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as are too delicate and difficult for his understanding, he is left entirely to himself, and stands alone ; while people too wise or cunning for him, are pushing at him. He walks alone through a path he sees not a single step of; for nothing is so blind as pride. From hence proceed his frequent falls and blunders, which bring on him the ridicule of all who know him : Seest thou a man who is wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him; for, thinking himself wise, he becomes foolish ;' and falls, of course, into the contempt of every body but himself.
Nothing hinders improvement in knowledge so much as pride. It will not bear conviction; for that is to be outdone. It will not bear information; for you can tell it nothing it did not know before. It neglects useful knowledge, because common; and hunts for strange, for curious, articles of learning, to make a figure with. This sort of pride is called conceit; and is rather troublesome than hurtful, unless in matters of religion, where it does a world of mischief, and is the spring of almost all the heresies and schisms that have ever pestered the church. When two conceited persons happen to fall into a religious dispute, be it about a matter of consequence, or a trifle, about the necessity of revelation, or the length of Paul's cloak, they will so manage it, as to go still farther and farther from truth, and lay the foundation of a bitter and lasting enmity, which all the wisdom and charity of religion shall never be able to reconcile.
The things of the world, that are most apt to tempt us to pride, are, at the same time, the most disposed to mortify it. Some fools are vain of their families; but it is hard to tell for what reason. They cannot glory in the bad actions of their ancestors, and their good ones are but a reproach to their follies and vices. Is it only because they were rich; that their posterity are so vain? If this be the case, why do they not think more highly of him, who is now raising a fortune, than of themselves, who have squandered one away? Although they despise the man who is lately grown rich, because his ancestors were poor; yet their whole compliment is paid to riches, without at all considering whether the fortunes made by their ancestors were not scraped together by the most infamous frauds, and the most cruel op
pression; which if they were, these men have no better reason to be vain of their families, than the son of a pirate or a robber, who is left in wealthy circumstances by the iniquity of his father. There is no man more despised than he who values himself upon the borrowed honours of his family; for every one knows that he would not be vain of such imputed credit, had he any real worth of his own.
As to riches, there is this of meanness in them, that they are lent by Providence, to those who possess them, as alms are given to beggars; for the rich come into the world, and go out of it, poor and naked ; and, if they are covetous, they are more needy than the beggar, who wants but a little. Surely, now, it is not great, to have great wants. There is nothing more senseless, and, of consequence, more despicable, than the vanity of him, who, although he is not six feet high, although his weight may be found by a moderate pair of scales ; although his belly may be filled by a few pounds of food in the day, and his back covered by a few yards of cloth; yet takes it into his head to covet all the food, and all the cloth, in the world ; and, although he is already master of an inexhaustible fortune, perhaps of a crown, thinks himself hampered in a kingdom, stretching three hundred leagues every way; and therefore to give himself more room, and better supply his necessities, sets himself to acquire all the land in the whole world, to 'add city to city, and land to land, till there be no place.' For this important end, the lives of millions, subjects as well as enemies, are to be sacrificed, and misery and desolation spread over the face of the earth. Considered in this light, every one in his senses would call such a person a madman. But the rest of mankind only call him covetous, or ambitious, because they generally find in themselves the same endless and insatiable desire. Thus it is that the proud possessor of wealth and power falls into extreme necessity; and although master of much, is in miserable distress, because not possessed of all. And what do the covetous and ambitious struggle for? It is only to be greatest in this world, that is, to be uppermost on a dunghill; and, in this pitiful contention, they little care how deeply they founder in the filth of treachery, perjury, extortion, oppression, rapine, slaughter.
A man, who hath employments and places of honour, meets with great respect from all sorts of people; and of this he is vain. But the compliment of respect is by no means paid to him; for, let these places be taken from him, and given to the vilest of men, and all this respect shall immediately quit the old possessor, and follow the places; by which he may learn, that all the flattery and condescension he was fed with, was only a gross sort of banter pride; and that all the cringes he so vainly took to himself were only so many bows made to the place he stood in. Yet this is not enough to humble him; he is still vain of what he was, vain of the ghost of his departed grandeur, which, when it was at its height, was but the shadow of respect.
