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to treat of, and with all seriousness to recommend to "those that name the name of Christ."
For the more distinct understanding whereof, we must know, that self-resignation doth relate either;
First. To the commands of God; particularly such commands as are difficult to nature, and grievous to flesh and blood, for to obey in lesser and more easy instances is no worthy proof of our resignation. And thus considered, it implieth an entire obedience to the preceptive will of God. Or,
Secondly. It relates to hard trials, great hardships and sufferings; such as God doth allot, and appoint, "to humble us, and to know what is in our hearts:" and thus considered, it implieth a meek patience, and quiet submission to the divine disposals, or the providential will of God.
Yet I shall not speak to these two distinctly; but join them both together in this aphorism, wherein is comprised the grand fundamental mystery of practical religion, viz. That a Christian is to resign his will wholly to the divine will; to make an entire oblation of himself to God. In discoursing on which
First. I shall present you with several weighty considerations, that do most effectually recommend to us this duty of self-resignation.
Secondly. I shall set down such helps, and directions, as are most proper for the attaining this most excellent temper.
CONSIDERATIONS RECOMMENDING THE DUTY OF SELF-RESIG
NATION TO OUR MOST SERIOUS AND DILIGENT PRACTICE.
That it is the law of our creation, both first and second. sideration of God as a second creator shown mightily to enforce our engagement to this duty, upon a fourfold account. SELF-RESIGNATION is the law of our creation; our necessary condition and property, both as we are creatures, and as new creatures; as we are made, and as we are renewed after God's image.
It is not a new thing, introduced first by Christ; it is not an institution peculiar to the times of the gospel, so that for almost four thousand years man was not obliged to it: but it is our unchangeable property, arising from our dependence upon God, and relation to him. There is a law written within us, that requires this; nor can any thing free us from our obligation hereunto. We were made by God for himself; and therefore must needs be under an eternal obligation to yield universal obedience to him. This is an "old commandment, which man had from the beginning," as St. John speaks of love; it is rooted in, and interwoven with,
C 1 John ii. 7.
his very being all the duties enjoined therein are branches of the everlasting righteousness, and are of an eternal and unchangeable nature.
It is the character of angels; that they "do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word;" and that they "do his will:"a and the self-resignation of angels, their doing God's will in heaven, is the model of men's resignation and obedience on earth: for our Saviour hath taught us thus to pray; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Angels and men are under the same moral obligation of religion; the same law, for substance, concerns both. Love is the sum of the whole law and angels are to love God, with all their might, as well as men; and one angel is to love another as himself.
Religion obligeth every rational and understanding creature; and the quintessence of religion is resignation: and therefore it is impossible this could ever have not been, or should ever for the future cease to be, our duty. It was an ancient maxim of the Hebrew doctors; Omnia sunt in manu Cœli excepto timore Cæli. All things are in God's power, except the fear of God;' implying, that God himself cannot absolve and free men from the religious fear and observance of himself, and a most obedient regard to his holy will.
What the apostle St. John saith of love that it is an old, and yet a new commandment, is true also of this high and holy commandment of self-resignation. It is a new commandment; not as if it were first brought in by Christ, for men were never free to will their own wills, " to walk in the ways
a Psal. ciii. 20, 21.
b Matt. vi. 10.
c 1 John ii. 7.
of their hearts, and in the sight of their eyes," but it is new, as the commandment of love is new, in that it was enlivened and enforced anew by Christ; had its power and virtue renewed and increased, and the engagement to it heightened, both by the doctrine and example of our Saviour: both tending to the advancement of self-resignation, in a way beyond any doctrine or example of life that ever appeared before, or since, in the world. And therefore it is also the law of the new creation; by virtue whereof its obligation is now doubled. And the consideration of God as our second creator mightily enforceth our engagement to this duty. For,
1. The relation of the new creature is more noble and honourable. Ab eo tempore censemur, ex quo in Christo renascimur. In the second creation the image of God is repaired in the soul; and man, that was a disfigured and disordered thing by reason of his apostasy and fall from God, is restored now to that better and more excellent state. As he is a new creature, he partakes of the Spirit, and is heavenly and spiritual: which is far more than having a natural being, by which, as the apostle speaks, he " is of the earth, earthy."
2. It is also a sweeter relation; there is a most dear love, to be admired rather than to be expressed, manifested herein. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!"g "Abba, Father, "h comes more freely from the lips and heart of the new creature. Such Such may draw near to God with a filial freedom, and humble boldness.
4 Eccl. xi. 9.
f 1 Cor. xv. 47.
e St. Jerome in his Epitaph on Nepotianus.
1 John iii. 1.
3. It is a more advantageous relation: for "if children," saith the apostle," then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." And the "inheritance" they are heirs to, is "uncorruptible and undefiled, reserved in the heavens for them;" such as "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," and the glory and advantages of which no heart can conceive: to which, "according to the abundant mercy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," they are "begotten again," as also "unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."d
4. The new creation empowers, capacitates, and enables us for this duty. To this purpose is that of the apostle; "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works ;" created unto entire obedience to the will of God, the foundation, and also the sum and abridgment, whereof is self-resignation.
These things might be largely insisted upon; but thus much is briefly intimated, that the obligation to self-resignation may appear more from the notion of a new creature, than from that of a