THE Nature and Necessity Of that Humiliation, Which the Spirit of GOD works in the Souls of those that are brought savingly to close with the LORD JESUS CHRIST, as offered in the Gospel.

By James Nalton, Late Minister of the Gospel in LONDON.

John xvi. 8.

And when he is come, he will reprove the World of Sin, and of Righteousness, and of Judgment.

Rom. vii. 9.

For I was alive without the Law once: but when the Commandment came, Sin revived, and I died.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND and T. GREEN, in Queenstreet over against the Prison. 1741.

[Page 3]

THE Nature and Necessity O [...] HUMILIATION.

ACTS xvi. 29, 30.

Then he called for a Light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

THE Lord knoweth them that are is, saith the Apostle, (2 Tim. 2.19.) Namely, they whom he hath chosen to Life eternal; and when once God hath set his Pri [...]y-Seal upon them, he will call them, and bring them home to himself, in what Place soever they be, though scattered a­mongst the Heathen; in what Condition [Page 4] soever they be, whether high, or low, rich or poor, learned or unlearned; nay though they be l [...]k [...] up under a Calling that may seem to be a bar from coming home to God: You shall sometimes hear a Man say, my Calling hinders me from God and Goodness; but I would say to such a one, if thou be­longest to Christ, though thy Calling be never so base and unsuitable to God, and the Ways of God, yet thou shalt be fetcht home, and brought home to Jesus Christ at one Time or other; Witness the Jaylo [...] here the Text speaks of, that had a Calling bad enough, for instead of professing Christ and his Gospel, he was a Persecutor of Christ and his People, a rough he wen Fellow, that dealt hardly with these precious Servants of Christ, beating them, and putting them in the inward Prison, and made fast their Feet in the Stocks, as you may read in the 24 Verse; but Paul and Silas sang in the Prison, Vers. 25. And take notice by the Way, that God can sometimes make a Pri­son a Palace to those that fear him. And as they were praying, and singing Praises to God, the Lord shook the Prison where they were, and with his shaking the Prison, he did shake the Jaylor's Heart, he had an Earth­quake within him, as well as without him; whereupon being greatly perplexed and a­maz'd, the Text tells your here, He calls for a Light, and sprang in, and came tremb­ling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and [Page 5] brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So that this Text tells and describes to you, the Jaylor's Carriage when God first struck his Heart, and gave him a Sight of himself, and of his Sins; and in this Carriage of the Jaylor, there are these three Things very observable;

His Perplexity, his Courtesy, his Questi­on; his Perplexity, in Vers. 29. His Cour­tesy and Question, in Vers. 30.

First, His Perplexity, He called for a Light and sprang in, and came trembling, and fel [...] down before Paul and Silas.

Secondly, His Courtesy, the Text says, he brought them out.

Thirdly, His Question; Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

It is the first of these I principally aim at, namely, the Jaylor's Perplexity, Than he called for a Light; Darkness now was a Terror to him, because he was a Terror to himself, He was a Magor-Missa [...]ib, a Terror round about, Jer. 20 3. And he sprang in, that is, he rusht hastily into the Prison, and like a Man distracted, knew not what to do, nor which way to turn himself; he came trembling, being strucken with inward Hor­ror and Terror of Conscience; and pray observe it well; there is not the stoutest Man breathing upon Earth, but if God set his Conscience against him, like a Dog to fly in his Face, it will pull him down, and lay him flat, and fill him with that inward [Page 6] Horror and Terror, and Perplexity, that he will be more afraid of himself, than of all the World besides. Thus it was with the Jaylor here, when God came nigh him, and awakened his Conscience, he fell down be­fore Paul and Silas. God had given him a Sight of his Sins, and of the invisible Ma­jesty of Christ, that was in those his precious Servants, Paul and Silas, whom before he lookt upon as a couple of Rogues, and that the Whip and the Stocks, were good enough for them, but now he reverenceth them, and respects them, and falls down at their Feet. Thus you see what his Perplexity was.

My Purpose is not to insist upon every Particular, but to pitch upon that which is principally held forth in the Words; Ob­serve therefore, when God was about to Work the great Work of saving Faith, and sound Conversion in the Heart of this Jay­lor, and by Faith in Jesus Christ, to bring him to Salvation, what is the first Thing that he does? First he humbles him, and strikes him down, and lays him flat, he doth awaken and shake his Conscience; this un­broken Sinner is now amazed, and perplex­ed, and astonished, and he knows not which way to turn himself. So then the Obser­vation I would commend to you from the Words, is this:


Sound Humiliation is a necessary Antecedent or fore-runner to Faith and Salvation.

[Page 7]Would you have it plainer? then take it thus,

Those whom God intends to make true Be­lievers and Heirs of his everlasting King­dom, they are first soundly humbled, and made sensible of their own dangerous and damnable Condition.

Look as a Timber-Tree, that a Man in­tends for Building, first he hews it down, and then he fits it, and squares it for the Building; so that Sinner whom God in­tends to frame for himself, and build up by Faith to Salvation, God first casts down to the Ground, and lays him flat, and makes him sensible of his own lost and dangerous, and damnable Estate: Look into the Scrip­ture, and you shall find that is God's Me­thod, and Jesus Christ's Method, and the Holy Ghost's.

