The Great Gain of
by Thomas Watson, 1681
"Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the
body." Ecclesiastes 12:12. Books are the "children of the brain". In
this writing age, when they are brought forth ad nauseam, I intended that my
pen should have been silent—but the variety and weightiness of this subject,
as also the desire of some friends, did prevail with me to publish it. The
main design of this excellent Scripture, is to encourage solid piety, and
confute the atheists of the world, who imagine there is no gain in
godliness. It was the speech of King Saul to his servants, "Will the son of
Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards?" (1 Samuel 22:7). Will the
world or men's lusts give them such noble recompenses of reward—as God
bestows upon his followers! Surely, it is holiness which carries away the
As for this treatise, it comes abroad in a plain dress:
truth like a diamond—shines brightest in its native luster! Paul did not
come to the Corinthians with excellency of speech, or the pride of
oratory—his study was not to court—but convert. It is an
unhappiness that, in these luxuriant times, religion should for the most
part run either into notion or ceremony; the spirits of true
religion are evaporated. When knowledge is turned into soul food,
and digested into practice—then it is saving. That God would
accompany these few imperfect lines with the operation and benediction of
his Holy Spirit, and make them edifying—is the prayer of him who is
Yours in all Christian service,
Thomas Watson, London, November 22, 1681
"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other,
and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His
presence concerning those who feared the Lord and thought upon His name.
"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up My
jewels! I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who
serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and
the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Malachi
The "scripture of truth" is the ground of faith. This
portion of Scripture which now presents itself to our view, has its sacred
elegancies, and is all glorious within. It was composed by Malachi, whose
name means "messenger". He came as an ambassador from the God of heaven.
This prophet was so famous that Origen and others injudiciously supposed him
to be an angel. He lived after the building of the second temple, and was
contemporary with Haggai and Zechariah.
This blessed prophet lifted up his voice like a trumpet,
and told the Jewish nation of their sins. He was the last trumpet that
sounded in the Old Testament. In the words of the text are these parts:
Part I. The character of the Godly
1. In general, they were fearers of God: "those
who feared the Lord."
2. In particular—
a. They spoke often one to another.
b. They thought upon God's Name.
Part II. The Great Gain of their Godliness
1. The Lord regarded it—"the Lord listened and
2. The Lord recorded it—"a book of remembrance was
3. The Lord rewarded it. This reward consisted in
a. God's owning them: "They will be mine."
b. God's honoring them: "In the day when I make up
c. God's sparing them: "I will spare them."
Before I come to the several parts distinctly, note the
connective word standing at the beginning of the text which may not be
omitted, namely, the word THEN. "Then those who feared the Lord
talked with each other . . ." Then, that is, after Israel's return
from the Babylonian captivity; then, when the major part of the people grew
corrupt, and came out of the furnace worse than they went in! In this bad
juncture of time, then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to another.
Hence observe—that the profaneness of the times should
not slacken our zeal—but heighten it. The looser others are—the
stricter we should be. In those degenerate times when men were
arrived at the peak and height of impudence, and dared to speak treason
against heaven—then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to another.
When others were plaintiffs—these were defendants; when others spoke
against God—these spoke for God.
In Noah's days all flesh had corrupted itself (the
old world was drowned in sin—before it was drowned in water).
Now at this time, Noah was perfect in his generation, and Noah walked
with God (Gen. 6:9). He was the phoenix of his age. Athanasius stood up in
the defense of the truth when the world had turned Arian. The more
outrageous others are in sin—the more courageous we should be for
truth! When the atheists said, "It is vain to serve God," then those who
feared the Lord spoke often one to another.
Why should we be holiest in evil times?
1. Because of the divine injunction. God
charges us to be singular (Matt. 5:47), to be circumspect
(Eph. 5:15), to be separate from idolaters (2 Cor. 6:17), to shine as
lights in the dark world (Phil. 2:15). He forbids us to join together
with sinners, or do as they do. The way to hell is a well-trodden
road, and the Lord calls to us to turn out of the road: "You shall not
follow a multitude to do evil" (Exod. 23:2). This is sufficient reason to
keep ourselves pure in a time of common infection. As God's Word is
our rule—so his will is our warrant.
2. To be holiest in evil times, is an indication of the
truth of grace. To profess religion when the times favor it, is
no great matter. Almost all will court the Gospel Queen when she is
hung with jewels. But to own the ways of God when they are decried
and maligned, to love a persecuted truth—this evidences a vital
principle of goodness. Dead fish swim down the stream—living fish swim
against it. To swim against the common stream of evil, shows grace to be
alive. The prophet Elijah continuing zealous for the Lord Almighty, when
they had dug down God's altars—showed his heart and lips had been touched
with a coal from the altar.
Use 1. See hence how unworthy they are of the
name of Christians, who use sinful compliance, and cut the garment of
their religion according to the mode and fashion of the
times. They do not consult what is best—but what is safest. Complying
spirits can truckle to the desires of others; they can bow either to the
East or to the West; they prefer a whole skin before a pure
conscience. They can, with the planet Mercury, vary their motion; they can,
as the mariner, shift their sail with every wind and, as the mongrel
Israelites, speak the language of both Canaan and Ashdod.
These are like the Samaritans of whom Josephus says, when the Jews
flourished they pretended to he akin to them—but when the Jews were
persecuted, they disclaimed kindred with them. The old serpent has taught
men crooked windings, and to be for that religion which does not have
truth on its side—but worldly power.
Use 2. Let us keep up the vigor of our zeal,
in degenerate times. We should by a holy contrariness—burn hotter in
a frozen age. We live in the dregs of time; sin is grown
common and impudent. It is excellent to walk contrary to the world,
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world!" (Romans 12:2). Let
us be as lilies and roses among the briars. Sin is never
the better, because it is in fashion! Nor will this plea hold at the
last day—that we did as the most did. God will say, Seeing you sinned with
the multitude—you shall go to hell with the multitude! Oh, let us keep pure
among the dregs; let us be like fish that retain their freshness in salt
waters; and as that lamp which shone in the smoking furnace (Gen. 15:17).
1. Consider—To be holy in times of general defection, is
that with which God is greatly pleased. The Lord was much
delighted with the holy conferences and dialogues of these saints in the
text. When others were inveighing against God, that there should be a
remnant of holy souls speaking of glory and the life to come—their words
were music in God's ears!
2. Consider—To keep up a spirit in holiness in an
adulterous generation is a Christian's honor. This was the glory
of the church of Pergamum, that she held fast Christ's name—even where
Satan's seat was (Rev. 2:13). The impiety of the times, is a foil to set
off grace all the more, and give it a greater luster. Then a Christian
is most lovely, when he is (as Ambrose says) like the cypress, which keeps
its verdure and freshness in the winter season. "Mark the perfect
man, and behold the upright" (Psalm 37:37). An upright man is always worth
beholding—but then he is most to be admired when like a bright star, he
shines in the dark, and having lost all, he holds fast his integrity.
3. Consider—To be godly in a profligate age does much to
animate weak beginners; it strengthens feeble knees
(Isaiah 35:3) and shores up those temples of the Holy Spirit which are ready
to fall. One man's zeal is a burning torch for others to catch fire at. How
did the constancy of the martyrs inflame the love of many to the truth!
Though only Christ's blood saves—yet the blood of martyrs may
strengthen. Paul's prison chain made converts in Nero's court, two of
whom were afterwards martyrs, as history relates. Mr. Bradford's holy advice
and example, so confirmed Bishop Ferrar, that he would not touch the Roman
4. Consider—How sad will it be for professors to fall off
from their former profession, and espouse a novel religion.
Julian bathed himself in the blood of beasts offered in sacrifice to the
heathen gods, and so as much as lay in him washed off his former baptism. In
the time of Julius Caesar this astonishing thing happened: after a plentiful
vintage, wild grapes appeared upon their vines, which was looked upon as an
ominous sign. When men seemed to bring forth the fruits of righteousness,
and afterwards bring forth the wild grapes of impiety—it is a sad
omen and prognostic of their ruin! "For it had been better for them not to
have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn
from the holy commandment (2 Pet. 2:21). Let all this make us maintain the
power of holiness in the worst times. Though others wonder we
do not sin after the rate that they do—yet remember, it is better to go
to heaven with a few than to hell in the crowd. "Enter through the
narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to
destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the
road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14.
Question: How may we keep up the briskness and fervor of
grace, in times of apostasy?
Answer 1. Let us beware of having our hearts too much
linked to the world. The world damps zeal—as earth chokes the
fire. We are bid to love our enemies; but the world is such an enemy as we
must not love, "Do not love the world or anything in the world." (1 John
2:15). The world bewitches with her blandishments, and kills
with her silver darts! He who is a Demas—will be a Judas! A
lover of the world will, for a piece of money, betray a holy cause, and make
shipwreck of a good conscience.
