Billeder på siden

those spiritual comforts and joys that are greater than ordinary, or if he appears distinguishingly zealous in religion, if he eserts himself more than others do, in the cause of religion, or if he seems to be distinguished with success, ten to one, but it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those that are about him ; and they will suspects (whether they have cause or no) thát he is very proud of his goodness, and that he affects to have it thought that nobody is so good as he ; and all his talk is heard, and all his behavior beheld, with this prejudice. Those that are themselves cold and dead, and especialJy such as never had any experience of the power of godliness on their own hearts, are ready to entertain such thoughts of the best Christians; which arises from a secret enmity against vital and servent piety.

But then those that are zealous Christians should take heed that this injuriousness of those that are cold in religion does not prove a snare to them, and the devil does not take advantage from it, to blind their eyes from beholding what there is indeed of this nature in their hearts, and make them think, because they are charged with pride wrongfully, and from an ill spirit, in many things, that therefore it is so in every thing.... Alas, how much pride have the best of us in our hearts! It is the worst part of the body of sin and death : It is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and the last that is rooted out; It is God's most stubborn enemy !

The corruption of nature' may all be resolved into two things, pride and worldly mindedness, the devil and the beast, or self and the world. These are the two pillars of Dagon's temple, on which the whole house leans. But the former of these is every way, the worst part of the corruption of nature ; it is the first born son of the devil, and his image in the heart of man chiefly consists in it; it is the last thing in a sinner that is overborn by conviction, in order to conversion ; and here is the saint's hardest conflict; it is the last thing that he obtains a good degree of conquest over, and liberty from ; it is that which most directly militates against God, and is most contrary to the Spirit of the Lamb of God; and it is most like

; the devil its father, in a serpentine deceitfulness and secrecy;


It lies deepest, and is most active, is most ready secretly to mix itself with every thing.

And of all kinds of pride, spiritual pride is upon many accounts the most hateful; it is most like the devil; it is most like the sin that he committed in an heaven of light and glory, where he was exalted high in divine knowledge, honor, beauty and happiness. Pride is much more difficultly discerned than any other corruption, for this reason, that the nature of it does very much consist in a person's having too high a thought of himself: But no wonder that he that has 100 high a thought of himself, does not know it ; for he necessarily thinks that the opinion he has of himself, is what he has just grounds for, and therefore not too high; if he thought such an opinion of himself was without just grounds, he would therein cease to have it. But of all kinds of pride, spiritual pride is the most hidden, and difficultly discovered ; and that for this reason, because those that are spiritually proud, their pride consists, much in an high conceit of those two things, viz. their light, and their humility ; both which are a strong prejudice against a discovery of their pride. Being proud of their light, that makes them not jealous of themselves; he that thinks a clear light shines around him, is not suspicious of an enemy lurking near him, unseen : And then being proud of their humility, that makes them least of all jealous of themselves in that particular, viz. as being under the prevalence of pride. There are many sins of the heart that are very secret in their nature, and difficultly discerned. The Psalmist says, Psal. xix. 12. « Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” But spiritual pride is the most secret of all sins. The heart is so deceitful and unsearchable in nothing in the world, as it is in this matter, and there is no sin in the werld, that men are so confident in, and so difficultly convinced of: The very nature of it is to work selfconfidence, and drive away selfdiffidence, and jealousy of any evil of that kind. There is no sin so much like the devil, as this, for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in a great many shapes, undiscerned and unsuspected, and appearing as an angel of light: It takes occasion to arise from every thing; it perserts and

VOL. II. 2 E


abuses every thing, and even the exercises of real grace, and real humility, as an occasion to exert itself: It is a sin that has, as it were many lives ; if you kill it, it will live still ; if you mortify and suppress it in one shape, it rises in another; if you think it is all gone, yet it is there still : There are a great many kinds of it, that lie in different forms and shapes, one under another, and encompass the heart like the coats of an onion ; if you pull off one there is another underneath..... We had need therefore to have the greatest watch imaginable, over our hearts, with respect to this matter, and to cry most earnestly to the great searcher of hearts, for his help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

