« ElőzőTovább »
That self-resignation is that which doth eminently distinguish a good man from the devil and the wicked: and that mere external performances do not distinguish between the one and the other.
SELF-RESIGNATION is that which doth eminently distinguish a good man from the devil and the wicked.
The angels that would not continue in resignation, that would have another will of their own, that rended their wills from the will of God; these were the evil and miserable angels: and still they are impetuously acted by a boisterous self-will, and are impatient of having it checked.
Quasi by absque jugo, dvopos. Belial is the devil's name; which word signifies without yoke : and the children of Belial are for a boundless lawless liberty; they "set themselves against the Lord and his Christ, saying; let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.' They" altogether break the yoke, and burst the bonds;" are impatient of restraint.
Wicked men, in whose hearts the apostate spirit worketh, are vioì TS άideias," the children of disobedience:" they are not for entire subjection to the divine will, though wise, good, sure, and perfect; but addicted to their own will, which is childish, vain, perverse, and boisterous; and all for gratifying their ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλα. Cegas, "many foolish and hurtful desires and longβερὰς,
Psal. ii. 2, 3.
• Jer. v. 5.
↳ Eph. ii. 2.
ings."a They are all for "walking after the imagination and stubbornness of their own hearts," a phrase often used in the prophecy of Jeremiah, and for "fulfilling Juara, the wills of the flesh and of the mind:" whereas the children of God
are ríxvα úτaxons, "children of obedience;" conτέκνα ὑπακοῆς, formed, (not to their former lusts, but) to the will of God, as was David, who fulfilled all his will.
And here it is fit to advertise and admonish Christians, that it is a piece of mystery-wickedness, a policy of Satan in all ages, to set up and magnify some pieces of outward religion, and put such a value upon them, as from them to denominate men good and religious: and so men are reputed saints, and the children of God, by such and such opinions and notions, such expressions, such observances, such things as may be performed by very bad men. So that on these different forms are founded different parties and sects; and each magnifies its own mode: and thereupon men are tempted and invited to associate and link themselves with one or other; because hereby they shall be reputed religious, and apologized for by those of that rank and way; and all others shall be unsainted and decried. But in the mean while the main thing is little minded, that which doth intrinsically and eminently distinguish the good from the wicked; and that is self-resignation, selfdenial; that which our Saviour makes the essential character of a true Christian.
This doctrine of denying and resigning ourselves, the doctrine of the inward cross, of being dead to
a 1 Tim. vi. 9.
b Jer. xxiii. 17.
d 1 Pet. i. 14.
Eph. ii. 3.
e Acts xiii. 22, 36.
self-desires, and self-interests, is very unacceptable and grievous to Pharisaical and formal Christians : they would fain live to themselves, please themselves; being "lovers of their own selves, covetous, proud, incontinent, fierce, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;" as the apostle speaks of some who hereby denied the power of godliness, whereof yet they had a form.
Now it is a good service done to religion, to endeavour, both by life and doctrine, to rescue it from these abuses, from being thought to consist in such outward shows; and to place the kingdom of God where it should be. It is for the interest of the " pure and undefiled religion," and for the advancement of real holiness, to lessen the credit of such appearances, viz. such a habit, tone, form of words, mere outward performances; to lessen the repute of any sort of mock-holiness, a mere outward profession and observance of only the externals of religion; be they such as are commanded and appointed by God, or be they mere arbitrary and voluntary tasks; which have a show of wisdom and holiness, but indeed are a holiness of their own framing, and a self-chosen righte
Yet, this is not spoken to lessen the repute of what is external, with a design to make men regardless thereof; but only to awaken them from resting in these externals, to the minding of a greater strictness and holiness, a "righteousness" which "exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees :" who were men that were very
2 Tim. iii. 2, 3, 4.
James i. 27.
b Matt. v. 20.
observant of many of the outward parts of religion, and were strict as to several things that did not cross and prejudice their carnal interests; but yet notoriously loose as to what was most strictly and mainly required by God: and therefore our Saviour required his disciples to beware of strengthening that Babel, that false imaginary holiness of the Pharisees; who, by their specious appearances of austerity, and the like, grew into a great, reputation among the people, as if there were much of religion in them.
Among the externals of religion, some are of God's own requiring, and suitable to our state and condition here; as praying, reading, preaching, hearing the word, discoursing of it, &c. As for these, not to mention such as men do voluntarily impose upon themselves, we are not to value men as religious by any thing in the use of them which is common to the regenerate and unregenerate, and may be performed and attained to by the hypocrite or formal Christian; who may "make a fair show in the flesh" and outward part of religion, and yet be unacquainted with the spirit and power of it.
That which is all in all, is the doing these things from a resigned heart: so to pray, as in praying to have a humble submission to the will of God; so to read, so to preach, so to hear, as to be willing to be formed into all that truth, "the good and acceptable will of God:" this is that which doth distinguish the formal and real Christian. Others can perform all that is outward in religion; and in such a way as to have the praise of men:
* Matt. vi.
b Gal. vi. 12.
c Rom. xii. 2.
but to deny ourselves, to resign our wills entirely to the divine will; this is proper and peculiar to the inward and sincere Christian.
That self-resignation is the most acceptable way of glorifying God : and that he is honoured by no performances separated from this. SELF-RESIGNATION, and a conformity to the divine will, is the most excellent, the truest and most. acceptable way of glorifying God, and doing honour to him.
The greatest honour and respect we can express to an excellent and worthy person, is to endeavour to be as like him as may be; to imitate him in whatsoever accomplishment commends and represents him justly exemplary. And the most excellent way of honouring God, is to endeavour to be transformed into his likeness; to have our will the same with his, to will as he wills.
Indeed, the mere outward Christian thinks, that he doth God great honour and service, when he gives him the fruit of his lips in goodly expressions, and specious praises; when he gives him the fruit of a bodily worship, in multiplying external devotions and religious observances hereby he thinks he doth highly please God, and oblige him to him; as if God were such a one as himself, and were apt to be taken with such words and shows, and did seek and passionately thirst after such praises and respects.