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persecution and reproach ; saying, with Joseph, in the hour of temptation, “ How can we do this great wickedness, and sin against Godb!”
4. But it is morally certain, on the contrary, that all, in whose hearts the fear of God does not predominate, “will fall into various temptations and snares of Satan, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition'." Of the truth of this position, no other proofs need be adduced, than the profligacy and corruption of some, and the carelessness and irreligion of others.
Cherish this grace in your bosoms. It is the best preservative from sin, and a faithful guardian of the soul.
5. They who do not possess it, should have it implanted in their souls, as the most powerful incentive to a holy life, and as a guide to a happy death and immortality. Gen. xxxix. 9.
11 Tim. vi 9.
Mat. v. 4. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the
kingdom of Heaven. 1. This is a Divine grace, which is essential to the Christian character, and stamps a peculiar excellency on it. By humility, I mean a judgment formed of our character and conduct agreeably to the word of God; which instructs us to entertain a proper sense of our wickedness, corruption, and weakness.
A believer often exhibits to his own mind a view of the greatness and Majesty of God, and the comparative meanness of all created things in His sight.
“He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. Behold! the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance : behold! he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” This conception of the glorious power and immensity of the Lord, together with a recollection that his being, as well as every thing which he possesses, was first received and is now held in dependence on him, abates the self-importance and self-exaltation of a believer, and makes him feel himself to be as nothing before the infinite Creator.
2. A comparison of his conduct with the perfect Law of God has a humiliating tendency. The Christian sees that this holy rule of life and manners condemns every deviation from the will of God, even in thought and inclination, as a sin deserving his anger. Thus, a review of every part of his past and present conduct will suggest reasons for self-abasement. He knows that every benefit lays him under a fresh obligation to glorify God, and that every talent demands a suitable improvement. And when he reflects that he inust shortly “ give an account of his stewardship5;" and, at the same time, is conscious of not having made just returns to his generous Benefactor, and of not having made due improvement of his time and advantages; instead of being tempted to indulge in pride, he covers himself with shame and confusion, saying, “ O Lord, pardon me! for I am an unprofitable servant."
3. Further: he discovers a mixture of sin and defilement even in his best duties and services; and hence he feels his need of repentance, of mercy, and of the atoning blood of Christ, in every
action of Isa. xl. 15-23. :.
Luke xvi. 2.
prayers for for
his life. He dares not even venture before the mercy-seat of God to offer
bis giveness, nor indulge a hope of happiness, but in the name of Christ, His beloved Son. Indeed, he is convinced that " it is of the Lord's mercies he is not consumed, because His compassions fail noto.
How can they who live under the influence of such sentiments have any other feelings, respecting themselves and their performances, than those of the deepest humility? Whatever difference Christians perceive in themselves from the world around them, they are led to attribute to a Divine influence on their minds ; so that they see cause enough for gratitude to God, but none for pride and self-complacency.
4. Again: a believer is humbled when he compares his behaviour with the perfect example of Christ, and the requisitions of the Gospel. He does not find in himself that ardent love to God and man, that devotion to his glory, that meekness and charity and holiness so observable in his Saviour; nor does he exercise, in the degree required of him, those active and passive graces for which he should labour to be distinguished. The discoveries which he makes of his short-comings, his numerous defects, omissions, and actual sins, force him to lie constantly at the footstool of his Maker, and to cry out, Behold, I am viled!”'
“Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord! for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
5. Moreover, a conviction of his ignorance produces the same poverty of mind. He knows, by experience, that he is prone to mistake, even in matters of the highest concern to his soul. He, therefore, confesses his want of wisdom; and is most
• Lam, iii. 22, 23. Job xl. 4. • Psalm cxliii. 2.
ready to ask it of God, with simplicity and fervency; saying, “ O God, I am unable to guide myself ; for I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man, that walketh, to direct his steps ?." Do Thou, therefore, undertake to instruct and lead me. “ What I see not, teach Thou me."
And though a Believer, thus taught of God, will not “ call any man master on earth,” or implicitly adopt all the opinions of any uninspired person, but refer every instruction, doctrine, and counsel, to the word of truth ; yet he will always be desirous to learn, even from an inferior, or froin his enemies themselves, if he can but obtain the light and information which he seeks.
6. Again; a Christian is deeply sensible of his own weakness. Conscious of his inability to keep himself, he will say,.', Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe b.”.“ Lead me not into temptation.” “Hold
up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip noti.". Indeed, his past errors and failings have convinced him that he has no power in himself, either to resist temptation, face dangers, endure tribulations, or perform duties ; "and
that he can only be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might ii.”
7. The same temper manifests itself in his conduct towards his brethren. Whilst he judges himself severely for his own faults, he will be candid in estimating the opinions and conduct of his brethren. Agreeably to the Apostle's maxim," he will esteem others better than himself," " in honour preferring them.” Thús, instead of aspiring to pre-eminence, he will occupy the lowest place, rather than stand in f Jer. x. 23.
& Job xxxiv. 32.. Psalm cxix. 117, i Psalm xvii. 5. Ephes. vi. 10.
* Phil. ii. 3. 'Rom. xii. 10.
the way of those who are wiser and better than himself.
8. Now, as every branch of the Christian temper and character depends on this, and springs from it as its proper root, it is, on this very account, highly commended in Scripture. “All of you, be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility ; for God résisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time".” According to this exhortation, pride, ambition, self-exaltation, boasting, and contempt of others, should be put away, as inconsistent with the spirit of godliness. And a deep sense of our depravity, failings, and liability to err and backslide, should produce within us that poor and contrite spirit, “which, in the sight of God, is of great price. This divine temper will keep us low in our own estimation, which is really necessary; for as man fell by pride, he must rise again by humility.
á 1 Pet. v. 5, 6.
ON SUBMISSION TO GOD.
I Sam. ii. 18. And he said, It is the Lord : let Him do what
seemeth him good. He, who made all things, and governs them by the dispensations of His will, is entitled to our highest confidence and esteem. All His ways are righteous. It is fit, therefore, that we should implicitly yield up ourselves to His wise directions. “ Submit your selves to God'," is the command of Scripture.
• James iv. 7.