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and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son;" Luke xv. 18. It is not ingenuous for a guilty soul, or one that is snatched as a brand out of the fire, to look towards God with a brazen face, but with shame and sorrow to hang down the head, and smite upon the breast, and say, O Lord be merciful to me a sinner.' 22 "For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble;" 1 Pet. v. 5. James iv. 6. "Though the Lord be high, yet he hath regard unto the lowly but the proud he knoweth afar off;' Psal. cxxxviii. 6. 66 For thus saith the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity; whose name is Holy; and I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones;" Isa. lvii. 15. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word;" Isa. lxvi. 2. "The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit ;" Psal. xxxiv. 18. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise ;" Psal. li. 17. There is no turning to God, unless we " loathe ourselves for all our abominations;" Ezek. xvi. 63.
The nearer we approach him, the more we must abhor ourselves in dust and ashes;" Job xlii. 6. He will not embrace a sinner in his dung; but will first wash and cleanse him; Isa. i. 16. Conversion must make us humble, and as little children, that are teachable, and look not after great matters in the world, or else there is no entering the kingdom of God; Matt. xviii. 3, 4. And thus you see the uses and necessity of Humiliation.
III. By what hath been already said, you may perceive what mistakes are carefully to be avoided, about your Humiliation, and with what caution it must be sought.
1. One error that you must take heed of, is, that you take not Humiliation for an indifferent thing, or for such an appurtenance of faith as may be spared: think not an unhumbled soul, while such, can be sanctified. Some carnal hearts conceive, that it is only more heinous sinners that must be contrite and brokenhearted; and that this is not necessary to them that have been brought up civilly or religiously from their youth. But it is as possible to be saved without faith, as without repentance, and that special humiliation
which I described to you before, it is part of your sancti
2. Another mistake to be carefully avoided, is, the placing of your Humiliation, either only, or principally, in the passionate part, or in the outward expression of those passions. I mean, either in pinching grief, and sorrow of heart, or else in tears. But you must remember that the life of it is, as was said before, in the judgment and the will. It is not the measure of passionate sorrow and anguish that will best shew the measure of your sincere humiliation; much less is it your tears or outward expressions. But it is your low esteem of yourselves, and contentedness to be vile in the eyes of others; and your displacency with yourselves, and willingness to mourn and weep for sin as much as God would have you, with the rest of the acts of the judgment and will before described.
Two great dangers are here before you to be avoided. First, some there be that have terrible pangs of sorrow, and are ready to tear their own hair, yea, to make away themselves, as Judas, in the horror of their consciences; and these may seem to have true humiliation, and yet have none. And some can weep abundantly at a sermon or in a prayer, or in mentioning their sin to others; and therefore think that they are truly humbled; and yet it may be nothing so. For if at the same time their hearts are in love with sin, or had rather keep it than let it go, or have not an habitual hatred to it, and a predominant, superlative love to God, their humiliation is no saving work. That which is in the passions and tears, may be even forced against your wills; and it signifieth scarce so much as a common grace, were you are not willing of it. Many an one can weep through a passionate, womanish, tender nature, and yet not only remain unhumbled, but be proud in a very high degree. How many such do we ordinarily see; especially women, that can weep more at a duty or conference, than some that are truly broken-hearted could do in all their lives; and yet be so far from being vile in their own eyes, and willing to be so in the eyes of others, that they will hate, and reproach, and rail at those that charge them with the faults which they seemed to lament; or at least that charge them with disgraceful sins; and they will excuse and mince their sins, and make a small matter of them, and love none so well as those that
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 repróver, 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 sorrows?'.