Luke 14:7

The remark which the conduct of these guests called forth from Christ suggests to us -

I. OUR LORD'S INTEREST IN THE HUMBLER DETAILS OF OUR DAILY LIFE. We might have imagined, judging antecedently, that the great Teacher would not concern himself with a matter so trivial as this; or that, if he did, we should not find a record of his remark in a narrative so brief as are our evangels. We know that he had occasion to rebuke the Pharisees for letting religious faith lose itself altogether in minute and infinitesimal prescriptions (Luke 11:42; Mark 7:4). And there is a very remarkable absence from our Master's teaching of petty regulations. He sought not to prescribe particulars of behaviour, but to convey Divine principles and to impart a holy and a loving spirit; he knew that these would spontaneously and invariably issue in appropriate conduct. But Jesus Christ would not have us think that he is indifferent to the way in which we act on small occasions. He could be "much displeased" by an act of small officiousness (Mark 10:13, 14); and he could be deeply moved by an act of simple generosity (Luke 21:2, 3). And we may learn from this incident that it is not a matter of indifference how we behave in the common occurrences of our daily life: to what homes we go, what place in the house we take, how we act at the table (1 Corinthians 10:31), what is the tone of our conversation (Matthew 12:87), with what raiment we are clothed (1 Peter 3:3), whether we encourage or discourage the weak and timid disciple (Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:6). These things, and such things as these, are occasions when, by manifesting a kindly and humble spirit, we may greatly please our Divine Lord, or when, by an opposite spirit, we may seriously offend him.

II. THE PREFERENCE OF MODESTY TO SELF-ASSERTION. Jesus Christ here plainly and emphatically commends modesty of spirit and behaviour, and as decidedly condemns an immodest self-assertion. To take a lower place than we might claim to do is often found to be the prudent and remunerative course. Self-assertion frequently goes too far for its own ends, and is discomfited and dishonoured. Every one is pleased when the presumptuous person is humiliated. But modesty is frequently recognized and honoured, and every one is gratified when the man who "does not think more highly of himself than he ought to think" is the object of esteem. But when, in a more worldly and diplomatic sense, such modesty does not answer; when a strong complacency and a vigorous self-assertion do, as they often will, pass it in the race of life, and snatch the fading laurel of "success;" - still is it the becoming, the beautiful thing; still is it worth possessing for its own sake. To be lowly-minded is a far better portion than to have all the honours and all the gains which an ugly assertiveness may command.

III. THE VITAL VALUE OF HUMILITY. (Ver. 11.) Lowliness of mind, penitence, may be of small account in the eyes of men, but, on the part of those as guilty as we are, it is everything in the sight of God: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Spiritual pride is utterly offensive to God, and draws down his most serious condemnation; if we exalt ourselves we shall be abased by him. But a sense of our own unworthiness is what he looks to see in children that have forgotten their Father, in subjects that have been disloyal to their King; and when he sees it he is prepared to pardon and to restore. If we humble ourselves before him and plead his promise of life in Jesus Christ, he will exalt us; he will treat us as his children; he will make us his heirs; he will raise us up to "heavenly places in Christ Jesus." - C.

