Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Causes of Humility

As only in night dreams I cross impassable rivers, climb tremendous precipices, or fly in the open air; so it is only in spiritual slumber that I mount on the imaginary wing, climb the height of self-conceit, and stand on the precipice of pride. Were I truly awake, instead of being puffed up, I should tremble at my situation.

In truth, there is nothing either in the fortune, persons, or minds of men, that ought to make them proud. We should never be proud of riches; for, besides the disquieting nature of them, we can never be possessed of so vast a sum—but we may die beggars. We should never be proud of honor—for our glory may turn into disgrace, and our character into reproach. We should never be proud our children—for death, like a lion, waits only God's permissive nod, to devour every one of them. We should never be proud of strength, health, or beauty—for disease lies dormant in every bodily part—ready to break out into the canker of corruption. We should never be proud of any faculty of the mind, seeing our brightest wisdom is but folly to God, yes, to angels; and sickness can deprive us of our boasted intellect, and render us objects of pity unto all.

I see, then; that pride springs from blindness and thoughtlessness. But how surprising is this, that one who has his eyes open to the things of God, should be guilty of pride! Now, as spiritual things are more noble and more excellent than carnal things, so 'spiritual pride' is more abominable than worldly pride. For the Christian, of all men, should be most humble. Whence, then, these risings of heart? whence this self-conceit, and high opinion of myself? Is God good to me—and must I turn the grace of God into pride and vanity? Surely, if ever I have cause to fear the sincerity of my graces, it is when I grow proud of them.

Grace is a humble thing. It thinks lowly of all but Christ. It keeps an eye ever open to its own failings; and though believingly bold, yet being conscious of its imperfection, it wears a blush before the throne.

The reasons of my pride are merely imaginary—but I have a thousand real causes for the profoundest humility. I have many carnal thoughts—even in my solemn devotion. I am guilty of ambitious lustings, unbelieving circumscribings of the power of God, misimprovement of God's judgments and of mercies, over-attachment to the things of time, dullness about the things of eternity, ignorance of God, and of spiritual, heavenly, and divine things. Yes, besides all these, the daily iniquity of my heart and life—should always keep me humble.

But, my soul, your very situation, (for you are yet on enchanted ground,) may keep you humble. Though you were as spotless as a seraph, yet that flood of iniquity that swells around you may keep you humble; but though you were in the midst of a paradise of innocence, yet there is such a world of wickedness within you, as might banish every spark of pride forever. And when these considerations fail, and pride again begins to appear, the very appearance may plunge you into the profoundest abyss of humility and self-loathing, out of which you should never rise, until raised to the perfection of the sons of God.