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are times when he shrinks into his own littleness; willing to be a creature, infinitely less than his Creator, and absolutely dependent on Him. The convert is still capable of being proud; yes, of being proud of his bumility : but this again lays him low before God. The writer of the Gospel Sonnets manifested a deep acquaintance with the Christian's heart, when he said,
“ Humility doth make my pride to grow,
And pride aspiring brings me low.' Pride may have a fall, yet not fall into the valley of humiliation. A proud man may be greatly mortified, and still retain all the pride of his heart. This was strikingly illustrated in the case of wicked Haman. Est. vi. 12.
Pride is not only puffed up, but also vaunteth itself. The proud man is a boaster. “Is not this great Babylon that I have built ?” Dan. iv. 30. It is the nature of humility to counteract boasting. When Paul was obliged, out of regard to his apostolic character, to say many things in his own commendation, he appeared to do it with reluctance. “ I am," said he, “become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me.” 2 Cor. xii. 11. The exploits of humility are not performed for the sake of having them blazoned abroad.
Pride leads God's creatures to rebel against his government; but humility effectually prevents it. When the apostle offers this reason against putting a novice into the ministry, “Lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil,” it supposes pride to have been the cause of the devil's condemnation. The same thing is intimated, when it is said concerning the fallen angels, that they “ kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation." 1 Tim. iii. 6. Jude, ver. 5. The sinless angels have remained humble, and therefore contented with their place as dependent subjects of the eternal King. Where a spirit of humility is cherished, a revolt from the holy and rightful sovereignty of God is rendered impossible.
Pride fosters a spirit of impatience; while the reverso is true con. cerning humility. Says the wise man, “ The patient in spirit is bet. ter than the proud in spirit.” Here pride, the opposite of humility, is made the opposite of patience also: hence the inference, that patience and humility are very closely allied. And what Christian is there, who has not found, by his own experience, that humility is the proper soil for the growth of patience
Pride is contentious; but humility is a peaceable and peace-making spirit. An inspired proverb declares, “ Only by pride cometh conten. tion.” It can not be doubted that all war, whether between nations or individuals, owes its origin, in a greater or less degree, to a spirit of pride; and that were this spirit annihilated, contentions would cease, and the implements of war and bloodshed be converted into those of husbandry.
It is the nature of pride to be disdainful; but humility is condescending. In the following passage, the scorners and the lovoly are contrasted: “Surely he scorneth the scorners; but he giveth grace unto the lowly.” Prov. iii. 34. When the apostle (Rom. xii. 16,) says, “ Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate,” 'it clearly im. plies, that pride is not condescending, but disdainful. But to a humble
spirit condescension is perfectly natural. This attractive feature ap. peared to great advantage in the Lord of glory, when he tabernacled in the flesh. He was ready to wash the feet of his disciples, or to perform any other kind office, which their necessities, or those of other men, required.
The same spirit of pride which is disdainful towards inferiors, is envious towards superiors; but humility stands as much opposed to envy as to scorning. Pride is at the foundation of envy, and envy is the rottenness of the bones.” Humility is willing to give honor to whom honor is due. As far as this spirit prevails, it will keep a man from desiring office, either in church or state, for the sake of its honor. If it be not a place where he can do more to glorify God and benefit his fellow men, he desires it not. Let a spirit of humility pervade this nation, and it would have the effect to prevent our offices, both civil and ecclesiastical, from being filled with improper characters. By proud, aspiring men, civil and religious liberty have been subverted; and from the same cause they are still in danger.
It is pride, and not humility, which produces covetousness. Why does that man, who has no desire to do good with his property, crave more than he can possibly use ? Eccl. iv. 8. It is because it gratifies his pride to be rich; “ to join house to house, and lay field to field, till there be no place, that he may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.” Isa, v. 8. Humility will not make a man idle or neglectful of his business; but it counteracts that spirit of covetousness which the scripture denominates “ the love of money—the root of all evil.” Had not humility taken the place of pride in the heart of Paul, he never could have learned that difficult lesson of entire contentment in the midst of poverty. Philip. iv. 11, 12.
