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serve another's also. They have all the same fundamental work of grace in their hearts; they are all born of God, have his image stamped on them, have the same Redeemer ; the same Spirit worketh in all ; and the promises are made alike unto all, not upon personal considerations.
SERMON LXXXVI. VERSE 78.—Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with
me without a cause ; but I will meditate in thy precepts. In these words you have, 1. David's prayer. 2. David's resolution.
1st, David's prayer. And there take notice of, first, the petition itself, “Let the proud be ashamed :” secondly, the reason, “For they dealt perversely with me without a cause."
In the prayer, he beggeth the repression of his enemies. There take notice of, 1. The notion by which they are described, “the proud.” 2. The event or effect of God's providence desired concerning them, Let them be ashamed.
I. The notion is considerable. The wicked, especially the persecutors of God's people, are usually characterized by this term in this psalm, “ the proud” (verses 51, 69, 122); and will give us this note,
DOCTRINE.—That pride puts wicked men upon being troublesome and injurious to the people of God.
But why are the persecutors and the injurious called “the proud ?"
ANSWER.-1. Because wicked men shake off the yoke of God, and will not be subject to their Maker, and therefore desist not from troubling his people: “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go?" (Exod. v. 2.) What was in his tongue, is in all men's hearts; they contemn God and his laws. Every sin hath a degree of pride, and a depre. ciation of God included in it: “ Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?” (2 Sam. xi. 9.) There is a slighting of God's authority, and a lifting up our will against the will of God.
2. Because they are drunk with worldly felicity, and never think of changes. “Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud” (Psalm cxxiii. 4). When men go on prosperously, they are apt wrongfully to trouble others, and then to flout at them in their misery, and to despise the person and cause of God's people, which is a sure effect of great arrogancy and pride. They think they may do what they please: “ They have no changes; therefore they fear not God," and put forth their hands against such as be at peace with them (Psalm lv. 19, 20): whilst they go on prosperously and undisturbedly, they cannot abstain from violence and oppression. This is certainly pride ; for it is a lifting up the heart above God, and against God, and without God: and they do not consider his Providence, who alternately lifts up and casts down, that adversity may not be without a cordial, nor prosperity without a curb and bridle. But, when men sit fast, and are well at ease, they are apt to be insolent and scornful. Riches and worldly greatness make men insolent, and despisers of others, and care not what burdens they impose upon them: they are entrenched within a mass of wealth, and power, and greatness, and so think none can call them to an account. Solomon speaketh of two sorts of people; “ The name of the
Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe. The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit” (Prov. xviii. 10, 11). Every man is as his trust is; for, as the Psalmist speaketh of idols in general, “ They that make them are like unto them,” so it is true of spiritual idols : if a man trust in vain things, his heart groweth vain, proud, and insolent; promiseth him an uninterrupted course of felicity, from poor, perishing things, that come and go at God's pleasure. If a man trust in God, then he is kept holy, humble, carried on with a noble and Divine spirit, and findeth more safety than another that hath all the strength and power of the world to support and back him. The name of the Lord is a real refuge; but wealth, and honour, and worldly greatness, are but an imaginary refuge. He that hath nothing but the name of the Lord to trust in, worldlings think he buildeth castles in the air ; but the godly knoweth that worldlings indeed build castles in the air, while they look big, and think their greatness shall bear them out. Alas! wealth is but a wall and a strong tower in their own conceit, not really so; but this puffeth them up, and they are quite other men when they are at top, than what they were when they were under.
