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it cometh from the Lord, and concerneth their salvation. It is a great encouragement to us, to speak to a man that hath ears, and life, and feeling; that will meet the word with an appetite, and take it with some relish, and let down the food that is put into their mouth. The will is the chiefest fort of sin. If we can there get in upon it, we may do something. But if it keep the heart, and we can get no nearer it than the ear or the brain, there will no good be done. Now humiliation openeth us a passage to the heart, that we may assault sin in its strength. When I tell you of the abominable nature of sin, that causeth the death of Christ, and causeth hell, and tell you that it is better to run into the fire, than to commit the least sin wilfully, though it be such as the world makes nothing of; another man may hear all this, and superficially believe it, and say it is true, but it is the humbled soul that feeleth what I say. What a stir have we with a drunkard, or worldling, or any other sensual sinner, in persuading him to cast away his sins with detestation; and all to little purpose! Sometimes he will, and sometimes he must needs be tasting them again; and thus he stands dallying, because the word hath not mastered his heart. But when God comes in upon the soul as with a tempest, and throweth open the doors, and, as it were, thundereth, and lighteneth in the conscience; and layeth hold upon the sinner, and shaketh him all in pieces by his terrors, and asketh him, 'Is sinning good for thee? Is a fleshly, careless life so good? Thou wretched worm! Thou foolish piece of clay! Darest thou thus abuse me to my face? Dost thou not know that I look on? Is this the work that I made
preserve thee, and continue
thee for, and that I feed and thee alive for? Away with thy sin, without any more ado, or I will have thy soul away, and deliver thee to the tormentors'. This wakeneth him out of his dalliance and delays; and makes him see that God is in good earnest with him, and therefore he must be so with God. If a physician have a patient that is addicted to his appetite, who hath the gout or stone, or other disease, and he forbid him wine, or strong drink, or such meats as he desireth, as long as he feels himself at ease he will be venturing on them, and will not be curbed by the words of the physician: but when the fit is on him, and he feels the torment, then he will be ruled. Pain will teach him more effectually than words could do.
When he feeleth what is hurtful to him, and feeleth that it always makes him sick, it will restrain him more than hearing of it could do. So when humiliation doth break your hearts, and make you feel that you are sick of sin, and filleth your soul with smart and sorrow, then you will be the more willing that God should destroy it in you. When it lieth so heavy on you, that you are unable to look up, and makes you go to God with groans and tears, and cry, O Lord be merciful to me a sinner! When you are fain to go to ministers for ease to your consciences, and fill their ears with accusations of yourselves, and open even your odious, shameful sins, then you will be content to let them go. Now there is no talking to you of mortification, and the resolute rejecting of your sins; the precepts of the Gospel are too strict for you to submit to. But a broken heart would change your minds. The healthful ploughman saith, 'Give me that which I love. These physicians would bring us all to their rules, that they may get money by us. I never mean to follow their directions.' But when sickness is upon him, and he hath tried all his own skill in vain, and pain giveth him no rest, then send for the physician, and then he will do any thing, and take any thing whatever he will give him, so that he may but be eased and recovered. So when your hearts are whole and unhumbled, these preachers and Scriptures are too strict for you; you must have that which you love. Self-conceited, precise ministers must have leave to talk; but you will never believe that God is of their mind, or will damn men for taking that which they have a mind of. O but when these sins are as swords in your hearts, and you begin to feel what ministers told you of, then you will be of another mind. Away then with this sin, there is nothing so odious, so hurtful, so intolerable. O that you could be rid of it, whatever it cost you! Then he will be your best friend that can tell you how to kill it, and be free from it; and he that would draw you out, would be as satan himself to you; Matt. xvi. 22, 23. Gal. xviii. 9. Humiliation diggeth so
deep, that it undermineth sin, and the fortress of the devil; when the foundation is rooted up, it will soon be overthrown. When the murderers of Christ were pricked to the heart, they then cry out for counsel to the apostles; Acts ii. 37. When a murderer of the saints is stricken blindfold to the earth, and the Spirit withal doth humble his soul, he will then cry
out, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" Acts ix. 37. When a cruel jailor that scourged the servants of Christ, is by an earthquake brought to a heart-quake, he will then cry out, "What shall I do to be saved?" Acts xvi. 30.
And here comes in the usefulness of afflictions; even because they are so great advantages to Humiliation. Men will be brought to some reason by extremities. When they lie a dying, a man may talk to them, and they will not so proudly fly in his face, or make a scorn at the word of the Lord, as in their prosperity they did. God will be more regarded when he pleadeth with them with the rod in his hand. Stripes are the best logic and rhetoric for a fool. When sin hath captivated their reason to their flesh, the arguments to convince them may be such as the flesh is capable of per-ceiving. We may long tell a beast of danger and discommodities, before we can persuade him from that which he loves. Sensuality doth brutify men in too great a measure; and so far as they are brutish, it is not the clearest reasons that will prevail; and if God did not maintain in corrupted man some remnants of free reason, we might preach to beasts as hopefully as to men. But afflictions tend to weaken the enemy that doth captivate them; as prosperity by accident tends to strengthen him. The flesh understandeth the lanof the rod better than the language of reason, or of guage the word of God.
