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have the highest thoughts of them. So that pride doth ordinarily reign in their hearts, and break out in their words. and lives, and make them hate the most faithful reprovers, and live in contention with any that dishonour them, for all the tears that come from their eyes. Judge not therefore by passions, or tears alone, but by the judgment and the will, as is aforesaid.
2. Another sort there are much better and happier than the former, that yet to their great trouble are mistaken in this point; and that is, they that think they have no true humiliation because they find not such pangs of sorrow, and freedom of tears, as others have, when as their hearts are contrite, even when they cannot weep a tear. Tell me but this; are you vile in your own eyes, because you are guilty of sin, and that against the Lord whom you chiefly love? Do you loathe your sins, because of your abominations, and could you heartily wish, that you had been suffering when you were sinning? And if it were to do again, would you choose to suffer rather than to sin? Have you a desire to grieve, and a desire to weep when you cannot weep? Can you quietly bear it, when you are vilified by others, because you know yourselves to be so vile? And are you thankful to a plain reprover, though he tell you of the most disgraceful sin? Do you think meanly of your own sayings and doings and think better of others, where there is any ground, than of yourselves? Do you justify God's afflictions, and men's true rebukes, and think yourselves unworthy of the communion of the saints, or to see their faces, and unworthy to live on the face of the earth? Yea, would you justify if he should condemn you? This is the state of an humbled soul. Find but this, and you need not doubt of God's acceptance though you were unable to shed a tear. There is more humiliation in a base esteem of ourselves, than in a thousand tears; and more in a will, or desire to weep for sin, than in tears, that come through force of terror, or moisture of the brain, or passionate tenderness of nature. If the will be right you need not fear. It is he that most hateth sin, and is most hardly drawn to it, that is most truly humbled for it. He that will lament it to-day and commit it tomorrow, is far less humbled and penitent than he that would not be drawn to it with the hopes of all the pleasures of the world, nor commit it, if it were to save his life.
3. To avoid this, some run into the contrary mistake, and think that sorrow and tears are unnecessary, and that they may repent as well without them as with them; and they lay all in some dull, ineffectual wishes, and so they think the heart is changed. But certainly God made not the affections in vain. It cannot be that any man can have a sanctified will, but his affections will hold some correspondence with it, and be commanded by it. Though we cannot mourn in that measure as we desire, yet some sorrow there will be wherever the heart is truly changed: and apparently this sorrow will be the greatest. No man can heartily believe that sin is the greatest evil to his soul, and not be grieved for it. And indeed our liveliest affections should be exercised about these most weighty things. It is a shame to see a man mourn for a friend, and whine under a cross that toucheth but the flesh, and yet be so insensible of the plague of sin, and the anger of the Lord, and to laugh and jest with such mountains on his soul. Though grief and tears be not the heart, or principal part of our humiliation, yet are they to be looked after as our duty; yea, sorrow in some measure is of absolute necessity, and the want of tears is no good sign in them that have tears for other things. Indeed the sense of our folly and unkindness should be so great, that it should even turn our hearts into sorrow, and melt them in our breasts, and draw forth streams of tears from our eyes; and if we cannot bring ourselves to this, we must yet lament the hardness of our hearts, and not excuse it.
4. In the next place you are hence informed, how to answer that question, 'Whether it be possible for a man to be humbled and repent too much?" That part of humiliation which consisteth in the acts of the understanding and the will, cannot be too much as to the intention of the act; and if it be too much as to the objective extent, then, as it is misguided, so it changeth its nature, and ceaseth to be the thing that it was before. A man may think worse of himself than he is, by thinking falsely of himself, as that he is guilty of the sin which he is not guilty of; but this is not the same thing with true humiliation. But to have too clear an apprehension of the evil of his sin and his own vileness, this he need not fear. And in the will it is more clear: no man can be too willing to be rid of sin in God's time and way; nor be too much averse from it, as it is against the Lord. But
then the other part of Humiliation, which consisteth in the depth of sorrow, or in tears, may possibly be too much; though I know very few that are guilty of it, or need to fear it; because the common case of the world is to be stupid, and hard-hearted; and most of the godly are lamentably insensible. But yet some few there are, that have need of this advice, that they strive not for too great a measure of grief. Let your hearts be against sin as much as is possible; but yet let there be some limits in your grief and tears. And this counsel is necessary to these sorts of people. 1. To melancholy people, that are in danger of being distracted, and made unreasonable and useless by overmuch sorrow. Their thoughts will be fixing, and musing, and sad, and dark, and full of fears, and either make things worse than they are, or else be more deeply affected with them than their heads can bear. 2. And this is the case of some weakspirited women that are not melancholy; but yet by natural weakness of their brains, and strength of their passions, are unable to endure those serious, deep, affecting apprehensions which others may desire; but the depth of their sensibility, and greatness of their passion, doth presently endanger the crazing of their brains, and quickly cast them into melancholy, or worse.
