By Hugh Binning
Now these are the steps of it, mentioned in Matthew 5, and the lowest step that a soul first ascends to him by, is poverty of spirit, or humility. And truly the spirit cannot meet with Jesus Christ til he first bring it down low, because he has come so low himself, as that no soul can ascend up to heaven by him, except they bow down to his lowliness, and rise upon that step. Now a man being humbled in spirit before God, and under his mighty hand, he is only fit to obey the apostolic precept “Be subject one to another,”. (1st Peter 5:5)
Humility towards men depends upon that poverty and self emptying under God’s mighty hand, verse 6. It is only a lowly heart that can make the back to bow, and submit to others of whatsoever quality, and condescend to them of low degree. (Romans 12:16, Ephesians 5:21) But the fear of the Lord humbling the spirit will easily set it as low as any other can put it. This is the only basis and foundation of Christian submission and moderation. It is not a complementary condescending. It consists not in an external show of gesture and voice. That is but an apish imitation. And indeed pride often will satisfy itself under voluntary shows of humility, and can demean itself to indecent and unseemly submissions to people far inferior, but it is the more deformed and hateful, that it lurks under some shadows of humility. As an ape is the more ugly and ill favored that it is liker a man, because it is not a man, so vices have more deformity in them when they put on the garb and clothing of virtue. Only it may appear how beautiful a garment true humility is, when pride desires often to be covered with the appearance of it, to hide its nakedness.
O how rich a clothing is the plain and simple garment of humility and poverty of spirit! “Be clothed with humility,”. (1st Peter 5:5) It is the ornament of all graces. It covers a man’s nakedness by the uncovering of it. If a man had all other endowments, this one dead fly, would make all the ointment unsavory, pride. But humility is condimentum virtutum, as well as vestimentum. It seasons all graces, and covers all infirmities. Clothes are for ornament and necessity both. Truly this clothing is alike fit for both, to adorn and beautify whatsoever is excellent, and to hide or supply whatsoever is deficient.
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