Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v2

58 BAXTER'S DYING THOUGHTS. very much an irrational, sensitive fear, which the darkness of man's mind, the greatness of the change, the dreadful majesty of God, and man's natural averseness to dìe,'do, in some degree, necessitate, even when reason is fully satisfied that' such fears are consistent with certain safety. If I were bound with the strongest chains, or stood on the surest battlements, on the top of a castle or steeple, I could not possibly look down without fear, and such as would go near to overcome me ; and yet I should be rationally sure that I am there fast and safe, and cannot fall. So is it with our prospect into the life to come: fear is oft a necessitated passion: when a man is certain of his safe foundation, it will violently rob him of the comfort of that certainty :, yea, it is a passion that irrationally doth much to corrupt our reason itself, and would make us doubt because we fear, though we know not why : and afearful man cloth hardly trust his own apprehensions of his safety, but, among other fears, is still ready to fear lest he be deceived ; like timorous, melancholy persons about their bodies, who are ready still to think that every little distemper is à mortal symptom, and that worse is still nearer them than they feel, and they hardlybelieve any words of hope. And Satan, knowing the power of these passions, and having easier access to the sensitive than to the intellective faculties, cloth labor to get in at this back door, and to frighten poor souls into doubt and unbelief: and in timorous natures he cloth it with too great success, as to the consolatory acts of faith. Though yet God's mercy is wonderfully seen in preserving manyhonest, tender souls from the damning part of unbelief, and, by their fears, presery-. eth them from being bold with sin ; when many bold and impudent sinners turn infidels, or atheists, by forfeiting the helps of grace. 'And, indeed, irrational fears have somuch power to raise doubts, that they are seldom separated; insomuch that many scarce know, or observe, the difference betweendoubts and fears ; and many say they not only fear but doubt, when they can scarce tell why, as if it were no intellectual act which they meant, but an irrational passion. If, therefore, my soul see undeniable evidence of immortality; and if it be able, by irrefragable argument, to prove the future blessednessexpected; and if it be convinced: that God's promises are true, and sufficiently sealed and attested by him, to warrant the most confident belief ; and if I trust mysoul and all my hopes upon this word, and evidences of truth, it is not, then, our averseness to die, nor the sensible fears of a soul that looketh into eternity, that invalidate any of the reasons of my hope, nor prove the unsound- ness of my faith. But yet these fears do prove its weakness ; and were they prey-