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remember, that fatterers have a double tongue, and speak with one to them, and with another of them.
In short, virtue like the sun is crowned with its own beams, and needs no foreign lustre; and it argues a sound mind to esteem praise as a resultance from virtue, and virtue for itself: but a proud man as proud, prefers the praise and shadow of virtue before the reality : as a vain woman would rather wear a counterfeit necklace that is esteemed true, than one of the finest oriental pearls that is esteemed counterfeit.
3. Ambition, or the hot aspiring after high places, and titles of precedency and power, is another branch of pride. The desire of superiority in this instance, is so natural and universal, that it is manifest in persons of the lowest rank: servants, shepherds, labourers, desire power over others in their condition. * It is like fire, the more it is fed, the more it is increased. Ambition, if reinforced by emulation, will venture through foul ways, by treachery, by oppression, and by indignities, to obtain dignity. If any cross accident spoil their feathers of flying to their mark, they fall into melancholy: if any competitors be preferred, they are ready to say, it was not virtue or merit, but favour and fortune that advanced them; and that their own desert makes them unfortunate; † according to the two properties of pride, to esalt themselves, and depress others.
Spiritual pride is distinguished from moral, as it more directly and immediately dishonours God. It is true, pride is the poison of every sin ; for in transgressing the divine law, men prefer the pleasing their corrupt wills and depraved appetites, before the obeying the sovereign and holy will of God: but in some sins there is a more immediate and explicit contempt of God, and especially in pride. Sins of this nature exceedingly provoke and kindle his displeasure.
When men presume upon a self-sufficiency of counsel, or power, or riches, to obtain their ends. This sin was charged upon Sennacherib; “I will punish the fruit of the proud heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks: for he saith, by the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom I am
+ Facit avidos nimis fælicitas, nec tam temperalæ cupiditates, ut in eo quod contigit de sinant. Sen.
+ Præmia viriutum, quia velocius erat viciis adeptus. Tac,
prudent.” Isa. 10. 12, 13. The folly is equal to the impiety; as it is expressed by the prophet, “Shall the axe boast against him that hews with it? Or the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?” Thus God speaks to Pharaoh king of Egypt; “Behold I am against thee, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his waters, which has said, my river is mine own, (O blasphemer !) and I have made it for myself.” Thus Nebuchadnezzar boasted, walking in his palace, “ Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and the glory of my majesty ? I have laid the foundations thereof on the centre of the earth, and raised its towers to the heavens."
This pride is attended with reliance and confidence in their own direction to contrive, and ability to accomplish their designs; and with assuming the glory of all their success entirely to themselves. The proud manage their affairs independently upon the providence of God, who is the author of all our faculties, and the efficacy of them, and totally neglect the two essential parts of natural religion, prayer and praise; or very slightly perform the external part, without those inward affections that are the spirit and life of them. It was the wise prayer of Hagar, “Give me not riches, lest I be full, and deny thee.” God strictly cautions his people against this dangerous sin, “ Beware thou forget not the Lord, and say in thy heart, my power, and the might of my hand, hath gotten me this wealth : remember it is he that gives the power to get riches.” Deut. 3. 17, 18. And it is equally dangerous, lest men should attribute victories or prosperity, in any kind, to their own counsel and resolution, their prudence and power, without humble and thankful observing and acknowledging the divine providence, the fountain and original of all our blessings.
Whatever the kinds of sin be, when committed against knowledge with design and deliberation, they proceed from insolence and obstinacy. The Israelites are charged with this aggravation in their sinning; “ They dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to the commandments, and refused to obey.” Neh. 9. 16, 17. Proud sinners are introduced boasting; “ Our tongues are our own, who is Lord over us ?” They will endure no restraints, but are lawless and loose, as if they were above fear and danger. It is true, there are few so prodi. giously wicked as to speak thus; but men's actions have a language as declarative of their words: and sinning presumptuously with a high hand, is constructively a denial, and despising of the dominion and power of the Lawgiver ; as if he had no right to command, nor strength to vindicate, the honour of his despised Deity. In the last judginent the punishment of rebellious sinners will be according to the glory of God's majesty, and the extent of his power that was contemned and vilified by them.
When divine judgments are sent to correct the dissolute disorders of the world, and sinners should with tenderness and trembling “hear the voice of the rod, and who has appointed it;" yet they proceed in their wickedness, as if God were not always present to see their sins, nor pure to hate them, nor righteous to exact a severe judgment for them, nor powerful to inflict it; this argues intolerable pride and obstinacy. God and sinners are very unequal enemies : the effects of his displeasure should be received with obsequiousness, not with obduration : therefore the apostle puts that confounding question, “Do you provoke the Lord to jealousy? are you stronger than he ? Can you encounter with offended omnipotence ?” To despise his anger is as provoking as to despise his love. It is astonishing, that dust and ashes should rise to such an incorrigible height of pride, as to fly in the face of God: “Whoever hardened himself against him, and prospered?” All that are careless of God's design to reform them by afflictions, that seek for relief in diverting business or pleasures, provoke God to more severe inflictions of his anger: but those surly proud natures that are exasperated by sufferings, and wrestle with the strongest storms, are in combination with the stubborn spirits of hell, and shall have their portion with them.