He put forth a parable to those which were bidden.
"When He marked how they..." The book of daily life was Christ's great text-book. What every man did, gave Him a subject; every word He heard started a novel theme. We poor preachers of the nineteenth century often cannot find s text, and say to one another, "What have you been preaching about? I wish I could get hold of another subject or two." Poor professional dunderheads! and the great book of life — joy, sorrow, tragedy, comedy — is open night and day. Jesus Christ put forth a parable, not after He had been shutting Himself up for a fortnight, and reading the classic literature of immemorial time, but "when He marked how they..." Keep your eyes open if you would preach well keep your eyes open upon the moving panorama immediately in front of you, omit nothing, see every line and every hue, and hold your ear open to catch every tone, loud and sweet, low and full of sighing, and all the meaning of the masonry of God. Jesus Christ was, in this sense of the term, pre-eminently an extemporaneous speaker, not an extemporaneous thinker. There is no occasion for all your elaborate preparation of words, if you have an elaborate preparation of yourself. Herein the preacher would do well, not so much to prepare his sermon as to prepare himself — his life, his manhood, his soul. As for the words, let him rule over them, call them like servants to do his behest, and order them to express his regal will. What sermons our Saviour would have if He stood here now! He would mark how that man came in and tried to occupy two seats all to himself — a cunning fallow, a man who has great skill in spreading his coat out and looking big, so as to deceive a whole staff of stewards. What a sermon lie would have evoked on selfishness, on want of nobleness and dignity of temper! How the Lord would have shown him how to make himself half the size, so as to accommodate some poor weak person who had struggled miles to be here, and is obliged to stand. I have been enabled to count the number of pews from the front of the pulpit where the man is. I paused there. My Lord — keener, truer — would have founded a sermon on the ill-behaviour. He would have spoken about us all. He would have known who came here through mere curiosity, who was thinking about finery and amusement, who was shopkeeping even in the church, buying and selling to-morrow in advance; and upon every one of us, preacher and hearers, lie would have founded a discourse. Do you wonder now at His graphic, vivid talk? Do you wonder now whence He got His accent Can you marvel any longer to what He was indebted for His emphasis, His clearness, His directness of speech, His practical exhortation? He put forth a parable when He remarked how they did the marketing, dressed themselves, trained or mistrained their families, went to church for evil purposes, spake hard words about one another, took the disennobling instead of the elevating view of their neigh hours' work and conversation. The hearers gave that preacher His text, and what they gave lie took, and sent back again in flame or in blessing.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

Sit not down in the highest room
1. That Christianity is intended to enter into our whole conduct, not only when we are engaged in religious exercises, but even in our social intercourse with our fellow-creatures. Nothing, you see, can be a greater mistake than to suppose that religion is to be confined to the church or to the closet. It is intended to regulate our thoughts and passions, and to dispose us always to cherish those dispositions which are amiable.

2. We infer from this passage that humility is a disposition essential to true Christianity, which ought to be exercised, not only on great occasions, but at all times; and that it does not consist merely in speeches, but includes actions done even in the most common intercourse of life.

3. Nothing can be more true than the declaration of our Saviour in the eleventh verse: "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." In uttering this maxim He addresses human feelings. He allows that all men aspire after distinction and honour, but requires that these should be sought after by humility. For he who is not humble, but cherishes pride and vanity, shall be subjected to mortification and disgrace. On the other hand, all are ready to raise the humble man, and to rejoice in his exaltation. Even if he should pass unnoticed by his fellow-creatures, the exercise of humility will constantly improve him, and will at length enable him, with the blessing of God, to attain the true dignity which belongs to superior excellence: "For the kingdom of heaven is his."

(J. Thomson, D. D.)

Some interesting volumes have been published under the title of Table-Talk. That of Luther is well known, in which many striking sayings of the great reformer are preserved, which would otherwise have sunk into oblivion. To other works of a biographical character, the above designation might have been appropriately given, especially Boswell's "Life of Johnson." We need not say that its chief charm, the one feature in which its interest and value pre-eminently consists, is not the incidents it contains, but the conversational observations which are recorded. The table-talk, however, of Luther and Johnson, instructive and important as it was, is not for a moment to be compared with that to which we are permitted to listen on the present occasion. We have in this chapter, as well as in many other parts of the gospel narratives, the table-talk of Christ. And while in His more public addresses, "never man spake like this man," the same can be said of Him with equal truth concerning all He uttered in those social gatherings to which, from various motives, He was occasionally invited.

