Abbildungen der Seite

careful, lest thou be abused by a pretence, that thou wouldest use thy great dignity, as an opportunity of doing great good. For supposing it might be good for others, yet it is not good for thee: they may have encouragement in noble things from thee; and, by the same instrument, thou mayest thyself be tempted to pride and vanity. And certain it is, God is as much glorified by thy example of humility in a low or temperate condition, as by thy bounty in a great and dangerous.

8. Make no reflex acts upon thy own humility, nor upon any other grace, with which God hath enriched thy soul. For since God oftentimes hides from his saints and servants the sight of those excellent things, by which they shine to others (though the dark side of the lantern be toward themselves), that he may secure the grace of humility; it is good that thou do so thyself: and if thou beholdest a grace of God in thee, remember to give him thanks for it, that thou mayest not boast in that, which is none of thy own: and consider how thou hast sullied it, by handling it with dirty fingers, with thy own imperfections, and with mixture of unhandsome circumstances. Spiritual pride is very dangerous, not only by reason it spoils so many graces, by which we drew nigh unto the kingdom of God, but also because it so frequently creeps upon the spirit of holy persons. For it is no wonder for a beggar to call himself poor, or a drunkard to confess that he is no sober person ; but for a holy person to be humble, for one whom all men esteem a saint, to fear lest himself become a devil, and to observe his own danger, and to discern his own infirmities, and make discovery of his bad adherencies, is as hard as for a prince to submit himself to be guided by tutors, and make himself subject to discipline, like the meanest of his servants.

9. Often meditate upon the effects of pride, on one side, and humility, on the other. First, That pride is like a canker, and destroys the beauty of the fairest flowers, the most excellent gifts and graces; but humility crowns them all. Secondly, That pride is a great hindrance to the perceiving the things of Godo; and humility is an excellent preparative and instrument of spiritual wisdom. Thirdly, That pride hinders the acceptation of our prayers; but “ humility

• Mat. xi. 25.

pierceth the clouds, and will not depart till the Most High shall regard.” Fourthly, That humility is but a speaking truth, and all pride is a lie. Fifthly, That humility is the most certain way to real honour, and pride is ever affronted or despised. Sixthly, That pride turned Lucifer into a devil, and humility exalted the Son of God above every name, and placed him eternally at the right hand of his Father. Seventhly, That God resisteth the proud P," professing open defiance and hostility against such persons; but “giveth grace to the humble:" grace and pardon, remedy and relief against misery and oppression, content in all conditions, tranquillity of spirit, patience in afflictions, love abroad, peace at home, and utter freedom from contention, and the sin of censuring others, and the trouble of being censured themselves. For the humble man will not "judge his brother for the mote in his eye,” being more troubled at "the beam in his own eye;" and is patient and glad to be reproved, because himself hath cast the first stone at himself, and therefore wonders not, that others are of his mind.

10. Remember that the blessed Saviour of the world hath done more to prescribe, and transmit, and secure this grace, than any other?; his whole life being a great continued example of humility, a vast descent from the glorious bosom of his Father to the womb of a poor maiden, to the form of a servant, to the miseries of a sinner, to a life of labour, to a state of poverty, to a death of malefactors, to the grave of death, and the intolerable calamities, which we deserved : and it were a good design, and yet but reasonable, that we should be as humble in the midst of our greatest imperfections and basest sins, as Christ was in the midst of his fulness of the Spirit, great wisdom, perfect life, and most admirable virtues.

11. Drive away all flatterers from thy company, and at no hand endure them; for he that endures himself so to be abused by another, is not only a fool for entertaining the mockery, but loves to have his own opinion of himself to be heightened and cherished.

12. Never change thy employment for the sudden coming of another to thee: but if modesty permits, or discretion ap

[blocks in formation]

pear to him that visits thee, the same that thou wert to God and thyself in thy privacy. But if thou wert walking or sleeping, or in any other innocent employment or retirement, snatch not up a book to seem studious, nor fall on thy knees to seem devout, nor alter any thing to make him believe thee better employed than thou wert.

13. To the same purpose it is of great use, that he who would preserve his humility, should choose some spiritual person, to whom he shall oblige himself to discover his very thoughts and fancies, every act of his, and all his intercourse with others, in which there may be danger; that by such an openness of spirit he may expose every blast of vain-glory, every idle thought, to be chastened and lessened by the rod of spiritual discipline: and he that shall find himself tied to confess every proud thought, every vanity of his spirit, will also perceive they must not dwell with him, nor find any kindness from him; and besides this, the nature of pride is so shameful and unhandsome, that the very discovery of it is a huge mortification and means of suppressing it. A man would be ashamed to be told, that he inquires after the faults of his last oration or action on purpose to be commended : and therefore, when the man shall tell his spiritual guide the same shameful story of himself, it is very likely he will be humbled, and heartily ashamed of it.

