A LIFTING UP IN THE CASE OF GREAT SINS
Extracted from A Lifting Up For the Downcast by William Bridge (1600-1670)
The doctrine or observation that now we are pressing from these words, is this:
That the saints and people of God have no just, true, Scripture reason for their discouragements, whatever their condition be.
Nine things there are, which usually are the grounds and occasions of the discouragements of God’s people.
I. Sometimes their discouragements are drawn from their greater and grosser sins. .
II. Sometimes they arise from the weakness of grace.
III. Sometimes they are taken from their failing in and non-acceptance of duty.
IV. Sometimes they are drawn from their lack of evidence for heaven, and non-assurance of the love of God.
V. Sometimes they come from their temptations.
VI. Sometimes from their desertions.
VII. Sometimes from their afflictions.
Now if in all these respects the saints and people of God have no reason to be discouraged, then we may safely conclude that a godly man should not be discouraged whatever his condition be. I shall labour, therefore, through the grace of Christ, to make out this great truth unto you in all these respects, and I begin with the first at this time.
Sometimes the discouragements of the saints and people of God are drawn from their sins, their greater and grosser sins: the peace and quiet of the saints and people of God is many times interrupted by their sins.
Oh, says one, I am a man or woman of a rebellious heart; I have so light a spirit, so unholy and uneven a conversation,’ that when I reflect upon my heart and life, I cannot but be discouraged. I know, indeed, it is a great evil for a man to labour under a sore temptation, or a sad desertion. Were my heart good, my life good, my conversation good, I should not be discouraged; but as for me, I have committed and do commit such and such great sins; have I not reason, and just reason, now to be discouraged?
No! for discouragement itself is a sin, another sin, a gospel sin. My sin against the law is no just cause why I should sin against the gospel. I confess, indeed, there is much evil in every sin. The least sin is worse than the greatest affliction. Afflictions, judgments, and punishments are but the claws of this lion. It is more contrary to God than the misery of hell. Chrysostom of Constantinople had so great a sense of the evil of it, that when the Empress Eudoxia sent him a threatening message, Go, tell her, said he, Nil nisi peccatum metuo (I fear nothing but sin). And in some respects the sins of the godly are worse than the sins of others, for they grieve the Spirit more, they dishonour Christ more, they grieve the saints more, they wound the name of God more, they are more against the love, and grace, and favour of God than other men’s sins are. And the Lord sees the sins of His own people; yea, so far He sees sin in them, that He chastises and afflicts them for it; not only from their sin, but for their sin; and therefore, says the apostle, in 1 Cor. 11.30, speaking of the unworthy receiving of the Lord’s supper, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you.” He speaks not only of saints in appearance, and in church estate, but of such also as were saints indeed, and therefore he says, “We are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” He puts himself in. We are judged that we may not be condemned with the world. Our Saviour Christ says. Rev. 3.19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore and repent.” It seems, then, it was for sin committed, else why should he say, Repent, and repent therefore? Repentance is for sin committed already, and these were such as He loved, too, whom He threatens thus to rebuke and chastise; and doth any father rebuke, chastise, or correct his child only from sin, and not for sin? Was not Moses a gracious and a holy man? Yet for his unbelief and sin he lost the land of Canaan. Was not Samson a good man?
Yet by his sin he lost his eyes and his life too. Was not David a gracious and a holy man? Yet for his sin the Lord said that the sword should never depart from his house. Yet Christ had made satisfaction for his sin too, as well then, as for the saints now. But now, though there be never so much evil in the sins of God’s people, yet they have no reason, no just cause or Scripture reason to be cast down, and to be discouraged in that respect.
But how may this appear, that notwithstanding the sins of God’s own people do grieve the Spirit of God, are a dishonour to Jesus Christ, and do wound the name of God, and the profession of Christ so much, yet the saints have no reason to be discouraged or cast down?
