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sort of greatness. Now, as there can be nothing more mean or preposterous than to beg respect, to aim at praise by flattery ; or honour, by servility; to compliment him whom he hates; to applaud the man whom he despises; to tickle the vanity of others with gross lies, and base dissimulation ; that they, in return, may feed his with the same chaff, so his pride, seeking to gratify itself by such means as these, miserably acts against its own intention, and brings him low, even to the ground. Christianity does not require humility itself to stoop so low.
Nothing, one would think, bids so fair to raise a man to honour and esteem, as the doing of good. But this can only recommend us to the esteem of a few, and a few can never give a man that general applause which pride looks for. The greater part of that scanty class of men, who like a man for doing good, are too apt to mistake a good action for the contrary; to attribute the good that is done to low motives; and to take our characters, after having done the best we can, from worse men than themselves, who find a pleasure in artfully giving a bad turn to every thing; and, even when these virtuous few do think well both of what is done, and him who does it, they are generally, through suspicion, having been often imposed upon by false appearances cold enough in their commendations.
The rest of the world, as they have little inclination to do good themselves, so they look with an evil eye on him who hath. His good actions reprove their evil ones. They are sometimes even twitted with them, and are forced to hear an odious comparison made between him and themselves. This is with them a sufficient cause of resentment and hatred. They think he hath traduced them by his piety, and fallen foul upon their characters by his justice and charity ; for which reason they use all possible means to set him in the worst lights they can, lest he should be thought a better man than themselves. In reality, to be remarkable for going good, is to be an object of envy to all those who do less good, and a reproach to such as do none. A few good actions, indeed, may be forgiven; but if a man should persevere in such practices, the good-natured world will say, he is setting up for something extraordinary ; will severely lash at him with their tongues on all occasions;
will rip up all his failings; will add a hundred more he was never addicted to; and persecute him, as often as it is in their power, with the utmost cruelty. This is almost all the glory he is to be rewarded with among men, for doing the best actions, upon the best principles.
But if his motive for doing good appears to be a love of praise (and vanity is never to be concealed from the sharpsighted world, who always suspect it before it appears), then ridicule and infamy, which he justly deserves, are sure to be his doom. All actions are to be judged of by God according to the real principles they spring from; and men, who often set up for searchers of hearts, as far as they are able, endeavour to judge the same way. The proud man loses all the merit of the little good he does, both with God
God sees his heart, and knows he acts on no other principle but vanity; now God hates nothing so much as pride, because it is levelled more directly against himself than any other vice; robs him of his honour; was the spring of all evil and rebellion; is most contrary to his nature, and most inconsistent with the nature of man, whom God, his Maker, knows to be so wicked, so miserable, and so vile, a creature, deserving of nothing but disgrace and shame; with which pride, be it ever so highly gratified here, must be punished at the last.
But the world never suffers it to go unmortified, even in this life, though setting itself off by the most plausible actions. Men of real worth hate the counterfeit of themselves, and can hardly be reconciled to the utmost good that vanity can do. And as to bad men, they serve the vain-glorious apes of goodness, just as the evil spirit served the sons of Sceva: “The truly good man we know, the upright man we know, but who are ye?' and, flying at their characters, they tear them to pieces. The proud man will not wait to be rewarded either by God or man; but makes his own vanity his pay-master; and, considering how little real good he does, and how high a value he sets on it, I believe he is always overpaid. This kind of hypocrisy and spiritual pride 'brings a man so low,' both in the judgment of God, and the esteem of men, that the vilest publican or sinner, whose breast is smitten with humility, stands far above him in the sight of both.
If it is so idle, now, to glory in our best actions, which we never do but through the borrowed assistance of superior goodness and power, what is it to be vain of our ill ones? What is it to vaunt of successful lewdness, of victories in drinking, of uncommon cunning in bargain-making, of superior policy in managing law-suits, elections, oaths ? A mind vain of sin hath arrived to the utmost pitch of depravity; the devil himself can push it no farther; nor can it fall lower, till it takes up its eternal abode with him in utter darkness, the fittest place to hide such an infamous mind in.
The favours of the proud, as they are vouchsafed only to gratify his own vanity, as they are conferred for the most part on the unworthy, and as they are generally granted with a haughty, contemptuous, and disobliging air, seldom meet with a grateful return; and indeed never deserve it; but are often received with some degree of resentment: for those they are conferred on, are, it may be, as proud as their benefactor, and cannot easily bear his insolent bounties or services. The proud owns no obligations; the utmost that can be done for him, is but a small part of what, in his own opinion, he deserves.