14. Let every man suppose, what opinion he should have of one, that should spend his time in playing with drumsticks and cockle-shells, and that should wrangle all day long with a little boy for pins, or should study hard, and labour to cozen a child of his gauds; and, who would run into a river, deep and dangerous, with a great burden upon his back, even then when he were told of the danger, and earnestly importuned not to do it? and let him but change the instances and the person, and he shall find that he hath the same reason to think as bad of himself, who


trifles with earnestness, spending his time in vanity, and his “ labour for that which profits not;" who knowing the laws of God, the rewards of virtue, the cursed consequents of sin, that it is an evil spirit that tempts him to it; a devil, one that hates him, that longs extremely to ruin him; that it is his own destruction that he is then working; that the pleasures of his sin are base and brutish, unsatisfying in the enjoyment,



soon over, shameful in their story, bitter in the memory, painful in the effect here, and intolerable hereafter, and for ever; yet in despite of all this, he runs foolishly into his sin and his ruin, merely because he is a fool, and winks hard, and rushes violently like a horse into the battle, or like a madman to his death. He that can think great and good things of such a person, the next step may court the rack for an instrument of pleasure, and admire a swine for wisdom, and go

for counsel to the prodigal and trifling grasshopper. After the use of these and such-like instruments and considerations, if you would try, how your soul is grown, you shall know that humility, like the root of a goodly tree, is thrust very far into the ground, by these goodly fruits, which appear above ground.

Signs of Humility. 1. The humble man trusts not to his own discretion, but in matter of concernment relies rather upon the judgment of his friends, counsellors, or spiritual guides. 2. He does not pertinaciously pursue the choice of his own will, but in all things lets God choose for him, and his superiors in those things which concern them. 3. He does not murmur against commands'. 4. He is not inquisitive into the reasonableness of indifferent and innocent commands, but believes their command to be reason enough in such cases to exact his obedience. 5. He lives according to a rule, and with compliance to public customs, without any affectation or singularity. 6. He is meek and indifferent in all accidents and chances. 7. He patiently bears injuries”. 8. He is always unsatisfied in his own conduct, resolutions, and counsels. 9. He is a great lover of good men, and a praiser of wise men, and a censurer of no man. 10. He is modest in his speech, and reserved in his laughter. 11. He fears, when he hears himself commended, lest God make another judgment concerning his actions, than men do. 12. He gives no pert or saucy answers, when he is reproved, whether justly or unjustly. 13. He loves to sit down in private, and, if he may, he refuses the temptation of offices and new honours. 14. He is ingenuous, free, and open, in his actions and discourses.

Assai commanda, chi ubbidisce al saggio.
s Verum humilem patientia ostendit. St. Hier.

15. He mends his fault, and gives thanks, when he is admonished. 16. He is ready to do good offices to the murderers of his fame, to his slanderers, backbiters, and detractors, as Christ washed the feet of Judas. 17. And is contented to be suspected of indiscretion, so before God he may be really innocent, and not offensive to his neighbour, nor wanting to his just and prudent interest.


Of Modesty. Modesty is the appendage of sobriety, and is to chastity to temperance, and to humility, as the fringes are to a garment. It is a grace of God, that moderates the over-activeness and curiosity of the mind, and orders the passions of the body, and external actions, and is directly opposed to curiosity, to boldness, to indecency. The practice of modesty consists in these following rules. Acts and Duties of Modesty, as it is opposed to Curiosity

1. Inquire not into the secrets of God', but be content to learn thy duty according to the quality of thy person or employment: that is plainly, if thou beest not concerned in the conduct of others; but if thou beest a teacher, learn it so, as may best enable thee to discharge thy office. God's commandments were proclaimed to all the world; but God's counsels are to himself and to his secret ones, when they are admitted within the veil.

2. Inquire not into the things which are too hard for thee, but learn modestly to know thy infirmities and abilities"; and raise not thy mind up to inquire into mysteries of state, or the secrets of government, or difficulties theological, if thy employment really be, or thy understanding be judged to be, of a lower rank.

3. Let us not inquire into the affairs of others, that concern us not, but be busied within ourselves and our own

Εύσχημοσύνη. .

u Ecclus. iii. 21-23. Qui scrutator est Majestatis, opprimetur à gloria. Prov. xxv. Aúan ágxcha του φιλοσοφείν, αίσθησις του ιδίου ηγεμονικού, πως έχει μετά γάρ το γνώναι ότι ασθενώς, evzírı dahou xeño das autã apòs péyiota. Arrian. lib. i. cap. 26. Et plus sapere interdum vulgus, quòd, quantum opus est, sapiat. Lactant.

« ZurückWeiter »