1. They know, or they may know, that they shall never be condemned for their sin, whatever it be. “There is no condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ,” says the apostle. Christ was made sin for them; and if Christ be made sin for me, then my sin shall never hurt me. Luther is bold here, for says he, “Christ is made sin-damning, our sin is sin-damned: I confess, indeed,” said he, “that I have sinned, but sin-damning is stronger than sin-damned, and Christ was made sin-damning for me.” The thing is true, though the expression is strange;
Christ was made sin for saints, therefore their sin shall not hurt them. It agrees not with the justice of God to exact the payment of one debt twice. Now the Lord Jesus Christ has not only been arrested, but has been in gaol for the debt of the saints and people of God, and He has paid it to the utmost farthing. He has paid it better than they could have paid it themselves, if they had gone to hell: for if a godly man had gone to hell, and been damned for ever, he would have been always paying, but the payment would never have been completed: Christ paid it all down at once. And if you look into Scripture, you will find that the Lord does not condemn a man, no not a wicked man, barely for the act of his former sin, but because he will not turn from it. Psalm 7.11, “God is angry with the wicked every day”: verse 12, “If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutor.” The Lord has prepared instruments of death against every wicked man; but yet, notwithstanding, though a man be never so wicked, if he turn unto the Lord, God will not discharge those instruments of death upon him, yea, though his sins have been never so
great; but says the text, “If he turn not” (not because he hath sinned before, only, but because he turns not from his sin), “He will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.” Now there is, always, in the saints and people of God, a turning disposition, although they do sin against God; there is always, I say, a turning disposition in them, and therefore the Lord will not discharge the instruments of death upon them: surely, then, they have no reason to be quite discouraged in this respect.
2. As godly men shall never be condemned for their sins, so their sins shall never part God and them. What seems to be the reason why some are so discouraged about their sins, but because they think they shall not only lose the face and presence of God by their sins, but that they shall lose God Himself. But now, I say, the sins of the godly shall never part God and them. Their sins may hide God’s face; but as their sins did not hinder God and them from coming together at first, so their sins shall never part God and them. Their sins may cause a strangeness between God and them, but shall never cause an enmity. Their sins may hide God’s face from them, but shall never turn God’s back upon them. Those whom God loves, He loves unto the end: “I am the Lord that changeth not,” says He. And as the prophet Isaiah speaks: As the covenant that the Lord made with Noah, such is the covenant that He makes with His people (see Isa. 54.9-10). Now look into Genesis, chapter 8, and you will see what the covenant is that the Lord made there with Noah, and with the world by Noah. When Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar, and sacrificed; verse 21, “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour, and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake.” Why? “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” You would think this were a reason why God should curse the ground again; man is wicked, therefore, surely God will curse the ground again. Nay, saith the LORD, though you poor creatures think so, yet I, that am the God of all grace, make this covenant with the world by Noah, that I will not curse the ground any more for man’s sake; because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth continually. I confess, indeed, the Hebrew signifies ‘although,” as well as “because”: and it may be so translated:
‘Although the imagination of man’s heart is evil,” &c. (The Chaldee paraphrase and the Septuagint render it, “because.”) But though it be so translated, yet that is enough to make good the truth and doctrine which I urge from this scripture. The covenant that the LORD makes with His people is such a covenant as the LORD made with Noah; so says the prophet Isaiah. What then? Therefore if God be in covenant with a man, he shall never lie under wrath again; for though the world sin, the world shall never be drowned again; and so, though he commit sin, he shall never lie under wrath again. Now as for the people of God, they are all in covenant with God; they are under this gracious covenant, and therefore, though the mountains may be removed, God’s mercy shall never be removed from them; and though the great hills may be thrown into the sea, the people of God, once in covenant with God, shall never be thrown into hell. Tell me then, have you, that are the people of God, any just cause or reason to be cast down, or to be discouraged?
