« VorigeDoorgaan »
him. So that whenever we undertake any action, we should do well to look on this pattern; thus, as it were, examining and inquiring of ourselves: What did my Master in this or the like case? Do I do the same thing, do I act from the same principles, do I proceed in the same manner as he did? Am I herein his disciple and follower? If so, in his name let me go on cheerfully; if not, let me forbear. Doing thus will not be only according to our duty, but an especial help and furtherance of good practice.
V. To do in another's name doth sometimes import doing by any power derived or virtue imparted by another; for that a thing so done may be imputed, should be ascribed to that other. So, through thee,' saith the psalmist, will we push down our enemies; in thy name will we throw down those that hate us:' (through thee and in thy name signify the same thing.) So did the Apostles cast out devils, and perform their other miraeles, in Jesus's name, (Sià rou óvóμaros, by his name,' it is sometime expressed,) that is, by a divine virtue imparted from him. To this I add another acreption, scarce different (at least as to our purpose) from that, according to which doing in another's name signifies doing it in trust, or confidence reposed on another, with expectation of aid, or hope of good success from another. So, we rest on thee,' said good King Asa, and in thy name we go against this multitude;' in thy name, that is, hoping for assistance and success from thee. And thus it is said that 'David went out against Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts; that is, confiding in God's help, as his only weapon and defence thus also did the holy Apostles work their miracles in Jesus' name, ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, ‘by faith in his name,' saith St. Peter, his name hath made this man strong;' that is, we did only trust in his divine power, and it was that power of his which restored that weak person to his strength. And thus also is it our duty to do all things in our Saviour's name; with faith and hope in him; wholly relying on him for direction and assistance; expecting from him only a blessing and happy issue of our undertakings. What we do in confidence of our own wisdom or ability, or in affiance on the help of any other person or thing, we do in our own name, or in the name of that thing (or that person) in whom we so
confide; to ourselves, or to such auxiliaries, we shall be ready to attribute the success, and to render the glory of the performance; glorying in our own arm, and sacrificing to our net.' But what we undertake only depending on our Lord for ability and success, may therefore bear his name, because our faith derives the power from him, which enables us happily to perform it; so that the performance may truly be attributed to him, and to him we shall be apt to ascribe it. And thus, I say, we are certainly obliged to do every thing in his name, (in his name alone,) retaining a constant sense both of our own infirmity, and of the impotency of all other created things, and consequently a total diffidence both in ourselves and in them; but reposing all our trust in the direction and assistance of our all-wise and almighty Lord; of Jesus, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given,' (who indeed had it originally by nature as God; but also farther hath acquired it by desert and purchase ;) into whose hands all things are given; and all things are put under his feet; who hath obtained this power in design to use it for our good; and is thereby always ready to help us in our need, if we have recourse unto him, and rely on him; making him what St. Paul styles him, our hope;' our only hope; renouncing all other confidences not subordinate to him. To do so is a duty evidently grounded as well on the reason of the thing, as on the will and command of God; to do otherwise is no less a palpable folly, than a manifest injury to God. For, in truth, neither have we nor any other created thing any power, other than such as he is pleased freely to dispense; and which is not continually both for its being and its efficacy subject to him, so that he may at his pleasure subtract it, or obstruct its effect: no king is saved by the multitude of a host ;' a mighty man is not delivered by much strength;'‹ a horse is a vain thing for safety:' whence it is plain that we cannot on any created power ground a solid assurance of success in any undertaking; it will be leaning on a broken reed,' (which cannot support us, and will pierce our hands,) both a vain and a mischievous confidence; that will abuse us, bringing both disappointment and guilt on us; the guilt of wronging our Lord many ways, by arrogating to ourselves, or assigning to others, what he only doth truly deserve, and what peculiarly
of right belongs to him; withdrawing the same from him; implying him unable or unwilling to assist us, and do us good; neglecting to use that strength which he so dearly purchased and so graciously tenders; so disappointing him, and defeating, as it were, his purposes of favor and mercy towards us. On the other side, trusting only on our Saviour, we act wisely and justly, gratefully and officiously; for that, in doing so, we build our hopes on most sure grounds; on a wisdom that cannot be deceived; on a strength that cannot be withstood; on a goodness that hath no limits; on a fidelity that can never fail. For that we act with a humility and sobriety of mind suitable to our condition, and to the reason of things; for that we thereby declare our good opinion of him, as only able, and very willing to do us good; for that we render him his just honor and due; we comply with his earnest desires, we promote his gracious designs of mercy and kindness toward us. Hence is it that every where in holy Scripture God so highly commends, so greatly encourages this duty of trusting alone in him; that he so ill resents, and so strongly deters from the breach or omission thereof: 'thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord: for he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land, and not inhabited.'' Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is: for he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh; but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit:' thus in that place, thus in innumerable others we are threatened not only with disappointment and bad success in our undertakings, but with severe punishment, if we betake ourselves to other succors, and neglect or distrust, or, in so doing, desert God; but are encouraged, not only with assurance of prosperous success, but of additional rewards, if intirely in our proceedings we depend on and adhere to God. Thus we should do in all, even our most common and ordinary affairs, which no less than the rest are subject to his power, and governed by his care. For you
know how St. James doth reprehend it as a piece of naughty boasting and arrogance, to say, 'the morrow we will go to this city, and stay there a year, and trade and gain :' instead of saying, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that:' that is, to resolve on, undertake, or prosecute any affair, without submission to God's will, and dependence on his providence but especially we ought, in matters and actions more spiritual, to practise this duty; for that to the performing of these we have of ourselves a peculiar impotence and unfitness; needing therefore a more especial assistance from our Lord; that the success of them more particularly depends on him; that the glory of them in an especial manner is appropriate, and, as it were, consecrate to him.
