Monday, July 30, 2007
Worship is all about Him and not about us. When did this ever get so turned around? God made the regulations, who do we think we are for making the changes? Remember the incident when Moses was on the Mountain with God ... what were the Israelites doing? Why they were creating an idol made of gold. They danced all night to music, clanged cymbols, banged drums and made merry. Created their own kind of worship did they not? (And we thought the emergent/seeker sensitives were first ...) Then there is Lev. 10. Nadab and Abihu were struck down for offering "strange fire." Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs in his sermon on "gospel worship" cemented together for us the relationship between the regulative principle and the failure of the two brothers to observe it. (a good read here, too)
Since attending and becoming members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church my worship on Sunday has become much more meaningful and focused on God. Never knew before but have been learning so much about why we do what we do and whom we do it for. Historically, Presbyterians have held to the "regulative principle of worship." This principle is defined in the Westminster Confession of Faith: "The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture." WCF 21.1 It is rooted in the 2nd commandment according to the Larger Catechism 108 -- "the receiving, observing and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in His Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto Him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry." We are told to put off "all devising, counseling, commanding, using and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of the, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed." Larger Catechism 109. Therefore when we go against the scriptural pattern, we worship in a way unacceptable to God. The WCF 20.2 also states that worship is to be directed by Scripture alone in order to preserve the liberty of believers' consciences. Our consciences are only safe when they are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as directed by his Word and Spirit.
Presbyterians claim that God's Word serves to regulate our worship in such a way that our worship is based on what is revealed in Scripture.
Worship is Covenantal in that it means that worship involves a two-way movement between God and his people. Remember -- a covenant is a sovereign administration of grace and promise. in Ex. 6:7; Jer. 30:22; 2 Cor. 6:16-18; 1 Peter 2:9 = God the King, as an example of his undeserved favor, extends certain promises to his people, summed up in the great promise, "I will be your God and you shall be my people." The promises were made unilaterally, they were conditional on people responding by faith. (God set no distinction here, only those of faith.) Worship then becomes a movement back and forth between God and His beloved people, a movement in which God meets us in Word and sacrament (Lord's supper and baptism) and we respond to His presence with prayer and praises. God's covenant with us is renewed every time we set in worship before Him. In the preaching of God's Word, God declares to us His promises: to save those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, to view those united to Christ as right with God and holy in His sight, and to continue the work of transformation into the image of Christ until the final day. We then go out into the world from the presence of God in worship to live our lives, languishing in the grace shown to us by God in Word and sacrament and serving others with our loving words and deeds.
Read Deut. 8:11-18 ... He asks us to constantly remember ...
11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day."
Remember His providential care and His salvation. On this side of the cross God comes to us in Word and sacrament and re-presents, reminds, and recalls to us the story of redemption. His call summons us to worship, reminds us of His effectual calling in our lives, we confess our sin to God and it recalls our sense of conviction and our continuing need for repentance. God speaks a word of assurance, teaches us that our only hope, from the first to the last is to cling to the gospel by faith alone in Christ's finished work alone. In the Word and in the sacrament, the Christ-centeredness and gospel-centeredness of our faith is stressed for us. The preached Word drives us to take hold of Jesus Christ by faith, relying on Him alone for justification and sanctfication. WCF 29.1 states we have a "perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death" as well as "the sealing all benefits therefore unto true believers."
Holiness is not something that qualifies us to worship - holiness is the result of an engagement with the Holy God by the Spirit through the Son. The Trinitarian shape of worship.
What is our responsibility? To be sure and bring your Bible to church even though you did not read it all week? To just put in a face? To just be sure the kids are there? What about those who say, "Well I really don't get anything out of the messages anymore?" Beloved - we need to talk!
My first question is this - when was the last time you were on your knees before God? When was the last time you sought Him in His Word? When was the last time you left church convicted? When was the last time you shared what God taught you in His Word? Do you talk about the preaching on the way home from church, at meal time or are you just hungry and want to eat and go lie down, after all it is Sunday...
Let's take a look at my last statement - Why don't you get anything out of the message?
If worship is about Him and not us what are you doing to prepare yourself to meet your God?
First off prepare yourself the night before the Lord's Day.
Read the Word.
Listen to sermons.
Listen to worship music.
Pray. Pray for your Pastor, your Elders, your Sunday School teachers. Pray for an open heart and mind ready to receive the Lord's message. Rom. 12:2 - it is by renewing our minds that God does His transforming work in our lives.
Get enough sleep.
Get your clothing ready. If you have children bathe them the night before, get breakfast ready, Bibles and Sunday School materials laid out and ready to go.
In the morning again pray. Listen to worship music or sermons on the way to church. Take notes during the sermon with an expectant heart and eager mind. With an open Bible, pen, notepaper - what are you going to miss?
Be a Berean when you get home and during the week -- “that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts ; NKJV). Get out those notes and ponder over them. Ask the Lord "what do you want me learn here?"
Philip Ryken says this about listening to a sermon—"really listening—takes more than our minds. It also requires hearts that are receptive to the influence of God’s Spirit. Something important happens when we hear a good sermon: God speaks to us. Through the inward ministry of his Holy Spirit, he uses his Word to calm our fear, comfort our sorrow, disturb our conscience, expose our sin, proclaim God’s grace, and reassure us in the faith. But these are all affairs of the heart, not just matters of the mind, so listening to a sermon can never be merely an intellectual exercise. We need to receive biblical truth in our hearts, allowing what God says to influence what we love, what we desire, and what we praise."
With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action - this is the Christian walk to worship and away from it ....
Sunday worship is all about Him. Give Him the praise, glory and honor due Him.
What I am reading and what we are studying in Sunday School:
Jeremiah Burroughs - Gospel Worship (It is puritan and of course a very long and slow read)
DG Hart - With Reverance and Awe
Joshua Harris - Stop Dating The Church
Sean Lucas - On Being Presbyterian
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
T H E
The Excellency of a Broken Heart:
Showing the Nature, Signs, and Proper
Effects of a Contrite Spirit.
Being the Last Works of that Eminent Preacher and
Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ, Mr. John Bunyan, of Bedford.
With a Preface Prefixed Thereunto by an
Eminent Minister of the Gospel In London.
By J O H N. B U N Y A N
L O N D O N,
Sold by George Larkin, at the
Two Swans without Bishopgates, 1692.
[V. THE REASONS WHY A BROKEN HEART IS ESTEEMED BY GOD SUCH AN EXCELLENT THING.]
nd thus have I done with this, and shall come next to the reasons of the point, namely, to show you, why or how it comes to pass, that a broken heart, a heart truly contrite, is to God such an excellent thing. That to him it is so, we have proved by six demonstrations; what it is, we have showed by the six signs thereof; that it must be, is manifest by those nine reasons but now urged; and why it is with God or in his esteem an excellent thing, that is shown by that which follows.
First. A broken heart is the handiwork of God; an heart of his own preparing, for his own service; it is a sacrifice of his own providing, of his providing for himself; as Abraham said in another case, 'God will provide himself a lamb' (Gen 22:8).
Hence it is said, 'The preparations of the heart in man, &c., is from the Lord.' And again, 'God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me' (Job 23:16). The heart, as it is by nature hard, stupid, and impenetrable, so it remains, and so will remain, until God, as was said, bruiseth it with his hammer, and melts it with his fire. The stony nature of it is therefore said to be taken away of God. 'I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you, ' saith he, 'an heart of flesh' (Eze 36:26). I will take away the stony heart, or the stoniness, or the hardness of your heart, and I will give you a heart of flesh; that is, I will make your heart sensible, soft, wieldable, governable, and penitent. Sometimes he bids men rend their hearts, not because they can, but to convince them rather, that though it must be so, they cannot do it; so he bids them make themselves a new heart, and a new spirit, for the same purpose also; for if God doth not rend it, it remains unrent; if God makes it not new, it abides an old one still.
This is that that is meant by his bending of men for himself, and of his working in them that which is pleasing in his sight (Zech 9:13). The heart, soul, or spirit, as in itself, as it came from God's fingers, a precious thing, a thing in God's account worth more than all the world. This heart, soul, or spirit, sin has hardened, the devil has bewitched, the world has deceived. This heart, thus beguiled, God coveteth and desireth: 'My son, ' saith he, 'give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways' (Prov 23:26).
This man cannot do this thing: for that his heart has the mastery of him, and will not but carry him after all manner of vanity. What now must be done? Why, God must take the heart by storm, by power, and bring it to a compliance with the Word; but the heart of itself will not; it is deluded, carried away to another than God. Wherefore God now betakes him to his sword, and bring down the heart with labour, opens it, and drives out the strong man armed that did keep it; wounds it; and makes it smart for its rebellion, that it may cry; so he rectifies it for himself. 'He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole' (Job 5:18). Thus having wrought it for himself, it becomes his habitation, his dwelling-place: 'That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith' (Eph 3:17).
But I would not swerve from the thing in hand. I have told you a broken heart is the handiwork of God, a sacrifice of his own preparing; a material fitted for himself.
1. By breaking of the heart he openeth it, and makes it a receptacle for the graces of his Spirit; that is the cabinet, when unlocked, where God lays up the jewels of the gospel; there he puts his fear; 'I will put my fear in their hearts'; there he writes his law; 'I will write my law in their heart'; there he puts his Spirit: 'I will put my Spirit within you' (Jer 31:31-33, 32:39-41; Eze 36:26, 27). The heart, I say, God chooses for his cabinet: there he hides his treasure; there is the seat of justice, mercy, and of every grace of God; I mean, when it is broken, made contrite; and so regulated by the holy Word.
