Sermon 365. Humility
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MARCH 17, 1861. BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
"Serving the Lord with all humility of mind." Acts 20:19. IT is not often that a man may safely speak about his own humility. Humble men are mostly conscious of great pride, whilethose who are boastful of humility have nothing but false pretense, and really lack and need it. I question whether any ofus are at all judges as to our pride or humility; for verily, pride so often assumes the shape of lowliness when it has itsown end to serve, and lowliness on the other hand is so perfectly compatible with a heavenly dignity of decision, that itis not easy at all times to discover which is the counterfeit and which is the precious and genuine coin. You will rememberthat in the case in our text, Paul speaks by Inspiration. If it were not for this fact, I would not have believed even Paul,himself, when he spoke of his own humility. So distrustful do I feel of our judgment upon this point, that if he had not spokenunder the Infallible witness and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I would have said that the text was not true. When a man sayshe serves God with humbleness of mind, speaking merely from his own judgment, there is clear proof before you that he is aproud man! But Paul speaks not to his own commendation, but with the sole motive of clearing his hands of the blood of allmen. Led, no doubt, by the Holy Spirit thus to speak-that he might be an example to all coming ages-he becomes the mirrorto all the ministers of Christ that we, too, each of us in our degree serving the Lord, may without degree be filled withhumility, taking the lowest seat, not esteeming ourselves beyond what we ought to think, but submitting ourselves to men oflow estate-emptying out ourselves as He did who emptied Himself of all His Glory, when He came to save our souls. I shall take the text this morning, and shall speak of it as the Lord shall please to help me in my weakness. First, I shallspeak of the comprehensiveness of humility. You notice the text says, "Serving the Lord with allhumility." Secondly, I shallspeak upon the trials to which our humility will be subjected; and thirdly, upon the arguments by which we ought to supportit, t o generate it, and to sustain it in our souls. And then, fourthly, I shall show forth some practical effects of humility,and urge you to show them forth with me in our daily lives. I. First then, the COMPREHENSIVENESS OF HUMILITY. It is a somewhat striking expression; it is not merely serving the Lord with humility, but serving the Lord with all humility.There are many sorts of pride. Perhaps while I am running over the list, you will be able, by looking at the contrast, tosee that there must also be many kinds of humility. There is the pride of the heretic who will utter false doctrines because he thinks his own judgment to be better than theWord of God; never content to sit like a child to believe what he is told, he is a disputant but not a disciple. He will insistupon it that his own reason is to be the well-spring of his own beliefs, and he will receive nothing beyond his own reach.Now Paul never had the heretic's pride. He could say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord JesusChrist." No, so willing was he to sit at the feet of Jesus, that he counted all the learning which he had received beforehe sat at the feet of Jesus to be of no value! He spoke not with the wisdom of words, nor with human learning, but with thedemonstration of the Spirit and with power. There is next the pride of the Roman Catholic, who attaches merit to his own works, and hopes to win Heaven as the rewardof his own doings. From this Paul was totally free. He had humility which is the very contrast of it. Often did he say, whenspeaking of himself, "yet not I, but Christ." He learned to count his righteousness as filthy rags, and all his former doingswere to him but dross and dung that he might win Christ and be found in Him. Next there is the pride of the curious. The man who is not content with simplicities, but must pry into mysteries. He would,if he could, climb to the Eternal Throne, and read between those folded leaves, and break the seven seals of the mysteriousbook of destiny. You know well our Apostle has many things in his writings which are hard to be understood, yet he utteredthem because of the Spirit; you never meet with any attempt in the Apostle's writing-as you do in the preaching of some ministers,and as you do in the conversation of some professors-to reconcile predestination with free will. He was quite content to preachto men as free agents, and exhort them to repent; quite willing to speak of God as working in us to will and do of His goodpleasure, while we also work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Paul was never curious to find out where the linesof Truth met; he was perfectly content to take his Doctrine from his Master's Spirit, and leave the old wives' fables, andendless genealogies and disputes, and questionings, to those who had no better guests to entertain. Again-there is the pride of the persecutor; the man who is not content with his own notions, but would hunt to death another;the pride which suggests that I am infallible, and that if any man should differ from me-the stake and the rack would be thedue deserts of so great a sin against so great a person as