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doth both by immediate execution. On the cross, sin and satan had their full blow at him; but when he entereth the soul, he hath his blow at them, and ceaseth not till he have destroyed them. In purchasing he expendeth his own; but in converting he takes possession of that which he purchased. In a word, he came into the world in flesh for his undertaken humiliation; but he comes into the soul by his Spirit, for his deserved exaltation; and therefore though he endured to be spit upon in the flesh, he will not endure to be slighted in the soul. And as in the world he was scorned with the title of a king, and crowned with thorns, and clothed in such kingly robes, as might make him the fitter object for their reproach: so when his Spirit entereth into the soul, he will be there enthroned in our most reverent, subjective, and deepest esteem, and crowned with our highest love, and thankfulness, and bowed to with the tenders of obedience, and our praise. The cross shall there be the portion of his enemies, and the crown and sceptre shall be his; and as all were preferred before him, even Barabbas himself, so all things shall be put under him in the sanctified soul, and he shall be preferred before all.
This is the end of humiliation, to make ready the heart for a fuller entertainment of the Lord that bought it; and to prepare the way before him, and fit the soul to be the temple of his Spirit. An humbled soul would never have put him off with excuses from oxen, and farms, and wives; as Luke xiv. and Matt. xxii. but the unhumbled will make light of him.
And (2.) As Christ himself will be honourably received, or not at all, so must the mercies and graces which he offereth. He will not apply his blood and righteousness to them that care not for it. He will not pardon such a mass of iniquities, and remove such mountains as lie upon the soul, for them that feel not the necessity of such a mercy. He will not take men from the power of the devil, and the drudgery of sin, and the suburbs of hell, and make them his members and the sons of God, and the heirs of heaven, that have not learned the value of these benefits, but set more by their very sin and misery, and the trifles of the world. Christ doth not despise his blood, his Spirit, his covenant, his pardon, nor his heavenly inheritance, and therefore he will give them to none that do despise them, till he teacheth them
better to know their worth. Do you think it would stand with the wisdom of Christ, to give such unspeakable blessings as these, to men that have not hearts to value them? Why, it is more to give a man justification and adoption, than to give him all this visible world; the sun, the moon, the firmament, and the earth. And should these be given to one that cares not for them? Why, by this means God should miss of his ends: he should not have the love, the honour, or the thanks that he intended by his gift. It is necessary therefore that the soul be thoroughly humbled, that pardon may be received as pardon, and grace as grace, and not set light by.
And (3.) As this is necessary for the honour both of Christ and grace, so also it is necessary for our own benefit and consolation. The mercy cannot indeed be ours, if humiliation do not make us capable of it. These cordials must be taken into an empty stomach, and not be drowned in phlegm and filth. A man on the gallows will be glad of a pardon; but a stander by, that thinks he is innocent, would not regard it, but take it for an accusation. There is no great sweetness in the name of a Redeemer to an unhumbled soul. It sets naught by the Spirit; the Gospel is no Gospel to it; the tidings of salvation are not so glad to such an one, as the tidings of riches or worldly delights would be. As it is the preparation of the stomach that maketh our meat sweet to us: and the coarsest fare is pleasanter to the sound, than sweetmeats to the sick; so if we were not emptied of ourselves, and vile and lost in our own apprehensions, and if contrition did not quicken our appetites, the Lord himself, and all the miracles of saving grace, would be but as things of naught in our eyes, and we should be weary to hear or think of them. But O, what an inestimable treasure is Christ to the humbled soul! What life is in his promises! What sweetness in every passage of his grace, and what a feast in his immeasurable love!
(4.) Another use of Humiliation, implied in the former, is, that it is necessary to bring men to yield to the terms of the covenant of grace. Nature holds fast its fleshly pleasures, and lives by feeling and upon present things, and knows not how to live upon invisibles by a life of faith. And this is the life that all must live, that will live in Christ; and therefore he calleth them to the forsaking of all; the
crucifying the world and flesh, the denying of themselves, if they will be his disciples. But O, how loath is nature to part with all, and make a full resignation unto Christ! but fain it would make sure of present things, for fear lest the promises of heaven should but deceive them, and then they would have heaven at last in reserve. And on these terms it is that hypocrites are religious, and thus it is that they deceive their souls. But when the heart is truly broken, it will then stand no longer on such terms with Christ, but yield up all it will then no longer condition with him, but stand to his conditions, and thankfully accept them. Any thing will then serve with Christ, and grace, and the hopes of glory.
