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SERMON XXXVI.

OF SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE WILL.

LUKE xxii. 42.

Matt. xxvi. Nevertheless let not my will, but thine, be done.
39.
SERM. THE great controversy, managed with such earnestness
XXXVl.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 subfift, doth claim
to himself the authority of regulating our practice and
disposing our fortunes : but we affect to be our own mas-
ters 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 argu-
ments, foliciting us by entreaties, alluring us by fair pro-
mises, scaring us by fierce menaces, indulging ample be-
nefits to us, infli&ting fore corrections on us, working in
us and upon us by secret influences of grace, by visible
dispensations of providence ;) yet so it is, that commonly
nothing doth avail, our will oppofing itself with invincible
resolution and stiffness.

Here indeed the business pincheth; herein as the chief worth, so the main difficulty of religious practice confifteth, in bending that iron finew; in bringing our proud hearts to stoop, and our sturdy humours to buckle, fo as to surrender and resign our wills to the just, the wise, the gracious will of our God, prescribing our duty, and affign

i Cor.

43.

ing our lot unto us. We may accuse our nature, but it SERM. is our pleasure; we may pretend weakness, but it is wil. XXXVI. fulness, which is the guilty cause of our misdemeanors ; Chryf.com. for by God's help (which doth always prevent our needs, vi. Or. 12. and is never wanting to those who seriously defire it) we Or. 17. may be as good as we please, if we can please to be good; comm. there is nothing within us that can refift, 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 a ; 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 allurement of favour, no discouragement of terror can reduce: this puny, this impotent thing it is, which 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 impreffion on it, but only to draw it (as it is in the Pro-Hof. xi. 4. phet) with the cords of a man, or by rational inducements to win its consent and compliance: our service is not fo 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 vi&tory indeed were no true victory over us, if he should gain it by main force, or without the

Quodcunque fibi imperavit animus obtinuit. Sam de Ira, ii, 12.

SERM. concurrence of our will ; our works not being our works, XXXVI. 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 submission to him b; 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 must 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 defire, 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 (who came to guide us in the way to happiness, not only as a teacher by his word and excellent doctrine, but as a leader, by his actions and perfect example) did especially set before us, as in the constant tenor of his life, so particularly in that great exigency which occasioned these 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 case, we may consider, that our Lord, as partaker of our nature, and in all things (bating fin) 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; so that whatever is innocently grateful and pleasant to us, that he relished with delight, and

6 'Eπει στο και αυτά διαβάλλει τα αγαθά ει μη τοιαύτη αυτών έσιν ή φύσις, ε; fixéstas trevodomes sãv, s kúpiv i xey Todany. Chryf. in 1 Cor. Orat. 2.

diltasteful and so

lented with c

to eschew:

thence did incline to embrace; whatever is distasteful and SERM. affli&tive 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 constitution 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 savage 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 sense, according to the design of our Maker, when into our constitution he did implant those passive faculties, disposing objects to affect them so and so, for our need and advantage; if this be deemed weakness, it is a weakness connected with our nature, which he therewith did take, and with which, as the Apostle faith, he was encompassed.'Essi gjaiSuch a will our Lord had, and it was requisite that he should we see lines, have it, that he thence might be qualified to discharge Heb. v. 2. the principal instances of obedience, for procuring God's favour to us, and for setting an exact pattern before us; for God impofing on him duties to perform, and dispens

ing accidents to endure, very cross to that natural will, - in his compliance and acquiescence thereto, his obedience

was thoroughly tried; his virtue did shine most brightly; therefore, as the Apostle faith, he was in all points tempted ; Heb.iv. 15. thence, as to meritorious capacity and exemplary influ. . 10, 18. ence, he was perfected through suffering.

Hence was the whole course of his life and conversation among men so designed, so modelled, as to be one continual exercise of thwarting that human will, and closing with the divine pleasure: it was predicted of him, Ls, I come to do thy will, O God; and of himself he af- Heb. x. 7. firmed, I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, foi but the will of him that sent me : whereas therefore such v.30. iv. 34. a practice is little seen in achieving easy matters, or in ad.

fal. xl. 7. bhn vi.

SERM. mitting pleasant occurrences; it was ordered for him, XXXVI. that he should encounter the roughest difficulties, and be

engaged in circumstances most harsh to natural apprehenfion and appetite; fo that if we trace the footsteps of his life from the sordid manger to the bloody cross, we can hardly mark any thing to have befallen him apt to satisfy the will of nature. Nature liketh respect, and loatheth contempt; therefore was he born of mean parentage, and in a most homely condition; therefore did he live in no garb, did assume no office, did exercise no power, did meddle in no affairs, which procure to men consideration and regard ; therefore an impostor, a blasphemer, a sorcerer, a loose companion, a feditious incendiary, were the titles of honour and the elogies of praise conferred on him; therefore was he exposed to the lash of every Nanderous, every scurrilous, every petulant and ungoverned tongue.

Nature doth affect the good opinion and good-will of men, especially when due in grateful return for great courtesy and beneficence; nor doth any thing more grate

thereon, than abuse of kindness: therefore could he (the John vii. 7. world's great Friend and Benefactor) say, the world hateth

me; therefore were those, whom he with so much charity and bounty had instructed, had fed, had cured of diseases, (both corporal and spiritual,) so ready to clamour, and

commit outrage upon him; therefore could he thus exJohn X. 32. poftulate, Many good works have I Mewed you from my

Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? Therefore did his kindred Night him, therefore did his disciples abandon him, therefore did the grand traitor issue from his own bosom; therefore did that whole nation, which he chiefly sought and laboured to save, conspire to persecute him, with most rancorous spite and cruel misusage.

Nature loveth plentiful accommodations, and abhorreth to be pinched with any want: therefore was extreme pe

pury appointed to him ; he had no revenue, no estate, no Matt. iii. certain livelihood, not so much as a house where to lay his 20. xvii. 25. head, or a piece of money to discharge the tax for it; he xxi. 19. Luke viii.3. owed his ordinary support to alms, or voluntary benefi

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John xi 18.

Materias. head, or a prdinary support

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