There are no manners so refined and graceful as those taught in the gospel, because the gospel refers all to the heart. The habit of "pushing," as we expressively call it, whether in affairs of smaller or greater importance, seems expressly discountenanced by the spirit of the gospel, and something very different is taught. We who have to bring up our children to make their way in life, should be careful how far we stimulate in them the pushing instinct. Do not encourage them to be loud and clamorous in asking, and to make the interest of "Number one" the point of only or first importance, and to thrust others aside. Doubtless we have much counter-opinion to meet on points like these, but let us hold to it that the manners which are pervaded by the evangelical spirit and temper are the true manners, both for the gentleman and the man of the world. It is said, "If we do not look after ourselves, no one else will." Certainly, as our great poet says, "Self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting." But this is not the point. It is a self-love indulged so far that it becomes indifferent to the rights of others; it is the restless desire to get out of our proper place, and seize that which belongs to another, which is condemned. The world is always glad of people who are bent upon doing their duty and who keep their place, and takes delight in putting down those who do not know their place, and would grasp at honours not their due. Christ's lesson is one that comes home to us. It is not in the first instance a lofty and spiritual lesson, but a hint for our behaviour in the world of every day. And it is observable that He appeals to two very powerful passions — the sense of shame and the love of honour. If, in effect He says, you will persist in snatching at honours or advantages to which you are not entitled, you are on your way to be ridiculed, perhaps to be disgraced. If, on the other hand, you take a low place, lower, possibly, than that to which you are entitled, the chances are all in your favour. You may be promoted, and your promotion will bring honour upon you. An Oriental proverb says, "Sit in your place, and no man can make you rise." In other words, at life's feast sit down where all will accord you room, where none will dispute your right to be — a place that is lowly, therefore not envied; and there you may sit in peace and comfort. No man can disturb you in a place secured to you by the good will and respect of your neighbours. How much better this than to be contending for a position which the spite of others will not permit you to enjoy, and from which, sooner or later, you are likely to be removed. To how lofty a religious application is this lesson carried in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican!

(E. Johnson, M. A.)

We are all the subjects of love and of truth. We should indeed be dishonoured by absence from the feast; but as present, we show our fitness for honour by placing ourselves at the disposal of our royal host. We take the lowest room, and in that bright presence not the remotest corner is dark. Admission even, without promotion, is happiness. But Love, with his truth-anointed eyes, will soon see at which of the lesser tables we are suited to preside; among which group of guests we may best receive and dispense joy; and in what place and office of the festival we shall find our strength most free for generous exertion. Possibly, Love may see that we shell find it the truest promotion to remain in the lowest room and keep the door, and make those happy who, not fitted as yet to occupy high places, were nevertheless thought worthy of admission. Some of the great must always remain amongst the lowly, lest these become neglected and desponding, and a lowly heart is needed for this service. Perhaps our Saviour was sitting in a humble place, that the humbler part of the company might see and hear Him; and had declined, though with acknowledgment, the courteous request of the Pharisee that He would "come up higher."

(T. T. Lynch.)

There is a weapon much used in the contests of life — the elbow. We elbow our way on in the world. And there is another weapon, less regarded, but powerful — the knee. We must stoop the back to succeed in husbandry; and we must bend the knee to subdue the evil power that assails us from below, the enemy, whose strength is in his pride. And humility is not a temper to be put off on promotion; it is our safeguard in the sorrows of our early career, our ornament in elevation. At the first, like a shield — beautiful as well as protective; and at the last, like health — safety as well as beauty. If, then, you ask, Am I sure of promotion if I take the lowest place? Yes, sure, we reply, if you take it with a lowly heart. But many seek promotion, as if it were — in a spiritual, that is, in a real, sense — possible, apart from true ability. Will any one blame the sapling for desiring to become an oak? or even the little forget-me-not for wishing to be made the memorial of some good man's friendship? No; nor will we blame any man for asking a field for his strength, and an opportunity for his talent. Rut many seek promotion with little thought of service and capacity. As if one should come to us, complaining of his lot, and we should say, "I need a captain for one of my ships; will you take the post?" "Captain of a ship," he exclaims, "I never was at sea." "Oh," but we say, "there are two hundred men on board to do your bidding." "Ah," but he cries, "I could not even tell them what sails to unfurl." "But," we add, "the ship is going on a lucrative voyage; the captain will be well remunerated." "Ah," he says, "I could take the money." And, indeed, that is what he seeks. Men may not know how to earn a loaf, still less how to make and to bake one; but they know that they could eat it. They may know themselves unable to fulfil a high function, yet they do not deem a high chair unsuitable for them, because the cushion is soft! True promotion, however, is like that of the captain, who is the first man in the rule of a storm, and the last man in flight from a peril. No man should wish for degrees of wealth and praise unsuited to his inward attainments. He cannot indeed be rich to good ends, to his own welfare or his neighbour's, without being wise and good. He cannot honestly and safely receive the praise of men unless he deserves their love. Humility is then the necessary condition of all true and abiding promotion. All going forward that comes of a vain heart comes to a bad end. Vanity raised us; into "vanity" we sink. We have but stepped on, to be put back again. Now we begin with shame to take the lowest room. Humility does not imply, but is inconsistent with, baseness of spirit. It knows self as feeble, because it knows God as strong. It is the vision of God's glory that gives us the discovery of our own poverty; we feel, but not abjectly, our dependence upon Him. We are utterly yet hopefully dependent. It is He who shall appoint to us our places, we seeking first to do the duties next us in the best way; content with a low place because of a good work, wishing for a higher one because of a better. Through humility the lowest things are well done; and as we rise, we shall need the knowledge that experience of such work will bring us, for we shall need to direct, and still occasionally to perform, labours which once exclusively occupied us. The wise master-builder is acquainted with the humbler tools and meaner services his work needs, and so can both control and encourage all the workmen he employs. Humility may fail to secure earthly promotion, and yet the capable man will often rise through it to places of serviceable power and pleasant esteem. Results in this world do not at once and invariably illustrate spiritual laws, but they frequently do so.

