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secondary causes to the supreme cause. So Aaron, when he saw his sons suddenly surprised by a dreadful and doleful death, held his peace; he bridled his passions ; he sat silent under a terrible stroke of divine justice, because the fire that devoured them went out from the Lord. So when Samuel had told Eli, that God would judge his house for ever, and that he had sworn that the iniquity of his house should not be purged with sacrifice, nor offering for ever; It is the Lord, says Eli, let him do what seemeth him good. Eli humbly and patiently lays his neck upon the block; "It is the Lord, let him strike, let him kill," says Eli.
So David, when Shimei manifested his desperate fury and folly, malice and madness, in raving and raging at him, in cursing and reproaching him, says, Let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him. "God," says he, " will by his wise providence turn his cursing into blessing. I see the justice of God in his cursing: therefore let him alone, let him curse." •
Cassianus reports, that when a certain Christian was held captive by the infidels, and tormented by divers pains, and ignominious taunts, being demanded by way of scorn and reproach, 'Tell us what Christ has done for you,' he answered, 'He hath done what you see, that I am not moved at all thecruelties and contumelies you cast upon me.? \So that blessed martyr, Giles of Brussels, when the friars, sent to reduce him, did at any time miscal him, he ever held his peace; insomuch that those wretches would say abroad, that he had a dumb devil in him. Full vessels will bear many a knock, many a stroke, and yet make no noise; so Christians that are full of Christ, that are full of the Spirit, will bear many a knock, many a stroke, and yet make no noise.
A humble soul may groan under afflictions, but he will not grumble in calms. Proud hearts discourse of patience, but in storms humble hearts exercise patience. Philosophers have much commended it, but in the hour of darkness it is the humble soul that acts it. 'I am afflicted,' says the humble soul, 'but it is a mercy I am not destroyed. I am fallen into the pit; it is free grace I am not fallen into hell. God is too just to wrong me, and too gracious to harm me, and therefore I will be still and quiet, let him do what he will with me.' But proud souls resist when they are resisted; they strike when they are stricken. Who is the Lord, says lofty Pharaoh, that I should obey him? and Cain cries out, My punishment is greater than lean bear. Well, remember this, though it is not easy in afflictions and tribulations to hold our peace, yet it is very advantageous; which the heathens seemed to imitate, in placing the image of Angeronia with the mouth bound, upon the altar of Volupia, to shew that those who do prudently and humbly conceal their sorrows and anxieties by patience, shall attain comfort and refreshment.
II. The eleventh property of a humble soul is this—in all religious duties and services, he trades with God upon the credit of Christ. 'Lord,' says the humble soul, ' I need power against such and such sins, give it me upon the credit of Christ's blood. I need strength to such and such services, give it me upon the credit of Christ's word. I need such and such mercies for the cheering, refreshing, quickening, and strengthening of me; give them into my bosom upon the credit of Christ's intercession.' As a poor man lives and deals upon the credits of others, so does a humble soul live and deal with God, for the strengthening of every grace, and for the supply of every mercy upon the credit of the Lord Jesus. A humble soul knows, that since he broke with God in innocency, God will trust him no more, he will take his word no more: and therefore when he goes to God for mercy, he brings his Benjamin, his Jesus, in his arms, and pleads for mercy upon the account of Jesus.
Plutarch reports, that it was wont to be the way of the R lossians, when they would seek the favour of their prince, that they took up the king's son in their arms, and so went and kneeled before the king, and by this means overcame him. So do humble souls make a conquest upon God with Christ in their arms; the Father will not give that soul the repulse, that brings Christ in his arms. The humble soul knows, that God out of Christ is incommunicable, that God out of Christ is incomprehensible, that God out of Christ is very terrible, and that God out of Christ is unaccessible; and therefore he still brings Christ with him, and presents all his requests in his name, and so prevails. G but proud souls deal with God upon the credit of their own worthiness, righteousness, services, prayers, tears, fasting, as the proud pharisees and those wrangling hypocrites, in Isaiah lviii. 1—3.
It was a very proud saying of one, 'I will not have heaven but at a rate;' and therefore well did the father. call vain glory a pleasant thief, and the sweet spoiler of spiritual excellencies.
