By Hugh Binning
Humility makes a man compare himself with the best, that he may find how bad he himself is. But pride measures itself with the worst, that it may hide from a man his own imperfections. The one takes a perfect rule, and finds itself nothing. The other takes a crooked rule, and imagines itself something.
But this is the way that unity may be kept in the body, if all the members keep this method and order, the lowest to measure himself by him that is higher, and the higher to judge himself by him who is above himself, and he who is above the rest, to compare with the rule of perfection, and find himself further short of the rule than the lowest is below himself. If our comparisons ascended like this, we would descend in humility, and all the different degrees of perfection would meet in one place of lowliness of mind.
But while our rule descends, our pride ascends. The scripture holds out pride and self-conceit as the root of many evils, and humility as the root of many good fruits among men. “Only through pride comes contention,” (Proverbs 13:10). There is pride at least in one of the parties, and often in both. It makes one man careless of another, and out of contempt not to study equity and righteousness towards him, and it makes another man impatient of receiving and bearing an injury or disrespect. While every man seeks to please himself, the contention arises. Pride in both parties make both stiff and inflexible to peace and equity, and in this there is a great deal of madness. For, by this means, both bring on themselves more real displeasure and dissatisfaction to their spirits.
“But with the well advised is wisdom.” Those who have discretion will not be so locked into their own conceits, but in humility they can forbear and forgive for the sake of peace. And though this seems harsh and bitter at first, to a passionate and out of sorts mind, yet Oh how sweet it is after! There is a greater sweetness and refreshment in the peaceable lowering of a man’s spirit, and in the quiet passing by any injury, than the highest satisfaction that revenge or contention ever gave a man.
“When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the lowly is wisdom,” (Proverbs 11:2) Pride grows to maturity and ripeness. Shame is near at hand, almost as near as the harvest. If pride comes up, shame is right behind it. But there is a great wisdom in lowliness. That is, the honorable society that walks in. There may be a secret connection between this and the previous verse, “changing and false balances are abomination to the Lord, but a just measure is his delight.” Now, if it is so in such low things as merchandise, how much more abominable is a false spiritual balance in the weighing of ourselves! Pride has a false balance in its hand, the weight of self-love carries down the one scale by far.
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