2. The heart, when broken, is like sweet gums and spices when beaten; for as such cast their fragrant scent into the nostrils of men, so the heart when broken casts its sweet smells in the nostrils of God. The incense, which was a type of prayer of old, was to be beaten or bruised, and so to be burned in the censer. The heart must be beaten or bruised, and then the sweet scent will come out: even groans, and cries, and sighs, for the mercy of God; which cries, &c. to him, are a very excellent thing, and pleasing in his nostrils.
Second. A broken heart is in the sight of God an excellent thing; because a broken heart is submissive; it falleth before God, and giveth to him his glory. All this is true from a multitude of scriptures, which I need not here mention. Hence such a heart is called an honest heart, a good heart, a perfect heart, a heart fearing God, and such as is sound in God's statutes.
Now, this cannot but be an excellent thing, if we consider, that by such a heart, unfeigned obedience is yielded unto him that calleth for it. 'Ye have obeyed from the heart, ' says Paul to them at Rome, 'that form of doctrine which was delivered you' (Rom 6:17). Alas! the heart, before it is broken and made contrite, is quite of another temper: 'It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' The great stir before the heart is broken, is about who shall be Lord, God or the sinner. True, the right of dominion is the Lord's; but the sinner will not suffer it, but will be all himself; saying 'Who is Lord over us?' and again, say they to God, 'We are lords, we will come no more unto thee' (Psa 12:4; Jer 2:31).
This also is evident by their practice; God may say what he will, but they will do what they list. Keep my sabbath, says God; I will not, says the sinner. Leave your whoring, says God; I will not, says the sinner. Do not tell lies, nor swear, nor curse, nor blaspheme my holy name, says God; O but I will, says the sinner. Turn to me, says God; I will not, says the sinner. The right of dominion is mine, says God; but, like that young rebel (1 Kings 1:5), I will be king, says the sinner. Now, this is intolerable, this is unsufferable, and yet every sinner by practice says thus; for they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Here can be no concord, no communion, no agreement, no fellowship. Here, here is enmity on the one side, and flaming justice on the other (2 Cor 6:14-16; Zech 11:8). And what delight, what content, what pleasure, can God take in such men. None at all; no, though they should be mingled with the best of the saints of God; yea, though the best of saints should supplicate for them. Thus, says Jeremiah, 'Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, ' that is, to pray for them, 'yet my mind could not be toward this people; cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth' (Jer 15:1).
Here is nought but open war, acts of hostility, and shameful rebellion, on the sinner's side; and what delight can God take in that? Wherefore, if God will bend and buckle the spirit of such an one, he must shoot an arrow at him, a bearded arrow, such as may not be plucked out of the wound: an arrow that will stick fast, and cause that the sinner falls down as dead at God's foot (Psa 33:1, 2). Then will the sinner deliver up his arms, and surrender up himself as one conquered, into the hand of, and beg for the Lord's pardon, and not till then; I mean not sincerely.
And now God has overcome, and his right hand and his holy arm has gotten him the victory. Now he rides in triumph with his captive at his chariot wheel; now he glories; now the bells in heaven do ring; now the angels shout for joy, yea, are bid to do so, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost' (Luke 15:1-10). Now also the sinner, as a token of being overcome, lies grovelling at his foot, saying, 'Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee' (Psa 45:3-5).
Now the sinner submits, now he follows his conqueror in chains, now he seeks peace, and would give all the world, were it his own, to be in the favour of God, and to have hopes by Christ of being saved. Now this must be pleasing, this cannot but be a thing acceptable in God's sight: 'A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.' For it is the desire of his own heart, the work of his own hands.
Third. Another reason why a broken heart is to God such an excellent thing is this, a broken heart prizes Christ, and has a high esteem for him. The whole have no need of a physician, but the sick; this sick man is the broken-hearted in the text; for God makes men sick by smiting of them, by breaking of their hearts. Hence sickness and wounds are put together; for that the one is a true effect of the other (Mark 2:17; Micah 6:13; Hosea 5:13). Can any think that God should be pleased, when men despise his Son, saying, He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him? And yet so say they of him whose hearts God has not mollified; yea, the elect themselves confess, that before their hearts were broken, they set light by him also. He is, say they, 'despised and rejected of men, - and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not' (Isa 53:2, 3).
He is indeed the great deliverer; but what is a deliverer to them that never saw themselves in bondage, as was said before? Hence it is said of him that delivered the city, 'No man remembered that same poor man' (Eccl 9:15). He has sorely suffered, and been bruised for the transgression of man, that they might not receive the smart, and hell, which by their sins they have procured to themselves. But what is that to them that never saw ought but beauty, and that never tasted anything but sweetness in sin? It is he that holdeth by his intercession the hands of God, and that causes him to forbear to cut off the drunkard, the liar, and unclean person, even when they are in the very act and work of their abomination; but their hard heart, their stupefied heart, has no sense of such kindness as this, and therefore they take no notice of it. How many times has God said to this dresser of his vineyard, 'Cut down the barren fig-tree, ' while he yet, by his intercession, has prevailed for a reprieve for another year! But no notice is taken of this, no thanks is from them returned to him for such kindness of Christ. Wherefore such ungrateful, unthankful, inconsiderate wretches as these must needs be a continual eye-sore, as I may say, and great provocation to God; and yet thus men will do before their hearts are broken (Luke 13:6-9).
Christ, as I said, is called a physician; yea, he is the only soul-physician. He heals, how desperate soever the disease be; yea, and heals who he undertakes for ever. 'I give unto them eternal life, ' and doth all of free cost, of mere mercy and compassion (John 10:28). But what is all this to one that neither sees his sickness, that sees nothing of a wound? What is the best physician alive, or all the physicians in the world, put all together, to him that knows no sickness, that is sensible of no disease? Physicians, as was said, may go a-begging for all the healthful. Physicians are of no esteem, save only to the sick, or upon a supposition of being so now, or at any other time.
Why, this is the cause Christ is so little set by in the world. God has not made them sick by smiting of them; his sword has not given them the wound, his dart has not been struck through their liver; they have not been broken with his hammer, nor melted with his fire. So they have no regard to his physician; so they slight all the provision which God has made for the salvation of the soul. But now, let such a soul be wounded; let such a man's heart be broken; let such a man be made sick through the sting of guilt, and be made to wallow himself in ashes under the burden of his transgressions; and then, who but Christ, as has been showed afore, then the physician; then, wash me, Lord, then supple my wounds, then pour thy wine and oil into my sore; then Lord Jesus cause me to hear the voice of joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Nothing now so welcome as healing; and so nothing, no man, so desirable now as Christ. His name to such is the best of names; his love to such is the best of love; himself being now not only in himself, but also to such a soul, the chiefest of ten thousand (Can 5:10).
As bread to the hungry, as water to the thirsty, as light to the blind, and liberty to the imprisoned; so, and a thousand times more, is Jesus Christ to the wounded, and to them that are broken-hearted. Now, as was said, this must needs be excellent in God's eyes, since Christ Jesus is so glorious in his eyes. To contemn what a man counts excellent, is an offence to him; but to value, esteem, or think highly of that which is of esteem with me, this is pleasing to me, such an opinion is excellent in my sight. What says Christ? 'My Father loveth you, because ye loved me' (John 16:27). Who hath an high esteem for Christ, the Father hath an high esteem for them. Hence it is said, 'He that hath the Son, hath the Father'; the Father will be his, and will do for him as a Father, who receiveth and sets an honourable esteem on his Son.
But none will, none can do this, but the broken-hearted; because they, and they only, are sensible of the want and worth of an interest in him.
I dare appeal to all the world as to the truth of this; and do say again, that these, and none but these, have hearts of esteem in the sight of God. Alas! 'the heart of the wicked is little worth, ' for it is destitute of a precious esteem of Christ, and cannot but be destitute, because it is not wounded, broken, and made sensible of the want of mercy by him (Prov 10:20).
Fourth. A broken heart is of great esteem with God, because it is a thankful heart for that sense of sin and of grace it has received. The broken heart is a sensible heart. This we touched upon before. It is sensible of the dangers which sin leadeth to; yea, and has cause to be sensible thereof, because it has seen and felt what sin is, both in the guilt and punishment that by law is due thereto. As a broken heart is sensible of sin, in the evil nature and consequences of it; so it is also sensible of the way of God's delivering the soul from the day of judgment; consequently it must be a thankful heart. Now he that praises me, glorifies me, saith God; and God loves to be glorified. God's glory is dear unto him; he will not part with that (Psa 50:23; Isa 42:8).
The broken-hearted, say I, forasmuch as he is the sensible soul, it follows that he is the thankful soul. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, ' said David, 'and all that is within me bless his holy name.' Behold what blessing of God is here! and yet not content herewith, he goes on with it again, saying, 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.' But what is the matter? O! he has 'forgiven all thine iniquities, and healed all thy diseases. He has redeemed thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with loving kindnesses and tender mercies' (Psa 103:1-4). But how came he to be affected with this? Why, he knew what it was to hang over the mouth of hell for sin; yea, he knew what it was for death and hell to beset and compass him about; yea, they took hold of him, as we have said, and were pulling of him down into the deep; this he saw to the breaking of his heart. He saw also the way of life, and had his soul relieved with faith and sense of that, and that made him a thankful man. If a man who has had a broken leg, is but made to understand, that by the breaking of that he kept from breaking of his neck, he will be thankful to God for a broken leg. 'It is good for me, ' said David, 'that I have been afflicted.' I was by that preserved from a great danger; for before that I went astray (Psa 119:67, 71).
And who can be thankful for a mercy that is not sensible that they want it, have it, and have it of mercy? Now, this the broken-hearted, this the man that is of a contrite spirit, is sensible of; and that with reference to mercies of the best sort, and therefore must needs be a thankful man, and so have a heart of esteem with God, because it is a thankful heart.
