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and humility; yea, it is written above the door, as the rule of entry or admission, Learn of me, for 1 am meek and lowly of heart'. And, out of all question, that is truly the humblest heart that hath most of Christ in it.
Not to think highly.) Not aspiring and intending in things too high: And a great point of humility is subjection to God in the point of knowledge: in this was our first climbing that proved our fall; and yet still, amidst all our ignorance and darkness, we are catching and gaping after the deadly fruit of unallowed knowledge.
This, withal, hath in it the attempering of our thoughts and practices to our measure and station; to know ourselves truly and thoroughly; for that will certainly beget a very low esteem of ourselves, to judge ourselves the unworthiest and meanest of all.
And having truly this estimate of ourselves, we shall not vainly attempt any thing above our reach, nor disdainfully neglect any thing that is within the compass of our calling and duty, which are the two evils so common among men, yea, even amongst Christians, and in the church of God, and are the cause of most of the enormities and disorders that fall out in it; it is a strange blindness, that they that do grossly miscarry in the duties of their own station, yet so readily fancy themselves capable of somewhat higher, and think themselves wronged, if it be refused them.
The self-knowing Christian would rather descend, , and find himself very disproportioned to his present station, be it never so mean ; he can say with David, 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. But vain minds would still be tampering with the greatest affairs, and dwell not with themselves. Oh! my brethren, be entreated to study your own hearts better; be less abroad in things that concern you not; there is work b Matth. xi. 29.
< Psal. cxxxi. 1.
enough within you; heaps of base lusts, and selfdeceits, and follies, that you see not yet; and many advantages of good things you seem to see in yourselves, that indeed are not there : Self-love is a flattering glass, which represents us to ourselves much fairer than we are; therefore, turn from it, if you desire a true account of yourselves, and look into the pure and faithful mirror of God's law. Oh! what deformities will that discover, that you never saw nor thought of before, and will make you the lowest of all persons in your own eyes.
The low self-esteem doth not wholly take away the simple knowledge of what gifts and graces God hath bestowed on a man; for that were to make him both unthankful and unuseful. He that doth not not know what God hath freely given him, cannot return praise to God, nor make use of himself for God in his station"; yea, the Apostle's caution intimates a sober, humble reflection on the measure God hath given a man, which he not only allows but requires ; and himself gives example of it in his own present expression, declaring, that he speaks these things through the grace that is given to him.
But this knowledge of a man's own gifts and graces, that it may not prejudge him of more, but help him to more, in the humble acknowledgment and use of what he hath, would have these two qualifications; 1. That he beware of over-weening, rather that he take his measure much below, than any whit beyond, what he truly hath. 2. That whatsoever it is, that he always look on it not as his own, but as God's, having his superscription on it, and all the glory of it being his peculiar tribute ; nothing of that to be interrupted or retained : Not unto us, Lord; not unto us, but unto thy name, give gloryo; still all the glory entirely sent up to him: Thus, here, the Apostle sets all grace in that view, as God hath dispensed the measure; and so speaks of his own, through the grace given to me; still so to be looked
al Qui se nescit, nescit se uti.
à Psal. cxv. l.
on, not as that we have, but that he hath given ; that is, the gospel style, grace, free gifts, xerepes zapíopata; whereas philosophy speaks of all as habits, or havings, or possessions.
Now, in that relative dependent notion of freely given, a man shall never be puffed up by any endowments, though he see and know them ; yea, the more he knows thein thus, will be the more humble still, as being the more obliged. The more he hath received, the greater they are ; the lower he bows, pressed down under the weight of his engagements to God; as Abraham, fell on his face, when God talked with him, and made so rich promises to him. See David's straino; But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. This, the Apostle gives, as the sovereign preservative against the swelling poison of self-conceit, What hast thou that thou didst not received?
