Of the manifold mischiefs caused by the fear of man
Fear of man is one cause which causes one to reject coming to faith, “Many thousands of souls are thereby kept back from a true and thorough repentance and conversion; because they do not suffer the knowledge of the truth, the brightness whereof hath in some degree enlightened them, to shine forth in its full strength, but hold it, as it were, imprisoned by manifold hypocritical shifts and pretences.”
Fear of man also limits one’s growth in godliness, because one is afraid of what others may say or do. “Many know not what the reason is why they make such slow advances in their spiritual growth, when all this while the enemy, that is, the fear of man, secretly lurks within, and eats out, as it were, the very vigour and activity of the life of grace; though they take him for their best friend, supposing this fearfulness to be nothing else but wisdom and prudence.”
Fear of man and continual opposition may cause a minister to lose heart and thus perform their office. Fearfulness in one encourages fearfulness in others. And so two fearful ministers in one place, may cause a great deal of mischief. Those who are brought upon under such ministry will resemble their minister, as a child does a parent. Such ministers also rob others by distracting them away from ministers who could more profit their soul.
And those who are wicked take courage when they see the righteous fearful.
Fear of man causes many to refuse to be an open gospel witness to those who have power and position.
“The fear of man is always for maintaining old customs; and whilst every one is afraid of innovation, all abuses are thereby more and more authorized, so that all things proceed continually from bad to worse, because nothing is reformed or amended.”
A fearful man cannot act in faith on God, because, “a fearful man trusts God no further than his reason reaches and carries him.” He certainly will not trust God to protect him. By rejecting faith in God, we reject God’s blessing which is bestowed upon the faithful who receive them in faith. A fearful heart can receive no true communion or spiritual blessing from God; rather, such a fearful man is also plagued by a bad conscience.
“St. James saith, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” ch. 4:7.: and the reverse of it is full as true; for the more we give way to the devil and his instruments out of fear, the more they pursue and press upon us. Men might rid themselves of many troubles, could they but resignedly rely upon the authority of their function, and boldly perform what God hath commanded them. If we neglect this, it is no wonder if the devil insult us.”