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and hollowed, can hold most, so it is most thankful, acknowledges all as received, but the proud cries, all is his own. The return of glory that is due from grace, comes most freely and plentifully from an humble heart: God delights to enrich it with grace, and it delights to return him glory. The more he bestows on it, the more it desires to honour him with all; and the more it doth so, the more readily he bestows still more upon it; and this is the sweet intercourse betwixt God and the humble soul. This is · the noble ambition of humility, in respect whereof, all the aspirings of pride are low and base. When all is reckoned, the lowliest mind is truly the highest; and these two agree so well, that the more lowly it is, it is thus the higher; and the higher thus, it is still the more lowly.
Oh! my brethren, want of this is a great cause of all our wants. Why should our God bestow on us, what we would bestow on our idol-self; or if not to idolize thyself, yet to idolize the thing, the gift that grace bestowed, to fetch thy believing and comforts from that, which is to put it in his place that gave, and to make Baal of it, as some would render Hosea ii. sh. Now he will not furnish thee thus to his own prejudice therein ; seek therefore to have thine heart on a high design, seeking grace still, not to rest in any gift, nor to grow vain and regardless of him upon it. If we had but this fixed with us;
" What gift or grace I seek, what comfort I seek, it shall be no sooner mine, but it shall be all thine again, and myself with it. I desire nothing from thee but that it may come back to thee, and draw me with it unto thee. This is all my end, and all my desire:” the request thus presented would not come back so often unanswered.
This is the only way to grow quickly rich ; come still poor to him that hath enough ever to enrich thee, and desire of his riches not for thyself, but for
h The words Gnasu Lebagnal which we render, which they prepared for Baal, may, as the margin notes, be translated, wherewith they made Baal.
him. Mind entirely his glory in all thou hast and seekest to have. What thou hast, use so, and what thou wantest, vow that thou wilt use it so ; let it be his in thy purpose, even before it be thine in possession, as Hannah did in her suit for a son, and thou shalt obtain as she did ; and then, as she was, be thou faithful in the performance : Him whom I received (says she, ver. 27, 28.) by petition, I have returned to the Lord.
It is undoubtedly the secret pride and selfishness of our hearts that obstructs much of the bounty of God's hand in the measure of our graces, and the sweet embraces of his love, which we should otherwise find. The more that we let go of ourselves, still the more should we receive of himself. Oh, foolish we, that refuse so blessed an exchange!
To this humility, as in these words it is taken in the notion of our inward thoughts touching ourselves, and our carriage in relation to others, the apostle joins the other humility, in relation to God; being indeed the different actings of one and the same grace, and inseparably connected each with the other, which we are next to consider.
Ver. 6. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand
of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
This is prest by a reason, both of equity and necessity, in that word, the mighty hand of God. He is Sovereign Lord of all, and all things do obeisance to him ; therefore it is just that you his people, professing loyalty and obedience to him, be most submissive and humble in your subjection to him in all things. Again the necessity, his mighty hand: there is no striving ; it is a vain thing to Ainch and struggle, for he doth what he will; and his hand is so mighty, that the greatest power of the creature is nothing to it. Yea, it is all indeed derived from him, and therefore cannot do any whit against him; if thou wilt not yield, thou must yield ; if thou wilt not be led,
il Sam. i. 11.
thou shalt be pulled and drawn'; therefore submission is your only course.
The third reason by which humility is pressed, is that of utility or certain advantage, as there is nothing to be gained, yea, rather as you are certainly ruined by reluctance, so this humble submission is the only way to gain, if gain be the point you aim
What would you have under any affliction, but be delivered, and raised up; thus alone you attain, that, humble yourselves, and he shall raise you up in due time.
This is the end why he humbles you, lays weights upon you, that you may be depressed. Now, when it is gained, that you are willingly so, then the weights are taken off, and you are lifted up by his gracious hand. Otherwise, it is not enough, that he hath humbled you by his hand, unless you humble yourselves under his hand. Many have had great and many pressures, one affiction after another, and been humbled, and yet not made humble, as they commonly express the difference: humbled by force in regard of their outward condition, but not humbled in their inward temper; and therefore, as soon as the weight is off, like heaps of wool, they rise up again, and grow as big as they were.
