THE PRAISE OF HUMILITY.

A SERMON PREACHED Upon the 20th. of March 1687.

BEING Palm-Sunday, AT The Guild-Hall-Chappel, London.

By JOHN TVRNER Hospitaller of St. Thomas Southwark.

LONDON Printed, and are to be Sold by Randal Taylor near Stationers-Hall. 1687.

To the Right Honorable, and my singular Good Lord, George Lord Jeffries, Baron of Wem, Lord High Chancellor of Eng­land, and one of His Majesties most Honorable Privy Coun­cil, &c.

My Lord,

THis Sermon, which for the great seasonableness of the Subject of it, I think it my Duty to Pub­lish at this time, it being Preached, as it fell out, but just the day before His Majesty was pleased to signifie His Gracious Resolution, to allow Liberty of Con­science to all his loving Subjects of what Denomination soever: I do humbly beseech your Lordship to Accept and Patronize, as you do the Author; and give me leave at once to pay a very small and inconsiderable Acknowledg­ment for many the most signal and obliging Favors, and to shelter so lovel y,so useful, and so excellent a Vertue un­der the shady Patronage of so great a Person, whose Name and Authority, will at the same time render it more Charming to its Friends, and make it appear so formida­ble to its Enemies, that it will constrain and force them into its own resemblance, and cause them to Abase and Humble themselves before it.

But besides the plain suitableness of the Discourse to the Juncture, Humility and Charity, being the only ex­pedients that can make Liberty safe, or Toleration a to­lerable thing, by preventing those Quarrels and Animo­sities that arise from different sentiments in Religious matters. Besides my own particular and personal Obli­gations, which I cannot think of without shame, when I consider how little I deserve them; there is also a Con­gruity in the Subject of my Sermon, to your Lordships Person, which seems to me to challenge and single you out for a Patron, without asking any leave but from the Na­ture of things, I mean those Natural effects of this in­comparable Vertue which I have recommended, which flow so easily, so unaffectedly from you, with so much Beau­ty and Brightness, with so much Strength and Vigor, and with so constant and uninterrupted a Stream, in the sweetness and affability of your Conversation, even a­mong your Inferiors and Dependants, in the easiness of Access in the midst of so much Greatness, the Quick­ness, the Justice, the Sagacity of dispatch in so impor­tunate a crowd of Business, all which would be certain and infallible Indications at once of a Generous and Composed Mind, a Great and Lofty, and yet an Humble Spirit, though they were not, as they are, attended with a peculiar proneness to Forgive the most implacable and mortal Enemies, of which your Lordship hath given such convincing Proofts, that this alone might be sufficient, with out that universal Merit, which even Envy and Detraction cannot help allowing you, to recommend you Powerfully to the Favor of a Prince, in whom Mercy is Hereditary, and Majesty is by Nature temper'd with Pity and Com­passion, to render it more easie and familiar to his Peo­ple: But there is likewise the Justice and Integrity, the Constancy and Courage, the Diligence and Assiduity, the Wisdom and the Condu [...]t of your Actions, that have con­curr'd [Page] and club'd with a kind and obliging Temper, to ren­der you truly Great, and make you an Object worthy the Esteem of two the most Judicious and Discerning Kings that ever sat upon the English Throne.

And, my Lord, it is another genuine Effect of that ad­mirable Vertue which is the Glorious Theme of the ensuing Papers, that it makes its way to Greatness, as your Lord­ship hath done, not by Popularity and mischievous In­trigues, to the Danger, if not Ruin of the publick Peace, but only by just Actions and honorable Designs, and like your Great Master, whom Providence had a mind to shew how much it loved, by the Protection of a weakly Bark, when the Royal Oak was unable to defend Him, you Ventured, Suffered, and Escaped a Shipwreck, and made a costly Sacrifice of your Hopes and Fortunes to the publick Good, before your entrance upon that Scene of Honor in which you now shine, with so much the greater Brightness, for having first suffered so Glorious an E­clipse; by this means shewing at once, the difference be­twixt your Enemies and you, and verifying our Saviours never failing Promise to all his Faithful Followers and Disciples, that whosoever Exalteth himself, by Base, Dishonorable, and Ʋnworthy Means, the same shall be Abased, and he that Humbleth himself shall be Exalted.

For Humility, my Lord, is the true way to Greatness; it is not a Poltron and a sneaking Disposition, as its Name may seem unjustly to Insinuate; but it implies Magnanimity and Courage at the same time, by looking backward upon God, and inwards upon it Self, and for­wards upon the Hope and Expectation of a future Life; it acquires an habitual Sense and Sympathy of Human Frailty, a Pity and Compassion for Human want and ne­cessity, an universal Candor, Integrity and Ingenuity, in all its Words and Actions, and Designes, a warm in­clination to promote the good of its Country, and the hap­piness [Page] of Mankind, an admiration of God, and a desire to be like him, and a scorn of every thing that is unhand­some or unjust. It cannot revenge its own wrongs upon the Public, it cannot embarrass or embroil the World upon a principle of Private Interest; it cannot climb to Greatness upon the ruins of Justice, though it would ne­ver so fain, but it still meets with something that pulls it strongly back, and rewards all Ambition with regret and pain, but what is noble, and useful, and serviceable to the World, and is an Instinct of the Divinity in Human Nature, to prompt it, when fair Opportunities present themselves, to great Atchievements and generous Ʋnder­takings; it Ascends by the Steps of Chancery into the Temple of Honor, and from the Pinacle of that lofty Structure, it Surveys the whole Extent and Circumfe­rence of things; and will not fall down to Worship a mean design, to Purchase all the Prospect that it Views.

