1. To show the necessity of this humiliation.
2. The order of it, as it is here placed first.
1. For the first, it is true indeed, that the Lord might bring men home to him without this humiliation. He could do as he did at the first creation, say no more but, "Let there be light," and there would be light, and that without any of this thunder: he might say, Let there be grace, and there would be grace: he could come in the still voice, without rendering the rocks, and say no more but, Open ye everlasting doors, lift up your heads, ye gates, and they would be open: but though he might have brought the children of Israel out of Egypt into the land of Canaan, without leading them through the wilderness, yet his good pleasure was thereby rather "to humble them and prove them;" so it is here.
1. The reasons of this necessity may be drawn from the relation and respect which this humiliation hath both to the other conditions that follow, and all that is promised here in the text; unto which we will fit the reasons that follow.
(1.) Without this, men will not seek out for, and come unto Christ: they will not seek his face, that is, his person. The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, by humbling us. Men will not come unto him unless they are driven; men will not seek him unless they are convinced they are lost; men will not receive him unless they are first humbled. The poor receive the gospel, the poor in spirit.
(2.) It is necessary in respect of receiving and seeking for mercy, and pardon, and forgiveness; which is the main thing here promised, "I will forgive their sins;" for until then our propounding pardon and the promises of it, and inviting men to come in, would be all but last labor: for until then, men will give us that answer, and the promises the same entertainment, which those did that were invited to the marriage feast, Matt, xxii. 5,6-"they made light of it." And so we find by experience, that when we preach the great things of the gospel, as justification and remission of sins, men account them as small things, and set light by them; and the reason is, because they are not humbled. Men do not prize Christ and the promise of pardon by him, (as manna was not prized by the Israelites,) nor his righteousness, by which they are to be justified. A man, perhaps, would be content to have Christ's righteousness, as a bridge to go upon to heaven; but he will not prize it as Paul did, who was ambitious of nothing so much as to be "found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but that which is by faith;" accounting all things in himself, and out of himself, dross and dung in comparison with it. But a man unhumbled will not set this high prize upon it; and God will not have his jewels, much less Christ and pardon of sin, cast away at random to those who do not value them. but when a man sees the badness of his nature, the multitudes of his particular sins, and sees that in his heart which he never thought had been there, and stands amazed at them, then to have such a righteousness as shall perfectly cover all these sins, this he will think a great matter. . ." John Preston THE GOLDEN SCEPTRE pg. 60-62