Answer 2. Let us be volunteers in piety;
that is, choose God's service; "I have chosen the way of truth" (Psalm
119:30). It is one thing to be good, with a holy end in view. Hypocrites are
good only out of worldly design. They embrace the gospel for secular
advantage, and these will in time, fall away. It is fabled that the
Chelidonian stone keeps its virtue no longer than it is enclosed in
gold; take it out of the gold, and it loses its virtue. False hearts are
good no longer than they are enclosed in golden prosperity; take them out of
the gold and they lose all their seeming goodness. But if we would
retain our sanctity in backsliding times we must serve God purely out of
choice. He who is godly out of choice, loves holiness for its beauty, and
adheres to the gospel, when all the jewels of preferment are pulled
Answer 3. Let us be inlaid with sincerity.
If a piece of timber begins to bend, it is because it is not sound.
Why do any bend and comply against their conscience—but because their hearts
are not sound. "Their hearts were insincere toward Him, and they were
unfaithful to His covenant." (Psalm 78:37). Sincerity causes
stability. When the apostle exhorts to stand fast in the evil
day, among the rest of the Christian armor, he bids them put on the belt of
truth, "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your
waist." (Eph. 6:14). The belt of truth is nothing else but
Answer 4. Let us get love to Christ. Love is a
holy fuel. It fires the affections, steels the courage, and carries a
Christian above the love of life, and the fear of death. Many waters cannot
quench love (Song of Solomon 8:7). Love made Christ suffer for us. If anyone
asks what Christ died of, it may be answered, "He died of love!" If we love
Christ—we will own him in the worst times, and be like that virgin of whom
Basil speaks who, not accepting deliverance upon sinful terms, cried out,
"Let life and money go! Welcome Christ!"
Answer 5. If we would keep up the sprightly vigor of
grace in evil times, let us harden our hearts against the taunts and
reproaches of the wicked. David was the song of the drunkards
(Psalm 69:12). A Christian is never the worse for reproach. The stars
are not the less glorious, though they have ugly names given them, the
Bear, the Dragon, etc. Reproaches are but splinters of the
cross. How will he endure the stake—who cannot bear a scoff?
Reproaches for Christ, are ensigns of honor, and badges of adoption (1
Peter 4:14). Let Christians bind these reproaches, as a crown about
their head. Better have men reproach you for being godly—than have God
damn you for being wicked! Be not laughed out of your religion. If a
lame man laughs at you for walking upright—will you therefore limp?
Answer 6. If we would keep up the vigor of devotion
during evil times, let us beg God for confirming grace.
Habitual grace may flag; Peter had habitual grace—yet was foiled; he
lost a single battle, though not the victory. We need exciting, assisting,
sustaining grace; not only grace in us—but grace with us (1
Cor. 15:10). Sustaining grace (which is a fresh gale of the Spirit) will
carry us undauntedly through the world's blustering storms. Thus shall we be
able to keep up our heroic zeal in corrupt times, and be as Mount Zion—which
cannot be moved.
Part I. The character of the Godly
Having done with the frontispiece of the text, I
begin, in the first place, with the character in general of the godly:
they are fearers of God, "Those who feared the Lord". What
fear is meant here? Considered negatively:
1. It is not meant of a natural
fear, which is a tremor or palpitation of heart, occasioned by
the approach of some imminent danger. "They are afraid of dangers on the
road" (Eccles. 12:5).
2. It is not meant of a sinful
fear, which is twofold:
A superstitious fear.
A black cat crossing the path, is by some more dreaded than a harlot lying
in the bed.
A carnal fear. This
is the fever of the soul which sets it a shaking. He who is timorous,
will be treacherous; he will decoy his friend, and deny his
God. Three times in one chapter Christ cautions us against the fear of
men, (Matthew 10:26-31). Aristotle says that the reason why the chameleon
turns into so many colors, is through excessive fear. Fear makes men change
their religion as the chameleon does her colors!
A carnal fear is EXCRUCIATING, "fear has torment in it."
(1 John 4:18).The Greek word for torment is sometimes put for hell
(Matt. 25:46). Fear has hell in it.
A carnal fear is PERNICIOUS. It indisposes for duty. The
disciples, under the power of fear, were fitter to flee than to pray,
(Matthew 26:56), and it puts men upon sinful means to save themselves: "The
fear of man brings a snare!" (Proverbs 29:25). What made Peter deny Christ,
and Origen sprinkle incense before the idol—but fear?
the fear meant in the text is a divine fear, which is the reverencing
and adoring of God's holiness, and the setting of ourselves always under his
sacred inspection. The infinite distance between God and us causes this
When God's glory began to shine out upon the Mount, Moses
said, "I exceedingly fear and quake!" (Heb. 12:21). Such as approach God's
presence with light feathery hearts, and worship him in a crude, careless
manner—have none of this fear.
"Those who feared the Lord". In the words are two
1. The Act—fear.
2. The Object—the Lord.
"Those who feared the Lord". The fear of God
is the sum of all true true religion. "Now all has been heard; here is the
conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is
the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ). Fear is the leading
grace, the first seed which God sows in the heart. When a Christian
can say little of faith, and perhaps nothing of assurance, yet
he dares not deny that he fears God (Neh. 1:11). God is so great—that
the Christian is afraid of displeasing him; and so good—that
he is afraid of losing him.
Doctrine: It is an indispensable duty incumbent on
Christians, to be fearers of God. "Fear God!" (Eccles. 5:7).
"That you may fear the glorious and awesome name of the Lord your God!"
(Deut. 28:58). This fear of God, is the very foundation of a saint. One can
no more act as a Christian without the fear of God—than he can act as
a man without reason. This holy fear is the fixed temper and
complexion of the soul; this fear is not servile—but filial.
There is a difference between fearing God, and being afraid of God.
The godly fear God as a child does his father; the wicked are afraid
of God as the prisoner is of the judge! This divine fear will appear
admirable if you consider how it is mixed and interwoven with
several of the graces.
1. The fear of God is mixed with LOVE (Psalm
The chaste spouse fears to displease her husband, because
she loves him. There is a necessity that fear and love should be in
conjunction. Love is as the sails to make swift the soul's motion;
and fear is as the ballast to keep it steady in true religion. Love
will be apt to grow wanton, unless it is counter-balanced with fear.
2. The fear of God is mixed with FAITH. "By
faith Noah, moved with holy fear, prepared an ark" (Hebrews 11:7). When the
soul looks either to God's holiness, or its own sinfulness—it fears. But it
is a fear mixed with faith in Christ's merits; the soul trembles—yet
trusts. Like a ship which lies at anchor, though it shakes
with the wind, yet it is fixed at anchor. God in great wisdom couples these
two graces of faith and fear. Fear preserves
seriousness, faith preserves cheerfulness. Fear is as lead to the
net—to keep a Christian from floating in presumption; and faith is as cork
to the net—to keep him from sinking in despair.
3. The fear of God is mixed with PRUDENCE. He
who fears God has the serpent's eye in the dove's head. He
foresees and avoids those rocks upon which others run. "A prudent man sees
danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
(Proverbs 22:3). Though divine fear does not make a person cowardly—it
makes him cautious.
4. The fear of God is mixed with HOPE. "The
eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope
is in his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18). One would think that fear would
destroy hope—but it nourishes it. Fear is to hope, as the oil to the lamp—it
keeps it burning. The more we fear God's justice—the more we may
hope in his mercy. Indeed, such as have no fear of God do sometimes
hope—but it is not "good hope through grace" (2 Thess. 5:26). Sinners
pretend to have the "helmet of hope" (1 Thess. 5:8)—but lack the
"breastplate of righteousness" (Eph. 6:14).
5. The fear of God is mixed with INDUSTRY.
"Noah, moved with holy fear, prepared an ark" (Hebrews 11:7). There is a
carnal fear, which represents God as a severe Judge. This takes the soul off
from duty, "I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground"
But there is also a fear of diligence. A Christian
fears—and prays; fears—and repents. Fear quickens industry.
The spouse, fearing lest the bridegroom should come before she is dressed,
hastens and puts on her jewels, that she may be ready to meet him. Fear
causes a watchful eye—and a working hand. Fear banishes
sloth out of its diocese. "The greatest labor in true religion," says
holy fear, "is far less than the least pain the damned feel in hell." There
is no greater spur in the heavenly race—than the fear of God.
The REASONS enforcing this holy fear of God,
include the following:
1. God's eye is always upon us. He who is
under the eye of his earthly prince, will he careful of doing anything which
would offend him. "Does He not see my ways and number all my steps?" (Job
31:4). God sees in the dark: "Even the darkness is not dark to You. The
night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You" (Psalm
139:12). The night is no curtain, the clouds are no canopy—to
hinder or intercept God's sight. God sees the heart. An earthly judge can
judge of the fact—but God judges of the heart. "I, the Lord,
examine the mind, I test the heart!" (Jeremiah 17:10). He is like Ezekiel's
wheels, "full of eyes." God is all eye! Should not this make us walk
with fear and circumspection? We cannot sin—but our judge looks on!
2. God interprets our not fearing of Him—as a slighting
of Him. As not to praise God is to wrong him—so not to
fear God is to slight him. Of all things, a person can least endure to
he slighted: "Why has the wicked despised God?" (Psalm 10:13). For a
worm to slight its Maker causes the fury to rise up in God's face! "My fury
will flare up!" (Ezekiel 38:18).