But, my Lord, I grow troublesome with too much length; and therefore if what I have said, may not be allow'd to be Apology sufficient, for the hardiness of this Address, I shall only beg, that what I cannot Justifie, you would please to Pardon; and with my Prayers to God for your Lordships Health and Happiness, and encrease of Ho­nor. I am, may it it please your Lordship,

Your Lordships most Humble. Grateful, and Obedient Servant. John Turner.

The Collect for Palm-Sunday.

ALmighty and Everlasting God, who of thy tender Love towards Mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Savi­our Jesus Christ, to take upon him our Flesh, and to suffer Death upon the Cross, that all Mankind should follow the Ex­ample of his great Humility; Merci­fully grant that we may both follow the Example of his Patience, and also be made partakers of his Resurrection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Matth. 5. 3.‘Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’

IN this and the two following Chapters, which contain our Savi­ours admirable Sermon upon the Mount, to his Disciples, there is drawn, as it were in little, the lively Por­traiture of a Christian Man in all his Conver­sation, so that if we could once prevail up­on our selves, frail and disobedient Creatures as we are, to live up to the height and per­fection of those Rules, which are here pre­scribed and laid down, there could be no­thing wanting to make us absolutely and compleatly happy, both in Body and Soul. For if we Survey this whole Discourse, tho but with a careless and superficial Eye, yet it will be easie to perceive, at first sight, that it is exactly Calculated, for the happiness of Mankind, to render us the most pleasant and contented within our selves, the most secure [Page 2] from any fear and danger from without, and to procure us the mutual Favor and Assist­ance of each other, in all our honest designs and undertakings.

To demonstrate this in all the several in­stances, so plainly, and so particularly as it might, and as it ought to be done, the more effectually to shew the manifest usefulness and tendency of them all, to ennoble and im­prove our Natures, and to make us as Wise, as Healthful, and as Happy, as we are seve­rally capable of being, is not the business of a single Sermon, but of a large, Elaborate and Comprehensive Volume, wherein Reli­gion and Philosophy may have room enough to stretch themselves at length, and appear in their full Magnitude and Just Proportion; therefore I shall content my self at present, without launching out into so large a Field, where every new Fruit and Flower will af­ford us a plentiful Entertainment by it self; to confine my self within a much narrower compass, by devoting my whole Discourse to the consideration of one Subject, and laying the single Charms of Humility be­fore you: Humility, that Vertue which we so much want, Humility the Queen of Hea­ven and Earth, the fair and Majestick So­vereign [Page 3] of all Christian Graces, to which the first Beatitude was deservedly vouchsafed, to which as being the Corner-stone of Wisdom, the Bottom and Foundation of all other Vir­tuous and Goodly dispositions of Mind, the promise of both Worlds is annex't as it's re­ward, Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, saith our Saviour, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; and then again, v. 5. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. That is, Hu­mility is such a disposition of Mind, as is naturally fitted to give us the truest enjoy­ment of this Life, and to prepare us the most effectually for that which is to come. It consists in having a sober and modest Opi­nion of our selves, and in this it is opposed to that Arrogant and Swelling Humor which is a manifest detraction from all those Ver­tues or Excellencies whatsoever they be, which it pretends to vaunt it self upon. It is likewise accompanied with such a kind and charitable Opinion of others, as hath a natural tendency to make all the World our Friends; and it hath this peculiar Excellency in it, that it throws a Veil which no Man will be forward or desirous to uncover, over all the Frailties, Infirmities, or Imperfecti­ons of Men, and to all their Accomplish­ments, [Page 4] Endowments, and Perfections, it gives an additional Brightness and Lustre, it makes them appear more Shining, and more Char­ming, more Beautiful and Lovely, more In­viteing and Attracting, more worthy of Praise, because they do not affect it, more apt to be discovered and laid open with ad­vantage to the publick View, and to the light of the World, because they do not offer and obtrude themselves upon it, with a prostitute Sollicitation, but with a Virgin Modesty and Shame, they strive to withdraw and to con­ceal themselves; and thus it is true likewise in the course of Nature, as well as in that of Providence, that God resisteth the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble, that is, that Pride is a natural Obstruction to it self, but Humility hath natural Charms to recom­mend it. It does, with respect to our selves, what Love and Charity are said to do with reference to others, it covers a multitude of Frailties and Offences, and if there be any thing Excellent or Praiseworthy in us, it sets it off with a new accession of Beauty and Advantage.