God's own people should be the more jealous of themselves, with respect to this particular, at this day, because the temptations that many have to this sin are exceeding great : The great and distinguishing privileges to which God admits many of his saints, and the high honors that he puts on some ministers, are great trials of persons in this respect. It is true that great degrees of the spiritual presence of God tend greatly to mortify pride and all corruption; but yet, though in the experience of such favors there be much to restrain pride one way, there is much to tempt and provoke it another; and we shall be in great danger thereby without great watchfulness and prayersulness. There was much in the circumstances that the angels that fell, were in, in heaven, in their great honors and high privileges, in beholding the face of God, and view of his infinite glory, to cause in them exercises of huinility, and to keep them from pride; yet through want of watchfulness in them, their great honor and heavenly privilege proved to be to them, an undoing temptation to pride, though they had no principle of pride in their hearts to ex. pose them. Let no saint therefore, however eminent, and however near to God, think himself out of danger of this : He that thinks himself most out of danger, is indeed most in danger. The apostle Paul, who doubtless was as eminent a saint as any are now, was not out of danger, even just after he was admitted to see God in the third heavens, by the information he himself gives us, 2 Cor. xii. chap. And yet doubtless,


what he saw in heaven of the ineffable glory of the divine Being, had a direct tendency to make him appear exceeding lit

а kle and vile in his own eyes.

Spiritual pride in its own nature is so secret, that it is not so well discerned by immediate intuition on the thing itself, as by the effects and fruits of it; some of which, I would mention, together with the contrary fruits of pure Christian humility.

Spiritual pride disposes to speak of other persons sins, their enmity against God and his people, the miserable delusion of hypocrites and their enmity against vital piety, and the deadness of some saints, with bitterness, or with laughter and levity, and an air of contempt ; whereas pure Christian humility rather disposes, either to be silent about them, or to speak of them with grief and pity.

Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others : Whereas an humble saint is most jealous of himself, he is so suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they be, and crying out of them for it, and to be quick to discern and take notice of their deficiences : But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with others' hearts ; he complains most of himself, and cries out of his own coldness and lowness in grace, and is apt to esteem others better than himself, and is ready to hope that there is no body but what has more love and thankfulness to God than he, and cannot bear to think that others should bring forth no more fruit to God's honor than he. Some that have spiritual pride mixed

high discoveries and great transports of joy, that dispose them in an earnest manner to talk to others, are apt, in such frames, to be calling upon other Christians that are about them, and sharply reproving them for their being so cold and lifeless. And there are some others that behave themselves very differently from these, who in their raptures are overwhelmed with a sense of their own vileness ; and when they


have extraordinary discoverics of God's glory, are all taken up about their own sinfulness; and though they also are dispos. ed to speak much and very earnestly, yet it is very much in crying out of themselves, and exhorting fellow Christians, but in a charitable and humble manner. Pure Christian humility disposes a person to take notice of every thing that is in any respect good in others, and to make the best of it, and to di. minish their failings ; but to have his cye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself, and to take much notice of every thing that aggravates them.

In a contrariety to this, it has been the manner in some places, or at least the manner of some persons, to speak of almost every thing that they see amiss in others, in the most harsh, severe and terrible language. It is frequent with them to say of others opinions or conduct or advice, or of their coldness, their silence, their caution, their moderation, and their prudence, and many other things that appear in them, that they are from the devil, or from hell ; that such a thing is devilish, or hellish, or cursed, and that such persons are serving the devil, or the devil is in them, that they are soul murderers, and the like ; so that the words devil and hell are al. most continually in their mouths. And such kind of language they will commonly use, not only towards wicked men, but towards them that they themselves allow to be the true children of God, and also towards ministers of llie gospel and others that are very much their superiors. And they look upon it a virtue and high attainment, thus to behave themselves.... Oh, say they, we must be plain hearted and bold for Christ, we must declare war against sin wherever we see it, we must not mince the matter in the cause of God, and when speaking for Christ. And to make any distinction in persons, or to speak the more tenderly, because that which is amiss is seen in a superior, they look upon as very mcan for a follower of Christ, when speaking in the cause of his master.

What a strange device of the devil is here to overthrow all Christian meekness and gentleness, and even all shew and appearance of it, and to defile the mouths of the children of God, and to introduce the language of common sailors among the


« ForrigeFortsæt »