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PRIDE IN DRESS.
177 learns of him. In common life pride renders men hard to be pleased. A word, or a look, or some fancied slight, or some want of the respect which pride expects, are magnified into serious offences.
Pride renders men impatient of reproof. The humble will receive with gratitude the faithful reproofs of Christian friends; but the proud resent the kind dealing of those who tell them of their faults. If they cannot deny the faults with which they are charged, pride makes them ingenious in devising excuses for their guilt. Or perhaps they upbraid those who wish to do them good, and say, that whoever concern themselves with their conduct, they have no business with it. On the other hand, pride leads them to love their flatterers, and to esteem them as their best friends.
$ 2. Pride in dress, is the ruling sin in many hearts. This sin is not confined to one age or to one sex. When this sin abounded in Israel, the great God threatened it with his judge ments.a
Think not that it is a matter of little importance, to watch against pride in apparel. Though the Scriptures do not regulate the shape of a bonnet or the cut of a coat, they do teach you in this, as well as other respects, to avoid the folly and extravagance of the world. Their direction to Christian females is, “ That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
Pride is indulged in apparel, when our dress is too costly for our circumstances. Pride in dress appears when persons are desirous of imitating in the fashion those who are above their rank, and of seeming higher and richer than they really are. This sinful pride governs in the heart, when, instead of being content with Christian neatness and simplicity, persons are fond of flaunting away in gay and gaudy attire; or when they suffer that to occupy their hearts, and for hours and hours engage their thoughts; when, like an infant, they are delighted at appearing in a new garment, or filling their minds with anticipations of the appearance they shall make.
One most injurious way in which pride in dress operates among the poor is, when they abstain from the house of God, (a) Isa. iii. 16-18, 24.
(6) 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4.
178 PRIDE HATEFUL AND MISCHIEVOUS. because they have not such clothes as they desire. If you who read this book are poor, and have acted this part, be assured it is pride, and only pride, that has occasioned this sinful neglect. Your prayers would not be less acceptable to God, nor your soul less benefited in his house, because your garments were mean and decayed. There is nothing shame. ful in poverty that sin does not occasion ; but there is much sin in slighting the interests of your immortal soul, and neglecting the house of your God for want of better clothing. This wicked pride, that dwells in the hearts of so many of the poor, deprives them of the means of grace, keeps them from hearing the gospel of salvation ; if they once knew religion, renders them dead and indifferent to it; if they have not known it, prevents their obtaining the only true wisdom, and at last sinks them down to hell. O, what folly and sin, to neglect the salvation of an immortal soul, because the clothes that cover the dying body are mean and poor! I have seen with pleasure a poor disciple of Jesus attend the house of God in tattered and worn-out garments, when he possessed no better, and known such a one soon furnished, through Chrise tian liberality, with more comfortable clothing; who, if he had indulged the pride that many cherish, might have continued at home, his body covered with rags, and his soul languishing, and religion dying, through neglect of the ordinances of God.
$ 3. Pride is hateful to God, and the proud are the objects of his wrath. “ Every one that is proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord,"c “The Lord hateth a proud look."d “ God resisteth the proud." · Pride is the parent of strife; the fruitful source of quarrels, discords, dissensions, revenge, the private murders of villains, and the wholesale murders of war. “ONLY by pride cometh contention."f“ He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife,"s · Strife would soon expire, if pride did not fan the
Pride is an uneasy passion, and the source of that devilish passion, envy. Envy is also connected with selfishness. Selfishness would have the highest good enjoyed by itself; and when it beholds others more favoured, indulges the tor
(c) Prov. xvi. 5.
(e) James iv. 6
(9) Prov. xxviii, 25.
PRIDE THE PARENT OF ENVY.
179 menting and infernal repinings of envy. Thus Cain first en1 vied Abel, because he was approved by God in preference to himself, and afterwards murdered him.
A more infernal passion cannot harbour even in the breast, than envy; which looks with dissatisfaction on others' good;
which mourns their prosperity if superior to its own, and I would feel more satisfied to see them wretched when itself is si afflicted, than to see them happy. Yet, infernal as is this
passion, it is the sure attendant of pride; and if not visible, in its greatest excesses, still will exist where pride rules. What is more common, than to see persons attempting to depreciate the character, or abilities, or usefulness of others, that they may not seem superior to themselves ? or to endeavour to persuade themselves and others, that these persons are not
so prosperous, or virtuous, or happy as they appear ? Envy I prompts this conduct. The humble rejoice in seeing others
happier or better than themselves; but the proud would stand foremost, and envy leads them to endeavour to sink others down, at least to a level with themselves. Beware of envy; it often exists where it is little suspected ; and they who are acquainted with the human heart, may often observe it peeping out in the language or conduct of persons, who little imagine what they are indulging and displaying.