Humility is such a disposition of Mind, whose very Nature consists in a certain plea­sant Calmness and Serenity of Spirit, which [Page 5] is the best fitted to enjoy it felf, without which no Moral Vertue or Christian Grace can have it's perfect work in our Hearts, but it will be ruffled and discomposed by the dis­order of Passions, and the uneasie turbulence of immoderate desires. It is the proper tem­per and constitution of a Wise Man, who being still and quiet, and sedate within him­self, is the better enabled to make a true judg­ment and a right advantage of all other things and persons round about him. It is such a Vertue, that as it is the best way to advance us, and to bring us to a Flourishing and Prosperous condition, so it makes that Prosperity safe and unenvy'd, it carries along with it the good Wishes and Prayers of all we converse with, and all that have any know­ledge of us, that it may continue; and if any affliction or calamity happen to over­take us, it will be sure to supply us with Pi­ty and Relief from without, and within it will furnish us with Patience and Submission to the Will of God, which are a compara­tive Remedy to the worst of Evils. It is the most certain and unquestionable expedient of the utmost happiness in this Life; and it is not only a condition of, but also a ne­cessary preparation to the Enjoyment and Glory of the other.

But on the contrary, if instead of this, in­stead of enjoying Meekness and Poverty of Spirit, which is indeed the only true Great­ness and Magnanimity of it; our Saviour had taught his Disciples after another man­ner, be ye Insolent and Proud, be ye Haugh­ty and Assuming, Arrogant and Overweening, Vaunters of your selves, and Despisers of o­thers; I need not say what Horrid, what Dismal, what Deplorable Effects the univer­sal practice of such a Doctrin as this would have brought upon the World; it would have Unhinged the whole Frame and Order of things, and turned the World again into a Chaos more confused than that out of which by the kind and harmonious disposi­tion of the Divine Nature it was at first pro­duced; and if to so Destructive so Baneful, so Pernicious a Temper, he had annexed the same promise which he hath done to Meekness, for they that are thus affected shall Inherit the Earth, it would have been a plain sign, he did not understand the na­tural consequence of his own Doctrin, which can have no other possible issue or result where it is universally practiced, but only to bring the World into confusion, to chafe it with perpetual Strife, Animosity and Con­tention, [Page 7] to involve it in Blood, and Misery, and Slaughter, and to make Man­kind a mutual and an eternal Plague and Punishment to each other.

Or if he had made it a condition of ob­taining an Inheritance in the World to come, or had prescribed it, as a preparative to the enjoyment of it, we must either have con­cluded him to have been the vilest of Im­postors, instead of being as he is, the Savi­our of the World, and the Redeemer of Mankind, from Misery as well as Sin; or we must have looked upon God Almighty, whose Messenger he was, under the notion of an angry and revengeful Being, that de­lighted in nothing more, than in the Misery and Torment of his Creatures; for Heaven at this rate would have been so far from be­ing worth accepting, being an Eternal State of mutual Pride, Animosity and Contenti­on, that but to think of coming thither, would be a degree of Damnation, even in this Life, and a Torment too great for Hu­mane Nature to bear.

But if we understand any thing of the condition of those Blessed Spirits, that are made partakers of the Heavenly Kingdom, and of the Life and Glory that shall be reveal­ed, [Page 8] it is without all question, or else it can­not be an happy State, a State of mutual Benevolence and Goodwill, it consists in an Eternal Friendship, which cannot be suppos­ed in so great equality of Happiness and Glory, and in so great and universal longing after closer and more intimate Communion with God, such breathing and contention after the enjoyment of him, without a mu­tual yielding and condescention; it is found­ed in an humble and modest Opinion of themselves, in a kind and charitable dis­position towards their Neighbors, the Part­ners and fellowpartakers of the same Light and Immortality with themselves, in a per­fect resignation to the Divine Will, and in a magnificent Esteem and veneration of his Nature; and our Saviour by making such habits and dispositions of Mind, to be the indispensible conditions of being his Disci­ples, by placing all the instances of Obedi­ence in such things as are so manifestly for the comfort and support of Humane Life; and are withal so necessary and so natural a preparation to the Happiness of the future State, hath given as great, if not a much greater Testimony to the truth of his Do­ctrin, the Divinity of his Person, and the [Page 9] unquestionable Authority of his Mission from above, than any the greatest of his Miracles, without so useful and so highly reasonable a Doctrine could have afforded.

I said just now that Humility was the very Corner-stone of Wisdom, the Bottom and Foundation of all manner of Vertue; but upon second Thoughts I recall my self, it is not so much the Foundation of Vertue as the Complexion of it, it comprehends all Vertue and Wisdom within it self. For Vertue is no­thing else but practical Wisdom, and Hu­mility is Patience, Humility is Temperance, Humility is Justice, Humility is Chastity, Hu­mility is Prudence, Humility is Obedience, Humility is Charity, Humility is Brotherly­kindness, putting on several Appearances and Shapes that have a disagreeing likeness to each other, like Brothers and Sisters, or the nearest Kindred of the same House and Line, that have a resemblance and a difference at the same time.