(5.) Another use of Humiliation is, to fit us for the retaining and improving of grace, when we have received it. The proverb is," Lightly come, lightly go." If God should give the pardon of sin to the unhumbled, how soon would it be cast away? And how easily would such be hearkening to temptation, and returning to their vomit! The burnt child, we say, dreads the fire. When sin hath killed you once, and broken your hearts, you will think the worse of it while you live. And when a temptation comes, you will think of former smart. Is not this it that cost me so many your groans, and laid me in the dust, and had almost damned me? and shall I go to it again? Was I so hardly recovered by a miracle of mercy? And shall I run again into the misery that I was saved from? Had I not sorrow, and fear, and care enough, but I must go back again for more, and renew my trouble?' Thus the remembrance of your sorrows, will be a continual preservative to you. And a contrite spirit that is emptied of itself, and is taught the worth of Christ and mercy, will not only hold them fast, but will know how to use them, in thankfulness to God and benefit to himself.
(6.) Another use of Humiliation, is, to fit the soul for its approach to God himself, from whom it had revolted. As it beseems not any creature to approach the God of heaven, but in reverential humility, so it beseems not any sinner to approach him, but in contrite humility: who can come out of such wickedness and misery, and not bring along the sense of it on his heart? It beseemeth not a prodigal to meet his father as confidently and boldly, as if he had never departed from him; but to say, "Father, I have sinned against heaven
and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son;" Luke xv. 18. It is not ingenuous for a guilty soul, or one that is snatched as a brand out of the fire, to look towards God with a brazen face, but with shame and sorrow to hang down the head, and smite upon the breast, and say, "O Lord be merciful to me a sinner." "For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble;" 1 Pet. v. 5. James iv. 6. "Though the Lord be high, yet he hath regard unto the lowly but the proud he knoweth afar off;" Psal. cxxxviii. 6. "For thus saith the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity; whose name is Holy; and I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones;" Isa. lvii. 15. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word;" Isa. lxvi. 2. "The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit ;" Psal. xxxiv. 18. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise ;" Psal. li. 17. There is no turning to God, unless we " loathe ourselves for all our abominations;" Ezek. xvi. 63.
The nearer we approach him, the more we must "abhor ourselves in dust and ashes;" Job xlii. 6. He will not embrace a sinner in his dung; but will first wash and cleanse him; Isa. i. 16. Conversion must make us humble, and as little children, that are teachable, and look not after great matters in the world, or else there is no entering the kingdom of God; Matt. xviii. 3, 4. And thus you see the uses and necessity of Humiliation.
III. By what hath been already said, you may perceive what mistakes are carefully to be avoided, about your Humiliation, and with what caution it must be sought.
1. One error that you must take heed of, is, that you take not Humiliation for an indifferent thing, or for such an appurtenance of faith as may be spared: think not an unhumbled soul, while such, can be sanctified. Some carnal hearts conceive, that it is only more heinous sinners that must be contrite and brokenhearted; and that this is not necessary to them that have been brought up civilly or religiously from their youth. But it is as possible to be saved without faith, as without repentance, and that special humiliation
which I described to you before, it is part of your sanctification.
2. Another mistake to be carefully avoided, is, the placing of your Humiliation, either only, or principally, in the passionate part, or in the outward expression of those passions. I mean, either in pinching grief, and sorrow of heart, or else in tears. But you must remember that the life of it is, as was said before, in the judgment and the will. It is not the measure of passionate sorrow and anguish that will best shew the measure of your sincere humiliation; much less is it your tears or outward expressions. But it is your low esteem of yourselves, and contentedness to be vile in the eyes of others; and your displacency with yourselves, and willingness to mourn and weep for sin as much as God would have you, with the rest of the acts of the judgment and will before described.
Two great dangers are here before you to be avoided. First, some there be that have terrible pangs of sorrow, and are ready to tear their own hair, yea, to make away themselves, as Judas, in the horror of their consciences; and these may seem to have true humiliation, and yet have none. And some can weep abundantly at a sermon or in a prayer, or in mentioning their sin to others; and therefore think that they are truly humbled; and yet it may be nothing so. For if at the same time their hearts are in love with sin, or had rather keep it than let it go, or have not an habitual hatred to it, and a predominant, superlative love to God, their humiliation is no saving work. That which is in the passions and tears, may be even forced against your wills; and it signifieth scarce so much as a common grace, were you are not willing of it. Many an one can weep through a passionate, womanish, tender nature, and yet not only remain unhumbled, but be proud in a very high degree. How many such do we ordinarily see; especially women, that can weep more at a duty or conference, than some that are truly broken-hearted could do in all their lives; and yet be so far from being vile in their own eyes, and willing to be so in the eyes of others, that they will hate, and reproach, and rail at those that charge them with the faults which they seemed to lament; or at least that charge them with disgraceful sins; and they will excuse and mince their sins, and make a small matter of them, and love none so well as those that