(T. T. Lynch.)

Most persons agree to say that their earliest religious days were their happiest and best. May not this be traced, in part at least, to the fact that, at the beginning, we all take "a lower place" than we do afterwards? Was not it that then you were least in your own eyes — that your feelings were more child-like — that you had more abasing views of the wickedness of your own heart than now? Or, you say, "My prayers are not effectual. I do not get answers when I pray, either for myself or others; and, in consequence of this discouragement, prayer has become lately a. different thing to me, a thing without life, a thing without reality — then I remind you, Those that point their arrows high must draw their bows down low. You must "go lower." Remember that it was to one who felt herself "a dog" that our Lord said, "O woman, great is thy faith;" and then gave her everything she asked — "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Be sure there is "a lower room" in prayer than you have yet found. You must discover it, and go down into it, or you cannot find real peace of mind. Now, let us go into this matter a little deliberately. You use the ordinances of the Church and the private means of grace. It is well. Do you look for peace because you do this You say, "No; I look for peace because I trust in Christ." That is better. But there is " a lower room" than that; and therefore a better way than that. We get forgiveness — and peace, the fruit of forgiveness — not because we do anything, or believe anything, or because we are anything — but because God is God, and because Christ is Christ. It is the out-flowing of the free sovereignty of God's eternal grace, which, by believing, we take — and we, where are we? — but for that grace, in hell! You are to feel the amazing distance which there is between you and a holy God. "God, be merciful." That is "the lowest room;" and the way home is nearer and quicker — "I tell you that man went down to his house justified."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

