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As Folly leads to Atheism, so does an over peening opinion of our own Wisdom or any o-ther excellency to Profaneness. For as the Fool has said in his heart there is no God , so it is faid in another place That the ungodly is fo.
To Pfal. 10.40 Proud that he careth not for him. Pride then is altogether inconsistent with that Subjection, Honour and Veneration which we owe to God. For how can he submit his passions to the Authority of the Divine Will who has made a Law of his own ? And as it indisposes us for all 4. #tive, so likewise for all pallive Obedience; for how can he suffer that with Patience, which he thinks he does not deserve in Fustice? Or how can he submit with resignation to the seeming uneveneffes of Providential Dispensations, the equality of which because he cannot difcere, he must in honour to his own understanding deny? And upon the same ground it un. qualifies us for Faith in many of the Divine Revelations. For how can he Captivate his understanding to Mysteries , who thinks it a dishonour to own any, and is resolv'd to believe -no farther than he can comprehend?
Lastly, It unqualfies us for Gratitude towards God, and consequently puts a Bar to all those good actions which we would otherwise perform upon that Principle. And by this it be -comes a Multiplied, a Legion evil. For how can
he acknowledge an Obligation pass’d upon him by Gods Favours, who calls them not by that name, but esteems them as Rewards and Pay
ments, and inverting the Protestation of the Gen. 22. 10. good Patriarch, thinks himself worthy of the
greatest of his mercies.
Then Secondly, In relation to our Neighbour, it unqualifies us for Obedience to Civil Government. For how can he submit to the Wifdom of his Superiours , and pay an implicite deference to the Occult reasons of State, who thinks himself wiser than a whole Senate, and disputes even the ways of Providence ? Pride was ever observed to be the Mother of Facti. on and Rebellion, and accordingly St. Fude makes it part of the Character of the Proud Gnostics , To despise Dominions and speak evil of
Again, It unqualifies us for those acts of Justice which confift in a due observation of our Neighbours Merits, and a deference of external Respect proportionable to that observation. For how can he be at leasure to take notice of anothers worth, who is so wholely taken up in the contemplation of his own? Let the Reputation of his best Friends (if it be possible for a Proud man to have any) be in never so great danger, he like Archimedes , is so over
busie in admiring the Creatures of his own brain, thofe Draughts and Ideas which lie has form'd of himself there,that he regards not the Ruin that is about him. Or if he does, he is so far from appearing in their defence (as in Justice he ought) that he rather rejoyces at their Spots as Accessions to his own brightness.
Again, It unqualifies us for the Offices of Humanity, and Civil Behaviour, and all kinds of Homilitical virtue : for how can he treat those with any tolerable Civility, whom he looks down upon as a whole Species below him?
Lastly, it unqualifies us for Gratitude toward our Benefactors. For how can he think himself obliged by man, who counts God his Debtor ?
Then Thirdly, In relation to our Selves, here is this grand ill consequence of an immoderate falf-esteem, that it unqualifies us not only for higher attainments, but even for the very endeavours of improvement, and so cuts short and bedwarfs all our excellencies. 'Tis the Observation of Cicero, Multi ad scientiam pervenissent nifi fe jam pervenisse credidiffent, The Opinion of the Proud man has so far got the start of the real worth, that the latter will never overtake the former..' And as the immoderate esteem of our Selves
unqualifies us for the performance of many Dus ties, so does it also in the Second place Betray us into many Sins.
First, Into all those fins which are contra: ry to the foremention'd Vertues respectively. And besides them into many more, such as are presumption and security, vexation and discontent, contempt of others (tho at the same time it exposes us to theirs) Anger and Contention, Malice and Revenge. For the Proud man is not content to be his own private - Admirer, but quarels with all others that are not of his perswasi n, and with the Tyrant of Babylon kindles a fire for those whɔ will not fall down and worship the Image which he has set up..
Neither does the Leprosy stop here. But as it betrays us, into many sins, .fo in the Third and last place (which is the most dismal Confequence of all) It frustrates all. Methods of Reformation. Gods judgements will but exafperate and inrage him, because he thinks he does nos deserve them, and his . Mercies will not indear him, because he thinks he does. Advice he thinks he does not need, and Reproof he cannot bear. Besides he thinks so well of himself already, that he wonders what you mean by advising himn tɔ become better, and therefore as he does not endeavour after any of those ex- .
cellen- cellencies which he thinks he has, so neither can he dream of mending those faults which he thinks he is not guilty of: Thus is.the man Seal'd up to iniquity and deeply lodg'd in the strong holds of fin, where nothing that has a Salutary Influence can come nigh him. And in this he resembles the first Presidents of his Folly, who from Angels transform'd themselves into Devils, and fell beyond the possibilities of recovery.
These are some of the fruits of this Root of Bitterness,and tho more might be named, yet these I think sufficient to justify this Admonition of the Apostle to every man, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, aca cording as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. Let us then all endeavour to conform our opinions concerning our selves to this Standard. Let us not stretch our felves beyond our natural dimensions, but learn to entertain modest and fober thoughts of our own excellencies and indowments, and mortify our understands as well as our, Sensitive affections. And thus shall we compleat our Lent Exercise by joyning the mortification of the Spirit to that of the flesh, without which the greateit Austerities wherewith we can afflict the latter, will not be such a Fast as God has chosen. For what will it avail to macerate the Body, while the principal part the Soul remains unmortify’d? The Hut mility of Moses must conspire with his Forty days Fasting to qualify a man for Divine Intercourses,