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the place of execution, and lay his head on the block, before a pardon be produced; as we have had experience in the country of a man who otherwise would not cry or shed a tear for any thing; despising death, and not afraid to meet an host of men. Such a one having now at an instant a pardon brought from the king, how wonderfully doth it work upon him, causing softness of heart and tears to flow from his eyes when nothing else could; whilst the wonder of this mercy, which now appeareth so sweet and seasonable, is beheld and admired, he is so struck that he knows not what to say: for this cause therefore God shews us first a spirit of bondage to prepare us to relish. mercy, and then he gives a spirit of adoption not to fear again and thus by this order the one is magnified and highly esteemed by the foregoing sense of the other.
If therefore this terror and fear be hard and troublesome unto us, yet if it be for God's glory, let us endure: if he will give me over to a wounded terrified conscience, to fears, tremblings, astonishments, yea or to draw me into the fire itself, or any other punishment, so we see he dealt with his Church of old, he brought her through the fire and water before she came into a wealthy place'. Since it is for his glory, I must be contented. But what do I say? He gets nothing by us of all that we do, all is for ourselves; our acknowledgments of him make him no stronger, wiser, juster, or better than he is, but in glorifying of him we do glorify ourselves, and so pass from glory to glory, until we come to be fully transformed into his image. And herein consists our happiness in acknowledging of his wonderful attributes, that by the reflex and knowledge of them, we grow up in them as much as may be. God was as glorious, powerful, wise, just, happy and good before the world was made as now, and if the case be put concerning glorifying of him, the three persons of the Trinity were only fit and worthy of so great honour, not we; as we may read in Proverbs, chap. VIII. verse 30. There, Wisdom shews how it was with the Father, be
Psalm 66. ver. 12.
fore all time, and that they did mutually solace themselves in the contemplations of one another's glory. Then, says Wisdom, "I was by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;" and in John, chap. XVII. There we read the same thing in effect, where Christ prays: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." So that the admiring, beholding and magnifying of God's glory (as much as may be) labouring to be like him, is our glory; and thus much of the glory of God in beginning of this work in us by fear.
The second thing was to prove that this course was for our good, and this appears two ways. 1. In our justification. 2. In our sanctification.
For the first, we are such strangers unto God, that we will never come unto him till we see there is no other remedy, being at the pit's brink ready to starve, hopeless of all other helps, being frozen in the dregs of sin, delighting in our ways; as we see in the parable of the prodigal son, who would never think of any return to his father till all other helps failed him, money, friends, acquaintance, and all sorts of food; nay if he might but have fed upon husks with the swine, he would not have thought of returning any more unto his father: but this being denied him, the text says, he then came to himself, which shows us that, whilst men run on in sinful courses, they are mad men of themselves, even as we see those in Bedlam are beaten and kept under, and comforts denied them, till they come to themselves. And then what says he? "Is will arise and go to my father," confessing that he had sinned, "and I will say, Father, I have sinned." So is it with us; until the Lord humble us, and bring us low in our own eyes, showing us our misery and sinful poverty, and that in us there is no good thing, that we be stripped of all help in and without ourselves, and must perish for ever unless we beg his mercy, we will not come unto him. As we see it
Luke, chap. 15.
Luke, chap. 8. ver. 43.
was with the woman that Christ healed of her bloody is'sue. How long it was before she came to Christ; she had been sick twelve years, she had spent all her substance upon physicians, and no body could help her, and this extremity brings her to Christ. So that this is the means to bring us unto Christ, to drive us on our knees, hopeless as may be, to show us where help only is to be found; and make us run unto it. Thus therefore, when men have no mind to come to Christ, he sends, as it were, fiery serpents to sting them, that they might look up unto the brazen serpent, or rather unto Christ Jesus, of which it was a type, for help; so unto others, being strangers unto him, he sends variety of great and sore afflictions to make them come to him that he may be acquainted with them; as Absalom set Joab's corn on fire because he would not come at him, being twice sent for. So God deals with us before our conversion many times, as with iron whips lashes us home, turning loose the avenger of blood after us, and then for our life we run and make haste to the city of refuge. Thus God shoots off as it were his great ordnance against us to make us run unto him. Thus John the Baptist came preaching of repentance, in attire, speech and diet, all being strong and harsh, cloathed with a camel's hair and with a girdle of skin about his loins, his meat locusts and wild honey, the place was in the wilderness, his speech harsh and uncomfortable, thundering with his voice, calling them a generation of vipers, and telling them that now also was the ax laid to the root of the tree, that every tree that brought not forth good fruit was hewn down and cast into the fire. As also we know in this manner the Lord came to Elijah". First "a great strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind, and after that went an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire:" these were a peal of great ordnance, shot off to pre
u 1 Kings, chap. 19. ver. 11.
