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All men have more or less of pride; and therefore are jealous of the respect paid to others, and infinitely offended at another's seeming to respect himself. Honour and praise are things about which men contend, as if they could not be shared; for there is hardly any one who is satisfied to be commended or respected upon a level with others, but would have all the compliments and praises paid to himself: if he can be content with a preference, he is judged to have some modesty.
Again; he who does not receive some respect, will pay none: as if honour was a kind of trade, in which every man (such is his opinion of himself) thinks what he hath to give, is worth all he can receive from his neighbours. He, therefore, who seems to respect.himself above others, and to set up for engrossing all the esteem of his acquaintance, cannot but miss of his aim; because he must be most distasteful to the rest of mankind, who act too nearly upon the same principles, especially if he appears to overbear or extort that esteem. The pride of one man will not suffer him to bear the pride of another. This is the spring of all that outward respect and civility with which well-bred people, and such as know the world, are obliged to treat one another; and they are of no small use among persons in whom honour, and vanity, and self-respect, run so high. However highly each of them may think of himself, and despicably of others; yet, if this is artfully concealed, he may hope to be paid in the same coin, and treated with such a shew of respect, as, being construed by vanity to its own advantage, may serve the fool almost as well as real regard.
If he desires any more than mere civility, if he would have a shew of respect more solid; for instance, if he hopes to have others speak well of him behind his back; he must pay a much higher purchase for this higher mark of esteem; he must cringe so much the lower to them; he must flatter them when present, and cry them up to the stars when absent; or, he may assure himself, they will never fill their trumpets with his praises; but, on the contrary, vilify him on all occasions. He would do well, however, to consider how low he must stoop, to raise himself in the opinion of others; how little he must make himself, in order to this
sort of greatness. Now, as there can be nothing more mean or preposterous than to beg respect, to aim at praise by flattery; or honour, by servility; to compliment him whom he hates; to applaud the man whom he despises; to tickle the vanity of others with gross lies, and base dissimulation ; that they, in return, may feed his with the same chaff, so his pride, seeking to gratify itself by such means as these, miserably acts against its own intention, and brings him low, even to the ground. Christianity does not require humility itself to stoop so low.
Nothing, one would think, bids so fair to raise a man to honour and esteem, as the doing of good. But this can only recommend us to the esteem of a few, and a few can never give a man that general applause which pride looks for. The greater part of that scanty class of men, who like a man for doing good, are too apt to mistake a good action for the contrary ; to attribute the good that is done to low motives; and to take our characters, after having done the best we can, from worse men than themselves, who find a pleasure in artfully giving a bad turn to every thing; and, even when these virtuous few do think well both of what is done, and him who does it, they are generally, through suspicion, having been often imposed upon by false appearances cold enough in their commendations.
The rest of the world, as they have little inclination to do good themselves, so they look with an evil eye on him who hath. His good actions reprove their evil ones. They are sometimes even twitted with them, and are forced to hear an odious comparison made between him and themselves. . This is with them a sufficient cause of resentment and hatred. They think he hath traduced them by his piety, and fallen foul upon their characters by his justice and charity ; for which reason they use all possible means to set him in the worst lights they can, lest he should be thought a better man than themselves. In reality, to be remarkable for going good, is to be an object of envy to all those who do less good, and a reproach to such as do none. A few good actions, indeed, may be forgiven; but if a man should persevere in such practices, the good-natured world will say, he is setting up for something extraordinary ; will severely lash at him with their tongues on all occasions ;
will rip up all his failings; will add a hundred more he was never addicted to; and persecute him, as often as it is in their power, with the utmost cruelty. This is almost all the glory he is to be rewarded with among men, for doing the best actions, upon the best principles.
But if his motive for doing good appears to be a love of praise (and vanity is never to be concealed from the sharpsighted world, who always suspect it before it appears), then ridicule and infamy, which he justly deserves, are sure to be his doom. All actions are to be judged of by God according to the real principles they spring from; and men, who often set up for searchers of hearts, as far as they are able, endeavour to judge the same way. The proud man loses all the merit of the little good he does, both with God
God sees his heart, and knows he acts on no other principle but vanity; now God hates nothing so much as pride, because it is levelled more directly against himself than any other vice; robs him of his honour; was the spring of all evil and rebellion ; is most contrary to his nature, and most inconsistent with the nature of man, whom God, his Maker, knows to be so wicked, so miserable, and 80 vile, a creature, deserving of nothing but disgrace and shame; with which pride, be it ever so highly gratified here, must be punished at the last.
