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theirs had fallen from the womb of the morning as the dew, Micah v. 7. And 3, the multitude of converts who are Christ's youth, or young men being born again.
DOCTRINE. That Christ hath a people in the world that shall be willing in the day of his power, cordially submitting to him. I shall,
I. Touch at that corruption of the will, with which Christ finds his people, as well as others possessed.
II. Speak of the willingness of the soul submitting to Christ.
I. I am to touch at that corruption of the will, with which Christ finds his people, as well as others possessed, when he comes in a day of power.
1. There is a weakness in their will, they cannot will what is spiritually good and acceptable to God. They cannot produce one act of the will that is holy, till grace change their wills, no more than a dead man can produce his own resurrection. For we are by nature without strength. "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." They may with the foolish virgins, Matt. xxv. will grace, but they do but desire it in a carnal manner.
2. An aversion to good. We are naturally backward, and therefore must be drawn. How unwilling is the fish to be drawn out of its element into another, so are we to leave our own ways. "Yo will not come to me," saith Jesus, "that ye might have life."
3. There is a proneness to evil, a woful bent of the will carrying it to sin. "My people," says God, "are bent to backsliding from me." Hence they are mad upon their idols. Place Christ and the devil, life and death, duty and sin, before them, leave the will to itself, it will naturally run to the evil, as the water runs down a steep place.
4. There is a contrariety in the will, to the will of God. cause the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Hence it is enough for us in this state to will any thing, that God forbids it. Even the heathen confessed that men were disposed to desire unlawful things, and to rush upon things forbidden. Strip sin naked of all profit and pleasure that may attend it, yet the sinner will court sin for its own sake.
5. There is contumacy in it, the will is wilful or obstinate in evil. The man will not be turned, though he should run upon the sword point of vengeance. "Cast away from you all your trans
gressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel." Unrenewed sinners, like the Leviathan, "count darts as stubble, and laugh at the shaking of the spear." Yea, they say, in opposition to the curse, "we shall have peace, though we walk in the imagination of our heart, to add drunkenness to thirst."
This is that corruption which we have derived from Adam, by whose fall all the faculties of our souls were corrupted and distorted and our will in particular made wholly the devil's captive, not to be delivered but by a day of power.
We now proceed :
II. To speak of the willingness of the soul submitting to Christ. "Thy people shall be willing." What a wonderful change is this! The same soul that was unwilling before, is now willing. What makes the change? They are made, they do not make themselves willing. The Lord changes their wills, takes away the evil qualities of their will, and gives new qualities. "A new heart also," says he, "will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh; and I will give you an heart of flesh." Thus the power of God infallibly determines their wills; yet not blindly, but so as they see what most reasonably should turn the balance in their choice. For, in every step God deals with them as rational creatures, giving them a peculiar illumination to proceed. We shall particularize and illustrate this, by shewing what they are now willing to do, and how this willingness in every step is produced. 1. They are willing to part with sin. "C 'Ephraim shall say, what have I any more to do with idols." They were never more willing to swallow the sweet morsel, than now they are to part with it. Their hearts were glued to their idols, now a day of power melts the glue, and the soul is content to part with sin, cursing the day that ever they met. The soul that held fast sin and refused to let it go, would give a world to be quit of it. Never was there a man that had drunk a cup of poison, that would more willingly have vomited it, than such a soul would now part with sin.
Now, how comes this wonderful change? Surely the man is made willing. There must needs be a power there, to make the man loath above all things, what before he loved above all things. This is plain, if you consider that the man was joined to his idols, and unable to turn from them. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ?" Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. His sin was so rooted in his heart before, that no threatenings, no promises could separate him and it. Surely it must
be strong wind that rends the rocks, and lays the tall cedars upon the ground; and since he is willing to part with sin, surely he hath seen and felt something, which he did not see nor feel before. Yes,
He hath felt an uneasiness of conscience rising from the guilt of his sin. Sin hath become uneasy to him, and begun to work and sting him. Like Peter's hearers, he is now pricked in his heart. Unless the soul were ript up, how would it thus as it were cast forth its bowels. This uneasiness hath become intolerable. "A wounded spirit who can bear." His bosom beloved has been very troublesome, or why would he cast it out?
He hath also seen something in God, which he never saw before. The man would never have been willing to have parted with sin, unless he had seen happiness locked up in the enjoyment of God, and that sin separates him from that God, and will separate him from him for evermore if retained. But the soul sees itself lost and undone without God, and he is sure that he is liable to his wrath and curse for it, and is not able to abide with everlasting burning, or dwell in devouring flames.
2. They are willing to go out of themselves, to be divorced from their first husband the law; to cast off all confidence in their attainments and duties; to come to Christ stript naked and empty, with nothing in them or on them to recommend them to him but misery Their language is, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.”