Pride is hateful, as it is the parent of discontent with the dealings of God, and ingratitude for his mercies. On this subject I will insert a few lines that I somewhere met with. The writer says, “ I have trials by perplexities respecting the things of time; yet they seem needful ; for they have shown me more of myself than I knew before. This day or two these discoveries have led me to enter into Wesley's words:
“ God only knows the utmost hell
“Of the deceitful heart.” I did not know mine. Instead of a submissive, I feel there is naturally within a disposition to murmur. Instead of humility and thankfulness for what I have, I can at times perceive a feeling rising, as if others, who deserved less, were favoured more.—A hellish feeling, springing from that pride and self which I abhor, but feel clinging too closely to my nature.”
The dispositions which this writer lamented, the proud man cherishes. When God chastises him, he is discontented, and perhaps murmurs, because he thinks he has not deserved the
180 PRIDE CRUEL, FALSE, AND DISHONEST. affliction. When the good he desires is withheld, he repines, because he thinks he deserves more, and receives less, than some others that he esteems more highly favoured. I once knew a man who in affliction declared, that the Lord was not merciful to him; he would say, “ Can this be of love ?" and assert, that he could not love God, who so afflicted him. He would declare, that he had not deserved what he suffered ; that there must be some mistake, and that he must be suffering for the sins of another. The discontent which pride breeds may not often be so openly expressed; but as seen by Him who searches the heart, and knows sin in the blade as well as in the ear, it is doubtless seen as a disposition of this infernal nature.
$ 4. Pride is cruel, cruel as death. Prompted by pride, ambition wades through seas of blood, and sees with uncon. cern myriads of victims slain, that it may obtain fame or power. Pride is not less cruel in private life. When, for the sake of glitter and show, sums of money are uselessly expended, that might feed many hungry, clothe many naked, and cheer many a broken heart;—when this is done (and what is more cornmon?) pride is cruel. For the sake of a little self-exaltation, it denies to perishing creatures the aid that might else be imparted. How many professors of religion are there that have nothing to impart to the afflicted, and contribute nothing, or next to nothing, to support and diffuse religion, because their pride leads them to spend every spare shilling upon themselves in dress! Their pride is cruel. How many wealthy professors of the gospel spend scores or hundreds of pounds on vanities in their dress, their furniture, or their style of living, to make their fellow-worms esteem them respectable, while they give a paltry annual guinea to institutions, that are labouring to diffuse the gospel among six hundred millions of perishing and benighted men ! Their pride is cruel. Were it not for this cruel pride among professors of the gospel, how rich would be the funds of every benevolent institution! The silver and the gold would pour like copious streams into their treasuries; but pride and sell. ishness render them poor; pride that gives a shilling where guinea ought to be given, and gives a guinea where a huz dred or a thousand ought to be imparted.
Pride is false. How many lies are told through pride, be
Yhere a huza
HUMILITY PRIZED BY GOD.
181 persons who have sinned, to shield themselves from shame and disgrace. They are not ashamed to sin, but they are ashamed to appear what they really are—the lovers of sin. How many lies are told by persons whose circumstances are depressed, that they may appear more wealthy than they really are. Pride is dishonest. How often do persons, for the sake of finer furniture and apparel than they can afford, contract debts which they cannot discharge ! They are ashamed to appear in poor clothing, but they are not ashamed to obtain their neighbours' goods, and really to rob them of their property.
$5. The importance and value of humility is strongly enforced in the word of God. “ Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.” “He giveth grace unto the lowly."b “Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart o: the contrite ones."'i “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."k “ When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants : we have done that which was our duty to do." “ Be clothed with humility.”'m
$ 6. The Lord Jesus was humble. He left a spotless pattern, that we should follow his steps; and of the glories that unite in that example, none shines brighter than humility. Before he appeared on earth he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but with condescension that has no parallel, he became a man, a man of poverty and woe. When he appeared on earth, he appeared not as the son of a monarch, but of a carpenter ; and chose for a birth-place not a palace, but the stable of an inn. Unlike the proud, who think the employments of the lower ranks of mankind disgraceful, he most probably laboured as a carpenter. When he commenced his public ministry, he invited not princes or philosophers to convey a message, which angels would be honoured by conveying, but he chose for his apostles a few poor fishermen. With these he associated on terms so condescending, that he said, “I am among you as (h) Prov. iii. 34. (i) Isa. lvii. 15. (k) Matt. v. 3. .
(m) 1 Pet. v.7.
(1) Luke xvii, 10.