil befal thee : neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling: For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands ; lest thou dash thy foot aguinst a stone ; Ps. xci. 9—12: yea, and, besides this safe indemnity, Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and ihe dragon, shalt thou irample under feet; v. 13.
In secular enmity, true valour may be oppressed, will not easily be daunted with multitude. • I will not be afraid of ten thousand, saith David; Ps. iii. 6. They came aboạt me like bees; but, in the name of the Lord, will I destroy them ; Ps. cxviii. 12. It was a brave resolution in that general, who, when one of his soldiers could tell him, that the cloud of Persian arrows shot at them darkened the sun: “Be of good cheer,” said he, “ we shall fight in the shade.”
Answerable whereunto was that heroical determination of Luther, who, after his engagements, against all threats and dissuasions, would go into the city of Worms, though there were as many devils in it as tiles upon their houses. And why should not we imitate this confidence? What if there were as many devils in the air, as there are spires of grass on the earth? God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed ; though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ; Ps. xlvi. 1, 2. Behold, God is our salvation : we will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is our strength, and our song: he also is become our salvation ; Is. xii. 2. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered ; let them also, that hate him, flee before him : Like as the smoke vanisheth, so shalt thou drive them away; Ps. Ixviii. 1, 2.
The malice of the evil spirits, and our fears thereof remedied. But, oh, the malice of those infernal spirits, implacable and deadly; whose trade is temptation and accusation; whose delight is törment; whose music is shrieks and howlings, and groans,
and gnashing; and whose main drift is no less, than the eternal death and damnation of miserable mankind
Why should we, my son, expect other from him, who is professedly the manslayer from the beginning; that carries nothing but destruction both in his name and nature; that goes about continually, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour ? Surely, this malignity is restless : neither will take
any thing on this side hell:
But, comfort thyself in this, that, in spite of all the malice of hell, thou art safe. Dost thou not know, that there stands by thee the victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah, whom that Infernal Ravener dare not look in the face? Dost thou not remember, that, when the sentence was pronounced of eternal enmity, between the Seed of the Woman and the seed of the serpent, it was with this doom, It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel? Gen. iij. 15. Lo, a bruise of a man's heel is far from the heart; but a bruise of the serpent's head is mortal: there his sting, there his life lies. Neither did the Seed of the Woman, Christ Jesus, this for himself, who was infinitely above all the power and malice of the Devil; but for us, the impotent and sinful seed of man. The God of Peace shall bruise Satan under your feet, saith the blessed Apostle; Rom. xvi. 20: under your feet; not under his own, only; of whom God the Father had long before said, Sit thou on my right-hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool; Ps. cx, 1.
Yea, what do I speak of the future? Already is this great work done: already is this great work atchieved : for the Lord of Life, having spoiled principalities and powers, hath made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them on his Cross ; Col. ii. 15. Lo, all the powers of hell were dragged after this Glorious Conqueror, when he was advanced upon that triumphant chariot.
Look, therefore, my son, upon these hellish forces as already vanquished; and know, that in all things we are more than conquerors, through him, that loved us ; Rom. viii
. 37. Only do thou, by the power of thy faith, apply unto thyself this great work, that thy Victorious Saviour hath done, for the salvation of all the world of believers.
SECT. 4. The great subtlety of evil spirits, and the remedy of the fear of it. Power, without malice, were harmless; and malice, without power, were impotent: but, when both are combined together, they are dreadful
. But, whereas malice hath two ways to execute mischief, either force or fraud; the malice of Satan prevails more by this latter : so as the subtlety of these malignant spirits is more pernicious, than their power. In regard of his power, he is a Lion; in regard of his subtlety, he is a Serpent ; Gen. iii. 1 : yea, that Old Serpent (Rev. xii. 9. XX. 2.) whose craft must needs be more