Godly Fear: A Regulator of Graces

One of the most influential books in my life has been William Plumer's Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental & Practical Piety. You can read it online for free, or search Amazon for physical copies. I'm preaching on Ps. 34 this Sunday and will be touching on the fear of God as it relates to his goodness. Plumer's words here on the subject are beautiful.

Perhaps one reason why so little is said of [the fear of God] is, that many minds are confused respecting its qualities. It will therefore be wise to seek to understand its nature, and the difference between it and all those kinds of fear which are spurious. Godly fear does not at all consist in servility and guilty dismay, nor in mere dread and terror. This kind of fear is neither holy nor useful. Indeed it sadly perverts men, and fits them for a life of sin. "Fear, if it has not the light of a true understanding concerning God wherewith to be moderated, breeds superstition," says Hooker.

Godly fear consists with love. This is so true, that the more we fear God, the more we love him; and the more we love him, the more do we fear him. Godly fear is not a destroyer, but a regulator of other graces. Without it faith might become presumptuous, hope might lose its sobriety, love might degenerate into fondness or sentimentality, and joy might become giddy. But where the heart is full of godly fear, all these unhappy results are avoided. So far from agitating, it calms and quiets the mind. It seems to give both gravity and cheerfulness. It moderates without depressing; it animates without intoxicating. It is good ballasts to the ship in her passage through tempestuous seas.

- Vital Godliness, chapter 13.

Relevant Read: The Joy of Fearing God, by Jerry Bridges