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he remembers his former blasphemies. So in Rom. vii. 23; I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. He had been at this time about fourteen years converted, as some judge. He was a man that lived at as high a rate in God, as any we read of; a man that was filled with glorious discoveries and revelations; and yet under all discoveries and revelations, he remembers that body of sin and death that made him cry out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me! 'Who shall ease me of my burden, who shall knock off these chains that make my life a hell?' Chrysostom observes it of Paul as his greatest honour, that although he had obtained pardon of God for his sins, yet he is not ashamed to reckon them up to the world. I will by a few instances prove the other branch. I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, says Jacob, for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands, Gen. xxxii. 10. 'I remember,' says he, 'when I went over Jordan, I was as a footman that carried all his wealth with him.' Under his outward greatness, he forgets not his former meanness. An humble soul is good at looking back upon his former low estate, upon his threadbare coat that was his best and only robe. So David. And David the King came and sat before the Lord, and said, What am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto 1 And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the state of a man of high degree; 1 Chron. xvii. 16, 17. Who am I, 0 Lord God, and what is mine house? David remembered the meanness of his birth; he remembered his shepherd's crook, as Jacob did his travelling staff. Mercies make an humble soul glad, but not proud. An humble soul is lowest when his mercies are highest; he is least when he is greatest; he is lowest when he is highest; he is most poor when he is most rich. Nothing melts like mercy; nothing draws like mercy; nothing humbles like mercy. Mercy gives the humble soul such excellent counsel, as Plasilla, the empress, gave her hus
band Theodosius; 'Remember, O husband,' said she, •. what lately you were, and what now you are, so shall you govern well the empire, and give God his due praise for so great an advancement.' The voice of mercy is, 'Remember what lately thou wert, and what now thou art, and be humble.' Now proud men, that are lifted up from the dunghill, that abound in wordly wealth, O how does their blood rise with their outward good! The more mercies they have, the more proud they are: mercies do but puff and swell such souls. In a crowd of mercies, they cry out in the pride of their hearts, Depart from us, 0 God, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? and what profit shall we have, if we pray unto him?
2. A second property of a humble soul is this—he overlooks his own righteousness, and lives upon the righteousness of another, the Lord Jesus. So the apostle overlooks his own righteousness, and lives wholly upon the righteousness of Christ. I desire to be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, (away with it; it is dross, it is dung, it is a rotten righteousness, an imperfect righteousness, a weak righteousness) which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. That is a spotless righteousness, a pure righteousness, a compleat righteousness, an incomparable righteousness; and therefore an humble soul overlooks his own righteousness, and lives upon Christ's righteousness. Remember this—all the sighing, mourning, sobbing, and complaining in the world, do not so undeniably evidence a man to be humble, as his overlooking his own righteousness, and living really and purely upon the righteousness of Christ. This is the greatest demonstration of humility that can be shewn by man. Men may do much, hear much, pray much, fast much, and give much, and yet be as proud as Lucifer, as you may see in the scribes, pharisees, and those in Isaiah lviii. 3, who in the pride of their hearts made an idol of their own righteousness. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest it not? Wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge? 0 but for a man to trample upon his own righteousness, and to live wholly upon the righteousness of another, this speaks out a man to be humble indeed. There is nothing that the heart of man stands more averse to than this, of coming off from his own righteousness. Man is a creature apt to warm himself with the sparks of his own fire, though he doth lie down for it in eternal sorrow. Man is naturally prone to go about to establish his own righteousness, that he may not subject himself to the righteousness of Christ; he will labour as for life, to lift up his own righteousness, and to make a Saviour of it. But a humble soul disclaims his own righteousness, All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. So Job, Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my Judge, Job. ix. 15. Proud pharisees bless themselves in their own righteousness. I thank God that I am not as this publican; I fast twice in the week. A proud heart eyes more his seeming worth, than his real want. But a soul truly humbled blushes to see his own righteousness, and glories in this, that he has the righteousness of Christ to live upon,; Rev. iv. 10,11, the twenty-four elders throw down their crowns at the feet of Christ. By their crowns you may understand their gifts, their excellencies, their righteousness; they throw down these before Christ's throne, to denote to us, that they did not put confidence in them, and that Christ was the crown of crowns, and the top of all their royalty and glory. An humble soul looks upon Christ's righteousness as his only crown.
