Imatges de pÓgina



But he who wilfully rushes into it has no reason to expect divine assistance to keep him from its dangers; but rather to suppose that God will leave him to himself, to punish his sin and folly.

§ 19. It is not sufficient for the Christian who would honour his profession, to abstain from sin: he is commanded to "ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL."s So high does the morality of the gospel rise, that it thus positively forbids, under the most awful sanctions, not only what is actually evil, but ALL that has even the appearance of being so. There are many things which are not positively sinful, but which have the appearance of evil. These are to be abstained from as carefully as sin itself. There are others, which the well informed Christian may be convinced are free from actual guilt, yet their appearance may be such, that weaker brethren esteem them wicked. These, too, the Scriptures forbid.

Think not that this subject is of little importance. The appearance of evil may as effectually injure the cause of Christ and dishonour God, as evil itself. The mere appearance of evil, by throwing a stumbling-block in the way of others, may as effectually as evil itself harden men in sin, defeat the end for which Christ died, blast the labours of gospel ministers, and ruin immortal souls.—As sin in professed Christians is awfully dreadful, so, as to the mischievous effects, the appearance of sin is the same.

To commit what has the appearance of evil, is to commit positive sin. The action itself may not be sinful, but as it has the appearance of being so, the person who commits it as much transgresses a divine law, as he who robs or murders. The divine law says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil," and this law he transgresses. If therefore you would not lie under the guilt of dishonouring Christ, and undoing men; if you would not incur the sin of transgressing an important law of God; you must not merely abstain from evil, but, taught a nobler than human morality, must as carefully abstain from all appearance of evil. If a person could be found, who had never committed what is in itself sinful, yet if he lived in the appearance of evil, in this one way he would commit so much sin, as would shut him out of heaven. He would transgress (s) 1 Thess. vi. 22.

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the sacred precept, which should be engraven on every heart, "ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL." And the Scriptures have decided, that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.'



$1. HUMILITY is a principal Christian grace. It is so

essential to the Christian character, that without it religion cannot possibly exist; and to promote its growth, and yield to its influence, is a principal part of true wisdom.

And is

Humility consists in entertaining those lowly views of ourselves, which become dependent and mortal, corrupt and sinful, creatures. It is to be manifested towards God in confessions of sin, in self-abasement and contrition, in lowly reverence, resignation, submission, patience, and contentment. to be displayed in our intercourse with mankind, not by the constant language of self-depreciation; but by meekness and gentleness; by esteeming others better than ourselves; by calmness, when slighted or insulted; by forbearance and forgiveness, when provoked or injured; by kindness, that stoops to the meanest objects of compassion; and by benevolence, that does good in secret, and blushes to find its actions applauded.

Humility is not a disposition naturally existing in the human heart. On the contrary, pride is the radical sin of human nature, and displays itself in a thousand forms. Multitudes are proud of their reasoning powers; of their fancied wisdom. Though in the world of nature mystery meets them at every step, they cavil at the word of God on account of what they deem mysterious. But humility sits at the feet of Jesus, and

(t) James ii. 10.

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learns of him. In common life pride renders men hard to be pleased. A word, or a look, or some fancied slight, or some want of the respect which pride expects, are magnified into serious offences.

Pride renders men impatient of reproof. The humble will receive with gratitude the faithful reproofs of Christian friends; but the proud resent the kind dealing of those who tell them of their faults. If they cannot deny the faults with which they are charged, pride makes them ingenious in devising excuses for their guilt. Or perhaps they upbraid those who wish to do them good, and say, that whoever concern themselves with their conduct, they have no business with it. On the other hand, pride leads them to love their flatterers, and to esteem them as their best friends.

§ 2. Pride in dress, is the ruling sin in many hearts. This sin is not confined to one age or to one sex. When this sin abounded in Israel, the great God threatened it with his judg


Think not that it is a matter of little importance, to watch against pride in apparel. Though the Scriptures do not regulate the shape of a bonnet or the cut of a coat, they do teach you in this, as well as other respects, to avoid the folly and extravagance of the world. Their direction to Christian females is," That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."b


Pride is indulged in apparel, when our dress is too costly for our circumstances. Pride in dress appears when persons are desirous of imitating in the fashion those who are above their rank, and of seeming higher and richer than they really This sinful pride governs in the heart, when, instead of being content with Christian neatness and simplicity, persons are fond of flaunting away in gay and gaudy attire; or when they suffer that to occupy their hearts, and for hours and hours engage their thoughts; when, like an infant, they are delighted at appearing in a new garment, or filling their minds with anticipations of the appearance they shall make.

