393. HUMILIATION. That humiliation is grace it appears, because Christ says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. Now we can understand nothing by the poor in spirit, but those that see their own poverty; that are emptied of themselves; that see they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked; that see that in themselves they are nothing; that are not trusting in any of their own riches, either inward, in any endowments of mind that they have of themselves, or outward, in temporal wealth and honor, etc.; and that are sensible of their great wants. This is meant by the poor spoken of [in]Isaiah 66:2, “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor,” and in Luke 6:20, “Blessed are ye poor” (a parallel place with this in that evangelist), and in abundance of other places in the Scripture; as appears, because by the rich, which in Scripture are spoken of as opposite to these, are meant those that trust in their own riches, either bodily or mental possessions. Matthew 19:24, [“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”]. There, [as appears] by the context, by a rich man Christ seems to mean he that trusts in both outward and mental riches, as the rich young man did that was the occasion of Christ’s saying thus. Christ explains himself to mean them that trust in riches, Mark 10:24. (In 1 Corinthians 4:8, ’tis evidently meant of trusting in mental riches.) This rich man is set in opposition to this poor man in spirit spoken of in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, as appears by Luke’s account of this sermon: Luke 6:24, “But woe unto you that are rich!”
That calm of mind, and hope, and removing of the burden from their hearts they speak of, is an evidence that it is grace, and even of the exercise of faith; it is a rest of soul in submission and resignation to God, in a complacential acknowledgment of his sovereignty and mercy.
‘Tis God’s manner to give special discoveries of his glory and grace after brokenness of spirit, not only at first conversion but through the whole Christian course. And many have been wont to call their first remarkable discovery of God’s grace their conversion, and they perceive that it is generally after such a humiliation; so they make that a distinct work of the Spirit of God, that must necessarily precede conversion.