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they are not to be insisted upon. Honor and respect must be a free-will offering: Treat them otherwise, and claim them from the world as a tax, they are sure to be withheld; the first discovery of such an expectation disappoints it, and prejudices your title to it for ever.
To this speculative argument of its weakness, it has generally the ill fate to add another, of a more substantial nature, which is matter of fact; that to turn giddy upon every little exaltation, is experienced to be no less a mark of a weak brain in the figurative, than it is in the literal sense of the expression. In sober truth, it is but a scurvy kind of a trick, (quoties voluit Fortuna jocari)— when Fortune, in one of her merry moods, takes a poor devil, with this passion in his head, and mounts him up, all at once, as high as she can get him, for it is sure to make him play such phantastic tricks, as to become the very fool of the comedy; and, was he not a general benefactor to the world in making it merry, I know not how spleen could be pacified during the representation.
A third argument against pride, is the natural connection it has with vices of an unsocial aspect: The scripture seldom introduces it alone-anger or strife, or revenge, or some inimical passion, is ever upon the stage with it; the proofs and reasons of which I have not time to enlarge on, and therefore shall say no more upon this argument, than this,―That, was there no other-yet the bad company this vice is generally found in, would be sufficient, by itself, to engage a man to avoid it.
Thus much for the moral considerations upon this subject; a great part of which, as they illustrate chiefly the inconveniencies of pride in a social light, may seem to have a greater tendency to make men guard the appearances of it, than conquer the passion itself, and root it out of their nature. To do this effectually, we must add the
arguments of religion, without which, the best moral discourse may prove little better than a cold political lecture, taught merely to govern the paɛsion, so as not to be injurious to man's present interest or quiet; all which, a man may learn to practise well enough, and yet, at the same time, be a perfect stranger to the best part of humility, which implies, not a concealment of pride, but an absolute conquest over the first risings of it which are felt in the heart of man.
And first, one of the most persuasive arguments which religion offers to this end, is that which arises from the state and condition of ourselves, both as to our natural and moral imperfections. It is impossible to reflect a moment upon this hint, but with a heart full of the humble exclamation, O God! what is man!—even a thing of nought a poor, infirm miserable, short-lived creature, that passes away like a shadow, and is hastening off the stage, where the theatrical titles and distinctions, and the whole mask of pride which he has worn for a day, will fall off, and leave him naked, as a neglected slave. Send forth your imagination, I beseech you, to view the last scene of the greatest and proudest who ever awed and governed the world-See the empty vapor disappearing one of the arrows of mortality this moment sticks fast within him :-See !-it forces out his life, and freezes his blood and spirits.— Approach his bed of state-lift up the curtain
-regard a moment with silence
-Are these cold hands and pale lips, all that is left of him, who was canonized by his own pride, or made a god of, by his own flatterers?
O my soul! with what dreams hast thou been bewitched? how hast thou been deluded by the objects thou hast so eagerly grasped at?
If this reflection from the natural imperfection of man, which he cannot remedy, does neverthe
less strike a damp upon human pride; much more must the considerations do so, which arise from the wilful depravations of his nature.
Survey yourselves, my dear Christians, a few moments in this light-behold a disobedient, ungrateful, intractable and disorderly set of creatures, going wrong seven times in a day,-acting sometimes every hour of it against your own convictions your own interests, and the intentions of your God, who wills and proposes nothing but your happiness and prosperity-What reason does this view furnish you for pride? how many does it suggest, to mortify and make you ashamed-Well might the son of Syrach say, in that sarcastical remark of his upon it, That PRIDE WAS not made for man for some purposes, and for some particular beings, the passion might have been shaped-but not for him ;-fancy it where you will, it is no where so improper,-it is in no creature so unbecoming.
-But why so cold an assent, to so uncontested a truth!-Perhaps thou hast reasons to be proud: -For heaven's sake let us hear them.-Thou hast the advantages of birth and title to boast of-or thou standest in the sunshine of court favor-or thou hast a large fortune-or great talents-or much learning-or nature has bestowed her graces upon thy person :- -Speak-on which of these foundations hast thou raised this fanciful structure?Let us examine them.
Thou art well born;-then trust me, it will pollute no one drop of thy blood to be humble : Humility calls no man down from his rank,-divests not princes of their titles; it is in life, what the clear obscure is in painting, it makes the hero step forth in the canvas, and detaches his figure from the group, in which he would otherwise stand confounded for ever.
If thou art rich-then show the greatness of
thy fortune,-or, what is better, the greatness of thy soul in the meekness of thy conversation; condescend to men of low estate,-support the distressed, and patronize the neglected. Be great; but let it be in considering riches as they are,-as talents committed to an earthen vessel ;that thou art but the receiver-and that, to be obliged, and be vain too-is but the old solecism of pride and beggary, which, tho' they often meet-yet ever make but an absurd society.
If thou art powerful in interest, and standest deified by a servile tribe of dependants,-why shouldest thou be proud-because they are hungry?Scourge me such sycophants; they have turned the heads of thousands as well as thine..
-But it is thy own dexterity and strength which have gained thee this eminence :-Allow it; but art thou proud, that thou standest in a place where thou art the mark of one man's envy, another man's malice, or a third man's revenge,where good men may be ready to suspect thee, and whence bad men will be ready to pull thee down. ? I would be proud of nothing that is uncertain. Haman was so, because he was admitted alone to queen Esther's banquet; and the distinction raised him,-but it was fifty cubits higher than he ever dreamed or thought of.
Let us pass on to the pretences of learning, &c. &c. If thou hast a little, thou wilt be proud of it in course: If thou hast much, and good sense along with it, there will be no reason to dispute against the passion: A beggarly parade of remnants is but a sorry object of pride at the best; --but more so, when we can cry out upon it, as the poor man did of his hatchet,-*Alus, Massers-for it was borrowed.
2 Kings vi. 7.
It is treason to say the same of beauty,-whatever we do of the arts and ornaments with which pride is wont to set it off: The weakest minds are most caught with both; being ever glad to win attention and credit from small and slender accidents, through disability of purchasing them by better means. In truth, beauty has so many charms, one knows not how to speak against it ; and when it hapens, that a graceful figure is the habitation of a virtuous soul, when the beauty of the face speaks out the modesty and humility of the mind, and the justness of the proportion raises our thoughts up to the art and wisdom of the great Creator,-something may be allowed it, -and something to the embellishments which set it off; and yet, when the whole apology is read, it will be found at least, that beauty, like truth, never is so glorious as when it goes the plainest.
Simplicity is the great friend to nature; and if I would be proud of any thing in this silly world, it should be of this honest alliance.
Consider what has been said; and may the GOD of all mercies and kindness watch over your passions, and inspire you with all humbleness of mind, meekness, patience, and long-suffering. Amen.