3. God has power to destroy us. "Fear him who
is able to destroy both soul and body in hell!" (Matthew 10:28). God can
look us into our grave—and with a breath blow us into hell—and shall we
not fear him! Is it easy to wrestle with flames? "Who knows the power of his
anger!" (Psalm 90:11). What engines or buckets can quench the infernal fire
of hell? We are apt to fear men who may try to hurt us—but what is their
power compared to God's power? They threaten a prison, God threatens
hell. They threaten our life, God threatens our soul—and
shall we not tremble before him! Oh, how dreadful, when the great fountains
of God's wrath shall be broken up, and all his bitter vials poured out! "Can
your heart endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day that I
shall deal with you!" (Ezekiel 22:14)
Objection: But are not we bidden
to serve God without fear? (Luke 1:74)
Answer. We must not fear God with such a fear, as the
wicked do. They fear him as a Turkish slave does his master; they fear him
in such a way as to hate him—and wish there were no God! We must not
serve God with this hellish fear—but we must serve him with a sincere filial
fear, sweetened with love.
Use 1. Refutation. This refutes the Papists
who hold that a Christian cannot have assurance, because he is to serve
God with fear. Assurance and fear are different—but not contrary.
A child may have assurance of his father's love—yet a fear of
offending him. Who was more fearful of sin than Paul? (1 Cor. 9:27) Yet who
had more assurance? "Christ, who loved me, and gave himself for me"
(Gal. 2:20). Faith procures assurance (Eph. 1:13) fear preserves
Use 2. Instruction. It is a Christian duty to
fear God. What strangers, then, are they to true religion—who are void
of this holy fear! The godly fear—and sin not. The wicked
sin—and fear not. They are like the Leviathan, who is "made without fear"
(Job 41:33). Lack of the fear of God is the innate cause of all wickedness:
"Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed
blood" (Romans 3:14-15). Why was this? "There is no fear of God before their
eyes!" (verse 18).
Abraham surmised that the men of Gerar would stick at no
sin. Why so? "I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place"
(Gen. 20:11). The judge in the Gospel is called an unjust judge (Luke
18:6); and no wonder, for he "had no fear of God" (verse 2). There must be
an excess of sin, where there the fear of God is lacking to restrain it. The
water must overflow, where there are no banks to keep it out. We live in a
godless age; would men dare to sin at the rate they do—if the fear of God
were ruling in their hearts? Would they dare to swear, be immoral, use false
weights, bear false witness, hate purity, deride God, forge plots, persecute
Christ's body—if they had the fear of God before their eyes? These men
proclaim to the world that they are atheists; they do not believe in the
immortality of the soul. They are worse than brutish—a beast fears the
fire—but these fear not hell-fire! They are worse than devils, for the
devils "believe and tremble" (James 2:19).
Use 3. Lamentation. Let us bewail the lack of
the fear of God in our world. Why is it that so few
1. Men do not fear God—because they have not the
knowledge of God. "They hated knowledge, and did not choose the
fear of the Lord" (Proverbs 1:29). Every sin is founded in ignorance of God.
If only men knew God in his immense glory, they would be swallowed up with
divine amazement. When the prophet Isaiah had a glimpse of God's glory, he
was struck with holy consternation: "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man
of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have
seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" (Isaiah 6:6). Ignorance of God,
banishes the fear of God.
2. Men do not fear God—because they presume on his mercy.
God is merciful, and they do not doubt of the virtue of this sovereign balm.
But who is God's mercy for? "His mercy extends to those who fear him" (Luke
1:50). Such as do not fear God's justice—shall not taste his mercy.
Let this be "for a lamentation", that the fear of God is
so vanished from our world. Why is it almost nowhere to be found? Some fear
shame, others fear danger—but where is he who fears God?
And not only among the generality of people—but even
among professing Christians, how few fear God in truth! Profession is
often made a cloak to cover sin. Absalom palliated his treason
with a religious vow (2 Samuel 15:7). The Pharisees made long
prayer a cloak for oppression (Matt. 23:14). This is sordid—to carry on
wicked designs—under a mask of piety. The snow covers many a
dunghill. A snowy white profession covers many a foul heart! The sins of
professors are more odious. Thistles are bad in a field—but worse in
a garden. The sins of the wicked anger God—but the sins of
professing Christians grieve him.
Use 4. Reproof.
1. This reproves jovial sinners, who are so far from
fearing God, that they spend their time in mirth and wantonness!
"People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to
the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all!"
(Luke 17:27). There is a place in Africa called Timbuktu, where the
inhabitants spend all the day in playing and dancing. What sensual, jovial
lives do the gallants of our age live! They spend their life in a frolic, as
if God had made them to be like the leviathan who plays in the sea. "They
sing with tambourine and harp. They make merry to the sound of the flute."
(Job 21:12). They ride to hell upon the back of pleasure, and go merrily
Does not God call us to trembling? Our sins presage evil.
May not we fear that "the glory is departing"? May not we fear the death of
true religion before the birth of reformation? May not we fear that some
momentous calamity should bring up the fear of former judgments? As the
prophet Ezekiel says, "Should we then make mirth?" (Ezekiel 21:10). But
jovial spirits have banished the fear of God.
"How terrible it will be for you who sprawl on ivory beds
surrounded with luxury, eating the meat of tender lambs and choice calves.
You sing idle songs to the sound of the harp!" (Amos 6:4,5). Sinners whose
hearts are hardened with soft pleasures, let them have their
lusts—but farewell Christ and his gospel. "They feast without fear" (Jude
12.). But they forget death will bring in the reckoning, and they must pay
the reckoning in hell-fire! The Turkish sultan, when he intends the death of
any of his minions, invites them to sumptuous feast, and then causes them to
he taken away from the table and strangled. Just so, Satan gluts men with
sinful pastimes and delights, and then strangles them! Foolish
pleasure-lovers are like the fish that swim pleasantly through the silver
streams of Jordan, until at last they fall into the Dead Sea. "Those
who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and
harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction!" (1 Tim.
2. This reproves secure sinners who have no fear of God.
Like Laish of old, they are "a secure people" (Judges 18:27).
Those who are least safe—are most confident! Carnal security throws men into
a deep sleep. Birds which roost in steeples, being used to the continual
ringing of bells, the noise does not at all disturb them. So sinners who
have been long used to the sound of Aaron's bells, though now and then they
have a peal rung out against their sins yet, being used to it, they are not
startled at all. A carnally secure sinner is known thus:
a. He lives as had as the worst, yet hopes to be saved as
well as the best. "I am safe, even though I am walking in my own
stubborn way." (Deut. 29:19). This is as if a man should drink poison—yet
believe that he shall have his health. A secure sinner now lies in Delilah's
lap—yet hopes to some day lie in Abraham's bosom!
b. A secure sinner thinks all is well, because all is in
peace. He hears others speak of a "spirit of bondage", and the
terrors they have felt for sin—yet he thanks God that he never knew what
trouble of spirit meant; he thinks his conscience is good, because it
is quiet. When the devil keeps the palace—all is in peace" (Luke
11:12). Ungrounded peace presages an earthquake in the conscience.
c. A secure sinner is careless about his soul.
The soul is the princely part, which is crowned with reason. A secure sinner
provides for his body—but neglects his soul. He is like one
who waters his flowers—but never minds his jewels. Behold here a secure
person, who is in a spiritual lethargy; he has no sense of the life to come;
he is destitute of the fear of God.
3. This reproves scoffers, who are the vilest of sinners.
"There shall come in the last days, scoffers" (2 Pet. 3:3). These
Ishmaels jeer at holy living—and ridicule all true religion. They throw
squibs of reproach at the saints. In the massacre at Paris, the Papists
scoffed at the Protestants when they murdered them, "Where is your God now?
What has become of all your prayers now?" These are devils in the likeness
of men! They are far from the fear of God! The scorner's chair stands at the
mouth of hell!
Use 5. Exhortation. It exhorts us to get the
fear of God planted in our hearts. "Happy is he who fears always" (Proverbs
28:14). The fear of God would influence all our actions. It would
make us godly in both tables of God's laws. It would make us holy
towards God—and righteous towards men. We would be true in our
promises—and just in our dealings (Matt. 7:12).
That I may press you to this holy fear—let me show
you the DIGNITY and EXCELLENCY of fearing God:
1. The fear of God is the true BADGE and uniform of a
saint. The saints of old were God-fearing men (Gen. 22:12; Acts
10:22); Obadiah feared the Lord greatly (I Kings 8:13). All the moral
virtues in their highest elevation, do not make a saint. But here is the
Christian's true character—he is one who fears God. Augustine said of
himself, that he did knock at heaven-gate with a trembling hand.
Christ calls his elect, "his sheep" (John 10:27). Sheep are of a
trembling nature. The saints are tremulous—they dare not take
liberties as others do.
2. The fear of God is the beginning of true WISDOM.
(Proverbs 1:7). Wisdom is "more precious than rubies" (Prov. 3:15). No jewel
we wear so adorns us as wisdom. Now, the fear of Lord is our wisdom:
"The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom" (Job 28:28).
Wherein is the fear of God the true wisdom?
A. The fear of God is wisdom, in that it makes its
careful about our spiritual accounts. Wisdom lies in nothing more
than in keeping accounts exactly. The fear of God teaches a person to
examine the state of his soul critically. "O my soul, how is it with you?"
