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mended; when you itch to be teachers yourselves, and think yourselves fitter to preach than to learn, to rule than to be ruled, to answer than to ask for resolution; when you think so well of yourselves, that the church is not pure or good enough for your company, though Christ disowneth it not, and they force you not to sin; when you grow censorious, and aggravate the faults of others, and extenuate their graces, and can see a mote in another's eye, but will discern none of their graces, if they be not as high as mountains; and none can pass for godly with you, but those of the most eminent magnitude; when you are itching after novelties in religion, and setting your wisdom against the present or ancient church; and affecting singularity, because you will be of no common way; when you cannot hear this minister, nor that minister, though the ministers of Christ; and you are harping upon that," Come out from among them, and be ye separate;" as if Christ had called you to come out of the church, when he called you to come out of the company of infidels: all this cries aloud for further humiliation; you have a tympany that must be pricked, to let out the wind that puffs you up: if you be not for perdition, and to be forsaken, and given over to yourselves, you must be fetched over again, and humbled with a witness. When God hath turned your inside outward, and shewed you that you are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked, and that you are empty nothings, who thought so well of yourselves; he will then make you stoop to those that you despised, and think yourselves unworthy of the communion of those that before you thought unworthy of yours. He will make you think you are unworthy to hear those ministers that you turned your back upon; and he will take down your teaching, talking vein, and make you glad again to be learners: in a word, he will by conversion make you as little children, or you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And this spiritual pride is a most lamentable disease, and the issue usually is exceeding sad. For with many, it is the forerunner of damnable apostasy, and God gives them over to their own conceits, and the wisdom which they so esteem, till it have led them to perdition. And those that are cured, are many of them cured by the saddest way of any men in the world. For it is usual with God to let them alone, till they have run themselves into some abominable
error, or fallen into some shameful, scandalous sin, till they are made an hissing and bye-word among men; that shame and confusion may bring them to their wits, and they may learn to know what it was that they were proud of, and see that they were but silly worms.
And thus I have shewed you, when you must seek after deeper humiliation, and may conclude that you are not humbled enough. Yea, and when a greater measure is of some necessity to your souls.
Quest. Well, but yet you have not told us what course sinner should take in such a strait, when he knows not whether his humiliation, as to the affectionate part, be too little or too much.'
Answ. 1. You may partly discern yourselves by what is said, whether you have need of more or less humiliation, if you can but try your hearts by these signs. 2. But yet I would advise, and earnestly persuade you, in cases of difficulty, to betake yourselves to some able, faithful minister for resolution. If you feel sorrow seize so deep upon your spirits, that it distempereth you, or threateneth your understanding, or your health, especially if you are either passionate women, or melancholy persons: stay not then any longer, lest delay do that which easily cannot be undone, but go and open your case and crave advice. This is a principal use of pastors, that you should have them at hand, to advise with in the diseases and dangers of your souls, as you do with physicians, in the diseases and dangers of the body. Lay by all sinful bashfulness, and trust not yourselves any longer with your own skill, but go to them that God hath set in office over you for such uses as these, and tell them your case this is God's way, and he will bless his own ordinance: melancholy and passionate distempered persons are not fit judges of their own condition. In this case you must distrust your own understanding, and be not self-conceited, and stick not obstinately to every fancy that comes into your heads, but in the sense of your weakness rely upon the guidance of your faithful overseers, till your distempers are overcome, and you are made more capable of discerning for yourselves.
5. You are further to be informed, that it is not for itself that sorrow and tears are so desirable, but as they are expressions of a gracious temper of the will, and as they help
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. It 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 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
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