First, This is God's Method, and this Course he took with our first Parents, he arraigned them, and past a Sentence upon them, and pronounced a Curse against them, before ever he brings them to the Knowledge of a Saviour, before ever he made that Promise, that The Seed of the Woman should break the Serpents Head. Re­markable is that Scripture, Job. 33.21, 22. it describes the Manner of God's converting a Sinner, Ver 14 God speaketh once, ye twice, yet Man perceiveth it not. God calls, and cries, and knocks, and tries this Way, and [Page 8] that Way, and the other Way, to bring the Sinner in, to bring him home by Conversion, but all will not do; what doth he then? Read Vers. 21, 22. God humb [...]e [...]h the Sin­ner to the very Dust, His Flesh is consumed away that it cannot be seen and his Bones that were not seen stick out, his Soul draweth near unto the Grave, and his Life to the Destroyers. His meaning is this, he is made a very Anatomy, and God brings him to the very Gates of Hell, and what follows, Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, deliver him from going down to the P [...], I have found a Ransom.

So this was the Method of Jesus Christ, this Course he took with St. Paul, before he was Converted, he unhorst him, and humbled him, and struck him blind, and all this while St. Paul must steep in Sorrow, before Ananias comes to him, and speak Words of Comfort, Acts 9 Christ would have us weary and heavy Laden. Matth. 1 [...] weary with the Work of Sin, and heavy laden with the Weight of Sin, before he will give us Ease; he will have the Soul thirsty, before he gives it the Water of Life. Isa. 55.1. Ho, every one that Thirsteth, came ye to the Waters; that is, to be sensible of the want of Christ, and the worth of Christ, before he gives the Soul to taste of the Waters of Life; and he will have the Soul sick of Sin, before the Physician comes to it, The whole have no need of a Physician, but they that [Page 9] are sick, Math. 9.12. He will have the Sinner sick of his Sin, before he will cure him.

And this is the Holy Ghost's Method too; for you shall read the Spirit of God, First convinceth of Sin, before he convinceth of Righteousness, John 16 8. First, The Spirit of God convinceth of Sin for Humiliation, before he convinceth of Righteousness for Justification.

And this hath been the Method of all Master-Builders. John Baptist he comes levelling of Mountains, and casting down proud Sinners before they come to Christ; and St. Peter, he prickt his Hearers to the Heart, before he gave them any Hope or Comfort by a Saviour, Acts 2. He let them Blood at the Heart before he directed them how to be saved. But now, because this is a weighty Truth, and it may please God to do good to some of you all the Days of your Lives, to know the Method and Man­ner of bringing Jesus Christ and the Soul together, (for this is all the Work we Mi­nisters have to do,) let me speak to it by way of Explication, and shew you three Things.

First, What this Humiliation is?

Secondly, Whether the like Measure of Humiliation be wrought in all that are brought home to Jesus Christ, or no?

Thirdly, Why God is pleased to take this Course to fit Men for Faith and Salvation, thus first to humble them?

[Page 10]First, What this Humiliation is? Divines describe a two fold Humiliation?

  • 1. A Passive Humiliation.
  • 2. An Active Humiliation.

The passive Humiliation, is that whereby God humbles the Sinner, in the first Work of his Conversion; and it is called a passive Humiliation, [...]ecause the Sinner is wholly passive, and doth nothing at all conducing to his Conversion; and of this the Text speaks of.

Secondly, There is an active Humiliation; and this is that whereby a Sinner humbles himself before God; of this you read 2 Chro. 12.7 They have humbled themselves, there­fore I will not destroy them. Now it is not this latter I am to speak of; this, to speak properly, is nothing but the Act of renewed Repentance; but I am to speak of the first, namely, that whereby God in the first Work of Conversion lets a Man see the need that he hath of Jesus Christ, and it may be thus describ'd, Passive Humiliation is a Work of the Spirit of God, whereby a poor Sinner being stricken with a Sense of his Sin, and fear of Wrath, doth fly out of himself and closeth with Jesus Christ; I say, It is a Work of the Spirit of God, because it is the Spirit that con­vinceth of Sin, and by convincing of Sin, he humbles the Soul; and hence it is the Spirit of God in the first Work of Conversion, is called the Spirit of Bondage, Rom. 8.15. For ye have not received the Spirit of Bondage [Page 11] again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father. Why is it called the Spirit of Bondage? Not because the Spirit of God brings the Soul into Bondage, for the Spirit of God is a free Spirit, Psal. 51 12. Uphold me with thy free Spirit; and where the Spirit of God is, there is Liberty. But he is called a Spirit of Bondage, because he discovers to us our Bondage, and lets the Sinner see the Bondage and Slavery wherein he is miserably captivated under Sin and Satan. A Man, before the Work of Conversion is wrought, thinks himself a Free-Man; We are Abraham's Seed, and were never in Bondage to any, how sayest thou we shall be made free? John 8 33. But now the Spirit of God comes, and lets a Man see himself in the Glass of God's Law, whereby he discovers Sin to be out of Measure sin­ful; and it lets him see himself in the Glass of Conscience, and so comes to the Sinner, and says to him, just as Nathan did to Da­vid, Thou art the Man, thou art he that lyeth under the Guilt of Sin, and under the Wrath of God, and under the Condemna­tion of the second Death; therefore look to it. When the Spirit of God lets a Man see himself, and his Bondage, and that State of Woe and Misery in which he is, now he confesseth he is in the Gall of Bitterness, and in the Bond of Iniquity. Again, I say in the Description of it, that the poor Sinner [Page 12] is stricken with the sense of his Sin, and with the fear of Wrath. Before a Man is hum­bled, he is just like a Man in a dead Sleep, in a drunken Sleep, he hears not, he fears not, he feels not; like the Drunkard that Solomon speaks of, Prov. 23.34, 35 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lyeth down in the midst of the Sea, or as he that lyeth upon the top of a Mast; they have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick, they have beaten me, and I felt it not; when I shall awake, I will seek it yet again. But when once the Spirit of God comes to strike the Sinner to the Purpose, now Sin is revived, and Conscience awakened and convicted, as the Apostle St. Paul saith, I was alive once without the Law, alive in my own Appre­hension, alive without the spiritual Know­ledge of the Law; but Sin revived, and I died, Rom. 7.9. Then the Law shewed me I was but a dead Man; O, Conscience now began to be awaked, and convicted. Sense of Sin brings with it a fear of Wrath, and hence it is, that the Spirit of Bondage is called a Spirit of Fear. 2 Tim. 1.7. For, God hath not given us the Spirit of Fear, but of Power, of Love, and of a sound Mind And this Fear doth awaken a Man, and leave some kind of Impression upon the Spirit of a Man, so that he is awakened, and looks out for Help out of himself Again. I say A Sinner thus stricken with the Sense of his Sin, flies out of himself, and flies to Jesus [Page 13] Christ; That is, he despairs of all Hope, and Help in himself: I dare say, he was never a true believing Sinner, that was not a despairing Sinner; understand me thus, there is a religious-desperation, as well as a damning-desperation; I say, a Sinner that is stricken with the Sense of his Sins, despairs of Help in himself; this is an holy Despair, whereby a Man renounceth all Hope of Help in himself, and flies to Jesus Christ. This is a certain Rule, the less a Man trusts in himself, the more he trusts in a Saviour. That's the first Thing, What this Humilia­tion is?

