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all are seated, you, who have thrust yourself forward, will be called upon to give up your seat, the first seat, to him, and, as the table will be full, you will have to go to the very bottom, and all men will see your confusion and your fall. Surely the wiser plan would be to choose at the beginning the lowest place, to sit down quite the last, and then when the master comes in, he may perhaps invite you to a higher seat-so shall you have, what you so covet, glory in the presence of them that sit at meat with you."
Thus did our Lord, under a parable, strike at a besetting sin, common in His day, common in the world always—pride. Thus did He teach an old lesson in a new form_thus did He teach those proud Pharisees, what their blindness had hindered them from learning out of their own Scriptures, that God resisteth the proud, and that before honour is humility !
And surely, brethren, there is much for us to learn from these words of our Lord to the Pharisees.
I said, the fault at which He aimed was common enough in our day. And I would appeal to yourselves if it be not so ?
Men are struggling now, just as they did when He was on earth, to get the pre-eminence. In every walk of life, amongst all classes and degrees of people, you will find the same spirit of pride and self-preference you will mark how they choose out the chief rooms, put themselves in the front rank—claim to have worship in the presence of their brethren.
Watch but the temper of children, and see how early the germs of all this are disclosed. Each child wants to
be first, to be preferred to the rest in pleasure, in praise, in receiving of gifts. Each thinks I am the worthiest, I have more right than another to this or that indulgence
-each is loud in making its claim, pressing its own cause, asserting its own fancied right to be regarded.
Nor is it different when we look at grown men. In them, only in a more full shape, this same pushing, selfexalting spirit manifests itself. In them the fault, which we noticed in the bud in children, appears full-blown.
But in them it is no longer, I fear, regarded as a fault. The world excuses it—the world, I might say, almost compels us into it-men not naturally selfish or pushing, are found to become so, by seeing this to be the disposition of those around them. And so it comes to pass that everywhere men seek their own—everywhere men are trying to get before and go beyond their fellows—each sings his own praise, and puffs his own wares, and tries to make himself out to be a better and a worthier man than he really is.
I ask, brethren, if you have not noticed something of this yourselves ? I ask you, if you are not sometimes conscious of the presence of this self-praising, self-exalting temper in your own breasts ? If you are, be sure that it is not of God. Be sure that it is a temper to be striven against and cast out, otherwise Christ cannot come and dwell in your hearts.
Yes, and be sure of this, that however in the world's view, selfishness may seem to answer, however men who push themselves seem to get what they seek, the chief, rooms, yet that, in the end, all such will meet with a terrible reverse. We may not doubt the truth of what the
Lord has so solemnly and repeatedly announced— Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased. And, on the other hand, he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. God is the King of all the earth. He putteth down one, and setteth up another. He puts down often when least they expect it, the mighty from their seat, and He exalts, when least they expect it, the humble and meek.
And this leads me to a few words on the latter clause in my text-he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
We may all easily admit what I have just now hinted at, that pride and self-sufficiency are in danger of a fall. We know, probably, instances of this—instances where self-seeking has over-leaped itself-where too much cunning, too much looking to our own interests, too much pushing for the first place, has been attended with discomfiture. We have all seen those who exalted themselves put down.
But have we ever seen the opposite to this come true? have we ever known the humble man, the man who did not strive and push for the first place, who was content with a low place, have we ever known this man exalted ?
Now, I readily grant that this does not happen often in any outward manner. It is only rarely that true Christian humility has its reward and is acknowledged as it deserves to be among men. But it has its reward from a higher quarter—God hath respect unto the humble. The High and Holy One that inhabiteth Eternity, dwells with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit-makes to him promises of great blessings, not one of which shall ever fail. They may well, then, be content to be without the world's honour, who are thus distin
guished by God, thus marked out by Him for His especial favourites.
Yes! and in a measure, the same are favourites with their fellow men—The meek, we are told, shall inherit the earth. Even among natures most opposite to his own, the man of a truly humble and unselfish character obtains sometimes honour. Even without any asking on his part, any putting forward of a claim, we may sometimes see such an one advanced-seated by common consent in the chief room.
And certainly, brethren, though they pass unnoticed here, these holy and humble men of heart will not be neglected in the order of God's kingdom hereafter.
Then shall no man be in his wrong place. Each shall have the place which belongs to him, not the place which he occupied in man's estimation, but the place which God's justice assigns him. There, the last shall be first, and the first last.
We may not say who these first will be. It is not told us for whom the very chiefest seat, either on the right hand or on the left, is being got ready—but only, that it shall be given to him for whom it is prepared. Still of this we feel assured, that in the consummation of all things—when the supper of the Lamb shall come—those will be among the most honoured guests, those will have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with Him, who on earth most followed the Lamb, and were clothed most entirely with His Spirit.
Therefore, brethren, cultivate humility-be content to occupy a low place now—fret not yourselves at those who push, and prosper, and get before you in the world
who climb, by ways not always innocent, to the chief rooms here. Seek the favour of God, and care little for honour from man.
Perhaps hereafter-perhaps even in this life a change may come. He may say to you, Friend, go up higher.
Above all, set before you the great example-look unto your Saviour Jesus Christ! See how it was with Him -lowliness first-exaltation afterwards-no place but the very humblest on earth—the Right Hand of God in heaven! Being in the form of God, He 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 !
Think we often of this—the most perfect illustration we can have of His own words to us in the text; and pray we, one and all, that the same mind may be in us which was also in Christ Jesus !