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Nature, the greatest poffible Humility and Selfannihilation become our reasonable Duty; but this is not all: Our bleffed Saviour, who laid the Foundation of his Religion in this fpiritual Grace, has told us exprefsly, that, except we be converted, and become as little Children, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but that be, who fall bumble bimfelf as a little Child, the fame shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. By the Kingdom of Heaven, in this Place, may be intended, both the Kingdom of Grace, and the Kingdom of Glory. The Kingdom of Grace is that fweet and gentle Government, which Chrift, the Son of God, and King of Saints, does, by his Spirit, exercife over his Followers, and fuch as have given themselves up to his Conduct: The Kingdom of Glory is the future Reward and Recompence, which God intends to bestow in the celeftial Manfions of Blifs, upon all those, that have perfevered in their Obedience to his Commands: And fo the Words import, that Humility of Mind is highly conducive to make us both truly religious here, and eternally happy hereafter.
The Declaration, which God makes by the Mouth of his holy Prophet, is this, Thus faith the high and mighty One, that inhabiteth Eternity, whofe Name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy Place, and with him also, that is of a contrite Spirit : And, if we would enquire for the Reason, why the Majefty of Heaven vouchsafes this Honour to Spirits of this Complexion, we fhall find, that Humility indeed is the true Foundation of Union and Commerce between God and the Soul. For as it implies in its Notion a due Senfe of our Want and Infufficiency; fo it carries in it the whole Reason of Prayer, and Application, and Dependence upon God: As it implies in it a juft Senfe of the Divine Bounty, from whence come all our Supplies; fo it
it carries in it the Reason of Praise and Thanks, giving As it implies a Sense of our own Unworthinels, it is in Effect the fame with the Fear of God; a Senfe of our Distance, the fame with the Honour of God; and a Senfe of our Obligation, the fame with our Love of God: Of fo large an Extent is the Power and Influence of this single Virtue, that, let a Man but take Care to encourage and cultivate it, it will naturally and easily lead him through all the Offices of a religious Life. Nor will it only lead him through these, but fit him likewife for Heaven, and prepare him for the Manfions of the Bleffed, where his Poverty of Spirit fhall be recompenfed with a Kingdom, and his Humility with a Crown; with a Crown incorruptible, that fadeth not away, and whose Glory and Luftre will be equal to the Measure of his Humility and Self-abafement: Humble yourfelves therefore, fays the Apostle, under the mighty Hand of God, that he may exalt you in due Time; for whosoever shall humble himself, as a little Child, the fame fhall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And therefore,
II. To come to the Means of attaining this heavenly Grace, let us frequently call to Remembrance the Words of our gracious Lord and Saviour; Blessed are the poor in Spirit: Blessed are they in themselves, as being free from Ambition and Envy, from Anger and Revenge, and all fuch boisterous and troublesome Paffions, as make the arrogant and felf-conceited Mind uneafy, and unhappy in the Midft of all the good Things that this World can afford: Bleffed are they in the Sight of God, who fees their Heart, and fees there the lovely, the amiable, the charming Virtue; a Virtue very agreeable to his Divine Nature, who dwelleth on high, and yet humbleth himself to behold the Things in Heaven and Earth; and, feeing his
own Image there, he cannot but have Respect unto the Lowly Bleffed in the Eyes of Men, who naturally reverence thofe, that have mean Opinions of themselves; and therefore the Apostle calls this Virtue the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, which not only in the Sight of God is of great Price, but, through its own inward Excellency, commands likewise the Love and Respect of all, that behold it: Bleffed amidst all the Changes and Chances of Life; for while this Grace reigns in his Soul, however defpifed or abufed by wicked Men, God's Spirit hovers over him, Angels vifit and attend him, his own Confcience juftifies him, and the Lord Jefus, that Pattern of all Humility, loves him: But much more bleffed in the Conclufion of it, when being translated to the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerufalem, he fhall enter upon his glorious Inheritance, and there, together with an innumerable Company of Angels, with the general Affembly and Church of the First-born, which are written in Heaven, with God, the Judge of all, and with Jefus, the Mediator of the new Covenant, enjoy unfpeakable Happiness for ever.
