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standing all his pressures, reacheth out towards for, givepels, as we thall see in the next verse. I Thall briefly unfold these iwo evils, and shew the necessity of their avoidance.
First, By resting or staying in it, I mean the soul's desponding through discouraging thoughts that delive, rance is not to be obtained. Being made deeply lensible of fin, it is so overwhelmed with thoughts of its own vileness and unworthiness, as to sink under the bur. den; such a soul is afficted and tossed with tempests and not comforted, Ifa. liv. 11. until it is quite weary. As a ship in a storm at sea, when all means of concending are gone, men give up themselves to be driven and tol. fed by winds and feas at their pleasure. This brought Israel to that fate wherein he cried out, My way is bid from the Lord, and my judgment is pased over from my God, lía. xl. 27. and Zion, The Lord hath forsaken me, and
my Lord bath forgotten me, chap. xlix. 14. The soul begins secretly to think there is no hope ; God regard. eth it nor; it shall one day perish, relief is far away, and trouble nigh ai hand. These thoughts do so op press them, that though they forsake not God utterly to their destruction, yet they draw not nigh unto him cffeétually to their consolation.
This is the first evil that the soul in this condition is enabled to avoid ; we koow how God rebukes it in Zi
Zion faid, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me, lsa. xlix. 14. But how foolish is Zion, how forward, how unbelieving in this matter; what ground hath she for sinful despondencies, such discouraging conclufions? Can a woman, faith the Lord, forget her sucking child, that she should not have compafia un on the son of her womb; yea, they may forget, but I will not forget thee. The like reproof he gives to Jacob upon tbe like complaint, chap. xl. 28, 29, 30. There is nothing that is more provoking to the Lord, nor more disadvantageous unto che soul, chan such fin ful despondency. For,
First, It infenfibly weakens the foul, and disenables it, both for present duries, and futurc endeavours. Hence, fome poor creatures mourn, and even pine away in this condition, never getting one step beyond a perplexing sense of fin all their days. Some have dwelt so long upon it, and have so intangled themselves with a multitude of perplexed thoughts, that at length their patural faculties have been weakened, and rendered utterly useless; so that they have lost both sense of sin and every thing else. Against some, Satan bath taken advantage to cast in so many intangling objections into their minds, that their whole time hath been taken up in propofing doubts and objections against themselves; with these they have gone up and down, to one and another, and being never able to come unto a con fiftency in their own thoughts, they have spent all their days in a fruitless, fapless, withering, comfortless condition. Some, with whom things come to a better issue, are yet for a season, brought to that discomposure of fpirit, or are so filled with their own apprehensions, that when the things which are most proper to their condition are spoken to them, they take no impression in the least upon them. Thus the soul is weakened by dwelliog too long on these considerations; until some cry with those in Ezek. xxxiii. 16. Our fins are upon us, we pine away in them, and how should we then live?
Secondly, This frame, if it abides by itself, will in, sensibly give countenance unto hard thoughts of God, and so to repining, and weariness in waiting on him. At first the soul Seither apprehends nor fears any such iffue : It supposeth that it shall condemo and abhor is self, and justify God, and that for ever; but when relief comes not in, this resolution begins to weaken : Secret thoughts arise in the heart, that God is austere, inexorable, and not to be dealt withal; this sometimes cafts forth such complaints, as will bring the soul uato new complaints, before it comes to have an issue of its trials. Here, in humiliation antecedaneous to converfion, many a convinced person perisheth; they cannot
wait God's season, and perilh under their impatience. And what the saints of God themselves have been overtaken withal in their depths and trials, we have many examples and instances. Delight and expectations are the grounds of our abiding with God; both these are weakened by a conquering prevailing sense of sin, without lome relief from the discuvery of forgiveness, tho' at a distance. And therefore our perplexed soul stays not here, but presseth on towards that discovery.
