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PART EIGHTH.
OF THE PEACE OR REST OF A SOUL IN A STATE OF UNION.



CHAPTER V.


THE SOUL IN UNION RESTS FROM DISQUIETING FEARS.


Fear, the source of agitation and sorrow. — The truly holy man delivered from the fear of want, sickness, and persecution. — Reference to the writings of John Climachus. — All sinful fear of God taken away.

IT is proper to be said further, in connection with this subject, that the soul which is brought into entire harmony with God, has rest from all disquieting fears. It is a declaration of the Scriptures, and is no less evident from one's own consciousness, that "fear hath torment.” 1 John 4:18. In all cases, fear diminishes happiness; and, when it is very great, it is almost inconsistent with any degree of happiness. It produces distrust; it causes agitation; it sunders friendship; it alienates love. From the wretchedness connected with this state of mind, the holy man has true rest; and no other man has.

2. Among other things which tend to illustrate these general views, we proceed to remark, that the holy man is delivered from the fear of want. The unrighteous man fears that he will come to want, because he has no faith. On the contrary, where faith and love are perfect, bread will not fail. God will multiply the widow's vessel of oil, or send his ravens, as he did to the famishing prophet, when his people who trust in him are hungry. "I have been young," says the Psalmist, "and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Ps. 37:25.

It is proper to add here, it is not the mere fact that God will provide for his people, which delivers from fear; but the belief, the full confidence, that he will do it. And this is not all. The people of God are willing to suffer want, are willing to be as the Saviour was, who had no place to lay his head, if God sees it best. In connection with such feelings, it is impossible for fear to exist.

3. Again, the man who in the exercise of faith is fully united to God, is delivered from the fear of sickness and death. Undoubtedly, in themselves considered, sickness and death are afflictions. The truly devoted and godly man understands this as well as others. But fully believing that all things work together for the good of those who love God, he is freed from anxiety. He welcomes suffering, when God sends it, in whatever form it may come. The physical suffering and weakness which attend upon sickness, become means of growth in grace; and, so far from being causes of complaint, are welcomed and rejoiced in as the forerunners of increased purity and happiness. And while many are constantly subject to bondage, through fear of death, the holy man looks upon it as the end of sorrow and the beginning of glory.

4. The man, in whom the divine nature is reconstituted, is freed from the fear of his fellow-man. It is one of the artifices of Satan to attack holy men through the aids of those who are unholy; by employing their lips in the utterance of evil surmises and falsehoods, and sometimes by exciting them to more open attacks. The holy man leaves his cause with God. He would not plead it himself if he could. He stands without fear, as Christ did before the bar of Pilate, in the sublimity of a triumphant silence. He rejoices in spirit, knowing that, at the appointed time, when faith and patience have had their perfect work, he shall hear the voice of his own great Defender.

Nay more, armies of men, as well as individuals, have ceased to cause terror. Dungeons, which nations have erected, bring no alarm. He has no fear, because he finds the defense of the future in the history of the past. The walls of cities have fallen before the voice of the Lord. Brazen gates have been sundered. Iron chains have been separated like flax at the touch of fire. What has been, will be. No power can hurt him, because infinite power is his protection. And even if there is no direct interposition, and evil men are allowed to triumph for a time, the sense of suffering is overwhelmed and lost in the joy that he is accounted worthy to suffer.

5. And, what is greater than all, he has rest from the fear of the divine displeasure. John Climachus, one of the devout and learned anchorites of Mount Sinai, in referring to the inward state of a holy man with whose history he had become acquainted, represents the divine grace to have been so marked and powerful in its operations as to have taken away from him apparently even
the fear of God. [Œuvres de S. Jean Climaque, Abbé du Mont Sinai, comprenant L'Echelle Sainte, &c. Degré, 29.] Although such expressions are liable to be misunderstood, it is beyond question that they are susceptible of a meaning which involves an important truth. It is a universal truth, applicable in all times and situations, and not a particular truth limited to specific cases, that "perfect love casts out fear." Love and fear, in their very nature, are antagonistical principles. Where love rules, fear is extinguished. The triumph of the one is necessarily the exclusion of the other.

6. But, in laying down this universal principle, we must have a regard to the meaning of terms. The fear which is based upon the consciousness of guilt, is a different thing from that fear which is synonymous with reverence. It is certain, where love is perfected in the heart, that all fear which results from sin is extinguished. In that sense of the term, or rather with that limitation of the use of the term, the holy man ceases to fear. God has no sooner merged the character of a judge in that of a friend, than the man of God delights to be with him, and to converse with him. It is no more his nature to flee from God under the influence of sinful fear, than it is the nature of an innocent child to flee from its mother. He rests, like calm and helpless infancy, on the arm that is wreathed with lightnings. The lightnings have no terror for innocence; but rather, divested of everything which can harm it, they shine like flowers, and play round it like sunbeams. But to those who are in a state of fear, originating in sin, they retain the terrors of their original nature, smiting with a power which rends the rocks in pieces, and burning with a consuming fire.