3. If the very sins of God’s people, through the overruling hand of
grace, shall be an occasion of more grace and comfort to them than ever they had in all their lives before; then surely they have no reason to be discouraged in this respect. God never permits His people to fall into any sin but He intends to make that sin an inlet unto further grace and comfort to them. This you see in the first great sin that ever was committed by the children of men, the fall of Adam. The Lord Himself came and preached the gospel. He preached Christ unto fallen man; and surely when God Himself preached the gospel, we are to think the man was converted. Now the greatest blessing that ever the world saw was the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But how came that about? God permits man to fall, and man’s unrighteousness must usher in Christ’s righteousness. The Scripture tells us that the Lord permitted Hezekiah to fall, that Hezekiah might know all that was in his heart. He did not know his own heart before, and therefore the Lord let him fall that he might know his own heart. If you look into the Romans, chapter 11, you will find in so many words what I am now speaking; verse 32, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief.” Why? “That he might have mercy upon all.” Oh, what a blessed design upon unbelief is here! Therefore God concludes all under unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all. Sin gains not, but is a loser by every fall of the godly. And if you look into the Scripture, you will observe that when the people of God fall, usually they fail in that grace wherein they most excel. Wherein they did most excel, therein they did most miscarry. Abraham did most excel in faith, and therein he did most miscarry. Moses did most excel in meekness, and therein he did most miscarry; we read of no other sin concerning Moses but his anger. Job did most excel in patience, and therein he did most miscarry. Peter did most excel in zeal and resolution for Christ- “Though all the world forsake thee, yet will not I”-and therein he did most miscarry, denying Christ at the voice of a damsel. I say, you will observe this, that the saints fell and failed in that grace wherein they did most excel; and they did most excel wherein they did most miscarry. What is the reason of this, but because the Lord, by the overruling hand of His grace, did make their very miscarriages, inlets and occasions to their further grace and holiness. God has a great revenue from the very infirmities of His people. He never permits any of His people to fall into any sin, but He hath a design by that fall to break the back of that sin they do fall into. Now, then, have the saints and people of God any reason to be discouraged in this respect? By their sin they may be, and are oftentimes, suspended from their comforts and use of their privileges; but by their sin they do not lose their right thereunto. You know how it was with the leper in the times of the Old Testament, among the Jews, when he was carried out of the city or town, from his own house, by reason of his uncleanness:
or now, with a man that has the plague, and is carried from his own house by reason thereof. The leper then, and the man that hath the plague or the pest now, may say, though I be removed from mine own house, and have not the use of my house, yet I have a right to my house still; and though I cannot come at the use of my land, yet I have a right to my land still. So a godly man may say as concerning his sin, This sin of mine, indeed, it is a pest, and the plague of my soul, and a leprosy;
but though, by this leprosy of mine, I am now suspended from the use of my comforts, yea, from the full use of my interest in Jesus Christ; yet notwithstanding, I have an interest in Christ still; I have not lost my interest, still I have right to Christ; although I cannot come to the use of Him as I did before, yet I have right unto Jesus Christ now, as I had before. And if all these things be so, why should a godly man be cast down or discouraged in this respect? Surely he ought not to be so.
Negative Arguments Answered
But, you say, suppose a man’s sins be such as never were pardoned before; and truly that is my case, for I have sinned a great sin, and I do not read in all the Word of God any example to show that ever such a sin as mine was pardoned. Have I not reason now to be quite discouraged and cast down?
I answer, No; for, I pray, what do you think of Adam? Adam sinned a great sin in our first fall: the Lord Himself came and preached the gospel to him: “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” Should Adam have said, Oh, but there is no hope for me, for I have no example or precedent of pardon? Adam could have no example of any that was pardoned before him, because he was the first man, and the first that sinned. Should he have sat down and been discouraged, because he could not find any example for the pardon of the like sin that he had committed? You know what our Saviour Christ said, “Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost”; every sin, though it be boiled up to blasphemy. You say, you have no example for the pardon of such a sin as yours is; but does not your sin come within the compass of these words, “Every sin and blasphemy”? Surely it does. Have you any reason then to be discouraged under the power of this objection?
But, says one, suppose that a man has sinned greatly against his conscience, or against his light, or against his knowledge, has he not just cause or reason then to be cast down, and to be quite discouraged?
No; for if there be a sacrifice for such a sin as this is, then a man has no reason to be quite discouraged. Cause to be humbled, he has, as you shall hear afterward, but no reason to be discouraged. Now in the times of the Old Testament and of the law among the Jews, there was a sacrifice, not only for sin committed ignorantly, but also for sin committed against light and against conscience: and I appeal to you, whoever you are that make this objection, do you not think that Peter, when he denied his Lord and Master, sinned against his conscience, against his light, and against his knowledge? Surely then there is no reason that a man should be quite discouraged, no, not in this respect.
