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humble. The silver dews flow down from the mountains to the lowest valleys. Abraham was but dust and ashes in his own eyes; but saith God, Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I will do?' 'No, I will not.' A humble soul shall be both of God's court, and his counsel too. • Humble Jacob, that was in his own eyes less than the least of all mercies, what a glorious vision had he of God, when the ground was his bed, and the stone his pillow, and the hedges his curtains, aud the heavens his canopy! Then he saw angels ascend and descend. A humble soul that lies low, O what sights of God has he, what glory does he behold, when the proud soul sees nothing! He that is in the low pits and caves of the earth, sees the stars in the firmament, when they who are upon the tops of the mountains, discern them not. God pours in grace to the humble, as men pour in liquor into an empty vessel. He does not drop in grace into an humble heart, but he pours it in.
The altar under the law was hollow to receive the fire, the wood, and the sacrifice; so the hearts of men under the gospel must be humble, empty of all spiritual pride and self-conceitedness, that so they may receive the fire of the Spirit, and Jesus Christ, who offered himself for a sacrifice for our sins.
Humility is both a grace, and a vessel to receive grace. There are none that see so much need of grace, as humble souls; there are none that prize grace, like humble souls; there are none that improve grace, like humble souls: therefore God singles out the humble soul to fill him to the brim with, grace, when the proud is sent empty away; Motive 2. Of all garments humility doth best become Christians, and most adorn their profession.
Faith is the champion of grace, and love the nurse; but humility is the beauty of grace. Be clothed with humility. The Greek word imports, that humility is the ribbon or string that ties together all those precious pearls, the rest of the graces. If this string break, they are all scattered. The Greek word that is rendered clothed, comes from another Greek word that signifies to knit and tie knots, as delicate and curious women use to do with ribbons, to adorn their heads and bodies; as if humility were the knot of every virtue, the grace of every grace. Chrysostom calls humility the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and band of all virtue. Basil calls it the storehouse and treasury of all good. What is the scandal and reproach of religion at this day? Nothing more than the pride of professors. Is not this the language of most men? 'They are great professors, but very proud; they are great hearers; they will run from sermon to sermon, and cry up this man, and cry up that man, O but proud. They are great talkers, O but as proud as the devil.' O that you would take the counsel of the apostle! Be clothed with humility. Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, Col. iii. 12. No robes equal to these.
Motive 3. The third motive is this,—humility is a milestone that draws both the heart of God and man to it.
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, Isai. lvii. 15. The Lord singles out the humble soul of all others, to make him an habitation for himself. Here is a wonder; God is on high, and yet the higher a man lifts up himself, the farther he is from God; and the lower a man humbles himself, the nearer he is to God. Of all souls God delights most to dwell with the humble, for they do most prize and best improve his precious presence.
A man's pride shall bring him low, but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit, Prov. xxix. 23. By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honour, Prov. xxii. 4. The Hebrew is, the heel of humility. Riches and honour follow humility at the very heels. One of the ancients used to say, that humility is the first, second, and third grace of a Christian. Humility is a very drawing grace; it draws man to think well and speak well of Christ, the gospel, and the people of God; it makes the very world to say, 'These are Christians indeed; they are full of light, and yet full of lowliness; they are high in worth, and yet humble in heart. O these are the crown and glory of religion.' An humble soul is like the violet, that by its fragrant smell draws the eye and the heart of others to it. They are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He that is least in his own account, is always greatest in God's and in good men's account.
Motive 4. The fourth motive is this—consider, all the world cannot keep him up, that doth not keep down his own spirit.
One asked a philosopher what God was doing; he answered, that his whole work was to lift up the humble, and to cast down the proud. That man cannot possibly be kept up, whose spirit is not kept down, as you may clearly see in Pharaoh, Haman, Herod, and Nebuchadnezzar; all the world could not keep them up, because their spirit was not kept down. A man's pride shall bring him low; for it sets God against him, and angels against him, and men against him, yea, even those that are as proud as himself. It is very observable, that whereas one drunkard loves another, one swearer loves another, and one thief loves another, and one unclean person loves another, yet one proud person cannot endure another, but seeks to undermine him, that he alone may bear the bell, and carry the commendations, the praise, the promotion. It is said of the Romans, who were the proudest people on the earth, that they reckoned it a parcel of their praise, that they brought down the proud. All the world will not keep up those persons, that do not keep down their spirits.