pare the way, showing the King was a coming; and after the fire a still small voice, and there the Lord was. So the Lord rends, tears, and shakes our consciences and rocky hearts, many times to prepare the way for him, and then he comes to us in the still and soft voice of consolation.
Secondly, for our sanctification, it is good for us that the Comforter's first work be to work fear in us, for we are naturally so frozen in our dregs, that no fire in a manner will warm and thaw us. We wallow in our blood, and stick fast in the mire of sin, that we cannot stir; so that this fear is but to pull us from our corruptions and make us more holy. As we see if a man have a gangrene beginning in his hand or foot which may spread farther, and be his death if it continue so, he is easily persuaded to cut it off, lest it should go farther. So doth God deal by us with this fear of bondage, that we might be clothed anew with his image in holiness and righteousness. Now to effect this, the sharpest things are best, such as are the law, the threatenings of condemnation, the opening of hell, the racking of the conscience, and a sense of wrath present and to come. So hard hearted are we by nature, being as children of the bondwoman, unto whom violence must be used. Even as we see a man riding a wild and young horse, to tame him, he will run him against a wall, that this may make him afraid, ride him in deep and tough lands, or if this will not do, take him up into the top of some high rock, when bringing him to the brink thereof he threatens to throw him headlong, make him shake and quake, whereby at last he is tamed. So deals the Lord by us, he gives us a sight of sin, and the punishment due thereunto, a sense of wrath, sets the conscience on fire, fills the heart with fears, horrors, and disquietness, opens hell to the soul, brings a man as it were to the gates thereof, and threatens to throw him in, and all this to make a man more holy, and to hate sin the more. So that you see there must be a strong mortifying and subduing of us by a strong hand to bring us unto Christ for our sanctification, nothing but a fiery furnace can melt away that dross and
tin which cleaves unto such corrupt metal as we are. this method excellently set forth in the prophet. cause ye are all become dross, behold I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem, as they gather brass, and iron, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace to blow the fire upon it to melt it, so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there and melt you."
Before I proceed farther, give me leave to answer an objection of a troubled soul which may arise hence, O, may a soul say, what comfort then may I have of the first work of the Spirit in me? For as yet I have found none of these things; I have not been thus humbled, nor terrified, nor had such experience as you speak of in that state under the spirit of bondage.
Ezek. chap. 29. ver. 19, 20.
I answer, though this be a work of the Spirit, yet it is not the principal justifying and saving work of the Spirit: yea the children of the Devil may come to have a greater measure of this than God's own dear children, whom, for the most part, he will not affright nor afflict in that terrible manner as he doth some of them, but the consequence of this is more to be accounted of, than the measure, to see whither that measure I have, whatever it be, leads me. For if the measure were never so absolutely necessary to salvation, then all God's children should have enough of it. But I make a difference still between humiliation and humility, which is a grace of itself, and leads me along with comfort and life. Thus therefore I think of humiliation, if I have so much of it as will bring me to see my danger and cause me to run to the medicine, and city of refuge for help, to hate sin for time to come, and to set myself constantly in the ways and practice of holiness, it is enough. And so I say in the case of repentance, if a man have a sight of sin past, and a heart firmly set against all sin for the time to come, the greater and firmer this were, the lesser measure of sorrow might suffice for sins fore