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and will not abase themselves.
It is the way, say they, to be undone : This clothing is too poor a stuff, and of too sad a colour for them. Oh! my brethren, you know not the excellency of it, ye look out at a distance, and judge according to your light, vain minds : But will you see it by the light of the word, and then you shall perceive much hidden richness and comeliness in it: and do not only approve it, and call it comely on others, but put it on, and so it is most comely. And as it is with respect to all graces, so particularly this clothing of humility, though it make least shew, yet come near, and you will see it both rich and comely; and though it hides other graces, yet when they do appear under it, as sometimes they will, a little glance of them so, makes them much more esteemed. Rebecca's beauty and her jewels were covered with a veil ; but when they did appear, the veil set them off, and commended them, though at a distance it hid them.
2. In all, so particularly in this grace, take heed of a disguise or counterfeit of it; Oh! sincerity is all in all, and particularly in this, only bę low in thine own eyes, and willing to be so in the eyes of others; that is the very upright nature of this hearthumility.
1. Not deluded with false conceit of advantages thou hast not. 2. Not swelled with a vain conceit of those thou really hast. 3. Not affecting to be esteemed by others, either upon their imagining thee to have some good that is not in thee, or discerning that which is. Is not the day at hand, when men will be taken off their false heights they stand on and set on their own feet; and when all the esteem of others shall vanish and pass away like smoke, and thou shalt be just what God finds and accounts thee, and neither more nor less ? Oh! the remembrance of that day, when a true estimate will be made of all : this would make men hang less upon the unstable conceits and opinions of one another, knowing our judgment and day shall shortly end. Be it little or much thou hast, the lower and closer thou carriest
it under this cloak, the safer shall it and thou be, the more shall it increase; and thou shalt be the liker Him in whom all fulness dwells ; in this he hath most expressly set himself before us as our pattern ; and one says well, “ Sure man might now be constrained to be proud, for whom God himself became humble.”
Now, to work the heart to a humble posture, 1. Look into thyself in earnest; and, truly, whoso-ever thou be that hast the highest conceit of thyself, and the highest causes of it, a real sight of thyself will lay thy crest. Men look on any good, or fancy of it, in themselves with both eyes, and skip over, as unpleasant, their real defects and deformities. Every man is naturally his own flatterer; otherwise flatteries, and false cryings up from others, would make little impression ; but hence their success, they meet with the same conceit within. But will any man see his ignorance, and lay what he knows not, over against what he knows; the disorders in his heart and affections, over against any right motion in them ; his secret follies and sins, against his outwardly blameless carriage; and this man shall not readily love and embrace himself; yea it shall be impossible for him not to abase and abhor bimself. Look on the good in others, and the evil in thyself. Make that the parallel, and then thou wilt walk humbly. Most men do just the contrary, and that foolish and unjust comparison puffs them up.
3. Thou art not required to be ignorant of that good, which really is so indeed: but beware of imagining that to be good which is not; yea, rather let something that is truly good pass thy view, and see it within rather than beyond its true size. And then, whatsoever it be, see it not as thine own, but God's, his free gift; and so the more thou hast, looking on it in that view, thou will certainly be the more humble, as having the more obligations : the weight of them will press thee down, and lay thee still lower; as you see it in Abraham, the clear visions and promises he had, VOL. II.