myself! Now, the Apostle acted towards those who differed withhim with the greatest wisdom and kindness, and though full often he was beaten with rods, or subjected to false brethren,and hauled before the magistrates, I think he had none of the spirit of Elijah that would bring down fire from Heaven uponany man. He was kind, and had that charity which suffers long and hopes all things, and endures all things, and believes allthings. In this, too, you have an instance of allhumility. He had the humility of a man of generous spirit. And there is the pride of the impenitent man who will not yield to God. He says, "I am free; I was never under dominionto any; my neck has never felt the rein, my jaw has never felt the bit." Not so our Apostle. He was always humble, teachable,and filled even to sorrowfulness with a sense of his own unworthiness. "Oh, wretched man that I am," he said, "who shall deliverme from the body of this death?" Far enough was he from rebellion against the Most High God; for he would sit at the feetof Christ and learn, yes, and he would lie at the foot of the Throne in dust and ashes, and confess himself to be the verychief of sinners, and less than the least of all the saints! I think you will very soon learn from the contrast I have presentedto you, what the Apostle meant when he said, "in allhumility." There are many sorts of pride. There are many sorts of humility,too. The Apostle had them all, or rather they were blended together in a sweet mixture in his daily preaching and conversation.I hope this morning to give you a clearer view of the comprehensiveness of humility, and so I will put it to you in anothershape. Some of the old writers, who like to use terms to sound very much alike, say, There is a proposedhumility, or humility beforethe service of God; there is an opposed humility, or humility during the service of God which continues under trial; and thereis, thirdly, an imposed humility, when the soul, conscious of sin during the act, imposes upon itself the task of bendingbefore God, and offering repentance for its sin. Not caring much for these terms, because I think that old writers went outof their way to make them, I will be content with the substance. There is humility before serving God. When a man lacks this,he proposes to himself his own honor, and his own esteem in serving God. How easy is it for us to preach a sermon, havingour eyes upon our hearers, hoping that they will be satisfied with us, and will say, "He spoke right well-the man is an orator:he is eloquent." Yes, and how easy it is to propose to please yourself so that you may be able to say as you come down fromthe rostrum, "I have not failed today in my own judgment, and I am satisfied with myself." This is pride before service, andit will mar everything! If we do not come to God's altar humbly, we cannot come acceptably. Whether we preach or pray, orgive alms, or whatever we do, it is necessary that we bend exceedingly low before we enter upon the work; for if not, self-seekingand self-glorifying will lie at the bottom of all, and God neither can nor will accept us. Look at too many Christians! How little of that humility before service they have. They will pick that position in the Churchwhich will give them the most honor; and if there is work to do which will confer no position upon them, they leave that toothers. If you require a man to occupy an honorable position in the Church, you can find scores; but if you need one who shallbe a menial in the House of God-who shall be the least in God's heritage-how difficult to find one! We are so pleased withthe glitter of publicity, and the glory of man's esteem, that I doubt not that in us all there is time of choosing our positionfor the honor's sake, rather than for God's sake! But it was never so with the Apostle Paul. I think I see him now, workinglong past midnight making his tents, taking stitch after stitch with his needle through the hard canvas, working away to providefor his own individual needs, because an ungracious people held back the laborer's reward. Then I see that tent maker goinginto the pulpit with his hands all blistered with his hard work, as rough as a laborer's hands. You would say of him at once,in getting up to speak, that man never proposes to himself the praises of his hearers! He is not like the Grecian orator whowill go anywhere to get applause, turn aside to tell any tale, or to preach anything if he can but excite his audience tosay, "He is an orator! Let us write him down among the great names; let us put the crown upon his head, and celebrate himthrough the midst of Greece as being the golden-mouthed man who can speak right mightily, as if the bees of Hybla had hivedtheir honey upon his lips!" Never could you see that in Paul; you could discover at once that his solitary aim was to winsouls, and so to glorify Christ. Let us labor after this as a part of allhumility. But again-there is in the next place humility during the act. When a man finds that God is with him, he may be base enoughto glorify himself. He may have been very humble, indeed, when he began the battle, but there is one enemy there at his feet,and another has just been dashed down by a blow from his right hand. The Evil One whispers in his ear, "You have done well;you are doing well." And then pride comes in and spoils all! That is a splendid Psalm which begins, "Not unto us." David thoughtit necessary to say it twice. "Not unto us, O