The fear of God is a leading grace — it is the first seed God sows in the heart. When a Christian can say little of faith, and perhaps nothing of assurance — yet he dares not deny — but he fears God. God is so great — that he is afraid of displeasing him; and so good — that he is afraid of losing him.
The fear of the Christian is not servile — but filial. There is a great difference between fearing God, and being afraid of God. The godly fear God, as a dutiful and loving son fears his father — but the wicked are afraid of him, as a criminal is of his judge.
Fear and love are best in conjunction. Love is the sails to speed the soul's motion; and fear is the ballast to keep it steady in religion.
The fear of God is mingled with faith, "By faith Noah moved with fear." Faith keeps the heart cheerful — fear keeps the heart serene. Faith keeps the heart from despair — fear keeps it from presumption.
The fear of God is mingled with prudence. He who fears God has the serpent's eye in the dove's head — he foresees and avoids the rocks which others are lost upon. Although Divine fear does not make a Christian cowardly, it makes him cautious. "A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself."
The fear of God is a Christian's safety; nothing can in reality hurt him. Plunder him of his money — he carries about him a treasure of which he cannot be despoiled. "The fear of the Lord is his treasure." Cast him into bonds — yet he is free. Kill his body — he shall rise again. He who has on the breastplate of God's fear, may be shot at — but cannot be shot through.
The fear of God is mingled with hope. "The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope in his mercy." Fear is to hope, as oil is to the lamp — it keeps it burning. The more we fear God's justice — the more we may hope in his mercy.
Faith stands sentinel in the soul, and is ever on the watch-tower; fear causes circumspection. He who walks in fear, treads warily. Faith induces prayer, and prayer engages the help of Heaven.
The fear of God is a great purifier, "The fear of the Lord is pure." In its own nature it is pure; in its operation it is effective. The heart is the "temple of God;" and holy fear sweeps and purifies this temple, that it be not denied.
The fear of God promotes spiritual joy; it is the morning star which ushers in the sunlight of comfort. Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, God mingles joy with fear, that fear may not be slavish.
The fear of God is an antidote against apostasy, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." I will so love them, that I will not depart from them — and they shall so fear me, that they will not depart from me.
The fear of God induces obedience. Luther said, "I would rather obey God, than work miracles." A heathen, exercising much cruelty to a Christian, asked him, in scorn, what great miracle his Master, Jesus Christ, ever did. The Christian replied, "This miracle — that, although you use me thus, I can forgive you."
The fear of God makes a little to be sweet, "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord." It is because that little is sweetened with God's love, that little is a pledge of more. That little oil in the cruse, is but pledge of that joy and bliss which the soul shall have in Heaven. The crumbs which fell to the lot of Lazarus, were sweeter than the banquet was to the rich man. The handful of meal, with God's blessing, is better than all unsanctified riches.
Sincere love and holy fear go hand in hand; fear springs from love lest God's favor should be lost by sin.