made him fall down fat to the ground'. 4. Pray much for the spirit of humility, the Spirit of Christ; for that is it; otherwise all thy vileness will not humble thee. When men hear of this or other graces, and how reasonable they are, they think presently to have them, and do not consider the natural enmity and rebellion of their own hearts, and the necessity of receiving them from heaven; and therefore, in the use of all other means, be most dependent on that influence, and most in that mean which opens the heart most to that ir fluence, and draws it down upon the heart, and that
Of all the evils of our corrupt nature, there is none more connatural and universal than pride; the grand wickedness, self-exalting in our own and others opinion. Though I will not contest what was the first step in that complicated first sin, yet certainly this of pride was one, and a main ingredient in it; that which the unbelief conceived going before, and the disobedience following after, were both servants to; and ever since it sticks still deep in our nature. So that St. Augustine says truly, “That which first overcame man, is the last thing he overcomes.”' Some sins, comparatively, may die before us, but this hath life in it, sensibly, as long as we. It is as the heart of all, the first living, and the last dying; and hath this advantage, that, whereas other sins are fomented by one another, this feeds even on virtues and graces, as a moth that breeds in them, and consumes them; even in the finest of them, if it be not carefully looked to. This hydra, as one head of it is cut off, another rises up: it will secretly cleave to the best actions, and prey upon them : and therefore is there so much need that we continually watch and fight, and pray against it; and be restless in the pursuit of real and deep humiliation, daily seeking to advance further in it; to be nothing, and desire to be nothing ; not only to bear, but to love our own abasement, and the things that procure and help it; to take pleasure in them, so far as may be without sin ; yea, even of our sinful failings, when they are discovered, to love the bringing low of ourselves by them, while we hate, and grieve for the 'sin of them.
f Gen. xv, 12.
And, above all, it is necessary to watch ourselves in our best things, that self get not in; or if it break in, or steal in at any time, that it be presently found out and cast out again; to have that established within us, to do all for God! to intend him and his glory in all, and to be willing to advance his glory, were it by our own disgrace; not to make raising or pleasing thyself the rule of exercising thy parts and graces, when thou art called to use and bring them forth ; but the good of thy brethren, and in that the glory of thy Lord. Now this is indeed to be severed from self, and united to him, to have self-love turned into the love of God. And this is his own work ; it is above all other hands; therefore the main combat against pride, and the conquest of it, and gaining of humility, is certainly by prayer. God bestows himself most to them that are most abundant in prayer ; and they to whom he shews himself most, are certainly the most humble.
Now, to stir us up to diligence in the study and exercise of this grace, take briefly a consideration or two.
1. Look on that above pointed at, the high example of lowliness set before us; Jesus Christ requiring our particular care to take this lesson from him. And is it not most reasonable? He the most fáir, the most excellent and complete of all men, and yet the most humble : He more than a man, and yet willingly became, in some sort, less than a man, as it is expressed, a worm and no manø ; and when majesty itself emptied itself, and descended so low, shall a worm swell and be high conceited ?
Then, consider it was for us he humbled himself, to expiate our pride ; and therefore it is evidently the
& Psalm xxii. 6.
more just that we follow a pattern which is both so great in itself, and doth so nearly concern us. humility! the virtue of Christ, (that which he so peculiarly espoused), how dost thou confound the vanity of our pride ?”
2. Consider the safety of grace under this clothing. It is that which keeps it unexposed to a thousand hazards. Humility doth grace no prejudice in covering it, but indeed shelters it from violence and wrong ; therefore they do justly call it, conservatrix virtutum, the preserver of grace; and one says well, “ That he who carries other graces without humility, carries a precious powder in the wind without a cover.
3. Consider the increase of grace by it, and that is here expressed ; the perfect enmity of God against pride, and his bounty towards humility; He resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
1. The enmity of God against the proud, he resisteth them, állóweras ; he singles it out for his grand enemy, and sets himself in battle-array against it, so the word is. It breaks the ranks of men in which he hath set them, when they are not subject, inos Tawcóuivos, as the word is before ; yea, it not only breaks rank, but rises up in rebellion against God, and doth what it can to dethrone him and usurp his place : therefore he orders his forces against it; and to be sure, if God be able to make his party good, pride shall not escape ruin. He will break' it, and bring it low ; for he is set upon that purpose, and will not be diverted.
2. The bounty of God to the humble; But he giveth grace. Pours it out plentifully upon humble hearts. His sweet dews and showers of grace slide off the mountains of pride, and fall on the low vallies of humble hearts, and make them pleasant and fertile. The swelling heart, puft up with a fancy of fulness, hath no room for grace. It is lifted up, is not hollowed and fitted to receive and contain the
graces that descend from above. And again, as the De humble heart is most capsicious, and as being emptied.