A second Question to be satisfied is this, Whether the like Measure of Humiliation be wrought in all those that are brought home to Jesus Christ?

I answer, No, some have more, and some have less, according to the different Tem­pers of Men's Spirits: some Men are more froward, and some are more ingenious; those that are openly prophane, stout, stub­born Sinners, they usually have a great Measure of Humiliation, but now those that are more flexible, have a less Measure of Humiliation; to the first, God comes like a mighty rushing Wind, to the second Sort, he comes like a still Wind, in a more mild and melting Way; sometimes God breaks in upon the Sinner's Heart with open vio­lence, as he did upon St. Paul, when he was smitten down to the Ground, Acts 9. [Page 14] Sometimes again God opens the Heart without any Noise, as he did the Heart of Lydia, Acts 16 Sometimes God suffers a Sinner to lie long under the Spirit of Bon­dage, those especially that he hath appointed for some special Use and Service to himself; as the Timber that is appointed for some special Service, lies long a soaking, before it be made Use of. Sometimes again Sin­ners are set free from legal Terrors sud­denly; now this is the least Measure of Humiliation, wrought in those that are brought home to Jesus Christ, to make Sin odious, and loathsome to a Man, and to make a Man fly out of himself to Jesus Christ There is a twofold passive Humi­liation.

  • 1. A Legal Humiliation.
  • 2. An Evangelical Humiliation.

The legal Humiliation is that which con­sists in legal Terror, and fear of Wrath, and the Sense of God's Wrath, and Horror of Conscience, and Fear of Hell-Fire.

Secondly, There is an evangelical Humili­ation, and that consists in the Operation of God's blessed Spirit, convincing a Man of Sin; thus the Spirit of God convinceth the Sinner, and by convincing him, empties him of himself, and by emptying him fits him for a Saviour. Legal Humiliation, (pray mark) though it makes a greater Noise, yet it is not always absolutely need­ful for all Persons, which I prove thus [Page 15] It is not a Grace, because a Man can never have too much Grace, and a Man may have too much legal Humiliation. Again, some Reprobates have had a great Measure of legal Humiliation, and yet have perished; and some that have been converted have had but a little Measure of legal Humilia­tion, and yet have been saved. I say, legal Humiliation, though it makes a great Noise, is not absolutely needful: But evangelical Humiliation, though it makes a less Noise, this is absolutely needful to every Person, because this drives a Sinner out of himself, and causeth him to fly to Jesus Christ, in a mild and melting Way, making him, to look on him whom he hath pierced, and to mourn for his Sin, as he that mourns for the loss of his only Son that serves him.

The third Thing to be opened, is this, But why doth God take this Course, in bring­ing Men to Faith and Salvation? The Rea­sons are these three.

First, It is equal. Secondly, It is fitting [...] Thirdly, It is necessary.

First, It is equal, because it is God's Way; and there is all the Reason in the World, that God should bring us to Heaven in his own Way; that it is God's Way, appears, Isa. 61.1, 2. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, (saith Jesus Christ) because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good Tidings to the Meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim Liberty [Page 16] to the Captives, and the opening of the Prison to them that are Bound, to proclaim the accept­able Year of the Lord, and the Day of Venge­ance of our God, to comfort all that mourn. So you see they are to be comforted that mourn, and they are to be bound up that are broken-hearted; so that, till a Man be Meek and Humble, and have a broken Heart, he is out of Christ's Commission to Comfort, Christ will say to such, I have nothing to do with thee, I am sent to those that are Meek and Humble, and Broken-hearted, Luke 19 10. In Mat [...]. 18.11. The Son of Man came to seek, and to save that which was lost — Then (may some say) he came to seek and to save all, for all were lost in Adam; but that is not the meaning, but the meaning is, all that feel themselves lost; a Man may be in a lost Condition, and yet never feel himself in a lost Condi­tion; but when a Man sees himself to be in a lost Estate, and in a damned and undone Condition without Christ, Christ came to seek and to save such.