"Sit down in the lowest room." But first, let me guard my meaning. To say, "I am not a child of God, He does not love me," this is not to "sit down in the lowest room." This lowers God's grace, but it does not lower you; rather, it puts you up. Neither is it to "go down, and sit in the lowest room " to reason upon any duty; it is above that — "Who am I that I should do such a work as this?" Do you not know that you are one thing, and the grace of God that is in you is another thing? Nor yet is it to "take the lowest room " to be ignorant of, or to deny the possession of talents which God has given you. Still less is it intended that these words should extend to heaven, and that we should be content with the "lowest place" in the "many mansions." I can never for a moment hold with those who say, "Let me get only within the gate of heaven, and I shall be satisfied." Avoiding, then, these misinterpretations, let us now consider what is the real meaning of the words. First, towards God. What is "the lowest room" towards God? Now I conceive it to be, to be content simply to take God at His word, without asking any questions, or raising any doubts, but to accept, at His hand, all that God graciously vouchsafes to give you, the pardon, and the peace; to be a receptacle of love, a vessel into which, of His free mercy, He has poured, and is pouring now, and will go on to pour for ever, the abundance of His grace. Next, it is to be just what God makes you, to rest where He places you, to do what He tells you, only because He is everything, and you are nothing, conscious of a weakness which can only stand by leaning, and an ignorance which needs constant teaching. But now, how to man? This is the point which I wish to view this morning as practically as I can. But unless the relationship is right with God, it is quite useless to expect it will be right with man. Then make the well-balanced sense of what you are, and what God is, the inner sense of weakness and strength which makes true humility, a subject of express, special prayer; that when you pass into company, you may be able to know, by a quick perception, what your own proper part is — to speak, or to be silent; to take a lead, or to go into the shade. But whichever it be, bare prepared yourself to put self out of sight; do not make yourself the hero of what you say, specially when you speak of personal religion. I)o not expect, or lay yourself out for notice, but seeks others' preferment. Anything approaching to argument would be an occasion which would especially call for this self-discipline of "taking the lowest room." Be on your guard, then, that self does not go up. Have a strong jealousy for the right, and fight for it; but do not confound your victory and the vindication of truth. If there be anything particular to be said, or any work to be done, and you see another willing to do it, and who can do it better than you, stand by, and let that other speak or act. But if there be not such a one, it will be as true humility to go boldly forward, and do it yourself. Only copy your great Pattern, and retire out of sight the moment it is said or done. If there be one among those you meet who is less thought of than the rest, show to that one the more kindness and attention. Do not put yourself up into the chair of judgment upon any man; but rather see yourself as you are — everybody is inferior in something, far worse than that man in some things. If you wish to do good to any one, remember that the way is not to treat him as if you were above him, but to go down to his level, below his level, and to speak to him respectfully. Sympathy is power; but there is no sympathy where there is self. If, brethren, you have failed in any relation towards God or man, the reason is mostly that you have not yet gone "low" enough. If you have not peace — if you have few or no answers to prayer — here, probably, is the chief cause. Therefore just try the remedy, "Go and sit down in the lower room." If you are troubled with suggestions of infidelity, the main reason is this, intellect has gone up too high. You are sitting as judge upon the Bible, when you ought rather to be the culprit at its bar. Be more a little child, handling the immensities of the mind of the Eternal. " Go and sit down in the lower room." And if you have not succeeded in your mission of life, this is the root; if you will go and be less, you will do much more.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Friend, go up higher
We have been taught to regard this parable as a counsel of prudence, and of a somewhat worldly prudence, rather than as a counsel of perfection. Some of our best commentators so read it, while they confess that. thus read, it enforces an artificial rather than a real humility, that it even makes an affected humility the cloak of a selfish ambition which is only too real and perilous. What this interpretation really comes to is this, that when our Lord was speaking to men who eagerly grasped at the best places, all He had to give them was some ironic advice on the best way of securing that paltry end, in the hope that, if they learned not to snatch at what they desired, they might by-and-by come to desire something higher and better. Is that like Him? Do you recognize His manner, His spirit, in it? Can you possibly be content with such an interpretation of His words?

I. Even if we take the parable simply as A COUNSEL OF PRUDENCE, considering the lips from which it fell, there is surely much more in it, Why may we not take it as enjoining a genuine and unaffected humility; as teaching that the only distinction which deserves a thought is that which is freely bestowed on men of a lowly and kindly spirit? Why may we not take it as setting forth a truth which experience abundantly confirms, viz., that even the most worldly and selfish of men have a sincere respect for the unworldly; that the only men who they can bear to see preferred before themselves are those of a spirit so gentle and sweet and unselfish as not to grasp at any such preference or distinction?

II. BUT MAY WE NOT TAKE IT AS A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION? In the Church, as well as in the world, we find men and women of a pushing, forward spirit, a selfish and conceited temperament, who covet earnestly the best seat rather than the best gift, and the first place rather than the prime virtues; who never doubt that, let others be where they will, they are entitled to sit down in the highest room. And, curiously enough, it is the comparatively ignorant who are most deeply convinced of their own wisdom; the narrow mind which is most sure that it is always in the right; those who have the least in which to trust, who trust in themselves; those who are most incompetent to rule, who are most ambitious of rule, most vexed and incensed if they are not suffered to rule. What they most need, then, is to hear a Voice, whose authority they cannot contest, which bids them take a lower place, both in the Church and in their own conceit, than that which on very slender evidence they have assumed to be their due. On the other hand, happily, we find many men and women in the Church, who are either naturally of a meek and quiet spirit, or who, by the grace of God, have so far tamed and subdued their natural self-will and self-conceit as to show, by word and deed, that they are familiar with their own weakness, and are on their guard against it. And when the Voice comes to them, "Friend, go up higher, take a more honourable post, not that you may be better seen or receive praise from men, but that you may serve them better, on a larger scale, or in a more public way," no one is more unaffectedly surprised than they are. Yet these are precisely the men whom we all delight to honour and to see honoured. Because they abase themselves, we rejoice in their exaltation.

