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Practical Treatise

CONCERNING

HUMILITY

CH A P. 1. An Account of the Nature of Humility,

shewing what we are properly to

Understand by it. i. T HOUGH the Happiness of Hea

ven be Annexed to our doing the Will of God upon Earth,

and not to the bare knowing of it, according to that of our Blessed Lord to his Disciples, If ye know these things, happy üre ye if ye do them, John 13. 17. Yet since as Practice is the end of Knowledge, so Knowledge is the means to Pra&ice, and we cannot so perfedly do our Duty, unless we

first

B

first rightly understand it ; it will be necessary for every Man that intends the performance of his Duty, to take care that he be first rightly Inform'd in the nature of it, and as the Apostle Exhorts, that he be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, Ephes. 5. 17. And therefore, since Humility is a part, and a very Fundamental part of that Will, 'tis the concern of every Christian rightly to understand what it is, and what it requires, and to have a clear Notion of it setled in his Mind, not fo much for the Notion's sake (though that be not to be despised in a Creature whose Character arid Distinction is Reason) as for the better direction of his Practice in a Vertue of so great Excellence and Importance. This therefore is what I shall first endeavour to give an Account of..

2. By Humility is I think generally understood a low or mean Opinion of our felves, and of our own Perfections and Endows ments, whether Intellectual or Moral, whether Natural or Acquired. When a Man is cheap and vile in his own Eyes, is not High-minded, but thinks meanly of himself, to which perhaps some would add, and is content that others should do so too. For there is a double view of Humility given us by a Reverend Author, according to the Two Vices to which he confiders it as Opposed, Pride and Vain-glory. To Pride, as it signifies a mean Opinion of our selves, and to Vain-glory as it signifies a Contentedness with being thought meanly of by others. This Humility, says he, is of two forts the First is the having a meán and low Opinion of our selves ; the Second is the being conient that others should have so of us. The first of these is contrary to Pride, the other to Vain-glory. Now it is true indeed, that this Contentedness is opposed to that Vice which we call Vain-glory , but how it comes under the Formal Notion of Humility, so as to make a specialty of that general, or how Humility it self can be opposed to two Vices which are not to it in the Relation of Excess and Defect (the only Case wherein any Vertue can stand opposed to two Vices) I find it easier to inquire than to Comprehend. It seems a clearer way of proceeding, to consider this contentedness of being meanly thought of by others, rather as the Effect of Humility, even as its contrary Vain-glory is of Pride, than as a sort of it, and accordingly fo I shall consider it in the Sequel of this Treatise. As also to consider Humility it self as opposed only to Pride, and not to

my self to consider it. And since thus confider'd, it is generally made to confist in a Sense of our own Meanness and UnworthiВ 2

ness,

ness, or low Opinion of our selves, I shall there leave it where the Judgment of the World has placed it, not defigning to give any new Notion of Humility, but only so to state, limit and explain, that which is commonly receiv'd, that we may in some measure rightly understand what we are all so highly concern'd to Practice.

3. In the First place then, when it is said that Humility consists in a low Opinión of our felves, I suppofe we are not to understand this in a Primary and Immediate, but in a Mediate and Secondary, or if you will, not in a Direct, but in a Consequential Sense ; that is, that it obliges us to have a low Opinion of our felves, not directly, but as that is the consequence of something else, to which it docs directly oblige us. For the Radical Notion of Humility, and that which is Original in it, and of the first Conception of it, I take to be this, to think truly and justly of our felves, to think of our felves as we ought to think, to think of our felves as we are, neither higher nor lower, neither better nor worse. For there may be à Fault on that side too, though there be not so much Danger of it, nor so much Mischief likely to arise from it ; and the pro. per Business of Humility is to hold the Balfance even between the Extreams, and so to adjust the matter, that there may be 110 Ex

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