Secondly, It is fitting that God should bring us to Faith and Salvation this Way; fitting, you will say, but how?

  • In reference to God.
  • In reference to Ourselves.
  • In reference to Others

First, In reference to God, because by this Humiliation, the Justice of God is acknow­ledged, and the Mercy of God is magnified; [Page 17] these are the two great Attributes that God will have magnified in the Conversion of a Sinner. The Justice of God is acknow­ledged, when the Sinner falls down at the Feet of God, and saith, Lord, against thee, against thee have I sinned, and done this Evil in thy Sight, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when that judgest Psal. 51.4 And the Mercy of God is wonderfully magnified, when he hangs out a white Flag of Pardon, after all the Sinner's Rebellions and Provocations, O now, Mercy is Mercy indeed! As a King, when he is about to Pardon a Traitor, he suffers him to be brought to the Place of Execution, and to have the Rope about his Neck, and the Hankerchief drawn over his Face; O how welcome is a Pardon then to that Traitor! So a humbled Sinner will say, Mercy is Mercy indeed, when he is con­vinced of his desperate, and undone Estate and Condition.

Secondly, It is fitting in respect of our­selves, that we know ourselves. Know the Plague of our Heart, 1 Kings 8.38. God will have us to see and to feel, that it is an evil, and bitter Thing, that we have sin­ned against him. Jer. 2 19. Thine own Wicked­ness shall correct thee, and thy Backslidings shall reprove thee; know therefore, and see that it is an evil Thing, and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of [Page 18] Hosts. God would have the Sinner see his Polution, and cry out with the Lepe [...] under the Law, I am unclean, I am unclean, Levit. 13.45 As Miriam for her Miscarriage to­wards Moses, was smitten with a Leprosy, Moses, cryed to the Lord to heal her; no, stay, saith God, If her Father had but spit in her Face, should she not be ashamed seven Days? She must know herself before she be healed, Numb. 12.10, 13, 14.

Thirdly, It is fitting in respecT of others, that they may not speak reproachfully of God, and the Ways of God. If so be a Sinner could instantly step out of an Ale-House to Christ, or out of a Whore-House to Christ; if there were no more required to get to Christ, than the putting of Meat out of one Dish into another, carnal Men would be ready to have very low Thoughts of God, that he is such a one as themselves, that he doth patronize and approve their wicked Courses; but God will have the Mouth of Iniquity stopt, and carnal Men themselves acknowledge, that the Ways of God are equal.

Thirdly, It is necessary that the Soul be humbled. I shall give you these five Rea­sons of the necessi [...]y of it.

First Because without this Humiliation, the Sinner can never highly prize God. To an unhumbled Sinner, Christ is no more esteemed (with reverence be is spoken) than the Dirt under his Feet, Acts 4 11. [Page 19] This is the Stone which was set at nought by you Builders; they made no reckoning of Christ at all. Tell an unhumbled Sin­ner of Justification, of Sanctification, of Adoption, of the Hope of Glory, and the like, he makes no more reckoning of them, than the Children of Israel did of the Manna, who loathed it; but now when a Sinner is smitten with a sense of Sin, and fear of Wrath, and feels the Burden of Guilt upon his Conscience, now Christ is Christ indeed, and he looks upon him with an admiring Eye, and cries out, O the Dignity of his Person! The Preciousness of his Blood! The Value of his Merits! The Efficacy of his Intercession! The Comfort of his Spirit! O the Comforts and Excellencies that are in this sweet and precious Saviour! My Beloved (saith such a Soul) is the choicest of ten thousand. The Poor (saith our Saviour) receive the Gospel; that is, those that are poor in Spirit, they like the wise Merchant will be conten­ted to sell all to buy him who is the Pearl of invaluable Price; an humbled Sinner will say, Give me Christ though I have a Cross with him, though I have a Prison with him, nay, though I die with him, though I die for him.

Secondly, Without Humiliation the Sinner can never duly and diligently seek Christ You know The Law is a School-Master to bring us unto Christ [Page 20] Gal, 3.24 The Truth is, the Soul will never run to Christ to the Purpose, until it be whipt by this School-Master. You know the Story of the City of Refuge, the Man slayer never fled thither, until the Avenger of Blood pursued him. The City of Refuge is Jesus Christ, and the Sinner never flies to Jesus Christ to Purpose, until the Vengeance of a Sin-revenging God, and the Curse of a condemning Law, and the Horror of a self-accusing Conscience, pursue the Soul like a chased Deer; now it flies to Jesus Christ to Purpose.

