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our griefs, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him, as the substitute and surety of guilty man; but when he comes, by his saving grace, into the soul, he will not then be entertained with contempt. He came in the flesh on purpose to be hum. bled; but, when he comes in the spirit, it is that be may be exalted. On the cross he was reputed a sinner, and bore the punishment that was due to sin; but, in the soul, he is the conqueror of sin, and comes to take possession of his own, and therefore must be treated according to his dignity. It was the hour and power of darkness while be suffered; but, when he enters into the heart by his quickening spirit, that is the hour of triumph, and the prevailing power of heavenly light; and, therefore, though in the flesh he submitted to contempt and reproach, yet he will not endure to be slighted in the soul, No; there he must be enthroned in our most reverend esteem, and crowned with our highest gratitude and love. The cross must there be the portion of his ene. mies. The crown and sceptre which he purchased must be yielded to him; and every thought must be captiva. ted to the obedience of his will.
This is the end of humiliation, to employ the soul for the fuller entertainment of the Lord that brought it; ta prepare the way before him; to whip the buyers and sellers out of the living temples of our hearts, that they may become holiness to the Lord, a fit habitation for the King of Glory.
From this account of the nature and use of humiliation, you may be able to judge what measure of it is absolutely necessary. It must at least go so deep as to undermine our pride, and bring us so low, that the blood of Christ, and the favour of God, shall become more precious in our esteem, than all the riches, and honours, and pleasures of a present world. At the same time, we must beware of ascribing to our own humiliation any part of the office of Christ, or of the honour that is due to him. We must not think that we can recommend our. selves to the favour of God by the worth of our sorrows, though we should weep even tears of blood. It is not true humiliation, if it lead us not wholly beyond our. selves, to seek pardon and life from Christ alone; and, therefore, it would be a plain contradiction, if humiliation should assume the place of satisfaction and merit, or be in any degree relied upon instead of the Saviour, or so much as associated with him in procuring our sal. vation.
Hence likewise we learn, that bumiliation becomes excessive, and counteracts its chief end, when it confines our attention so entirely to our own unworthiness, as to darken our views of gospel grace, and prevent or obstruct our application to Christ. But as few, comparatively speaking, err upon this side, I sball rather take occasion, from what has been said, to point out some of the symptoms of the opposite extreme, and then call upon those whose humiliation, upon trial, shall appear to be defective, to beg of God the blessing of a broken and contrite heart, which is the professed design of our assembling together this day.
18t, then, They may certainly conclude that they are not sufficiently humbled, who suffer their hearts to be lifted up with their duties or attainments, and are not suitably affected with those imperfections and blemishes which necessarily cleave to their best performances. The true Christian grows downward in humility, in the same proportion that he abounds in the fruits of righteousness. The nearer he approaches to a holy God, the more clearly he discovers bis own guilt and pollution. Thus holy
Nehemiah, after he had been recounting, to the praise of divine grace, the many eminent services he had been enabled to do for the church, addresses to God this humble
prayer, “O spare me, according to the greatness of thy mercy!”
2d. When you are apt to murmur and repine, because your duties are not accompanied with a present reward; when you are ready to say, in the language of the Jews of old, “Wherefore have we fasted and prayed, and thou regardest not;" this is another symptom that secretly you entertain an opinion of some worthiness in yourselves; for, where nothing is due, there can be no right to complain when the favour is either delayed or refused.
3d. When you begin to think that any of Christ's sayings are bard, and to wish that his laws were less strict and extensive, and are hesitating whether you should yield to them or not; when you are unwilling to take up bis cross, and to forsake all for the hopes of glory, but are set upon a thriving course in the world, and suffer your hearts to be overcharged with the cares of this life, and are cumbered about many things through your own choice, this shows that you are not yet sufficiently humbled, otherwise you would not stand thus trifling with Christ; and, if God have mercy upon you, he will bring you down, abase your earthly appetite, teach you to know that one thing is needful, and constrain you to choose the better part.
4th. When you grow heartless and dull in the service of God, and relish no sweetness in the exercises of religion; when you begin to be indifferent about communion with God, and bave little anxiety to know whether your services be accepted; when you can pray without looking after your prayers, and attend upon ordinances al.
most merely from custom, or to keep conscience quiet, without a real concern to find God in them, or to receive benefit from them; especially if you are so far indifferent about the spiritual consolation of the saints, that vain company, or amusing diversions, can make up for the want of them, and keep your minds easy and satisfied without them; it must be obvious to yourselves, that you need a sharper rod than you have ever yet felt, that you may be effectually taught to know your true home, and to take greater pleasure in the fellowship of your Father and brethren, than in strangers and enemies to God and your own souls. Once more, in the
5th place, When, instead of feeding upon ordinances, and receiving them thankfully, you rather pick quarrels with them, and those that dispense them; when you cannot bear to bave your faults laid open, but hate and revile the faithful reprover; when you grow censorious and uncharitable, like the Pharisee in the context, treating others with contempt, aggravating their failings, and extenuating their graces; especially when men begin to grow wanton in matters of religion, itching after novelties, and affecting singularity; when they think them. selves fitter to teach than to learn, and that the church is not pure or good enough for their company: all this cries aloud for farther humiliation. And, when it shall please God to lead them into the chambers of imagery, and expose the hidden contents of them to their view, he will make them to stoop to the very persons whom once they slighted, and to judge themselves unworthy of the communion of those whom they formerly despised as unworthy of theirs.
These are a few marks by which I would have you to try yourselves; and, if you find that any of them are partly applicable to you, or, if by any other means you
can discover that pride and self-exaltation still retain too much power in your hearts, let me now beseech you to cry earnestly to God for that humble and contrite spirit which he expressly requires, and hath graciously promised to accept.
Grief, I know, is an unwelcome guest to nature; but grace can see reason to bid it welcome, as a necessary consequence of our past sins, and an essential preparative for our future recovery.
You will submit to the severest regimen, and take the most loathsome potions, for the health of your bodies; and should you not submit to the bitterest sorrows, and the keenest rebukes, for the saving of your souls. It is true, as I formerly observed, that your deepest humilia. tion merits nothing, and can make yo amends to God for your sins; neither is it for any want of sufficiency in the blood of Christ that it is required; but it is part of the fruit of his blood upon your souls; for if his blood do not melt and break your hearts, you have no part in him.
Consider whence you are coming. Is it not from a state of enmity against God? and is it decent, is it ingenuous, to leave such a state, without lamenting that you staid in it so long?
Consider what sorrows they be which these sorrows are intended to prevent, and what those are now suffering in hell, who felt not this godly sorrow upon earth. Yours have bope, but theirs are sharpened with despair; yours are medicinal, but theirs are tormenting; yours are of short duration, but theirs are eternal. Grudge not then at the opening of a vein, when so many shall bleed at the heart for ever. Besides, who was it that brought you to the necessity of this sorrow? Who was it that sinned, and laid in the fuel of after remorse? God did not do this. All the pain you can feel, is of your own