Lastly, When men have a vain presumption of the goodness of their spiritual state, of the degrees of their goodness, and their stability in goodness, not sensible of their continual want of renewed supplies from heaven, they are guilty of spiritual pride. Of this there are two instances in scripture; the one in the church of lukewarm Laodicea, the other in the Pharisee, mentioned by our Saviour. The first said, “I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing ; and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.” Rev. 3. The pharisee, to raise the esteem of his own goodness, stands upon comparison with others, whose vices may be a foil to his seeming graces : he said, “I am not as other men are, extortioners, adulterers, or even as this publican.” It is true, he superficially thanks God, but the air of pride transpires through his devotion, by valuing himself above others worse than himself; as if his own virtues were the productive cause of his distinguishing goodness. If humility be not mixed in the exercise of every grace, it is of no value in God's esteem : the humble unjust publican was rather justified than the proud pharisee.
This spiritual pride is very observable in the superstitious, who measuring divine things with human, from that mixture of imaginations, introduce carnal rites into the worship of God, and value themselves upon their opinionative goodness: they mistake the swelling of a dropsy for substantial growth, and presume themselves to be more holy than others, for their proud singularity. Superstition is like ivy, that twines about the tree, and is its seeming ornament, but drains its vital sap; and under its verdant leaves covers a carcass : thus carnal ceremonies seem to adorn religion, but really dispirit, and weaken its efficacy. Pharisaical pride is fomented by a zealous observance of things uncommanded in religion, neither pleasing to God, nor profitable
On the contrary, some visionaries pretend to such a sublimity of grace and eminent sanctity, that they are above the use of divine ordinances : they pretend to live in immediate communion with God, as the angels; and dazzled with specious spiritualities, they neglect prayer, hearing the word, and receiving the sacrament, the means of growing in grace, as if they were arrived at perfection. This is the effect of spiritual pride and delusion.
For the mortifying this vicious disposition, consider that pride is in a high degree injurious and provoking to God. An ordinary malefactor breaks the king's laws, but a rebel strikes at his person and crown. The first and great commandment is to honour God with the highest esteem and love, with the most humble adoration ; consequently, the greatest sin is the despising his majesty, and obscuring his glory. There is no sin more clearly opposite to reason and religion : for the most essential duty and character of an understanding creature, is dependance and observance of God as the first cause and last end of all things, receiving with thankfulness his benefits; and referring them all to his
glory. Pride contradicts natural justice, by intercepting the grateful affectionate ascent of the soul to God, in celebrating his greatness and goodness. A proud man constructively puts himself out of the number of God's creatures, and deserves to be excluded from his tender providence. The jealousy of God, his most severe and sensible attribute, is kindled for this revolture of the creature from its duty, and the depriving him of his proper glory. It is true, God's declarative glory is not profitable to ' him: but he will not give his glory to another, nor permit another to usurp it: his concession and consent would be directly contrary to the eternal rule of righteousness, and therefore impossible without the denial of himself.
Pride is in the front of those sins which God hates, and are an abomination to him : “A proud look,” that is seldom disjoined from a proud heart. God “looks upon the proud afar off with a holy disdain :" Prov. 6. 16. he resists the proud. Pride is the most pernicious of all vices: for whereas any single vice is opposite to its contrary virtue : uncleanness expels chastity; covetousness, liberality; pride, like an infectious disease, taints the sound parts, corrupts the actions of every virtue, and deprives them of their true grace and glory. Pride is so offensive to God, that he sometimes permits his children to fall into sins of another kind to correct pride. And he is an unskilful physician that cures one disease by a worse. When the apostle was liable to the temptation of pride, for his celestial visions, satan was permitted to buffet him. A strange dispensation, that the prince of pride was let loose to instruct him in humility.
The fearful examples of God's wrath upon the proud, must convincingly prove how odious they are in his sight. The angels fell by pride, and are the most cursed creatures of the creation, and bound with chains of darkness to the judgment of the Great Day. Adam was sick of the same disease, which involved him and his progeny under the sentence of the first and second death. How many great kings, for the insolent forgetfulness of their frail condition, were by divine vengeance cast down from the height of their glory, and made spectacles of ignominious misery! The proud and stubborn Pharaoh that defied the Almighty, and said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him, and let Israel go?" that threatened, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil :" like the raging sea that roars, and foams, and swells,