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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 hard, 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 his 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 have lit
tle anxiety to know whether your services be accepted; when you can pray without looking after your prayers, and attend upon ordinances almost 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 ordi. nances, and receiving them thankfully, you rather pick quarrels with them, and those that dispense them ; when you cannot bear to have your faults laid open, but hate and revile the faithful repro. ver; 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 themselves 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 ex. pose 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 selfexaltation 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 humiliation merits nothing, and can make no 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 bis 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 hope, 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 preparation. God only undoes what you have been doing.
Consider farther, that you have a wise and tender hearted physician, who perfectly knows what sorrow and grief are; for he himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, and is therefore disposed to pity them that are in sorrow. He delighteth not in your trouble, but in your cure and after consolation, and therefore you may be assured that he will deal gently with you, and put no more bitterness into the cup than is ne
cessary for your recovery. He was sent to heal the broken hearted, and he invites the labouring and heavy laden to come to him for rest. When he hath wounded you, he will bind up your wounds as tenderly as you can desire. He hath not in. deed that blind fondness for you which you have for yourselves. He will not be so cruelly merci. ful as to save you from that sorrow which is necessary to save your souls from perdition ; but at the same time, he will not suffer you to taste one drop of vinegar and gall, nor to shed one tear, but what tends to your future comfort and joy.
Remember that the more you are humbled after a godly sort, the sweeter will Christ and all his benefits be to you while you live. One taste of his healing love will make you bless those medicinal sorrows that prepared for it. Christ is not equally esteemed by all whom he will save; and would you not rather be yet more emptied of yourselves now, that hereafter you may be fuller of Christ and his grace; for our Saviour here assures us in the text, that a thorough humiliation is a certain forerunner of future exaltation.
Every one that humbleth himself shall be exalt. ted.” When men propose to build high, they dig deeper for the foundation Paul was laid exceeding low at his conversion, that he might be better fitted for the important services to which he had afterwards the honour to be called. Let these considerations reconcile you to the Vol. III.