Fifth. A broken heart is of great esteem with, or an excellent thing in, the sight of God, because it is a heart that desires now to become a receptacle or habitation for the spirit and graces of the Spirit of God. It was the devil's hold before, and was contented so to be. But now it is for entertaining of, for being possessed with, the Holy Spirit of God. 'Create in me a clean heart, ' said David, 'and renew a right spirit within me. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me, uphold me with thy free Spirit' (Psa 51:10-12). Now he was for a clean heart and a right spirit; now he was for the sanctifying of the blessed spirit of grace; a thing which the uncircumcised in heart resist, and do despite unto (Acts 7:51; Heb 10:29).
A broken heart, therefore, suiteth with the heart of God; a contrite spirit is one spirit with him. God, as I told you before, covets to dwell with the broken in heart, and the broken in heart desire communion with him. Now here is an agreement, a oneness of mind; now the same mind is in thee which was also in Christ Jesus. This must needs be an excellent spirit; this must needs be better with God, and in his sight, than thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil. But does the carnal world covet this, this spirit, and the blessed graces of it? No, they despise it, as I said before; they mock at it, they prefer and countenance any sorry, dirty lust rather; and the reason is, because they want a broken heart, that heart so highly in esteem with God, and remain for want thereof in their enmity to God.
The broken-hearted know, that the sanctifying of the Spirit is a good means to keep from that relapse, out of which a man cannot come unless his heart be wounded a second time. Doubtless David had a broken heart at first conversion, and if that brokenness had remained, that is, had he not given way to hardness of heart again, he had never fallen into that sin out of which he could not be recovered, but by the breaking of his bones a second time. Therefore, I say, a broken heart is of great esteem with God; for it, and I will add, so long as it retains its tenderness, covets none but God, and the things of his Holy Spirit; sin is an abomination to it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
T H E
The Excellency of a Broken Heart:
Showing the Nature, Signs, and Proper
Effects of a Contrite Spirit.
Being the Last Works of that Eminent Preacher and
Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ,
Mr. John Bunyan, of Bedford. With a Preface Prefixed
Thereunto by an Eminent Minister of the Gospel In London.
By J O H N. B U N Y A N
L O N D O N,
Sold by George Larkin, at the
Two Swans without Bishopgates, 1692.
[III. WHAT A BROKEN HEART, AND WHAT A CONTRITE SPIRIT IS.]
come now in order to show you what a broken heart and what a contrite spirit is. This must be done, because in the discovery of this lies both the comfort of them that have it, and the conviction of them that have it not. Now, that I may do this the better, I must propound and speak to these four things. FIRST. I must show you what an one that heart is that is not broken, that is not contrite. SECOND. I must show you how, or with what the heart is broken and made contrite. THIRD. Show you how, and what it is, when broken and made contrite. And, FOURTH. I shall, last of all, give you some signs of a broken and contrite heart.
FIRST. For the first of these, to wit, What an one that heart is, that is not a broken, that is not a contrite heart.
First. The heart, before it is broken, is hard and stubborn, and obstinate against God, and the salvation of the soul (Zech 7:12; Deut 2:30, 9:27).
Second. It is a heart full of evil imaginations and darkness (Gen 18:12; Rom 1:21).
Third. It is a heart deceitful and subject to be deceived, especially about the things of an eternal concernment (Isa 44:20; Deut 11:16).
Fourth. It is a heart that rather gathereth iniquity and vanity to itself than anything that is good for the soul (Psa 41:6, 94:11).
Fifth. It is an unbelieving heart, and one that will turn away from God to sin (Heb 3:12; Deut 17:17).
Sixth. It is a heart not prepared for God, being uncircumcised, nor for the reception of his holy word (2 Chron 12:14; Psa 78:8; Acts 7:51).
Seventh. It is a heart not single, but double; it will pretend to serve God, but will withal lean to the devil and sin (Psa 12:2; Eze 33:31).
Eighth. It is a heart proud and stout: it loves not to be controlled, though the controller be God himself (Psa 101:5; Prov 16:5; Mal 3:13).
Ninth. It is a heart that will give place to Satan, but will resist the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3, 7:51).
Tenth. In a word, 'It is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked'; so wicked that none can know it (Jer 17:9).
That the heart before it is broken is such, and worse than I have described it to be, is sufficiently seen by the whole course of the world. Where is the man whose heart has not been broken, and whose spirit is not contrite, that according to the Word of God deals honestly with his own soul? It is one character of a right heart, that it is sound in God's statutes, and honest (Psa 119:18; Luke 8:15). Now, an honest heart will not put off itself, nor be put off with that which will not go for current money with the merchant; I mean, with that which will not go for saving grace at the day of judgment. But alas! alas! but few men, how honest soever they are to others, have honesty towards themselves; though he is the worst of deceivers who deceiveth his own soul, as James has it, about the things of his own soul (1:22, 26). But,
SECOND. I now come to show you with what and how the heart is broken, and the spirit made contrite.
[First. With what the heart is broken, and the spirit made contrite.]
The instrument with which the heart is broken, and with which the spirit is made contrite, is the Word. 'Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord; and like a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces?' (Jer 23:29). The rock, in this text, is the heart, which in another place is compared to an adamant, which adamant is harder than flint (Zech 7:11, 12; Eze 3:9). This rock, this adamant, this stony heart, is broken and made contrite by the Word. But it only is so, when the Word is as a fire, and as a hammer to break and melt it. And then, and then only, it is as a fire, and a hammer to the heart to break it, when it is managed by the arm of God. No man can break the heart with the Word; no angel can break the heart with the Word; that is, if God forbears to second it by mighty power from heaven. This made Balaam go without a heart rightly broken, and truly contrite, though he was rebuked by an angel; and the Pharisees die in their sins, though rebuked for them, and admonished to turn from them, by the Saviour of the world. Wherefore, though the Word is the instrument with which the heart is broken, yet it is not broken with the Word, till that Word is managed by the might and power of God.
This made the prophet Isaiah, after long preaching, cry out, that he had laboured for nought, and in vain; and this made him cry to God, 'to rend the heavens and come down, ' that the mountains, or rocky hills, or hearts, might be broken, and melt at his presence (Isa 44:4, 64:1, 2). For he found by experience, that as to this no effectual work could be done, unless the Lord put to his hand. This also is often intimated in the Scriptures, where it saith, when the preachers preached effectually to the breaking of men's hearts, 'the Lord wrought with them; the hand of the Lord was with them, ' and the like (Mark 16:20; Acts 11:21).
Now when the hand of the Lord is with the Word, then it is mighty: it is 'mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds' (2 Cor 10:4). It is sharp, then, as a sword in the soul and spirit; it sticks like an arrow in the hearts of sinners, to the causing of the people to fall at his foot for mercy (Heb 4:12). Then it is, as was said afore, as a fire and as a hammer to break this rock in pieces (Psa 110:3). And hence the Word is made mention of under a double consideration. 1. As it stands by itself. 2. As attended with power from heaven.
1. As it stands by itself, and is not seconded with saving operation from heaven, it is called the Word only, the Word barely, or as if it was only the word of men (1 Thess 1:5-7; 1 Cor 4:19, 20; 1 Thess 2:13). Because, then, it is only as managed by men, who are not able to make it accomplish that work. The Word of God, when in a man's hand only, is like the father's sword in the hand of the sucking child; which sword, though never so well pointed, and though never so sharp on the edges, is not now able to conquer a foe, and to make an enemy fall and cry out for mercy, because it is but in the hand of the child. But now, let the same sword be put into the hand of a skilful father, and God is both skilful and able to manage his Word, and then the sinner, and then the proud helpers too, are both made to stoop, and submit themselves; wherefore, I say, though the Word be the instrument, yet of itself doth do no saving good to the soul; the heart is not broken, nor the spirit made contrite thereby; it only worketh death, and leaveth men in the chains of their sins, still faster bound over to eternal condemnation (2 Cor 2:15, 16).
2. But when seconded by mighty power, then the same Word is as the roaring of a lion, as the piercing of a sword, as a burning fire in the bones, as thunder and as a hammer that dashes all to pieces (Jer 25:30; Amos 1:2, 3:8; Acts 2:37; Jer 20:9; Psa 29:3-9). Wherefore, from hence it is to be concluded, that whoever has heard the Word preached, and has not heard the voice of the living God therein, has not as yet had their hearts broken, nor their spirits made contrite for their sins.
[Second. How the heart is broken, and the spirit made contrite.]
And this leads me to the second thing, to wit, To show how the heart is broken and the spirit made contrite by the Word, and verily it is when the Word comes home with power. But yet this is but general; wherefore, more particularly,
1. Then the Word works effectually to this purpose, when it findeth out the sinner and his sin, and shall convince him that it has found him out. Thus it was with our first father; when he had sinned, he sought to hide himself from God; he gets among the trees of the garden, and there he shrouds himself; but yet, not thinking himself secure, he covers himself with fig-leaves; and now he lieth quiet. Now God shall not find me, thinks he, nor know what I have done. But lo! by and by, he 'hears the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.' And now, Adam, what do you mean to do? Why, as yet, he skulketh, and hides his head, and seeks yet to lie undiscovered; but behold, the voice cries out, ADAM! and now he begins to tremble. 'Adam, where art thou?' says God; and now Adam is made to answer (Gen 3:7-11). But the voice of the Lord God doth not leave him here: no, it now begins to search, and to inquire after his doings, and to unravel what he had wrapt together and covered, until it made him bare and naked in his own sight before the face of God. Thus, therefore, doth the Word, when managed by the arm of God. It findeth out, it singleth out the sinner; the sinner finds it so; it finds out the sins of the sinner; it unravels his whole life, it strips him and lays him naked in his own sight before the face of God; neither can the sinner nor his wickedness be longer hid and covered; and now begins the sinner to see what he never saw before.