Do you gain or lose? Is our faith in its infancy, being but newly laid to
the breast of the promise? Or is it grown to some stature? How is it? Does
grace or sin prevail? Thus the fear of God makes us wisely
balance our accounts, and see how matters stand between God and our souls.
"I meditate in my heart, and my spirit made diligent search" (Psalm 77:6).
B. The fear of God is wisdom as it makes its understand
divine secrets. "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear
him" (Psalm 21:14). He must he wise, who is acquainted with the secrets
of heaven. A fearer of God is acquainted with the secret of election
(1 Thess. 1:4), of God's love (Rev. 1:5), of the holy
annointing (1 John 2:20). He knows God's mind: "We have the mind of
Christ (1 Cor. 2;16).
C. The fear of God is wisdom, in that it makes us
consider. "I considered my ways" (Psalm 119:59). A
great part of wisdom lies in consideration. He who fears God
considers how vain the world is—and therefore dares not love it. He
who fears God considers how short time is—and therefore dares not
lose it. He who fears God considers how precious salvation is—and
therefore dares not neglect it.
D. The fear of God is wisdom, in that it makes its walk
wisely. "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the
time" (Col. 4:5).
a. The fear of God makes us walk amiably: "Abraham
stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth" (Gen. 2.3:7). Piety
does not exclude courtesy.
b. The fear of God makes us walk inoffensively: it
prevents not only scandals but indecencies. The veneration of God, causes
circumcision of heart, and circumspection of life.
E. The fear of God is wisdom, as it preserves us from
hell. It is wisdom to keep out of danger; fear makes us flee from
the wrath to come.
3. The fear of God is the best certificate to show for
heaven. Do you have knowledge? So has Satan. Do you have
profession? So has Satan, he "transforms himself into an angel of
light" (2 Cor. 11:14). But do you have filial fear? In this you will excel
him. The fear of God is, though not our plea for heaven—yet our
evidence for heaven.
4. There is that in God, which may command fear:
1. "He is clothed in awesome majesty!" (Job
a. There is majesty in God's Name, Jehovah. It
comes from a Hebrew root which speaks of God's absolute, eternal, and
b. There is majesty in God's looks. Job had but a
glimpse of God, and he was even swallowed up with divine amazement: "My ears
had heard of you—but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes!" (Job 42:5-6).
c. There is majesty in God's words. He speaks with
majesty, as when he gave the law in thundering, insomuch that the people
said, "Let not God speak with us lest we die!" (Exodus 20:19).
d. There is majesty in God's attributes: his
holiness, power, justice, which are the irradiations of the divine essence.
e. There is majesty in God's works: "They will
speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your
wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I
will proclaim your great deeds" (Psalm 145:5). Every creature sets forth
God's majesty; we may see the majesty of God blazing in the sun, twinkling
in the stars. God's majesty is discernable in those two wonders of nature,
behemoth and leviathan (Job 40:18; 41:19).
In short, the majesty of God is seen in humbling the
children of pride. He turned King Nebuchadnezzar out to pasture, and made
him fellow-commoner with the beasts. Does not all this call for fear?
2. "He is clothed in awesome majesty!" "He is
feared by the kings of the earth" (Psalm 76:12). There is a time coming when
God will be dreadful to his enemies; when conscience is awake, when death
strikes, when the last trumpet sounds. And shall we not fear this God? "Do
you not fear Me? Do you not tremble before Me?" (Jer. 5:22). Fearing
God's justice—is the way not to feel it.
And let it not seem strange to you, if I tell you, that
in respect of God's infinite majesty, there will be some of this blessed
fear in heaven. Not a fear which has torment in it, for perfect love will
cast out fear—but a holy, sweet, reverential fear. Though God has so
much beauty in him as shall cause love, and joy, in heaven—yet this
beauty is mixed with so much majesty, as shall cause a
veneration in glorified saints.
5. The fear of God tends to life (Proverbs
1. This is true in a temporal sense, "The fear of
the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked are cut short" (Proverbs
10:27); in the original it is, "adds days". Long life is promised as a
blessing, "With long life will I satisfy him" (Psalm 91:16). The best way to
come to "a good old age", is the fear of God. Sin curtails the life: many a
man's excess wastes his vital organs, enervates his strength, and cuts him
short of those years which by the course of nature might be arrived at,
"Don’t be excessively wicked, and don’t be foolish. Why should you die
before your time?" (Eccles. 7:17). You who desire to live long—live in the
fear of God! "The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear
the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation." (Deut.
2. This is true in a spiritual sense. "The fear of
the Lord tends to life"—namely, to "life eternal". Life is sweet, and
eternal makes it sweeter. "Eternal life is true life" (Augustine). The
life of bliss has no term of years wherein it expires: "Forever
...with the Lord!" The lamp of glory shines—but is never spent;
so that divine fear tends to life; a life with God and angels forever.
6. The fear of God gives full satisfaction.
"He who has it, shall abide satisfied" (Prov. 19:23). Such as are destitute
of God's fear, never meet with satisfaction. "In the midst of his plenty,
distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him"
(Job 20:22). This is a riddle, to be full—yet not have enough. The meaning
is there is still something lacking: he who fears not God, though his barns
are full—yet his mind is not at rest. The sweet waters of pleasure do rather
inflame the thirst—than satisfy it. "I have run through all
the delights and grandeurs of the world, and could never find full
contentment", said the emperor Severus. But he who has the fear of the Lord
"shall abide satisfied".
1. He shall be satisfied. His soul shall be
filled with grace, his conscience with peace. A holy man said, when
God had replenished him with inward joy, "It is enough Lord, your servant is
a full vessel, and can hold no more!"
2. He shall abide satisfied. This satisfaction
shall not cease; it shall be a cordial in death, and a crown
7. The fear of God makes a little to be sweet.
"Better is little with the fear of the Lord" (Prov. 15:16). Why is a little
better? Because that little a believer has, he holds in his Head, Christ.
That little is sweetened with the love of God. He has with that little a
contented mind; and contentment turns Daniel's vegetables into choice
meat (Dan. 1:12). Again, that little is a pledge of more;
that little oil in the cruse—is but a pledge of that golden joy and bliss
which the soul shall have in heaven. Thus a little with the fear of God, is
better than all unsanctified riches. Lazarus' crumbs were better than
the rich man's banquet!
8. The fear of God is a Christian's safety. He
is invulnerable; nothing can hurt him. Plunder him of his money, he carries
a treasure about him of which he cannot be robbed (Isaiah 33:6). Cast him
into prison—his conscience is free; kill his body—it shall rise again. He
who has on this breastplate of God's fear may be shot at—but can
never be shot through.
9. The fear of God makes all things go well with us.
"How happy are those who fear the Lord—all who follow his ways! You will
enjoy the fruit of your labor. How happy you will be! How rich your life!"
(Psalm 128:1-2). Is it not well with that man who has all things working
together for his good—and has nothing lacking which may do him good (Psalm
84:11)? If God sees health and riches good for him—he shall have them. Every
providence shall center in his happiness. Oh, what an inducement is here to
solid piety! Come whatever will, "it shall be well with those who fear God"
(Eccles. 8:12). When they die, they shall go to God; and while they
live, everything in the world shall do them good.
10. The fear of God is a great cleanser. "The
fear of the Lord is clean" (Psalm 19:9). It is so:
1. In its own nature—it is a pure, crystal, orient grace.
2. In the effect of it—it cleanses the heart and life. As
a spring works out the mud—so the fear of the Lord purges out the love of
sin. The heart is the temple of God, and the fear of the Lord sweeps and
cleanses this temple, that it may not be defiled.
11. The fear of God makes us accepted with God.
"In every nation he who fears him ... is accepted with him" (Acts
10:35). What was Paul so ambitious of? "We labor that we may be accepted by
him" (2 Cor. 5:9). Divine fear ingratiates us into divine favor. Such as are
fearless of God, neither their persons nor offerings find acceptance: "I
despise your feast days, and I will not dwell in your solemn assemblies.
Though you offer me burnt offerings . . . I will not accept them" (Amos
5:21-22). Who will take a gift from one who has the plague!
12. The fear of God paves the way for spiritual joy.
Some may think the fear of God breeds sadness; no, it is the inlet to joy!
The fear of God is the morning star, which ushers in the sunlight of
comfort: "Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort
of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:31). The fear of God has solid joy in it, though
not frivolity. God mixes joy with holy fear, that fear may not seem slavish.
13. The fear of God drives out all base fear.
Carnal fear is an enemy to true religion. The fear of God frightens fear
away; it causes courage: "Able men, such as fear God" (Exod. 18:21); some
translations render it, "men of courage". When a dictator governed in
Rome, all other offices ceased. Where the fear of God rules in the
heart—it expels fleshly fear. When the empress Eudoxia threatened to banish
Chrysostom, the preacher said, "Tell her, I fear nothing but sin!"
The fear of God swallows up all other fear, as Moses' rod swallowed up the
14. To be void of God's fear, is folly. "I
said to the fools—do not deal foolishly" (Psalm 75:4).
