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 43: Love Lowers for Others

By Hugh Binning

 

The apostle Paul gives a solemn charge to the Romans (Romans 12:3), that no man should think highly of himself; but soberly, according to the measure of faith given.  That extreme undervaluing and denial of all worth in ourselves, though it be suitable before God (Luke 17: 6,7,10, Proverbs 30: 2,3 Job 42: 6, 1st Corinthians 3:7), yet it is not attracting to and is in-congruent with men.

Humility does not exclude all knowledge of any excellency in itself, or defect in another, it can discern, but this is the value of it: that it thinks soberly of the one, and not despise the other.  The humble man knows any advantage he has beyond another, but he is not wise in his own conceits.  He looks not so much on that side of things, his own perfections and others imperfections.  That is very dangerous.  But he casts his eye most on the other side, his own weaknesses and the others’ virtues, his worst part and their best part, and this makes up an equality or proportion.

Where there is inequality, there is a different measure of gifts and graces, there are many different varieties of failings and weaknesses, and degrees of them.  Now, how shall so unequal members make up one body, and join into one harmonious being, except this proportion be kept, that the defects of one be made up by the humility of another? The difference and inequity is taken away this way, by fixing my thoughts upon my own disadvantages and my brother’s advantages.  If I am higher in any way, yet certainly I am lower in some, and therefore the unity of the body may be preserved by humility.  I will consider in what way I come short, and in what way another excels, and so I can be lowered to them of low degree.  This is the substance of that which is spoken here. (Romans 12:16) “Do not mind high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Do not be wise in your own conceits.” And this makes us come together in honor to prefer one another, thinking about the evil that is in us, and thinking of the good that is in others.  (Romans 12:10) “Be kindly affectionate one to another, with brotherly love in honor preferring one another.”

In this way there may be an equality of mutual respect and love, where there is a inequality of gifts and graces, there may be one measure of charity, where there are different measures of faith, because both neglect that disparity, and think on their own evils and the other’s good.

It is our way to compare ourselves among ourselves, and the result of that secret comparison is favored conceit of ourselves and the despising of others.  We take our measure, not by our own real and intrinsic qualities, but by the stature of other men’s, and if we find any disadvantage in others, or any preeminence in ourselves, in such a partial application and comparison of ourselves with others (as readily self-love, if it doesn’t find it, will imagine it), then we have a secret glorying within ourselves.  But the humble Christian dares not make himself of that number, nor does he boast of things without his measure.  He dares not to think himself good, because, deterioribus melior, “better than others who are worse.”  But he judges himself by the intrinsic measure which God has distributed to him, and so finds reason of sobriety and humility, and therefore he dares not stretch himself beyond his measure, or go beyond his station and degree, (2nd Corinthians 10:12-14).

 


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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 40: Pride and Humility

By Hugh Binning

 

Now, I believe, if any man could but impartially and seriously reflect upon himself, he would see nothing of that kind, no true solid and real dignity to provoke love, but real lowness and misery to cause loathing.  There is a lie in every sin, but the greatest and grossest lie is committed in pride, and attribution of that excellence to ourselves which is not. And upon what erroneous perception, which is a sandy and vain foundation, is built the tower of self-conceit, vain self-glorying, and the like? Pride, which is the mother of these, says most presumptuously, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent,”. (Isaiah 10:13) “I am and none else besides me,”. (Isaiah 47:10) It is such a false imagination, as “I am of perfect beauty,” “I am and none else,” “I am a god,” (Ezekiel 27:3 and 28:2) which swells and lifts up the heart.  Now what a vain thing is it, an inordinate elevation of the heart upon a false misapprehension of the mind? The “soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him,”. (Hibachi 2:4) It must be a tottering building that is founded on such a gross mistake.

Some cover their pride with the pretense of high spirituality, and please themselves in apprehensions of some magnanimity and generosity.  But the truth is, it is not true magnitude, but a swelling out of the superabundance of destructive thinking.  True greatness of spirit is inwardly and throughout solid, firm from the bottom, and the foundation of it is truth.

Which of the two do you think has the better spirit, he who calls dust, dust, and accounts of a manure pile as a manure pile, or he that, upon a false imagination, thinks dust and manure is gold and silver, esteems himself a rich man, and raises up himself above others? Humility is only true kindness and generosity, for it digs down low, that it may set and establish the foundation of true worth.  It is true, it is lowly, and bows down low.  But as the water that comes from a height, the lower it comes down the higher it ascends up again, so the humble spirit, the lower it falls in its own estimation, the higher it is raised in real worth and in God’s estimation. “He that humbles himself shall be exalted, and he who exalts himself shall be abased,”.  (Matthew 23:12) He is like a growing tree, the deeper the roots go down in the earth, the higher the tree grows above ground, as Jacob’s ladder, the foot of it is fastened in the earth, but the top of it reaches the heaven.  And this is the sure way to ascend to heaven.

Pride would fly up upon its own wings. But the humble man will enter at the lowest step, and so goes up by degrees, and in the end is made manifest.  Pride catches a fall, and humility is raised on high; it descended that it might ascend. “A man’s pride brings him low, but one of lowly spirit gains honor,”. (Proverbs 29:23) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” But “before honor is humility,”.  (Proverbs 16:16 and 18:12)

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:16

By Robert C. Chapman

 

“My beloved is mine, and I am His: He feeds among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 2:16)

 

How large your pasture, O my soul! Fair and pleasant! In Him all fullness dwells! Immanuel is the express image of the Father, the brightness of His glory: Jesus’ name, how excellent!