Proud Valerian, the Roman emperor, fell from being an emperor, to be a footstool to Sapov, king of Persia, as oft as he took horse. Henry the fourth, emperor, in sixtytwo battles had generally the better, and yet was deposed, and driven to that misery, that he desired only a clerkship in a house at Spira that he himself had built. And O that professors would think of this in these days in which we live! All the world shall not keep up those who do not keep down their own spirits. The very design of God is to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt the honorable of the earth; therefore now if men in our days will grow proud and high under mercies and divine appearances, justice will be above them, and turn their glory into shame, and lay their honour in the dust. If your blood rises with your outward good, you will certainly fall, and great will be your fall.
Motive 5. The fifth consideration to provoke us to be humble is this—let us have always our eye fixed upon the example of Jesus Christ, and his humble and lowly carriage.
Christ by his own example labours to provoke his disciples to keep humble, and to walk lowly. In John xiii. 4. he rises and washes his disciples' feet; and mark what he aims at in that carriage of his. Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am; if I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. "I have given you an example," saith Christ, ' and I would have you to imitate my example.' Example is the most powerful rhetoric; the highest and noblest example should he very quickening and provoking. o you have the greatest, the noblest example of humility, that was ever read or heard of. Upon consideration of this great and eminent example of Christ's humility, Gnericus, a good man, cried out, 'Thou hast overcome me, O Lord; thou hast overcome my pride; this example of thine hath mastered me.' O that we could say with this good man, ' Thou hast overcome, O Lord; thou hast overcome our proud hearts; by this example thou hast overmastered our lofty spirits.'
This example of Christ's humility, you have further set forth, in Phil. ii. 6. Who being in the form of God, that is, in the nature and essence of God, being very God, clothed with divine glory and majesty as God, thought it not robbery, it being his right by nature, to be equal with God. The Greek words that are rendered he thought it not robbery, import, He made it not a matter of triumph or ostentation to be equal with God, it being his right by nature, and therefore the challenging of it could be no usurpation of another's right, of taking to himself that which was not his own. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God; the Greek is equals, that is, every way equal; not a secondary and inferior God, as the Arians would have him. But made himself of no reputation; the Greek is emptied himself; that is, he suspended and laid aside his glory and majesty, or disrobed himself of his glory and dignity, and became a sinner, both by imputation and by reputation, for our sakes. He humbled himself. This Sun of righteousness went ten degrees back in the dial of his Father, that he might come to us with healing under his wings. And became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In these words there is a kind of gradation; for it is more to become obedient, than to humble himself; and more to yield unto death, than to become obedient; and yet more to be crucified, than simply to die; for it was to submit himself to a most painful, ignominious, and cursed death. He became obedient, that is, saith Beza, 'to his dying day;' his whole life being nothing but a continual death.
I have read of an earl called Eleazarus, who being given to immoderate anger, was cured of that disordered affection by studying Christ and his patience; he still dwelt upon the meditation of Christ and his patience, till he found his heart transformed into the similitude of Jesus Christ. And O that you would never leave pondering upon that glorious example of Christ's humility, till your hearts be made humble, like the heart of Christ! O that that sweet word of Christ might stick in all your hearts! Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. Bonaventure engraved this sweet saying of our Lord, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, in his study; and O that this saying were engraven upon all your foreheads, upon all your hearts. O that it were engraven upon the dishes you eat in, the cups you drink in, the seats you sit on, the beds you lie on.
Jerome having read the religious life and death of Hilaron, folding up the book, said, ' Well, Hilaron shall be the champion whom I will imitate.' O when you look upon this glorious example of Christ, say, ' The Lord Jesus, his example shall be that which my soul shall imitate.'
Motive 6. Consider, Humility will free a man from perturbations and distempers.
When there are never such great storms without, humi