"But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou may cat be feared."
—Ps. cxxx. 4.
Forgiven, in order to fear : does it seem a poor and pitiful way of stating the issues of God's mercy ? Would I rather say : Forgiven, and therefore loving, rejoicing, praising, thanking the Forgiver with heart and voice and life ? But my version is not far removed from the Jewish Psalmist's; only mine is more meagre and less significant. The fear of which he speaks includes all that I mean by practical religion and godliness ; and the doctrine he teaches is that the grace of God in pardoning me makes me willing, through every one of my days, to follow behind His chariot wheels.
One thing I see is that His forgiveness throws my nature open to a world of blessed communications from Himself. Sin's separating wall of adamant is gone, and there is no barrier now. I can carry my needs to Him, and it is His royal and tender habit to hold converse with me ; He has inaugurated a communion which is to last as long as I live. But can I do anything else than adore and reverence and fear this ever-present Lord, Who is watching so sedulously over my obedience and my growth ?
Or I may express the truth in this fashion : since His forgiveness came, I have been free to serve Him. Until then, I was a debtor owing Him ten thousand talents, and I had not a farthing to pay. The mere thought of Him was a millstone crushing my spirit; and in that wintry time what heart had I to do His will ? But the shades of the prison-house lie behind me now. The incubus is lifted, the spectre banished. I cannot but dedicate myself to my Liberator absolutely and always.
Let me view it again : when He forgave me, He planted in my nature the strongest motives to fear. Worshipfulness was born in me then ; for I saw the holiness of Him Who had to purchase my freedom with a great price. Gratitude was stirred—a gratitude in which many graces are rooted and grounded, such as submission to His will, and the hatred of what He hates, and the hunger to glorify Him. Hope, too, awoke ; and since I shall see Him face to face soon, I must purify myself as He is pure.
First, forgiveness ; and then afterwards, and perpetually to the end, fear. But a reasonable and beautiful and seemly fear. The fear to lose one glance of the Father's love. The fear to miss one syllable of the Saviour's evangel of peace. The fear to forfeit one instant of the Spirit's presence, or one breath of His renewing power. The fear of drifting away on insidious currents of worldli- ness and sin from the haven of daily fellowship with my Lord. The fear of slumber. The fear of error. The fear of not enough pleasing Him Who, with His precious blood, has redeemed me to Himself.