Imágenes de páginas

it really is, but willingly owning how near they are to us, and how inconsiderable the distance is that we are raised above them. In order to a sinner's being possessed of true humility, it is requisite that he be the subject of spiritual humiliation. The term humiliation is used in two senses: 1. As referring to real antecedent dignity, in which sense we speak of Christ's humiliation, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor; though he thought it no robbery to be equal with God, because he was in the form of God, yet he took on him the likeness of man, and the form of a servant, &c. Or, 2. Humiliation may refer to former pride and undue self-eraltation, in which sense we speak of the humiliation of sinners, who by grace are brought down from their high and lofty imaginations, and made willing to take their own place. This humiliation is absolutely necessary, and can only be effected by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, for every sinner is by nature full of pride and self-exaltation, to such a degree that God alone can pull it down and mortify it. True humility is an eminent part of that right spirit which is produced in regeneration: no man can be a Christian without it; and it is never to be found in our world but in real saints. Others may be so partially humbled, as through the greatness of the Almighty's power, feignedly to submit to him; but, however they are overawed or terrified for a season, they are still enemies to God in their minds; and as great enemies to the real scriptural idea of grace, as they are to the justice and holiness of God. We defined humility as radically consisting in a sense of comparative littleness before God. This is

the only general foundation for all the genuine exercises of humility toward our fellow-creatures; — though there may be some partial semblances of it, among such as know not God, arising from mere natural timidity and bashfulness, or the effect of custom, education, and artificial complaisance: and, on the other hand, we must allow that remaining depravity in true Christians, especially when its effects are heightened by a bad natural temper, and various external temptations, * greatly obstruct the exercise of this and other graces; and in some cases, ignorance, rusticity, and a contracted roughness of manners, may obscure a little of its beauty; yet humility before God will ever proportionably influence the temper and conduct towards men. The first original source of true humility, is a sight of the divine glory. “Now mine eye seeth thee,” said Job, “wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” When Isaiah beheld Jehovah's glory, he said, “Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Hosts!” When Daniel saw that great vision, his comeliness was turned in him into corruption. Paul, when he had seen that Just One, and heard the words of his mouth, thought himself the chief of sinners, and desired to “be found in him, having on his righteousness, and not his own.” Every part of divine truth, when once we are brought to a spiritual understanding, tends to promote humility. The law requires the whole heart for God, and threatens the least deviation from the line of duty with death; plainly pre-supposing the divine excellency, ma

jesty, and dominion: and that we

are dependent and accountable

creatures, wholly the property of our Maker, and altogether at his righteous disposal. Hence, profound humility appears essential to perfect obedience; nor dare sinless angels indulge the least idea of proper merit, conscious they have barely done their duty, and can have no claim upon the Deity, unless on the footing of a free promise ; while sinful men cannot look into this perfect law, without viewing their crimes as infinitely odious, and perceiving that salvation can only originate in free and sovereign grace. The Gospel confirms all the law asserts, implying most clearly that all its demands were equitable, and all its threatenings just ; and shews the sinner's inexcusable guilt more fully than the flames of hell. Every doctrine conspires to abase our pride, and those truths which are the most essential foundation of our hopes, are most wisely calculated to stain all human glory ; nor can you realize them, so as to enter into their real import and design, without feeling their humbling tendency. While, in like manner, an humble disposition tends naturally to render us susceptive of divine truth; as there is a sweet harmony between this lowly temper and the blessed doctrines of grace. Beware, brethren, lest unmortified pride discover, that, notwithstanding your professed attachment to these humbling sentiments, you have only learnt the terms by rote, without entering into the genuine spirit of the truths you profess. If you are not humble, you are not orthodox at heart. We would earnestly solicit your attention, beloved brethren, while we point out some of the principal evidences of true humility. . An humble creature will ever look upon himself as nothing, when

