Изображения страниц

lives, the weakness of our bodies, the continual accidents or injuries to which we-are subject, the violence of our passions, the irregularity of our conduct, and the transitory state of every thing about us; would hardly believe there could be among us such a vice as pride, or that any huinán being should need to be cautioned against being too much elated with his present state. Yet so it is, that, however weak or wicked we may be, we fix our eyes on some other that is represented by our self-love to be weaker, or more wicked, than ourselves, and grow proud upon the comparison. Thus, in the midst of danger and uncertainty, we see many intoxicated with the pride of prosperity; a prosperity that is hourly exposed to be disturbed ; a prosperity that lies often at the mercy of a treacherous friend, or unfaithful servant; a prosperity which certainly cannot last long, but must soon be ended by the hand of death.

To consider this motive to pride more attentively, let us examine what it is to be prosperous. To be prosperous, in the common acceptation, is to have a large or an increasing fortune, great numbers of friends and dependents, and to be high in the esteem of the world in general. But do these things constitute the happiness of a man? of a being accountable to his Creator for his conduct, and, according to the account he shall give, designed to exist eternally in a future state of happiness or misery? What is the prosperity of such a state, but the approbation of that God, on whose sentence futurity depends ? But neither wealth, friendships, or honours, are proofs of that approbation, or means necessary to procure it. They

often endanger, but seldom promote, the future happiness of those that possess them.

And can pride be inspired by such prosperity as this ?

Even with regard to the present life, pride is a very dangerous associate to greatness. A proud man is opposed in his rise, hated in his elevation, and insulted in his fall : he may have dependents, but can have no friends; and parasites, but no ingenuous companions,

Another common motive to pride is knowledge, a motive equally weak, vain, and idle, with the former. Learning, indeed, imperfect as it is, may contribute to many great and noble ends, and may be called in to the assistance of religion, as it is too often perversely employed against it; it is of use to display the greatness, and vindicate the justice, of the Almighty; to explain the difficulties, and enforce the proofs, of religion : and the small advances that may be made in science, are of themselves some proof of a future state; since they show that God, who can be supposed to make nothing in vain, has given us faculties evidently superior to the business of this present world : and this is, perhaps, one reason, why our intellectual powers are, in this life, of so great extent as they are. But how little reason have we to boast of our knowledge, when we only gaze and wonder at the surfaces of things! when the wisest and most arrogant philosopher knows not how a grain of corn is generated, or why a stone falls to the ground! But, were our knowledge far greater than it is, let us yet remember that goodness, not knowledge, is the happiness of man! The day will come, (it will come quickly, when it shall profit us more to have sub.

[ocr errors]

dued one proud thought, than to have numbered the host of heaven.

There is another more dangerous species of pride, arising from a consciousness of virtue; so watchful is the enemy of our souls, and so deceitful are our own hearts, that too often a victory over one sinful inclination exposes us to be conquered by another. Spiritual pride represents a man to himself beloved by his Creator in a particular degree, and, of consequence, inclines him to think others not so high in his favour as himself. This is an error, into which weak minds are sometimes apt to fall, not so much from the assurance that they have been steady in the practice of justice, righteousness, and mercy, as that they have been punctually observant of some external acts of devotion. This kind of pride is generally accompanied with great uncharitableness and severe censures of others, and may obstruct the great duty of repentance. But it may be hoped that a sufficient remedy against this sin may be easily found, by reminding those who are in fected with it, that the blood of Christ was poured out upon the cross to make their best endeavours acceptable to God; and that they, whose sips require such an expiation, have little reason to boast of their virtue.

Having thus proved the unreasonableness, folly, and odious nature of pride, I am, in the last place, 'to show the amiableness and excellence of humility.

Upon this head I need not be long, since erery argument against any vice is equally an argument in favour of the contrary virtue ; and whoever proves

the folly of being proud, shows, at the same time, " that with the lowly there is wisdom.” But to evince beyond opposition the excellence of this virtue, we may, in few words, observe, that the life of our Lord was one continued exercise of humility. The Son of God condescended to take our nature upon him, to become subject to pain, to bear, from his birth, the inconveniences of poverty, and to wander from city to city, amidst opposition, reproach, and calumny. He disdained not to converse with publicans and sinners, to minister to his own disciples, and to weep at the miseries of his own creatures ; he submitted to ipsults and revilings; and, being led like a lamb to the slaughter, opened not his mouth. At length, having borne all the cruel treatment that malice could suggest, or power inflict, he suffered the most lingering and ignomi. nious death.--God of his infinite mercy grant, that, by imitating his humility, we may be made partakers of his merits! To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most due, all hovour, adoration, and praise, now and ever! Amen.




Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and see,

and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

That almost every age, from the beginning of the world, has been eminently marked out, and distinguished from the rest, by some peculiar character, by particular modes of thinking or methods of acting, then almost universally prevalent, is evident from the histories of all nations. At one time, the whole world has bowed, without repining, to despotic power and absolute dominion; at another, not only the licentious and oppressive tyranny of governors has been restrained, but just and lawful authority trampled upon and insulted ; at one time, all regard for private interest has been absorbed and lost in the concern for the welfare of the public, to which virtue itself has been made a sacrifice; at another, every heart has been engrossed by low views, and every sentiment of the mind has been contracted into the narrow compass of self-lore. Thus have vice and virtue, wisdom and folly, or perhaps only different follies and oppositè vices, alternately prevailed: thus have mankind rushed from one error to another, and suffered equally by both extremes.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »