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example of the apostles, who, in the midst of the greatest reputation and spiritual advancements, were dead unto the world, and seemed to live in the state of separation. For, the true stating our own question, and knowing ourselves, must needs represent us set in the midst of infinite imperfections, laden with sins, choked with the noises of a polluted conscience, persons fond of trifles, neglecting objects fit for wise men, full of ingratitude, and all such things, which in every man else we look upon as scars and deformities, and which we use to single out, and take one alone as sufficient to disgrace and disrepute all the excellencies of our neighbour; but, if we would esteem them with the same severity in ourselves, and remember with how many such objections our little felicities are covered, it would make us charitable in our censures, compassionate and gentle to others, apt to excuse, and as ready to support their weaknesses, and in all accidents and chances to ourselves to be content and thankful, as knowing the worst of poverty and inconvenience to be a mercy, and a splendid fortune, in respect of our demerits. I have read, that "when the duke of Candia had voluntarily entered into the incommodities of a religious poverty and retirement, he was one day spied, and pitied by a lord of Italy, who, out of tenderness, wished him to be more careful and nutritive of his person. The good duke answered, Sir, be not troubled, and think not that I am ill provided of conveniences; for I send a harbinger before, who makes my lodgings ready, and takes care that I be royally entertained.' The lord asked him, who was his harbinger? He answered, 'The knowledge of myself, and the consideration of what I deserve for my sins, which is eternal torments; and when, with this knowledge, I arrive at my lodging, how unprovided soever I find it, methinks it is ever better than I deserve."" The sum of this meditation consists in believing, and considering, and reducing to practice those thoughts, that we are nothing of ourselves, that we have nothing of our own, that we have received more than ever we can discharge, that we have added innumerable sins, that we can call nothing our own but such things which we are ashamed to own, and such things which are apt to ruin us. If we do nothing contrary to the purpose and hearty persuasion of such thoughts, then we think meanly of ourselves; and, in
order to it, we may make use of this advice, to let no day pass, without some sad recollection and memory of somewhat which may put us to confusion, and mean opinion of ourselves; either call to mind the worst of our sins, or the indiscreetest of our actions, or the greatest of our shame, or the uncivilest of our affronts-any thing to make us descend lower, and kiss the foot of the mountain. And this consideration, applied also to every tumour of spirit as soon as it rises, may possibly allay it.
7. Secondly, "Christ's humble man bears contumelies evenly and sweetly, and desires not to be honoured by others;" he chooses to do those things that deserve honour and a fair name; but then eats not of those fruits himself, but transmits them to the use of others, and the glories of God. This is a certain consequence of the other; for he that truly disesteems himself, is content that others should do so too; and he who, with some regret and impatience, hears himself scorned or undervalued, hath not acquired the grace of humility: which Serapion, in Cassian, noted to a young person, who perpetually accused himself with the greatest semblances of humility, but was impatient when Serapion reproved him. "Did you hope that I would have praised your humility, and have reputed you for a saint? It is a strange perverseness, to desire others to esteem highly of you for that in which to yourself you seem most unworthy." He that inquires into the faults of his own actions, requiring them that saw them to tell him in what he did amiss, not to learn the fault, but to engage them to praise it, cozens himself into pride, and makes humility the instrument. And a man would be ashamed, if he were told that he used stratagems for praise; but so glorious a thing is humility, that pride, to hide her own shame, puts on the other's vizor; it being more to a proud man's purposes to seem humble, than to be so. And such was the cynic whom Lucian derided, because that one searching his scrip, in expectation to have found in it mouldy bread, or old rags, he
1 Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputari. — Gerson.
* Appetere de humilitate laudem humilitatis non est virtus, sed subversio. Quid euim perversum magis aut indignius, quam ut indè velis haberi melior, unde tibi videris deterior. — S. Bernard.
Est qui nequiter humiliat se, et interiora ejus sunt plena dolo. — Ecclus. xii. 11.
discovered a bale of dice, a box of perfumes, and the picture of his fair mistress. Carisianus walked in his gown in the feast of Saturn, and, when all Rome was let loose in wantonness, he put on the long robe of a senator, and a severe person; and yet nothing was more lascivious than he'. But the devil, pride, prevails sometimes upon the spirit of lust. Humility neither directly, nor by consequence, seeks for praise, and suffers it not to rest upon its own pavement, but reflects it all upon God, and receives all lessenings and instruments of affront and disgrace, that mingle not with sin or indecencies, more willingly than panegyrics. When others have their desires, thou not thine; the sayings of another are esteemed, thine slighted; others ask and obtain, thou beggest and art refused; they are cried up, thou disgraced and hissed at; and, while they are employed, thou art laid by, as fit for nothing; or an unworthy person commands thee, and rules thee like a tyrant; he reproves thee, suspects thee, reviles thee: canst thou bear this sweetly, and entertain the usage as thy just portion, and as an accident most fit and proper to thy person and condition? Dost thou not raise theatres to thyself, and take delight in the suppletories of thy own good opinion, and the flatteries of such whom thou endearest to thee, that their praising thee should heal the wounds of thine honour by an imaginary and fantastic restitution? He that is not content and patient in affronts, hath not yet learned humility of the holy Jesus.
