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crucified Christ is not in all their thoughts. Not but that you are to hear, pray, watch, and resolve against your sins; but, above all, you should look to the acting of faith upon a crucified Christ. As he said of the sword of Goliah, None like to that; so I say, none like to this for the bringing under the pride of men's hearts. The weaker the house of Saul grew, the stronger the house of David grew. The weakening of your pride will be the increase and strengthening of your humility; and therefore what the king of Syria said unto his fifty captains, Fight neither with small, nor great, but with the king of Israel; so say I; if you would keep humble, if you would lie low, draw forth your artillery, place your greatest strength against the pride of your souls. The death of pride, will be the resurrection of humility.
And that this may stick upon you, I shall lay down several propositions concerning pride; and I am so much the more willing to fall upon this work, and to make it the subject of our discourse at this time, because this horrid sin doth appear so boldly and impudently; and that not only among profane persons, but professors also. There are ten Propositions that I shall lay down concerning pride.
Prop. 1. And the first is this—of all sins, pride is most dangerous to the souls of men. Pride is a sin that will put the soul upon the worst of sins. Pride is a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague. It is the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, the turner of medicines into maladies, and remedies into diseases. It is the original and root of most of those notorious vices that are to be found among the children of men. It was pride that put Herod upon seeking the blood of Christ. It was pride that put the pharisees upon the persecuting of Christ. It was pride that made Athaliah destroy all the seed royal of the house of Judah, that she might reign, 2 Chron.xxii. 10. It was pride that put Joab upon murdering perfidiously, under colour of friendship, Abner, 2 Sam. iii. 27; and Amasa, 2 Sam. xx. 9, 10. Zimri, out of ambition to reign, murdered Elah, his lord, 1 Kings xvi. 8—10. Omri, out of pride and ambition to reign, rose up against Zimri, and enforced him to burn himself in the king's palace, 1 Kings xvi. 18. It is pride that hath ushered in all the contentions that be in towns, cities, countries, families, and pulpits, throughout the world. It was pride and ambition to reign, that put Absalom upon pursuing his father's life, from whom he had received life.
It is very remarkable, that the pride and ambition of Nebuchadnezzar, did usher in the destruction of the Assyrian monarchy; and the ambition and pride of Cyrus, that did usher in the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy; and the ambition and pride of Alexander was the cause of the annihilation of the Persian monarchy; and it was the pride and ambition of the Roman commanders, that was the cause of the utter subversion of the Grecian monarchy. There is no tongue that can express, nor heart that can conceive, the horrid sins and miseries that pride hath ushered in among the children of men. All sin will go down with a proud heart, that is resolved to rise. Great sins are no sins with such a soul; he makes nothing of those very sins that would make the very heathen blush.
Prop. 2.. Where pride has possessed itself thoroughly of the soul, it turns the heart into steel, yea, into a rock; as you may see in Pharaoh. Pride turned his heart into steel, yea, into a very rock. God strikes again and again; he sends plague upon plague; and yet the more he is plagued, the more he is hardened. His pride turned his soul into a rock; he was no more sensible of the frowns of God, the threatenings of God, the plagues, the strokes of God, than a rock. Pride had hardened his heart; he stirs not, he yields not.
It was the pride of Saul that turned his heart into steel, I have sinned, says he, yet honour me before my people, 1 Sam. xv. 30. God gave him many a blow, many a knock, and many a check; and yet after all, Honour me before my people, O how desperately was his heart hardened in pride I Belshazzar's mind was hardened in pride, Dan. v. 18—31. He saw the vengeance of the Almighty upon his predecessors, and God took him up and lashed him till the blood came; and yet he made nothing of it, because his heart was hardened in pride. Pride sets a man in opr position against God. Other sins are aversions from God, but this sin is a coming against God. In other sins a man flies from God, but in this sin a man flies upon God. God resisteth the proud, James iv. 6. A man does not resist another, till he is set upon; the traveller does not resist, till such time as the thief sets upon him. This text, God resisteth the proud, intimates thus much to us, that the proud heart sets upon God himself, and therefore God resists him. The Greek word is, he places himself in battle array against the proud. God brings forth his battalia against the proud, and they bring forth their battalia against God. A proud heart resists, and is resisted, this is flint to flint, fire to fire; yet in the day of God's wrath, the proud shall be burnt up as stubble, both branch and root.
Prop. 3. Pride is a sin that shails forth and shews itself, not one way, but many ways. For instance: sometimes it shews itself in the looks. In Prov. vi. 16, Solomon tells you of seven things that the Lord hates, and one is a proud look. The Hebrew word there is, the haughty eye. The haughty eye God hates. Men's hearts usually shew themselves in their eyes. My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, Psalm cxxxi. 1. There be such who shew pride in their very looks, but the Lord looks aloof at them, Psalm cxxxviii. 6.
