Christian Love 45: Humility and Peace

By Hugh Binning

 

Lowliness of mind is the strongest bond of peace and charity. It banishes away strife and vain glory, and makes each man to esteem another better than himself, (Philippians 2:3) because the humble man knows who he is inside, and only another’s outside. Now certainly the outside is always better and more misleadingly attractive than the inside, and therefore a humble man seeing nothing but his neighbor’s outside, and being acquainted thoroughly with his own inside, he esteems another better than himself. Humility, as it makes a man think well of another, so it hinders him from speaking evil of his brother. (James 4)

He lays down the ground work in the 10th verse, “humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” He raises his superstructure, verses 11,12: “Don’t speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. Only one is the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge another?” Certainly the very ground of evil speaking of that nature, is some advantage, we think, that it may improve our own reputation, by the belittling of another’s fame. Or, because we are so short sighted in ourselves, therefore we are sharp sighted towards others, and because we think little of our own faults, we are ready to come down heavy on other men’s to an extremity. But in doing so we take the place of the judge and law upon ourselves, which judges others, and is judged by none. So we judge others, and not ourselves. Neither will we suffer ourselves to be judged by others. This is to make ourselves the infallible rule, to judge the law.

Humility levels men to a holy subjection and submission to another, without the confusion of their different degrees and stations. It teaches men to give the respect and regard to one that is due to his place or worth, and to signify it in such a way as may testify the simplicity of their thinking and sincerity of their respect. (Ephesians 5:21) “Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.” (1st Peter 5),” Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; .”

Now, if humility can put a man below others, certainly it will make him endure patiently and willingly to be thought lowly of by others. When others give him that place to sit down, that he had already chosen for himself, will he think himself wronged and offended, though others about him think so? No, it is hard to persuade him of an injury of that kind, because the understanding of such an offence has for its foundation the imagination of some excellency beyond others, which lowliness has leveled out. He has placed himself low for every man’s edification that others can put him no lower, and there he sits quietly and peacefully. Bene qui latuit bene vixit. Affronts and injuries fly over him, and land upon the taller cedars, while the shrubs are safe. Qui cadit in plano, (vix hoc tamen evenit ipsum,) Sic cadit, ut tacta surgere possit humo. He sits so low, that he cannot fall lower, so a humble man’s fall upon the ground is indeed no fall indeed, but only in the thinking of others, but it a heavy and bruising fall from off the tower of self conceit.

 

 


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Christian Love 44: Humble Judging of Self

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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Christian Love 42: Humble Beginnings

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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Christian Love 41:The Blessed Poor

By Hugh Binning

 

The first week of creation, as it were, afforded two individual examples of this wise arrangement of divine justice, angels cast out of heaven, and man out of paradise, a high and terrible aim at wisdom brought both as low as hell. The pride of angels and men was only the rising up to a height, or climbing up a steep to the pinnacle of glory, that they might catch the lower fall.  But the last week of the creation, to speak so, will afford us rare and eminent demonstrations of the other, poor, bad, and miserable sinners lifted up to heaven by humility, when angels were thrown down from heaven for pride. What a strange sight, an angel, once so glorious, so low, and a sinner, once so bad and miserable, so high!

Truly may any man conclude within himself, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud,”.  (Proverbs 16:19) Happy lowliness, that is the foundation of true highness! But miserable highness that is the beginning of eternal lowness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”. (Matthew 5:3)  Blessedness begins low, in poverty of spirit.  And Christ’s sermon upon blessedness begins at it, but it arises in the end to the riches of a kingdom, a heavenly kingdom.

Grace is the seed of glory, and poverty of spirit is the seed, first dead before it be enlivened to grow up in fruits. And indeed the grain “is not made alive except it die,” (1st Corinthians 15:36) and then it gets a body, and “brings forth much fruit,”. (John 7:24) Even so, grace is sown into the heart, but it is not made alive except it die in humility, and then God gives it a body, when it springs up in other beautiful graces, of meekness, patience, love, and so on.  But these are never ripe til the day that the soul get the warm beams of heaven, being separated from the body, and then the harvest is a rich crop of blessedness.  Holiness is the ladder to go up to happiness by, or rather our Lord Jesus Christ as adorned with all these graces.

 


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Christian Love 39: Prideful Dust

By Hugh Binning

 

Lowliness and meekness in reputation and outward form, are like servants, yet they account it no robbery to be equal with the highest and most princely graces. The vein of gold and silver lies very low in the depths of the earth, but it is not therefore base, but more precious.  Other virtues may come with more observation, but these, like the Master that teaches them, come with more reality.  If they have less pomp, they have more power and virtue.  Humility, how suitable is it to humanity! They are as near of kin one to another, as homo and humus, and therefore, except a man cast off humanity, and forget his original, the ground, the dust from whence he was taken, I do not see how he can shake off humility.