— Facies non omnibus una;
Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse Sororum.

For all these are founded where they are not practiced by instinct or by habit, [Page 10] which two are but animal and brutish things, even in those Actions that have a vertuous Appearance, I say, all these are founded, where ever they are exer­cised upon inducements of Reason, which are the only things that constitute the Essence of Vertue in any particular instance that can happen; they are founded in a due sense of the infirmity of Human Nature; For all these are necessary upon no other ac­count, but either that single Persons cannot be happy, or else that Society cannot sub­sist without them; the former of which is manifestly the case of Chastity, Temperance and Patience, the latter more remotely of Charity, Brotherly-kindness and Prudence, without which a Society cannot so well subsist; more immediately of Obedience and Justice, without which it cannot possibly subsist at all; so that all these Vertues have the consideration of Human Frailty for their Object, and the redressing of it for their end; and this is no other than what we call Hu­mility, it is a wise and a just Sense of the frailty and infirmity to which Human Na­ture is subject, so that when we speak of Hu­mility, we speak of every thing that is either truly useful or truly ornamental; it is the Phi­losophical [Page 11] Elixir that converts every thing it touches into Gold; it is the natural and the po­litic Archaeus that makes and governs the Vital Spirits of Action, that sweetens and pacifies the disagreeing Humors both of the natu­ral and the civil Body; it is that Universal Remedy of Human Life, to which, when we mean it of any thing but this, none but very Empiricks and Mountebanks in Physick are so hardy to pretend; it is Milk and Ho­ney purchas'd by sound Wisdom and com­prehensive Judgment without Money and without Price, it is Health to the Navil and Marrow to the Bones, it is Corn, Wine and Oyl, with all their good effects of a strong Body, a shining Countenance, and a joyful Heart. We have seen thy goings, O God, we have all seen how thou our God and King goest in the Sanctuary, the Singers go before, the Ministrels follow after, in the midst are the Damsels play­ing with the Timbrels: Humility leads up the Dance of Vertue, and Charity concludes it, and in the midst are Peace and Mercy join­ing hands together, Righteousness, Tempe­perance, Obedience, Patience, Magnanimi­ty and Prudence, Inviting, Kissing and Em­bracing each other.

Humility, thou meek & lowly, and yet at once [Page 12] infinite and exalted Vertue! thou comprehen­sive, incomprehensible thing! thou that con­querest by Patience and subduest by Yielding! whereunto shall I liken thy divine Perfection? or with what comparison shall I compare thee? Humility how lovely? how amiable art thou? thou art fairer than the Children of Men, rud­dy, fresh and beautiful as the Morning Sky, All thy Garments smell of Myrrh, Aloes and Cassia; Full of Grace are thy Lips, because the Lord hath blessed thee for ever.

The source of Humility is not so obscure as that of Nile is said to be, but yet it is more impervious and inaccessible than the other, not but that it discovers a great deal of it self, but that it hides much more, for the Fountain of Humility is God himself.

It is a thing very agreeable to the Rea­son and restless Curiosity of Mankind, what we find practiced, even by inquisitive Chil­dren, to be taking things in pieces to see what they are made of, and finding it self surrounded by such a Magnificent Scene, contrived after so useful and so excellent a manner, adorn'd and variegated with such an infinity of beautiful and surprizing Ob­jects, to be enquiring into the contexture of the Work it self, and into the maker of [Page 13] it, and from it self to ascend higher in the Scale of Causes, to the Original and Foun­tain of its Being, which is that which we use to call by the name of God, in which as being the first, the most eminent and most transcendent Cause, it discerns so much Excellence, so vast, unbounded and unlimi­ted Perfection, that though there be enough and to spare of other things, that may be sufficient to abase and humble wise Men, as the narrowness of our knowledge when it is the most improved, the dulness and in­activity of our Minds when they are the most attentive and erect, the scantiness of our Memories when they are the most com­prehensive, the shortness of our Lives at the utmost extremity of that which we call Old Age, the craziness of those Bodies which we carry about us when they are at the strongest, the Diseases and casualties to which they are exposed, the uncertainty of our Fortunes when they are at the highest, the satiating nature and quality of our Enjoyments when they continue firm and constant to us, as we before experiment would have wish'd and pray'd they might be, the fickleness of Friend­ship, the mutability of Interest, the decays of Youth and Beauty, the dependency and ob­noxiousness [Page 14] of all Earthly Things; yet these are but small diminutions of our selves, they create but a low degree of Humility and Ab­horrence in us, in comparison of what un­avoidably results from the consideration of God and his infinite Perfection, his immense Power, his incomprehensible Wisdom, his never failing Goodness, his impartial and unbiass'd Justice, his manifest and yet my­sterious Omnipresence; then we loath and abhor our selves in Dust and Ashes, we are fill'd with a fastidious Aversion and Dislike, we vanish away in Smoak, we shrink and shrivel into nothing, we are not so much as a drop to the Atlantique, as an Atome to the Body of the Sun, or to the whole cir­cumference of liquid aether, in which he per­forms his daily and yearly Motion; we are metamorphos'd out of Men to Worms, and out of Worms we are transform'd to Insects, and when we consider the Heavens, the work of his Fingers, the Moon and the Stars which he hath ordained, it is natural for us to cry out with the Royal Poet, who in this was not guilty of Poetique Licence, Lord, what is Man that thou art mindful of him, or the Son of Man that thou hast regard unto him?