Thirdly, Without Humiliation the Sinner will never obey Christ; an unbroken Sin­ner is like an unbroken Colt, that is not tamed, or like an unbroken Heiser that will not submit to the Yoke; Jesus Christ may command what he will, but he will do what he lists. But when a Sinner comes to be humbled and unho [...]s'd, as St.-Paul was, then he says Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Though it be never so cross to my carnal and corrupt Nature, yet I will do it. Before the Sinner is humbled, he is ever complaining of the unkindness of God's dealing with him, but after he is humbled, he is ever complaining how unkindly he deals with God. As all Disobedience springs from Pride, so all Obedience springs from Humility

Fourthly, Without Humiliation the Sin­ner will never constantly cleave to Jesus [Page 21] Christ. There are many that seemingly close with Christ for a while, just like those that rejoyced in John Baptist's Doctrine for a while, John 5 35. He was a burning and a shinging Light, and ye were willing to re­joyce in his Light for a season. And you read of some that followed Christ for a while, but they were offended, and went back, and walked no more with him, Joh. 6 66. There are many Professors just like the Corn cast into the second Ground in the Parable, I [...] sprang up for a while, but in the Time of Temptation it withered; why? Because it wanted Root; and why did it want Root? Because the Pl [...]ugh of Humiliation went not deep enough: So there are many Pro­fessors that prove Apostates, and disloyal to the Lord Jesus Christ; but what is the Reason? Because they were never through­ly humbled, they are weary of Christ's Yoke, because they never felt the Burden of the Devil's Yoke, and of Sins Yoke; that Soul that hath felt the Burden of Satan's Y [...]ke, will say, that Christ's Yoke is a sweet and easy Yoke; they that are truly humbled, will never forsake Christ, but will cling and cleave to him, as a Ship-wreck'd Marriner doth to a Rock, he will not part with it, because he knows it is for his Life.

Fifthly, This Humilation is necessary, because without it we can never be conform­able to Christ; for Christ was first humbled, before he was exalted, He drank of the [Page 22] Brook in the way, before he lift up his Head, Psal 110.7. Thus you have the Doctrine opened, now let us see what Application we can make of this Point; and the Uses are but two, the one of Instruction, and the other of Exhortation. I shall give you two Instructions, and two Exhortations.

The first Instruction or Lesson by way of Inference, is this, If sound Humiliation be such a necessary Antecedent to Faith and Salvation, then it justifies the Practice of those Ministers, that take this Course in con­vincing, and humbling, and wounding, and awakening sleepy Sinners; you see what we Ministers may do; nay, you see what we must do if with Care and Conscience we would discharge our Duty, we must sometimes Thunder and Lighten, as St.Paul did when he made Faelix to tremble, Acts 24.25. We must strike the Sinner's Heart with an Arrow of Conviction, as the Arrow that was shot at Ahab entred in at the Joints of his Armour, and pierc'd his Heart, 1 Kings 22.34 We must hedge in the Sinner with inevitable Conviction, and meet him with a drawn Sword, as the Angel did Balaam, Numb. 21.23. We must some­times knock at the Door of their Hearts, and say to them, O thou unregenerate Man, I have sad News to tell thee! Thou canst never, so long as thou art in this Condition, see the Face of God with Com­fort, or enter into this Kingdom; thou [Page 23] may'st see the Face of God indeed, but it will be with Frowns in his Fore-head, and Indignation in his Countenance to thee, when he shall Sentence thee to that [...], that blackness of Darkness for ever, Jude 13. O Drunkard, I have sad News to tell thee! Thou must drink of the Cup of God's Wrath and Indignation, which will cause the to spew and fall, and never rise again. O Swearer, I have sad News to tell thee! That the Wrath of God is like a flying Roll, hangs over the House of every Swearer, Zech. 5. O ignorant and disobe­dient Sinner, I have sad News to tell thee, Jesus Christ will come in flames of Fire to take Vengeance on them that know him not, and obey not the Gospel, 2 Thess. 1.7, 8. In a Word, we must take any Course to awaken Sinners out of their Sloth & Security.

Two Sorts of Persons there are that op­pose this kind of Preaching, but most do not love it, but dislike it.

First, The openly prophane and scanda­lous Sinner, that would fain Sleep in Sin, and go to Hell in a Slumber, and therefore he looks upon such awakning Sermons, as tormenting Sermons, Rev. 11.10. The two Prophets tormented them that dwelt upon the Earth. O this convincing, quckning, and awakening Doctrine, this is but a Tor­ment to many carnal Men, who cry our, What ado is there with these Ministers? They will not let me be quiet, they Torment me be­fore [Page 24] my Time. Ah poor Wretch! Art thou afraid to be tormented before thy Time? And art thou not afraid to be tormented Time without End? There are some Beasts so furious, that there is nothing but the Fire will came them; so there are some Men so brutish, that they are mad upon their evil Ways; as it is said of the Chaldeans, They are mad upon their Idols, Jer. 50.38. So some are so mad upon sinful Ways and Courses, that a Minister must spit Fire in their Faces to rouse them out of their Secu­rity, and spiritual Lethargy: Art thou angry with a Minister, who in tender Compassion to thy Soul, would pluck thy Soul as a Fire-Brand out of the Fire, and save it from eternal Misery, and Burnings? If one of you have a Leg broken, you will send for a Surgeon to set it, and you will be contented that he shall put you to great Pain for the recovering of your Limb, and restoring you to your former State again; and will you not allow your Ministers to put you to some Pain, and Grief, and Trouble for the reco­vering of your Souls from that Wound and Breach that Sin hath made upon you?

A second [...]ort that oppose convincing Preaching are Antinomians, that tell us there is no [...] of the Law under the Gospel, and that M [...]ters must Preach nothing but Christ, and Grace, and Peace, and Comfort, and Mercy, and lead Men to Heaven in a mild, and meek, and gentle Way.

[Page 25]To this I reply, What, would you have us apply a Plaister where there is no Sore? Would you have us apply a Cordial where they are not sick? would you have us pour in the Oyl, where there is no Wound? God himself pours not in the Oyl of Mercy, but into a broken Vessel, Isa. 61.1 The Lord knows we delight not in preaching any terrible Doctrines to you, if you were but fitted for Mercy; but if you are not fitted for Mercy, then, as the pricking Needle makes way for the sewing of the Cloath together, so this kind of Preaching, convinc­ing, and humbling the Sinner, makes way for the bringing of Christ and the Soul together, and therefore you may well bear with it.

