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CXXIXth. And there is no doubt but he had the fame thing in his view in the words of the text, I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou salt enlarge my heart ; which strongly infinuate, that he could not run the way of God's commandments except God did enlarge bis heart. The same truth is inculcated upon us in the new testament: which tells us, that without Christ we can do nothing ; John XV. 5. that it is God wbo worketb in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure; Phil. II. 13. that it is through the Spirit that christians do mortify the deeds of the body; Rom. VIII. 13. and that love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, are the fruits of the Spirit ; Gal. V. 22.
IV. I will now make some improvement of what hath been said, in the following particulars.
1. Let those of us who have enter'd upon a religious course, and made any progress in it, give praise and glory to God. God is not, nor can be the author of evil ; and therefore when we do any thing that is wicked, we are not to impute that unto God, but unto ourfelves : but he is the author of all good,
and therefore when we do any thing that is good, we ought to ascribe it unto God, and not unto ourselves. For according to the apostle James, every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor madow of turning; of his own will begat he us with the word of truth. It is but just and equitable that he who' hath the chief hand in any work, should have the chief glory of it. Therefore inafmuch as God is the principal agent in a christian’s sanctification, he should in all reason have the principal glory of it. There is indeed a praise which is due to men, when they perform any good and virtuous actions; otherwise they cannot be free agents : for if a man is not to be commended when he doth a good action, it can be for no other reason but because he did not do the action voluntarily and freely, but was under a necessity of doing it ; which is to deny that he is a free agent, and consequently to deny that he is accountable to God for his actions. For how can a being which acts necessarily, and cannot posfibly do otherwise than it doth, be entitled either to reward or punishment ?
So that the argument runs thus : « If « man is an accountable creature,then he " is free : but if he is free, then he is " worthy of commendation when he for« bears a wicked action, or practises à good one."
Nor doth this contradict what I said before, concerning the glory that is due to God on account of any good actions which we do: for after all, the greatest praise is due to him, because he puts us upon doing any thing that is good, prevents us with his grace, excites holy dispositions within us; and communicates strength unto us, to enable us to perform our duty.
2. If we cannot run the way of God's commandments except God doth enlarge our hearts ; then let us pray for this enlargement. Tho' I am as firmly persuaded of the necessity of a supernatural aid, in order to a religious life, as any man in the world; yet I am very loth such a truth as this should be
perverted to the encouragement of the floth and idleness of men. There are some lazy wretches, who, from a pretence of their own weakness and inabi lity to that which is good, sit down quiet and contented under the dominion of their lusts ; and abusing the apostle's
expression, Eph. II. 1. concerning perfons dead in trespasses and sins, pretend they are as incapable of any spiritual acts, as they would be of any natural ones, supposing they were naturally dead; and accordingly wait for some sudden manifestation of God's power in their conversion, some miraculous change to be wrought in an instant, without any concurrence of their own.
But be not deceived: tho it is true, that God worketh in us to will and to do; yet it is as true, that he worketh in the use of means, at least ordinarily; and no man hath reason to expect that he should go out of the ordinary way for him, least of all such men as these. Tho God is very ready to bestow favours ; yet he will be sought unto for them : as appears from the XXXVIth of Ezekiel. From the 25th verse of that chapter to the end of the 36th, there are promises of many great blessings to be bestowed upon the Jews: notwithstanding which, it is added in the 37th verse, thus faith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them. And so our blessed Saviour assures us, that our heavenly father will give the Holy Spirit to them who ask him ; Luke XI. 13. Therefore let us not make ourselves weaker than we
are. Our Lord hath commanded us to ask, and seek, and knock : therefore, if we can do nothing else, we may pray; unless we will suppose that Christ hath commanded an impossible thing. And for our encouragement hereunto, we are assured of a gracious answer : ask, and it shall be given, &c.
God will encourage the most faint efsay towards goodness, provided it be fin
We read concerning the prodigal son, that being upon his return to his father, when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him ; Luke XV. 20. This is a lively image of God, who takes notice of the first beginnings of good in men, the first rudiments of virtue, if I may so call them; is pleased with them, will affist their growth, and help them onward to perfection. In the account that we have of Saul's conversion, his praying is mentioned with a peculiar force, as it was a sign of some eminent change being wrought in him. Wherefore let us be very earnest in our addresses to God for the aids of his grace, and never rest till we have obtained the Holy Spirit from him. We may exceed in importunity