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Adam, but the super-induced Grace of Christ, which aids and strengthens him. In that forlorn state, wherein Adam's fin left all mankind, subject to strong Lusts, surrounded with numerous and powerful Temptations, and stript of all Divine aids, and super-natural Assistances, they all lay open to be made a prey, and were easie to be overcome. But since Chrift has been the restorer of the World, and recover'd more Grace and Strength for us than ever Adam forfeited ; they are again enabled to withstand Temptations, and perform all Duties unto God, even those which seem to have most hardship in them. I know both how to be abased, or live meanly, and how to abound in Honour and Plenty, every where, and in all places, I am instructed both to be full without forgetting God, and to be hungry without reping at him; both to abound, and still be humble and temperate, and to suffer need, and at the same time praise and trust God, and rest contented ; I can do all things thro' Christ that strengthens me, Verse 12, 13.
Bý this performance of all Duties, we are not to understand such a perfection of Obedience to them, as is intermixed with no Escapes; for so Christ doth not
enable any of his Servants in this World, no not St. Paul himself. To live without all sin is not to be expected from any mortal man, but only from the strength of an Angel, or ajust Soul made perfect in Heaven. Some sins of ignorance, or forgetfulness, hast and surprize, such as Paul's Speech to Ananias, Acts 23. 3. will adhere to the best men whilst they have earthly Bodies about them : And Christ, who being in our Nature has à fellow-feeling of all our Infirmities, when he comes to sit as our Judge will make fair allowances for them, Heb. 5.2.
But it implies such a perfection of Qbedience, as admits of no damning Sins, that is, of no fins which are wilfully in curred, against knowledge, or it may be against Checks and loud
Alarms of Conscience; and which are also persisted in without true Repentance, and Amendment of the same. These fins deprive us of the favour of God, and destroy a Soul; and therefore, Christ must strengthen men against all these, before he proves a Saviour to them. And this strength St. Paul says he found, as all other Christians will, who will make the Experiment as he did, and not be wanting to themselves, or fail to make use of it. D3
Tho' they will not be strengthned against all involuntary surprizes; yet, if they are as careful to employ this Grace as Christ is ready to afford it, they will be strengthned against all wilful Breaches of any Commandments, or at least against all impenitent continuance in the fame, when at any time they have wilfully broken any. I can do all things thró Christ that strengthens me.
My design from these words, is to show that the Grace of Christ is ready to enable all Christians to obey his Laws; who are not wanting in their own Care and good Endeavours. He earnestly defires the Obedience of men, and affords them aid sufficient to help it on : So that no Christian can ever fail to do his Duty, but thro' his own fault, when he either neglects, or rejects that Help and Grace, which our Saviour Christ holds out to him.
Indeed the great excufe which disobedient men are wont to make for themfelves is, that they would do better if they knew liow to do it, and are therefore only ill, because they cannot help it. They would plead impotence in themselves, and impracticable heights, and impossibilities in God's Commands mnents. And if this were true as it
is most false, it would be a serviceable Plea indeed, and excuse them both for being ill, and also for being idle: for if they cannot avoid being disobedient, why should they be blamed for it? And if they are not able to obey, do what they can, why should they throw away their Pains in vain Attempts and fruitlefly endeavour after it? There is neither Duty, nor Discretion in attempting impor fibilities, and labouring after that which is not to be done : so that if Obedience were impossible, every man might as innocently, and much more wisely, difobey at first, as at last, when he has stri. ven in vain against it ; and it ought not to be censured as the fault of his Choice, but pitied as his invincible misfortune.
Now as for this impotence,and impofLibility of performing all Duties, it is often pleaded by those, who seem willing and desirous to perform them. And in regard it gives some Colour to this complaint, because we hear it from those
; who have tryed the Hardship, and so from their own Experience are best able to judge of it, and who express a Goodwill for their Duty, and so may be prefumed to complain of nothing but what they find. In treating of this Subject, I shall,
First, Remove the prejudice which lies against this Power of obeying, from these Complaints, by showing what is wanting in these Complainers.
Secondly, Shew that among Christians,
there is no cause for such Complaints, and that they will be strengthned to the performance of all Duties, if they are not wanting to themselves.
Thirdly, That this performance is so far from being an impossible Task, that 'tis nor extreme Difficult, when men set to it in earnest.
1. To shew the Power all Christians have, thro' the Grace of Christ enabling them ; of performing all needful Duties, if they are not wanting to themselves; I shall remove the prejudice which lies against it from these Complaints, by Thewing what is wanting in these Complainers.
Now in pursuit of this lobserve, that they who complain of the impossibility of doing their Duty, are either
First, Such as only complain, but never try and endeavour it. Or,
Secondly, Such as endeavour wrong, without using those fit means, which fhould make them obedient. Or,