1. Are not they fools who gratify their enemy?
Those who lack the fear of God, do so. Satan baits his hook with
pleasure and profit, and they swallow bait and hook and all! This pleases
Satan; men's sins feast the devil. Who but a fool would please his
2. Is it not folly to prefer slavery before liberty?
If a slave in the galley should have his freedom offered him—but says
that he would rather tug at the oar and be a slave, than have his
liberty—would he not be judged to be a fool? Such is the case of him who
does not fear God. The gospel offers to free him from the miserable
captivity of sin—but he chooses rather to be a slave to his lusts. He is
like a servant under the law: "I love my master—I will not go out free" (Exod.
21:5). The foolish sinner had rather have his ear bored to the devil's
service, than be translated "into the glorious liberty of the sons of God"
3. Is not he a fool who, having but one jewel, will
venture the loss of it? The soul is the jewel, and the sinner is
fearless of it, he will throw it away upon the world; as if one should throw
pearls and diamonds into the river. He who pampers his body and neglects his
soul, is like him who feasts his slave and starves his wife!
4. Is not he a fool who refuses a rich offer?
If one should offer to adopt another and make him an heir of his vast
estate, and he should refuse it, would not his discretion be called in
question? God offers Christ to a sinner, and promises to entail all the
riches of heaven upon him—but, lacking the fear of God, he refuses this
great offer: "Israel would have none of me" (Psalm 81:11). Is not this a
prodigy of madness? Yay not the devil peg every sinner for a fool at the
15. The fear of God is a sovereign antidote against
apostasy. The devil was the first apostate. How rife is this sin!
More shipwrecks are on land—than at sea; men make shipwreck of
a good conscience. Apostates are said to put Christ to "open shame" (Heb.
6:6). The fear of God is a preservative against apostasy: "I will put my
fear in their hearts—that they shall not depart from me" (Jer. 32:40). I
will so love them—that I will not depart from them; and they shall so fear
me—that they shall not depart from me.
16. There are excellent promises made to those who fear
God. "Unto you who fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness
arise with healing in his wings" (Mat. 4:2). Here is a promise of Christ; he
is a Sun for light and life-giving influence; and a Sun of righteousness, as
he diffuses the golden beams of justification. And he has healing in his
wings; the sun heals the air, dries up the cold moistures, exhales the
vapors which would be pestilential. Just so, Christ has "healing in his
wings"; he heals the hardness and impurity of the soul. And the horizon in
which this sun arises, is in hearts fearing God: "To you who fear my name,
shall the Sun of righteousness arise."
And there is another great promise: "He will bless those
who fear the Lord, both small and great" (Psalm 115:13). God blesses such in
their name, estate, souls. And this blessing can never be reversed! As Isaac
said, "l have blessed him—and he shall be blessed" (Gen. 27:37). Such
as fear God are privileged people: none can take away from them—either their
birthright or their blessing.
17. Fear is the admirable instrument in promoting
salvation. "Work out your salvation with fear" (Phil. 2:12). The
fear of God, is that flaming sword which turns every way—to keep sin from
entering (Prov. 16:6). The fear of God stands sentinel in the soul, and is
ever upon its watchtower. Fear causes circumspection: he who walks in fear,
treads warily. Fear gives birth to prayer, and prayer engages the help of
18. The Lord is much pleased with those who fear him.
"The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him" (Psalm 147:1).
In the Septuagint it is, "The Lord bears good will towards those who
fear him." Some render it, "The Lord delights in those who fear him."
Never did a suitor take such pleasure in a person he loved—as God does in
those who fear him; they are his "Hephzibah", which means, my delight is
in her (Isaiah 61:4). He says of them as of Zion: "This is my rest
forever—here I will dwell" (Psalm 132:14). A sinner is "a vessel in which is
no pleasure" (Hos. 8:8). But fearers of God are his favorites.
19. Such as fear God are the only people that shall be
saved. "Salvation is near those who fear him" (Psalm 85:9).
Salvation is said to be "far from the wicked" (Psalm 119:155). They and
salvation are so far apart—that they are likely never to meet. But God's
salvation is near to those who fear him. What do we aspire after, but
salvation? It is the end of all our prayers, tears, sufferings. Salvation is
the crown of our desires, the flower of our joy. And who shall be enriched
with salvation—only the fearers of God! "His salvation is near those who
Let these 19 powerful arguments persuade us to fear God.
Use 6. Trial. Let us put ourselves upon a
strict scrutiny and trial, whether we have the fear of God planted in our
Question: How may we know whether we have the fear of God
planted in our hearts?
Answer 1. The fear of God—will make a man fear SIN.
"How can I do this great wickedness—and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9).
Indeed, sin is the only evil thing; it is the evil of evils. Sin is the
poison which the old serpent spat into our virgin nature! In sin there is
both pollution and enmity. Sin is compared to a "thick cloud" (Isaiah
44:22), which not only hides the light of God's face—but brings down showers
of His wrath. Sin is worse than all evils. There is more evil in a drop
of sin—than in a sea of affliction!
1. Sin is the cause of all affliction. Sin conjures up
all the winds and storms in the world. The cause is worse than the
effect. Out of this viperous womb come, "evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness
for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness."
2. In affliction conscience may he quiet; the hail may
beat upon the tiles, when there is music in the room. But sin terrifies the
conscience. Nero, in the midst of feasts and Roman sports was full of
horror of mind; the numbers of men he had killed troubled him. Cataline
was frightened at every noise. Cain in killing Abel, stabbed half
the world at one blow, yet he could not kill the worm in his own conscience!
Sin is the quintessence of evil—it puts a sting into
death (1 Cor. 15:56). Sin is worse than hell:
a. Hell is a burden only to the sinner—but sin is a
burden to God (Amos 2:13).
b. There is justice in hell—but sin is the most unjust
thing. It would rob God of his glory, Christ of his purchase, the soul of
its happiness. "It is more hitter to sin against Christ, than to suffer the
torments of hell", says Chrysostom. Is not sin then, to be feared? He who
fears God is afraid of touching this forbidden fruit!
1. He who fears God—is afraid to do anything which he
suspects may be sinful (Romans 14:23). He will not swallow oaths
like pills, lest they should afterwards work in his conscience. He dares not
mix anything in God's worship, which God has not appointed; he fears it is
like offering strange fire. Where conscience is scrupulous, it is safer to
forbear; for, "what is not of faith is sin".
2. He who fears God—fears the appearance of sin.
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thes. 5:22). Some things have a bad
look, and carry a show of evil in them. To go to the idol temple,
though one does not join with them in worship, is an appearance of evil. He
whose heart is ballasted with God's fear—flies from that which looks like
sin. It was a good speech of Bernard to, "By avoiding the act of sin
we preserve our peace; by avoiding the appearance of it we
preserve our fame." The fear of God makes us shun the occasion of
sin: the Nazarite under the law was not only to forbear wine—but
he must not eat grapes, which might occasion intemperance. Joseph
fled from his mistress' temptation; he would not be seen in her company.
The appearance of evil, though it does not defile
one's own conscience, may offend another's conscience. And hear what the
apostle says: When you "wound their weak conscience, you sin against
Christ!" (1 Cor. 8:12). Such as do not avoid the appearances and inlets to
sin-make the truth of their grace to be suspected. How far are they from the
fear of God who, forgetting their prayer, "Lead us not into temptation", run
themselves into the devil's mouth! They go to plays and theaters, which are
the lures and inducements of filthiness! Others associate familiarly with
the wicked, and are too often in their company: which is like going among
those who have the plague! "I wrote to you not to company with fornicators,"
(1 Cor. 5:9). Business is one thing, keeping company is another. Polycarp
would have no society with Marcion, the heretic. Twisting into a cord of
friendship with sinners is an appearance of evil; it hardens them in sin,
and wounds the credit of true religion.
Question: But did not Christ often converse with
Answer 1. Christ did sometimes go among the wicked; not
that he approved of their sins—but as a physician goes among the
diseased to heal them, so Christ intended to work a cure upon them (Mark
2:17). It was their conversion which he aimed at.
Answer 2. Though Jesus Christ did sometimes converse with
sinners—yet he could receive no infection by them; his divine nature was a
sufficient antidote against the contagion of sin. As the sun cannot be
defiled with the thick vapors which are exhaled from the earth, and fly into
the sky—so the black vapors of sin could not defile the Sun of
righteousness. Christ was of such spotless purity, that he had no
receptibility of evil. But the case is otherwise with us; we have a stock of
corruption within. Therefore it is dangerous to mix with the wicked, lest we
Such as revere the divine majesty of God, dare not go
near the borders of sin. Those who went near the fiery
furnace, though they did not go into it, were burned (Dan. 3:22).
3. He who fears God—dares not sin secretly. A
hypocrite may forbear gross sin because of the shame—but not
clandestine, secret sin. He is like one who shuts up his shop windows—but
follows his trade within doors. But a man fearing God dares not sin, though
he could walk invisibly, and no eye see him. "You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block before the blind; but shall fear your God" (Lev.
