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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 abomination 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 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. 1 Pet. ii. 18. Servants,
"This spirit ever 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 hath some tastes of the heavenly gift, some sweet illapses of grace, and so his conscience is pretty well quieted: and if he hath got some answer to his prayers, and hath sweet affections, he 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 woful 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.)
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. 24. 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 blessinghonoured Esau, his false and persecuting brother: Gen. xxxi. 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 behaviour 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 affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, how
ever 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 univeasal 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 has 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; being renewed in the spirit of the mind; dying to sin, and living to righteousness; putting off the old man, and putting on the new man; being ingrafted into a new stock; 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 cre
*I would not 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, may be carried to Christ; but being without this bent, and change of affections, is unsound." (Shepard's Parable, Part 1. p. 203.)
dit 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 thenceforward 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 circumcision, 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 his former 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*.
Allowances, indeed, must be made for the natural temper, which conversion does not entirely eradicate: those sins which a man by his natural constitution was most inclined to before his conversion, he may be most apt to fall into still. But yet conversion will make a great alteration even with respect to these sins.Though grace, while imperfect, does not root out an evil natural temper, yet it is of great power and efficacy to correct it. The change wrought in conversion, is an universal change: grace changes a man with respect to whatever is sinful in him; the old man is put off, and the new man put on; he is sanctified throughout. He is become a new creature, old things are passed away, and all things are become new; all sin is mortified, constitutional sins, as well as others. If a man before his conversion was, by his natural constitution, prone to lasciviousness, or drunkenness, or maliciousness, converting grace will make a great alteration in him, with respect to these evil dispositions; so that however he may be still most in danger of these sins, they shall no longer
"It is with the soul, as with water; all the cold may be gone, but the native principle of cold remains still. You may remove the burning of lusts, not the blackness of nature. Where the power of sin lies, change of conscience from security to terror, change of life from profaneness to civility, and fashions of the world, to escape the pollutions thereof, change of lusts, nay quenching them for a time but the nature is never changed, in the best hypocrite that ever was.— (Shepard' Parable, Part I. p. 194.)
have dominion over him; nor will they any more be properly his character. Yes, true repentance, in some respects especially, turns a man against his own iniquity; that wherein he has been most guilty, and has chiefly dishonoured God. He that forsakes other sins, but preserves the iniquity to which he is chiefly inclined, is like Saul, who, when sent against God's enemies the Amalekites, with a strict charge to save none of them alive, but utterly to destroy them, small and great, slew the people, but saved the king.
Some foolishly make it an argument in favour of their discoveries and affections, that when they are gone, they are left wholly without any life or sense, or any thing beyond what they had before. They think it an evidence that what they experienced was wholly of God, and not of themselves, because (say they) when God is departed, all is gone; they can see and feel nothing, and are no better than they used to be. It is very true, that all grace and goodness in the hearts of the saints is entirely from God; and they are universally and immediately dependent on him for it. But yet these persons are mistaken, as to the manner of God's communicating himself and his Holy Spirit, in imparting saving grace to the soul. He gives his Spirit to be united to the faculties of the soul, and to dwell there after the manner of a principle of nature: so that the soul, in being endued with grace, is endued with a new nature: but nature is an abiding thing. All the exercises of grace are entirely from Christ: but are not from him as a living agent moves and stirs what is without life, and which yet remains lifeless. The soul has life communicated to it, so as through Christ's power to have inherent in itself a vital nature. In the soul where Christ savingly is, there he lives. He does not merely live without it, so as violently to actuate it, but he lives in it, so that the soul, also is alive. Grace in the soul is as much from Christ, as the light in a glass, held out in the sun-beams, is from the sun. But this represents the manner of the communication of grace to the soul, but in part; because the glass remaining as it was, the nature of it not being at all changed, it is as much without any lightsomeness in its nature as ever. But the soul of a saint receives light from the sun of righteousness in such a manner, that its nature is changed, and it becomes properly a luminous thing. Not only does the sun shine in the saints, but they also become little suns, partaking of the nature of the fountain of their light. In this respect, the manner of their derivation of light, is like that of the lamps in the tabernacle, rather than that of a reflecting glass; which though they were lit up by fire from heaven, yet thereby became themselves burning shining things. The saints do not only drink of the water of life, that flows from the original fountain, but this