A second Instruction that we may learn from hence, is this, It serves to let us see what the reason is, that there are so few Believers, so few convinced, and converted; O Ministers cannot speak of this scarce without watery Eyes. Truly heretofore three thousand were converted at one Ser­mon, but now there is scarce one that is converted with three thousand Sermons. O whence is it that the Work of Conversion is almost at an End in England, in London? It is rare to hear of a Soul converted; we hear of many that are prev [...]ted, that are led into by-paths of Error, and Heresy, and Blasphemy, and Schism, but it is a rare Mat­ter to hear of one converted; they are but few that see the need they have of Christ, [Page 26] that prize him, that believe in him, that obey him, that constantly cleave to him, but most Men are very well contented to be in a na­tural Condition, they are secure and quiet without Christ; but what is the Reason? Because they do not see the need they have of Christ, for if they did but see the need they have of him, they would say, they may better want Light, than want Jesus Christ, who is the Light, and by whom they may have the Light of Life, John 8.12. They may better want Bread for their Bodies, than the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Bread and spiritual Food of the Soul; I am the Bread of Life, John 6. If they did but see the need they have of him, doubtless they would close with him: But why do not they see the need that they have of him? The Reason is, Because they are not humbled, they were never yet striken with the Sense of Sin, they never yet saw the inside of them­selves, they never, with the Jaylor in the Text, were affrighted, amazed, stricken down in the Sense of Sin. O th [...]s is the Misery of all Miseries, which Ministers have most cause to complain of, that Men are not fitted enough for Jesus Christ, they are not l [...]st enough in themselves for a Saviour, Hos. 14 [...]. With thee the Fatherless find Mercy. Were we more hopeless, helpless, and fatherless, we should find more Mercy from the Hand of Jesus Christ O that God would awaken, and shake some Sin-sleeping Soul this Day. [Page 27] O that this Doctrine thus opened, might be as a Thunder-Bolt to let some of you see the inside of yourselves. O poor Sinner, thou hast an insupportable Burden of Sin and Guilt lying on thy Soul, ready to press thee down to Hell, and yet thou feelest it not; thou hast the Wrath of God hanging over thy Head by the twined Thread of a short Life, which it may be thou mayest not be free from one Year, nay perhaps not one Month, but thou seest it not; if thou didst but see it, then thou wouldest cry out as he did in Bosworth Field, A Horse, a Horse, a King­dom for a Horse; so thou wouldest cry out, None but Christ, nothing but Christ, ten thousand Worlds for Christ.

The second Use is of Exhortation; And I have but two Exhortations to tender to you.

First, I Beseech you, and Exhort you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (whose poor Messenger I am,) that you would la­bour to be convinced of the Necessity of Humiliation; believe it, be perswaded of it, be convinced of it, that thou must be broken, if ever thou would have Jesus Christ to bind thee up; thou must be sick of Sin, if ever thou wouldst have Jesus Christ to heal thee; thou must be dejected and cast down, if ever thou wouldst have Jesus Christ to com­fort thee; if God therefore do not open thine Eyes, and awaken thy Conscience, and touch thy Heart, I do Pronounce against thee, that there is no Christ, no Heaven, no [Page 28] Pardon, no Peace, no Comfort, no Salvation for thee. O the miserable, deplorable Con­dition of all you that were never yet hum­bled, you that were never yet convinced of Sin, you that never tasted the bitterness of Sin, you that never felt the burden of Sin, that never yet complained with the Apostle, Rom 7 24. O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death! Some derive the Word from a Man that is troubled with the Stone in the Bladder, O wretched Man that I am! O miserable is the Condition that you are in, you that ne­ver yet felt Sin to be Sin, that have not felt the Burden of it, nor tasted the Bitterness of it, you are not fit to come to Jesus Christ, you are out of his Commission, for he if sent to the humble, and broken hearted Sinner, Isai. 61.1. It may be thou knowest what Sin is, and Christ is, and Grace it, notionally; but there is a great deal of difference be­tween knowing & inward feeling; wretch­ed was thy Condition if thou didst but feel it, but a thousand times more wretched is it because thou feelest it not.

My second Exhortation to you, is this, If so be sound Humiliation be a necessary Ante­cedent to Faith and Salvation, then use the utmost of your Endeavours that you may be humbled, broken and bruised Sinners, that you may be put into a Capacity to close with a Saviour. Now because I know this is but a harst Exhortation, give me leave to sweeten it with these three Considerations,

[Page 29]First, Remember that the Promises of Grace and Mercy are made to all humbled Sinners, Lev. 26.41 If then their uncircum­cised Hearts shall be humbled, and they accept of the punishment of their Sins, then will I remember my Covenant with Jacob, and also my Covenant with Isaac, and also my Covenant with Abraham, will I remember, and I will remember the Land

Secondly, Consider, God never looks with so much Mercy and Compassion on any, as those that are most humbled, Jer. 31.18 20. When Ephraim be moaned himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a Bullock unaccustomed to the Yoke; I have been proud, and stout, and stubborn under all thy Rods, Turn thou me, and I shall be turned. Surely after I was turned I repented, after I was instructed I smote upon my Thigh. I was a shamed yea even confounded. Now in the 20. Vers. you have God bemoaning Ephraim, Is Ephraim my dear Son? Is he a pleasant Child? For since I spoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still; there­fore my Bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have Mercy upon him, saith the Lord.

