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implacable; and, instead, of changing their own difpofition, they would much rather with a change in his will.
2. Whether does your fear of God drive you from his presence, or excite a strong desire of reconciliation and peace? The slavish fear which is not attended with any juft views of the divine mercy, clothes God with terror, and makes him the object of aversion. This is plainly the first effect of sin. It was so in the case of Adam, who, as soon as he had lost his integrity, when he heard God's voice in the garden, fled and hid himself. We find the same sentiment expressed by the men of Bethshemesh, upon an extraordinary token of divine power and jealousy: “ And " the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to " stand before this holy Lord God, and to whom “ fhall he go up from us *.” Nay, the same seems to have been the view of the apostle Peter, when surprised with an astonishing evidence of his master's power and Godhead. " When Sid
mon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus feet, “ saying, Depart from me, for I am a finful “ man, O Lord +."
This disposition is daily manifest in many who are under the dominion of fear. The worship of God is painful to them, his service is a burden, his presence is terrible: they keep at a distance, 1 Sam. vi, 20.
+ Luke v, 8.
therefore, as much as they can or dare. Their peace and composure is chiefly owing to their losing themselves, and occupying their minds entirely with different objects. No sign will more surely discover the nature and influence of Davith fear than this. There is a gloom and melancholy spread over every thing in religion to them; when they are engaged in sacred duties, it is a heavy tiresome task, and they rejoice in getting them over, as a bullock when he is loosed from the yoke. On the other hand, real christians, though burdened with sinful fear, cannot take refuge in any thing else than God; they dare not take their rest in the creature, but say with Job, “ Though he flay me, yet will I trust in him *;" or with the Pfalmift David, “ Yet the Lord will “ command his loving-kindness in the day-time, " and in the night his song shall be with me, " and my prayer unto the God of my life 7." Nothing gives relief to fuch, till they attain to a view of the divine mercy, and a humble hope of peace and reconciliation.
3. Whether have you comfort and satisfaction in a fense of God's favour, as well as a distressing fear of his wrath. This also will serve to distinguish between those who have no other religion than what fear produces, and those in whom it only maintains a conflict with a better principle. There are * Job xiii, 159 + Pfal. xlii. 7.
fome who are restrained from fin, and compelled to many duties, by fear, who may easily fee what governs them, because they are altogether strangers to joy and satisfaction in God. This is not, indeed, what they aim at. They have never yet feen his favour as the object of fupreme defire. They only believe so far as to tremble, and would fain by composition, so to speak, and some degree of compliance, though reluctant and backward, avoid the divine wrath. A coldness and constraint runs through all their performances, and they are apt to call in question the reality of joy in God, and communion with him, because they are altogether strangers to it themselves. But all the real children of God desire a sense of his love, as well as grieve or fear under a sense of his displeasure. The light of his reconciled countenance gives them more joy and gladness than the greatest affluence of corn or of wine; and under the severest chastisement, inftead of Aying from his presence, they say with Job, “O “ that I knew where I might find hin, that I
might come even to his seat; I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with
arguments *." Nothing, indeed, can be more proper than calling the one a filial, and the other a Navish fear: for great is the difference between a child fearing the displeasure of a parent whom * Job xxiii. 3, 4.
he fincerely loves, and a Nave dreading the resentment of an enraged tyrant, whole service he abhors.
From this metaphor, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN
AGAIN HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF God, and other parallel expressions in the holy fcriptures, we may learn that the change bere intended is SUPERNATURAL.
WHEN I lay it is a supernatural change, I
mean that it is what man cannot by his own power effect, without fuperior or divine aid. As we are by nature in a state of enmity and oppofition to God, so this is what we cannot " of se ourselves." remove or overcome. The exercise of our own rational powers, the persuasion of others, the application of all moral motives of every kind will be ineffectual, without the special operation of the Spirit and grace of God. Thus the apostle John describes those who believe in the name of Christ : “ Which were born not of “ blood, nor of the will of the Aeth, nor of the "s will of man, but of God *." And thus the apostle Paul expresses himself : “ Not by works
of righteousness which we have done, but ac“cording to his mercy he saved us, by the walh• John i. 13.
" ing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy
How many passages of scripture are there,
* Titus iii, so
+ Eph, ii, 1.