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vi. Or. 12.
tom. v. Or.
Here indeed the business pincheth; herein as the SERM. 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 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 assigning our lot We may accuse our nature, but it is our Chrys. tom. pleasure; we may pretend weakness, but it is wil-in 1 Cor. fulness, which is the guilty cause of our misdemean- Or. 17. ours; for by God's help (which doth always prevent 28, 43. 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 sin, would serve to engage us in the ways of wisdom and virtue.
Quodcunque sibi imperavit animus obtinuit. Sen. de Ira,
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 impresHos. xi. 4. sion 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 otherwise, than by its own spontaneous conversion and submission 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 must take the yoke upon us; for God is only served by volunteers; he summoneth us by
b Ἐπεὶ τοῦτο καὶ αὐτὰ διαβάλλει τὰ ἀγαθὰ εἰ μὴ τοιαύτη αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ φύσις, ὡς καὶ ἑκόντας προσδραμεῖν, καὶ χάριν ἔχειν πολλήν. Chrys. in
1 Cor. Orat. 2.
his word, he attracteth us by his grace, but we must SERM. 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 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 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, his temper exquisitely sound and fine; for so we find, that by how much any man's constitution
SERM. is more sound, by so much he hath a smarter gust of XXXVI. 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 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, 'Eruxaia which he therewith did take, and with which, as the τὸς περίκειTava. 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 favour 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 acquiescence thereto, his obedience was thoroughly tried; his virtue did shine most brightly; therefore, as the apostle Heb. iv. 15. saith, he was in all points tempted; thence, as to ii. 10, 18. meritorious capacity and exemplary influence, he was
Heb. v. 2.
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 preHeb. x. 7. dicted of him, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God; and Psal. xl. 7 of himself he affirmed, I came down from heaven,
John vi. 38.
v.30. iv. 34. not to do mine own will, but the will of him that
sent me: whereas therefore such a practice is little SERM. 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 honour and the elogies of praise conferred on him; therefore was he exposed to the lash of every slanderous, 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 world's great Friend and Benefactor) say, the world hateth me; therefore were those, John vii. 7. 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 expostulate, Many good works have I shewed you from my John x. 32. Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? Therefore did his kindred slight him, therefore did his disciples abandon him, therefore did the grand John xiii.