III. Does, however, even this wholesome and pertinent lesson on humility exhaust the spiritual meaning which we are told this parable must have? By no means, I think. WE MAY READ IT IN A SENSE IN WHICH EVEN THE UNWELCOME COMMAND, "GO DOWN LOWER," MAY BECOME WELCOME TO US, AND MAY REALLY MEAN, "COME UP HIGHER." How often does our Lord compare the kingdom of heaven — i.e., the ideal Church — to a feast to which all are invited, and all may come without money and without price I And when we listen to the call, come into His kingdom, and sit down at His table, how often does the first joy of our salvation fade into disappointment and dismay as we perceive that His salvation is in large measure a salvation from ourselves, that His call is a call to share in His own self-sacrificing love, His unthanked toil, or even His poverty, shame, and affliction! When we first apprehend what His call really means, does it not seem to us as if it were a command to come down, not only from all that we once took pleasure or pride in, but also from the very honours and enjoyments which we had looked for in His kingdom and service? Alas, how we misread His love! For what can any call to the cross be, but a call to the throne?

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Does the Lord here inculcate a feigned humility? By no means: He simply enjoins that a man should mortify his individual pride and self-seeking — an act of self-discipline which is in itself always wholesome and beneficial. If the man deserved the lowest or a lower place, then all was right; he took that to which alone he was fairly entitled. If he took a place below what he was entitled to, then he left it to the master of the feast, the only fountain of honour, to redress matters. Anyhow he set an example of "minding not high things," but "in lowliness of mind esteeming others better than himself." It is to be remembered that in one of any real worth, the outward act would react on the inward spirit. The pride of spirit is fostered by outward self-assertion, and mortified by outward self-abasement.

(M. F. Sadler.)

With respect to the spiritual meaning of the parable, we have a remarkable key to it in Proverbs 25:6, 7. The Lord must have had this place in His eye; He must have meant Himself by the "prince," for it was He who, as the Wisdom of God, inspired this passage. All pride, all self-assertion, all seeking of great things takes place in the presence of a King, the supreme Fountain of Honour, the Lord of both worlds, the present and the future. It is very necessary for us to remember this, for the shame and confusion of face which in this parable is represented as the lot of mortified pride does not always follow it in this world. Self-assertion, self-assumption, forwardness, and boasting, do not always entail a disgraceful fall upon the man who displays them. The meek do not as yet "inherit the earth"; though, if we can trust the words of Christ, they assuredly will. David asks, how is it that ungodly men "speak so disdainfully, and make such proud boastings." Men who are ambitious and self-seeking at times attain to the height of their ambition, provided, of course, that they have other qualities, such as prudence, cleverness, and perseverance. But a day is coming when the words of Christ with which the parable concludes (ver. 11), will be verified in the case of every man. He Himself is the "King" before whom all pride displays itself, and before whom it will be abased. And there is the greater reason that He should do so, for when He had the highest place in the universe next to the Eternal Father, He abased Himself, and took the lowest place, even the place of the cross of death, in order that He might exalt those who have "followed the example of His humility." The Judge at that day will remember and humble every act of pride, just as He will remember and reward every act of humility. Does this seem too much? Not for One who numbers the hairs of our heads, and without whose permission no sparrow falls, and who has engaged to bring every idle word into judgment, and make manifest the secrets of all hearts. Should it not, then, be a matter of prayer that God may humble us here rather than hereafter? It may be very bitter to have our pride mortified now, but it will be a thousandfold more bitter to have it mortified before men and angels, above all in the presence of the Prince whom our eyes have seen.

(M. F. Sadler.)

It is said that General Gordon used to sit in the gallery of the church among the poor until, his fame becoming known, he was asked to sit in the luxurious seats appointed for the grandees, but that he preferred to keep the seat in which he had so long sat unnoticed and unknown.

Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.
I. THE VICE OF PRIDE IS FOOLISH FROM ITS VERY NATURE. We ought all to be deterred from pride by the fact that the proud endeavours to deceive both others and himself by pretended advantages; and also that, instead of gaining honour and favour, he usually renders himself contemptuous and odious. Yet it will help us to a more thorough conviction how utterly unfounded and foolish pride is if we meditate —

1. On the nothingness of man.(1) In the natural order.

(a)What were we, say one hundred years ago? Nothing! No one thought of us. No one needed us. God called us from nothingness to life because He is good.

(b)What are we now? We are not able to prolong our life for one minute unless God preserves it; we are subject to frailty of body and soul.

(c)What are we to be ere long? We are to pass like a shadow: to die.(2) In the order of grace.

(a)What have we been? Born in sin; and sinners by our own actions.

(b)What are we to-day? Perhaps hardened in sin, or lukewarm. At best, exceedingly weak.

(c)What shall we be at last? Dreadful uncertainty! Either converted, persevering, happy for ever, or obdurate, relapsing, reprobate for ever. Can we still remain proud, instead o! imploring in the dust the Divine mercy and grace?

2. On the greatness of God.


1. In reference to God.




2. In reference to human society.

(1)Anarchy, caused by the undermining of the pillars of social welfare, fidelity, piety, etc.

(2)Revolution: when haughty governments oppress the people, or when the insolent masses refuse to submit to order.

(3)Ruin of families, caused by dissensions.

3. In reference to individuals.The proud man is deprived of —

1. Inward peace, which is never enjoyed by a soul enslaved by her own passions, and at variance with God.

2. Outward peace, since it is continually clouded by real or imaginary opposition, affronts, humiliation, and contempt.

3. The enjoyment of true happiness. Although the proud have their triumphs, yet they are insufficient to satisfy man's heart, which will always crave for something more. Haman.

(Repertorium Oratoris Sacri.)


1. With regard to superiors in general, true humility consists in paying them cheerfully and readily all due honour and respect in those particular regards wherein they are our superiors, notwithstanding any other accidental disadvantages on their side, or advantages on ours.

2. Towards our equals, true humility consists in civil and affable, in courteous and modest behaviour; not in formal pretences of thinking very meanly and contemptibly of ourselves (for such professions are often very consistent with great pride), but in patiently permitting our equals (when it shall so happen) to be preferred before us, not thinking ourselves injured when others but of equal merit chance to be more esteemed, but, on the contrary, rattler suspecting that we judge too favourably of ourselves, and therefore modestly desiring that those who are reputed upon the level with us may have shown unto them rather a greater respect.

3. With regard to our inferiors, humility consists in assuming to ourselves no more than the difference of men's circumstances, and the performance of their respective duties, for preserving the regularity and good order of the world, necessarily requires.(1) There is a spiritual pride in presuming to sin, upon the sense of the virtues we are in other respects endued with. This was the case of Uzziah, king of Judah.(2) There is a spiritual pride of vainglory in affecting a public appearance of such actions as in themselves are good and commendable. This was the great fault of the Pharisees (Mark 12:38).(3) There is a spiritual pride of men confidently justifying themselves, and being wholly insensible of their own failings, while they are very censorious in judging and despising others.(4) There is still a further degree of spiritual pride in pretending to merit at the hands of God.(5) There is yet a higher degree of this spiritual pride in pretending to works of supererogation. Lastly. There is a spiritual pride in seeking after and being fond of mysterious and secret things, to the neglect of our plain and manifest duty. It remains that I proceed at this time to propose some arguments to persuade men to the practice of it. And first, the Scripture frequently lays before us the natural ill consequences of pride, and the advantages arising from true humility, even in the natural course and order of things. Pride makes men foolish and void of caution (Proverbs 11:2). It makes men negligent and improvident of the future; and this often throws them into sudden calamities (Proverbs 1:32). It makes men rash and peevish, obstinate and insolent; and this seldom fails to bring down ruin upon them (Proverbs 16:18). It involves men perpetually in strifes and contentions; and these always multiply sin, and are inconsistent with true happiness (Proverbs 17:19). It makes men impatient of good advice and instruction, and that renders them incorrigible in their vices (Proverbs 26:12, 16; Proverbs 28:26). Secondly. The next argument the Scripture makes use of, to persuade men to the practice of humility, is this — that pride, as 'tis usually of natural ill consequence, so 'tis moreover particularly hateful to God, who represents Himself as taking delight to bring down the lofty and to exalt the humble. 'Tis the observation of Eliphaz in the book of Job, Job 22:29 and Job 33:14-17). An instance of which is the description of the haughtiness and the fall of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), and the instance of Pharaoh (Exodus 5:2), and that of Herod (Acts 12:21). Another example is that of Haman, in the Book of Esther. Thirdly. The third and last motive the Scripture lays before us, to recommend the practice of humility, is the example of God Himself and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In a figurative manner of speaking, the Scripture does sometimes ascribe humility to God, and recommends His condescension as a pattern for us to imitate. "The Lord, who dwelleth on high... humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth" (Psalm 113:6): "Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly" (Psalm 138:6). And the same manner of speaking is used by God Himself (Isaiah 57:15). These are the principal arguments the Scripture makes use of to persuade men to the practice of humility in general. There are, moreover, in particular, as many peculiar distinct motives to practise this duty as there are different circumstances and varieties of cases wherein it is to be exercised. Without practising it towards superiors, there can be no government; without exercising it towards equals, there can be no friendship and mutual charity. Then, with regard to inferiors; besides the general example of Christ's singular and unspeakable condescension towards us all, there are proper arguments to deter us from pride upon account of every particular advantage we may seem to have over others, whether in respect of our civil stations in the world, or of our natural abilities, or of our religious improvements. If the advantages of our civil stations in the world tempt us to proud and haughty behaviour, we may do well to consider that argument of Job 31:13: "If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant when they contended with me, what then shall I do when God riseth up?" And Job 34:19: "He accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands." Which same argument is urged also by the wise man: "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker" (Proverbs 14:31).