[ocr errors]

compared with the eternal, selfexistent first cause : — will realize his constant dependence on God, for the continuance of his being, and every thing conducive to his well-being ; – confessing himself insufficient to preserve, independently of his Maker, that which he originally derived from him alone. He will readily acknowledge the necessity of the divine favour to his happiness, and the necessity of divine influence to secure the preservation of his moral qualities, and keep him from defection, apostacy, and ruin. He will cordially confess his obligations to the sovereign favour of Jehovah, and fully acquiesce in the absolute impossibility of proper merit in any creature with respect to God; accounting himself his Maker's property, he will consider it as his duty, honour, and happiness, to love him supremely, delight in him superlatively, and make the divine glory the ultimate end of every action. An humbled sinner will view himself as infinitely vile and hateful on account of sin; — will

justify all the demands, and even

the awful threatenings of the divine law; — will abhor the idea of seeking acceptance with God upon the foot of his own-imperfect righteousness; — and, with sweet delight and thankfulness, embrace the humbling method of salvation revealed in the Gospel. His former pride and self-righteousness will appear o odious; and however low he may be brought at present, he will be sensible that he is still not near come down to his own place; he will, therefore, instead of thinking highly of his present humility, be abased under a sense of his remaining pride; longing to lie lower still in sweet abasement before the footstool of reigning grace. Humility will lead the Christian to cease from his own wisdom, and not lean to his own understanding, nor set up his depraved reason against the instructions of Him whose understanding is infinite. As he will not reject the doctrines of the Gospel, because of their tendency to abase human haughtiness and to exalt the Deity, so neither will he cavil at divine revelation, because it contains some things mysterious, and not fully to be comprehended. Indeed, a small degree of reason (if human reason was not blinded by pride) would convince us, that it would be unreasonable to suppose, there can be nothing mysterious in the divine nature, counsels, or conduct; when yet we must acknowledge there are many mysteries in all sciences, in our own formation and voluntary motion, and in all nature around us. An humble man will not be stiff and dogmatical, but open to conviction, and jealous of being prejudiced, especially by the undue influence of his own passions; willing to receive instruction, and embrace the truth, let it be proposed by whom it will. Humility will discover it. self in a constant sense of our weakness and insufficiency, and our need to live upon Christ for strength as well as righteousness; exciting to incessant prayer for preservation from falling, as conscious of the imperfection of inherent grace, and strength of indwelling sin; being aware, also, of the unnumbered snares and temptations that surround us. – Humility will cause the Christian to “serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling,” Ps. ii. 11. desiring, in the seasons of his greatest, spiritual enjoyment and communion with God, that while he exults in the inestimable privileges which are freely bestowed upon him, he may have a propor

tionable sense of the awful majesty, and holy searching purity of God, to keep him fron carnal confidence and spiritual pride. He finds the necessity of universal and diligent watchfulness and godly jealousy, even when he is favoured with the most evangelical discoveries, and heavenly joy; lest otherwise Satan should come upon him at unawares, and throw him down from the top of the mount. It will be natural to a very humble man to view himself, as Paul did, as the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints. Certainly there is more sin in the best man's heart, than in the worst man's life. Having, therefore, a deep sense of his peculiar obligations, and a knowledge of the plague of his own heart, he will be ready to account that, all things considered, he stands more in need of forgiveness, and is more indebted to free grace, than any other sinner in the world. In like manner, though he may not be able to avoid seeing the external blemishes and defects of his fellow-saints, yet, being conscious of his own internal evils, he will be apt to think far more meanly of himself than of his brethren; he will sooner suspect himself than any body, being disposed to make the best of others, and to hope they are more free than he is from innumerable deficiencies which he finds and laments in himself. This blessed temper will teach you to give reproof to others with tenderness and gentleness, in the spirit of love. Not that it is an enemy to faithfulness, or would connive at sin in any. But it would prevent scornful fierceness, and unchristian bitterness and se– verity, which so often prevent the success of the reproof, and harden the offender. At the same time, an eminently humble Christian will receive the reproofs of others with


meekness and thankfulness, even though they should be mixed with severity: he will say, “Let the righteous smite me, and it shall be a kindness, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head,” Ps. cxli. 5. He will be glad of the assistance and advice of his brethren, for he knows his own weakness, and thinks he wants help from every body; whereas one that is full of spiritual pride, thinks that every body wants his