He that is thus regulated in his own esteem, will by this certainly be moderated in his desire of esteem from others, and cannot well meet with any thing that way, that will either puff him up, or cast him down; if over-prized by others, he takes that as their mistake; if undervalued, he rejoices in that, having set himself so low in himself, that others cannot well set him lower: So when men account meanly of him, they are really of his own opinion; and you know that offends none, but pleases them rather, to have others agree with their opinions, and be of their mind.
They that are busy after reputation, and would be esteemed, are but begging voices; would have others think with them, and confirm the conclusion they have already resolved on, in favour of themselves; and this is a most foolish thing; for, disappointed in this, men are discontented, and so their peace hangs on others fancies; and, if satisfied with it, they surfeit and undo themselves with the delight of it. Bees
b Gen. xvii. 3, ( 1 Chron. xxix, 15. di Cor. iv.7.
sometimes kill themselves with their own honey, and there is such a word to this purpose, It is not good to eat much honey; so for men to search their own glory, is not glory.
Ver. 4, 5. For as we have many members in one body, and all
members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
In this consideration we have God's wisdom manifested, and are instructed what is our wisdom. He, in the great world, made all in weight, number, and measure; so in the lesser world, man, and in the new world, his Church, he proportions all to the use he hath designed them for. He could give more to them that have least than the very greatest have, but he thought this unfit; it might be some advantage to them, yet to the whole body not so; and therefore not truly so to them neither, being parts of it, and having their good involved in the good of the body.
This resemblance is often used in Scripture, and holds excellently well, but is little learned. Our temper and carriage correspond not to it. Who is there almost that finds it, the Spirit of Christ in them, knitting them to him as the common head, and one to another, as one in him, each busy to advance him, and so seek his glory, and to promote the good of one another? But, alas! rather each for self, accursed self, as of an independent divided substance ; yea, worse, hating and tearing one another; a monstrous sight, as if one limb of the same body should be pulling another to pieces. It signifies little to tell men what mutual tenderness is in nature; that for a thorn in the foot the back bows, the head stoops, the eyes look, the hands feel, and seek it, to pull it out". Christians are still so rigid, so unchristian to each other, they drive one another with the thorn sticking in, forcing their brethren to ways against the persuasions of their consciences. In the following verses, viz. 6, 7, 8, we have a specification of divers offices, and the duties of them; the due observance of which is the peace and growth of the Church, makes all go on sweetly and fruitfully: but men are either presumptuously or preposterously busy out of their own station, or slothfully negligent in it; and both these, instead of edifying, are discomposing and destroying things.
e Prov. xxv. 27. • Spinam calcat pes, &c. AUG.
Not to insist on the distinction of offices, it is evi. dent, in all enumerations of this kind, the same word sometimes means divers things, and divers words the same things, as ministry may comprise all, though sometimes peculiar to deacons, sometimes taken for teachers or pastors: here it is general, and the particulars following distribute it; some are to teach, which is doctorial ; some to exhort, which is more pastoral ; some are to give, which is proper to deacons ; some have their whole charge to rule, as elders : some are particularly for attendance on the sick.
But in all, fidelity and sedulity are requisite: how high so ever men are placed, if they are unfaithful, the higher judgment awaits them; how low so ever, if thou be sincere and studious of thy duty, thou shalt sustain no loss by thy low station, but rather thy faithfulness will be the more set off by it; he that is faithful in little shall be made ruler over much. Oh! that we were more eat up with zeal of our Lord's House, and winning of souls, whom he deputes to that. Oh! that they that rule, would study more rule of their own houses, that shall go before, and your own hearts, that should be first of all. Alas! how shall men, whose passions and lusts rule them, well rule the house of God! Be afraid and wise ye that are called to that, and know at length what is so generally either unknown or unconsidered, the exemplary holiness required in your persons, and the diligent watchfulness over the flock of God. There are many debates, and troubles, and pains, about these our liberties, but little diligence in the use of them; congregations are still as full of impiety, and profaneness as ever. Oh! take heed,