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Moment, where all the Benefit of a good Serm.
Let us then wisely concur with the Grace of God, neither scornfully disdaining it, nor Nothfully relying altogether upon it ; and let us work out our own Salvation according to his prescribed Method, not by our attempting so arduous a Task independently of him, but by his working in us and with us, both to will and to do of his good Pleasure. In this middle Way we shall be sure to walk safely ; and not incur the Guilt of tempting God on the one Hand, nor the Folly of trusting to a broken Reed on the other.
And that you may avoid both these dangerous Rocks, on which many have before you made Shipwreck of a true Faith, and a pure Conscience, a few Directions, how to steer a right Course, shall be given you in the ensuing Discourse: Which may, not without some Edification, be opened by observing, ---What is meant by God's working in us to will and to do. And profecuted by shewing, ------ that this is necelary to
SERM. our Salvation. And concluded by proving, IV. ----that what is thus necesary on God's Bebalf
is wrought by him, though not in such an absolute Manner, - as to supersede, our joint Endeavours.
As to the First, By God's working in us to will and to do, our Apostle cannot be understood to mean, whatever any may conceive, such a forcible Operation of the Almighty upon the Soul, as that Man should be quite passive under it, and no other than a mere Instrument in the Hand of an irrefistible Agent: But the Phrase must fignify only such an additional Supply of Divine Strength vouchsafed to the human Incapacity, as is suitable to the present weak Circumstances of our Nature, ---as is proper for a rational and moral, but at the Tame time an ignorant and depraved Being.
-- To suppose more than this to be fignified by the Expression, is to countenance a very groundless Position, That human Nature was not only unhappily damaged, but perfectly changed by the Fall of Adam, and its Freedom not only impaired but loft. To
suppose less than this to be the Sense of the -Words is to broach an Error as unwarrant
able as the former, That Man is at least as SERM. perfect now, as he was, when first created,-. IV. that his Will is as regular, his Paflions as calm, his' Appetites ás moderate, as in his original State.
But if both these Suppositions are, as will probably be seen hereafter, equally false and contrary to the Testimony of God and Experience of Man ; then our Interpretation of the Passage, we are considering, stands firm, and the Foundation of our Trust in God's "gracious Assistance (to a certain Degree only) remains unfhaken. And what we are to conclude is, that Power fufficient is given to Mankind by the Spirit of Grace to render them capable of fulfilling the Divine Will, but no impulsive Violence, inconfif'tent with Liberty, is offered to them: No one has Reason to complain of having too heavy a Burden laid upon him, or a Task too hard for him to go through with ; nor yet' is there' Occasion afforded to any to be idle and negligent, as though all the Work would be performed without his Labour, and he had nothing to do, but to receive the Reward.
Hearts, as far as his auxiliary Presence is
it should be hid from them, and themselves · left under their natural Blindness and Depravity ; though on their embracing it and striving what in them lies, to comply with the Terms of it, the great Sanctifier of the Faithful surely bestows a proportionably larger Measure of Grace according as they grow in Goodness: So that our Blessed Saviour's Promise is very exactly accomplished, Whofoever hath, to him shall be given, and be fall have more abundance (d).
Serm. And that it is requisite, Ġod should give IV. to Mankind such special Grace as this,---such as in their Circumstances is absolutely expedient to lead them into, and conduct them in, the certain Road to Life and Glorý, is manifest from their universal Inability to pay God an acceptable, or even tolerable Obedience otherwise, and of their own Strength. What our dear Lord said to his first Disciples, without me ye can do nothing (e), is full as true with Respect to all future Believers; without the Asistance of his Spirit, whom he sends from the Father, they cannot obey God to the saving of their Souls..
THE Pride of Man, which shews rather the Obliquity than the Rectitude of his Nature, may boast of his Reason, as a sufficient Guide in his forming a right Judgment on what he ought to do, and of an inherent Power to determine and act accordingly. But how weak is the one, and how obscure' the other, every orie of us, in Fact feels within himself. And should any one be so far infatuated as to deny this, and expect to gain Credit with us; we may
(e) St. John xv. 5