Pride either causes a total neglect of religion, or turns our religion into self-righteousness. “The wicked, through the pride of his coun. tenance, will not seek after God.” Ps. 1. 4. Though irreligion may be the more common effect of pride, yet religion, when it is of the phar. isaic kind, proceeds from the same source. Humility stands equally opposed to irreligion and self-righteousness. To a humble creature, nothing can appear a more reasonable service than religion; and nothing more unreasonable than that religion which is of a self-sufficient and self-righteous character. Since no creature can offer to God any. thing save that which he has first received from him, and since God's name is exalted above all blessing and praise, the creature has no cause to be proud of his most costly offerings or his most perfect devotions. If a holy angel has nothing to boast of, how can man be just with God! man, who drinketh in iniquity like water? Surely, that man who is of a contrite and humble spirit
, will feel that none of his performances are meritorious, or even worthy of being accepted for their own sake; since no one of them comes up to that perfection which God requires.
From the survey which we have now taken of the nature and effects of humility, we proceed to show, that such an affection is indispensable to genuine religion.
1. Those whom God hears, and to whom he imparts his grace, in other words, the truly religious, are characterized in the scriptures as
being humble. This will be seen by the following passages.
6 He forgetteth not the cry of the humble." Ps. ix. 12. “ Forget not the humble. Lord thou hast heard the desire of the humble.” Ps. x. 12, 17. “ The humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Ps. xxxiv. 2. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Jam. iv. 6. To none who are without humility, is there any promise that their desires shall be heard, or that grace shall be communicated to them. The inference is undeniable, that all true saints possess a humble spirit.
2. That humility is essential to the character of the godly, is made evident by what the scriptures say concerning the proud. These are always classed with the wicked. “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Pet. v. 5. Here, all whom God re. sists, and to whom he does not give grace, are distinguished from the saints by their pride. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomi . nation to the Lord.” Prov. xvi. 5. But the saints are not an abomination to the Lord : they are his hidden ones—his dear children; • therefore they are not proud in heart; and if not proud, they must of necessity be humble. In the last chapter in the Old Testament, all the proud and all that do wickedly, are contrasted with such as fear God's name: but if those who fear God's name were not, every man of them, humble, there would be no distinctive feature in their char. acter to throw them into a different class from the wicked, who are proud.
3. Christ declares humility to be so identified with the genius and spirit of his religion, that there can be no consistent Christianity with. out it. When he invites us to learn of him, (that is, to become his disciples,) he tells us that he is meek and lowly in heart; intimatir.g by this, that short of possessing a meek and lowly heart, we can never become his disciples, In the first sentence of his sermon on the mount, he teaches the necessity of humility.
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. v. 3. When Jesus was asked the question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?” he called a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Matt. xviii, 1–3. By this significant illustration he designed to teach them, that humility was essential for obtaining, not only eminence in, but even admission to, the kingdom of heaven. He repeatedly told his disciples that every one that exalted himself should be abased, while be that humbled himself should be exalted. Luke xiv. 11 ; xvji. 14. The same sentiment is taught in this proverb; “Before destructionth e heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” Prov. xviii. 12. In the religion of the Old Testament, as well as that of the New, humility is made an essential ingredient. Whether in Jew or gen. tile, bond or free, there can be no true religion without it. Were it possible for a man to possess every other grace of the Spirit, and be entirely destitute of this, he would not be truly amiable.
Some may wish to know, whether every humble man is a Christian. If he be truly humble, most assuredly he is a Christian. That there can be no genuine humility without religion, is a proposition no less
true than its converse, that without humility there can be no genuine religion. There is something, however, in the mental constitution and the demeanor of certain men, which, while it somewhat resembles, is yet essentially unlike Christian humility. This something we shall, for want of a better name, denominate constitutional humility. How. ever amiable and becoming it may appear, it does not beget in its pos. sessor a conviction of his own vileness and insignificance. It owes its origin, not to a consciousness of dependence and ill-desert, but to constitutional timidity and self-distrust. Whatever may be the natural tempers of the unregenerate, they are all, in the language of scripture, proud men. And, assuredly, all true converts, however much consti. tutional humility they might have had, become convinced that they were very far from being truly humble.