8. Thirdly, As Christ's humble man is content in affronts, and not greedy of praise; so, when it is presented to him, he takes no contentment in it: and, if it be easy to want praise when it is denied, yet it is harder not to be delighted with it when it is offered. But there is much reason that we should put restraints upon ourselves, lest, if we be praised without desert, we find a greater judgment of God"; or, if we have done well, and received praise for it, we lose all our reward, which God hath deposited for them that "receive" not "their good things in this life." For "as silver is tried in
Nil lascivius est Carisiano;
In Saturnalibus ambulat togatus. Mart.
m Tantâ enim consideratione trepidat (David,) nè aut de his in quibus laudatur, et non sunt, majus Dei judicium inveniat; aut de his in quibus laudatur, et sunt, competens præmium perdat.-S. Greg.
the melter, and gold in the crucible, so is a man tried by the mouth of him that praises him :" that is, he is either clarified from his dross, by looking upon the praise as a homily to teach, and an instrument to invite his duty; or else, if he be already pure, he is consolidated, strengthened in the sobriety of his spirit, and retires himself closer into the strengths and securities of humility. Nay, this step of humility uses, in very holy persons, to be enlarged to a delight in affronts and disreputation in the world. "Now I begin to be Christ's disciple," said Ignatius the Martyr, when, in his journey to Rome, he suffered perpetual revilings and abuse. St. Paul rejoiced in his infirmities and reproach:" and all the apostles at Jerusalem went from the tribunal," rejoicing that they were esteemed worthy to suffer shame for the name' of Jesus"." This is an excellent condition and degree of humility. But I choose to add one that is less, but, in all persons, necessary.
9. Fourthly: "Christ's humble man is careful never to speak any thing that may redound to his own praise," unless it be with a design of charity or duty, that either God's glory, or the profit of his neighbour, be concerned in it; but never speaking with a design to be esteemed learned or honourable. St. Arsenius had been tutor to three Cæsars, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius; but afterwards, when he became religious, no word escaped him that might represent and tell of his former greatness: and it is observable, concerning St. Jerome, that although he was of noble extraction, yet, in all his own writings, there is not the smallest intimation of it. This I desire to be understood only to the sense and purposes of humility, and that we have no designs. of vanity and fancy in speaking learnedly, or recounting our exterior advantges: but if either the profit of our brother, or the glory of God; if either there be piety or charity in the design, it is lawful to publish all those excellences with which God hath distinguished us from others. The young marquess of Castilion, being to do public exercise in his course of philosophy, made it a case of conscience whether he were bound to dispute his best, fearing lest vanity might transport him in the midst of those praises, which his col
» Acts, v. 41.
legiates might give him. It was an excellent consideration in the young gentleman: but, in actions civil and humane, since the danger is not so immediate, and a little complacency, becoming the instrument of virtue, and encouragement of studies, may, with like care, be referred to God, as the giver, and celebrate his praises; he might, with more safety, have done his utmost, it being, in some sense, a duty to encourage others, to give account of our graces and our labours, and all the appendant vanity may quickly be suppressed. A good name may give us opportunity of persuading others to their duty, especially in an age in which men choose their doctrines by the men that preach them: and St. Paul used his liberty when he was zealous for his Corinthian disciples, but restrained himself when it began to make reflections upon his own spirit. But although a good name be necessary, and in order to such good ends whither it may serve, it is lawful to desire it; yet a great name, and a pompous honour, and secular greatness, hath more danger in it to ourselves, than, ordinarily, it can have of benefit to others; and although a man may use the greatest honours to the greatest purposes, yet ordinary persons may not safely desire them; because it will be found very hard to have such mysterious and abstracted considerations, as to separate all our proper interest from the public end. To which I add this consideration, That the contempt of honour, and the instant pursuit of humility, is more effective of the ghostly benefit of others, than honours and great dignities can be, unless it be rarely and very accidentally.
• 10. If we need any new incentives to the practice of this grace, I can say no more, but that humility is truth, and pride is a lie; that the one glorifies God, the other dishonours him; humility makes men like angels, pride makes angels to become devils; that pride is folly, humility is the temper of a holy spirit and excellent wisdom; that humility is the way to glory, pride to ruin and confusion: humility makes saints on earth, pride undoes them: humility beatifies the saints in heaven, and "the elders throw their crowns at the foot of the throne;" pride disgraces a man among all the societies of earth: God loves one, and Satan solicits the cause of the other, and promotes his own interest in it most of all. And there is no one grace, in which Christ pro