« PreviousContinue »
wilt afcend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne IRRA: 13. above the Stars of God, I will fit upon the sides
of the North, I will afcend above the height's of the Clouds, I will be like the most High. Twas for this that the Angel of Death drew upon Herod, not because he was pleas’d with the fineness and success of his Oratory, but because he was not so juft to God as the People were to him, but lookt upon himself as the Head
fountain of his own perfections, and so gave. AAS 12-23. not God the glory.
But now if we take care to proportion our estimation of and our Complacencies in our felves to the measure of our endowments, and if we look. upon those very endowments not as originary and
independent but as derivative from the Father of James 1.17.
lights from whom every good and perfe&t gift descends, and accordingly refer all to Gods glory and with the Elders in the Revelations take off our
Crowns from our Heads and cast them at the foot Rev, 410
of the Throne, we have not only the express-
of God consists in seeing himself as he y ; 'he refleås upon the Beauty of his Essence, arid rejoyces with an infinite Complacency, Now certainly that wherein consists the Happiness of the Creator, cannot be a Sin in the Creature. Besides, I would fain know why a man may not as lawfully think well of himself upon the Score of his real worth, as defire that others hould think well of him for the same reason? And that he may do the latter is confefs'd as well by the Practice, as by the common Suffrage of Mankind. For otherwise what becomes of that good Reputation which Solomon says is 14ther to be chosen than great Riches, and of which prov. 22.: € the Best and Wiseft men of all ages had ever such a tender, fuch a paffionate Regard? Nay ?tis look’t upon as a very Commendable thing to be so affected, and the contrary is censured as the mark of a dissolute and unmoraliz'd temper. Only there is a Mipegu rf Kevóro to be ob- 2 Cor.10- 17. sery'd in this as well as in the former, and as we are not to stretch out our felves beyond our 2 Cor. 10.54. measure, fo must we take care with the great
Apoftle, not to give others occasion to think of 154 above that which they fee us to be. Befides, 2 Cor. 12.6. if we may not be allow'd to take the full Height of our own Excellencies, how shall we be able to give God thanks for them? The Elders must know they wear Crowns before they can use them as Instruments of Adoration, and Herod
: ; must
must be conscious of the right Genius of his Oratory, before he can give God the Glory. Again in the last place, if a man may not have leave to take Cognisance of his own Deserts and to value himself accordingly, what will become of that σωιδήσεως αγαθώς έφερώτημα
ts Otin which the Apostle speaks of, the anPeto 3. 21. fwer of a good Conscience towards God, which is
nothing else but a Sentence of Approbation, which a man passes upon himself for the well managing of that Talent of Liberty which God has entrusted him with ? Now this is the Reward of Vertue, and therefore certainly not contrary to it. .
Neither is this Self-esteemi only the Reward of Vertue but also the Cause of it too, and consequently 'tis not only allowable, but also highly needful that we should think Honorably of our selves. 'Tis a frequent Observation among Moral and Divine Writers, That most if not all the Sins which men commit, proceed from want of a due sense of the Dignity of their Nature. And consequently a due refleštion upon a man's own Worth, must needs. be a strong Preserva
tive against whatsoever would fain its Glory. Neh. 6. 11. Shal
Shall Tuch a man as I fee? Was the powerful confideration that buoy'd up the finking Spirits of Nehemiah. And tis one of the Capital Preçepts of Pythagoras's Morals (and perhaps one
of the best too that was ever given to the .
From these considerations (not to urge any more) it seems to me very evident, that 'tís not only lawful 'but in some refpeats highly Expedient, that our Opinions of our felves should rise up so as to be of a Level with our Excellencies, whatsoever they are. Let one of the Scales be mounted never so high, yet if there be a proportionable Weight in the other, the Ballance moves regularly, and as it should do. We may then proceed so far as this Standard. W
e But Secondly, We must not go beyond it. For all beyond this is Pride. Pride, that turn'd the Angels out of Heaven, Adam out of Paradice, and levelld the great King of Babylon with the Beasts that 'perise aiand which is nothing Dan. 4. 33. else but an Intemper ate Opinion of our selves, which consists either in alluming to our selves any Excellency which we have not, or, in OverFating what we have. Tho indeed in Strict
mef of Notion this latter falls in with the for: mer, For to Over-rate what we have, is in deed to assume some Degree of good which we have not, Here then begins our Restraint, the Reasonableness of which will appear froni the Absurdities and ill Consequences which attend the transgressing of this Standard, and which in the third and ląst place I come now to. consider,
I shall observe only the most notorious; and these I shall reduce to these Three general Heads.
First, That it unqualifies us for the performance of many Duties,
Secondly, That it betrayes us into many sins.
And Thirdly, That it frustrates all methods of Reformation. Of these very briefly,
First an excessive opinion of our selves (and that is so whieh furpasses the measure of our real worth) unqualifies us for the performance of many Duties; and that both in relation to God, our Neighbour and our Selves.se :
First in relation to God. v yn