19:14). If one should curse a deaf man, he cannot hear him. If one should
lay a stumbling block in a blind man's way, he cannot see him. Yes—but the
fear of God will make one avoid those sins—which can neither he heard or
seen by men. God's seeing in secret, is a sufficient counter-poison
4. He who fears God—dares not commit sin, though it might
bring him a profitable advantage. Gain is the golden bait
with which Satan fishes for souls. This was the last temptation the devil
used to Christ: "All this will I give you" (Matt. 4:9). How many bow down to
the golden image! Joshua who could stop the course of the sun—could
not stop Achan in his pursuit after the wedge of gold! But he who
fears God dares not sin to get preferment. David dared not touch the Lord's
anointed, though he knew he was to reign next (1 Sam. 26:33). A godly man is
assured that a full purse is but a poor recompense for a wounded conscience.
5. He who fears God—dares not gratify his own revengeful
humor. Homer says that revenge is sweet as dropping honey; but
grace makes a man rather bury an injury, than revenge it. He
knows who has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay" (Rom. 12:19). He who
has the fear of God before his eyes, is so far from revenge, that he
requites good for evil. Miriam murmured against Moses, and Moses
prayed for her, that God would heal her of her leprosy (Num. 12:13). The
prophet Elisha, instead of smiting his enemies, "set bread and water
before them" (2 Kings 6:22).
6. He who fears God—dares not do that which is of evil
report, though possibly the thing in itself may be no sin. "If
any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly
for judgment?" (1 Cor. 6:1). Yes, some might say, what sin is it to have a
just cause brought before unbelievers, that it may be decided? Oh but, might
the apostle reply, though the thing in itself is lawful—yet because it
sounds evil, and exposes your religion to the scorn and insult of
unbelievers, you who fear God, should not dare to do it. It were better to
decide it by a prudent arbitration. Everything is permissible for
me—but not everything is beneficial" (1 Cor. 6:12).
7. He who fears God—is not only afraid of evil actions,
but fears to offend God in his thoughts. "Be careful not
to harbor this wicked thought." (Deut. 15:9). To think of sin with delight,
is to act it over in the imagination. This is culpable. A man may
think himself into hell! What were the apostate angels damned
for—was it for any more than proud thoughts?
This is the first note of TRIAL: He who reverences
God—flees from sin. It is a saying of Anselm, "If sin were on one side and
hell on the other, I would rather leap into hell than willingly sin against
Answer 2. He who fears God—walks by Scripture rule,
rather than by the example of others. Example is, for the most
part, corrupt. Examples of great men are influential. Pharaoh had taught
Joseph to swear—but Joseph had not taught Pharaoh to pray. The examples of
others cannot justify a thing which is intrinsically evil. A God-fearer
directs the rudder of his life according to the compass of the Word.
He looks to the sacred canon as the mariner to the compass, or Israel to the
pillar of fire, to direct him. "To the law and to the testimony!" (Isaiah
Answer 3. He who fears God—keeps his commandments.
"Fear God and keep his commandments" (Eccles. 12:13) Luther said he
had rather obey God, than work miracles. A gracious soul crosses his own
will to fulfill God's. If the Lord bids him to crucify his favorite sin, or
forgive his enemies—then he instantly obeys. A heathen exercising much
cruelty to a Christian, asked him in scorn what great miracle his master
Christ ever did? The Christian replied, "This miracle, that though you treat
me thus cruelly—I can forgive you." A holy heart knows, that there is
nothing lost by obedience. David swore to the Lord that he would not rest
until he found a place for God (Psalm 132:4-5). And God swore back to David,
that one of his offspring he would set one upon his throne (Psalm 132:11).
Answer 4. He who fears God—is alike godly in all
companies. He diffuses the sweet savor of godliness wherever he
goes. Hypocrites can change themselves into all shapes, and be as their
company is; serious in one company and vain in another. He who reverences a
Deity, is alike godly in all places. A steady pulse shows health: a
steady walk shows grace. If a godly man is providentially placed
among the wicked, he will not coalesce with them—but in his deportment
displays a majesty of holiness.
Answer 5. He who fears God—is godly in the position where
God has set him. Take an instance in Joseph: "I fear God" (Gen.
42:18). And see a pattern of relative sanctity: he showed towards his
master fidelity, towards his mistress purity, towards his
father duty, towards his brethren generosity. A godly man makes
his family, a training ground of piety (Psalm 102:1).
Answer 6. He who fears God, dares not neglect family or
closet prayer. "I give myself unto prayer" (Psalm 109:4).
Prayer whispers in God's ears! Prayer is private conference with God.
Why was Nymphas' house called a church (Col. 4:15). Because it was
consecrated by prayer. A gracious soul puts forth fervent sighs in prayer
(Rom. 8:26). And surely that prayer soonest pierces heaven—which pierces
one's own heart.
If prayer be made the touchstone—then the number of those
who fear God is but small. Are there not many prayerless families in this
city and nation? "You cast off fear, you restrain prayer" (Job 15:4). When
men restrain prayer, they cast off the fear of God. It is the brand set upon
reprobates, that "they do not call on the Lord" (Psalm 14:4).
Answer 7. He who fears God will not oppress his neighbor.
"You shall not oppress one another; but you shall fear your God" (Lev.
25:17). How can he be holy—who is not just? A saint—yet an extortioner, is a
contradiction. The fear of God would cure oppression. "Will you even sell
your brethren? Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God?" (Neh. 5:8-9).
As if Nehemiah had said, If you had the fear of God, you would not be so
wicked, you would not rise upon the ruins of others and—to wrong them, damn
Answer 8. He who fears God—is given to works of mercy.
The fear of God is always joined with love to our brethren. Grace
may have a trembling hand—but it does not have a withered
hand; it stretches itself out to relieve the needy, "Pure and undefiled
religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows
in their distress " (James 1:27). To visit them is not only to go to
see them in affliction. Our Savior expounds what visiting is in Matthew
25:36, "You visited me"; how was that? "I was an hungry, and you gave me
food" (verse 35). Good works are not the cause of our justification,
but they are the evidence of our justification. How far are they from
the fear of God, who are hard-hearted to Christ's poor! You may as well
extract oil out of a flint—as the golden oil of charity out of their flinty
hearts! The rich man denied Lazarus a crumb of bread—and he was denied a
drop of water (Luke 16:21).
Answer 9. He who fears God—would rather displease man,
than God. "The midwives feared God, and did not as the king of
Egypt commanded them—but saved the men children alive" (Exod. 1:17). What,
not obey the king's command! How could this stand with their allegiance?
Very well, because it was an unlawful command. The king had ordered
them to put to death the Hebrew males—which they dared not do, for fear of
incurring God's displeasure. King Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden image to
be worshiped—but the three Hebrew children (or rather champions) said, "Be
it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods—nor worship the
golden image which you have set up!" (Dan. 3:18). They would rather burn—than
bow! He who fears God, knows it is best to please God. He is the
best Friend—but the worst Enemy!
Answer 10. The fear of God will make a man fear these six
1. Satan's snares
2. His own heart
1. The fear of God will make a man afraid of SATAN'S
SNARES. He has the eye of faith to see these snares, and
the wing of fear to fly from them! Fear gives wings to the feet. "We
are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). The word means
"subtle stratagems". Satan is called the "old Serpent" (Rev. 12:9). Though
he has lost his holiness, he has not lost his deceitfulness.
His snares are so cunningly laid, that without the guidance of God's fear,
we cannot escape them.
a. One subtle artifice of Satan—is to bait his hook with
religion. He can change his flag, and hang out Christ's colors; here he
transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The devil
tempts men to evil, "that good may come" of it (Rom. 3:8). He whistles them
into the snare of preferment, that hereby they may be in a capacity of doing
God more service. The white devil is worst! Who would suspect Satan
when he comes as a minister, and quoting Scripture?
b. Another snare of Satan—is to tempt to sin under a plea
of necessity. Lot offered to expose his daughters to the lusts of
the Sodomites, that he might preserve his angel-guests who were come into
his house (Gen. 19:8). Did not Satan instigate him to this? Necessity
will not excuse impiety.
c. Another snare of Satan—is to color over sin with the
pretense of virtue. Alcibiades hung a finely embroidered curtain
over a foul picture full of dragons and satyrs. Satan puts good names on
sin, as physicians call that film in the eye which hinders the sight a
"pearl" in the eye. Satan colored over Jehu's ambition with the name of zeal
(2 Kings 10:16). He makes men believe that revenge is valor, or that
covetousness is frugality; as if one should write "medicine"
upon a bottle of poison!
d. Another snare of Satan—is to carry on his mischievous
designs under a pretense of friendship. He puts off his lion's
skin, and comes in sheep's clothing. Thus Satan came to Christ:
"Command that these stones be made bread" (Matt 4:3). As if he had said, "I
see you are hungry; I therefore out of pity, counsel you to get something to
eat—turn these stones to bread, that your hunger may be satisfied." But
Christ spied the serpent in the temptation, and repulsed him. Thus Satan
came to Eve in the guise of a friend. He said of the tree in the midst of
the garden, "You shall not surely die . . . you shall be as gods" (Gen.
