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me of these things; and so take it, as from one that hath some interest in, and share of, these graces I recommend to you: And this, indeed, makes recommendations carry home. Oh! that we could truly say this. Alas! it is an uncomfortable, and commonly an unprofitable thing, to speak of Christ, and the
graces of his Spirit, only as having heard of them, or read of them, as men that travel, in their studies, do of foreign countries.
Asà tñs xepto. The Apostle represents this, to add the more authority, and gain the more acceptance, to what he had to say ; and for this end, some care is to be had of the good opinion of people, so far as their interest is concerned, that the message we bring be not prejudged; otherwise, this truly set aside, it were little matter how we were mistaken or despised; yea, it were a thing some way desirable ; only provided nothing be done on purpose, that may justly, yea, or that may probably, procure it; for that both piety and charity forbids.
To every man.] This is more pressing than if he had said simply, to you, or generally, to you all : for in men's talking of things, it proves often too true, quod omnibus, nemini; but to every one, that each one suppose it spoke to him, as an ingenious picture looking to each in the room. Thus we ought to speak, and thus ye ought to hear. We to speak, not as telling some unconcerning stories, but as having business with you; and you to hear, not each for another, as you often do, “Oh! such a passage touched such an one,” but each for ourselves.
The first particular the Apostle recommends, is that gracing grace of humility, the ornament and the safety of all other graces, and which is so peculiarly Christian. Somewhat philosophers speak of temperance, justice, and other like virtues, but these tend rather to blow up and swell the mind with big conceit and confidence of itself, than to dwell together with self-abasement and humility : But in the school of Christ, the first lesson of all is, self-deniul and humility; yea, it is written above the door, as the rule of entry or admission, Learn of me, for 1 am meek and lovely of heart. And, out of all question, that is truly the humblest heart that hach most of Christ in it.
Not to think highly.] Not aspiring and intending in things too high: And a great point of humility is subjection to God in the point of knowledge: in this was our first climbing that proved our fall; and yet still, amidst all our ignorance and darkness, we are Catching and gaping after the deadly fruit of unallowed knowledge.
This, withal, hath in it the attempering of our thoughts and practices to our measure and station; to know ourselves truly and thoroughly; for that will certainly beget a very low esteem of ourselves, to judge ourselves the unworthiest and meanest of all.
And having truly this estimate of ourselves, we shall not vainly attempt any thing above our reach, nor disdainfully neglect any thing that is within the compass of our calling and duty, which are the two evils so common among men, yea, even amongst Christians, and in the church of God, and are the cause of most of the enormities and disorders that fall out in it; it is a strange blindness, that they that do grossly miscarry in the duties of their own station, yet so readily fancy themselves capable of somewhat higher, and think themselves wronged, if it be re-, fused them.
The self-knowing Christian would rather descend, and find himself very disproportioned to his present station, be it never so mean; he can say with David, Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. But vain minds would still be tampering with the greatest affairs, and dwell not with themselves. Oh! my brethren, be entreated to study your own hearts better; be less abroad in things that concern you not; there is work bo Matth. xi. 29.
< Psal. cxxxi. 1.
enough within you ; heaps of base lusts, and selfdeceits, and follies, that you see not yet; and many advantages of good things you seem to see in yourselves, that indeed are not there : Self-love is a flattering glass, which represents us to ourselves much fairer than we are; therefore, turn from it, if you desire a true account of yourselves, and look into the pure and faithful mirror of God's law. Oh! what deformities will that discover, that you never saw nor thought of before, and will make you the lowest of all persons in your own eyes.
The low self-esteem doth not wholly take away the simple knowledge of what gifts and graces God hath bestowed on a man; for that were to make him both unthankful and unuseful. He that doth not not know what God hath freely given him, cannot return praise to God, nor make use of himself for God in his station"; yea, the Apostle's caution intimates a sober, humble reflection on the measure God hath given a man, which he not only allows but requires ; and himself gives example of it in his own present expression, declaring, that he speaks these things through the grace that is given to him.