One most injurious way in which pride in dress operates among the poor is, when they abstain from the house of God, (b) 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4.

(a) Isa. iii. 16-18, 24.



because they have not such clothes as they desire. If you who read this book are poor, and have acted this part, be assured it is pride, and only pride, that has occasioned this sinful neglect. Your prayers would not be less acceptable to God, nor your soul less benefited in his house, because your garments were mean and decayed. There is nothing shameful in poverty that sin does not occasion; but there is much sin in slighting the interests of your immortal soul, and neglecting the house of your God for want of better clothing. This wicked pride, that dwells in the hearts of so many of the poor, deprives them of the means of grace, keeps them from hearing the gospel of salvation; if they once knew religion, renders them dead and indifferent to it; if they have not known it, prevents their obtaining the only true wisdom, and at last sinks them down to hell. O, what folly and sin, to neglect the salvation of an immortal soul, because the clothes that cover the dying body are mean and poor! I have seen with pleasure a poor disciple of Jesus attend the house of God in tattered and worn-out garments, when he possessed no better, and known such a one soon furnished, through Christian liberality, with more comfortable clothing; who, if he had indulged the pride that many cherish, might have continued at home, his body covered with rags, and his soul languishing, and religion dying, through neglect of the ordinances of God.

§ 3. Pride is hateful to God, and the proud are the objects of his wrath. 66 Every one that is proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord." "The Lord hateth a proud look." "God resisteth the proud."

Pride is the parent of strife; the fruitful source of quarrels, discords, dissensions, revenge, the private murders of villains, and the wholesale murders of war. "ONLY by pride cometh contention." "f "He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife."s Strife would soon expire, if pride did not fan the flame.

Pride is an uneasy passion, and the source of that devilish passion, envy. Envy is also connected with selfishness. Selfishness would have the highest good enjoyed by itself; and when it beholds others more favoured, indulges the tor

(c) Prov, xvi. 5.
(d) Prov. vi. 16.
(f) Prov. xiii. 14.

(e) James iv. 6 (g) Prov. xxviii. 25.



menting and infernal repinings of envy. Thus Cain first envied Abel, because he was approved by God in preference to himself, and afterwards murdered him.

A more infernal passion cannot harbour even in the breast, than envy; which looks with dissatisfaction on others' good; which mourns their prosperity if superior to its own, and would feel more satisfied to see them wretched when itself is afflicted, than to see them happy. Yet, infernal as is this passion, it is the sure attendant of pride; and if not visible, in its greatest excesses, still will exist where pride rules. What is more common, than to see persons attempting to depreciate the character, or abilities, or usefulness of others, that they may not seem superior to themselves? or to endeavour to persuade themselves and others, that these persons are not so prosperous, or virtuous, or happy as they appear? Envy prompts this conduct. The humble rejoice in seeing others happier or better than themselves; but the proud would stand foremost, and envy leads them to endeavour to sink others down, at least to a level with themselves. Beware of envy; it often exists where it is little suspected; and they who are acquainted with the human heart, may often observe it peeping out in the language or conduct of persons, who little imagine what they are indulging and displaying.

Pride is hateful, as it is the parent of discontent with the dealings of God, and ingratitude for his mercies. On this subject I will insert a few lines that I somewhere met with. The writer says, "I have trials by perplexities respecting the things of time; yet they seem needful; for they have shown me more of myself than I knew before. This day or two these discoveries have led me to enter into Wesley's words :

"God only knows the utmost hell
"Of the deceitful heart."

I did not know mine. Instead of a submissive, I feel there is naturally within a disposition to murmur. Instead of humility and thankfulness for what I have, I can at times perceive a feeling rising, as if others, who deserved less, were favoured more. A hellish feeling, springing from that pride and self which I abhor, but feel clinging too closely to my nature."

The dispositions which this writer lamented, the proud man cherishes. When God chastises him, he is discontented, and perhaps murmurs, because he thinks he has not deserved the

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