« PreviousContinue »
tirpated, but will afford during life perpetual matter SERM. of conflict and exercise to curb them : conceit there
LXI. fore of our virtue is very foolish.
And it breedeth many great mischiefs.
Hence doth spring a great security, and careless- Matt. ix. ness of correcting our faults; for taking ourselves to John ix. be well, we see not any need of cure, thence seek 41. none, nor admit any.
Yea, hence riseth a contempt of any means conducible to our amendment, such as good advice and wholesome reproof; to advise such an one is to accuse him wrongfully, to reprove him is to commit an outrage upon his presumed integrity of virtue. Hence also proceedeth a neglect of imploring the grace
mercy of God; for why should persons of so great strength crave succour ? how should they beg pardon, who have so little sense of guilt ? It is for a weak person to cry, Lord help me; it is for a publican to pray, God be merciful unto me a sin- Luke xviii.
It breedeth arrogance and presumption even in devotions, or addresses to God, inducing such persons in unseemly manner to justify themselves before God, to claim singular interest in him, to mind him, and as it were to 'upbraid him with their worthy deeds, to thank him for their imaginary excellencies, like the conceited Pharisee; God, I thank Luke xviii. thee, that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers—I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess. They cannot demean themselves toward God as miserable sinners, who fancy themselves as admirable worthies, and gallants in virtue.
Also, a natural result thereof is a haughty con
SERM tempt of others, venting itself in a supercilious and LXI.
fastuous demeanour; so it was in the Pharisees, Luke xviii. who, saith St. Luke, trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and despised others. Such persons, observing or suspecting defects and misbehaviours in others, but discerning none in themselves, do in their opinion advance themselves above their brethren, and accordingly are prone to behave themselves toward them : such men as they are the especially good men, the godly, the saints, the flower of mankind, the choice ones, the darlings of God, and favourites of Heaven, the special objects of divine love and care : others are impure and profane, rejectaneous and reprobate people, to whom God beareth no good-will or regard; hence proceedeth a contemptuous disregard or estrangedness toward
other men; like that of those separatists in the Is. Ixv. 5. prophet, who, notwithstanding they were a people
provoking God to anger continually to his face, were yet, in conceit of their own special purity, ready to say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou : .whereas those who, soberly reflecting on their nature, their hearts, their ways, do frame a right judgment of themselves, can hardly esteem any man worse than themselves; they perceive themselves so frail, so defectuous, so
culpable, as to find great reason for their compliance Phil. ii. 3. with those apostolical precepts; In lowliness of
mind, let each man esteem others better than himRom. xii. self; In honour prefer one another.
This likewise disposeth men to expect more than ordinary regard from others; and they are much displeased, if they find it not in degree answerable to their conceit of themselves ; taking them for silly,
envious, or injurious persons, who forbear to yield SERM. it : such excellent persons must in all things be hu
LXI. moured, and cockered, otherwise you greatly wrong them.
Hence also such men easily become discontented and impatient; for if they be crossed in any thing, if any misfortune toucheth them, they take it very ill ; supposing they deserve it not, but are worthy of better usage and fortune. .
In fine, as this causeth a man to behave himself untowardly in respect to all others, (toward God and toward his neighbour,) so thence he most unbeseemingly carrieth himself toward himself; he is no faithful friend, no good companion to himself, but a fond minion, a vile flatterer, or a profane idolater of himself: for (like Narcissus) being transported with conceit of his own incomparable beauty or excellency, he maketh love to and courteth himself; finding delight in such conceit, he by all means cherisheth it, glozing and flattering himself (as the Ps. xxxvi. Psalm hath it) in his own eyes ; representing his qualities to his imagination in false shapes, he devoutly adoreth those idols of his brain. Further,
3. Self-conceit is also frequently grounded upon other inferior advantages ; upon gifts of nature, (as strength, activity, beauty ;) upon gifts of fortune, (so called,) as birth, wealth, dignity, power, fame, success ; upon these things men ordinarily much value themselves, and are strangely puffed up with vain opinion, taking themselves from them to be great and happy persons : but seeing (as we touched before, these things are in themselves little valuable, (as serving no great purpose, nor furthering our true happiness ;) seeing they are not commendable,
BARROW, VOL. III.
SERM. (as not depending on our free choice, but proceeding LXI.
from nature or chance ;) seeing they are not durable or certain, but easily may be severed from us; the vanity of self-conceit founded on them is very notorious, and I shall not insist more to declare it; I
shall only recommend the prophet's advice concernJer. ix. 23, ing such things: Let not the wise man glory in his
wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth : that is, nothing within us or about us should elevate our minds, excepting the assurance that God doth gover the world, being ready to protect and succour us, to dispense mercy and justice to us; so that how weak and helpless soever in ourselves, yet, confiding in him, we shall never be overwhelmed by any wrong or misfortune.
So much concerning self-conceit; the other parts of vicious self-love may be reserved to another occasion.
OF SELF-CONFIDENCE, SELF-COMPLACENCE,
SELF-WILL, AND SELF-INTEREST.
2 Tim. iji. 2.
For men shall be lovers of themselves, &c.
OF SELF-CONFIDENCE. II. ANOTHER like culpable kind of self-love is SERM. that of self-confidence; when men beyond reason,
LXII. and without regard unto God's providence, do rely upon themselves and their own abilities, imagining that, without God's direction and help, by the contrivances of their own wit and discretion, by the prevalency of their own strength and courage, by their industrious care, resolution, and activity, they can compass any design, they can attain any good, they can arrive to the utmost of their desires, and become sufficiently happy a; not considering, that of God (in whose hand our breath is, and whose are Dan. v. 23. all our ways; in whose hand is the soul of every Job xii. 10. living thing, and the breath of all mankind) all our being and all our ability do absolutely depend; that he manageth and turneth all things, dispensing success according to his pleasure; that no good thing can be performed without the supply and succour
Α “Όστις γαρ αυτός ή φρονείν μόνος δοκεί,
*Η γλώσσαν ήν ουκ άλλος ή ψυχήν έχειν, Ούτοι διαπτυχθέντες ώφθησαν κενοί. . Soph. Antig.