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trary to wonder, that God who foresaw all this, should entertain a thought of favour towards him? God, as free, without need on his part, or merit on ours, worketh in any of us sinners, of his own good pleasure.
(2.) Where he works, he works arbitrarily, and is under no obligation to wait on those that neglect or resist his spirit, but may desist when he pleaseth. The spirit, like the wind, bloweth where, and on whom, and for what time it listeth: if we will not set in with it, we have no security of its continued influence. God by his spirit may withdraw,and leave the negligent obstinate sinner when he will. In whomsoever God works, they are to own it a gracious vouchsafement, one to be highly prized, and to labour to improve it j as now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. 'Tis a very bright and desireable time, that wherein God works; but it may be soon at an end. God fays, to day if ye will hear my voice, harden not your hearts; and he hath not promised, that he will wait for our resolutions till to morrow. He has given us no assurance, that if so much as one motion of his spirit be baffled and quenched, we shall have a second. 'Tis beyond desert, if God works at all; and we have no reason to be secure as presuming he will work on, whether we regard him Or not: Wherefore, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God that ivorketb in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
This leads us to the
V. Head, namely, the force of the reason from
God's working in us to will and to do, and this
of his good pleasure, to engage us to work out our
Jalvationt and to do it with fear and trembling.
1. What reason have we from God's working in us, to excite ourselves to work out our salvation? 2. And what motive have we to do this with fear and trembling, as he worketh of bis good pleasure f
1. What reason have we from God's working in us, to engage us to work cut our salvation.
The consideration that God worketh in us, should engage to this; as it makes it reasonable, possible, hopeful, and easy.
(1.) Reasonable. Work out your savatiqn ; for it is God that worketh in you: his hand is stretched out to pluck you as brands out of the burning j let it not be overlooked: his presence is vouchsafed to help on the soul to heaven; let it not be slighted. When the merciful God enjoins us to work out our salvation, because he works in us, to sit still, as if we were unconcerned, is at once to oppose his authority, and contemn his grace, and so to cross the end for which it is vouchsafed. How reasonable is my compliance with his command to exert my utmost endeavours in working out my salvation, when I have the encouraging tokens of his presence and influence, ready to dispose me to work, and to work in and with me? When God leads, how fit is it that I should follow, and be ready to act in obedience to his word, under the kind influence and aids of his Spirit? It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do; but in a subserviency to him, our endeavours are required, if ever our salvation is wrought out. It must needs be highly reasonable so work out our salvation, when it is God that is working in us with a greater strength than our own.
(2.) This also makes it possible. Work out your own salvation; and how difficult soever it may jjr D d 3 be,
be, it is enough to carry through all, that God worketh in you, both to will and to do. Were we left to ourselves under the strict command to work out our salvation, the injunction might make us more sensible of our misery, as being unable to perform it; and thereupon lead us to fay, We are wretched apostate creatures, fallen from God, and condemned by him. He hath indeed so far manifested his willingness tofave, that he hathsepforth his Son a propitiation for fin, to satisfy jiiflice, and purchase a tender of life and salvation: but as ever I would he made partaker of this, I am to turn to God by fe [us Christ, receiving him, and giving up myself to him unfeignedly, and without reserve. This 1 am sensible is my duty; but what a wretched impotmcy and disinclination do I find to it? 1 may as soon remove a mountain^ as change the temper of my foul, or turn my heart. This 1 am to offer at; but as yet could never effect by any firength of my own. If this was our cafe, that we of ourselves must work it out, nothing would be left as but despair of obtaining salvation.
But when it is said, Work out your salvation-, for it is God that worketh in you to will and to do, we may take encouragement. The task, tho' too great for us, is possible to the power and grace ready to be engaged with us. Is there any thing jtoo hard for the Lord? Behold his hand is not /hortned that he cannot save, nor is his ear heavy that he cannot hear: he can level mountains, and fill up vallies, and make the way plain to the promised kingdom, for his ransomed ones, whom he is leading thither, by giving them both to will and to do.
(3.) This makes it hopeful. "Work out your
salvation, and work in hope of a blessed issue; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do. What room for despondency when God undertakes the design, begins the work, and is working on, if you do not break off, or put a bar in his way? The out-goings of God are prepared as the morning, that waxeth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. He begins in love, and he is not wont to leave off, if he be not first deserted by you. In working out your salvation, you take the course which God has prescribed; you are in the way with him, and may humbly hope that he will continue with you.
(1.) You are in the way with him, the way he hath appointed, and in which he requires and loves to find his people j and so it is the way of life and salvation, that which tends to it, and which will issue in it. And,
(2.) While you keep in God's way, working in a subserviency to the blessed design you have in view, even your salvation, you may cheerfully depend on in his working in you and with you, and expect his continued presence and growing gracious assistance. You could no do any thing in working out your salvation, but by help from heaven; and, whilst you are humble and watchful, it will not be withdrawn. Your serious thoughts about your salvation, your desires after it, your endeavours to obtain it, are all of them effects and signs of the divine presence: for we are not sufficient of ourselves, as from ourselves, for any thing of this.
Work out your salvation; for it is God that worketh in you, the God of all grace, who deJighteth not in the death of sinners; and therefore is working in you, that you may be saved.
D d 4 He
He is the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-Juffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, &c. Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7. What encouragement does such a name carry with it to such as are working out their salvation, in obedience to his command, and in a dependance upon his grace? O humble fouls, often think, what a God you have to work in and with yon, while you are working put your salvation. And when you find yourselves inclined to this, and engaged in it, do.not entertain a desponding thought, that you shall be left by him, and the work cease arid come to nought: he hath been at the greatest expence and cost already, by giving his Son to purchase salvation j and having laid the foundation of this, it is a pleasure to him to communicate his Spirit and grace to carry it on. They that are faithful and diligent, in working out their salvation* may comfortably work on in hope of its perfection.
(4.) God's working in us should engage us to work, as this makes it easy. How smoothly will the work go on, when grace comes from heaven to lead the foul thither! What is difficult, nay impossible to us, as alone, becomes delightful by help given down from God above. When God draws, the believer runs: and when God works, what should hinder or.obstruct him?
Upon these grounds we are obliged to be working out our salvation, from God's working with us*
2. We are to work out our salvation, and with fear and trembling, from reasons taken from the manner of God's working in and with us, namely, of his good pleasure. Now,
(1.) It is certain that without God's working we pan do nothing to the securing our salvation. We