2. Another instance for this is David, the man of our text. He sins, he sins grossly, he sins and hides it; yea, and seeks to hide it from the face of God and man. Well, Nathan is sent to preach a preaching to him, and that in common, and that in special: in common, by a parable; in special, by a particular application of it to him. While Nathan only preached in common, or in general, David was fish- whole, and stood as right in his own eyes as if he had been as innocent and as harmless as any man alive. But God had a love for David; and therefore commands his servant Nathan to go home, not only to David's ears, but to David's conscience. Well, David now must fall. Says Nathan, 'Thou art the man'; says David, 'I have sinned, ' and then his heart was broken, and his spirit made contrite; as this psalm and our text doth show (2 Sam 12:1-13).
3. A third instance is that of Saul; he had heard many a sermon, and was become a great professor, yea, he was more zealous than were many of his equals; but his heart was never broken, nor his spirit ever made contrite, till he heard one preach from heaven, till he heard God, in the Word of God, making inquiry after his sins: 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' says Jesus; and then he can stand no longer: for then his heart brake, then he falls to the ground, then he trembles, then he cries out, 'Who art thou, Lord?' and, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9). Wherefore, as I said, Then the word works effectually to this purpose, when it findeth out the sinner and his sin, and also when it shall convince him that it has found him out. Only I must join here a caution, for every operation of the Word upon the conscience is not saving; nor doth all conviction end in the saving conversion of the sinner. It is then only such an operation of the Word that is intended, namely, that shows the sinner not only the evil of his ways, but brings the heart unfeignedly over to God by Christ. And this brings me to the third thing.
THIRD. I am therefore come to show you how and what the heart is when broken and made contrite. And this I must do, by opening unto you the two chief expressions in the text. First. What is meant by this word broken. Second. What is meant by this word contrite.
First. For this word broken, Tindal renders it a troubled heart; but I think there is more in it. I take it, therefore, to be a heart disabled, as to former actions, even as a man whose bones are broken is disabled, as to his way of running, leaping, wrestling, or ought else, which vainly he was wont to do; wherefore, that which was called a broken heart in the text, he calls his broken bones, in verse the eighth: 'Cause me, ' saith he, 'to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice' (Psa 51:8). And why is the breaking of the heart compared to the breaking of the bones? but because as when the bones are broken, the outward man is disabled as to what it was wont to do; so when the spirit is broken, the inward man is disabled as to what vanity and folly it before delighted in; hence, feebleness is joined with this brokenness of heart. 'I am feeble, ' saith he, 'and sore broken' (Psa 38:8). I have lost my strength and former vigour, as to vain and sinful courses.
This, then, it is to have the heart broken; namely, to have it lamed, disabled, and taken off by sense of God's wrath due to sin, from that course of life it formerly was conversant in; and to show that this work is no fancy, nor done but with great trouble to the soul, it is compared to the putting the bones out of joint, the breaking of the bones, the burning of the bones with fire, or as the taking the natural moisture from the bones, the vexing of the bones, &c. (Psa 23:14; Jer 20:9; Lam 1:13; Psa 6:2; Prov 17:22). All which are expressions adorned with such similitudes, as do undeniably declare that to sense and feeling a broken heart is a grievous thing.
Second. What is meant by the word contrite. A contrite spirit is a penitent one; one sorely grieved, and deeply sorrowful, for the sins it has committed against God, and to the damage of the soul; and so it is to be taken in all those places where a contrite spirit is made mention of; as in Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 57:15, 66:2.
As a man that has by his folly procured a broken leg or arm, is heartily sorry that ever he was so foolish as to be engaged in such foolish ways of idleness and vanity; so he whose heart is broken with a sense of God's wrath due to his sin, hath deep sorrow in his soul, and is greatly repentant that ever he should be such a fool, as by rebellious doings to bring himself and his soul to so much sharp affliction. Hence, while others are sporting themselves in vanity, such a one doth call his sin his greatest folly. 'My wounds stink, and are corrupt, ' saith David, 'because of my foolishness.' And again, 'O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee' (Psa 38:5, 69:5).
Men, whatever they say with their lips, cannot conclude, if yet their hearts want breaking, that sin is a foolish thing. Hence it says, 'The foolishness of fools is folly' (Prov 14:24). That is, the foolishness of some men, is that they take pleasure in their sins; for their sins are their foolishness, and the folly of their soul lies in their countenancing of this foolishness. But the man whose heart is broken, he is none of these, he cannot be one of these, no more than he that has his bones broken can rejoice that he is desired to play a match at football. Hence, to hear others talk foolishly, is to the grief of those whom God has wounded: or, as it is in another place, their words are 'like the piercings of a sword' (Psa 69:26; Prov 12:18). This, therefore, I take to be the meaning of these two words, a broken and a contrite spirit.
FOURTH. Lastly, As to this, I now come more particularly to give you some signs of a broken heart, of a broken and a contrite spirit.
First. A broken-hearted man, such as is intended in the text, is a sensible man; he is brought to the exercise of all the senses of his soul. All others are dead, senseless, and without true feeling of what the broken-hearted man is sensible of.
1. He sees himself to be what others are ignorant of; that is, he sees himself to be not only a sinful man, but a man by nature in the gall and bond of sin. In the gall of sin: it is Peter's expression to Simon, and it is a saying common to all men: for every man in a state of nature is in the gall of sin; he was shapen in it, conceived in it; it has also possession of, and by that possession infected the whole of his soul and body (Psa 51:5; Acts 8:23). This he sees, this he understands; every professor sees not this, because the blessing of a broken heart is not bestowed on every one. David says, 'There is no soundness in my flesh'; and Solomon suggest that a plague or running sore is in the very heart. But every one perceives not this (Psa 38:3; 1 Kings 8:38). He saith again, that his 'wounds stank, and were corrupted': that his 'sore ran, and ceased not' (Psa 38:5, 77:2). But these things the brutish man, the man whose heart was never broken, has no understanding of. But the broken-hearted, the man that has a broken spirit, he sees, as the prophet has it, he sees his sickness, he sees his wound: 'When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound'; he sees it to his grief, he sees it to his sorrow (Hosea 5:13).
2. He feels what others have no sense of; he feels the arrows of the Almighty, and that they stick fast in him (Psa 38:2). He feels how sore and sick, by the smiting of God's hammer upon his heart to break it, his poor soul is made. He feels a burden intolerably lying upon his spirit (Hosea 5:13). 'Mine iniquities, ' saith he, 'are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me' (Psa 38:4). He feels also the heavy hand of God upon his soul, a thing unknown to carnal men. He feels pain, being wounded, even such pain as others cannot understand, because they are not broken. 'My heart, ' saith David, 'is sore pained within me.' Why so? Why! 'The terrors of death are fallen upon me' (Psa 55:4). The terrors of death cause pain, yea, pain of the highest nature; hence that which is here called pains, is in another place called pangs (Isa 21:3).
You know broken bones occasion pain, strong pain, yea, pain that will make a man or woman groan 'with the groanings of a deadly wounded man' (Eze 30:24). Soul pain is the sorest pain, in comparison to which the pain of the body is a very tolerable thing (Prov 18:14). Now here is soul pain, here is heart pain; here we are discoursing of a wounded, of a broken spirit; wherefore this is pain to be felt to the sinking of the whole man, neither can any support this but God. Here is death in this pain, death for ever, without God's special mercy. This pain will bring the soul to, and this the broken-hearted man doth feel. 'The sorrows of death, ' saith David, 'compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me, I found trouble and sorrow' (Psa 116:3). Ay, I'll warrant thee, poor man, thou foundest trouble and sorrow indeed; for the pains of hell and sorrows of death are pains and sorrow the most intolerable. But this the man is acquainted with that has his heart broken.
3. As he sees and feels, so he hears that which augments his woe and sorrow. You know, if a man has his bones broken, he does not only see and feel, but oft-times also hears what increases his grief; as, that his wounds are incurable; that his bone is not rightly set; that there is danger of a gangrene; that he may be lost for want of looking to. These are the voices, the sayings, that haunt the house of one that has his bones broken. And a broken-hearted man knows what I mean by this; he hears that which makes his lips quiver, and at the noise of which he seems to feel rottenness enter into his bones; he trembleth in himself, and wishes that he may hear joy and gladness, that the bones, the heart, and spirit, which God has broken, may rejoice (Habb 3:16; Psa 51:8). He thinks he hears God say, the devil say, his conscience say, and all good men to whisper among themselves, saying, there is no help for him from God. Job heard this, David heard this, Heman heard this; and this is the common sound in the ears of the broken- hearted.
4. The broken-hearted smell what others cannot scent. Alas! sin never smelled so to any man alive as it smells to the broken-hearted. You know wounds will stink: but [there is] no stink like that of sin to the broken-hearted man. His own sins stink, and so doth the sins of all the world to him. Sin is like carrion; it is of a stinking nature; yea, it has the worst of smells; however, some men like it (Psa 38:5). But none are offended with the scent thereof but God and the broken-hearted sinner. 'My wounds stink, and are corrupt, ' saith he, both in God's nostrils and mine own. But, alas! who smells the stink of sin? None of the carnal world; they, like carrion-crows, seek it, love it, and eat it as the child eats bread. 'They eat up the sin of my people, ' saith God, 'and they set their heart on their iniquity' (Hosea 4:8). This, I say, they do, because they do not smell the nauseous scent of sin. You know, that what is nauseous to the smell cannot be palatable to the taste. The broken-hearted man doth find that sin is nauseous, and therefore cries out it stinketh. They also think at times the smell of fire, of fire and brimstone, is upon them, they are so sensible of the wages due to sin.
