Page images

disorder in their course, but it was in obedience to a particular will of God. And thus they cast us a fair copy of doing the will of God on earth.

2. By the angels of heaven. These glorious fpirits, attendants of the great King, are obedient to the pod of their Maker, and fall in with every the least intimation of his will, Psal. ciii. 2 1. They do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Though they excel in sirength, they entertain not the least thought of disputing his orders, ver. 20. They never put in an exception against the meanest piece of service that God puts in their hands, but are well content to minister unto worm man, Heb. i. ult. Are they not all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister for them who Jhall be heirs of salvation? They never use any fhifts or offputs in the doing of his will; but when he speaks the word, it is done by them; the orders are readily and chearfully complied with. Thus they also caft us a fạir copy of doing the will of God, a copy of rational obedience. The faints in heaven do his will also after the fame manner, Rev. vii. 5. having got a full answer of this petition as to themselves,

III. I shall now shew what is the import of this petition ; both with respect to the will of God's command, and his will of providence,

First, I am to fhew the import of this petition with reference to the will of God's command. It imports something confeffed, professed, and desired.

First, Something confeffed. The children of God coming to him with this petition, confess, that,

1. The will of God is not done on earth as it is in heaven. There is no question but that all men on earth are obliged to do it with the same perfection as those in heaven do it, Matth. v. ult. Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. But alas! it is not done. God has given men on earth his com, mands, and notified his will to then ; but it is not complied with. Though the higher world abides to this

[ocr errors]

day in obedience to its Maker, yet the frame of the lower rational world is quite marred and unhinged. Though above there is a perfect calm, yet below a most unnatural rebellion is raised and contiued, so that it is a region of disorder and confusion.

ill, Molt men make their own will and not God's their law, and the rule of their actions, Rom. viii. 7. The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not Subject ta the law of God, neither indeed can be. All unregenerate men have thaken off the yoke of fubjection to God, and instead of serving God; serve diverse lufts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. If at any time they fall in with what is materially the will of God, they do it not because it is God's will, but because it is their own, and serves their own ends, as the Pharisees did in their almfgiving and prayers, &c. Matth. vi. 1.

2 dly, The best men carry the yoke of subjection to the will of God very unevenly, Gal. v. 17. Though they are sincere, they are far from being perfect in doing the will of God. Their own will carries them afide in many things : though they sincerely delign the shore for Immanuel's land, they keep not a straight course. The wind of temptations, and their own unruly passions, oft-times blows them aside, so that they are in hazard of splitting on the rocks.

2. There is in all men naturally an utter indisposition and unfitness for the will of God's command. There was a sweet harmony betwixt the will of God and the powers of man's foul at first, Eccl. vii. 29. but that is gone. Sın has broken the concord, and marred the harmony, so that there is a fad jarring betwixt the two now. They are indisposed,

if, For knowing it, for discerning what the will of God is, 1 Cor. ii. 14. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them ; because they are Spiritually discerned. Sin has raised a mist, so that the travellers cannot know the way, but are apt to chuse by-paths of destruction in tead of the King's high-way;

to call evil good, and good evil; to put bitter for sweet, and fweet for bitter.

2dly, For doing it, Pfal. xiv. 3. There is none that doth good, no not one. They are bunglers at that work, at best. They have lost the holy art of going by that rule. They have no skill of steering their course to the shore of Immanuel's land. Man naturally is under a threefold indisposition to it.

(1.) An inability to know or do the will of God. He has no head for it, i Cor. ii. 14. just above quo. ted. Like Samson we have loft our two eyes in that point. The gospel is a doctrine of mysteries, that requires a faving illumination to unfteritand it,'i. 17. Even the law itself in its fpirituality is not discerned without a new light from the Lord, Rom. vii. 9. And we have no hands for it neither, Joha xv. 5. 2 Cor. iii. 5. It is above our natural reach.