3:4-5). As if to say, "I persuade you only to that which will put you into a
better condition than now you are; eat of the tree of knowledge and it will
make you omniscient!" What a kind devil was here! But Eve found a
worm in the apple!
e. A fifth snare—if Satan cannot take a Christian off
from duty, he will put him on too far in duty. Humiliation is a duty—but
Satan suggests that the soul is not humbled enough: and indeed he never
thinks it humbled enough, until it despairs. Satan comes thus to a man:
"Your sins have been great—so your sorrow should be proportionate. But is it
so? Can you say you have been as great a mourner—as you have been a
sinner? What is a drop of your sorrow—compared to a sea of your sin?
This is laid only as a snare. The subtle enemy would have a Christian weep
himself blind, and in a desperate plight, throw away the anchor of hope.
And if Satan has such fallacies, and as a decoy draws so many
millions into his snares, is there not cause of jealous fear lest we should
be trapped? The fear of God—will make us fear hell's stratagems. Satan's
snares are worse than his darts!
2. The fear of God will make a man afraid of his own
HEART. Luther used to say, that he feared his own heart more than
the pope or cardinals! "The heart is deceitful above all things" (Jer.
It is "deceitful". The word signifies, it is a "Jacob" or
"supplanter". As Jacob supplanted his brother, and took away the blessing,
so our hearts would supplant and beguile us.
"Above all things": there is deceit in weights, deceit in
friends; but the heart has an art of deceiving beyond all. In the
best hearts there is some fallaciousness. David was upright in all things,
"except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5). A godly
man, knowing there is a measure of this deceit in his heart, fears himself!
The flesh is a bosom-traitor. No man can fathom what evil is in his heart.
"Is your servant a dog!" (2 Kings 8:13). Hazael could not believe his heart
could give birth to such monsters. If one had come to Noah and said, "You
will be drunk shortly"; he would have said, "Is your servant a dog?" No man
knows the depth of evil which in his heart, or what scandal he may fall
into—if God should leave him. Christ warns his own apostles to "take heed of
surfeiting and drunkenness" (Luke 21:34). A godly man therefore fears his
heart with a fear of caution and jealousy.
The heart is not only stubborn—but subtle.
Let us a little trace this impostor, and see if there is not cause to fear
it. The heart shows its deceitfulness regarding sinful things—and
The heart shows its deceitfulness regarding SINFUL things,
this deceit is in the hiding of sin, as Rahab hid the spies in the
flax (Josh. 2:6). So the heart hides sin. And how does it hide sin? Just as
Adam hid himself under fig leaves—so the heart hides sin under the fig
leaves of rationalization and excuses. "It was done against my
will; or done in a passion; or it was done along with others." Aaron blamed
his sin in the making of the golden calf, upon the people: "The people are
set on mischief" (Exod. 32:22). And Adam tacitly blamed his sin upon God
himself: "The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit
from the tree, and I ate" (Gen. 3:12), as if to say, "If You had not
given me this tempting woman—I would not have eaten!"
The heart's deceit is seen in flattering us. It
will make us believe we are not so bad as we are. The physician deceives the
patient when he tells him that his disease is not so dangerous, when he is
falling into the hands of death! The heart will tell a man that he is free
from theft, when yet he robs others of their good name. The heart will tell
a man that he is free from drunkenness when, though he will not be drunk
with wine, he will be drunk with passion. Thus the heart is a flattering
mirror to make one look better than he is! Is there not cause to
suspect this impostor!
Secondly, the heart shows its deceitfulness regarding
SACRED things. It will be ready to put us off with counterfeit
grace. Many have been deceived in taking false money; and many, it is to
be feared, have been deceived in taking false grace.
The heart is ready to deceive with a false repentance.
A sinner is troubled a little for sin, or rather the consequences of
it, and perhaps sheds a few tears, and now his heart soothes him—and tells
him that he is a true penitent. But every legal terror is not true
repentance: "They were pricked in their hearts" (Acts 2:37); yet after this,
"Peter said unto them repent" (verse 38). If every slight trouble
for sin were true repentance—then Judas and Cain may be enrolled in the
number of penitents. Evangelical repentance works a change of heart
(1 Cor. 6:11). It produces sanctity. But the false penitent, though he has
trouble of spirit—yet has no transformation or change of heart and life. He
has a weeping eye—but an adulterous heart. Ahab fasts and puts on
sackcloth—but after this, he puts the prophet Micah in prison (1 Kings
The heart is apt to deceive with a false faith; it
would put the dead child in the place of the living child. Those in the
second chapter of John are said to believe; but Christ did not
believe their faith (John 2:24). True faith, as it casts itself into
Christ's arms to embrace him, so it casts itself at Christ's feet to
serve him. But spurious faith, though it is forward to receive
Christ's benefits—yet it plucks the crown from his head—and
will not submit to his authority! (Isaiah 9:6). It would have him a
Priest to save him—but not as a King upon his throne to
rule him (Zech. 6:13).
Thus the heart is full of fallacies; he who fears God,
fears his heart lest it should rob him of the blessing.
3. The fear of God—will make a man fear DEATH.
We should fear death, first, because it is such a serious
thing, it is the inlet to eternity and puts us into an unalterable state!
Secondly, because of its proximity. It is nearer
to us than we are aware; it may be within a few hours march of us! God may
this night say, "Give an account of your stewardship!" And what if death
should come before we are ready?
Thirdly, because after death there is nothing to be done
for our souls. There is no repenting in the grave: "In the grave, where you
are going, there is neither working nor planning" (Eccles. 9:10). So death
is to be feared with a holy and pious fear.
Question: How far may a child of God fear death?
Answer 1. So far as the fear of death is a curb bit, to
keep him from sin. A believer may lawfully make use of all means to
deter him from sin. There is no stronger antidote against sin—than the fear
of death. "Am I sinning today—and tomorrow may be dying—and
going to judgment!"
Answer 2. A child of God may so far fear death, as it
makes him die to the world. The fear of death should sound a retreat
and call us off from worldly vanities. What is the world? We must leave it
shortly, and all we will then have, is our burying place (Gen. 49:30).
Answer 3. A child of God may so far fear death, as this
fear fits him more for death. Jacob feared his brother Esau's coming
against him, and he prepared to meet him, addressing himself to prayer (Gen.
32:7, 24). So when we fear death's coming, and we prepare to meet it—we set
oh soul in order. This is a godly fear of death.
But this fear of death in the godly must he mixed with
hope. The nature of death to a believer, is quite changed. Death is in
itself a curse—but God has turned this curse into a blessing. To a child of
God, death is not a destruction, but a deliverance. When the
mantle of his flesh drops off, he ascends in a fiery chariot to heaven!
4. The fear of God—will make a man fear JUDGMENT.
Anselm spent most of his thoughts upon the Day of Judgment; and Jerome
thought he always heard that voice sounding in his ears, "Arise you dead—and
come to judgment!" That there shall be such a day is evident:
a. From God's veracity: he who is the Oracle of
truth has asserted it: "For he comes—for he comes to judge the earth" (Psalm
96:13). There is duplication here, firstly, to show the certainty:
"he comes, he comes". It is an indubitable maxim. Secondly, to show the
speediness, "he comes, he comes", the time draws near—it is almost
daybreak, and the judge is ready to take the bench! (James 5:9). God's
decree cannot be reversed!
b. There shall he such a day for the vindication of God's
justice. Things seem to be done in the world, very unequally: the
godly suffer, the wicked prosper. Atheists are ready to think God has thrown
aside the government of the world—and does not mind how things are
transacted here below. Therefore there must he a judicial process, that God
may undeceive the world and set all things right.
c. That there shall be such a day is evident by the
principles engrafted in a natural conscience. When Paul reasoned of judgment
to come, "Felix trembled" (Acts 24:25). The prisoner at the bar—made
the judge tremble! That a wicked man dying is so surprised with
terrors—from where does this arise, but from a secret apprehension of
It will be a great judgment. Never was the like
seen! We must all appear before the judgement seat! (2 Cor. 5:10).
There is no fleeing, no absconding, no bribing, no appearing by a proxy—but
all must make their personal appearance. Those who were above trial
here, and the law could not reach them, must appear before the
tribunal of heaven!
Who shall be the Judge? Jesus Christ (John 5:22.; Acts
17:31). "He has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world—by
that man whom he has ordained." Christ the Judge, is called man
because he shall judge the world in a visible shape. He must be both
God and man: he must be God, that he may see men's hearts—and he must be
man, that he himself may be seen.
What a solemn day will this be, when Christ shall sit
upon the bench of judicature! He will judge "righteously" (Psalm 9:8).
Though he himself was wronged, he will do no wrong. And he will judge
thoroughly: "Whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge his
floor" (Matt. 3:12). He will see what is wheat—and what is chaff; who have
his image upon them—and who the mark of the beast. Surely, the fear of God
will cause a holy trembling at the thoughts of this day!
Question: In what sense should those who fear God—fear
the Day of Judgment?
