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SER M. upon, I reserve for other meditations; when we shall xvul. endeavour more distinctly to thew. how we may ap
ply our thoughts to due objects; how curb and correct our inclinations ; how order our passions; how rectify our opinions ; how purify our intentions ;
now I conclude with the good Pfalinist's requests Pf. lxxxvi. to God Almighty : Teach us thy way, O Lard; unite Pfal. cxix. our hearts to fear thy name. Give us understanding, and
we shall keep thy law; yea we shall observe it with
way in 145, and lead us in the way everlast, ing. Amen.
Nevertheless let not my will, but thine, be done.
HE great controversy, managed with such s E R M.
earnestness and obstinacy between God and man, is this, whose will shall take place, his or ours. Almighty God, by whose constant protection and great mercy we subsist, doth claim to himself the authority of regulating our practice, and disposing our fortunes : but we affect to be our own masters and carvers ; not willingly admitting any law, not patiently brooking any condition, which doth not fort with our fancy and pleasure. To make good his right, God bendeth all his forces, and applieth all proper means both of sweetness and severity (persuading us by arguments, foliciting us by entreaties, alluring us by fair promises, scaring us by fierce menaces, indulging ample benefits to us, inflicting fore corrections on us, working in us and upon us by fecret influences of grace, by visible dispensations of providence); yet so it is, that commonly nothing doth
Tom. 6. Or. 72. in Cor.
SE R M. avail, our will opposing itself with invincible resolu. XIX. tion and stiffness.
Here indeed the business pincheth ; herein as the chief worth, so the main difficulty of religious practice consisteth, in bending that iron finew; in bringing our proud hearts to stoop, and our sturdy humours to buckle, so as to surrender and resign our wills to the just, the wise, the gracious will of our God, prescribing our duty, and alligning our lot
We may accuse our nature, but it is our Chrys. pleasure; we may pretend weakness, but it is wil
fulness, which is the guilty cause of our misdemeanors; for by God's help (which doth always prevent our needs, and is never wanting to those who seriously desire it) we may be as good as we please, if we can please to be good; there is nothing within us that can resist, if our wills do yield themselves up to duty: to conquer our reason is not hard; for what reason of man can withstand the infinite cogency of those motives, which induce to obedience? What can be more easy, than by a thousand arguments, clear as day, to convince any man, that to cross God's will is the greatest absurdity in the world, and that there is no madness comparable thereto? Nor is it difficult, if we resolve upon it, to govern any other part or power of our nature; * for what cannot we do, if we are willing? What inclination cannot we check, what appetite cannot we restrain, what passion cannot we quell or moderate? What faculty of our soul, or member of our body, is not obsequious to our will ? Even half the resolution with which we pursue vanity and fin, would serve to engage us in the ways of wisdom and virtue.
Wherefore in overcoming our will the stress lieth; this is that impregnable fortress, which everlastingly doth hold out against all the batteries of reason and of grace ; which no force of persuasion, no allure
* Quodcunque fibi imperavit animus obtinuit. Sen. de Ira, 2. 13.
ment of favour, no discouragement of terror can s ER M. reduce: this puny, this impotent thing it is, which XIX. grappleth with omnipotency, and often in a manner baffleth it: and no wonder, for that God doth not intend to overpower our will, or to make any violent impression on it, but only to draw it (as it is in the Hol si.de Prophet) with the cords of a man, or by rational inducements to win its consent and compliance : our service is not so considerable to him, that he should extort it from us; nor doth he value our happiness at so low a rate, as to obtrude it on us. His victory indeed were no true victory over us, if he should gain it by main force, or without the concurrence of our will, our works not being our works, if they do not issue from our will ; and our will not being our will, if it be not free : to compel it were to destroy it, together with all the worth of our virtue and obedience : wherefore the Almighty doth suffer himself to be withstood, and beareth repulses from us ; nor commonly doth he master our will otherwise, than by its own spontaneous conversion and submiffion to him *: if ever we be conquered, as we shall share in the benefit, and wear a crown ; so we must join in the combat, and partake of the victory, by subduing ourselves : we muf take the yoke upon us; for God is only served by volunteers; he summoneth us by his word, he attracteth us by his grace,
but we must freely come unto him.
Our will indeed of all things is most our own ; the only gift, the most proper sacrifice we have to offer; which therefore God doth chiefly desire, doth most highly prize, doth most kindly accept from us. Seeing then our duty chiefly moveth on this hinge, the free fubmiffion and resignation of our will to the will of God; it is this practice, which our Lord
* 'Eπει τύτο και αυτά διαβάλλει τα αγαθά ει μη τοιαύτη αυτών εσυ ή φύσις, ας και εκόντας προσδραμεϊν, και χάριν έχειν πολλών. Chry/. in I. Cor. Orat, 2.
SER M. (who came to guide us in the way to happiness, not XIX. only as a teacher by his word and excellent doctrine,
but as a leader, by his actions and perfect example) did efpecially set before us, as in the constant tenour of his life, so particularly in that great exigency which, occasioned thele words, wherein renouncing and deprecating his own will, he did express an entire submission to God's will, a hearty complacence therein, and a serious desire that it might take place.
For the fuller understanding of which cafe, we may consider, that our Lord, as partaker of our nature, and, in all things (bating lin) like unto us, had a natural human will, attended with senses, appetites, and affections, apt from objects incident to receive congruous impressions of pleasure and pain ; lo that whatever is innocently grateful and pleasant to us, that he relished with delight, and thence did incline to embrace; whatever is distasteful and afflictive to us, that he resented with grief, and thence was moved to eschew: to this probably he was liable in a degree beyond our ordinary rate ; for that in him nature was most perfect, his complexion very delicate, his temper exquisitely found and fine; for so we find, that by how much any man's conftitution is more found, by so much he hath a smarter gust of what is agreeable or offensive to nature : if perhaps sometimes infirmity of body, or distemper of foul (a favage ferity, a stupid dulness, a fondness of conceit, or stiffness of humour, supported by wild opinions, or vain hopes) may keep men from being thus affected by sensible objects ; yet in him pure nature did work vigorously, with a clear apprehension and lively fense, according to the design of our Maker, when into our constitution he did implant those passive faculties, dispofing objects to affect them lo and so, for our need and advantage ; if this
be deemed weakness, it is a weakness connexed with 'Ersi xri ev. our nature, which he therewith did take, and with mis mapir tiles which, as the Apostle faith, he was encompassed.
ricevity. Hcb. v. 2.