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real sinfulness. It is really no argument of any great conviction of sin, for some men to think themselves sinful, beyond most others in the world; because they are so indeed, very plainly and notoriously he must be very blind indeed not to be sensible of it. But he that is truly under great convictions of sin, naturally thinks, that the cause he has to be sensible of guilt and pollution, is greater than others have; and therefore he ascribes his sensibleness of this, to the greatness of his sin, and not to the greatness of his sensibility. It is natural for one under great convictions, to think himself one of the greatest of sinners. That man is under great convictions, whose conviction is great in proportion to his sin. But no man that is truly under great convictions, thinks his conviction great in proportion to his sin. For if he does, it is a certain sign that he inwardly thinks his sins small. And if that be the case, that is a certain evidence that his conviction is small. And this, by the way, is the main reason, that persons, when under a work of humiliation, are not sensible of it, in the time of it.
And as it is with conviction of sin, just so it is, by parity of reason, with respect to persons' conviction of their own meanness and vileness, their blindness, their impotence, and all that low sense a Christian has of himself, in the exercise of evangelical humiliation. So that in a high degree of this, the saints are never disposed to think their sense of their own meanness, filthiness, impotence, &c. to be great; because it never appears great to them, considering the cause.
An eminent saint is not apt to think himself eminent in any thing; all his graces and experiences appear to him to be comparatively small; but especially his humility. Nothing that appertains to Christian experience, and true piety, is so much out of his sight. He is a thousand times more quick-sighted to discern his pride, than his humility. On the contrary, the deluded hypocrite, who is under the power of spiritual pride, is so blind to nothing as his pride; and so quick-sighted to nothing, as the shews of humility.
The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his own pride than with that of other men. He is apt to put the best construction on others' words and behaviour, and to think that none are so proud as himself. But the proud hypocrite is quick to discern the mote in his brother's eye, in this respect; while he sees nothing of the beam in his own. He is very often crying out of others' pride, finding fault with others' apparel, and way of living; and is affected ten times as much with his neighbour's ring or ribband, as with all the filthiness of his own heart.
From the disposition there is in hypocrites to think highly of their humility, it comes to pass that counterfeit bumility is forward
to put forth itself to view. Those who have it, are apt to be much in speaking of their humiliations, setting them forth in high terms, and making a great outward shew of humility, in affected looks, gestures, manner of speech, meanness of apparel, or some affected singularity. So it was of old with the false prophets, Zech. xiii. 4, so it was with the hypocritical Jews, Is. lvii. 5. and so Christ tells us it was with the Pharisees, Matth. vi. 16. But it is contrariwise with true humility; they who have it, are not apt to display their eloquence in setting it forth, or to speak of the degree of their abasement in strong terms*. It does not affect to shew itself in any singular meanness either of apparel, or way of living; agreeable to what is implied in Matth. vi. 17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. Col. ii. 23. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in willworship and humility, and neglecting of the body. Nor is true humility a noisy thing; it is not loud and boisterous. The scripture represents it as of a contrary nature. Abab, when he had a visible humility, a resemblance of true humility, went softly, 1 Kings, xxi. 27. A penitent, in the exercise of true humiliation, is represented as still and silent, Lam. iii. 28. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. And silence is mentioned as what attends humility; Prov. xxx. 32. If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.
Thus I have particularly and largely shewn the nature of that true humility which attends holy affections, as it appears in its tendency to cause persons to think meanly of their attainments in religion, compared with the attainments of others, and particularly, of their attainments in humility: and have shewn the contrary tendency of spiritual pride, to dispose persons to think their attainments in these respects to be great. I have insisted the longer on this, because I think it a matter of great importance, as it affords a certain distinction between true and counterfeit humility; and also as this disposition of hypocrites-whereby they look on themselves as better than others-is what God has declared to be very hateful to him, a smoke in his nose, and a fire that burneth all the day, Is. lxv. 5. It is mentioned as an instance of pride in the inhabitants of that holy city (as it was called) Jerusalem, that they esteemed themselves far better than the people
It is an cbservation of Mr. Jones, in his excellent treatise of the canon of the New Testament, that the evangelist Mark-who was the companion of St. Peter, and is supposed to have written his gospel under the direction of that apostlewhen he mentions Peter's repentance after his denying his Master, does not use such strong terms to set it forth as the other evangelists; he only uses these words, When he thought thereon, he wept, Mark xiv. 72; whereas the other evangelists say thus, He went out, and wept billerly, Matth. xxvi. 75. Luke xxii. 62.
of Sodom; Ezek. xvi. 36. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.
Let not the reader slightly pass over these things in application to himself. When you imagine, reader, that it is a bad sign for a person to be apt to think himself a better saint than others, take heed lest there arise a blinding prejudice in your own favour. There will probably be need of great strictness of selfexamination, in order to determine whether it be so with you. If you conclude thus, It seems to me, none are so bad as I. Do not let the matter pass off so; but examine again, whether or no you do not think yourself better than others on this very account, because you imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Have not you a high opinion of this humility? If you answer, No; I have not a high opinion of my humility; it seems to me I am as proud as the devil: examine again, whether self-conceit do not rise up under this cover; whether on this very account-that you think yourself as proud as the devil-you do not think yourself to be very humble.
