1. The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
The wicked may appear bold in facing danger, so long as they drown reflection, and stupefy conscience. But when conscience is roused, guilt is the parent of fear. Adam knew no fear, till he became a guilty creature. Then, to the searching question — “Where art thou?” — he replied — “I was afraid, because I heard thy voice in the garden, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9, 10.) But the wicked flee, not only when their enemies pursue,† but when no man pursueth.† Yet is not conscience an invisible pursuer, following close, the harbinger of the wrath of God? And there are times, when “the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them;”† when “the shadows upon the mountains” shall make their hearts melt away.† Cain was terrified with the apprehension of murder, when there was no man, save his own father, living on the earth. (Genesis 4:13, 14.) Many a daring infidel has shewn himself a coward in a moment of sudden danger. In unwelcome thoughts of judgment to come, conscience has turned pale at the question — “Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18.)
But if guilt brings fear, the removal of guilt gives confidence.† The wicked flee; the righteous are bold as a lion. Fearless as the King of the forest,† they dare to do anything but offend their God. The fear of him has drowned every other fear. “Though an host should encamp against me” — saith the man of God — “mine heart shall not fear.”† Moses “feared not the wrath of the king.”† Caleb and Joshua stood firm against the current of rebellion.† Elijah dared Ahab’s anger to his face.† Nehemiah in a time of peril exclaimed — “Should such a man as I flee?”† The three confessors stood undaunted before the furious autocrat of Babylon.† The Apostles’ boldness astonished their enemies.† Paul before the Roman governor,† and even before Nero himself, “witnessed a good confession.”† Athanasius before the Imperial Counsel of Heresy; Luther at the Diet of Worms, finely exemplified the lion-like boldness. Nor is this the character of individuals only. The faithful and constant Christian will be bold to walk contrary to the course of this world; outfacing the scorn of men; valiant for despised truth; glorying in a persecuted name. Fearless is he of men. “For if God be for him, who can be against him?”† Not less fearless is he of Satan. If he be a “roaring,”† he is a chained, lion. “Resist him,” and — coward-like, “he will flee from you.” (James 4:7.) If there be a want of boldness, is there not a wound of conscience, neglect of prayer, or want of faith? The boldness itself is the sense of weakness, and divine “strength made perfect in it.” (2 Corinthians 12:9.) When God intends to do great things, he makes us feel, that “without him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5.) Thus pride receives its death-blow, and he receives all the glory to himself.†