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Uty will cause a calm within. There are a great many storms abroad, and there is nothing will put the soul into a quiet condition, but humility. A humble soul says, 'Who am I, that I may not be despised? Who am I, that I may not be reproached, abused, slighted, neglected,' That which will break a proud man's heart, will not so much as break a humble man's sleep. In the midst of a storm, a humble soul is still in a calm. When proud hearts are at their wits' ends, stamping, swearing, and swaggering at God, and man, and providence, a humble soul is quiet and still, like a ship in a harbour. Shimei comes railing and cursing at David, and calls him a bloody man, and a man of Belial, that is a renegado, one who being desperately wicked had shaken off the yoke of government, and would be under no law: so the Hebrew word signifies, a man without yoke or lawless: therefore the septuagint commonly translates it, altogether irregular; it signifies men most flagitious, and notoriously and desperately wicked, stigmatized villains, even incarnate devils, and yet David holds his peace, though provoked by his mighty men to revenge himself. O how would this cursing and railing have maddened and broken many a proud man's heart, and yet it stirs not David.
Fulgentius after he was extremely persecuted, had an advantage to seek revenge, but he would not, for, said he, 'We must suffer more for Christ than this.' 'What, though I am thus and thus wronged? What, though I have an opportunity of revenge? Yet I must suffer more than this for Christ,' says the humble soul. A humble soul, when wrongs are offered him, is like a man with a sword in one hand and a salve in the other, he could kill, but will cure.
One wondering at the patience and humble carrriage of Socrates towards one that reviled him, Socrates said, ' If we should meet one whose body were more unsound than ours, should we be angry with him, and not rather pity him? Why then should we not do the like to him, whose soul is more diseased than ours?' A humble soul, when he meets with this and that wrong from men, knows that their souls are diseased, and that rather moves him to pity, than to revenge wrongs offered. A proud. heart swells and grows big, when in the least wronged, and is ready to call for fire from heaven, and to take any opportunity for revenge of wrongs offered. 'No man so abused as I; no man thus styled as I,' says the proud soul. O but a humble soul in patience possesses himself, in all trials and storms.
Gallesius observes upon Exod. xxii. 28. the patience and humble carriage of those three emperors, Theodosius, Honorius, and Arcadius, toward those that spake evil of them. They would have them subject to no punishment; for they said,' If it comes from lightness of spirit, it is to be condemned ; if from madness, it is worthy of pity; if from injury, it is to be forgiven; for injuries and wrongs are to be pardoned.' And this is the true temper of a humble soul, and by this he enjoys peace and quiet in the midst of all earth-quakes and heart-quakes.
Motive 7. The seventh consideration is this—consider humility exalteth.
He that is most humble is and shall be most exalted and most honoured. No way to be high like this of being low. Moses was the meekest man on earth, and God made him the most honourable, calling him up unto him, self into the mount, making known his glory unto him, and making of him the leader of his people Israel. Gideon was very little in his own eyes; he was the least in his father's house in his own apprehension, and God exalts him, making him the deliverer of his Israel.
It was a good saying of one ' Wilt thou be great? Begin from below.' As the roots of the tree descend, so the branches ascend. The lower any man is in this sense, the higher shall that man be raised, Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased: and he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted, Matt, xxiii. 12, God, who is wisdom itself, hath said it, and he will make it good, though thou seest no way how it should be made good. The lowest valleys have the blessing of fruitfulness, while the high mountains are barren. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility, Prov. xviii. 12. David came not to the kingdom till he could truly say, "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty."
No. XL. E
Abigail was not made David's wife till she thought it honour enough to wash the feet of the meanest of David's servants. Moses must be forty years a stranger in Midian, before he become king in Jeshurun; he must be struck sick to death in the inn, before he go to Pharaoh on that noble embassage.
It was a sweet observation of Luther,.' That for the most part when God set him upon any special service for the good of the church, he was brought low by some fit of sickness or other.' Surely, as the lower the ebb, the higher the tide; so the lower any descend in humility, the higher they shall ascend in honour and glory. The lower this foundation of humility is laid, the higher shall the roof of honour be overlaid. . If you would turn spiritual purchasers of honour, or of whatsoever else is good, no way like this of humility. We live in times wherein men labour to purchase honour; some by their money; others by their friends; others by making themselves slaves to the lusts of men; others by being prodigal of their blood; and many by giving themselves up to all manner of baseness and wickedness, whereby their carnal ends may be attained, and themselves exalted; but these men and their honour will quickly be laid in the dust. O but the readiest, the surest, the safest, the sweetest way to attain to true honour, is to be humble, to lie low. Humility makes a man precious in the eye of God, He that is little in his own account, is great in God's esteem.
