« PreviousContinue »
a cure? Whom have you to blame and find fault with but yourselves? Was it not you that sinned? Was it not you that laid in the fuel of sorrows, and sowed the seeds of this bitter fruit, and cherished the cause of trouble in yourselves? God did not do this; it was you yourselves. He doth but undo that which you have been doing. Grudge not therefore at your physician, if you must be purged, and let blood, and dieted strictly, but thank yourselves for it that have made it so necessary.
5. Consider also that you have a wise and tender Physician, that hath known what sorrow and grief is himself, for he was made for you a man of sorrows; (Isaiah liii. 3.) and therefore can pity those that be in sorrow; he delighteth not in your trouble and grief, but in your cure and afterconsolations. And therefore you may be sure that he will deal gently and moderately with you, and lay no more on you than is necessary for your good; nor give you any more bitter a cup than your disease doth require. When he sheweth his greatest liking for the contrite, it is that he may revive their hearts; and he professeth withal, that he will not contend for ever, nor be always wrath, lest the spirit should fail before him, and the souls which he hath made; Isaiah lvii. 15, 16. He calls to him the weary and heavy-laden, that he may give them ease; Matt. xi. 28. He was sent to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised; Luke iv. 18. When he hath broken your hearts, he will as tenderly bind them up, and as safely heal them as you can reasonably desire. Even his ministers, that labour to break your hearts, and bring you low, even to the dust, have no worse meaning in it than to bring you to Christ, and life, and comfort; and though they are glad to see the weeping eyes of their hearers, and to hear their free confessions and lamentations, yet this is not because they take pleasure in your trouble, but because they foresee the saving fruits of it, and know it to be necessary to your everlasting peace. You may read what their thoughts are in the words of Paul, 2 Cor. vii. 9-11. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive no damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but
the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold, this self-same thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge, &c." Indeed, neither Christ nor his ministers have that fond, foolish love to you, and pity of you, as you have to yourselves: they be not so tender of you, as to save you from the sorrow which is needful to the saving of you from hell. But they would not put you to any more than needs; nor have you taste a drop of the vinegar and gall, or shed one tear, but what shall tend to your comfort and salvation.
6. Consider what sorrows they be that these sorrows do prevent, and what those suffer in hell, that avoid this godly sorrow on earth. O sirs, your repentant sorrows are joys to those; yours have hope, but theirs are quickened with desperation; yours are small and but a drop to their ocean; yours are curing, but theirs are tormenting; yours are a father's rod, but theirs are the rack and gallows; yours are mixed with love, but theirs are unmixed, overwhelming them with confusion; yours are short, but theirs are endless. And had you rather sorrow as they do, than as the godly do? Had you rather howl with devils and rebels, than weep with saints and children? Had you rather be broken in hell by torments, than on earth by grace Is it not an unreasonable thing of you, to make such a stir at the sorrow that must save you, when you remember what it would save you from, and what all must suffer that are not humbled here by grace! O, it is another kind of sorrow that others are now enduring. Grudge not at the pricking of a vein, when so many thousands are everlastingly bleeding at the heart.
7. Consider, the more you are rightly humbled, the sweeter will Christ and all his mercies be to you ever after while you live. One taste of the healing love of Christ, will make you bless those sorrows that prepared for it. The same Christ is not equally esteemed even by all that he will save: and had you not rather be emptied yet more of yourselves, that you may be fuller of Christ hereafter? When you do but feel his arms embracing you, and perceive him in that posture as the prodigal's father was; (Luke xv. 20.) you will thank that sorrow that fitted you for his arms.
8. If you be thoroughly humbled, you will walk the more
safely all your days, if other things correspond. It will make you hate the sin you smarted by, and fly the occasions of that which cost you so dear.
9. The sin of pride is one of the most mortal, damning sins in the world; and that which thousands of professors do miscarry by. And humiliation is most directly contrary to this; and therefore must needs be an amiable and necessary thing. It is worth all the sorrow that a hundred men endure here, to be saved from this dangerous sin of pride.
10. A thorough humiliation is usually a sign of the greater exaltation to come after. For " those that humble themselves shall be exalted, and those that exalt themselves shall be brought low;" Luke xiv. 11. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, and he shall lift you up ;" 1 Pet. v. 5. The higher you mean to build, the deeper you will dig to lay the foundation. Your consolations will be greater, as your sorrows have been greater. You may be free from those doubts that follow others all their days, lest they were never truly humbled. You need not be still questioning, or pulling up your foundations, as if you were to begin again. It is a sign that you are intended to greater employments, (if other things concur). Paul must be laid exceeding low in his conversion, that he might be the fitter as a chosen vessel to bear Christ's name among the Gentiles.