3. Because they affect a life of pomp, and ease, and carnal greatness, and so despise the affliction, and meanness, and simplicity, of the people of God. The false church hath usually the advantage of worldly power and external glory; and the true church is known by the Divine power, gifts and graces, and the lustre of holiness: “ The king's daughter is all glorious within” (Psalm xlv. 13); is found out by faith, love, patience, sobriety, heavenly-mindedness, humility, purity, and the like, rather than by a splendid appearance. And holiness becomes God's house (Psalm xciii. 5), rather than gold and silver, and costly furniture. The false church vaunts itself in costly temples, officers richly endowed with tempo. ral revenues, and a pompous attendance; and so the simplicity of the gospel is corrupted and turned into a worldly domination. As for instance; the Church of Rome boasts of her grandeur and magnificence, and upbraids the Reformed with their abject condition: Ministris eorum nihil vilius, saith Campian. They can tell of the pompous inauguration of their popes, their stately train of cardinals, lordly prelates; whereas the poor ministers of the Gospel live hardly and precariously. Whereas, indeed, the glory of the true church doth not make a fair show in the flesh, is not external, corporeal, and visible, but internal, incorporeal, and invisible (Cant. i. 5); and like its head, Jesus Christ, who, to appearance, was humble, poor, and afflicted; but in him were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; yea, the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. External splendour pleaseth the flesh, and is not a sign of virtue so much as pride (Luke xvi. 19). What shall become of the primitive church for the first three hundred years, if outward greatness be a mark of it? “The world is with them, but the faith with us; they have pure gold, but we pure doctrine" (Naz. Orat. Con. Aroc.). So Hilary against Auxentius, Unum moneo, cavete Antichristum, male enim vos parietum amor cepit, male Ecclesiam Dei in tectis artificiisque veneramini, male sub iis pacis nomen ingeritis ; anne ambiguum est in iis Antichristum cessurum? Montes mihi, et sylvæ, et lacus, et carceres, et voragines sunt tutiores ; in iis enim prophetæ aut manentes, aut demersi, Dei Spiritu prophetabant. Well, because of their affectation of worldly greatness, they are called proud; and so it is taken Mal. ii. 15, Ye “call the proud happy.” And because of this, they hate and molest the people of God, because there is a contrary spirit. They hear Christ's voice: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly" (Matt. xi. 29). They hate them, because they contemn that felicity which they affect, and so put a scorn on their way: “ Think it strange, that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. iv. 4).
4. They are called “proud,” because of their insolent carriage towards the Lord's people; partly in their laws and injunctions, requiring to give them more honour, respect, and obedience, than in conscience can be afforded them; as Haman would have Mordecai to devote himself to him after the manner of the Persians (Esther iii. 5). The man, though a favourite, was an Amalekite, one that came of that stock whose remembrance God would have to be blotted out (Exod. xvii. 14). And, possibly, more worship and honour was required than was due to a man. God had forbidden to give Divine honour to any but himself. Now, according to the custom of Persia, these honours did somewhat savour of Divine worship (Vide Brisson, pp. 10-14, with 18). So Jeroboam would have his calves worshipped (1 Kings xii. 32). And yet all that complied with him therein, are charged for walking so willingly after the commandment (Hos. v. 11). We dare not offend God to please men; the good Levites are commended (2 Chron. xi. 14). So it was pride in Nebuchadnezzar to command all men to bow before his image (Dan. iii. 15, 16). God's prerogative must not be encroached upon; there is a superior sovereign. Partly in vexing, molesting, and oppressing them at their pleasure; the formal Christian hateth the spiritual (Gal. iv. 29). Now, this cometh from their pride: “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor" (Psalm x. 2); would not have their lazy course upbraided and disgraced, by the seriousness and strictness of others: they malign what they cannot imitate. And it is carried on by their pride or abuse of power: God counteth it pride: “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,” the Lord will arise to deliver him, and a set him in safety, from him that puffeth at him” (Psalm xii. 5). It is the pride of the oppressor which God taketh notice of, his puffing, scoffing, and mocking, at the hopes of God's despised ones; he never dreameth of any checks from any, but despiseth and contemneth all. And partly, because of the insulting over their misery and low estate: “ This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of Hosts” (Zeph. ii. 10). But God taketh notice of it, and will call them to an account in due time: “He scorneth the scorners, but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (Prov. iii. 34); “ You have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge” (Psalm xiv. 6); i. e., mocked at a man because he is resolved to trust in the Lord, laughed at those that made conscience of their duty; that consulted whether lawful or unlawful, not whether danger and profit; not whether safe or unsafe, but whether pleasing to God or not. They trust in the Lord, that in conscience of their duty venture upon hazards, expecting their security from Heaven; these thoughts seemed foolish to worldly wisdom, You shamed his counsel,' scoff at it: “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings; for the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool” (Isa. li. 7, 8). Those that make
reckoning of the ways of God, need not be discouraged with their spiteful vaunts.
Use.—Let us take heed of pride: the Lord that hated the pride of Moab, doth also hate the pride of Jacob (Amos vi. 8).
1. Take heed of wittingly and willingly opposing any command of God : “ Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments” (Psalm cxix. 21); “But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments” (Neh. ix. 16): So verse 29. These proclaim a war with the Lord of hosts, especially when not reclaimed by grievous judgments: “I will break the pride of your power" (Ezek. xxx. 6). And this is that we should lay to heart at this day : “But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride” (Jer. xiii. 17). When a people will not be brought to any serious consideration of God's judgments, nor abate their haughty minds, he would bewail their foolish arrogancy, and the miseries ensuing thereupon. This standing out against God, is the greatest pride.
2. Take heed of murmuring against his Providence. Entertaining crosses with anger, and blessings with disdain, are sure notes of unmortified pride; when God's dispensations still displease, and the heart swelleth against his sovereignty.
