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You are to consider farther, that he who does not fear God shall fear poverty. The fear of God gives a man the hope of an inheritance in another world; therefore he is easy if he has but little property in this. But where this world is all a man hatlı, and all he is to expect, he will fly from poverty with the loss of his conscience, and at the hazard of his soul, if he is in the higher class of life: if he is a profligate of the lowest order, he will expose himself daily to the iron hand of justice, for the sake of some stolen possession, and all his enjoyments are embittered with the terrors of the halter and the gibbet.
All cases are not equally bad : yet I may venture to pronounce, that although many do not entirely forget God, yet, in proportion as the fear of God is wanting in the heart, in that same proportion will these other fears enter in and dwell there : and a thoughtful and sensible person can no more enjoy himself in such company, than if he were daily beset with ruffians and murderers. All the base passions which murder a man's soul, murder his peace at the same time: and this is what he gets by a dislike to the fear of God. Therefore, as it is the worst of folly to live without the fear of God, it must be the begin1 3
ning of wisdom to have it, and be directed by it. But folly in this world leads to misery in another; which is the most dreadful consideration of all. Who can express or conceive the amazement of those, who have lived here without the fear of God, when they shall see the day of vengeance approaching, and all the terrors of the last judgment gathering round about them! Then shall that fear of God come upon them, which now for a while they can put away : and the hearts of those, who now seem to care for nothing, shall sink and melt away within them. What would they then give, if they had but been wise enough to attend to instruction while the day of grace lasted? What will then become of their proud speeches, and their looks of defiance? when they shall remember their folly in the bitterness of their souls, and be afraid to lift up their heads towards heaven, where their Judge is now revealed to every eye, no longer to be despised and insulted, but attended with millions of the heavenly host; seated on a throne, rendered majestic and terrible, with dark clouds and flames of fire.
For the present hour, we talk of these things, as distant from us; yet when they shall be displayed before our sight, the in
terval between this time and that will seem but as a moment. What are we then to do, but to set the Lord alway before us ; who, if 'he is our fear now, he will be our defence then : and in the mean time, we shall find our fears of all other things lessening every day, and our hopes increasing; till an acquaintance with God shall give us a foretaste of the peace and liberty of that glorious kingdom, in which we shall serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness.
HONOUR THE KING. 1 PETER II. 17.
THE precept in the text, which at this
1 time deserves the serious consideration of all Christian people in this kingdom, is founded on that common doctrine of the Scripture, that kings and rulers have their authority from God, and that upon this account they are to receive honour from men.
To prevent all mistakes, give me leave to observe, in the first place, that it can never hurt kings and rulers to tell them so. Are the clergy the worse men, when they consider themselves as the servants of God ? May they do as they please, because they are the ministers and stewards of a master, who is no
respecter of persons, and from whom, if they fail, they will receive the greater condemnation? That would be a strange inference: and the same observation is applicable to civil governors. All power being originally inherent in God as his own property, power is a talent committed by him to man: and as the abuse of this is more extensive in its ill effects than the abuse of any private endowment, it must be strictly accounted for; therefore this doctrine can do no harm : there is no flattery in it; it is a fearful consideration.
With respect to ourselves, the consequence, is plain ; that if kings rule by an authority from God, it must be our duty to give them honour: in treating of which, I shall endeavour to convince you, that it is also our wisdom, and our interest, as a people.
Our duty is evident from the Scripture; which declares, that government is the ordinance of God; that the ruler is the minister of God; that the sword in his hand, is a sword of divine justice; and that the wrath, executed by it, is the wrath of God against those who transgress his laws. Government must there-, fore be supported, that the laws of God may be executed: and this is one reason why re