28th September 2020
“Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not.” Isaiah 35:4
“Fear not.” “Ah! but Lord,” the soul says, “I do fear. I fear myself more than anybody. I fear my base, wicked heart, my strong lusts and passions, and my numerous inward enemies, the snares of Satan, and the temptations of the world. Thou sayest, ‘Fear not.’ But I do fear. I cannot help but fear.” Still the Lord says, “Fear not.” Let us see if we cannot find something to explain this a little more clearly. There is a crowd yonder, and a weak woman in company with her husband. He says to her all trembling and fearing to pass through the crush, “Fear not; take hold of my arm, cling close to me.” She takes hold of his arm and fears not. So with the timid soul and its enemies. It says, “How can I press through this crowd of difficulties; how elbow my way through these opposing doubts and fears?” Its husband, the Lord, comes and says, “Fear not; take hold of my strength; cleave close to me!” The soul hears, obeys, and clings; its enemies give way; its doubts and fears part asunder, and it passes safely through. Or take another familiar comparison. Here is a child trembling before a large mastiff; but the father says, “Fear not, he will not hurt you, only keep close to me.” “Deliver my soul,” cried David, “from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.” Who is that dog but Satan, that huge mastiff, whose jaws are reeking with blood? If the Lord say, “Fear not,” why need we fear him? He is a chained enemy. But how the timid soul needs these divine “Fear nots!” For without him, it is all weakness; with him, all strength; without him, all trembling; with him, all boldness. “Where the word of a king is there is power;” and this makes the Lord’s “Fear nots” so efficacious. As Augustine used to say, “Give what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.” The burden still remains, but strength is given to bear it; the trials are not lessened, but power to endure them is increased; the evils of the heart are not removed, but grace is communicated to subdue them.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869