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Before we do this, let us consider, 2. whose will it is that requires our compliance.
It is the will of him, whose will did found the earth, and rear the heaven ; which will sustaineth all things, and is the great law of the universe ; which reigneth in heaven, and swayeth hell itself. And shall we presume to kick against it?
It is the will of our Maker--of our Preserver—of our Sovereign Lord- of our Judge-of our Redeemer-of our best friend, who loves us far better than we love ourselves. Thus every
relation of God recommends his will to us; and each of his attributes does no less ; for,
It is the will of him who is most holy; who is perfectly just; who is infinitely wise ; who is immensely good : finally, who is uncontrollably powerful. As to his commands, we may lift up ourselves against them, we may fight stoutly, we may in some sort prove conquerors; but it will be a miserable victory, the trophies of which shall be erected in hell, and stand on the ruins of our happiness. Conclusion.
Nevertheless let not my will, but thine, be done.
The great controversy, managed with such 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 sort with our faucy 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, soliciting us by intreaties, alluring us by fair promises, scaring us by fierce menaces, indulging ample benefits to us, inflicting sore corrections on us, working in us and on us by secret influences of grace, by visible dispensations of providence;) yet so it is, that commonly nothing doth avail, our will opposing itself with invincible resolution and stiffness.
Here indeed the business pincheth ; herein as the chief worth, so the main difficulty of religious practice consisteth, in bending that iron sinew; in bringing our proud hearts to stoop, and our sturdy humors 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 assigning our lot unto us. accuse our nature, but it is our pleasure; we may pretend
weakness, but it is wilfulness, 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 intinite 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 on 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 sin, 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 favor, 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 impression on it, but only to draw it (as it is in the 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 other
wise, than by its own spontaneous conversion and submission to bim: 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 on 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 submission 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 intire 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 sin) 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 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, bis temper exquisitely sound and fine; for so we find, that by how much any man's constitution is more sound, 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 soul .(a savage ferity, a stupid dulness, a fondness of conceit, or stiffness of humor, 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 saith, he was encompassed.' Such a will our Lord had, and it was requisite that he should have it, that he thence might be qualified to discharge the principal instances of obedience, for procuring God's favor to us, and for setting an exact pattern before us; for God imposing on him duties to perform, and dispensing accidents to endure, very cross to that natural will, in his compliance and aequiescence thereto, his obedience was thoroughly tried ; his virtue did shine most brightly; therefore, as the Apostle saith,
he was in all points tempted;' thence, as to meritorious capacity and exemplary influence, 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, 'Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;' and of himself he affirmed, 'I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me:' whereas therefore such a practice is little seen in achieving easy matters, or in admitting pleasant occurrences; it was ordered for him that he should encounter the roughest difficulties, and be engaged in circumstances most harsh to natural apprehension and appetite; so 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 seditious incendiary, were the titles of honor and the elogies of praise conferred on him; therefore was he exposed to the