Motive 8. The eighth and last consideration that I shall propound, is this—consider, humility keeps the soul free from many darts of Satan's casting, and snares of his spreading ; as you may see in the three children in Daniel, and in those worthies in Heb. xi., of whom this world was not worthy. As the lowest shrubs are freed from many violent gusts and blasts of wind which shake and rend the tallest cedars ; so the humble soul is free from a world of temptations that proud and lofty souls are shaken and torn in pieces with. The devil hath least power to fasten a temptation upon a humble soul. He that hath a gracious measure of humility, is neither affected with Satan's proffers, nor terrified with Satan's threatenings. The
golden chain does not allure him, and the iron chain does not daunt him.
I have read of one, who, seeing in a vision many snares of Satan spread upon the earth, sat down and mourned, and said with himself, ' who shall pass through these?' whereupon he heard a voice answering, ' Humility shall pass through them.' A proud heart is as easily conquered as tempted, vanquished as assaulted; but the humble soul, when tempted, says with that worthy convert, ' I am not the man that I was. There was a time when my heart was proud and lifted up; and then thou couldst no sooner knock, but I opened; no sooner call, but I answered; no sooner tempt, but I did assent. O but now the Lord has taught me to be humble. I can resist, though I cannot dispute. I can fight, but not yield.'
A humble soul, being once in a great conflict with Satan, said thus to him, 'Satan, reason not with me, I am but weak; if thou hast any thing to say, say it to Christ; he is my Advocate, my Strength, and my Redeemer; and he shall plead for me.' A humble soul is good at turning Satan over to the Lord Jesus, and this increases Satan's hell. It is reported of Satan, that he should say thus of a learned man, 'Thou dost always overcome me; when I would throw thee down, thou liftest up thyself in assurance of faith, and when I would exalt and promote thee, thou keepest thyself in humility; and so thou art too hard for me.' The only way to avoid cannon-shot is to fall down. No such way to be freed from temptations as to keep low.
And so I have done with the first head; namely, the motives that should move and provoke us to keep humble, to be base, to be nothing in our own eyes.
I shall now come to some helps and directions, that may be useful to keep us humble and low in our own eyes. And the first is this—•
Direct. 1. Dwell much upon the greatness of God's mercy and goodness to you.
Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner like
mercy and love. Souls that converse much with sin and
wrath, may be much terrified; but souls that converse
much with grace and mercy, will be much humbled. In Luke vii. the Lood Jesus shews mercy to a notorious sinner, and then she falls down at his feet, and loves much, and weeps much. It was in the heart of David to build God a house; God would not have him do it; yet the messenger must tell David, that God would build him a house, and establish his son upon the throne for ever. Look into 1 Chron.xvii. 15., and there you will find that David lets fall such a humble speech, as he never did before God sent him that message of advancement. And David the king, came and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, 0 Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And this sweetly and kindly melts him and humbles him before the Lord. O if ever you would have your souls kept low, dwell upon the free grace and love of God to you in Christ. Dwell upon the firstness of his love, dwell upon the freeness of his love, the greatness of his love, the fullness of his love, the unchangeableness of his love, the everlastingness of his love, and the activity of his love. If this do not humble thee, there is nothing on earth will do it. Dwell upon what God has undertaken for you; dwell upon the choice and worthy gifts that he has bestowed on you; and dwell upon that glory and happiness that he has prepared for you; and then be proud if you can.
Direct. 2. Keep faith in continual exercise upon Christ as crucified, and upon Christ as glorified.
There are two special sights of Chist that tend much to humble and abase a soul; the one is a sight of Christ in his misery, Zech. xii. 10.; and the other is a sight of Christ in his glory, Rev. i. 7.; Isa. vi. 1 —5. It is dangerous to be more notion, than motion; to have faith in the head, and none in the heart; to have an idle and not an active faith. It is not enough for you to have faith, but you must look to the acting of your faith upon Christ as crucified, and upon Christ as glorified. Souls much in this will be very little and low in their own eyes. The great reason why the soul is no more humble, is, because faith is no more active. As one scale goes up, the other goes down; so as faith goes up, the heart goes down.