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Thirdly, Such as when they use right means, endeavour but by halves, and do not go thorow with it.
1. ' I say, they who complain most of the impossibility of doing their Duty, are such as never try and endeavour it, and take least Pains for it.
Ņothing is so common with men, as to pretend-they cannot do, what they have no mind to do. Thus it is in daily Instances of common Life ;a sluggish Servant cannot go thro' with a painful work; a half Friend cannot perform a troublesome, and costly part of Friendship; and a man in Power or Business ; cannot do some Offices, or shew some Favours, which are desired of him : They cannot, i.e. they will not do them; they want not the power and opportunity if they would, but only the Will and readiness to make use of it. And thus it is in Religion allo. Men pretend the keeping God's Commands to be an impossible Task, when they do not believe it ; or believe it impossible without making a. ny attempt, and before they have had any tryal of it; paffing a Judgment not from what they feel, but only from what they fansie in it. They have a mind
to spare their own pains about it; or
But now when this is the Cafe, as it
dustry, as well as of his Bounty: Whence we are bid to turn our selves from all our tranfgreffons, Ezek. 18. 30, 32. as well as to pray to God, That he would turn us, Jer. 31. 18. and to work out our own Salvation, for this reason, because God worketh in us, Phil. 2. 12, 13.
If men never endeavour then, but only complain, it is not possible for them to obey and please God, more than to gain an Art, or get a Livelihood, or perform any other thing that requires their own Care and diligent Application; but if they will take the way of Industry, and instead of complaining they cannot obey, endeavour to obey the best they can, which is in their own power, and very possible to be done, They will see all the Fansied impossibilities fly before their Pains, and go on successfully throʻGod's Grace, strengthning them,and this Course would soon take the great. eft" part of these Complainers off our hands; there being none ordinarily fo forward to complain of the impossibility of obeying, as they who are most negligent and careless, and least of all endeavour to obey.
But if any of those complain they cannot obey God's Laws, who do endeavour it: They are,
2. Generally such as endeavour wrong, without using those fit means, which should make them obedient. The means and instruments of Duty, are the way that leads us to the performance of it ; and in these it concerns us much to be careful, what Choice we make if we pursue any Vertue, without the use of any means at all ; that is, as if we should set our selves to the dispatch of any bufiness with our hands behind us ; and if we use improper and unsuitable ones, like men who labour with ill Instruments in any Craft, we shall make but rugged work, and find that too to prove very toilfome and difficult ; and after much time and Pains is spent, see but a very little Fruit of all. The means of Vertue are, as I say, the way to it: And therefore, there is much depends upon the means we use, when we would be vertuous, as upon the way we take, when we would travel to any Town or Place; we may go the straight Road to it, and that brings us thither in a short time, and without being much wearied ; but if either we take a contrary path, or go much about, we shall spend much more time, and be much more tyred in going; yea forced, perhaps, at last to sit down thort of our Journeys-end.: And
And this now is an ordinary fault of those Complainers, who endeavour to s obey without Success, and cannot com
pass any Vertue, tho' they do take Pains for it. The reason why they fail, is because they are not well directed, and their Labour is not wisely manag’d, and laid out in the use of such means, and in the practice of such Rules, as are moft, proper and likely to gain the Point, and introduce the Vertue which they wanted.
To illustrate this by fome Instances; one man is of an irritable hafty Temper; and he complains that he has striven, but is not able to bridle and conquer his Passion; he labours, and doth what he can
but such is the distracting Variety of his business, the Crossness or Carelesness of those he is concern'd with, or the number of his Provocations one way or other, that notwithstanding all his Care, his Passion is still too strong for him.
But I would ask that Person, who says his Labour is lost, whether he advised well upon what he did, and took the ready, and the right way to this Conquest? Has he for instance, besides his earnest Prayers to God for Grace to ma