Answer: Not with a fear of dread or despondency, for the
Day of Judgment will be a Jubilee—a blessed comfortable day to
them! The thrush sings at the approach of rain—and so may believers
at the approach of Judgment. Christ who is their Judge is also their
Redeemer and Advocate. But,
a. The godly should so fear judgment as every day to
renew their sorrow for sin. They have sins which creep upon them
daily—and they must with Peter weep bitterly. They must steep their souls
in the salty tears of repentance. It would be sad to be found at the
last day, in any sin unrepented of.
b. The godly should so fear the Day of Judgment as to
make them afraid of sins of omission. Not dressing a wound brings
death. Not discharging duty may bring damnation. You may read the solemn
process at the last day: "I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to
eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a
stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t
clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn't take care of Me"
(Matt. 25:42). The charge here brought in, is for sins of omission.
Christ does not say, "You took away my food from me"—but "You gave me
nothing to eat"; He does not say, "You put me in prison"—but "You did not
visit me." The sins of omission condemned them. Not praying in the
family, not attending the means of grace, not giving alms, will be the fatal
c. The godly should so far fear the Day of Judgment as to
make them afraid of pretending in religion. For at that day, false
hearts will be unmasked. Why did Paul walk with such integrity? "You are
witnesses and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably we behaved
ourselves among you" (1 Thess. 2:10). What was the cause of this? Surely a
fear of the approaching Judgment Day: "For we must all appear before the
judgement seat of Christ!" (2 Cor. 5:10). The word in the original means we
must be made manifest, our hearts must be laid open before men and
angels. Such is the witchcraft of hypocrisy, that it is hard in this
life, to know who is a false professor, and who is sincere. But shortly
there will be a full revealing. It is good for God's people so to fear
judgment, as to make them strive against deceit and hypocrisy; for then the
hypocrite will be found out.
5. The fear of God—makes a man fear HELL. Hell
is called the "place of torment" (Luke 16:28). Not only notoriously wicked
sinners—but such as fear God, ought to fear hell: "I say unto you my
friends, Fear him who has power to cast into hell!" (Luke 12:4).
Question: How far should God's people fear hell?
Answer: Not so far, as to let go their hope. A
mariner fears a storm—but not so as to throw away his anchor. Such as fear
God—should fear hell in four ways.
a. Those who fear God ought to fear hell—as that which
they have deserved. Their sins have merited hell. Woe to the holiest man
alive—if God should weigh him in the balance of his justice!
b. Those who fear God ought to fear hell—insofar as this
is a means to make them shake off spiritual sloth. This sleeping
disease is apt to seize upon God's own people; "the wise virgins
slumbered" (Matt. 25:5). Now, so far as the fear of hell is an alarm or
a warning-bell to awaken the godly out of security, and make them run faster
to heaven, so far it is a godly and blessed fear.
c. The fear of hell is good in the godly—insofar as it
makes them afraid of being in the number of those who shall go to hell.
There are certain people who are in danger of hell:
First, those who have their heaven in this life: "You who
are given to pleasure" (Is. 47:8). Epicures swim in sensual delights; they
would rather displease God—than deny the flesh. These shall take up their
quarters in hell. "The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to
weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there
is joy and revelry, eating of meat and drinking of wine! "Let us eat and
drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!" The Lord Almighty has revealed this
in my hearing: "Until your dying day this sin will not be atoned for," says
the Lord, the Lord Almighty!" (Isaiah 22:12-14) That is, this sin shall not
be done away by any sacrifice.
Second, they are in danger to be cast into hell who live
in the sin of adultery (Prov. 22:12). Those who burn in lust—shall burn
in hell! "Lord knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until
the day of judgment, especially those who follow the polluting
desires of the flesh." (2 Pet. 2:9-10). See the corruption of man's nature!
Instead of drinking water out of his own cistern, he loves stolen
waters (Prov. 9:17). The same Latin word signifies a stable and a
whore-house—both are for beasts!
Third, they are likely to go to hell who, by giving
bad example, cause others to sin. Bad example, like the plague, is
contagious. Great men are mirrors—by which the common people dress
themselves. Such as give bad example, have not only their own sins, but the
sins of others to answer for. That doubtless was the reason why the rich man
entreated Abraham that one might go from the dead to preach to his brethren
(Luke 16:27), and not that he had love to their souls, but because, while he
was alive, he had occasioned his brethren's sins by his wicked example, and
knew that their coming to hell would increase his torment!
Fourth, they are likely to go to hell who live and die in
the contempt of God's Word. Ministers have preached until their lungs are
exhausted—but men stop their ears and harden their hearts! "They made their
hearts as an adamant stone" (Zech. 7:12). Hardness of heart lies in the
insensibility of the conscience (Eph. 4:19), and the inflexibility of
the will (Jer. 44:16-17). Obdurate sinners shake out the arrow of
conviction and scorn all godly reproof. When the prophet cried to the
altar of stone, it broke apart (1 Kings 13:2). But sinners hearts do not
break! These are likely to have the wrath of God flame about their ears!
"This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with
His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don't
know God and on those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord
Jesus. These will pay the penalty of everlasting destruction, away from the
Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength!" (2 Thess. 1 :7-8).
Fifth, they shall go to hell who fall away (Mat. 13:6).
Because they had no root—they withered. Flowers in a waterpot will
keep green and fresh a while—but having no root, they wither. Demas made a
fair show a while—but ended as the silkworm which, after all her fine
spinning, at last becomes a common fly. "If we deliberately keep on sinning
after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is
left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that
will consume the enemies of God!" (Heb. 10:26-27).
Thus we see who are likely to be thrown into hell. Now it
is good for the godly so to fear hell—as to fear to be in the number of
those who shall go to hell.
d. The fear of hell is good in the godly—insofar as it is
a fear mixed with rejoicing. "Rejoice with trembling" (Psalm 2:11). A
believer's fear of hell must he like the fear of the two Marys going from
the sepulcher: "They departed from the sepulcher with fear and great
joy" (Matt. 28:8). With fear, because they had seen an angel;
and with joy, because Christ was risen! So must the godly look on
hell, with fear and joy. With fear, because of the fire; and with
joy, because Christ has freed them from hell. A man who stands upon a
high rock, fears when he looks down into the sea—yet rejoices that he is not
there drowning in the waves. So a child of God, when he looks down into hell
by contemplation, may fear because of the dreadfulness of the torment; yet
this fear should be mingled with joy, to think he shall never come there!
Jesus has delivered him "from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
6. The fear of God will make a man fear HEAVEN.
You may say, "that is strange—we should rather hope for heaven." No,
a regenerate person is to fear heaven—lest he fall short of it. "Therefore,
while the promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear so that none of
you should miss it!" (Heb. 4:1). It is a metaphor taken from athletes who,
growing weary and lagging behind, come short of the prize. Who had more hope
of heaven than Paul? Yet he was not without his fears: "I discipline my body
and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I
myself will not be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27). And well may he who shall go
to heaven, fear less he miss it, if you consider:
a. It is possible for many who make a splendid
profession, to lose heaven. What do you think of the foolish
virgins? They are called virgins because they were not tainted with any
gross sin; yet these virgin-professors were shut out of heaven! (Matt.
25:10). Balaam, a prophet; and Judas, an apostle—were both
shut out of heaven! We have seen some ships which had glorious names
given them, the Good-speed, the Hope, the Safeguard—which
were lost at sea.
b. It is possible to come near to heaven—yet fall
short of it: "You are not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark
12:34); yet he was not near enough! Men may commend the ministry of
the Word, have their affections moved at an ordinance, and in outward
show out-do the children of God (Num. 23:1-2); yet, not having the
oil of sincerity in their vessels, they will fall short of eternal
happiness. And how dismal is that—to lose God, to lose their souls,
to lose their hopes! The millions of tears shed in hell—are not
sufficient to bewail the loss of heaven! Well may such as have heaven in
them, fear their coming short of it.
So much, then, for this sixth use, trial.
Question. How shall we arrive at this blessed fear?
1. Let us set God ever in our eye—study his immensity! He
is God Almighty (Gen. 17:1). He gives laws to the angels, binds the
consciences of men, cuts off princes "He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is
feared by the kings of the earth." (Psalm 76:12). The thoughts of God's
incomprehensible greatness, should strike a holy awe in our
hearts! Elijah wrapped his face in a mantle when God's glory passed by.
The reason men do not fear God—is because they entertain slight thoughts of
him! "You thought that I was altogether like you!" (Psalm 50:21).
2. Let us pray for this fear of God, which is the
root of all holiness, and the mother of all wisdom. "Give me an undivided
heart—that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11). The Lord has promised to put
his fear in our heart (Jer. 32:40). Let us pray over this promise. While
some pray for riches, and others for children—let us pray for a heart to
To conclude this, you who have this fear planted in your
souls—bless God for it! "You who fear the Lord—bless the Lord" (Psalm
135:20). God has done more for you than if he had made you kings and
queens—and caused you to ride upon the high places of the earth! He has
enriched you with that jewel which he bestows only upon the elect.
Oh, stand upon Mount Gerizim, blessing. The fear
of God is an immortal seed springing up into glory! "You who fear the
Lord—praise him!" (Psalm 22:23). Begin the work of heaven now. Be spiritual
choristers! Sound forth holy doxologies and triumphs! Say, as David, "My
mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long!" (Psalm 71:8).
God has but little praise in the world. Who should thus
pay that which is due to him—if not those who fear him?