5. The broken-hearted is also a tasting man. Wounds, if sore, and full of pains, of great pains, do sometimes alter the taste of a man; they make him think his meat, his drink, yea, that cordials have a bitter taste in them. How many times doth the poor people of God, that are the only men that know what a broken-heart doth mean, cry out that gravel, wormwood, gall, and vinegar, was made their meat (Lam 3:15, 16, 19). This gravel, gall, and wormwood, is the true temporal taste of sin; and God, to make them loathe it for ever, doth feed them with it till their hearts both ache and break therewith. Wickedness is pleasant of taste to the world; hence it is said they feed on ashes, they feed on the wind (Isa 44:20; Hosea 12:1). Lusts, or any thing that is vile and refuse, the carnal world think relishes well; as is set out most notably in the parable of the prodigal son. 'He would fain have filled his belly, ' saith our Lord, 'with the husks that the swine did eat' (Luke 15:16). But the broken- hearted man has a relish that is true as to these things, though, by reason of the anguish of his soul, it abhors all manner of dainty meat (Job 33:19, 20; Psa 107:17-19). Thus I have showed you one sign of a broken-hearted man; he is a sensible man, he has all the senses of his soul awakened, he can see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and that as none but himself can do. I come now to another sign of a broken and contrite man.
Second. And that is, he is a very sorrowful man. This, as the other, is natural; it is natural to one that is in pain, and that has his bones broken, to be a grieved and sorrowful man. He is none of the jolly ones of the times; nor can he, for his bones, his heart, his heart is broken.
1. He is sorry for that he feels and finds in himself a pravity of nature; I told you before he is sensible of it, he sees it, he feels it; and here I say he is sorry for it. It is this that makes him call himself a wretched man; it is this that makes him loathe and abhor himself; it is this that makes him blush, blush before God and be ashamed (Rom 7:24; Job 42:5, 6; Eze 36:31). He finds by nature no form nor comeliness in himself, but the more he looks in the glass of the Word, the more unhandsome, the more deformed he perceiveth sin has made him. Every body sees not this, therefore every body is not sorry for it; but the broken in heart sees that he is by sin corrupted, marred, full of lewdness and naughtiness; he sees that in him, that is, in his flesh, dwells no good thing; and this makes him sorry, yea, it makes him sorry at heart. A man that has his bones broken finds he is spoiled, marred, disabled from doing as he would and should, at which he is grieved and made sorry.
Many are sorry for actual transgressions, because they do oft bring them to shame before men; but few are sorry for the defects that sin has made in nature, because they see not those defects themselves. A man cannot be sorry for the sinful defects of nature, till he sees they have rendered him contemptible to God; nor is it any thing but a sight of God that can make him truly see what he is, and so be heartily sorry for being so. Now 'mine eye seeth thee, ' saith Job, now 'I abhor myself.' 'Woe is me, for I am undone, ' saith the prophet, 'for mine eyes have seen the King the Lord.' And it was this that made Daniel say his 'comeliness was turned in him into corruption'; for he had now the vision of the Holy One (Job 42:6; Isa 6:1-5; Dan 10:8). Visions of God break the heart, because, by the sight the soul then has of his perfections, it sees its own infinite and unspeakable disproportion, because of the vileness of its nature.
Suppose a company of ugly, uncomely, deformed persons dwelt together in one house; and suppose that they never yet saw any man or woman more than themselves, or that were arrayed with the splendours and perfections of nature; these would not be capable of comparing themselves with any but themselves, and consequently would not be affected and made sorry for their uncomely natural defections. But now bring them out of their cells and holes of darkness, where they have been shut up by themselves, and let them take a view of the splendour and perfections of beauty that are in others, and then, if at all, they will be sorry and dejected at the view of their own defects. This is the case; men by sin are marred, spoiled, corrupted, depraved, but they may dwell by themselves in the dark; they see neither God, nor angels, nor saints, in their excellent nature and beauty: and therefore they are apt to count their own uncomely parts their ornaments and their glory. But now let such, as I said, see God, see saints, or the ornaments of the Holy Ghost, and themselves as they are without them, and then they cannot but must be affected with and sorry for their own deformity. When the Lord Christ put forth but little of his excellency before his servant Peter's face, it raised up the depravity of Peter's nature before him to his great confusion and shame; and made him cry out to him in the midst of all his fellows, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5:4- 8).
This therefore is the cause of a broken heart, even a sight of divine excellencies, and a sense that I am a poor, depraved, spoiled defiled wretch; and this sight having broken the heart, begets sorrow in the broken-hearted.
2. The broken-hearted is a sorrowful man; for that he finds his depravity of nature strong in him, to the putting forth itself to oppose and overthrow what his changed mind doth prompt him to; 'When I would do good, ' saith Paul, 'evil is present with me' (Rom 7:21). Evil is present to oppose, to resist, and make head against the desires of my soul. The man that has his bones broken, may have yet a mind to be industriously occupied in a lawful and honest calling; but he finds, by experience, that an infirmity attends his present condition that strongly resists his good endeavours; and at this he shakes his head, makes complaints, and with sorrow of heart he sighs and says, I 'cannot do the thing that I would' (Rom 7:15; Gal 5:17). I am weak, I am feeble; I am not only depraved, but by that depravity deprived of ability to put good motions, good intentions and desires into execution, to completeness; O says he, I am ready to halt, my sorrow is continually before me!
You must know that the broken-hearted loves God, loves his soul, loves good, and hates evil. Now, for such an one to find in himself an opposition and continual contradiction to this holy passion, it must needs cause sorrow, godly sorrow, as the apostle Paul calls it. For such are made sorrow after a godly sort. To be sorry for that thy nature is with sin depraved, and that through this depravity thou art deprived of ability to do what the Word and thy holy mind doth prompt thee to, is to be sorry after a godly sort. For this sorrow worketh that in thee of which thou wilt never have cause to repent; no, not to eternity (2 Cor 7:9-11).
3. The broken-hearted man is sorry for those breaches that, by reason of the depravity of his nature, are made in his life and conversation. And this was the case of the man in our text. The vileness of his nature had broken out to the defiling of his life, and to the making of him, at this time, base in conversation. This, this was it, that all to brake his heart. He saw in this he had dishonoured God, and that cut him, 'Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight' (Psa 51:4). He saw in this he had caused the enemies of God to open their mouths and blaspheme; and this cut him to the heart. This made him cry, I have sinned against thee, Lord. This made him say, 'I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin' (Psa 38:18).
When a man is designed to do a matter, when his heart is set upon it, and the broken-hearted doth design to glorify God, an obstruction to that design, the spoiling of this work, makes him sorrowful. Hannah coveted children, but could not have them, and this made her 'a woman of a sorrowful spirit' (1 Sam 1:15). A broken-hearted man would be well inwardly, and do that which is well outwardly; but he feels, he finds, he sees he is prevented, prevented at least in part. This makes him sorrowful; in this he groans, groans earnestly, being burdened with his imperfections (2 Cor 5:1-3). You know one with broken bones has imperfections many, and is more sensible of them, too, as was said afore, than any other man; and this makes him sorrowful, yea, and makes him conclude that he shall go softly all his days in the bitterness of his soul (Isa 38:15).
Third. The man with a broken heart is a very humble man; or, true humility is a sign of a broken heart. Hence, brokenness of heart, contrition of spirit, and humbleness of mind, are put together. 'To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones' (Isa 57:15).
To follow our similitude. Suppose a man, while in bodily health, stout and strong, and one that fears and cares for no man; yet let this man have but a leg or an arm broken, and his courage is quelled; he is now so far off from hectoring of it with a man, that he is afraid of every little child that doth but offer to touch him. Now he will court the most feeble that has ought to do with him, to use him and handle him gently. Now he is become a child in courage, a child in fear, and humbleth himself as a little child.
Why, thus it is with that man that is of a broken and contrite spirit. Time was, indeed, he could hector, even hector it with God himself, saying, 'What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?' or what profit shall I have if I keep his commandments? (Job 21:15; Mal 3:13, 14). Ay! But now his heart is broken; God has wrestled with him, and given him a fall, to the breaking of his bones, his heart; and now he crouches, now he cringes, now he begs of God that he will not only do him good, but do it with tender hands. 'Have mercy upon me, O God, ' said David; yea, 'according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions' (Psa 51:1).
He stands, as he sees, not only in need of mercy, but of the tenderest mercies. God has several sorts of mercies, some more rough, some more tender. God can save a man, and yet have him a dreadful way to heaven! This the broken- hearted sees, and this the broken-hearted dreads, and therefore pleads for the tenderest sort of mercies; and here we read of his gentle dealing, and that he is very pitiful, and that he deals tenderly with his. But the reason of such expressions no man knows but he that is broken-hearted; he has his sores, his running sores, his stinking sores; wherefore he is pained, and therefore covets to be handled tenderly. Thus God has broken the pride of his spirit, and humbled the loftiness of man. And his humility yet appears,
1. In his thankfulness for natural life. He reckoneth at night, when he goes to bed, that like as a lion, so God will tear him to pieces before the morning light (Isa 38:13). There is no judgment that has fallen upon others, but he counts of right he should be swallowed up by it. 'My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments' (Psa 119:120). But perceiving a day added to his life, and that he in the morning is still on this side hell, he cannot choose but take notice of it, and acknowledge it as a special favour, saying, God be thanked for holding my soul in life till now, and for keeping my life back from the destroyer (Job 33:22; Psa 56:13, 86:13).
