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Rom. xiüi: 7. “Fear, to whom fear: Honor, to whom honor."
And there is a fear of modesty and shamefacedness, in inferiors towards superiors, that is amiable, and required by Christian rules.. i Pet, iii: 2. “While they behold your chaste conversation, coupled with fear." And. 1 Tim. ji: 9. “ In like manner also, that women adorn themselves, in nodest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.” And the apostle nieans that this virtue shall have place, not only in civil communication, but also in spiritual communication, and in our religious concerns and behaviour, as is evident by what follows. Ver. 11, 12. “Let the women learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a women to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Not that I would hence infer that women's mouths should be shut up from Christian conversation; but all that I mean from it at this time is, that modesty, or shamefacedness, and reverence towards men, ought to
some place, even in our religious communication, one with another. The same is also evident by 1 Pet. ii: 15. “ Be ready always to give an answer, to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” It is well if that very fear and shamefacedness, which the apostle recommends, has not sometimes been condemned, under the name of a cursed fear of man.
It is beautiful for persons when they are at prayer as the mouth of others, to make God only their fear and their dread, and to be wholly forgetful of men that are present, who let them be great or small, are nothing in the presence of the great God. And it is beautiful for a minister, when he speaks in the name of the Lord of hosts, to be bold, and put off all fear of men. . And it is beautiful in private Christians, though they are women and children, to be bold in professing the faith of Christ, and in the practice of all religion, and in owning God's hand in the work of his power and grace, without any fear of men, though they should be reproached as fools and madmen, and frowned upon by great men, and cast off by parents and all the world. But for private
Christians, women and others, to instruct, rebuke and exhort, with a like sort of boldness as becomes a minister when preaching, is not beautiful.
Some have been bold in some things that have really been errors; and have gloried in their boldness in practising ihem, though condemned as odd and irregular. And those that have gone the greatest lengths in these things, have been by some most highly esteemed, as those that come out and appear bold for the Lord Jesus Christ, and fully on his side; and others that have professeil to be godly, that have condemned such things, have been spoken of as enemies of the cross of Christ, or at least very cold and dead; and many that of themselves, were not inclined to such practices, have by this means been driven on, being ashamed to be behind, and accounted podr soldiers for Christ.
Another effect of spiritual pride is assuming: It oftentimes makes it natural to persons so to act and speak, as though it in a special manner belonged to them to be taken notice of and much regarded. It is very natural to a person that is much under the influence of spiritual pride, to take all that respect that is paid him. If others shew a disposition to submit to him, and yield him the deference of a preceptor, he is open to it, and freely admits it; yea, it is natural for him to expect such treatment, and to take much notice of it if he fails of it, and to have an ill opinion of others that do not pay
him that which he looks upon as his prerogative. He is api to think that it belongs to him to speak, and to clothe himself with a judicial and dogmatical air in conversation, and to take it upon him as what belongs to him, to give forth his sentence, and to determine and decide. Whereas pure
christian humility vaunleth not itself, dolh not behave itself unzeemly and is apt to prefer others in honOr. One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others, than to inquire for himself, and naturally puts on the airs of a master. Whereas one that is full of pure humility, naturally has on the air of a disciple; his voice is, “ What shall I do? What shall I do that I may live more to God's bonor? What shall I do with this wicked heart?” He is ready to receive
instruction from any body, agreeable to Jam. i: 19. “ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.” The eminently humble Christian thinks he wants help from every body, whereas he that is spiritually proud thinks that every body wants his help. Christian humility, under a sense of others' misery, entreats and beseeches; spiritual pride affects to command and warn with authority,
There ought to be the utmost watchfulness against all such appearances of spiritual pride, in all that profess to have been the subjects of this work, and especially in the promoters of it, but above all itinerant preachers. The most eminent gifts, and highest tokens of God's favor and blessing, will not excuse them. Alas! What is man at his best estate! What is the most highly favored Christian, or the most eminent and successful minister, that he should now think he is sufficient for something and somebody to be regarded and that he should go forth and act among his fellow creatures, as if he were wise and stong and good!
