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56. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.
Let not the reader lightly pass over these things in applieation to himself. When you imagine, reader, that it is a bad sign for a person to be apt to think himself a better saint than others, take heed lest there arise a blinding prejudice in your own favour. There will probably be need of great strictness of self-examination, in order to determine whether it be so with you. If you conclude thus, It seems to me, none are so bad as 1. Do not let the matter pass
off so; but examine again, whether or no you do not think yourself better than others on this very account, because you imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Have not you a high opinion of this humility? If you answer, No; I have not a high opinion of my humility; it seems to me I am as proud as the devil : examine again, whether self-conceit do not rise up under this cover; whether on this very account—that you thiok yourself as proud as the devil-you do not think yourself to be very bumble.
From this opposition between the nature of a true, and of a counterfeit humility, as to the esteem that the subjects of them have of themselves, arises a manifold contrariety of temper and behaviour. A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his righteousness and holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person to be poor in spirit, is to be in his own sense and apprehension poor, as to what is in him, and to be of an answerable disposition. Therefore a truly humble person, especially one eminently humble, naturally behaves himself in many respects as a poor man. The poor useth intreaties, but the rich answereth roughly. A poor man is not disposed to quick and high resentment when he is among the rich. He is apt to yield to others, for he knows others are above him; nor is he stiff and self-willed. He is patient with hard fare, expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently. He does not take it heinously that he is overlooked, and but little regarded; but is prepared to be in a low place; readily honours his superiors, and takes reproofs quietly. He easily yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over nice or humoursome, and has bis spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian. Humility is (as the great Mastricht expresses it) a kind of holy pusillanimity. A man that is very poor is a beggar; so is he
that is poor in spirit. This constitutes a great difference between those affections that are gracious, and those that are false: under the former, the person continues still a poor beggar at God's gates, exceeding empty and needy; but the latter make men appear to themselves rich, and increased with goods, and not very necessitous; they have a great stock in their own imagination for their subsistence*.
A poor man is modest in his speech and behaviour; much more, and more certainly and universally, is one that is poor in spirit, humble and modest in his behaviour amongst men. It is in vain for any to pretend that they are humble, and as little children before God, when they are haughty, assuming, and impudent in their behaviour amongst men. The apostle informs us, that the design of the gospel is to cut off all glorying, not only before God, but also before men, Rom. iv. 1, 2. Some pretend to great humiliation, while yet they are very haughty, audacious and assuming in their external appearance and behaviour: but they ought to consider those scriptures, Psal. cxxxi. 1. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Prov. vi, 16, 17. These six things doth the Lord hate : yea, seven are an aboinination unto him : a proud look, &c.- Chap. xxi. 4. An high look, and a proud heart, are sin. Psal. xviii. 27. Thou wilt bring down high looks. And Psal. ci. 5. Him that hath an high look, and a proud heart, I will not suffer. 1 Cor. xiii. 4. Charity vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly. There is a certain amiable modesty
* “ This spirit erer keeps a man poor and vile in his own eyes, and empty. When the man hath got some knowledge, and can discourse pretty well, and bath some tastes of the heavenly gift, some sweet illapses of grace, and so his conscience is pretty well quieted : and if be baih got some answer to his prayers, and hath sweet affections, be grows full: and having ease to his conscience, casts off sense, and daily groaning under sin. And hence the spirit of prayer dies : he loses his esteem of God's ordinances ; feels not such need of them; or gets no good, feels no life or power by them. This is the woeful condition of some ; but yet they know it not. But now he that is filled with the Spirit, the Lord empties him ; and the more, the longer he lives. So that though others think he needs not much grace ; yet he accounts himself the poorest,” SHEPARD's Parable of the ten virgins, Part II. p. 132.
" After all fillings, be ever empty, hungry, and feeling need, and praying for more." Ibid. p. 151.
“ Truly, brethren, when I see the curse of God upon many Christians, that are now grown full of their parts, gifts, peace, comforts, abilities, duties, I stand adoring the riches of the Lord's mercy, to a little handful of poor believers; not only in making them empty, but in keeping them so all their days." SHEPARD'S Sound Believer, the late edition in Boston, p. 158, 159,
and fear that belongs to a Christian behaviour among men, arising from humility, of which the scripture often speaks; 1 Pet. iii. 15. Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you, with meekness and fear. Rom. xiii. 7. Fear, to whom fear. 2 Cor. vii. 15. Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. Eph. vi. 5. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling. I Pet. ii. 18. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear. 1 Pet, iii
. 2. While they behold your
chaste conversation coupled with fear. 1 Tim. ii. 9. That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety. In this respect a Christian is like a little child; a little child is modest before men, and his heart is apt to be possessed with fear and awe amongst them.
