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indifference, where all possible diligence is but just sufficient! This, you must allow, is the true character of mankind in general. And does this demonstrate the rectitude of their will? Ther. The understanding may be said to carry the torch, the will to hold the balance. Now, the perfection of a balance consists in being so nicely poised, as to incline at the least touch, and preponderate with the slightest weight. This property belongs, without all dispute, to the human will. Asp. What, if one of your scales should descend to the ground, though charged with trifles that are light as air? If the other should kick the beam, though its contents be weightier than talents of gold : Is not this an exact representation of our will, when the fleeting pleasures of sense, or the puny interests of time excite our wishes; even while the solid delights of religion, and the immensely rich treasures of immortality, can hardly obtain our attention ? However, let us quit the metaphor, and examine fact. Suppose I make it appear that, instead of choosing the most eligible objects, the will is so deplorably vitiated, as to loathe what is salutary, and be fond of what is baneful.” Ther. If you prove this to be universally the case, you will prove your favourite point with a witness. Asp. When Providence is pleased to thwart our mea. sures, or defeat our endeavours, to bring us under the cloud of disgrace, or lay upon us the rod of affliction; what is our behaviour? I)o we bow our heads in humble resignation ? Do we open our mouths in thankful acknowledgments 2 Observe the waters in that elegant octangular basin; they assimilate themselves with the utmost readiness, and with equal exactness to the vessel that contains them. So would the human will, if it were not extremely froward and foolish, conform itself to the divine; which is unerringly wise, and of all possible contingencies incomparably the best." Yet
Donyory Isa. xxvi. 7. Not—" The way of the just is uprightness; this sense, in the present connexion, is hardly consistent with humility, is by no means É to introduce à devotional address to the great Jehovah. er, God's way to the just how apt are we to fret with disquietude, and struggle under afflictive dispensations, as a wild bull in a net! Ther. This is a very imperfect proof, Aspasio, and corresponds only with part of your accusation; we may dislike what is wholesome, especially if it be unpalatable, yet not be fond of our bane. Asp. Should you see a person who thirsts after the putrid lake, but disrelishes the running fountain; who longs for the empoisoned berries of the nightshade, but abhors the delicious fruit of the orchard, would you applaud the regularity of his appetite I don't wait for your answer; but I more than suspect this is a true picture of all unregenerate people. How do they affect dress and external ornament; but are unwilling rather than desirous, to be ‘clothed with humility,” and ‘to put on Christ!' Amusement will engage, play animate, and diversion fire them; but as to the worship of the living God, O ! ‘what a weariness is it!'t This is attended, if attended at all, with languor and a listless insensibility. Frothy novels and flatulent wit regale their taste, while the marrow and fatness of the divine word are “as their sorrowful meat.’$ What is all this, but to;loathe the salutary and long | for the baneful ?.
is uprightness;' or still more emphatically, “uprightnesses;’ is in all respects irreprovable, excellent, ãomiro; suited, per: suited, to every sacred attribute of wisdom, goodness, and uth# 1 Pet, v. 5, t Rom. xiii. 14. f Mal. i. 13. § Job vi. 7. | The reader may see this o contrast drawn in the strongest colours by o preacher, and by the mourning prophet. “Because I have called, and ye refused : I havé stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof.” What a crowd of words: fmphatically declaring the most incorrigible perverseness, which is proof o: every method of reformation; against all the arts even of divine persuasion. . Prov. 1:24, 25. “ The Host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped.” What a heap of expressions! significantly describing that impetuous ardour which no prohibitions can restrain; and that insatiable avidity, which never knows when to say, “It is enough.” Jer. viii. 2. If I beg leave to add another example of this kind, it is chiefly for the sake of clearing up an obscure passage in the Psalms, which seems to have been mistaken by the authors of both our versions, Pavid, to set forth the barbārous * of his persecutors, says, “They wander up and down;’ they pry into every corner, they search the city, and examine the country : Let me, from the same comparison, propose one question more, which may be applicable both to the will and to the understanding. Should you hear of another person, the state of whose stomach was so disposed, that it turned the most nourishing food into phlegm, and derived matter of disease from the most sovereign supports of health; what would you think of his constitution ? Ther. I should certainly think it very much distempered. - - Asp. Without the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our souls turn every occurrence into an increase of their sinful depravity. Our very table is a snare, and, instead of exciting us to gratitude, is a provocative to gluttony. How difficult is it, when we flow in plenty, not to be elated; when we are pressed with poverty, not to repine ! Have we business in the world? it cumbers our thoughts, or tempts us to avarice. Have we no business to manage 2 we sink into sloth, and settle on the lees of voluptuousness. If our schemes are prosperous, it is odds but they attach us to the interests of time ; if they prove unsuccessful, we too often are chagrined with the disappointment, and sin against meekness. Even the holy commandment, instead of restraining sin or producing obedience, irritates the inbred depravity, and renders it more restless, more impetuous, more ungovernable.* Those very things which should have been for our welfare (so malignant and raging is our corruption), are converted into an occasion of falling. Ther. The will is under no necessity of misemploying her powers; she is free to act in this manner or in that, and if a spendthrift, is not a slave. Asp. In actions which relate to the animal economy,
55N5 not for meat; which in this connexion is a sense quite
foreign to the subject, and very jejune indeed; but to devour, to devour me the destined victim of their rage. And if they aré
not satisfied, if they cannot compass their design by day, **)
they will grudge No; but they will continue all night in the prosecution of their É. ose. Neither cold nor darkness can retard them; neither hardships nor dangers can divert them; but their attempts are as indefatigable as their malice is implacable, Psal, lix. 15.
