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which will, on the whole, lead you to behave with becoming modesty and humility in your intercourse with your fellowcreatures. And after the principle of genuine humility, in connexion with repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ, has been laid in your mind, it will still be useful for keeping down pride, which is here condemned, and cherishing that kind of humility which is here more directly enjoined, that you attend well to such considerations as the following.
Consider how greatly this humility would contribute to the peace and happiness of yourselves, and of society. in general. As you regard your own peace, think how you would destroy it by the vexations of pride and envy, and by suspicions that you are overlooked, or slighted: and how, on the contrary, you would in a great measure rise superior to the power of others to vex you, by a lowly opinion of yourselves, and a readiness to yield. So, on a greater scale, the same humble behaviour would prevent disputes and cherish peace in society, whether civil or religious. Only by pride cometh contention.""If ye bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”- "Whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts?" How beautiful Paul's exhortation, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another!" Let humility be universal: and so then will harmony.
Consider, next, how as this humility is expected in those who profess to have received the gospel, it is calculated to adorn and recommend it to others. It is expected in Christians that they shall be distinguished for this grace, and it is essential to the very being of true religion. How unseemly the request, "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom!". "When the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren." On the other hand, how becoming the willingness of Abraham to go either to the right hand or to the left, to avoid a dispute with Lot! Even worldly men are capable of judging of what is commendable in such cases. By such becoming conduct, Christians sometimes put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and contribute not a little to lead others to glorify God.
Consider, further, the result, as expressed in the words,
"Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." It generally happens, in society, that those who endeavour to push themselves forward improperly, are thereby lowered in public estimation, and met in a way which throws them farther back than before; while modesty is admired and commended. And such is always the case, in respect of religion, and the judgment of God; for, though impudence may occasionally prove successful in secular affairs, it can never prove successful in spiritual. See, then, the folly of such proud aspiring; for, it will be disappointed, probably in this life, and certainly in the next. "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves to the elder; yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for, God resisteth 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."
Consider, finally, the example of your Lord and Saviour; for, this is the most affecting consideration of all. Pride was never made for man, nor high looks for the sons of men. It is unamiable and criminal in itself, and highly absurd when indulged by such beings as we are. Many circumstances combine to teach us humility. Whether we advert to our origin, or to our dependence on providence, or to our weakness, or to our fallen and sinful state, we see ample ground for self-abasement. The whole system of the gospel, too, is admirably calculated to promote this spirit: but, the most striking lesson of this kind which it reads, is contained in the example of the Redeemer. Think of him veiling his glory and tabernacling on earth. See him washing his disciples' feet. See him wandering through the world in penury and scorn, degraded, in the estimation of mortals, below their own level, suffering, as a criminal, an ignominious death, and, at last, laid in the tomb. You are not contemplating the grave of an earthly sovereign, or of any of the princes of this world. You would not be much surprised to find the highest of the human race in this situation; for, the small and the great are here. But you are contemplating the humiliation of him who created the world, who has the government of it on his shoulder, and who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. At his pleasure, princes reign or fall, nations conquer or are destroyed. Nay, the holy angels of heaven veil their faces with their wings before
him, and its saints cast their crowns at his feet. Say, then, how great was his humility. Compared with this, the most remarkable instances of condescension in man are nothing. No greater contrast can be conceived. He who calls the
stars his own, and fills the immensity of space, is shut up within the narrow limits of a sepulchre. He who in resplendent beauty sits on the throne of heaven giving law to creation, is deposited out of sight a mangled corpse, too shocking to be beheld! Infinite condescension! It never can be at all equalled: but, it should be imitated. Has our Lord shown such condescension, and shall we be elated with pride? Shall we, who have so much to deplore, look on ourselves as almost blameless persons, and say to others, Stand by, we are holier than you? Shall we refuse to give honour to whom honour is due, or proudly contend for the highest places, or think it below our dignity to condescend to men of low estate? Let us, by the help of God, and in imitation of our Master, banish all such sentiments. In the words of Paul to the Philippians, "Let nothing be done through strife, or vain-glory; but, in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
LUKE XIV. 12-24.
"Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14. And thou shalt be blesssd; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. 15. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 16. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17. And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; pray thee have me excused. 19. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. 20. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
OUR Lord was now at meat, on the Sabbath, in the house of one of the chief Pharisees, where he had miraculously cured a man of the dropsy, and defended that benevolent action; and where, on observing how those who were invited chose out the chief seats, he had just given an edifying lesson of humility. Having instructed those who were invited how to conduct themselves, he next addresses himself to the inviter. It is probable that this Pharisee, in the choice of his guests, was influenced more by a vain desire to have the rich, and the men of note, in his house, than by true hospitality, and therefore, stood peculiarly in need of admonition on that subject; but, however this may have been, the admonition given demands universal attention.
"Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy
brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But, when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed,* the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." There are, in Scripture, several prohibitions which are given in an absolute form, but which are to be understood with certain restrictive explanations: and there are some passages, in which, when of two things spoken of, the one is forbidden, and the other enjoined, the meaning is, not that the one is altogether unlawful, but that it is comparatively unimportant, and that the other is rather to be done. Thus, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice:” "Take no thought for to-morrow:""Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth;"" but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven:""Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life." In this last passage, though the language is strong and unqualified, yet men are not absolutely prohibited from labouring for their daily bread; but it is taken for granted that they are so disposed naturally to attend to their temporal interest, that an express injunction to that effect is hardly necessary, and they are enjoined to labour still more earnestly for their salvation, and not to give themselves even to lawful worldly pursuits, to such a degree as would interfere with their spiritual welfare. This rule of interpretation is to be applied to the passage under review, while it is to be remembered that the epithet, "rich," not only in grammatical construction, according to the original, but also in reason, must be viewed as belonging not only to the word "neighbours," but to the words, friends," ," "brethren," and "kinsmen;" for, if persons in poor circumstances be related to us, the relation is surely an additional reason why we should pay attention to them, and not a reason for neglecting them.t In this passage, then, though the language is strong, Christians are by no means altogether prohibited from asking their friends, relations, and neighbours, of any rank, to their houses. They have the general rule, that "those who have friends should show themselves friendly," and that they should "use hospitality without grudging." At the same time, most men are sufficiently inclined to pay attention to those with whom they are particularly connected, and those with whom they think it honourable, or expect that it will * ’Avaπngous, the disabled in any way. + Grotius.