Holy Fear

January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

‘And he was afraid’ means a holy change. . . . In general there are two kinds of fear – fear that is not inspired by holiness, and fear that is inspired by it. Fear that is not inspired by holiness fills those who are evil, whereas fear that is inspired by it fills those who are good. The latter kind of fear – that which fills the good – is called holy fear and is that which accompanies reverential awe of the Divine and also love. Love devoid of holy fear is like something insipid, or like food that has no salt in it and so no flavour, whereas love accompanied by fear is like food which is salted but does not taste of salt. The fear that goes with love is a fear lest harm is done to the Lord in any way, or to the neighbour in any way, and so to good and truth in any way. Consequently it is a fear lest harm is done to the holiness present in love and faith, and so in worship. But such fear can vary; it is not the same with one person as it is with another. In general the more love anyone has for what is good and true, the more fear he has lest what is good and true will suffer harm, though the less that fear manifests itself as fear. But the less love anyone has for what is good and true, the less fear he has for their safety and the more this manifests itself not as love but as fear. And with the latter kind of person the fear of hell is present. But with one who has no love at all of what is good and true, no holy fear at all is present, only the fear of losing honour, gain, and reputation on account of these; also the fear of punishments and execution. This kind of fear is external, affecting principally the body and the natural man, and his thinking there. But the other kind of fear – holy fear – affects principally the spirit or internal man, and his conscience there.  (AC3718)

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