We may consider this Universe under the [Page 15] notion of an inverted Pyramid, of which the humble Man is the terminating Point and the divine Perfections, are the inverted Basis, and the Lines that are drawn between these two from the bottom to the top, grow still more wide and distant from each other, as they ascend higher in their Progress to the top, so that the humble Mans Contem­plations begin at himself, and from himself they ascend upward thorough all the several Orders of created Beings, till he comes to the great Source and Original of all things, wherein all their several Beauties and Per­fections are transcendently contained, and still the higher he goes the more humble he is, because he discerns the more, upon a just comparison, the littleness of himself; but in the divine Nature he is swallowed up with astonishment and wonder, there is so vast and infinite a Prospect before him; he is like a small crany to a vast Circumference, though the one may be seen and observed through the other, and he discovers the di­vine Attributes full of excellence and bright­ness, and is ravisht with the Sense and Con­templation of them, though he cannot see God as he is in himself, in his true Latitude and just Extent, like the Image of some large [Page 16] and spacious Object, contracted into Minia­ture, in which all the Parts and Lineaments appear, but not in their natural and true dimensions. And still the more he Con­templates, the Wiser he grows, and the more he Despiseth himself in comparison of that Excellence he converses with, the nigher he approaches in perfection to it.

But with the Proud Man it is clean other­wise; it is true, he begins with himself as well as the other, but then he ends in him­self too, his prospect is not upwards towards Heaven, but downwards towards the Earth, and he sits at the top of that short inverted Pyramid of which himself is the Basis, and the broadest part, so that he converses with no­thing but what is either less than himself, or what he imagins to be so; for no Man certainly can be Proud of the Comparison, when he thinks himself Conversant with a Nobler Object, so that it is exactly true of the Proud, Haughty and Assuming Man, what David saith in general of the Wicked, that he hath not God in all his thoughts, and that though Pride and Ignorance be not con­vertible terms, for a Man may be Ignorant that is not Proud, yet Pride is certainly no­thing else but an effect of Ignorance, of want [Page 17] of Consideration, want of Skill and Judg­ment in the true Rate and Value of things.

Again, It is not only true that this admi­rable Grace and Vertue of Humility, hath its firmest Root, and it's most powerful Cause in the contemplation of the Divine Nature, which is the most excellent Object we can converse with, but the Psalmist tells us ex­presly, speaking of God himself, that he Hum­bleth himself to behold the things that are in Heaven and Earth. From the rising of the Sun, saith he, unto the going down of the same, the Lords Name is to be Praised, the Lord is high above all Nations, and his Glory above the Hea­vens, who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwel­leth on High, and yet Humbleth himself to be­hold the things that are in Heaven and Earth? Not that God who is the First mover and the only Supream and Self-existent Nature, can in propriety be said to be an Humble or an Ab­ject being, but that he is invested in a most eminent manner, with all those gentle incli­nations to Pity and Compassion, which are the Natural consequents of Humility among Men, he is kind and gracious, slow to anger and easie to be entreated, and his Mercy is over all his works, his Power is allay'd and tempered by his Goodness, and his Justice is blended by [Page 18] his Mercy, and his great Mind is thoughtful with the Cares of the Universe, which is his perpetual Charge, and a Charge which cannot be managed by an Affected and Proud, which is a disturbance to it self, and would hinder the due administration of so vast a Govern­ment, but by a Sedate, Quiet and Serene Mind, which is not more requisite to the Government of the World, than to the hap­pyness of the Governor himself, who in or­der to his being infinitely perfect, as he cer­tainly is, as being the cause of all things, and containing all Created Perfection within himself, must in the First place be supposed to be necessarily Existent, for Existence is the root of all other Perfections, and in the next, to be infinitely Happy and perfectly at Ease, for where there is no Happyness, there is no Enjoyment, and where there is perfect Hap­pyness, there must be perfect Peace; and if God were not the most perfectly Happy, he must be the most Miserable and Unhappy Be­ing, because it is true of him, what the in­spired writer to the Hebrews tells us of Mel­chizedek, that he is, without Father, without Mother, without Descent or Genealogy, he hath neither Beginning of Days, nor End of Life, but must pass for ever Miserable thorough a [Page 19] lingering Eternity, and can do all things but die.

But besides this, there are four things that discover the Nature of God in this sense to be Humble, that it is an Equal, an Impassible thing, and that it is never disturbed out of it's true Poise and Balance by any event whatso­ever.

First, There is the Universe which is not only so regularly Govern'd, as I have said before, but so exactly, so admirably contrived, which speaks not only a very wise and knowing, but a very cool, considerate and quiet Artist.

