The Desires and Privilege of the Humble
James Smith, 1855
Humility is a most excellent Christian grace, and he who has a good degree of it will . . .
adorn the gospel,
benefit the Church, and
be a happy example of true Christianity.
Nothing is more necessary for the believer — because without it he cannot expect to be either useful, holy, or happy. The Lord has always had a special regard to the humble, and has paid particular attention to them; as it is written, "Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble: you will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear." (Psalm 10:17).
The humble man is willing, heartily willing — to be saved in the Lord's own way, on his own terms:
To be saved from first to last as a sinner, and nothing but a sinner.
To be saved as a beggar, a pauper.
To be saved alone of grace, through another's work, by another's operation.
To be saved — and in being saved, to be nothing, to merit nothing, to deserve nothing.
The man that understands this, and is willing to be saved thus, must be a humble man. His humility is not produced by law terrors — but springs from a living principle of grace in his heart. It. is drawn forth by a discovery of the Lord Jesus, and thrives most when we have fellowship with him in his sufferings. It is not blind — but the possessor sees and knows himself, sees and knows something of Christ Jesus, and has an acquaintance with the plan of salvation, as laid down in God's holy Word.
His DESIRES are many — but the principal ones are these:
1. To be kept from sin, that it may not grieve him, that it may not break out and cause him to disgrace his profession. He fears it, he feels its power, he has proved his own weakness, he knows its nature, and therefore, from a hearty hatred to it, and godly fear respecting it — he prays to be kept from it.
2. He desires to be enabled to believe God's Word, and on Jesus Christ whom he has sent. He feels his inability. He sees the excellency of believing. He knows that it glorifies God, honors Jesus, and brings comfort to the soul; therefore he desires heartily and confidently to believe, and for this his prayers ascend.
3. He desires to live upon Christ simply, only, and always; but he finds himself beguiled and led away often to live upon frames and feelings, upon duties — or upon anything rather than Christ Jesus. He grieves that it should he so. He strives against it. But he finds that the Lord alone can enable him to do so. He desires it for its own sake, for his own comfort's sake, and for the credit of religion.
4. He desires to honor God. He is made willing to do good in secret, to act for God's glory, not his own honor. He is satisfied to do without what he most desires, if it is likely to make him proud, conceited, and dishonor God. Self is not his object — but God in Christ. None but a truly humble man experiences this.
5. He desires to be preserved from Satan, and this present evil world. He knows the design, malice, and wickedness of both. He knows the proneness of his heart to be led astray. He fears such potent foes. He hates their works and designs. He desires, therefore, to be kept from them.
6. He desires to be made fit for Heaven, let the discipline be ever so painful. He is willing, yes, desirous, that the flesh should be mortified, denied, and crucified. He loves the image of Jesus. He admires and longs for true sanctity; and therefore his prayers are often put up, that he may be made fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.
God will PREPARE the humble man's heart. His humility proceeds from God's work and operation, and the possession of it secures a continuance of his favors.
He prepares him to receive God's favors suitably. All that we receive from God is a gift, the effect of his free favor, and should therefore be received with humility, under a sense of our utter unworthiness, with true gratitude of soul. When our hearts are prepared by the Lord, we do so receive.
He prepares him to enjoy God's mercies consistently. We are, and shall be, sinners; of this we are made and kept daily sensible. All God's mercies are given to us in this character, and should be enjoyed with an eye to his glory.
He prepares him to hold fast truth continually. The truths and doctrines of the Word are precious and valuable. They are for the comfort, solace, and support of our minds. Satan and erroneous men are endeavoring constantly to wrest them from us, or at least to keep us from enjoying them. But the Lord prepares the heart of the humble by his daily teaching, and they find that gospel truths are the stay and support of their souls, that they must sink without them, and therefore they hold them fast.
He prepares him to live upon Christ daily. The humble soul is taught to live upon Christ and his Word; such an one cannot feed upon husks. He will not be satisfied without Jesus — nothing else can make him happy. He pines, sighs, and cries for his presence, and the joys of his salvation. This is the effect of God's preparing the heart.
He prepares him to possess all spiritual blessings eternally. He has now a right to them, the promise of them, and he frequently tastes the sweetness of them; but God is preparing his heart fully to know, perfectly to realize, and eternally possess them.
He shall ESTABLISH the humble man's heart.
God will establish his heart with grace, or in a gracious, experimental, and practical knowledge of the doctrines of grace (Hebrews 13:9).
He will establish him in every good work, or give him grace to appreciate, enjoy, and perform good works from evangelical motives (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17).
He will establish, strengthen, and settle him on the one foundation laid in Zion, making him strong in faith, and keeping him from evil (1 Peter 5:10).
The Lord will CAUSE HIS EAR TO HEAR. He will not turn away from, shut out, or refuse to listen to his prayers — but he will regard, attend to, and answer his petitions. This he will do because he loves him, and can get honor to himself by granting his requests:
to prove his faithfulness to his promises;
to honor Jesus, whose name he pleads;
to glorify the Spirit, who dictates his petitions; and
to ensure his prosperity, in which he takes pleasure (Psalm 35:27).
Thus, we can say, "Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear."
Reader, are you humble? If so, you will often feel the workings of pride, and you detest and deplore the haughtiness of your heart. You will justify the ways of God, both in providence and grace. You admire free and sovereign grace. You will loathe yourself in your own sight, for all your iniquities. You will lie low before God, and cry, "Behold, I am vile!" You are not often found throwing stones at others — but frequently pray, "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins, so shall I be innocent, and I shall be free from the great transgression."
The humble sinner is a true saint — but the proud professor is a very great sinner.
Lord, make us humble by the operations of your Holy Spirit; and keep us humble, by showing us our own hearts, and leading us into fellowship with Christ in his sufferings!
Gentle Jesus, lovely Lamb,
Yours, and only yours I am;
Take my body, spirit, soul,
Only you possess the whole.
You my one thing needful be,
Let me ever cleave to thee:
Let me choose the better part,
Let me give you all my heart.
Fairer than the sons of men,
Do not let me turn again —
Leave the fountain-head of bliss,
Stoop to creature happiness.
Whom have I on earth below,
You, and only you I know:
Whom have I in Heaven but thee?
You are all in all to me!
All my treasure is above,
All my riches is your love;
Who the worth of love can tell,
You, O love, my portion art.
Lord, you know my simple heart;
Other comforts I despise,
Love be all my paradise!
Nothing else can I require,
Love fulfill my whole desire;
Should your other gifts remove —
Still you give me all in love!