(1.) To entertain crosses with anger : “ This evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings vi. 33;) words of desperate distrust and murmuring
(2.) Blessings with disdain: “I have loved you, saith the Lord: vet ve say, Wherein hast thou loved us?" (Mal. i. 2.) As if God owed them more than others, and were a kind of debtor to them: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him ; but the just shall live by his faith" (Hab. ii 4). The lofty and unsound are distinguished from the just, who can tarry God's leisure: those men's souls are lifted up, who cannot acquiesce in their lot and portion assigned by God, but censure his way of proceeding, and are loth he should have the disposing of them at his pleasure.
3. Take heed of despising any of Christ's little ones, and scorning and mocking at those that fear the Lord: the 5 lst verse of this psalm, - The proud have had me greatly in derision.” To make a mock of others upon any account, is a sign of pride, though they be meaner in gifts, though differing in judgment, though walking in a lower dispensation; but especially to scorn at them, because more godly: åpıláyagoi, “ Despisers of those that are good” (2 Tim. iii. 3). This is to reflect upon God himself, whose image in his saints is made a by-word; and a strict obedience to his will, matter of scorn and derision. If a slave should mock a child, because he is like his father, would this be well taken? so the jealous God will not long endure this horrible indignity, that his image should be scorned in his children. In all reproaches he is reproached (Isa. lxiii. 9). But they will say it is not their holiness, but their demure hypocrisy and affected preciseness, which they reproach and scorn; but God seeth the heart: it is as if a leper did upbraid others with pimples. The infirmities of the godly, do not justify your contempt of godliness; and, because of their faults, you must not scorn at their holiness and expect indemnity.
4. Take heed of moral pride, which consists in a lofty conceit of ourselves, joined with a contempt of others: this was the Pharisees' sin: “He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke xviii. 2). And it is notably personated in the Pharisee and publican, who went up to pray; and is daily seen in them who are speaking of their own things, boasting of their own excellences, elevating their own, but extenuating the gifts of others. Most men are too great and too good in their own esteem. Selflove representeth ourselves to ourselves in a feigned shape and likeness, much more wise, and holy, and just, than we are; it maketh us loath other men's sins, rather than our own; to extenuate other men's gifts and graces, and cry up our own; but this should not be: “Let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. i. 3). Humility is content to sit in the meanest place: “ Who am less than the least of all saints” (Eph. ii. 8); “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Tim, i. 15). We know our own weakness better than others, and they may have secret excellences which we see not. This moral pride discovereth itself in three things :
(1.) In disdain of inferiors, or contempt of those who are of meaner gifts, or rank and place in the world. Every member hath its use in the body, the toe as well as the head; neither can one say to another, “I have no need of thee" (1 Cor. xii. 21). All Christians have their peculiar gifts, by which they are rendered acceptable and useful to the body, as every country hath its proper commodities for the maintaining of trade and commerce between all parts of the world; or as, to the beauty and use of the universe, there is need of hills and valleys, so all ranks of men contribute to the beauty, use, and service of the whole. The strong should not despise the weak, nor the weak prescribe to the strong. Now, it is impossible to keep all in their due order and proportion, unless every one consider their own weakness and want, and the usefulness of others : as, among Christians, some are useful to preserve order, others to keep afoot the life and power of godliness; some to revive the pristine purity, others the old peaceable spirit. God hath so counterbalanced all parties, that they may be mutually helpful ; but not that we despise and contemn any other, and seek to destroy and subvert another, and so make way for great mischiefs. Every one hath enough to humble him, and enough to render him useful to human society. Therefore we must not set at nought our brother (Rom. xiv. 10): God hath made him something which thou art not, and given him an ability to do something thou canst not do, or wouldst not submit unto, Contempt is the fruit of pride; there are none but deserve some respect : scorn is the bane of human society.
(2.) It betrayeth itself in contention with equals. Wrath and contention come by pride (Prov. xiii. 10). Every one seeks to be eminent, and would excel, not in graces and gifts; that is, ayaJépis, a holy emulation; but in rank and place. We set too high a price upon ourselves; and, when others will not come up to our price, we are troubled. We ascribe too much to ourselves; and, when we meet not with that respect and honour which we affect, we fall into contention, and break out into strifes, supposing ourselves neglected. We see it often what a make bait this is in the world, if others do not accommodate themselves to our sense; if they approre not all things we say; if their opinion differeth a little, or it may be nothing, from ours. Men, pertinaciously obstinate in their preconceptions, will not change opinion upon apparent evidence; but now, humble men are always peaceable : they can better give and take these respects which