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it seem fine while it hangs or lies by, it appears far better when it is put on.
The rules the Apostle is to give, he prefaces thus, For I say, through the grace given to me, I speak as the Messenger or Apoftle of Christ, according to that knowledge and experience that he hath given me of these things, and so take it, as from one that hath some interest in, and share of, these graces I recommend to you: And this, indeed, makes recommendations carry home. Oh! that we could truly say this. Alas! it is an uncomfortable, and commonly an unprofitable, thing to speak of Christ, and the graces of bis Spirit, only as having heard of them, or read of them, as men that travel, in their studies, do of foreign countries.
Asa rus xapotos. The Apostle represents this, to add the more authority, and gain the more acceptance, to what he had to say; and for this end, fome care is to be had of the good opinion of people, so far as their interest is concerned, that the message we bring be not prejudged; otherwise, this truly set aside, it were little matter how we were mistaken or despised; yea, it were a thing some way desirable; only provided nothing be done on purpose, that may justly, yea, or that may probably, procure it; for that both piety and charity forbids.
To every man.] This is more pressing than if he had said simply, to you, or generally, to you all; for in men's talking of things, it proves often too true, quod omnibus, nemini ; but to every one, that each one suppose it spoke to him, as an ingenious picture looking to each in the room, Thus we ought to speak, and thus ye ought to hear. We to speak, not as telling some unconcerning stories, but as having business with you; and you to hear, not each for another, as you often do, "Oh! such a passage touched such an
one," but each for ourselves.
The first particular the Apostle recommends, is, that gracing grace of humility, the ornament and the
safety safety of all other graces, and which is so peculiarly Christian. Somewhat philosophers fpeak of temperance, justice, and other like virtues, but these rather to blow up and swell the mind with big conceit and confidence of itself, than to dwell together with self-abasement and humility : But in the school of Chrift, the first lesson of all is, self-denial and humility ; yea, it is written above the door, as the rule of entry or admission, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, Matth. xi. 29. And, out of all queftion, that is truly the humblest heart that hath most of Christ in it.
Not to think highly.] Not aspiring and intending in things too high : And a great point of humility is subjection to God in the point of knowledge : in this was our first climbing that proved our fall; and yet still, amidst all our ignorance and darkness, we are catching and gaping after the deadly fruit of unallowed knowledge.
This, withal, hath in it the attempering of our thoughts and practices to our measure and station ; to know ourselves truly and thoroughly; for that will certainly beget a very low esteem of ourselves, to judge ourselves the unworthiest and meanest of all.
And having truly tbis estimate of ourselves, we shall not vainly attempt any thing above our reach, nor disdainfully neglect any thing that is within the compass of our calling and duty, which are the two evils so common among men, yea, even amongst Christians, and in the church of God, and are the cause of moft of the enormities and disorders that fall out in it; it is a strange blindness, that they that do grossly miscarry in the duties of their own station, yet so readily fancy themselves capable of somewhat higher, and think themselves wronged, if it be refused them.
The self-knowing Christian would rather descend, and find himself very disproportioned to his present station, be it never so mean; he can say with David, Lord, my heart is not baughty, nor mine eyes lofty ;
neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things 100 high for me, Psal. cxxxi. 1. But vain minds would still be tampering with the greatest affairs, and dwell not with themselves. Oh! my brethren, be entreated to study your own hearts better ; be less abroad in things that concern you not; there is work enough within you; heaps of base lufts, and self-deceits, and follies, that you see not yet ; and many advantages of good things you seem to see in yourselves, that indeed are not there : Self-love is a flattering glass, which represents us to ourselves much fairer than we are ; therefore, turn from it, if you desire a true account of yourselves, and look into the pure and faithful mirror of God's law. Oh! what deformities will that discover, that you never saw nor thought of before, and will make you the lowest of all persons in your own eyes.
The low self-esteem doth not wholly take away the fimple knowledge of what gifts and graces God hath bestowed on a man; for that were to make him both unthankful and unuseful. He that doth not know what God hath freely given him, cannot return praise to God, nor make use of himself for God in his station*; yea, the Apostle's caution intimates a sober, humble reflection on the measure God hath given a man, which he not only allows but requires : and himself gives example of it in his own present expression, declaring, that he speaks these things through the grace that is given to him,
But this knowledge of a man's own gifts and graces, that it may not prejudge him of more, but help him to more, in the humble acknowledgment and use of what he hath, would have these two qualifications: 1. That he beware of over-weening, rather that he take his measure much below, than any whit beyond, what he truly hath. 2. That whatsoever it is, that he always look on it not as his own, but as God's, having his superscription on it, and all the VOL. II.
glory * Qui fe nefcit, nefcit fe uti.
glory of it being his peculiar tribute; nothing of that to be interrupted or retained : Not unto us, Lord ; not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, Psal. cxv. I. still all the glory entirely sent up to him: Thus, here, the Apostle sets all grace in that view, as God bath dispensed the measure ; and so speaks of his own, tbrough the grace givenoto me ; ftill so to be looked on, not as that we have, but that he hath given ; that is, the gospel style, grace, free gifts,, xapis, zapoojects; whereas philosophy speaks of all as habits, or havings, or possessions.
Now, in that relative dependent notion of freely given, a man shall never be puffed up by any endowments, though he fee and know them ; yea, the more he knows them thus, will be the more humble ftill, as being the more obliged. The more he hath received, the greater they are ; the lower he bows, pressed down under the weight of his engagements to God; as Abraham, Gen. xvii. 3. fell on his face, when God talked with him, and made so rich promises to him. See David's strain, i Chron. xxix. 14. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this fort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own bave we given thee. Thus, the Apoftle gives, as the fovereign preventative against the swelling poison of self-conceit, What bast thou that thou didst not receive ? 1 Cor. iv. 7.
He that is thus regulated in his own esteem, will by this certainly be moderated in his desire of esteem from others, and cannot well meet with any thing that way, hat will either purf him up, or cast him down; if over
if over-prized by others, he takes that as their mistake; if undervalued, he rejoices in that, having set himself so low in himself, that others cannot well fet him lower: So when men account meanly of him, they are really of his own opinion; and you know that offends none, but pleases them rather, to have others agree with their opinions, and be of their mind.
They that are busy after reputation, and would be esteemed, are but begging voices; would have others think with them, and confirm the conclufion they have already resolved on, in favours of themselves; and this is a most foolish thing' ; for, disappointed in this, men are discontented, and so their peace hangs on others fàncies; and, if satisfied with it, they surfeit and undo themselves with the delight of it. Bees sometimes kill themfelves with their own honey; and there is such a word to this purpose, Prov. xxv. 27. It is not good to eat much honey ; So for men to search their own glory, is not glory.
Ver. 4, 5. For as we have many members in one' body, and all members have not the same office ; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
In this consideration we have God's wisdom manifested, and are instructed what is our wisdom. Не, , in the great world, made all in weight, number and measure ; so in the leffer world, man, and in the new world, his Church, he proportions all to the use he hath designed them for. He could give more to them that have least than the very greatest have, but he thought this unfit; it might be some advantage to them, yet to the whole body not so ; and therefore not truly fo to them neither, being parts of it, and having their good involved in the good of the body.
This resemblance is often used in Scripture, and holds excellently well, but is little learned. Our temper and carriage correspond not to it. Who is there almost that finds it, the Spirit of Christ in them, knitting them to him as the common head, and one to another, as one in him, each busy to advance him, and to seek his glory, and to promote the good of one another ? But alas ! rather each for self, accursed felf,
an independent divided substance ; yea worse, hating and tearing one another; a monstrous fight, as if one limb of the same body should be pulling