Self knowledge is the mother of it, the [The word homo (man) has been supposed to be derived from humus (the ground) because man sprang from the earth.  Quintillian’s objection to this derivation of the word is that all other animals have the same origin. (quasi vero non omnibus animal bus eadem origo. Instit. Orator lib. i, cap. 6) Such an objection however has but little pull.  For though, according to the account which Moses gives of the creation, the earth at the command of God, not only brought forth man, but other creatures, (Genesis 1:24) man alone was called Adam because he was formed of the dust of the ground, knowledge of that humus would make us humiles.

Look to the hole of the pit from which we have been made. A man could not look high that looked so low as the pit from which we were taken by nature, even the dust, and the pit from which we are created by grace, even man’s lost and ruined state.  Such a low look would make a lowly mind. Therefore pride must be nothing else but an empty and vain swelling, a puffing up. “Knowledge puffs up,” not self knowledge.  That casts down, and brings down all superstructures, flattens out all vain confidence to the very foundation, and then begins to build on a solid ground. But knowledge of other things seen outside ourselves, joined with ignorance of ourselves within, is but a swelling, not a growing, it is a bladder or skin full of wind, a blast or breath of an airy applause or commendation, will extend it and fill it full. And what is this else but a monster in humanity, the skin of a man stuffed or blown up with wind and vanity, to the shadow and resemblance of a man; but no bones or sinews, nor real substance within?  Pride is a disfigurement.  It is nature swelled beyond the intrinsic terms or limits of magnitude, the spirit of a mouse in a mountain.  And now, if any thing be gone without the just bounds of the magnitude set to it, it is imperfect, disabled in its operations, worthless and unprofitable, yes, unnatural like. If there is not much real excellence to fill up the circle of our self-conceit, then surely it must be full of emptiness and vanity, fancy and imagination must supply the vacant room, where solid worth cannot extend so far.

 


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Christian Love 20: Right View of Self Leads to Graciousness with Others

By Hugh Binning

If a Christian will take an impartial view of himself, he cannot but this way reason himself to a meek, composed, and affectionate temper towards other brethren.  What is it in another that offends me, when I search within, I will not also find the same, or worse, or as evil in myself? Is there a mote in my brother’s eye? Perhaps there may be a beam in my own; and why then should I look to the mote that is in my brother’s eye? ←Matthew 7:3.  When I look inwardly, I find a desperately wicked heart, which lodges all that iniquity I saw in others.  And if I am not so sensible of it, it is because it is also deceitful above all things, and would flatter me in my own eyes,←Jeremiah 17:9.

If my brother offends me in some things, how these things are caused to vanish out of sight in the view of my own guiltiness before God, and the abominations of my own heart, known to his holiness and my conscience? Surely I cannot see so much evil in my brother as I find in my own heart; and whenever I withdraw back within this, I find the sea of corruption so great, that I wonder not at the streams which break forth in others.  But all my wonder is that God has set bounds to it in me or in any.

Whenever I find my spirit rising against the infirmities of others, and my mind swelling over them, I restrain myself with this thought, “I myself also am a man,” as Peter said to Cornelius when he would have worshipped him.  As he restrained another’s idolizing of him, I may cure my own self-idolizing heart.  Is it anything strange that weak men fail, and sinful men fall? Is not all flesh grass, and all the perfection and goodliness of it as the flower of the field? ←Isaiah 40:6. —Is not every man at his best state altogether vanity? ←Psalm:39:5. Is not man’s breath in his nostrils?←Isaiah 2:22. —And am I not myself a man?  Therefore I will not be high minded but fear, ←Romans 11:20. — I will not be moved to indignation but provoked to compassion, knowing that I myself am compassed with infirmities, ← Hebrews 5:2.

 

 

 

 


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Christian Love 15: Love Bears and Believes All Things

By Hugh Binning

Love “bears all things.” By nature we are undaunted heifers, cannot bear anything patiently.  But love is accustomed to the yoke, —to the yoke of reproaches and injuries from others, to a burden of other men’s infirmities and failings.  We would all be borne upon others’ shoulders, but we cannot put our own shoulders under other men’s burden, according to that royal law of Christ, Romans 15:1—“We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” and Galatians 6:2—“ Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  That is the law of love, without question.

Love “believes all things.” Our nature is malignant and wicked, and therefore most suspicious and jealous, and apt to take all in the worst way. But love has much openness, honesty and humanity in it, and can believe well of every man, and believe all things as far as truth will permit.  It knows that grace can be beside man’s sins.  It knows that itself is subject to similar infirmities.  Therefore it is not a rigid and censorious judger; it allows as much latitude to others as it would desire of others.