Sometimes pride shews itself in word. Is not this great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? Daniel iv. 30. And again hi. 15; Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? It was a very proud saying of one, ' I will not have heaven, but at a rate;' and of another, ' We have not so lived, and deserved of God, that the enemy should vanquish us.' These were the proud ones, that spake loftily, and that set their mouths against the heavens, as the psalmist speaks, Psalm lxxiii. 6—9. And such a one was Henry the second; hearing that his city Mentz was taken, he used this proud blasphemous speech, 'I shall never love God anymore, that suffered a city so dear to me, to be taken away from me.' Such a proud wretch, both in words and actions, was Sennacherib, as you may see in Isaiah xxxvii. 8—13.
Sometimes pride shews itself in the habit of the body. So Herod's pride appeared, Acts xii. 21; Herod was arrayed in royal apparel; in cloth of silver, says Josephus, which being beaten upon by the sun-beams, dazzled the people's eyes, and drew from them that blasphemous acclamation, It is the voice of a God, and not of a man. So the rich man in Luke xvi. 19. was clothed in purple and in silk. He was commonly so clothed; it was his every-day wear, as the Greek word implies.
But here a question may be asked, May not persons habit themselves according to the dignities, ranks, and places, that God hath put them in, in the world? I answer, they may and ought so to do. If God has lifted them up in the world above others, they may wear better apparel than others, Gen. xli. 42; Esth. vi. 8; Psal. xlv. 13, 14; 2 Sam. xiii. 18; Lam. iv. 5; Matt. xi. 8; Gen. xxvii. 15; Isa. lii. 1; Hos. ii, 13; Exod. xxviii. 40. I cite these scriptures so much the rather, because some through weakness and peevishness stumble, and are not satisfied herein. There is nothing in the law of God or nature against it.
But you may say, May not persons sin in their apparel? I answer, yes, and that in four cases—when it is not modest, but carries with it provocation to lust and wantonness. There met the young man a woman in the attire of an harlot, Prov. vii. 10. The Hebrew word signifies a habit or ornament finely set and fitted to the body. O what a horrid shame and reproach is it to religion, the ways of God, and the people of God, that professors should go so! One says that superfluous apparel is worse than whoredom, because whoredom only corrupts chastity, but this corrupts nature. Another says,' If women adorn themselves so as to provoke men to sin, though no ill follow upon it, yet those women shall suffer eternal damnation, because they offered poison to others, though none could drink of it.'
Persons sin in their apparel, when they exceed their degree and rank in costly apparel, which is that which is condemned by the apostle, 1 Tim. ii. 9; 1 Pet. hi. 3. The apostle does not simply comdemn the wearing of gold, but he condemns it in those that go above their degree and rank. The words are rather an admonition than a prohi< bition. \
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It is sinful, when it is so expensive as that it hinders works of mercy and charity. O how many proud souls are there in these days, that lay so much upon their backs, that they can spare nothing to fill the poor. 'Silk quenches the fire of the kitchen,' says the French proverb. The meaning is, that it hinders works of charity and mercy. Surely those that put such costly ornaments upon their backs as close up the hand of charity, will at last share with Dives in his misery.
Persons sin when they habit themselves in strange and foreign fashions, which is the sin, shame, and reproach, of many among us in these days. Now that is strange apparel which is not peculiar to the nations where men live. The Lord threatens to punish such, Zehp. i. 8, that are clothed with strange apparel. There are too many women and men in our days, that are like the Egyptian temples, very gypsies, painted without and spotted within, varnish without and vermin within. 'Mercury being to make a garment for the moon, as one says, could never fit her, but either the garment would be too big or too little, by reason she was always increasing or decreasing. May not this be applied to the vain curiosity of too many professors in these days, whose curiosity about their clothes can never be satisfied.
I shall conclude. this head with this counsel, clothe yourselves with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, and with the purple of modesty, and God himself will be a suitor to you. Let not the ornaments upon your backs speak out the vanity of your hearts.
Sometimes pride shews itself by the gesture and carriage of the body. In Isa. iii, 16, the daughters of Sion are haughty, and walk with stretched-uut necks, and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a tinkling with their feet. O earth, earth, dost thou not groan to bear such monsters as these?
And sometimes pride shews itself in contemptuous challenges of God; as Pharaoh's, Who is the God of the Hebrews, that I should obey him?
Sometimes pride shews itself by bragging promises; I will pursue; I will overtake; I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them, Exod. xv. 9.