SECONDLY, There is a resting on this frame, that is noxious and hurtful also; fome finding this sense of fin, with other things that artend it, wrought in them, in some measure, begin to think that now all is well, this is all that is of them required. They will endeavour to make a life, form such arguments of comfort, as they can take from their Trouble; they think this a ground of peace, that they bave not place. Here some take up before conversion, and it proves their ruin. Because they are convinced of fin, and troubled about it, and burdened with it, they think it (hall be well with them: But were not Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, convinced of fin, and burdened with it; Dd this profit them? Did it interest them in the promises ? Did not the wrath of Gød overtake them notwithstanding ? So is is with many daily; they think their conviction is conversion, and that their fins are pardoned, because they have been troubled.
This then is that which we reject, which the soul in this condition, doth carefully avoid ; so as to satisfy itself with its humiliarion, as to make that a ground of fupportment and consolation, being thereby kept off from exercising faith for forgiveness: For this is, First, A fruit of felf-righteousness
. For a soul to place he spring of iis peace or comfort on any thing of its own, is to fall short of Christ, and to take up in self, We must not only be justified, but glory in hin also, Ila. xlv. 25. men may make use of the evidence of their graces, but only as a medium to a farther end, not as
the rest of the soul at all; and this deprives mens very humiliations of all gospel-humility. True humility confifts more in believing, than in being sensible of fin; that's the soul's great self-emptying and abasing: This may consist with an obstinate resolution to scramble for something upon the account of self-endeavours.
Secondly, Though evangelical sense of sin be a grace, yet it is not the uniting grace, it is not that which interests us in Christ, not that which peculiarly, and in its own'nature exalts him. There is in this sense of sin, that which is natural, and that which is fpiritual; or the matter of it, and its spirituality. The former confists in forrow, trouble, self-abasement, dejection and anxiety of mind, with the like passions; of these I may say as the apostle of affli&tions, they are not joyous but grievous. They are such as are accompanied with the aversation of the object which they are conversant about. In their own nature, they are no more but the soul's retreat into itself, with an abhorrency of the objects of its forrow and grief. When tbele affections are spiritualized, their nature is not changed: The foul, in and by them, acts according to their nature; and doth by them, as such, but retreat into itself, with a diflike of that they are exercised about. To take up here then, must needs be to sit down short of Christ, whether it be for life, or coníolation.
Let there be no mistake. There can be no evangelical sense of sin, and humiliation, where there is no union with Christ, Zech. xii. 10. Only in itself, and in its own nature is not availing. Now, Christ is the only rest of our souls; in any thing, for any end or purpose, to take up short of him, is to lole it. It is not enough that we be prisoners of hope, but we must turn to our strong hold, Zech. ix. 12. not enough that we are weary and laden, but we must come to him, Mat. xi. 27, 28. It will not fuffice that we are weak, and know we are weak, but we must take hold on the strength of God, lía. Thirdly, Indeed pressing after torgiveness, is the very
xxvii. 4, 5.
life and power of evangelical humiliation. How shall a man know that his humiliation is evangelical, that his forrow is according to God? It is not from hence he may be resolved, that he doth it not, as Cain did, who tried his fins were greater than he could bear, and so departed from the presence of God? nor as Judas did, who repeated, and hanged himself; nor as Felix did, tremble for a while, and then return to his lusts ; nor as the Jews did, in the prophet, pine away under their iniquities, because of vexation of heart; nor doth he divert his thoughts to other things, thereby to relieve his soul in his trouble ; nor fix upon a righteousness of his own; nor flothfully ly down under his perplexity ; but in the midst of it, he plies himself to God in Christ for pardon and mercy. And it is the foul's application unto God for forgiveness, and not its sense of fin, that gives unto God the glory of his grace.
Thus far then have we accompanied the soul in its depths ; it is now looking out for forgiveness; which, what it is, and how we come to have an interest in it, the principal matter in this discourse intended, is next to be considered.
The Words explained, and the Design or Scope of the
Psalmist in them discovered.
HE state and condition of the soul making appli
cation unto God in this psalm is recounted, ver. 1. It was in the depths ; not only providencial depths of trouble, affliction and perplexities thereon ; but also depths of conscience, distress on the account of sin, as in the opening of those words have been declared.
The application of this soul uoro God, with restless fervency and earnestness, in that state and condition ; its consideration, in the first place, of the law, and the