Thirdly, Do but consider, That this is the ordinary way that God leads Men to Mercy by; God usually condemns before he justifies, he breaks before he binds up, he pulls down before he builds. There is a Time to pull down, and a Time to build up, Eccl. 3.3. That may be applied Pur­pose; [Page 30] this is, I say, God's ordinary Way; and would you have him to go out of his usual Course and Way? If one of you should say to your Neighbour, Let me come in at your Window, or break down your Wall, and then I will come in and visit you; what Answer (think you) would he make? If you do not come in at the Door, the ordinary Way, do not come in to me.

But some may say. What will you have us to do? Are we able to humble ourselves? True indeed, when God hath first humbled us, then we are able to humble ourselves; but you told us even now, in the first Work of Conver­sion, we are meerly passive, we can do nothing towards our Humiliation, it is the Work of the Spirit of God; you have now preach'd free-will to us.

To this I answer, True indeed, in a State of Nature, we can do nothing that may please God, we cannot set one Foot forwards in the way to Heaven; but yet let me tell you, There is never an unconverted Sinner but may do a great deal more than he doth, therefore I put you upon doing no more than you yourselves can do, and that in these five Particulars, which I shall speak a little to, and then have done.

First, Though you cannot humble your­selves in a State of Unregeneracy, yet you may suffer another to do it for you, you may suffer it to be done. A Man for Example, that is to be cut of the Stone, though he [Page 31] cannot cut himself, he may suffer another to cut him; so a Man that is sick of this des­perate stony Disease, of the Stone in the Heart, though he cannot take it away him­self, he may suffer it to be done; when the Word of God ploughs up the fallow-Ground of your Hearts, you may hold up the Plough, Heb. 13.22. You may suffer the Word of Exhortation which is tendred to you; when God wounds you by the Word, you may keep the Wound open: Carnal Men, when the Word hath wounded them, they lick themselves whole by carnal Counsels, and carnal Company, and carnal Reasonings; O what a stir do Men make to shake out the Arrow of Conviction, resisting the Spirit of God that is stirring in the Ministry of the Word upon their Hearts! How many are there that come in Armour to Church, they come in their Coat of Male! How many harden their Necks, that the Word cannot pierce them! Now this you must not do, you must suffer the Word to riffle and ran­sack your Hearts, let the Word smite you, as he said, Psal. 141 5 Let the Righteous smite me. Let the Word break my Head, or Heart, so it may but work upon my Soul. When God rouzeth you, suppose in any Sickness or cutting Cross, you may join with God in rouzing yourselves; when God smiteth you, may not you smite upon your Thighs, as Ephraim did, and say, I am a­shamed, yea, even confounded, because I di [...] [Page 32] bear the reproach of my Youth? Jer. 31.24. In a Word, what God humbles you may [...] hum­ble [...]? The [...], in the [...]ar of the Lord [...] upon [...] reaching, Soul [...] [...] Ministry, [...] God for the Ser­mon [...] God for the Ministers that [...] most to th [...] [...] such a Minist [...] [...] pre [...]c [...]eth nothing [...] Ven­geance, and Damnation [...] Word that [...] I have [...] them by my [...] by the Words of my [...], [...] ha [...]e his Word a [...]

Secondly, There is [...] of you [...] can ponder & weight Thing, in [...] can [...] Ex [...]mp [...]e, [...] propounded to you, or [...] [...]our Da [...]ghters, you can weight [...] can consider which is [...] & which is the best Ma [...]ch; so he [...] [...] and offers you pressent [...] with the Peace of a goo [...] [...] and comply and swim with the [...] the inside of [...] that Office, this [...] but now save Jesus Christ [...] do but keep a good Conscience, [...] Impri­sonment, the o [...] of all Things, [...] lose by it; for, temp [...]r [...] have everlasting Gain, the Kingdom of [...] you can ponder and [...] the World for a while, to be free [...] Troubles, so as to part with the Peace [...] I [Page 33] Conscience, and lose God for ever; or whether it is best to endure Troubles, to enjoy God, and the Peace of a good Conscience, & to enjoy an Eternity of Blessedness; it is better to endure a thousand Pri­sons, than to lose the Peace of a good Conscience, and the Favour of God; this upon your consider­ing and pondering, you will Conclude; for the Devil he offers the Pleasures of Sin that are but for a Season; but says Jesus Christ, You shall have Pleasures at my right Hand for evermore; no Man in his Wi [...]s but would say, it is better to have the Pleasures that are at God's right Hand for ever, than the Pleasures of Sin, which it may be I may not enjoy one Year, not one Month, not one Day: So likewise, there is none of you but can consider where you will lie when you are Dead; O says one, I will lie in such a Church, or in such a Church Yard; and cannot you consider, O but where shall my Soul lie? shall the Angels carry it into Abraham's Bosom ? Or shall the Devils Carry it into Darkness, that Blackness and Darkness for [...]? Jude 13 And you can meditate on the Things that concerns this Life; every one can ponder on the Things that concern his own tempo­ral Estate and Concernment; and certainly, you may as well meditate upon the Things that con­cern a future Life, you may meditate on the Joys of Heaven, and on the Sorrows and Torments of Hell, and the precious Blood of Jesus Christ. There is a Story of a Man that read in a Book every Day that had three Leaves, a white Leaf, a red Leaf, a black Leaf; the white Leaf of the Book, that was the Joys of Heaven, the red Leaf, that was the Blood of Jesus Christ, the black Leaf, that was the Torments of Hell; you may look into Hell by Contemplation, and Meditation, that you may prevent Hell to all Eternity; you may medi­tate upon the Blood of Christ, and sleep as it were [Page 34] your Souls in it by Meditation, it may be it may soften them. It is said of the Goats Blood, when nothing can soften an Adamant, the Blood of Goats can; the Blood of Christ, that can soften your hard Hearts, when nothing else can.