- * * Rom, Wii. 8. -
the will is unquestionably free; she can contract the forehead into a frown, or expand it with a smile. In the ordinary affairs of life she is under no controul ; we can undertake or decline a journey, carry on or discontinue an employ, just as we please. In the outward acts of religion also, the will is her own mistress; we can read the word of God, or go to the place of divine worship without any extraordinary aid from above. But in matters which are more intimately connected with our salvation, the case is different: here, as our Liturgy expresses it, “we are tied and bound with the chain of our sins.” Would you have a person delight himself in the Lord, take pleasure in devotion, set his affections on things above? all this is both his duty and his happiness; but alas! “He is alienated from the life of God.” His inclinations gravitate quite the contrary way; his will is in the condition of that distressed woman, who was “bowed down with a spirit of infirmity, and could in no wise lift up herself.” Corruption, like a strong bias, influences, or rather, like a heavy mountain, oppresses his mind. Neither can he shake off the propensity, or struggle away from the load; until grace, almighty grace, interposes for his release. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there and there alone is liberty;'t that sacred and glorious liberty, which is not the common privilege of all men, but the high prerogative of the children of God. Would you have a person apply to the great Re. deemer; apply with a real ardour of desire, as Bartimaeus of old, or the Syrophaenician mother ? his will is like the withered arm, cannot stretch forth itself to the all-gracious Saviour; cannot hunger and thirst after his everlasting righteousness and infinite merit, till the Saviour himself speaks power into the enfeebled, the perverted faculty. If you think otherwise, try the experiment; persuade men to this necessary practice; urge the most weighty arguments; devise the most pathetic expostulations; let zeal summon all her force, and rhetoric employ all her art. Without being a prophet, I dare venture to foretel the issue; disappoint* Luke xiii. 11. t 2 Cor. iii. 17.
ments, repeated disappointments, will convince you that our divine Master knew what he said, when he solemnly declared, “No man can come to me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.” Our church, in conformity to this and other Scriptures, has taught us to pray, ‘Turn thou us, O good Lord,' for nothing but thy omnipotent agency is capable of doing it, “ and so shall we be turned.” Ther. Are we slaves then Will Christianity send us to seek our brethren in the mines or in the galleys? Asp. Christianity does not send, but find us there; there, or in a worse slavery.t. It is doubtless a most abject state to wear the yoke and truckle in chains; yet such, I apprehend, is the state of our minds by na ture. To prove this, we need not go down to the lowest ranks of life. These, you might say with the prophet, “are poor; these are foolish; they have not known the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. I will get me therefore to the great men,’t and examine their disposition. Have you not known persons of the greatest intrepidity and firmest resolution hurried away by their lusts, as “a rolling thing before the whirlwind?' Perhaps they were bold enough to face danger and defy the sword in the field of battle, yet were no more able to withstand the wanton allurements of beauty, or the soft solicitations of pleasure, than the moth can forbear fluttering about the flame, even though it singes her
* John yi. 44. It is not said, the Father drives, but draws; not by violent, irrational, compulsive means, but by clear conviction, sweet persuasion, and inducements suited to a reason. able being. Those are the cords of a beast, these of a man; so that we are notacted upon as clock-work, or influenced as mere machines, but made willing in the day of his power, Psal. cx. 3.
t St. Paul says of Christians, and reckons himself in the number, that naturally they served (not 8takovovvreg, but ÖovXevov rec, were absolute slaves to) divers lusts and pleasures. Tit. iii. 3. The whole verse is very remarkable, and nothing can be more opposite to Aspasio's purpose. It shews us what they were by nature, who through grace became living images of the blessed
od. This mortifying doctrine is often acknowledged by our church. Thus begins one of her o: supplications : “Almighty God who alone canst order the . wilis and affections of sinful man.” It seems we cannot determine our own wills, nor regulate our own affections. What is this but bondage? ! Jer. v. 4, 5. §lsa. Yvii. 13.