Lord! Not unto us." Then he deals the deathblow with the other sentence, "butunto Your name be all the Glory." To sing that song when you are trampling on your foes; to sing that song when you are reapingthe great harvest; to sing that song when God's people are fed under your ministry; to sing that when you are going on fromstrength to strength, conquering and to conquer, will prove a healthy state of heart! Nothing but the most extraordinary Gracecan keep us in our right position while we are serving God and God is honoring us. We are so inclined to steal His jewelsfrom the crown, to put them on our own breasts; if we would not steal the diadem itself, yet we look with longing eyes uponit as if we would like to wear it if but a single moment. I have thought, sometimes, how many Christians are like the sonof Henry the Fourth, who when his father lies asleep, puts the crown on his head. You and I have done the same; we have forgottenGod; He was to us as One who sleeps, and we began to put the crown on our own head. Oh, fools that we were! Our time for crown-wearinghas not come. We do but anger our Father, and bring grief into our spirits when we think of crowning ourselves, instead ofcrowning Him; worshipping our own image instead of bending before the Lord God Jehovah. Christian men and women and especially you, O my own Soul, let us take heed that while serving God, we serve Him as theangels do who cover their faces, and cover their feet while they fly upon His errands! Then there is another kind of humility to make up all humility-humility after the service is done. In looking back uponsuccess achieved, upon heights attained, upon efforts which have been blest, it is so easy to say, "My right hand and my mightyarm have gotten me the victory." Men generally allow their fellow creatures some little congratulation. Can a man congratulateyou without admitting that you may congratulate yourself? Now there is respect and honor to be given to the man of God whohas served his race and his Master. By all manner of means, let the names of Luther and Calvin and Zwingli be held in honor.Has not God Himself said it?-"The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance." It were wrong in us if we did not honorGod's servants, for it would seem as if we dishonored the Master. But it will never do for the servant of God to honor himself!After his work is done he must lay his head upon his death pillow, saying, "I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies!What am I, and what is my father's house, that You have brought me here? I am, having done all, but an unprofitable servant;I have not even done as much as it was my duty to have done." Sunday school teachers, tract distributors, visitors of thesick, you that feed the hungry and clothe the naked-especially you deacons and elders, ministers of the church-see to it thatyou never, when your work is done, speak of yourselves or of your work. No; your brethren, even if you speak in apparentlyhumble terms, will soon find, when you talk much of what you do, that you are proud of it. You may think that you have misledthem, but you certainly have not; much less have you deceived your God! Take care that you put your finger on your own beauty.When you are painting another man, imitate Apelles, who drew Alexander with his finger upon the scar; but when you are paintingyourself, put your finger over your choice beauty, for depend upon it that the hiding finger of your modesty will be morebeautiful than the beauty you conceal! Labor, then, for God's sake, for the Church's sake, for your own sake, to serve theLord with all humility-humility before the act, humility duringthe service, and humility when all is done-"Serving the Lordwith all humility of mind."
II. But, secondly, the TRIALS OF HUMILITY, or the dangers through which humility has to pass.
And first and foremost, one of the trials to which humility will be exposed is the possession of great ability. When a manhas seven talents, he must remember that he has seven burdens, and he who has ten, if he has more than others, should feelthat he has ten times any other man's burden ofresponsibility; and therefore he should be bowed down. Let a man feel that he possesses more power than another, more eloquence,more mental acumen, more learning, more imagination, and he is so apt to sit down and say, "I am something; I am somebodyin the Church." Yes, one mayindeed speak with solemnity here. It is so ridiculous for us to ever boast of any talents which God has given us. It isas though the debtor in the jail should say, "I am a better man than you, for I am in debt 10,000 pounds, and you only a hundred."The more we have, the more weowe, and how can there be any ground for boasting there? A man might as well be proud because he is six feet high, whileanother is only five feet, six inches, as be proud that he has 10 talents, while another has only five. We are what God hasmade us, as far as gifts areconcerned. If the Lord said to Moses, "Who has made man's mouth?" because Moses said he was of stammering speech, you maysay that to yourselves if you can speak well. Or if you act well, "Who has made man's arm?" Or if you think well, "Who hasmade man's brain?" The honor never canbe to the thingitself, but to that Mighty One who made it what it is! Great talents make it hard for a man to maintain humility.Shall I surprise you when I say that little talents have precisely the same effect?
