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sanctification ; gratefully acknowledging the blessings which he has received, and humbly asking for those which he needs. How naturally would he exclaim, Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou shouldest visit him!
Such, if I mistake not, are the views formed by Christian humility; and such the affections of the mind in which it prevails.
REMARKS. From these observations it is evident,
1st. That Evangelical humility is exactly conformed to the real circumstances and character of men.
The views, which the humble man entertains of himself, and of his condition, are exactly suited to both. He is just such a being as he supposes himself to be, and in just such a condition. His origin is as lowly, his situation as dependent and precarious, his mind as ignorant and erring, his character as guilty, and his destination fraught with as much distress and danger, as he himself realizes. His views therefore, are absolutely true and just. If such views then are honourable to a rational being, if no other thoughts can be honourable to such a being, then the views entertained by humility are honourable to the human character. On the contrary, the views of pride, or as Mr. Hume chooses to style it, self-valuation, are absolutely unsuited both to the condition and character of man. They are radically and universally unjust and false, and of course, are only disgraceful and contemptible.
The affections, which have been here considered as involved in humility, are evidently no less just. They spring irresistibly from the views; and no sober mind can entertain the latter without experiencing the former. These affections are all, plainly, the harmony of the heart with the dictates of the understanding : dictates seen and acknowledged to be just and certain, and, where the heart is governed by candour, irresistible. Whenever the mind sees itself to be thus ignorant, erring, and sinful, and its situation thus dependent, precarious, and distressing; it cannot, without violence done to itself, fail of feeling both the character and condition, and of feeling them deeply; for they are objects of immeasurable importance to its whole well-being. Equally just are the affections, which he exercises towards his Maker and his fellow-Christians. The difference between the character of God and his own character being seen to be such; so entire, so vast, particularly as He is infinitely holy and pure, while himself is altogether polluted with guilt ; no emotions can be proper towards this great and glorious Being, which do not involve a strong sense of this amazing moral difference between Him and itself. In such a case, where there is no humility, there can be no reverence towards God; and were there is no reverence, it is impossible that there should be any thing acceptable towards Him.
In the same manner, humility enters into every other affection of a sanctified mind towards its Maker. Our views of the mercy of God exercised towards us, and the emotions excited by them, are exactly proportioned to the apprehensions, which we form of our own unworthiness. He, to whom much is forgiven, our Saviour informs us, will love much. Pardon, Mercy, and Grace, are terms which mean little, if they have any meaning that is realized, in the eye of him who is not humbled for his 'sins, and who does not feel his own absolute need of pardon. The Song of the redeemed is sung only by those, who realize the love of Christ, because he has washed them from their sins in his own blood. The gratitude, therefore, exercised to God for his unspeakable mercy, in forgiving our sins, and redeeming us from under the curse of the Law, will in a great measure be created by our humility.
In the same manner does it enhance our complacency in the Divine character. Of dependence it is the essence; of adora
e tion, and indeed of all our worship, it is the substance and the soul.
2dly. From these observations it is evident, that no man can hope for acceptance with God without humility.
God, says the text, resisteth the proud, but giveth grace (or favour) to the humble. The proud, and the humble, are two great classes including the whole of the human race. Of which class, does it seem probable to the eye of sober reason, that the infinitely perfect Author of all things will select his own family, and the objects of his everlasting love : those who possess the views and the spirit here described; or those who indulge the “ self-valuation" so grateful to Mr. Hume: those who boldly come before him, with God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men ; or those who dare not lift up their eyes to heaven, but, smiting upon their breasts,
, say, God, be merciful to me a sinner ? How obvious is it to common sense, that, if he accept any of our race, they will be such as have just views of their character and condition, of their own absolute unworthiness, of the greatness of his mercy in forgiving their sins and sanctifying their souls, of the transcendent glory of the Redeemer in becoming their propitiation, and of the infinite benignity of the Divine Spirit in renewing them in the image, and restoring them to the favour, of God. Who else can possess the spirit, who else can unite in the employments, who else can harmonize in the praises, of the first-born ?
Let me ask, is it possible that a proud man should be a candidate for immortal life ; whether proud of his birth, his wealth, his station, his accomplishments, or his moral character ? Suppose him to arrive in the regions of life, in what manner would his pride be employed? Which of these subjects would he make the theme of
? his conversation with the spirits of just men made perfect? How would he blend his pride with their worship; how would he present it before the throne of God?
3dly. From these observations also, we learn that humility is a disposition eminently lovely.
Learn of me, says the Saviour of mankind to proud and perishing sinners, for I am meek and lowly of heart. How astonishing a declaration from the mouth of Him who controlled the elements with a word, at whose command the dead were raised to life, and at whose rebuke demons trembled and fled! Draw nigh ye mise. rable worms of the dust, place yourselves by the side of this glorious
person, and recite before him the foundations on which your loftiness rests ; your riches, your rank, your talents, and your stations. How will these subjects appear to his eye? How will those appear, who make them the grounds of their self-valuation ? Meekness and lowliness of heart adorned him with beauty inexpressible. Can pride be an ornament to you?
Would you be amiable in the sight of God, you must essentially resemble Him who was “altogether lovely.” Even you yourselves cannot but discern, that, had He been proud, it would have tarnished his character, and have eclipsed the face of the Sun of Righteousness.
