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caping of hell-fire, if they did but consider of it? Would they swallow down their cups so greedily, and give up themselves to the world so eagerly, if they did but well consider what they do? Methinks they should not. The cause of sin and the devil is 80 naught, that I should hope to shame it with the most of the ungodly, if I could but bring them to a serious consideration of it. O how the kingdom of satan would down, if we could but tell how to make them considerate! How fast the devil would lose his servants! What abundance Christ would gain! And how many would be saved, if we could but tell how to make men considerate ! And one would think that this should be easily done, seeing man is a self-loving, and reasonable creature; but yet to our grief, and great admiration, we cannot bring them to it. I should not doubt, but one sermon, or one sentence of a sermon, might do more good than a hundred do now; if I were but able to persuade the hearers when they come home, to follow it by serious consideration. But we cannot bring them to it; if our lives lay on it, we could not bring them to it; though we know that their own lives and salvation lieth on it, yet can we not bring them to it. They think, and talk of other matters almost as soon as the sermon is done, and they turn loose their thoughts ; or if they do read, or hear, or repeat a little, yet cannot we get them to one half hour's secret and sober consideration of their case. This is the reason why it is so rare a thing to see men thoroughly turn to God. This is much of the use of all God's teachings and afflictions too, but to bring men to sober consideration. God knows that sin hath unmanned us, and lost us the use of our reason, where we have most use for it; and therefore the means, and works of God, are to recover us to our reason, and to make us men again : the very graces of his Spirit are to make us to be more reasonable.
And now, before I dismiss this direction, I have a question, and a request to make to thee, whoever thou art that readest these lines. My question is this, 'Hast thou ever soberly considered of thy ways and laid these greatest matters to heart, or hast thou not?' Dost thou ever use to retire into thyself, and spend any time in this needful work? If thou dost not, my request to thee is, that now at last thou wouldst do it without delay. Shall I beg this of thee? Shall the Lord that made thee, that bought thee, that pre
serveth thee request this of thee; that thou wouldst sometimes betake thyself into some secret place and set thyself purposely to this work of Consideration, and follow it earnestly and close with thy heart till thou hast made something of it, and brought it to a resolution ? Wilt thou then spend a little time in reasoning the case with thyself, and calling thy heart to a strict account, and ask thyself, "What is it that I was made for; and what business was I sent into the world about? And how have I dispatched it? How have I spent my time, my thoughts, my words; and how shall I answer for them ? Am I ready to die, if it were this
I hour ? Am I sure of my salvation? Is my soul converted, and truly sanctified by the Holy Ghost? If not, what reason have I to delay? Why do I not set about it, and spee
?? dily resolve? Shall I linger till death come and find me unconverted? O then what a sad appearance shall I make before the Lord ! And thus follow on the discourse with your hearts. What say you, sirs? Will here promise me to bestow but some few hours, if it be but on the Lord's day, or when you are private on the way, or in your beds, or in your shops, in these considerations? I beseech you, as ever you will do any thing at my request, deny me not this request. It is nothing that is unreasonable. If I desired one of you to spend an hour in talking with me, you would grant it; yea, or if it were to ride, or go for me. And will you not be entreated to spend now and then a little time in thinking of the matters of your own salvation? Deny not this much to yourselves, deny it not to God, if you will deny it
Should you not bethink you a few hours, of the place and state that you must live in for ever? Men will build strong where they think to live long; but a tent or a hut will serve a soldier for a few nights. O, sirs, Everlasting is a long day. In the name of God, let not conscience have such a charge as this against you hereafter : "Thou art come to thy long home, to thy endless state, before ever thou spentest the space of an hour in deep, and sad, and serious considerations of it, or in trying thy title to it.' O what a confounding charge would this be. I am confident I have the witness of your consciences going along with me, and telling you it is but reasonable, yea, and needful, which I say. If yet you will not do it, and I cannot beg one hour's sober discourse in secret between you and your hearts about these
things, then what remedy, but even to leave you to your misery. But I shall tell you in the conclusion, that I have no hope of that soul, that will not be persuaded to this duty of Consideration. But if I could persuade you to this reasonable, this cheap, this necessary work, and to follow it close, I should have exceeding great hopes of the salvation of you all. I have told you the truth, consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding; 2 Tim. ii. 7. Or if you put me to conclude in harsher terms, they shall be still the oracles of God: “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you;" Psal. l. 22.
And so much for the third direction about Consideration, on which I have staid somewhat long, because I apprehend it of exceeding necessity.
Direct. IV. The fourth direction which I shall give you, that the work of your conversion may not miscarry, is this : •See that the work of Humiliation be thoroughly done, and break not away from the spirit of contrition before he have done with you; and yet see that you mistake not the nature, and the ends of the work, and that you drive it not on further than God requireth you.'
