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As Folly leads to Atheism, so does an overweening 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 Pfal. 10.4. 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 4five, so likewise for all pallive. Obedience; for how can he suffer that with Patience, which he thinks he does not deserve in Justice? Or how can he submit with resignation to the seeming unevenesses of Providential Dispensations, the equality of which because he cannợt discera, 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 difhonour 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 becomes 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. 32, 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 Faction and Rebellion, and accordingly, St. Jude makes it part of the Character of the Proud Gnostics , To despise Dominions and speak evil of Dignities.
Again, It unqualifies us for those acts of Justice which consist 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 overbusie in admiring the Creatures of his own brain, those 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 be dwarfs all our excellencies. 'Tis the Observation of Cicero, Multi ad scientiam pervenissent nisi se 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 D
unqualifies us for the performance of many Duties, 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, so in the Third and last place (which is the most dismal Consequence
of all) It frustrates all Methods of Reformation. Gods judgements will but exafperate and inrage him, because he thinks he does noi 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 hiin to become better, and therefore as he does not endeavour after any of those ex
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 selves 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 greatelt 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 Fafting to qualify a man for Divine Intercourses,