12. The twelfth property of a humble soul is this—it endeavours more how to honour and glorify God in afflictions, than how to get out of afflictions. So Daniel, the three children, the apostles, and those worthies of whom the world was not worthy; they were not curious about getting out of affliction, but studious how to glorify God in their afflictions. They were willing to be any thing, and to bear any thing, that in every thing God might be glorified. They made it their business to glorify God in the fire, in the prison, in the den, on the rack, and under the sword. 'Lord,' says the humble soul, ' do but keep down my sins, and keep up my heart in a way of honouring of thee under all my troubles, and then my troubles will be no troubles, my afflictions will be no afflictions. Though my burdens be doubled, and my troubles be multiplied, yet do but help me to honour thee by believing in thee, by waiting on thee, and by submitting to thee, and I shall sing care away; I shall say it is enough.'
When Valence, the emperor, sent messengers to win Eusebius to heresy by fair words and large promises, he answered; 'Alas, Sir, these speeches are fit to catch little children that look after such things, but we that are taught and nourished by the holy scriptures, are readier to suffer a thousand deaths, than to suffer one syllable or tittle of the scripture to be altered.' And when the emperor threatened to confiscate his goods, to torment him, to banish him, or to kill him, he answered, 'He need not fear confiscation, that hath nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven only is a country; nor torments, when his body will be dashed with one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.' O but when a proud man is under troubles and afflictions, his head and heart. are full of plots, and projects how to get off his chains, and to get out of the furnace. A proud heart will say any thing, and do any thing, and be any thing, to free himself from the burdens that press him; as you see in Pharaoh. But a humble soul is willing to bear the cross, as long as he can get strength from heaven; to kiss the cross, to bless God for the cross, and to glorify God under the cross. 'Happy is that soul, and to be equalled with angels, who is willing to suffer, if it were possible, as great things for Christ, as Christ has suffered for it,' said Jerome.
13. The thirteenth property of a humble soul is this— It seeks not, it looks not after great things. A little will satisfy nature, less will satisfy grace, but nothing will satisfy a proud man's lusts. 'Lord,' says the humble soul, 'if thou wilt but give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, thou shalt be my God. Let the men of the world take the world in all its greatness and glory, and divide it among themselves; let me have much of Christ and heaven in my heart, and food convenient to support my natural life, and it shall be enough.' When men are cast down then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person, or, as the Hebrew hath it, him that hath low eyes; denoting to us, that a humble soul looks not after high things. So in Psalm cxxxi. 1, 2. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: But how do you know that David? why, says he, I do not exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high, or too wonderful for me. Surely, I behaved and quieted myself, My soul is as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even. as a weaned child. As a great shoe fits not a little foot,' nor a great sail a little ship, nor a great ring a little finger, so'a great estate fits not a humble soul.
It was a prudent speech of that Indian king Taxiles, to the invading Alexander, 'What should we need to fight and. make war one with another, if thou comest not to take away our water and our necessaries by which we must live: as for other goods, if I be richer than thou, I am, ready to give thee of mine; and if I have less, I will not think scorn to thank thee if thou wilt give me some of thine.' O but proud Absalom cannot be content to be the king's son, unless he may have the crown presently from his father's head. Caesar can abide no superiour; nor Pompey an equal. A proud soul is content with nothing. A crown could not content Ahab, but he must have Naboth's vineyard, though he swim to it in blood. Diogenes had more content with his tub, to shelter him from the injuries of the weather, and with his wooden dish to eat and drink in; than Alexander had with the conquest of half the world; and the fruition of all the treasures, pleasures, and glories of Asia. So a humble soul is more contented and satisfied with Daniel's pulse, and John's coat, than proud princes are with their glittering crowns and golden sceptres.
14. The fourteenth property of a humble soul is this— It can rejoice in the graces and gracious actions of others, as well as in its own. A humble Moses could say, when Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them. So humble Paul, in Acts xxvi. 29; And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. 'I heartily wish and pray for thine own sake, that not only in a low, but in an eminent degree, both thou and all that are here present, were as far Christians as I am: only I would not wish them imprisoned, as I am.' A humble soul is no churl; there is no envy in spiritual things; one may have as much of spirituals as another, and all alike. So in 1 Thess. i. 2,3; Wegive thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing, your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our father. So in 2 Thess. i. 2—4. Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all towards each other aboundeth: so that we ourselves glory in you, in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure. Ezekiel can commend Daniel his contemporary, matching him with Noah and Job for his power in prayer: and Peter