And this is a very heavy affliction, where it comes, both to the persons themselves, and those about them. To be deprived of the use of reason, is one of the greatest corporal calamities in this life. And it is matter of offence and dishonour to the Gospel in the eyes of the ungodly, that understand not the case. When they see any languish in unmeasurable sorrow, or fall into distraction, it is a grievous temptation to them to fly from religion, and avoid godly sorrow, and all serious thoughts of heavenly things, and it occasioneth the foolish scorners to say, that religion makes men mad; and that this humiliation and conversion which we call them to, is the way to bring them out of their wits. So that by reason of the grief of the godly, and the hardening of the ungodly, the case is so sad that it requireth our greatest care to avoid it.
Quest. But if it be so dangerous to sorrow either too little or too much, what shall a poor sinner do in such a strait? And how shall he know when to restrain his
Answ. It is but very few in the world that have cause to fear excess of this kind of sorrow. The common case of men, is to be blockish, and worldly sorrow doth cast more into melancholy and distraction than godly sorrow; but for those few that are in danger of excess, I shall first tell you how to discern it, and then how to remedy it.
1. When your sorrow is greater than your brains can bear, without apparent danger of distraction, or a melancholy disturbance and diminution of your understanding, then it is certainly too much, and to be restrained. For if you overthrow your reason, you will be a reproach to religion, and you will be fit for nothing that is truly good, either to your own edification, or the service of God.
2. If you be in any grievous disease, which sorrow would increase to the hazard of your life, you have reason to restrain it though you may not forbear repenting, or carefulness of your salvation, yet the passion of grief you must moderate and abate.
3. When sorrow is so great as to discompose your mind, or enfeeble your body, so as to unfit you for the service of God, and make you more unable to do good, or receive good, have reason then to moderate and restrain it.
4. When the greatness of your sorrow doth overmatch the necessary measure of your love, or joy, or thanks, and keep out these, and takes up more of your spirit than its part, having no room for greater duties, then it is excessive and to be restrained. There are some that will strive and struggle with their hearts, to wring out a few tears, and increase their sorrow, that yet make little conscience of other affections, and will not strive half so much to increase their faith, and love, and joy.
5. When your sorrow by the greatness of it, doth draw you into temptation, either to despair, or think hardly of God and his service, or to undervalue his grace and the satisfaction of Christ, as if it were too scant, and insufficient for you, you have then cause to moderate and restrain it.
6. When your sorrow is unseasonable, and will needs thrust in at those times when you are called to thankfulness, and joy, you have then cause to moderate and restrain it at that season. Not that we should wholly lay by sorrow in any day of joy and thanksgiving, unless we could lay by all our sin in the duties of that day; nor should we wholly lay
by spiritual comfort and delight, in days of greatest humiliation. For as our state is here mixed of grace and sin, so must all our duties be mixed of joy and sorrow. It is only in heaven where we must have unmixed joys, and only in hell that there are unmixed sorrows; or at least, not in any state of grace. But yet for all that there are seasons now, when one of these must be more eminently exercised, and the other in a lower measure. As in times of calamity, and after a fall, we are called out so much to humiliation, that comfort should but moderate our sorrows, and the exercise of it be veiled for that time: so in times of special mercies from the Lord, we may be called out to exercise our thanks, and praise, and joy so eminently, that sorrow should but keep us humble, and be, as it were, serviceable to our joys. When grace and mercy are most eminent, then joy and praise should be predominant (which is through the most of a Christian's life, that walketh uprightly and carefully with God ;) and when sin and judgments are most eminent, sorrow must be then predominant, as being a necessary means to solid joy. And therefore, ordinarily, a sinner that is but in the work of conversion, and newly coming to God from a rebellious state, must entertain more sorrow, and let out himself more to groans and tears than afterwards when he is brought to reconciliation with God, and walketh in integrity. Quest. But when is it that my sorrow is too short, and I should labour to increase it?'
Answ. 1. When there is no apparent danger of the lastmentioned evils, that is, of destroying your bodies, distracting your brains, discomposing your minds, and drowning other graces and duties, and the rest; then you have little cause to be afraid of an excess.
2. When you have not smart enough to cause you to value the love of Christ, and highly prize his blood, and the effects of it, and hunger and thirst after him and his righteousness, and earnestly beg for the pardon of your sin; you have cause to desire then more sorrow. If you feel no great need of Christ, but pass by him as lightly as the full stomach by his food, as if you could do well enough without him; you may be sure then have need to be broken more. If you you set not so much by the love of God that you would part with any thing in the world to enjoy it, and would think no terms too dear for heaven; you have need to lie under the