Secondly, All Pride and Arrogance pro­ceeding out of Ignorance, this cannot be competible to that perfect Nature which is acknowledged to be infinitely Wise.

Thirdly, If we examin the state of things among Men, they are comparisons upon the Level that usually make us Proud, for the consideration of things that are above us is naturally fitted to debase and humble our Minds, and when we reflect either upon Beasts or Flies, upon Creatures of no under­standing, or Creatures of no moment, we disdain to come into the comparison with [Page 20] them, neither do we look upon it as any commendation, it makes no manner of change or alteration in our Visage, or deportment, to be thought by others, or to think our selves more excellent and valuable than such things as these. But it is then we begin to think more highly of our selves than we ought to think when we compare our selves with one another, wherefore God be­ing placed at such an infinite distance above the Highest and Noblest of his Creatures, and there being nothing in them which is not in himself, the [...]manations of whose Power and Goodness they are, he cannot certainly be capable of such a passion as this, upon any account of equality or Emulation, neither can he value himself upon a Comparison, though with the first born of all the Angels of Light.

Fourthly, Novelty and Ʋnaccustomedness is another cause of Pride, Men are com­monly Proud of things they are not used to, but they that are born to great things, or have been long accustomed to them, Great­ness sits lightly and easily upon them, and they have an Air of Complaisance and Hu­mility, in the middest of that Fortune which an upstart cannot bear without contemning [Page 21] and trampling upon others, and what be­comes easie by Custom in the Gifts of For­tune, does so by Consideration in those of the Mind, they are not accompany'd in con­sidering Men with a bloty and a puffy▪ Hu­mor, but with Humility and Affability they recommend themselves, and shun the two equally dangerous and pernicious Rocks of Hatred and of Envy; and therefore in God who was infinitely Perfect and Happy in him­self from all Eternity, his Perfection was al­ways so easie and familiar to him, that as he cannot think too well of himself, so he does it not with any contempt of his Creatures that are infinitely below him, but only with a just, wise, and considerate approbation of his own Adorable and Immortal Being. So that here is another excellence of Humi­lity▪ that it hath not only its root and spring in God, but that it is also in some sort a breathing after his Likeness, an imitation of his Perfections, and a participation of his Na­ture, which may be the reason why the in­fluences of Divine Grace, do so willingly de­scend upon the Humble Man, because there is a congruity between them, they have a re­semblance and likeness to one another, and God delights to dwell in such a Mind, as is [Page 22] so true an Image of himself, and represents the candor, equability and constancy, of his unshaken, peaceable and quiet Essence, and this makes it true in a Spiritual, as well as in a Natural sense, that God resisteth the Proud, but giveth grace to the Humble: Nei­ther is it any wonder to find in the Sermon on the Mount, that the Kingdom of Hea­ven is promised to the Poor in Spirit, when it appears to be so Godlike, and so Heavenly a disposition, for that which we call Humili­ty in Men, is almost the same constitution of Mind, to which the happyness of the Divinity it self is owing, that is, the Equabi­lity, Ingenuity, and Quietness of his Nature.

The Power and Justice of God are only terrible and frightful to consider; we shrink and tremble at them with horror and amaze­ment, for fear of Thunderbolts, and Hurri­canes, and Earthquakes, for fear the Sea should break it's wonted Banks, and Heaven descend in Hailstones and Coles of Fire; for fear of Plagues and Famins, and other Epi­demical Evils, knowing, as we do, how much he can inflict, and being sensible how much we have deserved; but 'tis his Good­ness only that excites our Love, that en­flames and stimulates our Zeal, that harmo­nizes [Page 23] and sweetens our Devotion, that takes our Harps design from off the Willowes in the middest of all these Melancholy thoughts, and makes them joyn in consort with An­thems of Praise. And what is true of God the Governor of all things, is true in its propor­tion of Kings too, and their Subordinate Ma­gistrates and Ministers; their Power when it is not temper'd with Sweeness and Benignity, may indeed extort and force Obedience from us, but it creates Hatred and Aversion at the same time; but when we discover a stroke of Goodness, a Pity in the middest of Pu­nishment, a sense and sympathy of Humane Frailty, in the middest of the Severities they inflict upon us, we do not say then as Jacob did to Simeon and Levi, Cursed be their Anger, for it was fierce; and their Wrath, for it was cruel, but we Kiss and Embrace the kind and unwilling Rod, and praise it at the same in­stant, when we are smarting under it: And as this blessed, this even temper of Mind re­commends even God himself, and his Vice­gerents to their Subjects, so it recommends their Subjects back again to them, and re­turns with new Charters, new Priviledges, new and encreast influences of Divine Favor, and of Royal Goodness. Therefore let us [Page 24] Pray for Humility, that Humility may Pray and Intercede for us, both with our God, and with our King.