In the mean time let Christians remember, and feel, that they themselves will be lovely, exactly in proportion as they approximate to the character of the Redeemer in their humility. The same mind, says St. Paul to the Philippians, be in you, which was also in Christ'; who, being in the form of God, thought it no 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.
From what a height did he descend ! How lowly the visible station which he assumed !
Your humility towards God will make you lovely in his sight; your humility towards your fellow-Christians will make you lovely in theirs. In both cases, it will be a combination of views and affections conformed to truth, exactly suited to your character and circumstances, and equally conformed to the good pleasure of God, and to the perfect example of his beloved Son. It will mingle with all your affections, and make them sweet and delightful. It will operate on all your conduct, and make it amiable in the sight of every beholder. From pride and all its wretched consequences, it will deliver you. Of the grace of God it will
assure you. For to this man will I look, says the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, even to him, who is of a humble and contrite spirit ; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. It will accompany you through life, and lessen all the troubles, and increase all the comforts, of your pilgrimage. It will soften your dying bed, and enhance your hope and your confidence before the last tribunal.
THE LAW OF GOD.-THE FIRST AND GREAT
LUKE xxii. 41, 42.—And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneel
ed down and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me : Revertheless, not my will, but thine be done.
THE next exercise of love to God in our progress is Resignation.
Of this excellence the text contains the most perfect example, which has been recorded or witnessed in the Universe. Our Saviour while in the Garden of Gethsemane having withdrawn from his disciples about a stone's cast, kneeled down, and prayed, under an agonizing sense of the evils, which he was about to suffer. His prayer in the midst of this agony was, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done! The situation of Christ was much more trying than we can conceive. Yet in this situation he bows his will entirely to the will of God; and prays him to remove the cup, only on the condition that he is willing; and that not his own will, but the will of the Father, may be done. The occasion was wonderful : the Resignation was complete. He yielded himself entirely into the hands of his Father; and earnestly desired, that his will, whatever it should cost himself, might be done. Nothing can be more edifying, than this example: nor can any thing be more instructive. By it we are taught,
1st. That Religious Resignation is a quiet yielding of ourselves to the disposal of God, and not to the mere sufferance of evil.
Christ prayed earnestly, and repeatedly, that, if it were possible, the evil, or the cup, might pass from him. That this was per
: fect rectitude on his part will not be questioned. What he, with perfect rectitude, desired to escape, we may, with entire rectitude also, desire to escape. As he was not willing to suffer evil; it was perfectly right, that he should not be willing. It is entirely right, therefore, that we should be equally unwilling:
But Christ was entirely willing to do, and to suffer, whatever God willed him to do, or to suffer. He was, however, disposed thus to do, and suffer, merely because it was the will of God; and because that will requires nothing, but what is perfectly wise and good, and perfectly desirable. As, therefore, the perfect Resignation of our Saviour was a yielding of himself to the will of God, and not at all to mere suffering; so it is clear, beyond a debate, that Religious Resignation is, in every case, of this nature only. Vol. III.
2dly. That it is our duty to resign ourselves to the will of God entirely; and that, in all situations of life.
The situation, in which Christ expressed the Resignation in the text, was certainly much more trying, than any which men experience in the present world. At the same time, he had not merited this distress by any fault, or defect, of his own. and perfect mind was free, alike, from error and from sin. Accordingly, in that memorable prayer, contained in the 17th chapter of John, and uttered just before his agony in the garden, he could say with perfect confidence, as well as with exact truth and propriety, I have glorified thee on the earth : I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father! glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory, which I had with thee before the world was.
Yet in this situation of peculiar distress, he gave up, entirely, every wish of his own : choosing rather to suffer these wonderful afflictions, if it was the will of God that he should suffer them, than to escape them, if it was not. Whatever afflictions befal us, we are ever to remember, that we have deserved them; and that they are always inferior in intenseness to those, which were suffered by Christ. Our reasons for resigning ourselves entirely to the disposal of God, therefore, afe, in some respects, greater than his. In all situations, it of course becomes us to be still, and know, that he who afflicts us is God.
To render our Resignation entire, it is indispensable, that it should be unmingled with murmuring, impatience, distrust of the goodness of God, or any dissatisfaction with his Providence. We may lawfully wish, not to suffer evil, considered by itself; but we cannot lawfully wish, that the will of God should not be done.Nor can we lawfully complain, at any time, of that which is done by his will. He, who complains, has not, if he is resigned at all, arrived at the due degree of Resignation. Jeremiah, with irresistible force, asks, Shall a living man complain ; a man for the punishment of his sins ?
3dly. Religious Resignation is perfectly consistent with the clearest, and strongest, sense of the evils, which we suffer; and with the deepest distress, while we suffer.
Christ, as I have observed, was perfectly resigned. Yet Christ felt, in the deepest manner, the whole extent of the evils which he suffered. This we know, both because he prayed to be delivered
. from them, if it were possible ; and because his agonies forced the sweat to descend upon him in the form of great drops of blood. What Christ did, in this respect, it is lawful for us to do. Christ felt these evils to their full extent; and yet was perfectly resigned. We, therefore, may in the same manner feel the evils, which we experience; and yet be the subjects, in this very conduct, of true Evangelical Resignation.
4thly. Christian Resignation is perfectly consistent with the most fervent supplications to God for deliverance from the evils which we suffer.