Lay all this now together, sirs, and consider what cause you have to cherish the humbling works of grace, and not to quench them. When your hearts begin to be afflicted for sin, go not among foolish or merry companions to drink or laugh it away. Drive it not out of your minds, as unkindly as if it came to do you hurt; but get alone, and consider of the matter, and on your knees in secret beseech the Lord to follow it home, and break your hearts, and make you meet for his healing consolations, and not to leave you in this Red Sea, but to bring you through, and put the songs of praise into your mouths.
Direct. V. Having thus directed you about your Humiliation, the next direction which I would offer you, that you may not miscarry in the work of conversion, is this: See that you close with the Lord Jesus Christ, understandingly, heartily, and entirely as he is revealed, and offered to you in the Gospel. In this your Christianity doth consist, upon
this your justification and salvation lie. This is the sum of your conversion, and the very heart of the new creature. The rest is all but the preparatives to this, or the fruits of this. Christ is the end and the fulfilling of the law, the substance of the Gospel, the way to the Father, the life, the help, and the hope of the believer; if you know not him, you know nothing; if you possess not him, you have nothing; and if you are out of him, you can do nothing that hath a promise of salvation. And therefore I shall distinctly (though briefly) tell you what it is to close with Christ, understandingly, heartily, and entirely, as he is offered in the Gsspel.
And, 1. That you may close with Christ understandingly, you must look to these things. 1. That you understand who Christ is, as in his person and his offices. 2. That you understand the reason of his undertaking. 3. That you understand what it is that he hath done and suffered for us. 4. That you understand the nature and worth of his benefits, and what he will do for you. 5. That you understand the terms on which he conveyeth these benefits to men; and what is the nature, extent, and condition of the promises. And 6. That you understand the certain truth of all this.
For the first, you must understand that Jesus Christ hath two natures in one person; that he is both God and man: as he is God, of the same substance with his Father, and one in essence with him, the second person in the blessed Trinity; the Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinite. As man he hath a true human soul and body, as men have; so that his Godhead, his human soul, and his body, are really distinct. This human nature was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Virgin Mary, without man, and born of her, and is so truly united to the Divine nature, as that they are one person: not that the Godhead is turned into the manhood, nor the manhood into the Godhead; but the Godhead hath taken the manhood into personal unity with itself. This was not from eternity, but when man had sinned, and lost himself, and needed a Redeemer. By reason of his miraculous conception, he was free from all original sin, being holy, harmless and undefiled. His person and natures were fit for his office; which was to be Mediator between God and man, to make reconciliation, and recover us to God. Had he not been God, but mere man, his dignity would not have been suffi
cient for such an interposition, nor his obedience or sufferings of any such value, as to be the price of our redemption. Nor could he have borne our burden, or conquered death, and risen again, and overcome the prince of death, the devil; nor have ruled his church, and preserved and sanctified them, and prospered his cause, and subdued his enemies, nor effectually interceded with the Father, nor judged the world, or raised the dead, and done the work of a perfect Saviour. Nor was the angelical nature sufficient for this office. Had he not been man, he had not been near enough to us, to have suffered in our stead, and taught us by his doctrine, and given us his example, nor could he have suffered or died for us; for God cannot die or suffer. As he is God he is one in nature with the Father; and as he is man, he is one in nature with us; and therefore is fit to mediate for us; and in him we are brought thus nigh to God. To this office of the Mediator there are many acts belonging, from whence it hath several denominations, of which more So much for the person of Christ.
2. The next thing that you must understand, is, the reasons and ends of his undertaking; which though we are not able fully to comprehend, (nor the reason of any of the works of God;) yet must we observe so much as is revealed. And these following ends or reasons of this work, do shew themselves clearly in the Scripture, and in the event.
(1.) One is, The demonstration of God's justice, as he is Governor of the world, according to the law of nature. He made man a rational and voluntary agent, capable of good and evil, with desires and hopes of the good, and fears of the evil, and so to be ruled according to his nature. He made for him a law that revealed good and evil, with promises to move him by desire and hope, and with threatenings to drive him by necessary fear. By these engines God resolved to govern mankind. This law was the rule of man's duty, and of his receivings, or of God's judgment. According to this law, the world was to be governed by God. His governing justice consisteth in giving all their due according to his law: at least so far as that the end of the law may be attained, that is, the honour of the lawgiver preserved, transgression made odious by the terror of penalty, and obedience made honourable by its fruits of impunity and reward. Otherwise the law would not have