« ForrigeFortsæt »
on the ends that Humiliation is appointed to. And therefore you may hence learn in what sort you must seek after it. (1.) You must not place the chief part of your religion in it, as if it were a life of mere sorrow, that we are called to by the Gospel. But you must make it a servant to your faith, and love, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and other graces. As the use of the needle is but to make way for the thread, and then it is the thread and not the needle that makes the seam; so much of our sorrow is but to prepare for faith and love, and these are they that close the soul with Christ. is therefore a sore mistake with some, that are very apprehensive of their want of sorrow, but little of their want of faith or love; and that pray and strive to break their hearts, or weep for sin, but not much for those higher graces, which it tendeth to. One must be done, and not the other left undone.
(2.) As tears are the expression of the heart, so those are the most kindly and sincere, which voluntarily flow from the inward feeling of the evil that we lament; if you could weep never so much, merely because you think that tears are in themselves necessary, and had not within, the hatred of sin, and sense of its vile and killing nature; this were not true humiliation at all. And if the heart be humbled before the Lord, it is not the want of tears that will cause him to despise it. Some are so backward to weep by nature, that they cannot weep for any outward thing, no, not for the loss of the dearest friend, when yet they would have done ten times more to redeem his life, than some that have tears at will. Groans are as sure expressions of sorrow as tears, with such as these. And the hearty rejection and detestation of sin, is yet a better evidence than either. But where men have naturally a weeping disposition, which they can manifest about crosses in the world, and yet cannot shed a tear for sin, there the case is the more suspicious.
(3.) The principal cause why you must strive for deeper sorrow, is, that you may obtain the ends of that sorrow; that sin may be more odious to you, and more effectually mortified; that self may be taken down, and Christ may be valued and desired, and exalted, and that you may be fitted for a holy communion with God for the time to come, and saved from pride, and kept in watchfulness.
6. From this that was last said, you have a rule by which
you may certainly discern, what measure of Humiliation it is that must be had. It must go so deep as to undermine our pride, and so far the heart must needs be broken, as is necessary to break the heart of sin, and carnal self. If this be not done, there is nothing done, though you weep out your eyes. You must be brought so low, that the blood of Christ, and the favour of God, may be more precious in your eyes than all the world, and in your very hearts preferred before it and then you may be sure that your humiliation is sincere, whether you have tears or none.
7. From hence also you may see, that you must take heed of ascribing to your own humiliation any part of the office and honour of Christ: think not that you can satisfy the justice of the law, or merit any thing of God by the worth of your sorrows, though you should weep even tears of blood. It is not true humiliation if it consist not in the sense and acknowledgment of your unworthiness, and desert of condemnation, and if it do not lead you to look out for pardon and life from Christ, as being lost and wholly insufficient for yourselves. And therefore it would be a plain contradiction, if true humiliation should be taken as satisfaction or merit, or trusted on instead of Christ.
IV. Having thus far opened the nature and reasons of true Humiliation, I conclude with that advice which I principally here intended; refuse not to be thoroughly and deeply humbled. Be not weary of the humbling workings of the Spirit. Grief is an unwelcome guest to nature; but grace can see reason to bid it welcome. Grace is ingenuous, and cannot look back on so great unkindness, with unwillingness to mourn over it; Zech. xii. 10. There is somewhat of God in godly sorrow, and therefore the soul consenteth to it, and seeketh for it, and calls it in: yea, and is grieved that it can grieve no more. Not that sorrow as sorrow is desirable, but as a necessary consequent of our grievous sinning, and a necessary antecedent of our further recovery: as we may submit to death itself with a cheerful willingness, because it is sanctified to be the passage into glory, how dreadful soever it be to nature in itself; so much more may we submit to humiliation and brokenness of heart with a holy willingness, because it is sanctified to be the entrance into the state of grace. Consider for your satisfaction of these following things.
1. The main brunt of your sorrows will be but in the beginning: and when once you are settled in a holy course, you will find more peace and comfort, than ever you could have had in any other way. I know if you will be meddling with sin again, it will in its measure breed sorrow again: but a godly life is a life of uprightness, and conversion is a departing from sin, and consequently a departing from the cause of sorrow. And can you not bear such a sorrow for a little while?
2. Consider but whence you are coming: is it not out of a state of wrath? And where have you been all this while? Was it not in the power of satan? And what have you been doing all your lives? Hath it not been the drudgery of sin, and the offending of your Lord, and the destroying of yourselves? And is it meet, is it reasonable, is it ingenuous, for you to come out of such a case, without lamentation that you staid in it so long?