Here I shall first shew you 1. The true nature of Humiliation. And
11. The use and ends of it. And
must avoid. And iv. I shall press on the substance of the direction, and shew you the necessity of it.
1. There is a preparatory humiliation that goes before a saving change, which is not to be despised, because it is a drawing nearer unto God, though it be not a faithful closure with him. This preparatory humiliation, which many have that perish, doth chiefly consist in these things following. (1.) It lieth most in the fear of being damned. As it is most in the passions, so most in this of fear. (2.) It consisteth also in some apprehensions of the greatness of our sins, and the wrath of God, that hangs over our heads, and the danger that we are in of being damned for ever. (3.) It consisteth also in some apprehension of the folly that we are guilty of in sinning, and of some repentings that ever we did it, and some remorse of conscience for it. (4.) Hereto
may be joined some passions of sorrow, and this expressed by
groans and tears. (5.) And all this may be accompanied with confessions of sin to God and man, and lamentations for our misery, and in some it proceedeth to desperation itself. (6.) And lastly, it may proceed to an indignation against ourselves, and to the taking of a severe revenge on ourselves; yea, more than God would have men take; as Judas did by self-destroying. This desperation, and selfexecution are no parts of the preparatory humiliation ; but the excess and error of it, and the entrance upon hell.
2. But there is also a Humiliation that is proper to the converted, and which accompanieth salvation, and this containeth in it, all that is in the former, and much more. Even as the rational soul containeth the sensitive and vegetative, and much more. And this saving humiliation consisteth in these following particulars.
1. It beginneth in the understanding. 2. It is rooted in the will. 3. It worketh in the affection. And 4. When there is opportunity it sheweth itself in outward expressions and actions.
1. Humiliation in the understanding, consisteth in a low esteem of ourselves, and in a self-abasing, self-condemning judgment on ourselves; and that in these particulars.
(1.) It consisteth in a deep and solid apprehension of the odiousness of our own sins, habitual and actual, and of ourselves for our sins; and that because they are contrary to the blessed nature and law of God, and so contrary to our own perfection, and chief good. (2.) It consisteth also in
) a solid and fixed apprehension of our own ill-deserving, because of these sins ; so that our judgments do subscribe to the equity of the condemning sentence of the law; and we judge ourselves unworthy of the smallest mercy, and worthy of hell-fire. (3.) It consisteth in an apprehension of our undone and miserable condition in ourselves. Not only as we are the heirs of torment, but as we are void of the image and Spirit of God, and have lost his favour, and are under his displeasure, and enmity by our sin, and have forfeited our part in everlasting glory, and how unable we are to help ourselves.
And [1.] This is in such a measure, that we truly judge our sin and ourselves for sin, to be more odious than any
thing else could have made us, and our misery by sin in the foresaid particulars, to be greater than any outward calamity in the
flesh, and than any worldly loss could have procured us. And this we apprehend by a practical judgment, and not only by a bare ineffectual speculation. [2.] And the spring of this is some knowledge of God himself, whose majesty is so glorious, and whose wisdom is so infinite ; who is so good in himself, and unto us, and whose holy nature is contrary to sin ; and who hath an absolute propriety in us, and sovereignty over us. [3.] And also it proceedeth from a knowledge of the true state of man's felicity, which by sin he hath cast away ;
that it consisteth in the pleasing and glorifying, and enjoying of God, in loving and delighting in him, and praising him for ever, and having a nature perfectly holy, and fitted hereunto. To see that sin is contrary to this felicity, and hath deprived us of it, is one of the springs of true Humiliation. And [4.] It proceedeth also from a believing knowledge of Christ crucified, whom our sins did pat to death, who hath declared in the most lively manner to the world by his cross, and sufferings, what sin is, and what it hath done, and what a case we had brought ourselves into. Thus much of saving Humiliation consisting in the understanding.
2. The principal seat of this Humiliation is in the will, and there it consisteth in these following acts. (1.) As we think basely of ourselves, so the will hath a fixed displacency against ourselves for our sins, and a kind of loathing of ourselves for all our abominations; as you may read, Ezek. Xxxvi. 31. xx. 43. vi. 9. A humble sinner is fallen out with himself, and as he is evil, his heart is against himself.
(2.) There is also in the will a deep repenting that ever we sinned, and wronged God, and abused grace, and have brought ourselves to this as we have done ; so that the humbled soul could wish that he had spent his days in prison, in beggary, or in bodily misery, so that he had not spent them in sin; and if it were to do again, he would rather choose such a life of shame and calamity in the world, than a life of sin, and would be glad of the exchange.
(3.) A humbled soul is truly willing to grieve for the sins which he hath committed, and to be as deeply sensible of them, and afflicted for them, as God would have him. Even when he cannot shed a tear, yet his will is to shed them. When he cannot feel any deep afflicting of his soul for sin,