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and mightiest thunder shall add dignity without terror, and be reduced to the temper of an accompaniment !

God of his infinite mercy give us grace so to pray, and so to sing, and so to live, in this short time of our probation, that we may be admitted into the celestial choir, where with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, and with sounds as yet unheard and unconceived, we may laud and magnify the adorable name of God; ascribing to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, into whose name and worship we were baptized upon earth, all honour, glory, power, might, majesty and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

SERMON

SERMON VI.

FEAR GOD. 1 PETER II. 17.

MAN is led to the fear of God by a wise consideration of his power in the creation and preservation of the world, and the justice with which he governs it now, and will judge it hereafter.

By this fear man is distinguished from the beasts of the field; which are fearfully and wonderfully made, but have no apprehension of the power which formed them: they are fed by the hand of God, but are insensible of his bounty they are governed by him, and observe his laws, but know not their lawgiver. But the view of man extends to that invisible power which made and sustains the world: he sees that hand which filleth all things living with plenteousness; and expects retribution from

from that just Judge, who knows the secrets of all hearts, and is no respecter of persons.

The brute creation is subject to the domi nion of men; but man himself, being the subject of God, is never to proceed in any matter, as if God had no concern with it. When we think and live by this rule, we are men, properly so called; because we are under the influence of a fear unknown to irrational creatures; and are exalted to our proper dignity, as subjects of the kingdom of God.

Fear is a servile passion, when it has an unworthy object; but it becomes honourable when God is the object of it, and is the test of the human character. When fear is understood in a more general sense, and qualified with prudence, it is the passion which distinguishes men from brutes, and wise men from fools. The ignorant fear nothing, because they know nothing; and some people are mistaking and offending all their lives, because they never know when to fear, nor what to be afraid of: so that the want of fear argues a want of wit in common life, as it undoubtedly argues a want of grace in religion.

Nothing but the fear of God can render a man fit to live in the world as a member of. society. No penalties, which human autho

tity can inflict, lay any obligation upon the conscience; but he that fears God will consider himself as the servant and subject of God, and consequently he will be true and just, independent of all temporal considera

tions.

To believe in God, and to fear him, ought to be the same thing with all mankind: but experience shews us, that many, who would be ashamed to deny God openly, do not live as if they feared him. Let me, therefore, point out to you some of those considerations which produce the fear of God in the heart of man.

The first of these is the consideration of his power, as it is manifested to us in the natural world. Who can observe the glorious lights of heaven in their wonderful order; the changes of the seasons, the operations of the elements, the structure of man, without being filled with a sense of the divine power? They shall fear thee, saith the Psalmist, as long as the sun and moon endureth. The lights of heaven must be blotted out of it, before we can resist the necessary inference, that the Maker of them is the first and greatest object of our fear and reverence.

We

We go forward with this argument, and consider God as the governor of the world; directing the elements for our good, or interrupting the course of them for our punishment. What force of language can imprint such an awe upon the mind, as a sight of that solemn and majestic appearance of the sky, which is preparatory to a storm of thunder? When the clouds, as if they were summoned by a divine command, are gathered together from different quarters of the heaven; when the air is dark above, and the earth below is in silent expectation of the voice that is to follow, and fearful of that fire, which gives us an assurance and foretaste of what shall happen at the destruction of the world. Well might it be said by Elihu, in the book of Job-At this my heart trembleth, and is moved out of its place. The man who feels nothing upon such an occasion, has no reason to value himself upon his courage: such courage is no honour to any man: it is not fortitude, but stupidity. In different minds the effect will be different in some, the terrors of guilt will be awakened; in others, a pious fear, and a submissive veneration, by which they are brought nearer to God, and become better acquainted with their own sins and infirmities.

The

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