Thus do the persons and things of this world conspire to bear down that pride, which they tempt the vain-glorious heart of man to. But there is nothing brings a man so low as want of religion, which turns him into a brute in this world, and a devil in the next. Now pride is the greatest enemy to true religion: The proud man careth not for God, neither is God in all his thoughts.' It was pride hindered the Jews from becoming Christians. They expected a temporal Messiah, a mighty emperor of this world, who should make kings and lords of them all. They had given this out every where, and staked the credit of their prophecies on the event. When our Saviour, therefore came, they looked on him with infinite contempt. Even the people about Galilee, who could not be very high in the world, said, Is not this the carpenter's son, brought forth in a stable, and laid in a manger ? Don't we know his relations? Are they not among the meanest of the people? It is true, he is descended from David, but David was himself a shepherd before he was a king; and, though his family was afterward ennobled by a succession of kings, yet it hath been Jong sunk in obscurity and poverty. There hath not been, for some ages, a considerable fortune either in the line of Mary or Joseph. What this man says, therefore, ought to go for nothing. Although he should speak as never man spake;' although his wisdom should exceed that of men and angels; although his miracles should testify a more than human power; yet his eloquence is but impertinence; his wisdom, madness; and his miracles, magic: for what is he, but the son of a carpenter? And what would he persuade us to do? Why, to deny the world, and sink to a level with himself. The rabbis, in the pride of human learning, said to themselves, 'What education had this Jesus of Nazareth ? Or upon what improvements do his followers, who are fishermen and tent-makers, set up for preachers and orators ? Are they not the most ignorant of men? Shall we submit our minds, cultivated already with the deepest refinements, to the tutorage of such novices as these? Shall they persuade us to renounce our rabbinical wisdom, and sell all we possess, and take up a cross, and follow such a leader?' Thus the Jewish people rejected Christ, because he was not a gentleman; and their doctors despised his religion, because he was not bred at a university; and thus reasons the same sort of people to this day. The worldly-wise, and the conceited philosopher, look on the wisdom of the gospel as foolishness. The great contemn its humble and selfdenying spirit. The men of pleasure make a jest of its mortifications. Now, although it hath not for many ages been a disparagement to any man to be a Christian, because so many great men profess themselves such ; yet it is generally beneath the great to be Christians in good earnest; insomuch that the little man, who sets up to be somewhat, lays the main stress of his endeavour to distinguish himself from the vulgar, on an affected shew of indifference for religion; poorly apeing, in this, the follies and vices of greater men, because he is unable to imitate them in any thing that is better. Pride never throws a man down so low, as when it makes him an apostate to religion ; because from a fall to the depths of infidelity, brutality, and diabolism, there is no rising again. He who thus falls, is for ever sinking deeper, and plunging farther, into vice and infamy, till at last he becomes the outcast of God, and the whole creation, and takes up his final abode in endless misery and shame, with the original author of pride and apostacy.
All this, which is so manifest from experience, is made still more evident by the holy Scriptures ; which are full of strong assurances, “that the crown of pride shall be trod under foot;' that, 'when pride cometh, then cometh shame;' and that he who exalteth himself, shall be abased.' There
are also many examples in sacred history, no less terribly threatening pride with a fall, than the afore-mentioned as
Pride changed Lucifer, from the most glorious angel of light, into the most despicable devil.
Pride threw Eve, who hoped, by eating the forbidden fruit, to be made as God, out of paradise, into a world full of misery, shame, and death.
Pride made the sons of Jacob sell their brother; by which they were brought at length to throw themselves down before that object of their envy, in the greatest distress, and most abject fears.
Pride, which would not suffer Saul to enjoy the praises of those who said he slew his thousands, because the same persons said, David slew his ten thousands, pushed him into all manner of impiety and excesses, insomuch that God forsook him, and gave his crown to the man he hated.
Pride brought Haman to hansel that lofty gallows he had erected for a much better man than himself.
Pride caused the good Hezekiah to expose his treasures to the ambassadors of the king of Babylon; which was followed by a sudden denunciation of God's displeasure, and brought the Babylonians to destroy his country.
Pride brought Nebuchadnezzar down from the throne, while the very words of boasting and vanity were yet in his mouth, to eat grass as an ox, and numbered him with the beasts of the field.
Pride lifted up the heart of Belshazzar against the God of heaven ; and in that same night he was slain, and his kingdom given to Darius the Median.
Upon a vain confidence in himself, St. Peter was by Almighty God left to himself for a time; and in that time he forswore his Master.
The Pharisee in the temple, who applauded his own righteousness, and vilified the penitent publican, had a very different judgment passed on him by him who said on that occasion, ' Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased.'
What must those disciples of our Saviour have thought of themselves, who, having disputed about superiority, and claimed the privilege of sitting at his right hand, and at his left, in the kingdom of heaven,' when they afterward saw