Thirdly, A third Thing you can do, you can Sor­row more, and Mourn more than you do: There is none of you but can Sorrow and Mourn for out­ward Losses; loss of Friends, as Husband, & Wife, or Child, perhaps for the loss of a Horse; what canst thou Mourn for the loss of a Child, and canst thou not mourn for the loss of a Soul, when one Soul is worth all the Kingdoms in the World? If any of you have lost a good Bargain, or mist a good Market, you can grieve for this; O methinks you should mourn for this, how many Market-Days have I lost for my Soul; I have burnt out many a precious Light, & spent out my precious Time; and can you not Mourn for the loss of such a Bargain as this is? Suppose one of you should be sent for before a mighty Monarch, and should be impeacht of high Treason before him; how would you trem­ble to appear before so mighty a King, that hath Power in his Hands to cut you off Instantly! O you and I must appear before the great Judge of Hea­ven and Earth, the King of Kings, that knows all the Sins and Treasons that ever we have commit­ted; and you should bless God if you are cast into Fear, and thereby be brought to mourn, & grieve, and sorrow for your Sins. Job 23.16 For God maketh my Heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me; that is, soft by troubling of me.

Fourthly, There is never a one of you, but may leave gross and scandalous Sins, which I prove thus; You can do it for fear of Men, and you may do it much more for fear of God A prophane Swearer, if he be in the Company of a goldly gra [...]e [Page 35] Minister, he can refrain his Mouth from vile Talk, he can forbear his Oaths, and blasphemous Speech­es, and obscene Expressions. An Adulterer, if a Boy be but in the Room of seven years old, he will forbear to act his Uncleanness, until the Boy be out of the Room. If you can forbear gross Sins for fear of Men, much more can you do it for fear of God. If a Boy can say his Lesson with a Rod, certainly he can do it without a Rod; if you can abstain from gross Sins for fear, certainly you can do it without. You read of the hypocri­tical Phar [...]see, he abstained from gross Sins, Luk. 18.

Fifthly, Though it is true, a Man in a State of Nature is dead in Trespasses & Sins, yet then, at that Time, he may do many g [...]od Works, Works morally good, Works ma [...]i [...]y good, he may Fast, and Pray, and give Alms; therefore it is that Daniel p [...]ks to Nebuchadnezzar. Break off thy Sins by Righteousness, and thine I [...]quities by shewing mercy to the Poor, Dan 4.27. Certainly the Pro­phet Daniel would never have spoken so to him, if it had not been in his Power to do i [...]. The Apostle speaking of the Gentiles, tho' they wanted the Knowledge of the Law, and had not the Law, (saith he) yet they did [...] Nature the things contained in the Law, they were a Law to themselves, which shews that the Works of the Law are written in their Hearts, Rom. 2.13, 14. They [...] are in an un­regenerate Estate, they may Pray, they may make Conscience of praying in their Families; though they cannot pray as they should, yet they may pray as they are able▪ they may fall down at the Feet of God, and say, Lord, I am a poor sinful Wretch, I cannot please thee, praying, or not praying; thou hast promised to give the Spirit of Prayer to them that ask it, Luke 11.13. Say Lord give me thy Spirit to break my hard [Page 36] Heart, take any way with me, so my proud Heart may be humbled, and hard Heart broken, that I may welcome Jesus Christ to my Soul, that I may believe in him, and cast my Soul upon him. So that Beloved, I put you upon no more than you are able to do, you may suffer the Word of Exhor­tation, you can ponder and weigh the Word in your own Hearts, you may sorrow and mourn for Sin, you may abstain from gross Sins, and you may do those Works that are morally good; do what you can do; Men are not damned because they can do no better, but because they will do no better. Mat. 23.37. If there were no Will, there would be no Hell, saith St. Austin Do what you can, set upon works of Holiness and Piety, [...]ive and put forth your Strength to the [...] endeavour of your Souls, [...]o get your Hearts hambled, to see Sin, and to sigh for it, to grieve and groan for it; lay your Condition to Heart, be [...]eelingly apprehesisive of that Wrath that hath ki [...]dled, of that Justice that Sin hath provoked of that Mercy that Sin hath abused, of that Vengeance & Anger that Sin hath de­ [...]rve [...] to be inflicted. O were we but thus humbled, we should have cause to bless God to all Eternity.

I shall close with one Word to, those, that have been under a Spirit of Bondage, that have been convinced, awakened, as this Jaylor was, that have had their broken Bones, that have felt the burden of Sin, and it may be lie under that Burden at this Day: O be you comforted; its better to be broken here than hereafter, it is better to be con­vinced here, than convinced hereafter, it is better to be humbled here, than for God to humble the Soul in Hell to all Eternity; God will make thy Valley of [...], a Door of Hope, Hos. 2.15. Thou that [...] humbled now, shalt be [...], and thou that mournest now▪ shalt be [...].


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