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

The world's rule is the exact opposite of this. The world says, "Every man for himself." The way of the world is to struggle and strive for the highest place; to be a pushing man, and a rising man, and a man who will stand stiffly by his rights, and give his enemy as good as be brings, and beat his neighbour out of the market, and show off himself to the best advantage, and try to make the most of whatever wit or money he has to look well in world, that people may look up to him and flatter him and obey him: and so the world has no objection to people's pretending to be better than they are.

(C. Kingsley.)

If God is really the King of the earth, there can be no use in any one setting up himself. If God is really the King of the earth, those who set up themselves must be certain to be brought down from their high thoughts and high assumptions sooner or later. For if God is really the King of the earth, He must be the one to set people up, and not they themselves. There is no blinding God, no hiding from God, no cheating God, just as there is no flattering God. He knows what each and every one of us is fit for. He knows what each and every one of us is worth; and what is more, He knows what we ought to know, that each and every one of us is worth nothing without Him. Therefore there is no use pretending to be better than we are.

(C. Kingsley.)

Charles V. was so sure of victory when he invaded France, that he ordered his historians to prepare plenty of paper to record his exploits. But he lost his army by famine and disease, and returned crestfallen.

The day Sir Eardley Wilmot kissed his Majesty's hands on being appointed Chief Justice, one of his sons, a youth of seventeen, attended him to his bedside. "Now," said he, "my son, I will tell you a secret worth your knowing and remembering. The elevation I have met with in life, particularly this last instance of it, has not been owing to any superior merit or abilities, but to my humility, to my not having set up myself above others, and to an uniform endeavour to pass through life void of offence towards God and man."

A French general, riding on horseback at the head of his troops, heard a soldier complain, "It is very easy for the general to command us forward while he rides and we walk." Then the general dismounted, and compelled the grumbler to get on the horse. Coming through a ravine a bullet from a sharp-shooter struck the rider, and he fell dead. Then the general said, "How much safer it is to walk than to ride!"

A humble saint looks most like a citizen of heaven. He is the most lovely professor who is the most lowly. As incense smells the sweetest when it is beaten the smallest, so saints look fairest when they lie lowest.

(T. Secker.)

Sunday Teachers' Treasury.
The humble soul is like the violet, which grows low, hangs the head downwards, and hides itself with its own leaves; and were it not that the fragrant smell of his many graces discovered him to the world, he would choose to live and die in secrecy.

(Sunday Teachers' Treasury.)

St. being asked "What is the first article in the Christian religion?" replied, "Humility." "And what the second?" "Humility." "And what the third?" "Humility."

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