3. Consider also, that it is necessary to your own recovery and salvation. Do you think to take so dangerous a surfeit, and then to be cured without a vomit? You will endure for the health of your bodies, the bitterest pills, and most loathsome potions, the shortest diet, and the letting out of your blood, for you know that your life lieth on it, and there is no remedy; and should you not endure for the saving of your souls,the bitterest sorrows, the keenest rebukes, the freest confessions, and the most plentiful tears? Sin will not down at easier rates: self will not be conquered else: the heart of it will not be broken, till your hearts be broken. We know your sorrows merit nothing, and make not God amends for your sins, nor is it for want of sufficiency in the blood of Christ that we require them; but it is part of the fruit of his blood upon your souls. If his blood do not melt and break your hearts, you have no part in him. It becomes you to mourn over him whom you have pierced; Zech. xii. 10. And this fruit of his blood is a preparative to more. You may as well think of being saved without faith, as without repentance and humiliation.
4. Consider so much as is bitter in it, is of your own preparation; you may thank yourselves for it. Who was it that brought you to this necessity of sorrow? Have you been all your lifetime surfeiting of the creature and causing your own disease, and now will you grudge at the trouble of
a cure? Whom have you to blame and find fault with but yourselves? Was it not you that sinned? Was it not you that laid in the fuel of sorrows, and sowed the seeds of this bitter fruit, and cherished the cause of trouble in yourselves? God did not do this; it was you yourselves. He doth but undo that which you have been doing. Grudge not therefore at your physician, if you must be purged, and let blood, and dieted strictly, but thank yourselves for it that have made it so necessary.
5. Consider also that you have a wise and tender Physician, that hath known what sorrow and grief is himself, for he was made for you a man of sorrows; (Isaiah liii. 3.) and therefore can pity those that be in sorrow; he delighteth not in your trouble and grief, but in your cure and afterconsolations. And therefore you may be sure that he will deal gently and moderately with you, and lay no more on you than is necessary for your good; nor give you any more bitter a cup than your disease doth require. When he sheweth his greatest liking for the contrite, it is that he may revive their hearts; and he professeth withal, that he will not contend for ever, nor be always wrath, lest the spirit should fail before him, and the souls which he hath made; Isaiah lvii. 15, 16. He calls to him the weary and heavy-laden, that he may give them ease; Matt. xi. 28. He was sent to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised; Luke iv. 18. When he hath broken your hearts, he will as tenderly bind them up, and as safely heal them as you can reasonably desire. Even his ministers, that labour to break your hearts, and bring you low, even to the dust, have no worse meaning in it than to bring you to Christ, and life, and comfort; and though they are glad to see the weeping eyes of their hearers, and to hear their free confessions and lamentations, yet this is not because they take pleasure in your trouble, but because they foresee the saving fruits of it, and know it to be necessary to your everlasting peace. You may read what their thoughts are in the words of Paul, 2 Cor. vii. 9-11. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive no damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but
the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold, this self-same thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge, &c." Indeed, neither Christ nor his ministers have that fond, foolish love to you, and pity of you, as you have to yourselves: they be not so tender of you, as to save you from the sorrow which is needful to the saving of you from hell. But they would not put you to any more than needs; nor have you taste a drop of the vinegar and gall, or shed one tear, but what shall tend to your comfort and salvation.
6. Consider what sorrows they be that these sorrows do prevent, and what those suffer in hell, that avoid this godly sorrow on earth. O sirs, your repentant sorrows are joys to those; yours have hope, but theirs are quickened with desperation; yours are small and but a drop to their ocean; yours are curing, but theirs are tormenting; yours are a father's rod, but theirs are the rack and gallows; yours are mixed with love, but theirs are unmixed, overwhelming them with confusion; yours are short, but theirs are endless. And had you rather sorrow as they do, than as the godly do? Had you rather howl with devils and rebels, than weep with saints and children? Had you rather be broken in hell by torments, than on earth by grace? Is it not an unreasonable thing of you, to make such a stir at the sorrow that must save you, when you remember what it would save you from, and what all must suffer that are not humbled here by grace! O, it is another kind of sorrow that others are now enduring. Grudge not at the pricking of a vein, when so many thousands are everlastingly bleeding at the heart.
7. Consider, the more you are rightly humbled, the sweeter will Christ and all his mercies be to you ever after while you live. One taste of the healing love of Christ, will make you bless those sorrows that prepared for it. The same Christ is not equally esteemed even by all that he will save: and had you not rather be emptied yet more of yourselves, that you may be fuller of Christ hereafter? When you do but feel his arms embracing you, and perceive him in that posture as the prodigal's father was; (Luke xv. 20.) you will thank that sorrow that fitted you for his arms.
8. If you be thoroughly humbled, you will walk the more