« ForrigeFortsæt »
thus infinite in worth, and who is the source of all that is estimable, and all that is desirable in the universe, begins with the commencement of intelligent and moral existence, and only ceases with the extinction of this existence.
Nor is the obligation which thus necessarily accompanies such an existence diminished or altered, by our not acknowledging it; or by our refusing to recognise it. Were this the case, the more wicked and wilful in wickedness any one would become, the less would he be bound to obey the will of God: so that the conduct of those angels who kept not their first estate would be less sinful than that of man. The obligations to give to God the supreme love of the heart, and to do his commandments, are unalterable; and though their force may be increased by the continued multiplication of mercies, they cannot be dissolved by our ceasing to recognise them.
Yet, such a solemn recognition of our obligations to love and serve God, as deeply affects the heart,such a recognition as implies that our consent is given, and that our seal and signature are appended, is acceptable to God, and may be profitable to us. The three following may be mentioned as obvious advantages which result from such a transaction.
1. We are thus called to survey our obligations, and to deepen their impression on the heart. As often as Israel were led to renew their engagements to be the Lord's, the character and perfections of God were set forth before them, and they were reminded of the goodness and truth which he had shewn them. Such an exercise is calculated to be profitable to beings
circumstances, and is necessary to impel us forward with zeal and watchfulness in the path of righteous
Hence the terms in which Solomon sums up the conclusion of the whole matter: “ Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is all that concerneth man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Here the inspired writer
" assumes, that the fear of God established in the heart, would operate as a preventive to sloth, impiety, and unrighteousness, and would prompt to an universal obedience to the commandments.
The light in which God makes himself known to us in the Scriptures, is well calculated to awe as well as to cheer the soul. He has shewn himself to be the God of love; but he has given a demonstration at the same time of his holiness and justice. It is affirmed, of the same glorious God that he delighteth in mercy, and that his wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; that he is a consuming fire, and that it is a fearful thing to fall into his hands. Is not this combination of character harmoniously displayed in the Cross of Christ? Do we not there behold free and unbounded mercy to the sinner, and unsparing wrath against sin, eternal love bestowing an unspeakable gift, and justice by the most awful infliction vindicating its honour?
Hence the union of fear and love in the mind of every believer,-an union which is maintained by every view of the divine character, by the promises and threatenings, the invitations and warnings, of the Holy Scriptures,—and an union which exerts a happy
to be watchful, and zealously concerned to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
IV. Godly fear is not only compatible with the highest delight and confidence in God, but is so essential to the holiness of a dependent being, that it will abide for ever in heaven. That the first part of this proposition, namely, its compatibility with the highest delight and confidence in God, is true, is proved by the abundant testimony of revelation. How elevated are the strains in which the Psalmist expresses his joy and confidence in God; and yet it is in the Book of Psalms that we are commanded to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling. None of the inspired writers seem farther removed beyond the experience of ordinary Christians, in the liveliness with which he anticipated heavenly felicity, and in the lofty and unqualified terms in which he speaks of the assurance of his hope than the Apostle Paul; and yet he unites himself with his fellow-disciples when he addresses them in the language of caution, “ Let us, therefore, fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest, that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away."
That reverence of the character of God animates all pure beings throughout the universe, and will continue for ever with the worshippers of heaven, is a position which, after the observations already made, requires no proof. This reverence will become more profound by every additional discovery of the glory of God. While the manifestation of his awful My,