If it be a folly and a crime to think we can do any thing without God, it is much more so to think we can do any thing good without him; it is an arrogance, it is an idolatry, it is a sacrilege much more vain and wicked to do so. To imagine that we can, by the force of our own reason and resolution, achieve any of those most high and hard enterprises, to which by the rules of virtue and piety we are engaged; that we can, by our own conduct and prowess, encounter and withstand, defeat and vanquish those so crafty, so mighty enemies of our salvation, (our own fleshly desires, the menaces and allurements of the world, the sleights and powers of darkness,) is much a worse presumption, than in other affairs of greatest difficulty to expect success without the divine assistance and blessing, than in other most dangerous battles to think we can, by our own bow, and by our own spear, save ourselves;' that we can obtain victory otherwise than from his hand and disposal, who is the Lord of hosts. Reason tells us, and experience also shows, and our Saviour hath expressly said it, That (in these things) without him (without his especial influence and blessing) we can do nothing; he tells us that we are but branches, inserted into him; so that, without continually drawing sap from him, we can have no life or vigor spiritual. The wisest and best of men have, by their practice, taught us to acknowlege so much; to depend wholly on him, to ascribe all to him in this kind. Why,' say St. Peter and St. John, do ye wonder at this? or why gaze ye on us, as if by our own power,
or piety, we had made this man walk ?'—' His name, (the name of Jesus,) through faith in his name, hath made this man strong:' that acknowlegement indeed concerns a miraculous work; but spiritual works are in reality no less, they requiring as much or more of virtue supernatural, or the present interposition of God's hand to effect them; they make less show without, but need as great efficacy within: so our Saviour, it seems, did imply, when he said, ' He that believes in me, the works that I do he shall do, and greater works than these.' Every good and faithful man doth not work miracles; yet somewhat greater, it seems, by the grace of Christ, he performs: however, to these St. Paul referred, when he affirmed, I can do all things in Christ that strengtheneth me;' nothing was so hard that he feared to attempt, that he despaired to master and go through with by the help of Christ; and, Not,' saith he again, that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God:' he was as sensible of his own inability, as he was confident in the gracious help of Christ. Thus should we do all things in the name of Jesus; and it is not only a duty to do it, but it may be a great encouragement to us, that we are capable of doing it; a great comfort to consider that in all honest undertakings we have so ready and so sure an aid to second and further us in them; confiding in which, nothing is so difficult, but we may easily accomplish; (a grain of faith will be able to remove mountains ;) nothing is so hazardous, but we may safely venture on; (walking on the sea, treading on serpents and scorpions, daring all the power of the enemy.) In his name we may, if our duty or good reason calls us forth, how small and weak soever, how destitute soever of defensive arms, or weapons offensive, naked and unarmed, with a sling and a stone, go out against the biggest and best armed Philistine, nothing doubting of victory: our weakness itself, if we be humbly conscious and sensible thereof, will be an advantage to us, as it was to St. Paul, to all effects and purposes, the grace of our Lord will be sufficient for us,' if we apply it, and trust therein. But farther,
VI. To do in another's name may denote, to do it with such regard to another, that we acknowlege (that, I say, we heartily and thankfully acknowlege) our hope of prospering in what we