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it? Could that heart, all burning with zeal for God SERM. and charity to men, admit the least thought or mo
XXXVI. tion of averseness from drinking that cup, which was the sovereign medicine administered by divine wisdom for the recovery of God's creation ? No; Matt. xxvi. had he spake with such intent, legions of angels had flown to his rescue; that word, which framed the worlds, which stilled the tempests, which ejected devils, would immediately have scattered his enemies, and dashed all their projects against him : wherefore those words did not proceed from intention, but as from instinct, and for instruction; importing, that what our human frailty was apt to suggest, that his divine virtue was more ready to smother; neither did he vent the former, but that he might express the latter.
He did express it in real effect, immediately with all readiness addressing himself to receive that unsavoury potion; he reached out his hand for it, yielding fair opportunity and advantages to his persecutors ; he lifted it up to his mouth, innocently provoking their envy and malice; he drank it off with a most steady calmness and sweet composure of mind, with the silence, the simplicity, the meekness of a lamb carried to the slaughter; no fretful thought rising up, no angry word breaking forth, but a clear patience, enlivened with a warm charity, shining in all his behaviour, and through every circumstance of his passion.
Such in his life, such at his death, was the practice of our Lord; in conformity whereto we also readily should undertake whatever God proposeth, we gladly should accept whatever God offereth, we vigorously should perform whatever God enjoineth,
SERM. we patiently should undergo whatever God imposeth XXXVI.
or inflicteth, how cross soever any duty, any dispensation may prove to our carnal sense or humour.
To do thus, the contemplation of this example may strongly engage us; for if our Lord had not his will, can we in reason expect, can we in modesty desire to have ours ? Must we be cockered and pleased in every thing, whenas he was treated so coarsely, and crossed in all things ? Can we grutch at any kind of service or sufferance? Can we think much (for our trial, our exercise, our correction) to bear a little want, a little disgrace, a little pain, when the Son of God was put to discharge the hardest tasks, to endure the sorest adversities?
But further to enforce these duties, be pleased to cast a glance on two considerations : 1. What the will is to which, 2. Who the willer is to whom we must submit.
1. What is the will of God? Is it any thing unjust, unworthy, or dishonourable, any thing incommodious or hurtful, any thing extremely difficult or intolerably grievous, that God requireth of us to do or bear? No: he willeth nothing from us or to us, which doth not best become us and most behove us; which is not attended with safety, with ease, with the solidest profit, the fairest reputation, and the sweetest pleasure.
Two things he willeth; that we should be good, and that we should be happy; the first in order to the second, for that virtue is the certain way, and a necessary qualification to felicity.
The will of God, saith St. Paul, is our sanctification: What is that? what, but that the decays of our frame, and the defacements of God's image within us, should be repaired; that the faculties of SERM. our soul should be restored to their original integrity
1 Thess. iv. 3.
XXXVI. and vigour ; that from most wretched slaveries we should be translated into a happy freedom, yea, into a glorious kingdom; that from despicable beggary and baseness we should be advanced to substantial wealth and sublime dignity ; that we should be cleansed from the foulest defilements, and decked with the goodliest ornaments; that we should be cured of most loathsome diseases, and settled in a firm health of soul ; that we should be delivered from those brutish lusts, and those devilish passions, which create in us a hell of darkness, of confusion, of vexation, which dishonour our nature, deform our soul, ruffle our mind, and rack our conscience; that we should be endowed with those worthy dispositions and affections, which do constitute in our hearts a heaven of light, of order, of joy, and peace, dignify our nature, beautify our soul, clarify and cheer our mind; that we should eschew those practices, which never go without a retinue of woful mischiefs and sorrows, embracing those which always yield abundant fruits of convenience and comfort ; that, in short, we should become friends of God, fit to converse with angels, and capable of paradise.
God, saith St. Paul again, willeth all men to be + Tim. ii. 4. saved: he willeth not, saith St. Peter, that any man 2 Pet. iii. 9. should perish. He saith it himself, yea, he sweareth it, that he hath no pleasure in the death of the Ezek. wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live. And what is this will ? what, but that we should obtain all the good whereof we are capable ; that we should be filled with joy, and crowned with glory; that we should be fixed in an
SERM. immoveable state of happiness, in the perpetual enXXXVI.
joyment of God's favour, and in the light of his blissful presence; that we should be rid of all the evils to which we are liable; that we should be released from inextricable chains of guilt, from incurable stings of remorse, from being irrecoverably engaged to pass a disconsolate eternity in utter darkness and extreme woe? Such is God's will; to such purposes every command, every dispensation of God (how grim, how rough soever it may seem) doth tend. And do we refuse to comply with that good will; do we set against it a will of our own, affecting things unworthy of us, things unprofitable to us, things prejudicial to our best interests, things utterly baneful to our souls? Do we reject the will that would save us, and adhere to a will that would ruin us; a foolish and a senseless will, which, slighting the immense treasures of heaven, the unfading glories of God's kingdom, the ineffable joys of eternity, doth catch at specious nothings, doth pursue mischievous trifles; a shadow of base profit, a smoke of
vain honour, a flash of sordid pleasure ; which passEccles. vii. eth away like the mirth of fools, or the crackling
of thorns, leaving only soot, black and bitter, behind it?
But at least ere we do thus, let us consider whose will it is that requireth our compliance.
It is the will of him, whose will did found the Apoc.iv.u.earth, and rear the heaven ; whose will sustaineth
all things in their existence and operation ; whose will is the great law of the world, which universal nature in all its motions doth observe; which reigneth in heaven, the blessed spirits adoring it; which swayeth in hell itself, the cursed fiends trembling at
it: and shall we alone (we pitiful worms crawling SERM.
XXXVI. on earth) presume to murmur, or dare to kick against it?
It is the will of our Maker, who, together with all our other faculties, did create and confer on us the very power of willing: and shall we turn the work of his hands, the gift of his bounty, against him ?
It is the will of our Preserver, who, together with all that we are or have, continually doth uphold our very will itself; so that without employing any positive force, merely by letting us fall out of his hand, he can send us and it back to nothing: and shall our will clash with that, on which it so wholly dependeth; without which it cannot subsist one moment, or move one step forward in action ?
It is the will of our sovereign Lord, who, upon various indisputable accounts, hath a just right to govern us, and an absolute power to dispose of us : ought we not therefore to say with old Eli, It is the i Sam. iii. Lord, let him do to me as it seemeth good to him? Is it not extreme iniquity, is it not monstrous arrogance for us, in derogation to his will, to pretend giving law, or picking a station to ourselves ? Do we not manifestly incur high treason against the King of heaven, by so invading his office, usurping his authority, snatching his sceptre into our hands, and setting our wills in his throne ?
It is the will of our Judge, from whose mouth our doom must proceed, awarding life or death, weal or woe unto us: and what sentence can we expect, what favour can we pretend to, if we presumptuously shall offend, oppose that will, which is the supreme rule of justice and sole fountain of mercy?