But again you say, suppose that a man’s sins be exceeding great, gross, and heinous; for I do confess that possibly a godly man may sin some sin against his light, and against his conscience sometimes; but as for me, my sin is exceeding great, gross and heinous, and have I not just cause and reason now to be discouraged?
No, not yet, for though your sin be great, is not God’s mercy great, exceeding great? Is not the satisfaction made by Christ great? Are the merits of Christ’s blood small? Is not God, the great God of heaven and earth, able to do great things? You grant that God is almighty in providing for you, and is He not almighty also in pardoning? Will you rob God of His almightiness in pardoning? You say your sin is great, but is it infinite? Is not God alone infinite? Is your sin as big as God, as big as Christ? Is Jesus Christ only a Mediator for small sins? Will you bring down the satisfaction of Christ, and the mercy of God, to your own model? Has not the Lord said concerning pardoning mercy, that His “thoughts are not as our thoughts, but as the heavens are greater than the earth, so are his thoughts (in this respect) beyond our thoughts”? Has not the Lord said, in Isaiah 43, unto the people of the Jews, at verses 22-24, “But thou hast not called upon me, 0 Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, 0 Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offering, neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices . . . Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” Yet, verse 25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Here are sins, and great sins; and if the Lord will therefore pardon sin because it is great, unto His people, then surely they have no reason to be quite discouraged in this respect. Now look what David says in Psalm 25.11, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” Note his argument, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” If David uses this reason, then may you also; and if this be a reason why God should pardon sin, because it is great, then this cannot be a reason, a just reason, why you should be discouraged.
But suppose that a man’s sin be the sin of revolting or declining; for this is my case, some will say. I have striven, and striven against my sin a long while, and I return unto it again. Times were heretofore, that I have been exceeding forward and ready unto what is good; but now I am much declined, abated, and even gone backward with revolting, and deep revolting, and I have been long so, even for many years. Have I not reason, and just reason now to be discouraged and cast down within myself?
I answer, No, not yet; for though this be a sufficient cause of great humiliation (for backsliding in Scripture phrase is called rebellion, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft), yet a good man has no reason to be discouraged in this regard; for thus says the Lord, Jer. 3.1, “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” And, verse 12, “Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD, I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.” And again, verse 14, “Turn, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you.” And if ever the Lord Jesus Christ did betroth Himself unto any soul, He will never put that soul away again: “I hate putting away,” says God. Men put away their wives among the Jews, but says the LORD, “I hate putting away.” And Isa. 50.1, “Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?” Among the Jews, the husband did put away his wife for small causes. As for adultery, you know that the punishment for that was death. He did not put away his wife for adultery; she was to die for it. But the husbands put away their wives upon other occasions, and when they put away their wives, they gave the wife a bill of divorce, that so upon all occasions the woman might shew thereby that she was free from such a man. Now, says the LORD, you that charge Me, and complain that I have put you away, come and shew Me the bill of divorce: “Thus saith the LORD, where is the bill,” &c. Poor soul, you complain that I have put you away; come then and shew Me the bill of divorce: let any one who complains that I have put him away and cast him off, come and bring out his bill of divorce. This you cannot do. Men indeed put away, but if ever the Lord Christ matches Himself unto you. He will never put you away again.
And whereas you say that you have declined, and have much revolted, and so have continued even many years, consider whether you be not mistaken. Every abatement in affection is not a declining in grace. Possibly we may not grieve for sin afterward so much as at our first conversion, yet we may hate it more. At first you may pray more
against it, yet afterward watch more against it. We never see the face of sin so ugly, as in the glass of God’s free love, and do you not see the free love of God more? Possibly your affections might have been higher at the first, but is not conviction more clear and full? As affections dry up, so we grow more settled in our judgment; and if your judgment be more settled, you have not declined, though your affections be somewhat abated.