Man, before his heart is broken, counts time his own, and therefore he spends it lavishly upon every idle thing. His soul is far from fear, because the rod of God is not upon him; but when he sees himself under the wounding hand of God, or when God, like a lion, is breaking all his bones, then he humbleth himself before him, and falleth at his foot. Now he has learned to count every moment a mercy, and every small morsel a mercy.
2. Now also the least hopes of mercy for his soul, O how precious is it! He that was wont to make orts of the gospel, and that valued promises but as stubble, and the words of God but as rotten wood; now, with what an eye doth he look on the promise? Yea, he counted a peradventure of mercy more rich, more worth, than the whole world. Now, as we say, he is glad to leap at a crust; now, to be a dog in God's house is counted better by him than to 'dwell in the tents of the wicked' (Matt 15:16, 27; Luke 15:17-19).
3. Now he that was wont to look scornfully upon the people of God, yea, that used to scorn to show them a gentle cast of his countenance; now he admires and bows before them, and is ready to lick the dust of their feet, and would count it his greatest, the highest honour, to be as one of the least of them. 'Make me as one of thy hired servants, ' says he (Luke 15:19).
4. Now he is, in his own eyes, the greatest fool in nature; for that he sees he has been so mistaken in his ways, and has not yet but little, if any true knowledge of God. Every one now, says he, have more knowledge of God than I; every one serves him better than I (Psa 73:21, 22; Prov 30:2, 3).
5. Now may he be but one, though the least in the kingdom of heaven! Now may he be but one, though the least in the church on earth! Now may he be but loved, though the least beloved of saints! How high an account doth he set thereon!
6. Now, when he talketh with God or men, how doth he debase himself before them! If with God, how does he accuse himself, and load himself with the acknowledgments of his own villanies, which he committed in the days wherein he was the enemy of God! 'Lord, ' said Paul, that contrite one, 'I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him' (Acts 22:19, 20). Yea, I punished thy saints 'oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities' (Acts 26:9-11).
Also, when he comes to speak to saints, how doth he make himself vile before them! 'I am, ' saith he, 'the least of the apostles; that am not meet to be called an apostle'; I am 'less than the least of all saints'; I was a blasphemer; I was a persecutor, and injurious, &c. (1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8; 1 Tim 1:13). What humility, what self-abasing thoughts, doth a broken heart produce! When David danced before the ark of God, also how did he discover his nakedness to the disliking of his wife; and when she taunted him for his doings, says he, 'It was before the Lord, ' &c., 'and I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight' (2 Sam 6:20-22). O, the man that is, or that has been kindly broken in his spirit, and that is of a contrite heart, is a lowly, humble man.
Fourth. The broken-hearted man is a man that sees himself in spirituals to be poor. Therefore, as humble and contrite, so poor and contrite are put together in the Word. 'But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit' (Isa 66:1, 2). And here we still pursue our metaphor. A wounded man, a man with broken bones, concludes his condition to be but poor, very poor. Ask him how he does, and he answers, 'Truly, neighbours, in a very poor condition!' Also you have the spiritual poverty of such as have, or have had their hearts broken, and that have been of contrite spirits, much made mention of in the Word. And they go by two names to distinguish them from others. They are called THY poor, that is, God's poor; they are also called 'the poor in spirit' (Psa 72:2, 74:19; Matt 5:3). Now, the man that is poor in his own eyes, for of him we now discourse, and the broken-hearted is such an one, is sensible of his wants. He knows he cannot help himself, and therefore is forced to be content to live by the charity of others. Thus it is in nature, thus it is in grace.
1. The broken-hearted now knows his wants, and he knew it not till now. As he that has a broken bone, knew no want of a bone-setter till he knew his bone was broken. His broken bone makes him know it; his pain and anguish makes him know it; and thus it is in spirituals. Now he sees to be poor indeed is to want the sense of the favour of God; for his great pain is a sense of wrath, as hath been shown before. And the voice of joy would heal his broken bones (Psa 51:8). Two things he thinks would make him rich. (1) A right and title to Jesus Christ, and all his benefits. (2) And saving faith therein. They that are spiritually rich are rich in him, and in the faith of him (2 Cor 8:9; James 2:5).
The first of these giveth us a right to the kingdom of heaven; and the second yields the soul the comfort of it; and the broken-hearted man wants the sense and knowledge of his interest in these. That he knows he wants them is plain; but that he knows he has them is what, as yet, he wants the attainment of. Hence he says, 'The poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst' (Isa 41:17). There is none in their view; none in their view for them. Hence David, when he had his broken heart, felt he wanted washing, he wanted purging, he wanted to be made white. He knew that spiritual riches lay there but he did not so well perceive that God had washed and purged him. Yea, he rather was afraid that all was going, that he was in danger of being cast out of God's presence, and that the Spirit of grace would be utterly taken from him (Psa 51). That is the first thing. The broken- hearted is poor, because he knows his wants.
2. The broken-hearted is poor, because he knows he cannot help himself to what he knows he wants. The man that has a broken arm, as he knows it, so he knows of himself he cannot set it. This therefore is a second thing that declares a man is poor, otherwise he is not so. For suppose a man wants never so much, yet if he can but help himself, if he can furnish himself, if he can supply his own wants out of what he has, he cannot be a poor man. Yea, the more he wants, the greater are his riches, if he can supply his own wants out of his own purse.
He then is the poor man, that knows his spiritual want, and also knows he cannot supply or help himself. But this the broken-hearted knows, therefore he in his own eyes is the only poor man. True, he may have something of his own, but that will not supply his want, and therefore he is a poor man still. I have sacrifices, says David, but thou dosts not desire them, therefore my poverty remains (Psa 51:16). Lead is not gold, lead is not current money with the merchants. There is none has spiritual gold to sell but Christ (Rev 3:18). What can a man do to procure Christ, or procure faith, or love? Yea, had he never so much of his own carnal excellencies, no, not one penny of it will go for pay in that market where grace is to be hand. 'If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned' (Can 8:7).
This the broken-hearted man perceives, and therefore he sees himself to be spiritually poor. True he has a broken heart, and that is of great esteem with God; but that is not of nature's goodness, that is a gift, a work of God; and that is the sacrifices of God. Besides, a man cannot remain content and at rest with that; for that, in the nature of it, does but show him he is poor, and that his wants are such as himself cannot supply. Besides, there is but little ease in a broken heart.
3. The broken-hearted man is poor, and sees it; because he finds he is now disabled to live any way else but by begging. This David betook himself to, though he was a king; for he knew, as to his soul's health, he could live no way else. 'This poor man cried, ' saith he, 'and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles' (Psa 34:6). And this leads me to the fifth sign.
Fifth. Another sign of a broken heart is a crying, a crying out. Pain, you know, will make one cry. Go to them that have upon them the anguish of broken bones, and see if they do not cry; anguish makes them cry. This, this is that which quickly follows, if once thy heart be broken, and thy spirit indeed made contrite.
1. I say, anguish will make thee cry. 'Trouble and anguish, ' saith David, 'have taken hold on me' (Psa 119:143). Anguish, you know, doth naturally provoke to crying; now, as a broken bone has anguish, a broken heart has anguish. Hence the pains of one that has a broken heart are compared to the pangs of a woman in travail (John 16:20- 22).
Anguish will make one cry alone, cry to one's self; and this is called a bemoaning of one's self. 'I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, ' saith God (Jer 31:18). That is, being at present under the breaking, chastising hand of God. 'Thou hast chastised me, ' saith he, 'and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.' This is his meaning also who said, 'I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise.' And why? Why, 'My heart is sore pained within me' (Psa 4:2-4).
This is a self-bemoaning, a bemoaning themselves in secret and retired places. You know it is common with them who are distressed with anguish, though all alone, to cry out to themselves of their present pains, saying, O my leg! O my arm! O my bowels! Or, as the son of the Shunammite, 'My head! my head!' (2 Kings 4:19). O the groans, the sighs, the cries, that the broken-hearted have, when by themselves, or alone! O, say they, my sins! my sins! my soul! my soul! How am I loaden with guilt! How am I surrounded with fear! O this hard, this desperate, this unbelieving heart! O how sin defileth my will, my mind, my conscience! 'I am afflicted and ready to die' (Psa 88:15).
Could some of you carnal people but get behind the chamber-door, to hear Ephraim when he is at the work of self-bemoaning, it would make you stand amazed to hear him bewail that sin in himself in which you take delight; and to hear him bemoan his misspending of time, while you spend all in pursuing your filthy lusts; and to hear him offended with his heart, because it will not better comply with God's holy will, while you are afraid of his Word and ways, and never think yourselves better than when farthest off from God. The unruliness of the passions and lusts of the broken-hearted make them often get into a corner, and thus bemoan themselves.
2. As they thus cry out in a bemoaning manner of and to themselves, so they have their outcries of and against themselves to others; as she said in another case, 'Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow' (Lam 1:12). O the bitter cries and complaints that the broken- hearted have, and make to one another! Still every one imagining that his own wounds are deepest, and his own sores fullest of anguish, and hardest to be cured. Say they, if our iniquities be upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live? (Eze 33:10).
Once being at an honest woman's house, I, after some pause, asked her how she did? She said, Very badly. I asked her if she was sick? she answered, No. What then, said I, are any of your children ill? She told me, No. What, said I, is your husband amiss, or do you go back in the world? No, no, said she, but I am afraid I shall not be saved. And broke out with heavy heart, saying, 'Ah, Goodman Bunyan! Christ and a pitcher; if I had Christ, though I went and begged my bread with a pitcher, it would be better with me than I think it is now!' This woman had her heart broken, this woman wanted Christ, this woman was concerned for her soul. There are but few women, rich women, that count Christ and a pitcher better than the world, their pride, and pleasures. This woman's cries are worthy to be recorded; it was a cry that carried in it, not only a sense of the want, but also of the worth of Christ. This cry, 'Christ and a pitcher, ' made a melodious noise in the ears of the very angels!
