“Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” Ecclesiastes 8:12
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:4-12
Fear may be yoked into the service of God. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian. Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God has given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has honoured fear, for the whole of piety is comprehended in these words, “Fear God”; “the fear of the Lord”; “them that fear him.” These phrases are employed to express true piety, and the men who possess it. Fear, I have said, may ruin the soul. Alas! It has ruined multitudes. O Fear, you are the rock upon which many a ship has been wrecked. Many a soul has suffered spiritual destruction through you, but then it has been not the fear of God, but the fear of man. Many have rushed against the thick bosses of the Almighty’s shield, and defied God, in order to escape the wrath of feeble man. Many through fear of worldly loss have brought great guilt into their consciences; some through fear of ridicule and laughter have not had the boldness to follow the right, and so have gone astray and been ruined. Yea, and where fear does not work utter destruction it is capable of doing much damage to the spirit. Fear has paralysed the arm of the most gigantic Christian, stopped him in his race, and impeded him in his labours. Faith can do anything, but fear, sinful fear, can do just nothing at all, except prevent faith from performing its labours.
Sermon no. 148
23 August (1857)