2. To the fame Purpose, let us frequently confider the fad and mifchievous Effects of Pride ; that this Vice first brought Rebellion and Strife into Heaven, and caft down the Apoftate Angels thence; that every proud Man robs God of the Honour due to his Providence, erects new Altars to strange Deities, and, by the wildeft of all Idolatry, burns Incense to himself; that Pride makes Men haughty and affuming in their Carriage, peevish and perverse in their Humour, troublesome and contentious in Bufinefs, cavilling and captious in Conversation; and is therefore far from gaining the Love and Efteem of others: But, above all, that this is a Vice deftructive to our Souls, as it covers our lurking Faults, and draws a Veil before
our Weakneffes and Wants; as it prevents all Repentance, and proves a certain Bar to all Improvements For it shuts the Door against Admonition and Reproof, forbids the Advice of Friends, and filences the Checks of Confcience. The most flender Appearances of Virtue it brings near and magnifies, the most deformed Blemishes it throws off, and leffens to the Eye, fo that Delufion only reigns, and Truth is never received, till fome awakening Difpenfation does at laft, perhaps too late, difcover the Man to himself.
3. To the fame Purpose, let us frequently meditate on the Saints of God, thofe great Exemplars of Humility, that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures: How Abraham, who had the Honour to be ftiled God's Friend, made no Difficulty to humble himself with the Name of Duft and Afbes; how Jacob confeffes himself less than the leaft of God's Mercies; how David acknowledges himfelf a Worm, and no Man; how the great Teacher of the Gentiles, who was taken up into the third Heaven, and had Revelations imparted to him, too glorious for human Tongue to utter, defcends fo low as to term himself the least of the Apostles, not meet to be called an Apoftle, and what is more, not only lefs than the least of all Saints, but even the chief of Sinners. But, above all, let us fet before us the meek and lowly Jefus, who, though he was in the Form of God, and thought it no Robbery to be equal with God, yet bumbled himself to the Form of a Servant, and became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross. And fhall not we, for whofe Sakes all this was done and fuffered, give Proof of an humble and fubmiffive Spirit? Shall not the fame Mind be in us, which was in our gracious Saviour? Yes, this is our Duty, this our Intereft; and therefore we will fet this Pattern always before our Eyes, and, in the conftant Courfe of our Actions, bear it always
in Mind, that Pride in him, who calls himself a
a Chriftian, is perfectly abfurd, and more intolerable, than in any other Sort of Men, because the Author of the Chriftian Religion was fo bumble.
Of the Government of our Paffions and Affections.
Y the Word Paffion we understand, either a ftrong Tendency of our Souls towards fomething, that we look upon as very good, and condu cive to our Happiness; or a strong Averfion, and Refolution to fly from what we apprehend to be evil and pernicious to us: And this, on both Sides, attended with fuch a fenfible Commotion of the Blood and Spirits, as keeps the Mind much employed upon the prefent Affair, to the Exclufion of every Thing else, and the Prevention, many Times, of all deliberate Reasoning concerning our Conduct.
In this Respect therefore it differs from Affection, properly fo called; for Affection is the Defire or Averfion we have to any Object, that we conceive to be good or evil, but without any bodily Diforder, and is therefore a fimple Modification of the Mind: Whereas Paffion is always attended with a violent Motion, in which we feel a Kind of Pain and Uneafinefs, whether the Object, that causes it, be good or bad. For we find by Experience, that, in this imperfect State of our Nature, the most agreeable Paffion, even that of Joy, has fomething in it, that overcomes and preffes us too close ; that causes an Uneafinefs in the Midft of Delight, and is sometimes fo violent, as to fink us under the Weight of more Happiness, than we can bear.