But, I say, few women cry out thus; few women are so in love with their own eternal salvation, as to be willing to part with all their lusts and vanities for Jesus Christ and a pitcher. Good Jacob also was thus: 'If the Lord, ' said he, 'will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, then he shall be my God.' Yea, he vowed it should be so. 'And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on; so that I come again to my father's house in peace: then shall the Lord be my God' (Gen 28:20).
3. As they bemoan themselves, and make their complaints to one and another, so they cry to God. 'O God, ' said Heman, 'I have cried day and night before thee.' But when? Why, when his soul was full of trouble, and his life drew near to the grave (Psa 88:1-3). Or, as it says in another place, out of the deep, 'out of the belly of hell cried I' (Psa 130:1; Jonah 2:2). By such words expressing what painful condition they were in when they cried.
See how God himself words it. 'My pleasant portion, ' says he, is become 'a desolate wilderness, and being desolate, it mourneth unto me' (Jer 12:11). And this also is natural to those whose hearts are broken. Whether goes the child, when it catcheth harm, but to its father, to its mother? Where doth it lay its head, but in their laps? Into whose bosom doth it pour out its complaint, more especially, but into the bosom of the father, of a mother, because there are bowels, there is pity, there is relief and succour? And thus it is with them whose bones, whose hearts are broken. It is natural to them; they must cry; they cannot but cry to him. 'Lord, heal me, ' said David, 'for my bones are vexed; Lord, heal me, for my soul is also sore vexed' (Psa 6:1-3). He that cannot cry feels no pain, sees no want, fears no danger, or else is dead.
Sixth. Another sign of a broken heart, and of a contrite spirit is, it trembleth at God's Word. 'To him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word' (Isa 66:2).
The Word of God is an awful Word to a broken-hearted man. Solomon says, 'The word of a king is as the roaring of a lion'; and if so, what is the Word of God? for by the wrath and fear is meant the authoritative word of a king. We have a proverb, 'The burnt child dreads the fire, the whipped child fears the rod'; even so the broken-hearted fears the Word of God. Hence you have a remark set upon them that tremble at God's Word, to wit, they are they that keep among the godly; they are they that keep within compass; they are they that are aptest to mourn, and to stand in the gap, when God is angry; and to turn away his wrath from a people.
It is a sign the Word of God has had place, and wrought powerfully, when the heart trembleth at it, is afraid, and stands in awe of it. When Joseph's mistress tempted him to lie with her, he was afraid of the Word of God. 'How then can I do this great wickedness, ' said he, 'and sin against God?' He stood in awe of God's Word, durst not do it, because he kept in remembrance what a dreadful thing it was to rebel against God's Word. When old Eli heard that the ark was taken, his very heart trembled within him; for he read by that sad loss that God was angry with Israel, and he knew the anger of God was a great and terrible thing. When Samuel went to Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled; for they feared that he came to them with some sad message from God, and they had had experience of the dread of such things before (Gen 39:7-9; 1 Sam 4:13, 16:1- 4). When Ezra would have a mourning in Israel for the sins of the land, he sent, and there came to him 'every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgressions of those that had been carried away' (Ezra 9:4).
There are, I say, a sort of people that tremble at the words of God, and that are afraid of doing ought that is contrary to them; but they are only such with whose souls and spirits the Word has had to do. For the rest, they are resolved to go on their course, let God say what he will. 'As for the word' of the Lord, said rebellious Israel to Jeremiah, 'that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth' (Jer 44:16). But do you think that these people did ever feel the power and majesty of the Word of God to break their hearts? No, verily; had that been so, they would have trembled at the words of God; they would have been afraid of the words of God. God may command some people what he will, they will do what they list. What care they for God? what care they for his Word? Neither threats nor promises, neither punishments or favours will make them obedient to the Word of God; and all because they have not felt the power of it, their hearts have not been broken with it. When king Josias did but read in God's Book what punishment God had threatened against rebellious Israel, though he himself was a holy and good man, he humbled himself, 'he rent his clothes, ' and wept before the Lord, and was afraid of the judgment threatened (2 Kings 22; 2 Chron 34). For he knew what a dreadful thing the Word of God is. Some men, as I said before, dare do anything, let the Word of God be never so much against it; but they that tremble at the Word dare not do so. No, they must make the Word their rule for all they do; they must go to the Holy Bible, and there inquire what may or may not be done; for they tremble at the Word. This then is another sign, a true sign, that the heart has been broken, namely, 'When the heart is made afraid of, and trembleth at the Word' (Acts 9:4-6, 16:29, 30). Trembling at the Word is caused by a belief of what is deserved, threatened, and of what will come, if not prevented by repentance; and therefore the heart melts, and breaks before the Lord.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
T H E
The Excellency of a Broken Heart:
Showing the Nature, Signs, and Proper
Effects of a Contrite Spirit.
Being the Last Works of that Eminent Preacher and
Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ,
Mr. John Bunyan, of Bedford.
With a Preface Prefixed Thereunto by an
Eminent Minister of the Gospel In London.
By J O H N. B U N Y A N
L O N D O N,
Sold by George Larkin, at the
Two Swans without Bishopgates, 1692.
[II. THE DOCTRINE, ASSERTION, DEMONSTRATION, AND CONCLUSION, THAT A BROKEN AND TRULY CONTRITE HEART IS AN EXCELLENT HEART.]
ut we will demonstrate by several particulars, that a broken spirit, a spirit RIGHTLY broken, an heart TRULY contrite, is to God an excellent thing.
First. This is evident from the comparison, 'Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it, thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, ' &c. Mark, he rejecteth sacrifices, offerings and sacrifices: that is, all Levitical ceremonies under the law, and all external performances under the gospel; but accepteth a broken heart. It is therefore manifest by this, were there nothing else to be said, that proves, that a heart rightly broken, a heart truly contrite, is to God an excellent thing; for as you see such a heart is set before all sacrifice; and yet they were the ordinances of God, and things that he commanded; but lo, a broken spirit is above them all, a contrite heart goes beyond them, yea, beyond them when put all together. Thou wilt not have the one, thou wilt not despise the other. O brethren, a broken and a contrite heart is an excellent thing. Have I said a broken heart, a broken and a contrite heart is esteemed above all sacrifices; I will add,
Second. It is of greater esteem with God than is either heaven or earth; and that is more than to be set before external duties. 'Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word' (Isa 66:1, 2). Mark, God saith, he hath made all these things, but he doth not say, that he will look to them, that is, take complacency and delight in them; no, there is that wanting in all that he hath made that should take up and delight his heart. But now, let a broken-hearted sinner come before him; yea, he ranges the world throughout to find out such an one, and having found him, 'To this man, ' saith he, 'will I look.' I say again, that such a man to him is of more value than is either heaven or earth; 'They, ' saith he, 'shall wax old'; 'they shall perish' and vanish away; but this man he continues: he, as is presented to us in another place, under another character, 'he shall abide for ever' (Heb 1:10-12; 1 John 2:17).
'To this man will I look, ' with this man will I be delighted; for so to look doth sometimes signify. 'Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, ' saith Christ to his humble- hearted, 'thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes' (Cant 4:9). While it is as a conduit to let the rivers out of thy broken heart. I am taken, saith he, 'with one chain of thy neck' (Can 4:9). Here you see he looks and is ravished, he looks and is taken, as it saith in another place, 'The king is held in the galleries'; that is, is taken with his beloved, with the dove's eyes of his beloved, with the contrite spirit of his people (Cant 7:5, 1:15). But it is not thus reported of him with respect to heaven or earth: them he sets more lightly by, them he 'reserves unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men' (2 Peter 3:7), but the broken in heart are his beloved, his jewels.
Wherefore, what I have said as to this must go for the truth of God, to wit, That a broken-hearted sinner, a sinner with a contrite spirit, is of more esteem with God than is either heaven or earth. He saith he hath made them, but he doth not say he will look to them. He saith they are his throne and footstool, but he doth not say they have taken or ravished his heart. No, it is those that are of a contrite spirit do this. But there is yet more in the words, 'To this man will I look': that is, For this man will I care, about this man will I camp, I will put this man under my protection; for so to look to one doth sometimes signify; and I take the meaning in this place to be such (Prov 27:23; Jer 39:12, 40:4). 'The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down' (Psa 145:14). And the broken- hearted are of this number; wherefore he careth for, campeth about, and hath set his eyes upon such an one for good. This, therefore, is a second demonstration to prove, that the man that hath his spirit rightly broken, his heart truly contrite, is of great esteem with God.
Third. Yet further, God doth not only prefer such an one, as has been said, before heaven and earth, but he loveth, he desireth to have that man for an intimate, for a companion; he must dwell; he must cohabit with him that is of a broken heart, with such as are of a contrite spirit. 'For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I will dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit' &c. (Isa 57:15).