Naturally we take the myself alone. The co
Now surely there must be power here. spider's motto, each, saying, I am indebted to venant of works is engrained in our natures. Work and gain, do and live, is the first principle of all Adam's posterity. They were bred merchants, and they are ashamed to beg: and though their stock is gone, yet they will rather drive a trade of small wares than none at all. Coming out of our own righteousness is a death, a dying to a husband. My brethren," says Paul, "ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Does the spider sweep away its own web, which it spins out of its own bowels? Does a mother cast out the fruit of her own womb? or will a loving wife put herself to death, that she may be free of her husband. And so we are made dead to the law, as it is in the original. And therefore the willing soul sees that the best of their duties cannot procure the favour of God. Is. lxiv. 6, 7; Phil. iii. They see the emptiness and worthlessness of all they do. Hence they cannot but loath themselves as for their sins, so for their duties.
They see and feel an obsolute need of the Lord Jesus Christ and his righteousness. The person finds he is sick, and therefore needs a physician; that he is naked, his fig leaves will not cover him, and therefore the Lord God must make him a garment, "even a white raiment that he may be clothed, and the shame of his nakedness not appear."
He sees also, that he hath nothing in him, or about him to recommend him to Christ. Many spoil all, by thinking they have something that cannot but engage Christ to take their cause in hand, as their tears, prayers, repentance, deeds of charity. But the truly willing soul takes David's plea, Ps. xxv. 11. And comes as he is invited, without money, that he may take the water of life freely; lest he should meet with the entertainment of Simon Magus, and hear it said, "thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."
He sees, moreover, that God and Christ should do him no wrong, though he should not be accepted, but be suffered to perish. He will say with the centurion, "I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof." He will justify God come of himself what will, Ps. li. 4. And thus if the soul should meet with a disappointment it will leave its complaint upon itself. And upon the back of any refusal will say, "true and righteous are thy judgments, O Lord."
3. They are willing to take Christ as their Saviour, and to submit to his righteousness. God proposeth in the gospel a spiritual marriage betwixt his Son and sinners, Matth. xxii. Most men refuse the offer, but the willing soul heartily consents to the bargain and makes Christ its choice for all, instead of all, and above all; and takes him for a husband, as the captive woman marries the conqueror. The soul is well content to venture its salvation upon this bottom alone, Phil. iii. 9. To appear before God in the garment of his righteousness, to seek life in his death, and healing only in his wounds.
Now there must be a power to make the soul thus willing. Every man naturally is an enemy to Christ, and therefore as long as the soul can make any shift it will not come; there must be a drawing power; yea, such a power as wrought in Christ, when God by his mighty power raised him from the dead. The soul being thus willing it follows,
That such a soul hath seen a transcendant excellency in the Lord Jesus Christ. It hath seen him to be the pearl of great price. Sometimes like others, they said to the Christian, what is thy beloved more than another beloved? But surely now they see a beauty in him that captivates their hearts and makes their souls love him.
The veil covering, or face covering is taken away, and their eyes see the king in his beauty; a beauty that dazzles their eyes, that darkens all created glory, as the rising sun makes the stars disappear.
They have got also a satisfying view and discovery of the continuance of salvation through a crucified Saviour, else their souls could not acquiesce in it. The mystery of Christ is folly to the natural man when he comes near to look on it, but the willing soul gets another sort of a discovery of it, "determines to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." You know the world's opinion of the mystery of Christ crucified. "It was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness." And that still remains true. "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Christ." Two things made the world stumble at the gospel way of salvation. Its supposed unsuitableness to the divine perfections, this is the bane of the Jews, Socinians and others. Its supposed unsuitableness to the case of men, this stumbled the heathens. To expect life from one crucified seemed a most gross absurdity to them. All natural men are in the dark as to this still, therefore they reject him. And therefore I conclude that the man that is made willing has got a view of the suitableness of this contrivance to the divine perfections. They have seen in it the manifold wisdom of God. Men that are not careful about their souls will venture them on they know not what; but a man that is in earnest about salvation, will never venture it on that bottom that is not made of God for that end. The man sees he hath to do with a God that is wise, just, and powerful, as well as merciful: therefore as no man will venture to sea in a ship that cannot hold out water, so the soul in earnest cannot venture unless it see the plan suitable to the wisdom, justice, and power of God. To such "Christ is the power of God, and the
wisdom of God."
He hath also got a view of its suitableness to his own case. Men that see the worth of their souls will not take a remedy at random for their perishing souls, lest it be found poison instead of medicine. Wherefore the soul looking about in the day of distress, and finding nothing in the world but miserable comforters, Christ discovers himself to that soul, and the soul seeing his suitableness resolves to venture here as upon one able to save, and every way fitted for their needs. Matth. xiii. 45, 46.
4. The soul is willing to take on the yoke of Christ's commandments. Its language is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Having fled from the fiery law on Sinai, he is content to stand at Zion, and receive the same commands. He is willing to stoop and