The same spirit will dispose a Christian to honour all men; 1 Pet. ii. 17. Honour all men. A humble Christian is not only disposed to honour the saints in his behaviour ; but others also, in all those ways that do not imply a visible approbation of their sins. Thus Abraham, the great pattern of believers, honoured the children of Heth; Gen. xxiii. 11, 12. Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land. This was a remarkable instance of a humble behaviour towards them whom Abraham knew to be accursed; for which cause he would by no means suffer his servant to take a wife to his son, from among them; and for which cause also Esau's wives, being of these children of Heth, were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. So Paul honoured Festus, Acts xxvi. 25. I am not mad, most noble Festus. Not only will Christian humility dispose persons to honour wicked men out of the visible church, but also false brethren and persecutors. Jacob, when he was in an excellent frame-having just been wrestling all night with God, and received the blessing-honoured Esau, his false and persecuting brother; Gen. xxxiii. 3. Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother Esau. So he called him lord : and commanded all his family to honour him in like manner.
Thus I have endeavoured to describe the heart and beba. viour of one who is governed by a truly gracious humility, as exactly agreeable to the scriptures as I am able. Now, it is out of such a heart as this, that all truly holy affections flow. Christian affections are like Mary's precious ointment poured on Christ's head, that filled the whole house with a sweet odour. That was poured out of an alabaster box; so gracious affections flow out to Christ out of a pure heart. That was
poured out of a broken box, (until the box was broken, the ointment could not flow, nor diffuse its odour) so gracious affections flow out of a broken heart. Gracious affections are also like those of Mary Magdalene, (Luke vii. at the latter end) who in like manner pours precious ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster broken box, anointing therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed them with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All gracious affections, which are a sweet odour to Christ, filling the soul of a Christian with an heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken-hearted affec
A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires; their hope is an humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble, broken-hearted joy, leaving the Christian more poor in spirit, more like a little child, and more disposed to an universal lowliness of behaviour.
Another thing, wherein gracious affections are distinguished
from others, is, that they are attended with a change of nature.
All gracious affections arise from a spiritual understanding, in which the soul bas the excellency and glory of divine things discovered to it, as was shewn before. But all spiritual discoveries are also transforming. They not only make an alteration of the present exercise, sensation and frame of the soul; but such is their power and efficacy, that they alter its very nature; 2 Cor. iii. 18. But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Such power as this, is properly divine, and is peculiar to the Spirit of the Lord. Other power may make a great alteration in men's present frames and feelings; but it is the power of a Creator only that can change the nature. And no discoveries or illuminations, but those that are divine and supernatural, will have this supernatural effect. But this effect all those discoveries have, that are truly divine. The soul is deeply affected by these discoveries ; so affected, as to be transformed.
Thus it is with those affections of which the soul is the subject in its conversion. The scriptural representations of conversion, strongly imply and signify a change of nature : such as being born again. becoming new creatures; rising from the dead
in being reneærd in the spirit of the mind; dying to sin, and living to righteousnes i putting oh lend man and putting on the neix mun; being ingrafted into a new slock; having a divine seed implanted in the heart ; being made partakers of the divine nature, &c.
Therefore if there be no great and-remarkable abiding change in persons, who think they have experienced a work of conversion, vain are all their imaginations and pretences, however they may have been affected*. Conversion (if we may give any credit to the scripture) is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin, before he is converted; but when he is converted, his very heart and nature is turned from it unto holiness : so that tiienceforward he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin. If, therefore, after a person's high affections at his supposed first conversion, it happens that in a little time there is no very remarkable alteration in him, as to those bad qualities and evil habits which before were visible in him--and he is ordinarily under the prevalence of the same kind of dispositions as heretofore, and the same things seem to belong to his character, he appearing as selfish, carnal, stupid, and perverse, unchristian, and unsavoury as ever-it is greater evidence against him, than the brightest story of experiences that ever was told can be for him. For in Christ Jesus neither circuincision, nor uncircumcision, neither high profession, nor low profession, neither a fair story, nor a broken one, avails any thing; but a new creature. If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while; yet if it be not abiding, but he afterwards return, in a stated manner, to bis foriner habits; it appears to be no change of nature; for nature is an abiding thing. A swine may be washed, but the swinish nature remains; a dove may be defiled, but its cleanly nature remains ť
*" I would uot judge of the whole soul's coming to Christ, so much by sudden pangs, as by an inward bent. For the whole soul, in affectionate expressions and actions, inay be carried to Christ; but heing without this bent, and change of afiec. tous, is unsound.', -SHEPARD's Parable, Part I. p. 203.
t"It is with the soul, as with water; all the cold may be gone, but the native pr'nciple of cold remains still. You may remove the burning of lusts, not the blinkness of oature. Where the power of sia lies, change of conscience from