But the world never suffers it to go unmortified, even in this life, though setting itself off by the most plausible actions. Men of real worth hate the counterfeit of themselves, and can hardly be reconciled to the utmost good that vanity can do. And as to bad men, they serve the vain-glorious apes of goodness, just as the evil spirit served the sons of Sceva: “The truly good man we know, the upright man we know, but who are ye?' and, flying at their characters, they tear them to pieces. The proud man will not wait to be rewarded either by God or man; but makes his own vanity his pay-master; and, considering how little real good he does, and how high a value he sets on it, I believe he is always overpaid. This kind of hypocrisy and spiritual pride * brings a man so low,' both in the judgment of God, and the esteem of men, that the vilest publican or sinner, whose breast is smitten with humility, stands far above him in the sight of both.
If it is so idle, now, to glory in our best actions, which we never do but through the borrowed assistance of superior goodness and power, what is it to be vain of our ill ones? What is it to vaunt of successful lewdness, of victories in drinking, of uncommon cunning in bargain-making, of superior policy in managing law-suits, elections, oaths ? A mind vain of sin hath arrived to the utmost pitch of depravity; the devil himself can push it no farther; nor can it fall lower, till it takes up its eternal abode with him in utter darkness, the fittest place to hide such an infamous mind in.
The favours of the proud, as they are vouchsafed only to gratify his own vanity, as they are conferred for the most part on the unworthy, and as they are generally granted with a haughty, contemptuous, and disobliging air, seldom meet with a grateful return; and indeed never deserve it; but are often received with some degree of resentment: for those they are conferred on, are, it may be, as proud as their benefactor, and cannot easily bear his insolent bounties or services. The proud owns no obligations; the utmost that can be done for him, is but a small part of what, in his own opinion, he deserves.
There are fools so gross, as to impoverish and ruin themselves, to feed fools almost as senseless as they, merely for the sake of that flattery with which they at once pamper and banter their vanity. These bubbles swell, to take in the nauseous breath of those who blow them
with fulsome praises, till they burst, and fall into nothing. They who catch at the praises of fools, and the flattery of knaves, do but purchase, and that at a ruinous price, the incense of sinks and dunghills. What a stupid, what a low and despicable coxcomb is he, who can bear to be devoured, because he is applauded by the same mouth! ‘Pride goes before a fall,' for instance, into contempt; for who will respect the insolent? Or into poverty; for pride can seldom endure either industry or frugality. And then, pride having brought in want, fraud, perjury, or even theft and robbery, must be employed to carry it out again; so that many, to keep themselves in some appearance of their former plenty and splendour, are forced to enlist themselves among the lowest and basest of villains. I have known some gentlemen, of high
blood, and lofty spirits, who did not think it beneath them to cheat, lie, and even steal, to support the dignity of an ancient family.
The proud cares not for the company of his equals, and therefore can never have a friend; for friendship never couples creatures of different species; and such are the very high, and the very low. It is but one and the same pride that makes some men so fond of associating with their inferiors, that they may be always flattered and submitted to; and others, with those above them, that they may appear to the lower part of the world to be persons of eminence, by the company they consort with. To this end they bear with the grossest indignities from the great, that they may appear great to the little, and to the vulgar. They submit, like slaves, to the most scurvy treatment from those above, that, while they hang by them, they may tread with disdain on their equals and inferiors. This is but a pitiful sort of grandeur. It is generally in this class of men that pride begets jealousy and envy, the lowest and basest of its offspring. The envious man hath a great abundance of pride, but not enough to hinder him from perceiving, that others have more merit than himself; and therefore, as he cannot raise himself to a level with them, he uses all his endeavours to pull them down, by detraction, to the low situation of esteem where his own want of worth hath riveted him. He cannot rise; nor can he bear that any one should be above him in the opinion, perhaps, of those, whose esteem, after all, is not worth the having, because they cannot judge.
The proud man cares not for the company of wise men, because they outshine him in conversation. Nay, he is very unwilling to advise with them, unless in cases of extremity, because their judgments overtop his. There is nothing he is so vain of as of his understanding; for which reason, if another happens to advise him to that which he was about to do of himself, he will rather change his measures, than seem in the least to have leaned on the judgment of another. This is an infinite disadvantage to him; because, while the humble hath all the sensible people of his acquaintance to improve by, and to form a council of, the proud is always growing more weak and foolish, by means of the fools he associates with, and assimilates himself to. In such affairs