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liberate consent because of the former averseness and indispofition; and therefore we may encourage ourselves, tho’ at first we find some averfion and indisposition and unwillingness ; yet if we conquer and overcome them, it is a true act of virtue, because of these difficulties and incumbrances.
But that cannot be imputed to us, in which we do not confent ; for if we act against our mind, it is not our act ; for in all human actions, it is requisite that there be the judgment of reason in the understanding, and the choice of the will.
But to conclude, first, things of impurity, the holiness of God will not fuffer him to have a hand in ; as for instance, to make a man happy that is unholy and wicked : and therefore it is necessary in the nature of the thing, that renovation and fanctification go before falvation. And,
Secondly, Things inconsistent, the wisdom of God doth engage him against ; for he that is wise, will never engage himself in things that cannot be done. Now this is inconsistent, for a man to act against his will. There are two acts of a man, the exterior, and the interior : the exterior act of a man, that may be forced ; but this is less the act of a man than that which is interior, and this can never be forced by any one whatsoever ; neither do the laws of God or man charge that upon us, which we neither will nor consent unto. If a man fall into the hands of thieves, who force him along with them, and make him present while they commit a wicked fact ; the law will not make him a partaker, because his person was exposed to violence. Unless a
man hath consented, he is not obnoxious, neither in the sense of God's law, nor the laws of men.
The exterior man, is subject to exterior force, be. cause he cannot refift a power that is too strong for him ; but the interior man is free against all the world ; nothing without us can force confent. A man may diffent tho’ his perfon be in durance, and tho' his tongue should be made to speak, and his hand to write, and his feet to walk. Where the exterior man is under force, both God and man hold him excused. It is the act of the interior man that God doth reckon upon, and here he expects consent. So that you see, God doth not desire any man's return without his consent ; for indeed, if he do not consent, he doth not return.
God, who is an infinitely wise agent, and first mover, he doth apply himfelf to his several creatures proportionably to their qualities and state ; and as I said, when he doth apply himself to an intelligent agent, the way of motion is by way of reason, as to propose, declare, to shew, to excite, & c. But intelligent nature, continuing fuch, cannot be divested of freedom and liberty; and therefore the application that must be made to it, must be by illumination, persuasion, mental conviction and satisfaction ; and this is as sufficient and available to intellectual nature, as any application in any other way, can be to a natural agent : and you may as well blame an intellectual agent if it be not admonished, persuaded, and satisfied, when reason is offered ; as you may blame an inferior nature, if it should be wanting to its proper effect.
I shall now for application, infer two things.
First, That we ought to be thankful to God, and to acknowledge him, for the gracious allistance that he doth afford unto us : for this will be argument enough against us at the day of judgment, that we were admonished, exhorted, shewn, taught ; all which would have been in vain, if we were not able to hear God's voice, and to obey him. That is therefore the first inference, that we do duly ace knowledge God, and be thankful unto him for the gracious assistance that he doth afford us.
The second is this, that we do make use of, and employ this divine affiftance; which is in the apostle's language, 2 Cor. vi. 1. Not to receive the grace of God in vain : And this we do, when the principle is without effect.
The EXERCISE and PROGRESS of a
PHILIPPIANS ii. 12. Not as though I had already attained, or were already
perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ
Jesus. T Observe out of these words three things. 11. Where the apostle professeth his faith, there
he testiñeth his humility. In the 11 verfe he did declare his faith and future expectation; If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. Here he declares his humility, not as tho I had already attained, or were perfect, &c.
2. Where he doth testify his humility, there he doth engage himself to care and diligence. But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended.
3. Where he doth engage himself to diligence, there he doth take notice of the grace of God. If that I may apprehend, &c. And so you see that his faith of the resurrection is accompanied with an humble sense of his own shortness, and pursued with great activity, industry, care and diligence.
In pursuit of these propositions, I say these three
. i The faith of God, humility of spirit, and active care and diligence in the affairs of our falvation, are things that are united in the common root of truth and goodness.
2. They do comply with each other in their nature and disposition :
3. They mutually promote each other in their several operations.
If you ask, what are the great things in religion ? I will refer you to three texts of scripture : For that which is properly christian, Put on the Lord Jesus Chrift: Rom. xiii, 14. For that which is a proper creature-disposition, Be cloathed with humility, I Pet. y. 5. For that which is our work and business in time, Work out your own salvation with fear
and diligence. Phil. ii. 12. He that puts on Christ