There is nothing more certain in experi­ence, than that if two Men be equally Rich, equally Noble, and in equal Place and Dig­nity in the State, and if the temper of the one be Humble, Affable and Kind, that of the other Severe, Morose, Implacable, Proud and Haughty, that the one of these shall be Reverenc'd and Esteem'd, the other Despised by some, and Hated by all; and since Rich­es are of no other use, after the necessities of Nature are supplyed, than to procure us Power, Interest and Esteem among Men, it is manifest in this case, tho' in an equality of Substance, of Land and Money, of Goods and Chattels, of Birth and Fortune, that still, he that hath the greater Authority, is in truth and reality the Richer Man, so that this Humility, this Poverty of Spirit, is when all is done, the truest, and the most va­luable Riches.

And as in the case of Riches, so also in that of Learning or Knowledge; if we suppose two Men equally learned, equally knowing, with this diversity of temper between them, the consequence of this will be, in a mutual [Page 25] excellence on both sides, that the one shall be admir'd and prais'd, respected and lov'd, follow'd, and pointed at, and crowded after, but the other scarce ever taken notice of, or regarded, to his infinite trouble and vexati­on; for this is the fate of Insolence and Pride, that it is sure to be affronted and con­temn'd, and yet there is nothing that is so uneasie under it, or that bears it with great­ter Impatience and Resentment. Though after all, since the use of Learning is two­fold, First, To instruct and ennoble a Mans self, and Secondly, To make him capable of instructing others, and of being a public Blessing where he lives: The Second of these Uses, which is certainly the best and noblest, is lost in the Arrogant and Assuming Man, for Men had rather be Ignorant, than be Ma­gisterially taught, or be imposed upon even by Truth it self, commanding a Reverence, not for it's own sake, by gentle and insinu­ating perswasion, but upon account of the Brows and Forehead of its Teacher; so that after all, if we respect the true use of Learn­ing, though there be an equal extent of knowledge on both sides, yet the Humble on­ly is the truely, the usefully, the beneficially knowing Man.

But I speak this only upon supposition, that there can be such a thing as a very Proud and a very knowing person, at the same time, a thing which I can very hardly induce my self to believe; for Humility is a temper that naturally leads to Knowledg by considerati­on, and Coolness, by industry and patience by not only enduring, but loving, with rea­son, to be opposed and contradicted, by cor­recting its mistakes and errors every Day, as Astrologers do their Nativities, by new thoughts, new occurences, and new events. Humility insinuates it self by slow and gen­tle, but sure and steady Progressions, into the deepest Mysteries of Art and Nature; Humility climbes up to Heaven, and brings Heaven down by Telescopes to it self, and makes the Stars fall down before it, like the Angels of God, ascending and descending upon Jacobs Ladder, and that not in a Vision as it was with him, but in some sort of reality and truth. But Pride is impatient, and makes too great hast to be Wise, it takes up prejudices and will not forsake them, it disdains to be mistaken, and therefore will not relinquish its Errors, it is impatient of contradiction, and therefore cannot be instructed; it Vaunts [Page 27] and Magnifies it self as having run through the whole course of Truth, when it hath scarce performed the nearest Stage of that long, wearisome and laborious Journey, and that too with a very precipitant and hasty motion, for the Proverb holds good in en­quiries after Truth, that the farthest way a­bout is the nearest way home, and that a cool, humble, considerate, sober pace, will with the greatest speed, and with the most certain and assured safety, conduct the Traveller to his Journies end.

Of the truth of this, we have had a noto­rious instance in experience in this last Age of ours; in the late Famous and Ingenious Author of the Leviathan, I mean, who as appears by some of his Performances, was a Person qualifi'd by Nature for extraordina­ry things, had they not been unhappily pre­vented by the Pride and Haughtiness of his temper, he was got, it shou'd seem, into the Dogmatical Humor, and was impatient of Contradiction from others, though full of the Spirit of Contradiction himself, [...]e was re­solved to be the Founder of a new Sect that should be called after his Name, as there are but too many of his Disciples to be met [Page 28] with, and he would needs be the Author and Inventer of new Notions and of new Hypo­theses, whither the Nature of things would bear them or no; and from hence it came to pass, that he became so blind, that he could not see the Sun at Noon-day; he could not discover, the existence of a God, neither did he take the consideration of him into the Sy­stem of his Politics, by which the main Pil­lar of Obligation was destroyed; he was used to say, that the Laws of every Nation, were the only Law and Gospel when all was done, and yet by his Principles he could at any time dispence not only with Positive Laws, but with the Natural too, which are of Mo­ral, Unalterable and Eternal Force; so that according to him, there is no standing Nature of things, no principle of Conscience, or of Obligation; and what a vast absurdity in Politics this Doctrin is, what Misery and Confusion it would introduce among Men, whereever it is heartily Believed and Practi­ced; a blinder Man then Mr. Hobs himself, though [...]e was blind enough, may easily discern: In his Natural Philosophy he hath been Unanswerably confuted and exposed by several learned Men, and in his Mathema­ticks [Page 29] too, so effectually taken to task, that it hath been demonstrated plainly, that he never was more mistaken, than when he him­self pretended to Demonstration; and when he wrote his Book Contra Fastum Geometra­rum, against the Pride and Loftyness of the Mathematicians, he discovered his own Pride and Ignorance together; so necessary is Hu­mility to Knowledg, so dangerous, nay so destructive to their design is it, for Men that would be Learned, to be Proud.

