A Humble Man
From a letter by William Romaine (1714-1795).
A humble man can come to no harm; he will be ever trusting in the Lord, because he finds nothing in himself to trust in, while he gives great glory to God by trusting much in Him. God gives him great grace, and this is to keep alive an abiding sense of what he is in himself: to show him his ignorance and helplessness, to open to him daily more of the mystery of iniquity, to reveal to him the stirrings of corruption, which others feel not, and make him sensible of these, even in duties and ordinances, that he may loath himself and his very best works. These are the fruits of true grace, and he who is under the teachings of the Holy Spirit will abound in them. The more God does in the heart, the more He humbles it. The great design of His grace—is to bring the proud sinner low, and then to keep him low.
When He has brought us low, we do not like to be kept there, we want to get up again: our foolish desire is that He may do something in us for which we may have a good opinion of ourselves; and so with this thought, we are apt to wish, "O that I were more holy! O that I could pray better! O that I was more spiritual in duties! O that I was thankful enough!" If you could come to the true nature of these wishes (specious as they appear), you would find them spring from the secret workings of a proud, self-righteous spirit; take off their cloak of holiness, and their meaning is this: "I wish God would give me something for which I might be pleased with myself." If this was the case, would not the eyes be turned inward upon this very good self, and be drawn off from looking unto Jesus?—and so far as self is made something, Christ is made nothing. You may depend upon this as one of the surest axioms of divinity: Whatever it is that makes you pleased with yourself—that is not true grace; and whatever makes you displeased with yourself—is not true grace, unless it brings you humble to Christ and make you put more trust in Him.
May the Lord teach you these things practically. I have learned them by long experience. Though I know but little—yet I am getting on in Christ's school, and hope soon to be in the lowest grade, for there we learn most and fastest; we there depend entirely on the teaching of our Divine Master who reveals His secrets to none but babes. A new-born babe absolutely depends on the care of its parents, so must we depend on God, on Christ our Prophet and Teacher; and when we are brought thus humble, He will then make known to us what He hides from the wise and prudent. I would therefore wish you to be the humblest man upon earth: then, not only you may know most—but love most. He who feels his sins and miseries, his vileness and unprofitableness —with the deepest loathings of them—is in the fittest way to love Christ. If he is an experienced believer, the feelings of these sins and miseries will make Christ more precious; the more he finds of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the more will he trust in Christ's righteousness; and the more misery he knows, the more he desires salvation: all will make Jesus more dear and lovely. His own vileness sets forth Christ's grace; his unworthiness sets forth the worthiness of the Lamb and the sufficiency of Jesus, who is all in all.
When you are going to measure Christ's high grace, do not get upon a mountain—but go down into a valley—lower still, to the belly of hell, from whence Jonah cried: From thence see the height of Jesus' grace, and from thence see how lovely He is. When the Spirit of Jesus is humbling you, showing you your deceitful wicked heart, and laying upon your ruined nature in all its abominable workings, has not this often discouraged you, my friend? And instead of loving Christ more, and trusting Him more, did it not weaken your trust, and lessen your love?—and therefore, you contracted the gracious purpose of Jesus Christ. May He teach you better!—that every future sense of sin may greatly endear the Lamb of God to you, whose blood cleanses from all sin!