(2.) An unwillingness to know or do it. As we have neither head nor hand for it, so we have no heart for it neither, till a day of power change our hearts, Pfal. cx. 3. And hence it is that the truths of God which are practical are neglected, as not defired, Job xxi. 14. And when they force their entryinto the head, they are held prisoners there, that they may not exert their efficacy in the heart, Rom. i. 18. And much more unwilling are we to do it, Hof. iv. 16. Israel sideth back, as a backsliding heifer.

(3.) A bias in the will to the wrong side, a bent and propensity to follow our own will, and the lufts of our own heart. Pfal. xiv. 1. There is no God, is the language of every man's heart by nature. They would set up themselves for their own rule and their own end, and contend with their Maker for the fove. reignty, that it should be according to their own will with them, and not according to his. Again, it imports,

Secondly, Something professed. The children of God coming to their Father with this profession, profess,


1. It is the grief of their hearts, that God's will is not done by theinfelves or others, as it is done in hea. ven, Matth. xxi. 29. Psal. cxix. 136. A gracious person has the law written in his heart. He knows it, and esteems it to be righteous in all things, the doing of it to be both one's duty and interest, Pfal. cxix. 128. The heart inclines to the doing of it, though corruption and temptation drive him by it, Gal. v. 17. Hence proceeds forrow of heart, that it is not done.

2. That God, by the power of his grace, is able to reform this, and to frame the fouls of men on earth to the doing his will, as in heaven, Prov. xxi. I. He can new-frame mens will, give it a new bent of conformity to his own, and fix it too therein, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. So they put their own and others hearts in God's hand, that he may set them in a way of obedience, Psal. cxix. 36. Ic imports also,

Thirdly, Something desired. And there are two things here desired of God by all the saints.

1. That he would by his grace remove from them. selves and others all fpiritual blindness, , and cause them to know liis will, Eph. i. 17, 18. There can be no doing of God's will, without first knowing wliat it is, Rom. xiv. ult. For suppose one to do what God requires, who yet does not know that he requires it, it is plain that one in such a case does it, not be cause it is the will of God, but because it is his own. There is a natural blindness in all, and the remains of it are in the regenerate. This hides the will of God from them in many particulars, and so hinders them from doing it. But the children of God desire to know it in all things.

This desire to know the will of God is a mark of sincerity, if it be attended with these two properties.

(1.) If it be universal, if the foul really delire to know the whole will of God, Rom. vii. 22. not only fome Ihreds of the law, but the whole law, Pial. cxix. 6. Hypocrites may desire to know fome parts

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of God's will, which are most agrecable to their own ends and inclinations. But happy they whose souls are opened to receive the intimations of the divine. will in all things.

(2.) If it be practical, if they desire to know his whole will, that they may conform themselves to it, Psal. ciii. 18. There may be a desire of the knowledge of God's will for (peculation, to know it for the sake of knowledge, which may be found in the ungodly. But to desire the knowledge of it for the sake of practice, is a mark of sincerity.

Such a desire is a sure mark; because,

[1.] It evidences a heart reconciled to the whole will of God, Heb. viii. •10. Tlie unrenewed heart is never fo reconciled, Rom. viii. 7.

And therefore, fince they have no inclination to let in the whole law into their heart, they do what they can to keep it out of their heads, and are willingly ignorant of what they are unwilling to practise, Job xxi. 14.

[2.] It evidences a heart ready to part with every known fin, with any thing whatsoever upon the discovery of its contrariety to the will of God, Pfal.

It is an evidence of an honeit heart to be content to be searched, Pfal. cxxxix. 23.; but those who harbour deceit, will be unwilling to let in the discovering light, Jer. ix. 6.

2. That God by his grace would remove from themselves and others all weakness, indisposition, and perverseness, and cause them to obey and do his will, as it is done in heaven, Psal. cxix. 35. So this delire extends to,

(1.) The removal of the impediments of dutiful obedience to the will of God. The children of God are sensible of the obligation iying on all to conform to the will of God in all things; but withal, that there

xix. 12.

is in them,

[1.] A weakness obftructing their obedience, which they would fain have removed, Eph. iii. 16. The weak knees, the feeble hands, fail them when they VOL. III.

3 X

« PreviousContinue »