Behold here both the majesty and condescension of the high and lofty One; his majesty, in that he is high, and the inhabiter of eternity; 'I am the high and lofty One, ' saith he, 'I inhabit eternity.' Verily this consideration is enough to make the broken-hearted man creep into a mouse-hole to hide himself from such a majesty! But behold his heart, his condescending mind; I am for dwelling also with him that hath a broken heart, with him that is of a contrite spirit; that is the man that I would converse with, that is the man with whom I will cohabit; that is, he, saith God, I will choose for my companion. For to desire to dwell with one supposeth all these things; and verily, of all the men in the world, none have acquaintance with God, none understand what communion with him, and what his teachings mean, but such as are of a broken and contrite heart. 'He is nigh unto them that are of a broken spirit' (Psa 34:18). These are they intended in the 14th Psalm, where it is said, 'The Lord looked down from heaven, - to see if any did understand and seek God'; that he might find some body in the world with whom he might converse; for indeed there is none else that either understand, or that can tend to hearken to him. God, as I may say, is forced to break men's hearts, before he can make them willing to cry to him, or be willing that he should have any concerns with them; the rest shut their eyes, stop their ears, withdraw their hearts, or say unto God, Be gone (Job 21:14). But now the broken in heart can tend it; he has leisure, yea, leisure, and will, and understanding, and all; and therefore is a fit man to have to do with God. There is room also in this man's house, in this man's heart, in this man's spirit, for God to dwell, for God to walk, for God to set up a kingdom.
Here, therefore, is suitableness. 'Can two walk together, ' saith God, 'except they be agreed?' (Amos 3:3). The broken-hearted desireth God's company; when wilt thou come unto me? saith he. The broken-hearted loveth to hear God speak and talk to him. Here is a suitableness. 'Make me, ' saith he, 'to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice' (Psa 51:8). But here lies the glory, in that the high and lofty One, the God that inhabiteth eternity, and that was a high and holy place for his habitation, should choose to dwell with, and to be a companion of the broken in heart, and of them that are of a contrite spirit. Yea, and here also is great comfort for such.
Fourth. God doth not only prefer such a heart before all sacrifices, nor esteems such a man above heaven and earth; nor yet only desire to be of his acquaintance, but he reserveth for him his chief comforts, his heart-reviving and soul-cherishing cordials. 'I dwell, ' saith he, with such to revive them, and to support and comfort them, 'to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones' (Isa 57:15). The broken-hearted man is a fainting man; he has his qualms, his sinking fits; he ofttimes dies away with pain and fear; he must be stayed with flagons, and comforted with apples, or else he cannot tell what to do: he pines, he pines away in his iniquity; nor can any thing keep him alive and make him well but the comforts and cordials of Almighty God (Exo 33:10, 11). Wherefore with such an one God will dwell, to revive the heart, to revive the spirit. 'To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'
God has cordials, but they are to comfort them that are cast down (2 Cor 7:6); and such are the broken-hearted; as for them that are whole, they need not the physician (Mark 2:17). They are the broken in spirit that stand in need of cordials; physicians are men of no esteem but with them that feel their sickness; and this is one reason why God is so little accounted of in the world, even because they have not been made sick by the wounding stroke of God. But now when a man is wounded, has his bones broken, or is made sick, and laid at the grave's mouth, who is of that esteem with him as is an able physician? What is so much desired as are the cordials, comforts, and suitable supplies of the skilful physician in those matters. And thus it is with the broken-hearted; he needs, and God has prepared for him plenty of the comforts and cordials of heaven, to succour and relieve his sinking soul.
Wherefore such a one lieth under all the promises that have succour in them, and consolation for men, sick and desponding under the sense of sin and the heavy wrath of God; and they, says God, shall be refreshed and revived with them. Yea, they are designed for them; he hath therefore broken their hearts, he hath therefore wounded their spirits, that he might make them apt to relish his reviving cordials, that he might minister to them his reviving comforts. For indeed, so soon as he hath broken them, his bowels yearn, and his compassions roll up and down within him, and will not suffer him to abide afflicting. Ephraim was one of these; but so soon as God had smitten him, behold his heart, how it works towards him. 'Is Ephraim, ' saith he, 'my dear son?' that is, he is so; 'is he a pleasant child?' that is, he is so; 'for since I spake 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' (Jer 31:18-20). This therefore is another demonstration.
Fifth. As God prefers such a heart, and esteems the man that has it above heaven and earth; as he covets intimacy with such an one, and prepares for him his cordials; so when he sent his Son Jesus into the world to be a Saviour, he gave him in special a charge to take care of such; yea, that was one of the main reasons he sent him down from heaven, anointed for his work on earth. 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, ' saith he; 'because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, ' &c. (Luke 4:18; Isa 61:1). Now that this is meant of Christ, is confirmed by his own lips; for in the days of his flesh he takes this book in his hand, when he was in the synagogue at Nazareth, and read this very place unto the people; and then tells them that that very day that Scripture was fulfilled in their ears (Luke 6:16-18).
But see, these are the souls whose welfare is contrived in the heavens. God consulted their salvation, their deliverance, their health, before his Son came down from thence. Doth not therefore this demonstrate, that a broken- hearted man, that a man of a contrite spirit, is of great esteem with God. I have often wondered at David that he should give Joab and the men of war a charge, that they take heed that they carry it tenderly to that young rebel Absalom his son (2 Sam 18:5). But that God, the high God, the God against whom we have sinned, should, so soon as he has smitten, give his Son a command, a charge, a commission to take care of, to bind up and heal the broken in heart; this is that which can never be sufficiently admired or wondered at by men or angels.
And as this was his commission, so he acted; as is evidently set forth by the parable of the man who fell among thieves. He went to him, poured into his wounds wine and oil; he bound him up, took him, set him upon his own beast, had him to an inn, gave the host a charge to look well to him, with money in hand, and a promise at his return to recompence him in what farther he should be expensive while he was under his care (Luke 10:30-35). Behold, therefore, the care of God which he has for the broken in heart; he has given a charge to Christ his Son, to look well to them, and to bind up and heal their wounds. Behold also the faithfulness of Christ, who doth not hide, but read this commission as soon as he entereth upon his ministry, and also falls into the practical part thereof. 'He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds' (Psa 147:3).
And behold again into whose care a broken heart and a contrite spirit hath put this poor creature; he is under the care of God, the care and cure of Christ. If a man was sure that his disease had put him under the special care of the king and the queen, yet could he not be sure of life, he might die under their sovereign hands. Ay, but here is a man in the favour of God, and under the hand of Christ to be healed; under whose hand none yet ever died for want of skill and power in him to save their life; wherefore this man must live; Christ has in commission not only to bind up his wounds, but to heal him. He has of himself so expounded it in reading his commission; wherefore he that has his heart broken, and that is of a contrite spirit, must not only be taken in hand, but healed; healed of his pain, grief, sorrow, sin, and fears of death and hell-fire; wherefore he adds, that he must give unto such 'beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, ' and must 'comfort all that mourn' (Isa 61:2, 3). This, I say, he has in the commission, the broken-hearted are put into his hand, and he has said himself he will heal him. Hence he says of that same man, 'I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners; - and I will heal him' (Isa 57:18, 19). And this is a fifth demonstration.
Sixth. As God prefers such a heart, and so esteems the man that has it; as he desires his company, has provided for him his cordials, and given a charge to Christ to heal him, so he has promised in conclusion to save him. 'He saveth such as be of a contrite spirit, ' or, as the margin has it, that be 'contrite of spirit' (Psa 34:18).
And this is the conclusion of all; for to save a man is the end of all special mercy. 'He saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.' To save, is to forgive; for without forgiveness of sins we cannot be saved. To save, is to preserve one in this miserable world, and to deliver one from all those devils, temptations, snares, and destructions that would, were we not kept, were we not preserved of God, destroy us body and soul for ever. To save, is to bring a man body and soul to glory, and to give him an eternal mansion house in heaven, that he may dwell in the presence of this good God, and the Lord Jesus, and to sing to them the songs of his redemption for ever and ever. This it is to be saved; nor can any thing less than this complete the salvation of the sinner. Now, this is to be the lot of him that is of a broken heart, and the end that God will make with him that is of a contrite spirit. 'He saveth such as be contrite of spirit.' He saveth such! This is excellent!
But, do the broken in spirit believe this? Can they imagine that this is to be the end that God has designed them to, and that he intended to make with them in the day in which he began to break their hearts? No, no; they, alas! think quite the contrary. They are afraid that this is but the beginning of death, and a token that they shall never see the face of God with comfort, either in this world or that which is to come. Hence they cry, 'Cast me not away from thy presence'; or, Now I am 'free among the dead whom God remembers no more' (Psa 51:11, 88:4, 5). For indeed there goes to the breaking of the heart a visible appearance of the wrath of God, and a home charge from heaven of the guilt of sin to the conscience. This to reason is very dreadful; for it cuts the soul down to the ground; 'for a wounded spirit who [none] can bear?' (Prov 18:14).
It seems also now to this man, that this is but the beginning of hell; but as it were the first step down to the pit; when, indeed, all these are but the beginnings of love, and but that which makes way for life. The Lord kills before he makes alive; he wounds before his hands make whole. Yea, he does the one in order to, or because he would do the other; he wounds, because his purpose is to heal; 'he maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole' (Deut 32:39; 1 Sam 2:6; Job 5:18). His design, I say, is the salvation of the soul. He scourgeth, he breaketh the heart of every son whom he receiveth, and woe be to him whose heart God breaketh not.
And thus have I proved what at first I asserted, namely, that a spirit rightly broken, an heart truly contrite, is to God an excellent thing. 'A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.' For this say I, First. This is evident; for that it is better than sacrifices, than all sacrifice. Second. The man that has it is of more esteem with God than heaven or earth. Third. God coveteth such a man for his intimate and house companion. Fourth. He reserveth for them his cordials and spiritual comforts. Fifth. He has given his Son a Charge, a commandment to take care that the broken-hearted be healed; and he is resolved to heal them. Sixth. And concluded, that the broken-hearted, and they that are of a contrite spirit, shall be saved, that is, possessed of the heavens.