But this knowledge of a man's own gifts and graces, that it may not prejudge him of more, but help him to more, in the humble acknowledgment and use of what he hath, would have these two qualifications; 1. That he beware of over-weening, rather that he take his measure much below, than any whit beyond, what he truly hath. 2. That whatsoever it is, that he always look on it not as his own, but as God's, having his superscription on it, and all the glory of it being his peculiar tribute ; nothing of that to be interrupted or retained : Not unto us, Lord; not unto us, but unto thy name, give glory'; still all the glory entirely sent up to him: Thus, here, the Apostle sets all grace in that view, as God hath dispensed the measure; and so speaks of his own, through the grace given to me; still so to be looked
d Qui se nescit, nescit se uti.
a Psal. cxv. 1.
on, not as that we have, but that he hath given; that is, the gospel style, grace, free gifts, xapes xapiomata; whereas philosophy speaks of all as habits, or havings, or possessions.
Now, in that relative dependent notion of freely given, a man shall never be puffed up by any
up by any endowa ments, though he see and know them ; yea, the more he knows then thus, will be the more humble still, as being the more obliged. The more he hath received, the greater they are; the lower he bows, pressed down under the weight of his engagements to God; as Abraham', fell on his face, when God talked with him, and made so rich promises to him. See David's strain ; But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. This, the Apostle gives, as the sovereign preservative against the swelling poison of self-conceit, What hast thou that thou didst not received ?
He that is thus regulated in his own esteem, will by this certainly be moderated in his desire of esteem from others, and cannot well meet with any thing that way, that will either puff him up, or cast him down; if over-prized by others, he takes that as their mistake; if undervalued, he rejoices in that, having set himself so low in himself, that others cannot well set him lower: So when men account meanly of him, they are really of his own opinion; and you know that offends none, but pleases them rather, to have others agree with their opinions, and be of their mind.
They that are busy after reputation, and would be esteemed, are but begging voices; would have others think with them, and confirm the conclusion they have already resolved on, in favour of themselves; and this is a most foolish thing; for, disappointed in this, men are discontented, and so their peace hangs on others fancies; and, if satisfied wịth it, they surfeit and undo themselves with the delight of it. Bees sometimes kill themselves with their own honey, and there is such a word to this purpose, It is not good to eat much honey; so for men to search their own glory, is not glory.
b Gen, xyii, 3. ( 1 Chron. xxix. 15. di Cor. iv. 7.
Ver. 4, 5. For as we have many members in one body, and all
members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
In this consideration we have God's wisdomm anifested, and are instructed what is our wisdom. He, in the great world, made all in weight, number, and measure; so in the lesser world, man, and in the new world, his Church, he proportions all to the use he hath designed them for. He could give more to them that have least than the very greatest have, but he thought this unfit; it might be some advantage to them, yet to the whole body not so; and therefore not truly so to them neither, being parts of it, and having their good involved in the good of the body.
This resemblance is often used in Scripture, and holds excellently well, but is little learned. Our temper and carriage correspond not to it. Who is there almost that finds it, the Spirit of Christ in them, knitting them to him as the common head, and one to another, as one in him, each busy to advance him, and so seek his glory, and to promote the good of one another? But, alas! rather each for self, accursed self, as of an independent divided substance; yea, worse, hating and tearing one another; a monstrous sight, as if one limb of the same body should be pulling another to pieces. It signifies lit. tle to tell men what mutual tenderness is in nature; that for a thorn in the foot the back bows, the head stoops, the eyes look, the hands feel, and seek it, to pull it out". Christians are still so rigid, so unchristian to each other, they drive one another with the thorn sticking in, forcing their brethren to ways against the persuasions of their consciences. In the following verses, viz. 6, 7, 8, we have a
e Prov. xxv. 27. b Spinam calçat pes, &c. AUĢ.