And whereas you say that you have returned to your sin again and again, and have continued under your revolt for many years; I shall only tell you what Mr. Bilney, a blessed martyr, once said. He heard a minister preach very terribly against sin, and say thus, “Behold, thou old sinner, thou hast lain rotting in the grave of thy sin these threescore years, and dost thou now think to go to heaven in one year? Dost thou think to go forward to heaven more in one year than thou hast gone backward to hell these threescore years?” “Ah,” said Mr. Bilney, “here is goodly preaching of repentance in the name of Christ! had I heard such doctrine preached heretofore, my poor soul had despaired for ever! But the Lord Christ died for sinners, young sinners and old sinners, for one as well as the other; for such as have lain long in sin, as well as for those that have lain but a little while in sin, if they will come home unto Christ.” You know what our Saviour says, “If thy brother trespass against thee, forgive him.” But, Lord, he hath transgressed against me once, and I have forgiven him: yet, says our Saviour, forgive him again. Oh but, Lord, I have forgiven him again and again, and yet he returns to his fault again: then forgive him again, says Christ. But, Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother? Says our Saviour, If he sin against thee seventy times seven, and says that he repents, do you forgive so oft. And shall the Lord Jesus Christ enjoin us to forgive our brother, if he sin against us seventy times seven, and will not the Lord Christ forgive much more, if a poor soul turns unto Him and says, Lord, I repent me that I have sinned against thee? If the Lord Christ command me, a poor sinner, to forgive so many times, how often will the great God forgive? what! seventy times seven! nay, seven hundred times seven hundred! And have you any reason then to be discouraged in this respect? Surely you have not.
But you say, suppose that a man has sinned foully, greatly, and he cannot repent or be humbled enough: for that is my case. I have sinned, I have sinned greatly, and now after all, my heart is hard, and I cannot be humbled enough, oh, I cannot repent enough: have I not just cause and reason for discouragement now, yea to be quite discouraged?
No, not yet, for what if the Lord will have your humiliation from you by degrees? Should you be greatly humbled for the present, it may be it would be with you as it has been with others, you would never think of your sins afterward. But may be the Lord will have this work of humiliation to stay long upon your soul, and He will not give it you all at once. Some there are, that when they come into a house, they pay down a great sum of money and little rent, others pay a little sum of money and a great rent. So it is with souls that come to Christ; some at the first experience a great humiliation, and they have little of it afterward; some have less at the first, and have more afterwards by continuance in it. And what if the Lord will now lead your soul in this latter way? This latter way may be the better way if the Lord think fit.
Again: it may be, that if you had much humiliation now at the first, you would think that in and by and for your humiliation, you should have acceptance with God, and the remission of your sin. If you are kept from this rock and danger, by your lack of that degree of humiliation which you would have, and so are trained up to prize the Lord’s free grace in giving you humiliation, have you any cause to complain?
Again: if you had much humiliation for the present, it may be that later you would have the less humility. A little humility is as good as a great deal of humiliation. It is as good being humble as being humbled. Now because you are not humbled, therefore your soul is kept humble;
if you had many tears, and abundance of tears, may be then you would be proud, but the Lord denies you tears, and you are not humbled to the degree of your own desires, and so the Lord keeps you humble by withholding humiliation.
Again: it may be, that if you were humbled much at the present, or at the first, you would have the less fear of your own heart. The more humbled, it may be, the less after-fear, and the less humbled, the more after-fear. The less humbled, sometimes, a man is, the more he fears his own heart and his own condition. Gracious fear is as good as humiliation, and if what you lack in humiliation you have made up in fear, have you any reason to be discouraged? I know it is usual with Satan to say unto the people of God at their first comings to Christ, that they are not humbled enough, and so he keeps them off from mercy and grace. But, I pray, tell me, can you ever be humbled enough? Can there be any proportion between your sins and your humiliation? The truth is, we should labour that our humiliation be answerable to our sin. But God is not pleased with grief for grief, God is not pleased with sorrow for sorrow. The purpose of all our sorrow and grief is, to embitter our sin to us, to make us prize Jesus Christ, to wean us from the delights and pleasures of the creature, to reveal the deceitfulness and naughtiness of our own hearts. In the language of the New Testament, repentance is called an after-wisdom, an after-mind, a bethinking of one’s self, a conviction. Now though you be not humbled unto the degree which you desire, yet notwithstanding, do you not bethink yourself? Are you not convinced of the evil of your former way? Has not the Lord given you an after-wisdom? And do not you say concerning your sin, Oh, if it were to do again, I would not do it for all the world? Thus it is with the servants and people of God. Though they cannot be humbled so much as they would be, yet notwithstanding, they are thus far humbled, thus far grieved, that their sins are embittered. They themselves are thereby weaned from the delights and pleasures of the world, and convinced of the evil of their sin. What they lack in humiliation they have it in humility; the less humbled at the first the more they are kept humble later; and what they lack at the first, they have it afterwards by degrees, soaking into their souls. Have they then any reason to be discouraged in these respects? Surely, no.