There is a counterfeit humility which appears in the experience of false converts ; but in reality it is nothing better than pride, aping this precious grace of the Spirit. The counterfeit, in particular things, seems to be more humble than humility itself. Paul denominates it a voluntary humility; by which he intimates, that the subjects of it seem desirous of going beyond what is required of them. See Col. ii. 18 23. This voluntary humility has led to the worship of angels, and the spirits of dead men ; and even to the worship of men while taberna. cling in clay. What a show of humility has been made by the devotees of Rome, in giving to the pope (" the man of sin”) those honors which belong only to God. Counterfeit humility is not confined to the church of Rome, nor to that worship which is paid to saints and angels, and to the pretended successor of St. Peter. We may kneel, or even fall on our faces before God, and yet be wholly under the influ. ence of pride in so doing.
There is an affection resembling humility, which is the result of overpowering displays of the divine majesty. In this sense, the whole congregation of the children of Israel were humbled, when they stood at the foot of mount Sinai, witnessing the manifestations of Jehovah's power. But a vast majority of them were blind to the beauty of his holiness: nor did they, in any proper sense, feel their own littleness as creatures, or their vileness as sinners. Such humility is common to awakened sinners, when they are under those convictions of guilt which are forced upon their consciences by the precepts and penalties of the law. While in this state, there are times when they seem to be quite abased; but they are all the while strangers to true lowliness of mind. That humility which forms a part of the Christian's experience, is the fruit of the Spirit: it brings down the proud imaginations of the heart, and the Lord alone is exalted. Let him be exalted ! is the language of every humble creature, both on earth and in hcaven.
THE ARTICLE HARMONIZED.
First. I shall now reverse the order which I have before pursued, by first showing the harmony between this branch of experience and the doctrinal system. Humility is in harmony with the
first Article of that system, name.
ly, the existence of an infinitely great and holy God. Pride says in its heart, (if not with its mouth,) * There is no God.” Ps. xiv. 1. It is an affection which spurns control, and therefore quarrels with the doctrine that there is an omnipotent Being, who exercises absoluto control throughout the universe. Humility, on the contrary, is in sweet and perfect accordance with that doctrinal truth.
The second doctrine of the series exhibits God as creating and gov. erning all things for his own glory. The humble man looks on the whole created universe as belonging to God, and under his constant providential control; and in this he rejoices. He sees it to be alto. gether suitable that the glory of the infinite Being should be made the ultimate object of pursuit, both by himself and all his intelligent crea. tures. But a universe made and governed for such an end, is not suited to please the creature whose heart is filled with pride.
The third Article of doctrine exhibits the Creator in the character of a Moral Governor, giving a perfect law to the whole of his intelli. gent creation. Pride says, “ I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice-I will submit to no such restraint.” On the contrary, hu. mility inquires, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” If the right to govern belongs to the Creator, then a humble spirit becomes his creatures; for this is the only spirit which will cordially subrnit to be governed.
Man's apostacy and entire sinfulness is the subject matter of the next Article. A proud spirit will lead us either to dispute the truth of this doctrine, or to treat it with contemptuous levity. On the contrary, a humble spirit will cause us fully to credit the divine testimony con. cerning the existence, extent, and inexcusableness of human depravity. And this doctrine, with which humility has such an entire agreement, exerts a mightier influence than aught besides, in giving this virtue a deep and abiding hold on the heart.
The doctrine of atonement, which stands next in order, supposes all men to be moral bankrupts, unable to pay the least farthing of that infinite debt which they have incurred, and, so long as they are under the dominion of pride, obstinately refusing to accept of a surety. They either deny the claim which justice makes upon them, or fancy they shall be able to discharge it themselves. But as soon as humility takes the place of pride, the atonement is seen to be, not only a scriptural doctrine, but one which excels iu glory. The influence it exerts in exalting God, and abasing the pride of man, makes it peculiarly at. tractive to the humble soul.
Passing over the sixth, seventh, and eighth Articles, with which hu. mility can manifestly have no disagreement, it may be well just to no. tice how entirely it accords with sovereign grace in the renovation of the sinner's heart, unconditional election, and free justification through the atonement and advocacy of a Mediator,—the three doctrines which follow next in order. These doctrines have great affinity to each other: they have a common character, and are adapted to please a humble heart, and no other. They represent all the blood washed throng as being called with a holy calling, yet not by reason of any merit on their part; as chosen not on account of their holiness, but unto holiness; and as justified, even after their partaking of the divine