I have seen in my short time, some of the biggest men I ever set my eyes upon who were the smallest insects that were eversubjected to the microscope; some great men in the pulpit, too-stately, dignified, magnificent, majestic-men of whom a fortunecould have been made outright if you couldbut have bought them at their proper value and sold them at what, in their opinion, they were worth; men who were only fitto be bishops-they never could have been the inferior clergy-a curate's place would have been utterly insignificant! To havebeen a tent-maker, or anordinary preacher like Paul would have been far beneath their level. They always have the idea that they were born on avery fortunate day, and that the world owes them the utmost consideration and respect merely for their doing human beingsthe honor of living in the midst of them,though there is nothing very much they have ever done! Now little talents often make a man proud. "There," he says, "I havebut a trifle in the world, I must make a flare with it. I have but one ring, and I will always put the finger that wears that,outwards, so that it may beseen." It is a very common habit of all people who wear rings to keep the fingers on which they wear them always exposedto view, especially if they have only one ring! If a man has no gold in his pocket, he is sure to put on gold cuff links;and if a man has scarcely any wealth atall, he is sure to put it on his back, because he must keep up a position, and that position, never having been his rightfulposition, he is obliged to maintain at great cost. Now, if you have little talents, and feel you have, do not swell and burstwith envy. The frog was nevercontemptible as a frog, but when he tried to blow himself out to the size of the bull in the meadow, then he was contemptible,indeed! I have frequently had this observation made to me in the most pompous manner by some little minister, "Oh, Sir, Ifeel the danger of your position,and I always make it a matter of prayer to God that you may be kept humble." I am exceedingly obliged to the gentleman,but I am sure I could make it a matter of prayer for him, that he might be made humble, once in his life, by way of a change-forhe has never yet known whathumility is so far as he was personally concerned. Now you know very well that it is just as easy for a man to be proudin his rags, as my Lord Mayor in his gold chain. There is many a proud one riding in his little cart quite as vain as my lordwho rides in a gilded coach. Indeed,I dare say he, the last one, feels very little pride, but very great shame at having to make himself so ridiculous! Youmay be a king and yet be humble; you may be a beggar and yet be proud; you may be great and yet little in your own esteem;you may be little and yet you may begreater in your estimation than those who are the greatest! See to it, then, that your low estate does not make you proudany more than your high estate.
Again, success often has a very sorry influence upon humility. The man was humble before his God, till God had given him thegreat victory over the Moabites, but then his heart was lifted up within him, and the Lord forsook him. When he was littlein Israel, he bowed before the Most High; when hebecame great, he exalted himself. Great success is like a full cup, it is hard to hold it with a steady hand. It is swimmingin deep waters, and there is always a fear of being drowned. It is standing on the top of the pinnacle of the Temple, andSatan often says, "Cast yourselfdown." But on the other hand, lack of success has just the same tendency. Have you not seen the man who could not get acongregation, and who insisted that it was because he was a better preacher than the man who did? I sometimes read a magazine,the message of which is this-ifyou want to be a good preacher, you must preach according to the outlines which are given you in this magazine! There aresome who do this, but still find their chapels empty; then says the magazine with all complacency-"The men who get the congregationsare always the weakestmen; they are always the men who have the least mental power, while we who have but a few, a mere handful-we are the intellectualpeople." "The mob always will," they say, "run after the foolish men." So that the Brother who gets no success, comforts himselfwith thisthought-that Providence is quite wrong, and that the Christian public are quite mistaken that he ought to be, if thingshad been right, the most popular man living, and that it is quite a mistake he is not. Now, lack of success has a very greatinfluence on some men to make themfeel, "Well, if I cannot succeed in getting other people to think me somebody, I will think everybody else, nobody, andI will elevate myself above them all in my own opinion." Now, I am speaking some home-truths. I have received a deal of advice,myself, and I think I may sometimestake the liberty of giving it to others. I hope that those who are always thinking of success as certainly involving pride,may also take to themselves the comfortable reflection that their non-success, suggesting as it may very bitter thoughts abouttheir Brothers, may also bepride, only in another direction!
