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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 bim : nor is he entertained in the necessary honour of a Redeemer, till humiliation throw
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 forit. 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 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 0, 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 0, 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 your
former smart. Is not this it that cost me so many 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