3. The lowest and the meanest good work is not below a humble soul. A humble David will dance before the ark: he enjoyed so much of God in it, that it caused him to leap and dance before it: but Michal his wife despised him for a fool, and counted him as a simple vain fellow, looking upon his carriage as vain and light, and not becoming the might, majesty and glory of so glorious a Prince. Well, says this humble soul, If this be to be vile, I will be wore vile.
Great Paul, being yet humble and low in his own eyes, can stoop to do service to the least and meanest saint; For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law: to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak, I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means gain some. 1 Cor. ix. 19—22. Here you have a humble soul bowing and stooping to the meanest saints and the lowest services, that he might win souls. So the Lord Jesus himself was famous in this, John xiii. 4. Though he was the Lord of glory, and one that thought it no robbery to be equal with God, one that had all perfection and fulness in himself, yet the lowest work is not below this King of kings. Witness his washing his disciples' feet, and wiping them with a towel.
Bonaventure, though he was born of great parentage and was a great scholar, yet to keep his mind from swelling, he would often sweep rooms, wash vessels, and make beds.
So that famous Italian marquis, when God was pleased by the ministry of his word to convert him, the lowest work was not below him. Though he might have lived like a king in his own country, yet having tasted of that life and sweet that was in Jesus, he was so humble that he would go to market, and carry home the meanest and the poorest things the market yielded. There was nothing below him, when God had changed him and humbled him.
It is recorded to the glory of some ancient generals, that they were able- to call every common soldier by his own name, and. were careful to provide money, not only for their captains and soldiers, but litter also for the meanest beast. There is not the lowest good that is below the humble soul. If the work be good, though never so low, humility will put a hand to it; so will not pride.
4. A fourth property of a humbled heart is this—a humble heart will submit to every truth of God, that is made known to it; even to those divine truths, that are most cross to flesh and blood. In 1 Sam. iii. 17, Eli would fain know what God had discovered to Samuel concerning him. Samuel tells him, that he must break his neck, that the priesthood must be taken away from him, and that his sons must be slain in the war. It is the Lord, says he, let him do what seemeth him good. So in Lev. x. the Lord by fire from heaven destroys Aaron's two sons. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. If God miss of his honour one way, he will rain fire out of heaven, but he will have it another way. This Aaron knew, and therefore he held his peace, when God shewed himself to be a consuming fire. The Hebrew word that is here rendered peace, signifies the quietness and silence of his mind. He did not hold his tongue only, for many a man may hold his tongue, and yet his mind and heart may kick and swell against God; but his very mind was quiet and still: there was a heavenly calm in his spirit; he was dumb and silent because the Lord had done it. So in Acts x. 33; We are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. We are not here to hear what may tickle our ears, or please our fancies, or satisfy our lusts; no, but we are here to hear what God will say. Our hearts stand ready pressed to subject themselves to whatever God shall declare to be his will. We are willing to hear, that we may do; that we may obey sincerely and universally the good pleasure of our God, knowing that it is as well our dignity as our duty so to do.
There are three things in a humble soul, that do strongly incline it to duty :—the
First is divine love; the
Second is divine presence; the
Third is divine glory.
The dove made use of her wings to flee to the ark; so does a humble soul of his duties to flee to Christ. Though the dove did use her wings, yet she did not trust in her wings,"but in the ark; so though a humble soul does use duties, yet he does not trust in his duties, but in his Jesus. But now proud hearts hate the truth. They cry out, Who is the Lord that we should obey him? And what are