From this opposition between the nature of a true, and of a counterfeit humility, as to the esteem that the subjects of them have of themselves, arises a manifold contrariety of temper and behaviour. A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his righteousness and holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person to be poor in spirit, is to be in his own sense and appre
hension poor, as to what is in him, and to be of an answerable disposition. Therefore a truly humble person, especially one eminently humble, naturally behaves himself in many respects as a poor man. The poor useth entreaties, but the rich answereth roughly. A poor man is not disposed to quick and high resentment when he is among the rich. He is apt to yield to others, for he knows others are above him; nor is he stiff and self-willed. He is patient with hard fare, expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently. He does not take it heinously that he is overlooked, and but little regarded; but is prepared to be in a low place; readily honours his superiors, and takes reproofs quietly. He easily yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over nice or humoursome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian. Humility is (as the great MASTRICHT expresses it) a kind of holy pusillanimity. A man that is very poor is a beggar; so is he that is poor in spirit. This constitutes a great difference between those affections that are gracious, and those that are false under the former, the person continues still a poor beggar
at God's gates, exceeding empty and needy; but the latter make men appear to themselves rich, and increased with goods, and not very necessitous; they have a great stock in their own imagination for their subsistence*.
A poor man is modest in his speech and behaviour; much more, and more certainly and universally, is one that is poor in spirit, humble and modest in his behaviour amongst men. It is in vain for any to pretend that they are humble, and as little children before God, when they are haughty, assuming, and impudent in their behaviour amongst men. The apostle informs us, that the design of the gospel is to cut off all glorying, not only before God, but also before men, Rom. iv. 1, 2. Some pretend to great humiliation, while yet they are very haughty, audacious and assuming in their external appearance and behaviour: but they ought to consider those scriptures, Psal. cxxxi. 1. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Prov. vi. 16, 17. These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, &c.-Chap. xxi. 4. An high look, and a proud heart, are sin. Psal. xviii. 27. Thou wilt bring down high looks. And Psal. ci. 5. Him that hath an high look, and a proud heart, I will not suffer. 1 Cor. xiii. 4. Charity vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly. There is a certain amiable modesty and fear that belongs to a Christian behaviour among men, arising from humility, of which the scripture often speaks; 1 Pet. iii. 15. Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you, with meekness and fear. Rom. xiii. 7. Fear to whom fear. 2 Cor. vii. 15. Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. Eph. vi. 5. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling. 1 Pet. ii. 18. Servants,
"This spirit ever keeps a man poor and vile in his own eyes, and empty.— When the man hath got some knowledge, and can discourse pretty well, and hath some tastes of the heavenly gift, some sweet illapses of grace, and so his conscience is pretty well quieted: and if he hath got some answer to his prayers, and hath sweet affections, he grows full: and having ease to his conscience, casts off sense, and daily groaning under sin. And hence the spirit of prayer dies: he loses his esteem of God's ordinances; feels not such need of them; or gets no good, feels no life or power by them. This is the woful condition of some; but yet they know it not. But now he that is filled with the Spirit, the Lord empties him; and the more, the longer he lives. So that though others think he needs not much grace; yet he accounts himself the poorest.” (Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 132.)
"After all fillings, be ever empty, hungry, and feeling need, and praying for more." (Ibid. p. 151.)
"Truly, brethren, when I see the curse of God upon many Christians, that are now grown full of their parts, gifts, peace, comforts, abilities, duties, I stand adoring the riches of the Lord's mercy, to a little handful of poor believers; not only in making them empty, but in keeping them so all their days." (Shepard's Sound Believer, the late edition in Boston, p. 158, 159.)
be subject to your masters with all fear. 1 Pet. iii. 2. While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 1 Tim. ii. 9. That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety. In this respect a Christian is like a little child; a little child is modest before men, and his heart is apt to be possessed with fear and awe amongst them.
The same spirit will dispose a Christian to honour all men; 1 Pet. ii. 17. Honour all men. A humble Christian is not only disposed to honour the saints in his behaviour; but others also, in all those ways that do not imply a visible approbation of their sins. Thus Abraham, the great pattern of believers, honoured the children of Heth; Gen. xxiii. 11, 12. Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land. This was a remarkable instance of a humble behaviour towards them whom Abraham knew to be accursed; for which cause he would by no means suffer his servant to take a wife to his son, from among them; and for which cause also Esau's wives, being of these children of Heth, were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. So Paul honoured Festus, Acts xxvi. 24. I am not mad, most noble Festus. Not only will Christian humility dispose persons to honour wicked men out of the visible church, but also false brethren and persecutors. Jacob, when he was in an excellent frame-having just been wrestling all night with God, and received the blessinghonoured Esau, his false and persecuting brother: Gen. xxxi. 3. Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother Esau. So he called him lord: and commanded all his family to honour him in like manner.
Thus I have endeavoured to describe the heart and behaviour of one who is governed by a truly gracious humility, as exactly agreeable to the scriptures as I am able. Now, it is out of such a heart as this, that all truly holy affections flow. Christian affections are like Mary's precious ointment poured on Christ's head, that filled the whole house with a sweet odour. That was poured out of an alabaster box; so gracious affections flow out to Christ out of a pure heart. That was poured out of a broken box, (until the box was broken, the ointment could not flow, nor diffuse its odour) so gracious affections flow out of a broken heart. Gracious affections are also like those of Mary Magdalene, (Luke vii. at the latter end) who in like manner pours precious ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster broken box, anointing therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed them with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All gracious affections, which are a sweet odour to Christ, filling the soul of a Christian with an heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken-hearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, how