Ministers that have been the principal instruments of carrying on this glorious revival of religion, and that God has made use of, as it were to bring up his people out of Egypt, as he did of Moses, should take heed that they do not provoke God as Moses did, by assuming too much to themselves, and by their intemperate zeal, to shut them out from seeing the good things that God is going to do for his church in this world. The fruits of Moses's unbelief, which provoked God to shut him out of Canaan, and not to suffer him to partake of those great things God was about to do for Israel on earth, were chiefly these two things.
First, His mingling bitterness with his zeal. He had a great zeal for God, and he could not bear to see the intolerable stiff neckedness of the people, that they did not acknowledge the work of God, and were not convinced by all his wonders that they had seen.
But human passion was mingled with his zeal. Psal. cvi: 32, 33. “They angered hini also at the waters of strise; so that it went ill with Moses, for their sakes. Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. “Hear now ye rebels," says he, with bitterness of language.
Secondly, He behaved himself, and spake with an assuming air. He assumed too much to himself. Hear now ye rebels, must WE fetch water out of this rock? Spiritual pride wrought in Moses at that time. His temptations to it were very great, for he had great discoveries of God, and had been privileged with intimate and sweet communion with him, and God had made him the instrument of great good to his church; and though he was so humble a person, and, by God's own testimony, meek above all men upon the face of the whole earth, yet his temptations were too strong for him. Which surely should make our young ministers, that have of late been highly favored, and have had great success, exceeding careful, and distrustful of themselves. Alas! how far are we from having the strength of holy, meek, aged Moses! The temptation at this day is exceeding great to both those errors that Moses was guilty of; there is great temptation to bitterness and corrupt passion with zeal; for there is so much unreasonablo opposition made against this glorious work of God, and so much stiffneckedness manifested in multitudes of this generation, notwithstanding all the great and wonderful works in which God has passed before then, that it greatly tends to provoke the spirits of such as have the interest of this work at heart, so as to move them to speak unadvisedly with their lips. And there is also great temptation to an assuming behaviour in some persons. When a minister is greatly succeeded, from time to time, and so draws the eyes of the multitude upon him, and he sees himself flocked after, and resorted to as an oracle, and people are ready to adore him, and to offer sacrifice to him, as it was with Paul and Barnabas, at Lystra, it is almost iinpossible for a man to avoid taking upon him the airs of a master, or some extraordinary person; a man had need to have a great stock of humility, and much divine assistance, to resist the temptation. But the greater our dangers are, the more ought to be our watchfulness and prayerfulness, and diffidence of our
selves, lest we bring ourselves into mischief. Fishermen that have been very successful, and have caught a great many fish, had need to be careful that they do not at'length begin to burn incense to their net.
And wc should take warning by Gideon, who, after God had highly favored and exalted him, and made him the instrument of working a wonderful deliverance for his people, at length made a god of the spoils of his enemies, which became a snare to him and to his house, so as to prove the ruin of his family.
All young ministers in this day of the bringing up the ark of God, should take warning by the example of a young Levite in Israel, viz. Uzza the son of Abinadab. He seemed to have a real concern for the ark of God, and to be zealous and engaged in his mind, on that joyful occasion of bringing up the ark, and God made him an instrument to bring the ark out of its long continued obscurity in Kirjathjearim, and he was succeeded to bring it a considerable way towards mount "Zion; but for his want of humility, reverence and circumspection, and ussuming to himself, or taking too much upon him, God broke forth upon him, and smote him for his error, so that he never lived to see, and partake of the great joy of his church, on occasion of the carrying up the ark into mount Zion, and the great blessings of heaven upon Israel, that were consequent upon it. Ministers that have been improved to carry on this work have been chiefly of the younger sort, who have doubtless, (as Uzza had) a real concern for the ark; and it is evident that they are much animated and engaged in their minds, (as he was) in this joyful day of bringing up the ark; and they are afraid what will become of the ark under the conduct of its ministers, (that are sometimes in scripture compared to oxen) they see the ark shakes, and they are afraid these blundering oxen will throw it; and some of them it is to be feared, have been over officious on this occasion, and have assumed too much to themselves, and have been bold to put forth their hand to take hold of the ark, as though they were the only fit and worthy persons to defend it.