There are fools so gross, as to impoverish and ruin themselves, to feed fools almost as senseless as they, merely for the sake of that flattery with which they at once pamper and banter their vanity. These bubbles swell, to take in the nauseous breath of those who blow them up with fulsome praises, till they burst, and fall into nothing. They who catch at the praises of fools, and the flattery of knaves, do but purchase, and that at a ruinous price, the incense of sinks and dunghills. What a stupid, what a low and despicable coxcomb is he, who can bear to be devoured, because he is applauded by the same mouth! ‘Pride goes before a fall,' for instance, into contempt; for who will respect the insolent? Or into poverty; for pride can seldom endure either industry or frugality. And then, pride having brought in want, fraud, perjury, or even theft and robbery, must be employed to carry it out again; so that many, to keep themselves in some appearance of their former plenty and splendour, are forced to enlist themselves among the lowest and basest of villains. I have known some gentlemen, of high
blood, and lofty spirits, who did not think it beneath them to cheat, lie, and even steal, to support the dignity of an ancient family.
The proud cares not for the company of his equals, and therefore can never have a friend; for friendship never couples creatures of different species; and such are the very high, and the very low. It is but one and the same pride that makes some men so fond of associating with their inferiors, that they may be always flattered and submitted to; and others, with those above them, that they may appear to the lower part of the world to be persons of eminence, by the company they consort with. To this end they bear with the grossest indignities from the great, that they may appear great to the little, and to the vulgar. They submit, like slaves, to the most scurvy treatment from those above, that, while they hang by them, they may tread with disdain on their equals and inferiors. This is but a pitiful sort of grandeur. It is generally in this class of men that pride begets jealousy and envy, the lowest and basest of its offspring. The envious man hath a great abundance of pride, but not enough to hinder him from perceiving, that others have more merit than himself; and therefore, as he cannot raise himself to a level with them, he uses all his endeavours to pull them down, by detraction, to the low situation of esteem where his own want of worth hath riveted him. He cannot rise; nor can he bear that any one should be above him in the opinion, perhaps, of those, whose esteem, after all, is not worth the having, because they cannot judge.
The proud man cares not for the company of wise men, because they outshine him in conversation. Nay, he is very unwilling to advise with them, unless in cases of extremity, because their judgments overtop his. There is nothing he is so vain of as of his understanding; for which reason, if another happens to advise him to that which he was about to do of himself, he will rather change his measures, than seem in the least to have leaned on the judgment of another. This is an infinite disadvantage to him; because, while the humble hath all the sensible people of his acquaintance to improve by, and to form a council of, the proud is always growing more weak and foolish, by means of the fools he associates with, and assimilates himself to. In such affairs
as are too delicate and difficult for his understanding, he is left entirely to himself, and stands alone ; while people too wise or cunning for him, are pushing at him.
him. He walks alone through a path he sees not a single step of; for nothing is so blind as pride. From hence proceed his frequent falls and blunders, which bring on him the ridicule of all who know him : “Seest thou a man who is wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him; for, thinking himself wise, he becomes foolish ;' and falls, of course, into the contempt of every body but himself.
Nothing hinders improvement in knowledge so much as pride. It will not bear conviction; for that is to be outdone. It will not bear information; for you can tell it nothing it did not know before. It neglects useful knowledge, because common; and hunts for strange, for curious, articles of learning, to make a figure with. This sort of pride is called conceit; and is rather troublesome than hurtful, unless in matters of religion, where it does a world of mischief, and is the spring of almost all the heresies and schisms that have ever pestered the church. When two conceited persons happen to fall into a religious dispute, be it about a matter of consequence, or a trifle, about the necessity of revelation, or the length of Paul's cloak,they will so manage it, as to go still farther and farther from truth, and lay the foundation of a bitter and lasting enmity, which all the wisdom and charity of religion shall never be able to reconcile.
The things of the world, that are most apt to tempt us to pride, are, at the same time, the most disposed to mortify it. Some fools are vain of their families; but it is hard to tell for what reason. They cannot glory in the bad actions of their ancestors, and their good ones are but a reproach to their follies and vices. Is it only because they were rich, that their posterity are so vain? If this be the case, why do they not think more highly of him, who is now raising a fortune, than of themselves, who have squandered one away? Although they despise the man who is lately grown rich, because his ancestors were poor; yet their whole compliment is paid to riches, without at all considering whether the fortunes made by their ancestors were not scraped together by the most infamous frauds, and the most cruel op