And as the sensible part of our Humiliation promoteth mortification; so the rational and voluntary Humiliation, which is proper to the sanctified, is a principal part of mortification itself. And thus you may see that it is necessary that we be thoroughly humbled, that sin may be thoroughly killed in us.
3. Another use of Humiliation is to fit the soul for a meet entertainment of further grace, and that both for the honour of Christ and grace, and for our own welfare.
(1.) In respect of Christ, it is equal that he should dwell in such souls only as are fit to entertain him. Neither his person, nor his business are such as can suit with the unhumbled heart. Till humiliation make a sinner feel his sin and misery, it is not possible that Christ as Christ should be heartily welcome to him, or received in that sort as his honour doth expect. Who cares for the physician that feels no sickness, and fears not death? He may pass by the
doors of such a man, and he will not call him in; but when pain and fears of death are on him, he will send, and seek, and bid him welcome. Will any man fly to Christ for succour that feeleth not his wants, and danger? Will they hold on him, as the only refuge of their souls, and cleave to him as their only hope, that feel no great need of him? Will they lie at his feet, and beg for mercy, that feel themselves well enough without him? When men do but hear of sin and misery, and superficially believe it, they may coldly look after Christ and grace; and feel the worth of the latter, in such a manner as they feel the weight of the former. But never is Christ valued and sought after as Christ, till sorrow hath taught us how to value him nor is he entertained in the necessary honour of a Redeemer, till humiliation throw open all the doors: no man can seek him with his whole heart, that seeks him not with a broken heart.
And it is certain that Christ will come on no lower terms into the soul. Though he come to do us good, yet he will have the honour of doing it: though he come to heal us, and not for any need he hath of us, yet he will have the welcome that is due to a physician. He comes to save us, but he will be honoured in our salvation. He inviteth all to the marriage supper, and even compelleth them to come in; but he expecteth that they bring a wedding garment, and come not in a garb that will dishonour his house. Though his grace be free, yet he will not expose it to contempt, but will have the fulness and freeness of it glorified. Though he came not to redeem himself but us, yet he came to be glorified in the work of redemption. He hath no grace so free, as to save those that will not esteem it, and give him thanks for it. And therefore, though faith is enough to accept the gift, yet must it be a thankful faith, that will magnify the giver, and an humble faith that will feel the worth of it, and an obediential faith that will answer the ends of it. And therefore that faith which is the condition of our justification, is fitted as well to the honour of the giver, as the commodity of the receiver. And as reason telleth us that it should be so, so Christ consenteth that it be so. The soul that is truly united to Christ, and partaketh of his nature, doth think its own receiving greatest, where the honour of Christ is greatest; and it cannot take pleasure in the thoughts of such a kind of grace as should dishonour the Lord of grace himself. As
Christ is solicitous for the saving of the soul, so he makes the soul solicitous of the right entertainment of him that saveth it. And therefore though his blood, and not his teaching or his government, was the ransom of our souls ; yet he is resolved to justify none by his blood, but on the condition of that faith, which is a hearty consent to his teaching and dominion. It is not in the application or bestowing of Christ's benefits, as it was in the purchasing of them when he came to ransom us, he consented to be a sufferer, and gave his cheeks to the smiter, and submitted to reproach; he endured the cross, despising the shame, and being reviled, he reviled not again, but prayed for his persecutors: but when he comes by his saving grace into the soul, he will not there be entertained with contempt; for in the flesh he came on purpose to be humbled, but in the Spirit he comes to be exalted: in the flesh he came to condemn the sin that reigned in our flesh, (Rom. viii. 3.) and so was made sin for us, that is, a sacrifice for sin; 2 Cor. v. 21. but in the Spirit he comes to conquer our flesh, and by the law of his quickening Spirit, to free us from the law of sin and death; both that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, and also that there might be no condemnation to us, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ;" Rom. viii. 1, 2. 4. The kingdom of Christ was not worldly; for if it had been worldly, he would have sought to establish it by strength of arms and fighting, which are worldly means; John xviii. 36. But his kingdom is within us; it is a spiritual kingdom; and therefore though in the world he was used with contempt, as a fool, and as a sinner, and a man of sorrows; yet within us he will be used with honour and reverence, as a King and absolute Lord. It was the hour of the executioner and the power of darkness, when he was in his suffering; but it is the hour of his triumph and marriage, and the prevailing power of the heavenly light, when he cometh by saving grace into the soul. On the cross he was as a sinner, and stood in our place, and bore what was our due, and not his own; but in the soul he is the conqueror of sin, and cometh to take possession of his own, and doth the work that belongeth to him in his dignity; and therefore he will there be acknowledged and honoured. On the cross he was pulling down the kingdom of satan, and setting up his own, but in the preparatory purchase: but in the soul he