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sinned against the Lord. Nathan, when he would force home a sound, real humiliation upon David, he makes his case particular, Thou art the man, 2 Sam. xii. 7. The only word that dropped from Pharaoh, that seemed to have something in it of true humiliation, was that in Exod. ix. 27, In this I have sinned: the Lord is righteous, but I and my people are wicked. Now it is clear, that this is the only true way of humiliation ; for this is the way and the method that the Spirit of God takes in humbling the soul; it makes a personal, particular application of all God's curses against sinners to the soul. The word in general says, Cursed be he that continues not in all these things that are written in the law, to observe and do them. Here the Spirit comes in, and with much power tells a soul, Thou art the man ; thou art he that has broke God's commands, violated his laws, trampled upon all his precepts, and therefore thou art he that liest under the dint of this heavy curse: God means thee; God speaks to thee in particular; therefore take it to thyself, and be humbled. Now the reason that a man's consideration of his particular sins is the means to produce a true and thorough humiliation is, because man is only humbled for those things in which he is concerned; and no man looks upon himself as concerned in a general evil, till he makes it particular by a personal application. When we hear of sickness abroad, we are not much moved; but when we find the symptoms of it upon our own bodies, then we speak more feelingly of it, and use the utmost care to remove it. The notions we have of sin, and misery that follows sin, are but common and superficial, till we make them particular by our
own experience. If we would kill our sins, we must not shoot our sorrows at random, at sin in general, but single them out, and take a distinct aim at every sin in particular. Although, to make the work of humiliation more easy, I should advise the soul to this way, because we may master and conquer these sins by our sorrows, that we take severally and apart, which we could not so well deal with in the heap. Those evils most affect our sorrows that most affect our apprehensions; but sins, as they are represented to us in particular, chiefly affect our apprehensions: generals and universals leave a confused, imperfect notion in the mind; but particulars leave a more clear and evident impression. Thus much of the fourth reason to prove this doctrine, that it is the best and most effectual way to avert a general judgment, for every particular man seriously to inquire into and amend his personal, particular sins.
6th Observation is, That upon our serious humiliation for, and forsaking of our sins, there is sufficient argument in God's mercy to hope for a removal of the severest judgment.
Now the truth of this will appear from these three things.
1st, Because God has promised, upon true humiliation, to remove his judgments.
2dly, Because he has often actually removed them upon such humiliation.
3dly, Because when we are brought to be thus humbled, God has attained the end of his judgments.
1st, There is argument for this hope, because God has promised it. Mercy, it is the only refuge
of a lost creature, the only prop of a decaying confidence, it is God's endearing attribute. But since we have sinned, God's justice keeps us from relying upon his mercy, till his promise gives us leave; this is that alone that opens a door of mercy to a forlorn soul, and makes that confidence become duty which would otherwise be presumption. In the 26th of Leviticus, the Spirit of God reckons up many sad and dismal curses which should befall the children of Israel, if they did apostatize from God, and break his commands. Yet in the 41st and 42d verses, he promises them an after-return of mercy upon their humiliation. So merciful is God, that he closeth his threatenings with prescriptions how to avoid them; and in the midst of judgment shews the way how to regain mercy. What God promised to Israel he does as truly promise to us; for his mercy, that caused him to make this promise, is the same yesterday and to-day. And as the apostle observes, no promise is of private interpretation. In the forementioned Jer. Xxxvi. 3, It may be, says God, that the house of Judah will hear all the evil that I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. · Where God forgives the sin, he always removes the judgment. Why do we not then engage our utmost in these duties? Is not God's promise true, that we should not believe it? And if it be true, and we do believe it, is it not worthy our closing with it, by fulfilling its conditions? We have cause enough to believe, that God is much more willing to remove than to bring judgments upon men. It is reason enough that we should humble ourselves under God's judgment,
though he had made no such promise of mercy ; even for this cause, that by our humiliations we might prevail with him to make us such a promise. But how much readier should we be in this duty, now the promise is prepared and presented to our hands ! Surely if our miseries abide upon us, it is not because God is wanting to us, but we are wanting to ourselves.
2dly, There is argument for hope, because God has often removed judgments upon a sincere humiliation. And if we cannot command our faith to believe what God has promised to do, yet let us believe what God has done already. Every instance in this nature, it is an overplus of evidence to overrule us into this persuasion. A promise with an instance, it is like an excellent medicine with a probatum est, ratified by experience. The first instance of those that have tasted mercy after humiliation is that in the text, the 10th verse, And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them, and he did it not. God will let men see that he can more easily repent of his anger than they of their sins. The second instance is that of Manasses ; a prodigy of sin, one as it were raised up on purpose, in whom it might appear how far wickedness might proceed; yet we know, upon his humiliation, God turned his captivity, and set him loose from his chains, and from a prison, (a thing seldom known in any age ;) he returned him to a kingdom, 2 Chron. xxxii. 12, 13. Now is there any man that can rationally doubt of the strength of humiliation, after it has restored a Manasses ? 3dly, The third instance is that of Ahab, one
almost as deep in sin as Manasses; one that sold himself to do wickedly; a king of Israel, yet a slave to sin ; polluted with the blood of his innocent neighbour; yet when the curse of God met him, and shook him into an humiliation, 1 Kings xxi. 29, God's anger thereupon leaves him for a while, and though his justice could not let him take away the punishment, yet his mercy caused him to defer it. God's fury in this case (if I may so express it) something resembling an ague; it shook him for a while, and then it left him. All divines do agree, that Ahab's humiliation was not sincere, but only hypocritical. Now if God were so merciful as to reward the bare outside of an humble repentance with such an abatement of a judgment, will he not answer and reward thy hearty, sincere humiliation with an entire removal of it? In Psalm cvii. 17, 18, 19, Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted; their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their troubles, he saveth them out of their distresses. Here we have another kind of unsincere repentance, seconded with an undeserved reward. And can God so love the very picture of humiliation, and not love and embrace that much more? Can the bare show of repentance delay God's stroke, and shall not the reality and truth of it avert it? Certainly this is the only reason that God shews himself so favourable to hypocrites' bare pretences, that he may encourage our real endeavours.
3dly, There is argument to hope for the removal of a judgment upon true humiliation, because in this God attains the end of his judgments. No