The heavens and the earth are the work of His hands: They all will grow old as a garment; as a piece of clothing He will fold them up; and they will be changed by a ward of His power at the last day.

He Himself is the same, and His years have no end! This glorious One, this treasure infinite, is mine by title everlasting! My Lord, the Lamb of God, has bound me to Himself in everlasting bonds! He delights in me: His church is His garden of lilies, where my beloved continually resorts.  It pleased Him to set His heart upon me! When will You manifest Yourself to me! I know You are mine! You are my Beloved, Holy One! Eternal Almighty One! My portion!  O give me to see You, to be filled with the knowledge of you, obedience to You, worship of You, delight in You: these fruits of Your Spirit will be sweet to Your taste, a banquet to my glorious Lord.

 


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Christian Love 37: Majesty of Meekness

By Hugh Binning

 

Having, then, such a Teacher and Master, sent to us from heaven, shouldn’t we then glory in our Master?  But some may suppose, that he who came down from heaven, filled with all the riches and treasures of heavenly wisdom, should reveal in his school unto his disciples, all the mysteries and profound secrets of nature and art, about which the world has plodded since the first taste of the tree of knowledge, and beaten out their brains to the frustration of all their spirits, without any fruit, but the discovery of the impossibility of knowing, and the increase of sorrow by searching. Who would not expect, when the Wisdom of God descends among men, but that he should show unto the world that wisdom, in the understanding of all the works of God, which all men have been pursuing in vain; that he by whom all things were created, and so could uncover and manifest all their hidden causes and virtues, all their admirable and wonderful qualities and operations, as easily by a word, as he made them by a word; who would not expect, I say, but that he should have made this world, and the mysteries of it, the subject of all his lessons, the more to illustrate his own glorious power and wisdom?

And yet see, those who came into his school and heard this Master and Doctor teach his scholars, they who had been invited to come, through the fame and report of his name, would have stood astonished and surprised to hear the subject of his doctrine; one come from on high to teach so low things as these, “Learn of me, I am meek and lowly.” Other men that are masters of professions, and authors of sects or orders, aspire to some singularity in doctrine to make them famous.  But behold our Lord and Master, this is the doctrine he vents!  It has nothing in it that sounds high, and looks big in the estimation of the world.  In regard of the wisdom of the world, it is foolishness, a doctrine of humility from the most High!  A lesson of lowliness and meekness from the Lord and Maker of all! There seems, at first, nothing in it to allure any to follow it. Who would travel so far as the college of Christianity to learn no more but this, when every man pretends to be a teacher of it?

But truly there is a majesty in this lowliness and there is a singularity in this commonness.  If you would stay and hear a little longer, and enter into a deep search of this doctrine, we would be surcharged and overcome with wonders.  It seems shallow till you enter but it really has no bottom.  Christianity does not make great noise, but it runs the deeper.  It is a light and superficial knowledge of it, a small smattering of the doctrine of it, that makes men despise it and prefer other things, but the deep and solid apprehension of it will make us adore and admire, and drive us to an O altitudo! “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).  As the superficial knowledge of nature makes men atheists, but the profound understanding of it makes men seek God so all other things, vilescit scientia, “grow more contemptible by the knowledge of them.” It is ignorance of them which is the mother of that devout admiration we bear to them. But Christianity only, vilescit ignorantia, clarescit scientia, is common and low, because it is not known.  And that is no disparagement at all to it, that there is no one who despises it, but the one who doesn’t know it, and anyone who knows it, can do nothing but despise all things it once knew other than it.

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:15

By R.C. Chapman

 

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

I am troubled and ashamed, as this warning strikes the ear, this precious warning voice of my Beloved! Alas! My neglected spirit, what has it not cost me! When I should have been watching my affections with all jealousy of love to my Lord, I have been hindered with much serving; I have been of a doubtful mind; and keeping the heart with all diligence has been forgotten.

How much of the proud Pharisee cleaves to me still, who washes the outside of the cup and the platter, heedless of that which is within! (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39)

O my soul! Are you not ashamed! Think to yourself, that, as Jesus is the church’s Husband, so it is the greatest duty of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, to give Him her heart! Watch therefore, against those things which take from Him of your love.  Your husband, who His own self bore your sins in His own body on the tree, is now in heaven to present you to the Father: so you are holy and blameless before Him in love! Do not refrain, therefore, to search for those little foxes, those subtle sins that cheat you with a flattering smile, those foxes that have their holes in the depths of the heart.

Jesus Himself, is the light to show you these little enemies that do you so grievous trouble.  Beware, I charge you, of descending without His lamp into the dark caverns.  You will only be bewildered there, unless Jesus goes with you:  You will be terrified, instead of humbled; confounded, instead of instructed.  Therefore, let Jesus be wisdom to you in the blood of His cross, that precious blood, which blotted out all your iniquities, will bring to light your hidden evils! By its sprinkling, you will discern the humble cloak of pride, you will see how the heart can be puffed up with wind, and feed upon the east wind of empty thoughts, instead of Christ! You will see the guilt of neglecting the whispers of the Lord’s love, through self sufficiency in your dealing with little matters without the help and fellowship of your Lord, of ungentle behavior toward brothers, and of the lack of tenderness toward the ungodly.

These things, and other numberless things, you will perceive and hate; and if the tender grapes of your inward grace and comfort have suffered loss, and Jesus has withdrawn Himself, you will justify Him and say: Lord, my heart sins have grieved You, and in all Your correction You are holy and full of love.

 


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