But then, again; long enjoyment of the Master's Presence has a tendency to make us proud. To walk all day in the sunlightbrings us in danger of a sunstroke. Better not sit too near the fire, or one may get scorched. If we have nothing but fullassurance, we may come to be presumptuous. There isnothing like the heat of summer to breed putrefaction. When you have long-continued joys, fear and tremble for all the goodnessof God. But on the other hand, long- continued doubts will breed pride. When a man has long been doubting his God, and mistrustingHis promise, what isthat but pride? He needs to be somebody and something. He is not willing to believe his God in the dark-he thinks, in fact,that God deals harshly with him, in allowing him to be in despondency at all! He thinks he always ought to have joy and satisfaction,and so it comes to passthat his doubts and fears are as ready parents of pride, as assurance could have been. In fact, to cut short a very longstory, for I might go on with these two sides of the question all morning, there is not a position in the world where a mancannot be humble if he has DivineGrace; there is not a station under Heaven where a man will not be proud if left to himselfI pray you, never think thatleaving one station and getting into another will be any help to your humility. 'Tis true the peasant boy in the Valley ofHumiliation sang-
"He who is down need fear no fall He who is low no pride, He who is humble ever shall Have God to be his Guide."
But I dare say that very same boy was sometimes singing in that very valley, songs of despondency, Psalms of pride and wickedrebellion against his God. It is not the place, it is the heart It is not the position, but the Grace. That man is as safeon a pinnacle as on level ground, if God holds himup; and he is as much in danger in the valley as he is upon the high place if God is not with him. If the Lord forsakeshim, he will fall in either place! If the Lord is with him, he will stand in every position! I have thus hinted at some ofthe dangers to which humility isexposed.
III. And now, thirdly, SOME OF THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH WE OUGHT TO BE PROVOKED TO HUMILITY OF SPIRIT.
1. First, let us draw some arguments from ourselves. What am I, that I should be proud? I am a man, that is to say, a worm;a thing that is and is not. An angel-how much he surpasses me, and yet the Lord charged His angels with folly, and the heavenswere not pure in His sight. How much less,then, should the son of man, a creature full of sin, lift himself up and exalt himself as though he were something? Verily,man at his best estate is altogether vanity; his life a dream, an empty show. Oh, vain man, why should you be proud? Thinkof our mortality. In a few moreyears we shall be worm's meat. Caesar's dust shall be eaten, eaten by the most base of creatures! Take up the skull of somedeparted one in your hand and say, "What had this man to be proud of?" Go to some morgue and mark the corruption; look onsome body which has been buried but alittle while-what a heap of loathsomeness! And yet you and I carry about with us the elements of all that putridity-thefood of all that rottenness! How, then, dare webe proud? I have at home a picture which is so admirably managed that whenyou look closely at it, you see twolittle children in the bloom of youth at play, enjoying each other's company. If you go some distance from the picture,the outlines get more and more indistinct and standing some few yards away from it, it turns into death's head, with vacant,empty eyes, and the bones of the skulland the jaws-a perfect death's head. Now, this is just ourselves! When we are looking with our poor short-sight of time,we look like fair beings that are full of life; but stand at a Scriptural distance, and view these things, and you soon perceivethat we are nothing, after all,but death's heads! What right, then, have we to be proud? Begin not to be proud, Man, till your life is secure-and you knowthat will never be! You bubble, boast not of the many colors you have-you shall directly burst. You glorious rainbow, exaltnot yourself because of yourvaried hues-when the sun withdraws its light, or the cloud moves, you are gone! Oh, you fleecy cloud that is so soon toburst on the earth, and be dissipated forever- think not of yourself and your fleecy glories-for you shall soon depart andbe gone! Every time your humilitygives way, and your pride lifts up its head, remember that you are mortal, and the skeleton may teach you humility.
