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- shame.” 1 “ Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered “ for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same " mind.”2
These and many similar texts speak of far more than a little exertion.' Striving, wrestling, labouring, running without weariness, self-denial, perseverance in well-doing, are indispensible, in order boldly to confess the faith of Christ cruci'fied, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil; and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant 'unto our life's end.'3 Now because these things are indispensable, and because we have no strength ' in ourselves to do any thing as of ourselves;' we are the more earnest in maintaining, that“ it is “ God who worketh in us both to will and to do;" that they who regard our instructions may know both where to place their whole dependence, and to whom the whole glory of the victory, if obtained, must at last be given.— Because the ' frailty of man, without thee, cannot but fall, ' keep us by thy help from all things hurtful, ' and lead us to all things profitable to our salva• tion.'
It is seriously to be apprehended, that they who speak at one time as if a limited, or comparatively small, communication of grace from God, would be sufficient; and at another, that a little exertion is all that is wanting ; are not fully aware of the power of those enemies, which must either be conquered by us, or destroy us everlastingly.
'Heb. xii. 1, 2.
: Office of Baptism. VOL. VII.
1 Pet. iv. 1.
If this be not duly appreciated, we shall go forth, like Samson when God had left him, and his own exertion failed him, only to be baffled and conquered, and taken captive at the will of our enemy. But, if we count our cost, and consider both what must be effected, and in what manner; and whence all our help must come; we shall “ be
strong in the Lord, and in the power of his
might; able to stand in the evil day, and having “done all to stand," maintain our ground, gain the victory, possess the crown, and say, “ Not unto
us, not unto us, but to thy name be the glory;" “Not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
* Truly we are the cause of evils to ourselves, ' from not being willing to make a little exertion. * For those who have been willing have all acted rightly; and they have acted rightly with great spirit and ease.'1
The expression which has been considered, was no slip of Chrysostom's pen, but a favourite with him; and therefore it is used repeatedly. That man, however, whether Calvinist or Anticalvinist, who teaches that either a little grace or a little exertion is sufficient, in this point deceives the souls of those who listen to him. So long as men suppose, that whenever they wish, or choose a little ex'ertion' will effect all that is needful for salvation; they are tempted to defer an unpleasant work (as repentance must appear to them,) till “ a more « convenient season." But, when deeply convinced that “it is God who worketh in us to will
“and to do;" and that they ought“ to work out “ their own salvation with fear and trembling ;" yea, that they must do it or perish for ever; and when instructed, that God often punishes men for hardening their hearts, and sinning against the dictates of their consciences, and “ quenching the “ Holy Spirit,” by giving them up to be finally, hardened; they are led to see things in a far different light. Thus they are frequently brought to recollect and use such prayers as they meet with in the scriptures : “Turn thou me, and I “shall be turned; heal me, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved.” They are excited to attend to the call, “ To-day, if
To-day, if ye will “ hear his voice, harden not your hearts ;” and to
fear, lest a promise being left of entering into “ the heavenly rest, they should seem to come “short of it.” Simple dependence on divine grace, fervent prayers, and vigorous exertions result from these views and prayers, and the most happy consequences follow.
I do not say that Calvinists, in general, insist on these points so fully as the holy scriptures do: but the fault is not theirs exclusively : Iliacos intra muros peccatur et extra: and I shall be equally rejoiced to induce Calvinists to reexamine this point accurately, that they may be more scriptural in their exhortations and addresses to their hearers; as to convince Anticalvinists that such exhortations are not inconsistent with our principles. Surely, however, few Calvinists, and fewer in proportion of those called ' evange‘lical clergymen,' would be satisfied to call their hearers, in Chrysostom's manner, to' a little ex
ertion,'? to do a little,' in a concern of immense difficulty and infinite importance : and, as for those who would be thus satisfied, let them plead for themselves; for I think them fairly deserving of the severest censures which the opponents of Calvinism can bring against them.
Even the prayers, by which assistance from God must be sought and obtained, require something far beyond ' a little exertion.'
“ Praying “ always with all prayer and supplication, and
watching thereunto with all perseverance.”) “ Continue (Tipoonaprepeīts) in prayer, and watch in “ the same with thanksgiving." Always la“.bouring fervently for you in prayer.' Our Lord“ being in an agony prayed more earnestly."3 Concerning this especially, the apostle writes, “ Who in the days of his flesh, when he had of“ fered up prayers and supplications, with strong
crying and tears, unto him that was able to save .him from death, and was heard in that he “ feared." 4. It is generally thought that there is in this a reference to the language of Hosea concerning Jacob, “He had power with the angel, “ and prevailed; he wept and made supplication “ unto him:"5 and this evidently relates to Jacob's wrestling and prevailing, as recorded by Moses. 6 This however is certain, that the scripture every where speaks of “ effectual fervent prayer,” as striving, wrestling, “ lifting up the heart unto “God,” and “ pouring out the soul before him :" and, when “we pray by the Spirit,” “the Spirit
Eph. vi. 18. * Heb. v. 7.
. Col. iv. 2, 12.
* Luke xxii. 44.
“ himself maketh intercession for us, with groan
ings which cannot be uttered.”] All combines to show that true prayer implies vigorous exertion, and that there are obstacles, from within or from without, which cannot otherwise be surmounted. Now he who puts forth, as it were, all the energy of his soul in prayer, especially for assistance and direction from God, for deliverance and victory, by his grace, over sin and temptation, is not likely to be satisfied without following up his prayers, with vigorous efforts, in every other way.
« One “ thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek “after.”2_This, however, may introduce another topic belonging to the general subject.
On Prayer for Ourselves and for Others.
The importance of prayer, supplication, and intercession, public, social, and private, in the whole plan and design of Christianity, is too generally allowed to require any particular proof in this place: neither is the explication of its nature, effects, and tendency, the subject of the present work. I therefore introduce it, only so far as it is connected with our present argument.
It appears to me, as it has done to many others before me, that prayer for spiritual blessings, and intercession for others, especially for the unconverted, cannot be consistently offered from any other principles, than those which are now gener
Rom. viii. 26.
? Ps. xxvii. 4.