Page images

fence. Every fincere penitent, every real believer, every profiting difciple of Chrift, learns the emptiness of the creature, the fulness, fovereignty, power, wifdom, and grace of the Creator and Redeemer, from all that he hears, and from all that he feels.

In his former ftate, either his ignorance of God, or his wrong views of God and of himfelf, made him fet a high value upon his own intereft, and think he had a high claim to happiness, and fuccefs of every kind. This made him repine at the course of providence, and very hardly allow that juftice was done him when his attempts were defeated, or his defires disappointed. What fullen impatience do many fhew under the hand of God? What corroding envy poffeffes their minds* when they take a view of the (perhaps mistaken) happiness of others? But he that is born again is* deeply fenfible, that he deferves nothing at the hand of God. His habitual fentiments and lan-' guage, are the fame with what we find in fcrip-' ture so frequent with the faints: "I am not "worthy of the leaft of all the mercies, and of "all the truth which thou haft fhewed unto thy "fervant +.It is of the Lord's mercies that we ❝ are not confumed, because his compaffions fail "not Unto me, who am less than the leaft "of all faints, is this grace given ||." Whereas> Gen, xxxii, 10, ‡ Lam. iii, 2.

[ocr errors]

Ephef. iii. 8. formerly

formerly he was apt to view his own character with much complacence, and to have high thoughts of the dignity of human virtue, now he hath changed the stern pride of philofophy, for the felfdenial and meeknefs of the gofpel. He has fuch views of the glory and majesty of God, of the purity of his law, and of the holinefs of his nature, that he finks, as it were, into nothing in his own fight, and knows not how to throw himfelf into a low enough pofture in the divine prefence. Agreeably to this we have a striking picture, drawn by our Saviour in the parable of the Pharifee and publican, of true penitence, particularly as standing in oppofition to self-sufficiency. and pride: "The Pharifee ftood and prayed thus"with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as "other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, ❝ or even as this publican. I fast twice in the "week, I give tithes of all that I poffefs. And "the publican standing afar off, would not lift "up fo much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote "upon his breaft, faying, God be merciful to me a finner *"


Further, true religion makes a man humbletoward his fellow-creatures, as well as toward God. The one, indeed, is the certain and neceffary effect of the other. Every thing which one man can enjoy in preference to another, * Luke xviii. 11, 12, 13.


and which ordinarily becomes the fuel of pride, is the gift of God, and therefore there is no room left to glory. What diftinction can any man enjoy above another, but it must be of one of thefe two kinds, worldly advantages, or spiritual gifts? Now worldly advantages are of no fuch wvalue, in the eye of a real Chriftian, as to be matter of boafting. All fwelling on this account is effectually reftrained by true religion: that which brings eternity in view, makes all temporal things of wonderfully little value to have or to lofe. And even ftill lefs will a good man glory in his advantages over others of a spiritual kind. Pride can never be fo greatly misplaced, as when it fhows itself here. The Chriftian will fay to himself, in the words of the apoftle Paul, "For "who maketh thee to differ from another? and

what hast thou, that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why doft thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"

I cannot help alfo obferving here, that every true convert is naturally led to confider himself as the chief of finners, and every real Christian to reckon that others are preferable to him in boliness and fpiritual attainments. This is often taken notice of by religious writers, in a perfect confiftency both with fcripture and experience. We fee this was the cafe with the apostle Paul, that * 1 Cor, iv, 7.


eminently holy, faithful, and active minifter of Jefus Chrift. He exprefsly ftiles himself the "chief of finners ;" and fays, "Howbeit, for

this caufe I obtained mercy, that in me firft," or in me as a capital and leading instance, " Jefus Chrift might fhew forth all long-fuffering, "for a pattern to them which should hereafter

believe on him to life' everlasting *." And elsewhere to the fame purpose, with a view to his ministerial labours: “For I am the least of "the apoftles, that am not meet to be called an "apostle, because I perfecuted the church of "God; but, by the grace of God, I am what "I am, and his grace which was bestowed upon "me was not in vain, but I laboured more abun"dantly than they all yet not I, but the grace "of God which was with me f." This is eafy to be accounted for. Every man must have a far more clear discovery and conviction of his own fins, in their henious nature and aggravating cir cumftances, than of thofe of any other, as well as a greater infight into the remaining corruption of his own heart. Hence it is natural for him to conclude, that none have been fo deeply indebted as himself to the riches of divine grace, for pardon and recovery.

From every view we can take of the matter, therefore, it is plain that the regenerate perfon

* 1 Tim, i, 16.

ti Cor. xv. 9, 10.


muft be, according to the ftrong and beautiful language of the holy fcripture, clothed with "humility." He must be very humble; he muft be humble in every respect; he must be inwardly, habitually, conftantly, univerfally humble. I know no difpofition better fitted either to determine our character in general, or to decide when the Chriftian is difcharging any duty in a proper manner. It is alfo a good touchstone by which to try a profeffion, or apparent zeal for religion. I am fenfible it is a duty openly to profefs Chrift before men, and that he has pronounced a dreadful threatning against those who fhall meanly deny him: "Whosoever shall be

afhamed of me, or of my words, in this adul"terous and finful generation, of him also fhall "the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh "in the glory of his Father, with the holy an"gels." There are many of the duties of a Christian which require a firm refolution, a boldnefs and fortitude of mind; yet even this should be accompanied with humility. Unneceffary oftentation is always a suspicious fign. A Christian fhould be constrained, in all fuch cafes, by a fense of duty, and enter upon his work with a diffidence of himself, and reliance on divine strength.

Mark viii. 38.


« PreviousContinue »