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esteem not, we cannot improve; and our Fields and Fortunes will then be much better cultivated and improved than ourselves.
But it will be said, What is theri the
proper Object of our Esteem? What is the most proper ? Every thing is valuable in its Place and Rank, buc what is fit for a Man to make his great Point, to aspire to above all others, to culcivate with his utmost Diligence, and exhibit to others, as his best Accomplishment ? Here it may perhaps be answered, That as Men differ from each other in their natural Abilities and Capacities, in their Opportunities, in their Stations and Offices of Life, that each Man should endeavour to distinguish himself, and to excel, in that particular which his natural Talents and Circumstances of Life have best enabled him to improve in: The Soldier in Valour, the Statesman in Wisdom, the VOL. I. N
Judge in Imparciality of Judgment, and every Artizan in his particular Calling. All this is true, and in all these Instances the Precept in my Text will take place. In these things we may esteem our selves, but we should not think too highly of our selves, but think soberly, according to our Measure and Proportion: Some will excel others in all Particulars. But if the inferior, from a fond Conceit of his own Excellence, prefer himself to his Betters, what is the Consequence, bur Shame and Reproach? This is a yery common Case; for they that know leaft, are soonest puffed up; whilst they that really excel, leave it co their Deeds to praise them, and have no need to be their own Trumpeters. It is the Bubble, that extends itself, rises aloft, glitters, bursts, and disappears. When Comparisons are made, 'tis not our own, but the Judgment of others must determine: to which we openly
appeal in every Action, that we think deserves Self-Commendation and Preference. As every Man is naturally inclined to think well of himself, so every one has naturally a Derestation of Boasting and Insolence in others. SelfPreference without Meric is the most odious thing in the World; every one is ready to lend a helping hand to dethrone this Usurpation. And where there is Merit, as much as it assuines, so much it loses. Our Lord's Parable describes the Case with the utmost Exactness: When thou art bidden of any Man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room ; left a more honourable Man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this Man Place; and thou begin with Shame to take the lowest Room. But when thou art bidden, go and fit down in the lowest Room, that when he that bade thee cometh, be may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher:
then Malt thou have Worship in the Pres sence of them that sit at Meat with thee. For whosoever.exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself Mall be exalted". We are not forbidden here to seek the Worship and Respect of them, with whom we converse; but only the absurd Way of seeking it. Humility and Modesty, as they break not in upon any Opinion which Men justly conceive of themselves, must be agreeable to all, and have the Praises of all. And if we look into the Rise and Consequences of Self-conceit and Humility, one would think nothing further could be necessary to determine our Conduct in this respect. Self-conceit arises from a very superficial or no Examination of our selves and others; it makes such Claims as it has no sort of Right to; and breaks out upon all Occasions into Vain-glory and Boasting; ic treats o
* Lnke xiv. 8, 9, 10, 11, Verses.
thers with Insolence and Contempt; and this produces in them either Con-, tempt and Ridicule, or Rage and Revenge : These again retort bitterly upon the Pride of the Self-conceited, and throw them into every self-tormenting and outragious Passion, and conclude at last in a monstrous Produce of Disappointment and Anguish. On the other hand, Humility is a necessary Result of a decp Enquiry into our selves, and is naturally candid and complaisant to others. This conciliates their good Opinion, their Favour and Friendship : These again reflect back upon the humble the greatest and most sincere Pleasures of this Kind they are capable of. These enjoy the Praises they never. seek; whilst the Others, in their Pursuits of Esteem, encounter nothing but Shame and Ridicule; they are blown up in every Train, and are distinguish'd only to their own Disappointment.