If we would consider this in our particular trials, and aim at this deportment, it were our wisdom. Are they not mad, that, under any stroke, quarrel or struggle against God? What gain your children thus
hands, but more blows? Nor is this only an unseemly and unhappy way, openly to resist and strive, but even secretly to fret and grumbie : for he hears the least whispering of the heart, and looks most how that behayes itself under his hand. Oh! humble acceptance of his chastisement, is our duty and our peace ; that which gains most on the heart of our father, and makes the rod fall soonest out of his hand.
And not only should we learn this, in our outward things, but in our spiritual condition, as the thing the Lord is much pleased with in his children.
There is a stubbornness and fretting of heart concerning our souls, that arises from pride and the untamedness of our nature; and yet some take a pleasure in it, touching the matter of comfort and assurance, if it be withheld; or which they take more liberty in, if it be sanctification and victory over sin they seek; and yet find little or no success. But the Lord holding them under in these, they then vex themselves, and wax more discontented, and nothing pleases them; as peevish children upon the refusal of somewhat they would have, take displeasure, and make no account of the daily provision made for them, and all the other benefits they have by the care and love.of their parents. This is a folly very unbeseeming the children that are the children of wisdom, and should walk as such : and till they learn more humble respect for their Father's will, they are still the farther off from their purpose. Were they once brought to submit the matter, and give him heartily his will, he would readily give them theirs, as far as were for their good ; as you say to your children of any thing they are too stiff and earnest in, and make a noise for," Cry not for it, and
shall have it."
And this is the thing we observe not, that the Lord often by his delays is aiming at this; and were this done, we cannot think how graciously he would deal with us.
His gracious design is to make much room for grace by much humbling ; especially in some spirits that need much trying, or when he means inuch to enable for some singular service : and thus the time is not lost, as we are apt to imagine, but it furthers our end, while we think the contrary. It is necessary time and pains that is given to the unballasting of a ship, casting out the earth and sand, when it is to be loaden with spices. We must be emptied more, if we would have of that fullness and riches which we are longing for.
So long as we foam and chase against his way, though it be in our best suits, we are not in a posture for a favourable answer. Would we wring things
out of his hand by fretfulness ? that is not the way, No, but present humble submissive suits.
Lord, this is my desire, but thou art wise and gracious; I refer the matter to thy will for the thing, and for the measure, and time, and all,”. Were we moulded to this composure, then were mercy near.
When he hath gained this, brokè our will and tamed our stoutness, then he relents and pities. See Jer. xxx. 17, 18. Because they called thee an outcast, &c. thus saith the Lord, behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, &c.
This I would recommend in any estate, the hum. ble folding under the Lord's hand, kissing the rod, and falling low before him. And this is the way to be raised. But one, perhaps, may think he hath tried this a while, and is still at the same point, hath gained nothing, and he may therefore be ready to fall back to his old repinings: Let such a one know his humbling and compliance was not upright. It was a fit of false constrained submission, and therefore lasts not; it was but a tempting of God, instead of submitting to him. " Oh! will he have a submission ? I will try it, but with this reserve, that if after such a time I gain not what I seek, I shall think it is lost, and that I have reason to return to my discontent.” Though the man says not thus, yet this temper is secretly under it. But wouldst thou have it right, it must be without condition, without reserve; no time, nor any thing, prescribed ; and then he will make his word good, He will raise
And that in due time. Not thy fancied time, but his own wisely appointed time. Thou thinkest, now I am sinking, if he help not now, it will be too late ; yet he sees it otherwise ; he can let thee sink yet lower, and yet bring thee up again : he doth but stay till the most fit time. Thou canst not see it yet, but thou shalt see it, that his chosen time is absolutely best; God waiteth to be gracious . Doth he
* Isa, xxx, 18.