It is true it is not blind and ignorant.  It is judicious, and has eyes that can discern between colors. Credit omnia credenda, sperat omnia speranda.-“It believes all things that are believable, and hopes all things that are hopeful.” If love doesn’t have sufficient evidences, yet she believes if there be some probabilities to the contrary, as well as for it.  The weight of love inclines to the better part, and so casts the balance of hope and persuasion; yet being sometimes deceived, she has reason to be watchful and wise, for “the simple believe every word.”  If love cannot have ground of believing any good, yet it hopes still. Qui non est hodie, cras magis aptus erit, says love, and therefore it is patient and gentle, waiting on all, if perhaps God may “give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,”—2nd Timothy 2:25. 

Love would account it both atheism and blasphemy, to say such a man cannot, will not find mercy.  But to pronounce of such as have often been accepted in the conscience of all, and sealed into many hearts, that they will never find mercy, that they have no grace, because of some failings in practice and differences from us, it wasn’t pronounced in sobriety but madness.  It is certainly love and indulgence to ourselves, that make us aggravate other men’s faults to such a height.   Self love looks on other men’s failings through a multiplying or magnifying glass, but she put her own faults behind her back. Non videtquod in mantica qua a tergo est. Therefore she can suffer much in herself but nothing in others, and certainly much self forbearance and indulgence can spare little for others.

But love is just contrary. She is most rigid on her own self, will her not pardon herself easily, knows no revenge but what is spoken of in 2nd Corinthians 7:11, self revenge, and has no indignation but against herself.  Thus she can spare much openness, honesty, and forbearance for others, and has little or nothing of indignation left behind to consume on others.

 


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Christian Love 14: Love Thinks No Evil,…but Rejoices in the Truth

By Hugh Binning

thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  1st Corinthians 13 NKJV

Christian love “thinks no evil.” This love is apt to take all things in the best sense.  If a thing may be subject to different interpretations, it can put the best construction on it.  It is so benign and good in its own nature that it is not inclined to suspect others.  It desires to condemn no man, but would gladly, as far as reason and conscience will permit, free from guilt every man.  It is so far from the desire of revenge, that it is not provoked or troubled by an injury.  For that were nothing else but to wrong itself because others have wronged it already, and it is so far from wronging others, that it will not willingly so much as think evil of them.

Yet if need require, love can execute justice, and inflict chastisement, not out of desire of another’s misery, but out of love and compassion to mankind.  Charitas non punit quia peccatum est, sed, peccaretur– it looks more to prevention of future sin, than to revenge of a past fault. and can do all things with calmness of spirit, as a physician cuts a vein without anger.  Quis enim cut medetur irascitur? –”who is angry with his own patient?”

Love “Does not rejoice in iniquity.” Love is marred in itself, though it lower itself to all.  Though it can love and wish well of evil men, yet it does not rejoice in iniquity.  It is like the sun’s light that shines on a pile of manure, and is not defiled, receives no impurity from it.  Some base and wicked spirits make a sport to do mischief themselves, and take pleasure in others that do it.  But love does not rejoice in iniquity or injustice, though it were done to its own enemy.  It cannot take pleasure in the unjust sufferings of any who hate it, because it has no enemy except sin and iniquity and hates nothing else with a perfect hatred.  Therefore whatever advantage should come back to itself by other men’s iniquities, it cannot rejoice, that iniquity, its capital enemy, should reign and prevail.

But it “rejoices in the truth.”  The advancement and progress of others in the way of truth and holiness is its pleasure.  Though that should eclipse its own glory, yet it does not look on it with an jealous eye, it is not grieved to find it and know it, but can rejoice at anything that may give evidence of goodness in others.  There is nothing more beautiful in its eyes than to see everyone get their own due, though itself should come behind.


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Christian Love 11: Love Does Nothing Inappropriate

By Hugh Binning

1st Corinthians 13  5 —doesn’t behave itself inappropriately,..

Then Love does nothing unseemly, “doesn’t behave itself inappropriately,” 1st Cor. 13.5. Vanity and swelling of mind will certainly breakout into some inappropriate carrying of one’s self, such as vain and conceited estimation, and similar things, but love keeps a sweetness and tastefulness in all its ways, so as not to provoke and irritate others, not to expose itself to contempt and mockery.  Or it may be said, it is not disagreeable, It doesn’t account itself disgraced and abused, to associate and be friendly with men in a low state.  It can with its Master bow down to wash the disciple’s feet, and not think it unseemly.  Whatever it submits to in doing or suffering, it is not ashamed of it, as that it were not suitable or becoming.

 

 

 

 


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