But should not a godly, gracious man be fully grieved and humbled
for his sin?
Grieved, humbled for his sin? Yes, surely. Though the Lord, through the overruling hand of His grace, works never so much good out of my sin unto me, yet I am to be humbled for it, and the rather to be humbled for it, because He works good out of it. Many poor ignorant souls, when they see how the Lord by His overruling hand works good unto them out of their sin, as some outward blessings and mercies, do not repent of their sin, but rather justify themselves in their sins. But now take a godly man, a gracious soul; the more he sees the Lord working good out of his sin, the more he is humbled for it; and upon that very ground, because God works good of it, therefore he is humbled the more.
Yet further: it is to be observed, that though the Lord ordinarily called David His servant, yet when David had sinned that great sin in the matter of Bathsheba, He sent the prophet to him, saying, “Go, say to David.” He had lost the title of servant. It was now David, single David, David without the title “My servant.” And so, though God ordinarily called the people of Israel His people, yet when they had committed that great sin of idolatry, in the matter of the golden calf, the Lord does not call them His people, but He says to Moses, “The people,” not, “My people,” but “The people,” and “Thy people, Moses”; now they had lost their old title. Thus, I say, the sins of God’s own people deprive them and divest them of their spiritual privileges. And can a gracious heart look upon this, and consider how he is divested and disrobed of his spiritual privileges, and not mourn under it? Can one friend grieve another friend, and not be grieved himself? The saints by their sins grieve God, who is their best friend, and therefore certainly they must needs be grieved, they must needs be humbled, or there is no grace. No grief or humility, no grace. But now, because they are grieved and humbled for sin committed, therefore they are not discouraged. I say, because they are grieved, and because they are humbled for sin committed, therefore they are not discouraged; for discouragement is a hindrance to humiliation, and the more truly a man is humbled for sin committed, the less he is discouraged, and the more a man is discouraged, the less he is truly humbled.
You will say, then, But what is the difference between these? A man is to be humbled, and not discouraged; not discouraged and yet to be humbled! What is the difference between these two, being humbled and being discouraged?
It is a profitable question, and worth our time. By way of answer, therefore, thus:
When a man is humbled, truly humbled, the object of his grief or sorrow or trouble is sin itself, as a dishonour done unto God. The object of discouragement is a man’s own condition, or sin producing that condition, the ultimate object of discouragement being a man’s own condition. When a man is discouraged, you will always find that his trouble is all about his own condition. Oh, says a discouraged person, I have sinned; I have thus and thus sinned, and therefore my condition is bad, and if my condition be bad now, it will never be better; Lord, what will become of my soul? His trouble is always about his own condition. But when a man is grieved and truly humbled for sin, his trouble is about sin itself, as a dishonour done unto God. To clear this by Scripture: you know Cain was discouraged, but Cain was not humbled. How may that appear? Cain was troubled about his condition. Ah, says he, my punishment is greater than I can bear. On the other side, the poor prodigal was humbled, but not discouraged. How may that appear? His trouble was about his sin, and not about his condition: “I will return unto my Father (says he), and I will say unto him, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and I am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.” David was sometimes both discouraged and humbled, and then you find his repentance and humiliation to be very brackish; but if you look into the 51st Psalm, you will find David humbled but not discouraged, for it is a penitential Psalm. He was humbled but not discouraged, for he s