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we are commanded to learn them of him, it is plain, that it is his meekness and lowliness that we are commanded to learn; that is, we are to be meek and lowly, not in any loose or general sense of the words, not according to the opinions and practices of men, but in such truth and reality as Christ was meek and lowly.
It ought also to be observed, that there must be something very extraordinary in these dispositions of the heart from the manner in which we are taught them. It is only in this place, that our Saviour says expressly, Learn of me; and when he says, Learn of me, he does not say, for I am just and equitable, or kind, or holy, but I am meek and lowly of heart; as if he would teach us, that these are the tempers which most of all distinguish his Spirit, and which he most of all requires his followers to learn of him. For consider, does Christ, when he describes himself, choose to do it by these tempers ? When he calls upon us to learn of him, does he only mention these tempers? And is not this a sufficient proof that these are tempers, which the followers of Christ are most of all obliged to learn; and that we are then most unlike to Christ, when we are wanting in them? Now, as our great Lord and Master has made these characters the distinguishing characters of his Spirit, it is plain, that they are to be the distinguishing characters of our spirit; for we are.only so far his, as we are like him. Consider also, Was he more lowly thau he need have been? Did he practise any degrees of humility that were unnecessary ? This can no more be said, than he can be charged with folly. But can there be any instances of lowliness which became him, that are not necessary for us? Does our state and condition excuse us om any kind of humility that was necessary for him? Are we higher in our nature, more raised in our condition, or more in the favour of God than he was? Are there dignities, honours, and ornaments of life which we may delight in, though he might not? We must own these absurdities, or else acknowledge that we are to breathe the same lowly spirit, act with the same meekness, and practise the same humble behaviour that he did. So that the matter comes plainly to this conclusion; either that Christ was more humble and lowly than his nature and condition required, or we are under the same necessity of as great humility, till we can prove that we are in a higher state than he was.
Now, as it is plainly the meekness and lowliness of Christ that we are to practise, why should we think that we have attained unto it, unless we show forth these tempers in such instances as our Saviour showed them ? For can we suppose that we are meek and lowly as he was, if we live in such ways of life, and seek after such enjoyments as his meekness and lowliness would not allow him to follow? Did he mistake the proper instances of lowliness? If not, it must be our great mistake not to follow his steps. Did his lowliness of heart make him disregard the distinction of this life; avoid the honours, pleasures, and vanities of greatness? And can we think that we are living by the same lowly spirit, whilst we are seeking after all the dignities and ornaments, both of our persons and conditions? What may we not think if we can think after this manner? For let us speak home to this point, either our Saviour was wise, judicious, and governed by a divine spirit in these tem pers, or he was not: to say that he was not is horrid blasphemy; and to say that he was, is saying, that we are neither wise, nor judicious, nor governed by a divine spirit, unless we show the same tempers. Perhaps you will say, that though you are to be lowly in heart like Christ, yet you need not disregard the ornaments, dignities,
and honours of life; and that you can be as truly meek and lowly in the figure and show of life as in any other state.
Answer me therefore this one question. Was our Saviour's lowliness, which showed itself in an utter disregard of all pomp and figure of life, a false lowliness that mistook its proper objects, and showed itself in things not necessary? Did he abstain from dignities and splendor, and deny himself enjoyments which he might, with the sume lowliness of heart, have taken pleasure in ? Answer but this question plainly, and then you will plainly determine this point. If you justify our Saviour, as being truly and wisely humble, you condemn yourself if you think of any other humility than such as he practised. Consider farther, that if you was to hear a person reasoning after this manner in any other instance; if he should pretend to be of an inward temper contrary to the outward course of his life, you would think him very absurd. If a man that lived in an outward course of duels and quarrels should say, that in his heart he forgave all injuries, and allowed of no resentments; if another, whose common life was full of bitterness, and wrath, and evil-speaking, should pretend that in his heart he loved his neighbour as himself; we should reckon them amongst those that were more than a little touched in their heads. Now to pretend to any temper contrary to our outward actions, is the same absurdity in one case as in another. And for a man to say, that he is lowly in heart whilst he is seeking the ornaments, dignities, and show of life, is the same absurdity as for a man to say, he is of a meek and forgiving spirit, whilst he is seeking and revenging quarrels. For to disregard and avoid the pomp and tigure, and vain ornaments of worldly greatness, is as essential to lowliness of mind as the avoiding of duels and quarrels is essential to meekness and charity. As therefore there is but one way of being charitable as our Saviour was, and that by such outward actions towards our enemies as he showed, so is there but one way of being lowly in heart as he was, and that by living in such a disregard of all vain and worldly distinctions, as he lived. Let us not therefore deceive ourselves; let us not fancy that we are truly humble, though living in all the pride and splendor of life; let us not imagine that we have any power to render ourselves humble and lowly any other way than by an humble and lowly course of life. Christ is our pattern ard example; he was content to be one person; he did not pretend to impossibilities; to reconcile the pride of life with the lowliness of religion; but renounced the one, that he might be a true example of the other. He had a power of working miracles : but to reconcile an humble and lowly heart with the vain ornaments of our persons, the dignities of state and equipage, was a miracle he did not pretend to do. It is only for us great masters in the science of virtue, to have this mighty power; we can be humble it seems at less expense than our Saviour was, without supporting ourselves in it by a way of life suitable to it; we can have lowliness in our hearts, with paint and patches upon our faces; we can deck and adorn our persons in the spirit of humility; make all the show that we can in the pride and figure of the world, with Christian lowlines in some little corner of our hearts.
But suppose now that all this was possible, and that we could preserve an humble and lowly temper in a way of life contrary to it; is it any advantage to a man to be one thing in his heart, and another thing in his way of life? Is it any excuse to say, that a man is kind and tender in his heart though his life hath a course of contrary actions ? Is it not a greater reproach to him, that he lives a churlish life with tenderness in his heart? Is he not
that servant that shall be beaten with many stripes for sinning against his heart and conscience? Now it is the same thing in the case before us. Are you humble and lowly in your heart? Is it not therefore a greater sin in you not to practise humility and lowliness in your life? If you live contrary to conscience, are not you in a state of greater guilt? Are not lowly actions, an humble course of life, as much the proper exercise of humility, as a charitable life and actions is the proper exercise of charity.
If therefore a man may be excused for not living a charitable life, because of a supposed charity in his heart; then may you think it excusable to forbear a lowliness of life and actions, because of a pretended humility in your mind. Consider farther; is any thing so agreeable to a proud person, as to shine and make a figure in the pride of life? Is such a person content with being high in heart and mind? Is he not uneasy till he can add a way of life suitable to it? Till his person, his state, and figure in life appear in a degree of pride suitable to the pride of his heart? Nay, can any thing be a greater pain to a proud man than to be forced to live in an humble lowly state of life? Now, if this be true of pride, must not the contrary be as true of humility ? must not humility, in an equal degree, dispose us to ways that are contrary to the pride of life, and suitable and proper to humility ? Must it not be the same absurdity to suppose a man content with humility of heart, without adding a life suitable to it, as to suppose a man content with a secret pride of his heart, without seeking such a state of life as is according to it? Nay, is it not the same absurdity to suppose an humble man seeking all the state of a life of pride, as to suppose a proud man desiring only meanness and obscurity, and unable to relish any appearance of pride? These absurdities are equally manifest and plain in one case as in the other. So that what