And if we Translate Humility from Arts and Sciences to matters of Religion; Humili­ty though it do not Anathematize and Thun­der, is almost every whit as able to determin Controversies, as a General Council, and is as well qualified to preside in the Divinity Chair, as any University Dictator of them all; Humility is a sharp, inquisitive and discern­ing Vertue, and such as perswades the belief of what she teaches, by very strong Arguments, but by stronger temper; and Men are willing to give Ear to what she says, because they see plainly she hath no design upon them, but only for their good; they know her to be a very shrewd and learned Vertue, that she hath used great industry in her inquiries after [Page 30] Truth, and that she speaks her Mind with all imaginable frankness and sincerity, and with a desire to scatter Knowledg and Hap­pyness together, which things of themselves without much use of Argument, are a very fair step to Conviction.

But if she cannot bring all Men to be of a mind, or if her own Subjects, the Vassals and liege People of the humble Kingdom, which is I am afraid no larger than the Ter­ritory of some Indian Princes; if these them­selves cannot all be united into one com­mon Faith, yet Humility considers Wisely, that all Men have not, neither indeed can have, the same Capacity, the same Strength and Vivacity of Wit and Judgment, the same Opportunities, the same Education, the same Apprehensions, and the same notions of things, and therefore admits a difference without a disagreement. And this I am sure of, it would be a blessed change, if Humility could take the place, and do the Office of Ec­clesiastical censures, so as to make them use­less and needless for the future, and so put an end to those severities of Law, which, as all other punishments in other matters, can be justified by nothing, but only that they are [Page 31] necessary, because mad men run Opinion into Faction, and Faction into Riot and Re­bellion. And I dread to think how thin and depopulate the Kingdom of Heaven will be, and the Jerusalem which is above, a City al­most without Inhabitants, and a Kingdom without Subjects, notwithstanding all our pretences to Salvation, and our annexing it to this or that Communion, if none but the Poor in Spirit shall obtain it, if none but the Humble and the Charitable Man shall be Saved.

Humility would not only prove a blessed Instrument of Ecclesiastical peace, but also of Civil too, if it could but gain Credit and Reputation among us; for Humility never complains before it is hurt, nay, Humility for the sake, and for the good of her Coun­try, rather than make a broil and a disturbance in it, can suffer her self to be hurt without complaining; she neither thinks, nor does, nor apprehends any ill; she is a Friend to all, and therefore thinks all to be a Friend to her; she sees no Fantastic and visionary Dangers, she is troubled with no imaginary Jealousies and Fears, she cannot discern Apparitions in the Air, nor Monsters in the Earth, nor [Page 32] Whales portending calamities in the Water, but she puts her first Trust in God, and her next in the King, and she believes that all things will work together for good to them that walk like her, and do their duty. She neither pries into the Cabinets of Princes, nor censures the transactions of State, nor raises false Reports to create an ill Opinion of her Governors, in the People, neither doth she foment or encourage them when they are raised.

Humility resolves, let what will come to pass, to be quiet and submit, because she considers that the Hand of the King, is as the Finger of God, who doth whatsoever pleaseth him both in Heaven and Earth, by whom Kings Reign and Princes decree Justice. Hu­mility is a peaceable and resigning Vertue, and wherever she hath a Temple in any Eng­lish Breast, there the King hath a Faithful and Obedient Subject.

But that which makes most of all for the commendation of Humility is, that our blessed Savaiour who was God incarnate, and who suffered so many indignities and re­proaches from the worst of Men, who hum­bled himself even to the Death, the ignomi­nious [Page 33] and painful Death of the Cross, for our sakes, hath given us so great a pattern and example of it, learn of me, saith he, for I am meek and lowly in Heart, and ye shall find rest unto your Souls. And on this very day when he entred into Jerusalem, with Accla­mations and Hosanna's; though the People mistook him for a Triumphant Prince, and thought their Victorious Messias was a com­ing, yet it was indeed no more then the Tri­umph of Humility, over the Scorn and Malice of his Enemies, it was but a Prologue to his approaching Crucifixion, which was in truth his last and greatest Conquest, where­in he Triumpht over Death and Hell; and so the Prophet Zachary, and out of him the Evangelist St. Matthew hath described the matter, Rejoyce greatly, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having Salvation, lowly, and riding upon an Ass, and upon a Colt, the foal of an Ass; and if so great an Example as this, the Example of God putting on human Shape, almost on purpose, that he might set a pattern of Obe­dience and Humility to us, will not encou­rage and recommend the Practice of it, I [Page 34] know not what will, for I have nothing else to say, but that Humility is Humility, that is, that a Vertue so transcendently excel­lent and great, can be compared to nothing but it self.

FINIS.

ERATA.

Pag. 23. line 2. for design read down.

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