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my fortune, my talents, have already placed me in possession of?....Give all up! and suffer inferiors to take my honor?....Yes ;....for that, says our SAVIOUR, is the road to it :.....For when he that bade thee cometh, he will say to thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them who sit at meet with thee ;....for whosoever exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
To make good the truth of which declaration, it is not necessary we should look beyond this life, and say, That, in the day of retribution, wherein every high thing shall be brought low, and every irregular passion dealt with as it deserves ;....that pride, amongst the rest, (considered as a vicious character), shall meet with its proper punishment, of being abased, and lying down forever in shame and dishonor........It is not necessary we should look so far forwards, for the accomplishment of this: The words seem not so much to imply the thread of a distant punishment, the execution of which was to be respited to that day,-as the declaration of a plain truth, depending upon the natural course of things, and evidently verified in every hour's commerce of the world; from whence as well as from our reasoning upon the point, it is found, That pride lays us open to so many mortifying encounters, which humility in its own nature rests secure from..........that verily; each of them, in this world, have their reward faithfully dealt out by the natural workings of passions, which, tho' very bad executioners in general, yet are so far just ones in this, that they seldom suffer the exultations of an insolent temper to escape the abasement, or the deportment of an humble one to fail of the honor, which each of their characters do deserve.
In other vicious excesses which a man commits, the world (tho' it is not much to its credit) seems
to stand pretty neuter : If you are extravagant or intemperate, you are looked upon as the greatest enemy to yourself;.......or, if an enemy to the public,.....at least, you are so remote a one to each individual, that no one feels himself immediately concerned in your punishment: But in the instances of pride, the attack is personal; for as this passion can only take its rise from a secret comparison, which the party has been making of himself to my disadvantage, every intimation he gives me of what he thinks of the matter, is so far a direct injury, either as it withholds the respect which is my due,......or perhaps denies me to have any; or else, which presses equally hard, as it puts me in mind of the defects which I really have, and of which I am truly conscious, and consequently think myself the less deserving of an admonition: In every one of which cases, the proud man, in whatever language he speaks it, ........if it is expressive of this superiority over me, either in the gifts of fortune, the advantages of birth or improvements, as it has proceeded from a mean estimation, and possibly a very unfair one of the like pretensions in myself,....the attack, I say, is personal; and has generally the fate to be felt and resented as such.
So that with regard to the present inconveniencies, there is scarce any vice, bating such as are immediately punished by laws, which a man may not indulge with more safety to himself, than this one of pride ;....the humblest of men not being so entirely void of the passion themselves, but that they suffer so much from the overflowings of it in others, as to make the literal accomplishment of the text, a common interest and concern; in which they are generally successful,-the nature of the vice being such, as not only to tempt you to it, but to afford the occasions itself of its own humiliation.
The proud man...........see !....he is sore all over :
Touch him.......you put him in pain: And tho' of all others, he acts as if every mortal was void of all sense and feeling, yet is possessed with so nice and exquisite a one himself, that the slights, the little neglects and instances of disesteem, which would be scarce felt by another man, are perpetually wounding him, and oft-times piercing him to his very heart.
I would not therefore be a proud man, was it only for this, that it should not be in the power of every one who thought fit....to chastise me ;.... my other infirmities, however unworthy of me, at least will not incommode me ;....so little discountenance do I see given to them, that it is not the world's fault, if I suffer by them .......But here ........if I exalt myself, I have no prospect of escap. ing .......with this vice I stand swoln up in every body's way, and must unavoidably be thrust back; whichever way I turn, whatever step I take under the direction of this passion, I press unkindly upon some one, and, in return, must prepare myself for such mortifying repulses, as will bring me down, and make me go on my way sorrowing.
This is from the nature of things, and the experience of life as far back as Solomon, whose observation upon it was the same,.....and it will ever hold good, that before honor was humility, and a haughty spirit before a fall.-Put not therefore thyself forth in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men :--For better is it (which by the way is the very dissuasive in the text)better is it, that it be said unto thee, Friend, come up higher, than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
Thus much for the illustration of this one argument of our Saviour's against pride :...... There are many other considerations which expose the weakness of it, which his knowledge of the heart of man might have suggested; but as the particular
occasion which gave rise to this lecture of our SAVIOUR'S against pride, naturally led him to speak of the mortifications which attend such instances of it as he then beheld ;.........for this reason, the other arguments might be omitted, which, perhaps, in a set discourse, would be doing injustice to the subject. I shall therefore, in the remaining part of this, beg leave to offer some other considerations, of a moral as well as a religious nature, upon this subject, as so many inducements to check this weak passion in man; which, tho' one of the most inconvenient of his infirmities,—the most painful and discourteous to society, yet, by a sad fatality, so it is, that there are few vices, except such whose temptations are immediately seated in our natures, to which there is so general a propensity throughout the whole race.
This had led some satirical pens to write, That all maukind, at the bottom, were proud alike; that one man differed from another, not so much in the different portions which he possessed of it, as in the different art and address by which he excels in the management and disguise of it to the world. We trample, no doubt, too often, upon the pride of Plato's mantle, with as great a pride of our own; yet on the whole, the remark has more spleen than truth in it; there being thousands, (if any evidence is to be allowed), of the most unaffected humility, and truest poverty of spirit, which actions can give proof of. withstanding this, so much may be allowed to the observation, That pride is a vice which grows up in society so insensibly,....... steals in, unobserved, upon the heart,upon so many occasions,...forms itself upon such strange pretensions, and, when it has done, veils itself under such a variety of unsuspected appearances,- -sometimes even under that of humility itself;in all which cases, self-love, like a false friend, instead of check
ing, most treacherously feeds this humor,points out some excellence in every soul to make him vain, and think more highly of himself, than he ought to think ;- -that upon the whole, there is no one weakness into which the heart of man is more easily betrayed, or which requires greater helps of good sense, and good principles, to guard against.
And first, the root from which it springs, is no inconsiderable descredit to the fruit.
If you look into the best moral writers, who have taken pains to search into the grounds of this passion, they will tell you, That pride is the vice of little and contracted souls :-That whatever affectation of greatness it generally wears and carries in the looks, there is always meanness in the heart of it: A haughty and an abject temper, I believe, are much nearer a-kin than they will acknowledge ;- -like poor relations, they look a little shy at one another at first sight; but, trace back their pedigree-they are but collateral branches from the same stem; and there is scarce any one who has not seen many instances of it, as one of our poets alludes to, in that admirable stroke he has given of this affinity, in his description of a Pride which licks the dust.
As it has meanness at the bottom of it, so it is justly charged with having weakness there too; of which, it gives the strongest proof, in regard to the chief end it has in view, and the absurd means it takes to bring it about.
Consider a moment :- -What is it the proud man aims at ?Why,such a measure of respect and deference as is due to his superior merit, &c. &c.
Now, good sense, and a knowledge of the world, show us, that how much soever of these are due to a man, allowing he has made ght calculation-they are still dues of such a nature, that VOL. III. W