But there is yet a stronger argument than this. What are you but depraved creatures? When the child of God is at his best,he is no better than a sinner at his worst, except as far as God has made him to differ! "There goes John Bradford- but forthe Grace of God." No, there goes Paul tocurse-if notfor the Grace of God. There goes Peter to be a Judas- unless Christ shall pray for him, that his faith failnot. A sinner saved by Grace and yet proud? Out on such impudence! God pardon us, and deliver us from that evil!
But, then, let us remember we are not only depraved so that we are inclined to sin, but we have sinned, and how can we thenbe proud? Sinners whose highest deservings are the wrath of God, and the hot flames of Hell-how can we venture for a singlemoment to stand as those who had done anythingmeritorious or could claim anything of our God? Verily, you and I may stand up today and say, "What is man that You shouldbe mindful of him, or the son of man that You visit him?" The more we think of ourselves, if guided by God's Spirit, the morereasons we shall find for "ServingGod with all humility."
2. But there are not only reasons in ourselves, there are reasons in Christ Our Master was never exalted above measure. Younever detect in Him one proud or scornful glance upon the meanest of the mean or the vilest of the vile. He condescended tomen of low estate, but it did not look likecondescension in Him. He did it in such a way that there was not the appearance of stooping. He was always on their levelin His heart. He ate and drank and sat with publicans and sinners, and all in such an easy, happy spirit, that no man saidof Him, "Look how He stoops." Everyonefelt that stooping was His natural attitude; that He could not stand up and be proud; it would be unbecoming in Him. "Andshall the servant be above his Master, or the disciple above his Lord?" You who are purse-proud, or talent-proud, or beauty-proud,I beseech you, think howunlike you are to the Master. There was nothing in Him that would keep man back from Him, but everything that would drawthem to Him. "He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a Servant, and being in fashion as a man,He became obedient unto death, even tothe death of the Cross." Look at that strange sight, and never be proud again. There is the God of Heaven, and with thebasin in His hands and the towel on His arms-He is washing His disciple's feet; and here are you and I, instead of washingother men's feet, we want them toanoint our heads, and pour on the balmy cordial of a flattering unction, that we may say of ourselves, "I am rich and increasedin goods," whereas by that very desire, we prove ourselves to be naked, and poor, and miserable! By the love of Christ, then,let us seek to be humble.
3. There is yet one other source for arguments, though, of course, there are so many that I could not mention them all, andthat is God's goodness towards us, which should make us exceedingly humble. You remember that text which says, "Put on, therefore,as the elect of God, hearts of compassionand humbleness of mind"? Now, I have known some who believing that they were the elect of God, have put on haughtiness oflooks! You know the school I allude to; certain gentlemen who are the elect, and nobody can ever come near to them; all otherChristian people, if saved, whichis a great question with them, will at least be saved so as by fire. Verily they appear to read the text thus-"Put on, asthe elect of God, pride and self-conceit." Like another text which says, "See that you love one another with a pure heartfervently," which I think some peopleread the wrong way, upwards, and they make it out, "See that you hate one another with a pure heart fervently." And oh,how fervently they have done it! How fervently they have hated one another! Now the mercy of God in having elected us-themercy of God in having bought us withthe precious blood of Jesus Christ- should tend to keep us very low in the dust of self-abasement.-
" What was there in you that could merit esteem, Or give the Creator delight?"