&al humility would teach you, even when reproached by enemies, seriously to examine if you have not, at least in some measure, given them occasion thus to reflect upon you. And whether they have any just cause or not, it will prevent your rendering railing for railing, and evil for evil. It will be your concern to be “gentle towards all men,” and to “overcome evil with good.” You will endeavour “ in patience to possess your souls;” committing yourselves, when injured, “unto Him that judgeth righteously.” It is true, humility must oppose its opposite, pride; and an humble man must be grieved and pained when he sees evident tokens of pride in others; but he will most of all oppose the remains of that accursed evil in his own heart. His own

ride will cause him to abhor himself; he will watch against it in all the modes wherein he can detect its operations. Pride is the most subtle of all the evils of the human heart; “the most like its father, the devil, in serpentine deceit and secrecy, appearing in a great many shapes, undiscerned and unsuspected, and sometimes as an angel of light. It perverts and abuses every thing, even the exercises of real grace, and real humility, as an occasion to exert itself. It is a sin which has, as it were, many

lives; if you mortify and suppress it in one shape, it rises up in another. There are a great many kinds of it, that lie in different forms and shapes, one under another, and encompass the heart like the coats of an onion; if you pull off one, there is another underneath. We had need, therefore, to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter, and cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for his help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool.” The humble man, therefore, has so much to do at home, that he cannot spend the chief part of his time in remarking and crying out of the pride of others, criticising on their dress, carriage, manner of living, or other external tokens of pride; he has more dislicult and important work, in maintaining a constant guard over his own proud heart, which is still far from sufficient conformity to the Lamb of God. He that is eminently humble will not affect to set up himself above his brethren, but will be willing to be servant of all ; desiring to please others for their good unto edification: not, indeed, conforming himself to them in things that are sinful; he will inflexibly adhere to duty, but in other things he will be gentle and pliable; resolutely attending to Rod's will, but easily giving up his own. Humility will teach you to pity sincerely the most ignorant and erroneous of mankind; to “honour all men;” to be “ready to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” to be “gentle to all men, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” 1 Pet. ii. 17.; iii. 15. 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. Humility will be a blessed antidote for a murmuring spirit against Providence. It will make you willing to be at God's disposal; desirous that he should choose your inheritance for you, and rejoiced that he has the ordering of all your concerns. It will teach you “how to be abased” without repining, and “how to abound” without being puffed up. An humble man will naturally be grateful, and disposed to confess his obligations both to God and man. A sense of his own demerit must fill him with astonishment at the divine bounty, and make him thankful for the kindness of his fellow-creatures; whereas pride makes a man a stranger to gratitude, for he never thinks he receives so much as his due. — Humility, indeed, is a friend to every other grace. God has expressly promised that he will give more grace to the humble, and it will naturally put them upon asking him for it; for the more humble we are, the more sensible we shall be of our defects, and of our need of the supply of the Spirit. Besides, humility, in its own nature, stands related, and is akin to other most excellent graces. Thus it is closely connected with meekness, and must greatly preserve the mind from being unduly rufiled by slights and injuries; while a proud man is so and irritated by every negect and affront. It must tend greatly to make self-denial easy to us. It will be easy for one who feels himself a poor, mean, vile creature before God, cordially to renounce his own dignity and glory; and also for God's sake to deny his worldly inclinations, and part with earthly objects and enjoyments, for the sake of promot. ing the divine honour, and the kingdom of his Redeemer. Humility will cherish brotherly love, and greatly lessen the difficulty of

forgiveness; as it will teach you to take notice of the good that is in others, and to think the best of them, preferring them in honour as better than yourselves; and to make the least of their defects, as compared with your own; especially their deficiencies as to what you might suppose is due from them to you. Deep humility will produce resignation to the will of God, and patience under the cross. It will excite to godly jealousy over our own hearts, and constant watchfulness against temptation. It must greatly befriend a life of faith, and prayer; for while we dread presumption and self-confidence, not daring to trust to ourselves in any respect, we are laid under a happy necessity of trusting in the living God, and making continual application to him. (To be continued.)


DR. PRICE, in his Dissertation on Miracles, has refuted, with great clearness and force, the common opinion, that miracles imply a suspension or violation of the laws of nature. “Were we,” he observes, “to see the motion of water downwards cease at once, at the word of a man, or a river parted in its course, as Jordan was, we should see a miracle; but we could not say, that the law of gravitation was suspended; for the water might have gravitated as usual, and the true cause of the event be the exertion of an adequate superior power, to control the effects of gravitation; in which its suspension is no more implied, than in a man's preventing a heavy body from falling, by applying his hand . to it. Nor could we in this instance say, that the event was not agreeable to the constitution of the universe; for in order to this,

« AnteriorContinuar »