What was there in you that Christ should buy you with His precious blood? What in you that you should be made the temple ofthe Holy Spirit? What is there in you that you should be brought to Heaven; that you should be made to sit down with Abrahamand Isaac, and Jacob at the right hand of God?What if you have been grafted into the good olive tree? Remember, you were once branches of the wild olive, and you arenow nothing but grafts. What if your branch hangs down with the weight of its produce? There was a time when it brought forthnothing but the apples of Sodom, andthe grapes of Gomorrah! Bless God and thank Him that the root bears you, but you bear not the root. What have you that youhave not received? Who made you to differ? Your very gifts are given you by electing love; God gave them not because you deservedthem, but because He chose todo so. He has made you a vessel unto honor, chastened you and made you in a fair and goodly mold; made you a fair vase,showing forth the skill of the Master. But who made you; who made you? Look back to that clay pit; look back to the potter'shouse, to the fashioning fingers, andthe revolving wheel, and surely you will say, "My God, unto You be the praise for what I am, but of myself, I am less thannothing; I am worthless and useless; unto You be all the Glory."
IV. I shall now come to my last point, upon which, with excessive brevity, I would speak to myself. Indeed, I have been allthe morning speaking to myself as much as to you.
I have now a story suggested to me. There was an excellent lady who accosted me one day, and told me that she had always prayedthat I might be kept humble. Of course I was excessively grateful to her, although it was a very usual thing, so I said toher, "But do you not need to pray the sameprayer for yourself?" "Oh, no," she said, "there is no need; I do not think there is any tendency in me to be proud." Well,I assured the good lady that I thought it was necessary for her to always pray, for as sure as ever she thought she had notendency to be proud, that proved atonce that she was proud already! We are never, never so much in danger of being proud as when we think we are humble!
Well, now, let us turn to practical account what I have said. You and I have a great work before us. I speak now especiallyto my Church and congregation. We are about to enter into a large edifice, having large designs in our hearts, and hopingthat God will give us large success. Let us havehumble motives in all this. I hope we have not built that house, that we may say with Nebuchadnezzar, "Behold this greatBabylon which I have built." We must not go to our pulpit, and to our pews with this soft note ringing in our ears. "Herewill I make unto myself my nest, andgain a great name." Or, "Here will be members of the largest Baptist Church to receive a part of the honor which is bestowedupon the success of the ministry." No; let us go into that house wondering at what God has done for us; marveling that Godshould give such Grace to such aChurch, and that it should have such innumerable conversions in its midst. Then, when we have settled upon our work, whenwe see that God is blessing us, let us still keep very low before Him. If we want to lose God's Presence, it can soon be done-pridecan shut the door in theface of Christ. Only let us take out our tablets and write down, "God is for me, therefore let me be proud"-only let ussay with Jehu-"Come, and I will show you my zeal for the Lord of Hosts," and God's Presence will soon depart from us and Ichabodwill be written on the frontof the habitation. And let me say to those of you who have already done much for Christ as Evangelists, ministers, teachers,or what not-do not sit down and congratulate yourselves! Let us go home and think of all the mistakes we have made, all theerrors we have committed, andall the follies into which we have been betrayed, and I think instead of self-congratulations, we shall say, "I have heardof You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes sees You, therefore do I abhor myself in dust and ashes." Let us humbleourselves before God! You know thereis a deal of difference between being humble and being humbled. He who will not be humble, shall be humbled! Humble yourselves,therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and He shall lift you up, lest He leave you because you hold your head so high. Andshould I be addressing anyhere this morning who are very much exalted by the nobility of rank, who have what the poet calls-
"The pride of heraldry, The pomp of power,"
be humble, I pray you! If any man would have friends, let him be humble. Humility never did any man any hurt. If you stoopdown when you pass through a doorway, if it should be a high one, you will not be hurt by stooping; you might have knockedyour head if you had held it up. He who is willing to be nothing, will soon find someone who will make him something, butif he will be something, he shall be nothing, and all men will try to make him less than nothing! Go then, I pray you, asChristian men and women, and speak with the poor and needy. Be kind and affectionate towards all men. Let your Christian lifesuggest Christian courtesy and Christian charity.
As for you who have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is useless to recommend you to humility, for how can you getthe flower till you have the root? Begin, I pray you, with the root. This is the root of every Christian Grace- faith in Christ!Come to Jesus, today, just as you are. Trust Him with your poor, guilty soul. Believe Him to be both willing and able to saveyou. Repose your confidence in Him alone. You will then be saved, and being saved with such a salvation, you will bring forthhumility as one of the sweet fruits of the Spirit of God, and your end shall be everlasting life, by the Grace of God.