William Romaine, 1770
Observe O my soul what an honor God has put upon this grace, "Before honor—is humility" (Proverbs 15:33)! Whom God honors—He first humbles. He gives grace to the humble, because the humble give Him all the glory. The highest throne which He has upon earth—is in the humblest heart. To it He vouchsafes His constant presence and makes the greatest communications of His love, "For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy—I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).
O what an honor is here promised to the humble! The greatest they can have on this side of Heaven. God will dwell with them—what a blessing! And His temple shall be in the humble heart. The high and holy One passes by what is in the highest esteem among men. He stains the pride of human greatness and goodness. He does not vouchsafe to set up His throne with the princes, nor to give His honor to the learned of the world. But He puts honor upon the contrite and humble. He condescends to visit them; yes, He delights to dwell with them, and in them—the Highest above all heavens—in the lowest and humblest hearts. There He communicates His choicest love and richest favors.
O my God! bestow upon me this grace, which in Your sight is so precious. Humble me, that I may be revived with Your presence, and refreshed daily with Your love. Give me more humility, and fit me for nearer fellowship with You. Bring down every proud thought, and let me find it true, that You resist the proud—but give more grace unto the humble.
True poverty of spirit is needful, not only to bring the sinner to Christ—but also to preserve the believer in communion with Him; for so long as he walks by faith, everything will tend to promote this communion. In the daily sense of his needs, he will go to his bountiful Savior for a supply. In the feeling of his misery, He will depend on his loving Savior for relief; whereby he will be led to more fellowship with Him. What he finds wrong in himself—will bring him to live more by faith, and as faith increases, so will his delight in God. He will grow more sensible of his weakness—and that will make him stronger in the Lord. He will know more of his own heart—which will humble him, and keep him dependent on the grace of Jesus. He will see reason not to lean to his own understanding—but ever to pray, Lord guide me by Your Spirit.
Viewing spots and blemishes in his best doings, his triumph will be, "I will make mention of Your righteousness, Lord Jesus, even of Yours alone" (Psalm 71:16). Thus everything will humble him, and lead him to live more by faith—by which means he will get faster hold of Christ, live in nearer fellowship, and be receiving out of his fullness "grace for grace". He will have two graces at once—the blessings needed and thankfulness for them. Hereby a sweet fellowship will be kept open.
To the humble, God delights to give grace—and they delight to return Him His glory. The more grace He gives—the more glory they gladly return. And He does give more grace, and He receives it back again in thanks and praise. Blessed grace! by which this holy fellowship is maintained. Happy humility! by which the heart, being emptied of self, is made capable of receiving the fullness which is of God.
Then is the promise fulfilled, "Blessed are the poor in spirit—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). It is theirs now—not only in title—but also in possession, for the kingdom of God is within them and they are partakers at present of its blessings and glories as truly, though not so perfectly, as they will be in Heaven.
Meditate, O my soul, upon this Divine grace. You see the necessity of it—O pray earnestly for it, and for more of it. The great idol SELF must be dethroned where God reigns. You can not walk with Him—unless you are humble in heart. And if you have been walking with Him, you will be taught to stop, whenever you begin to look at SELF with admiration. O beg of the Lord, then, to give you the true Gospel poverty of spirit. It is to be in constant practice, and used for everything; for you see how it keeps up fellowship with God, who makes the greatest communications of Himself to His humblest child. And the reason is plain; because they return Him all His glory. If therefore you would have much grace in exercise—pray for much humility.
O my God! whatever You give, give humility with it, that I may not seek SELF in it—but Your honor, nor lay it out upon myself—but to Your glory. Meek and lowly Jesus, make me like Yourself; keep me learning of You—until I am perfectly like You. I would come always poor to You—to receive of Your riches, and to receive with them a humble heart to praise You for them. O let Your glory be my end and aim. May I be humbled—and You exalted. Let Your graces and gifts bring You in a constant revenue of praise. And may Your increasing goodness—be joined with a constant increase of my humility, that my heart may bless and praise Your holy name, today and forever. Amen.
And let this appear in my whole behavior to others. This is another blessed fruit of humility—it has an influence over the believer's fellowship with mankind, and renders his tempers and manners loving and amiable. Pride was not made for man, and yet it is in all men, and is the chief parent of human woe. It sets people above their place, and makes them think they could support the greatest fortunes, and are able to manage the most difficult affairs. Others, as proud as they, deny them their fancied superiority. Hence come wars and fightings, public and private.
The sweet grace of humility is sent from Heaven to relieve those distresses; for into whatever bosom it enters, it renders men kind to one another, tender-hearted, ready to perform every good word and work. Thus runs the Divine exhortation, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" (Romans 12:10). This is heart-humility, which the Holy Spirit requires, and which He bestows. He brings His disciples into humble subjection to God, then to one another; this has the most happy effects upon public, social, and private happiness. These would greatly flourish, if all men were of a meek and quiet spirit! But there is none of this among the unconverted; and, alas, how little is there among believers! How often are they found in the proud spirit of the world! acting contrary to the humble spirit of Jesus.
And yet it is not for lack of precepts, nor for lack of promised help; but it is because they are not walking by faith, as befits the Gospel; nor out of love to God's glory, studying to recommend humility by their practice.
Observe, O my soul, the remedy provided of God for the subduing of all selfish tempers, and pray that it may be effectual in your heart and life. Do you think that the Scripture, says in vain, "The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy. But He gives more grace. That is why Scripture says, God resists the proud—but gives grace unto the humble" (James 4:5, 6). This Scripture cannot speak in vain; for fallen man is certainly such as he is here described. The spirit that dwells in him, in his own nature, lusts to envy—a passion made up of pride and discontent, offended with God, and displeased with the blessings which He bestows upon men. Envy is an enemy to the love both of God and man, and transgresses the Law of both tables. Pride brought it into Heaven, and the fallen angels brought it into this world. Ever since it entered by sin, natural corruption breaks out very much in envy. But God gives more grace to conquer this passion, than sinful nature has to put it forth. He not only gives grace to pardon it—but also more grace to subdue it; so that envy loses its dominion in the reign of grace. We cannot subdue it, any more than we can pardon envy, pride, and such passions; but grace is almighty. He gives more grace, when the creature is humbled enough to take it out of the hands of His mercy. Thus he overcomes envy; "for He resists the proud" —He is at open war with them, and they with Him.
Pride lifts up the creature against the Creator, and puts it upon seeking happiness outside of God; this is resisting His sovereignty, attacking His providence, and opposing His Law. God is concerned to pull such rebels down, and He says their pride goes before destruction.
But "He gives grace unto the humble"—He gives them grace to humble them, and being emptied, He delights to fill them; for then they are disposed to receive His grace and to value it. Whatever God gives, the humble gives it back again to Him. They have the blessing—He has the praise—which is the just tribute due to Him for His gifts.
And He gives more grace—where He can get more glory. Thus He subdues self-conceit, with its various proud workings. And as grace reigns over them, humility prevails; which has a friendly aspect towards mankind. It keeps brotherly love in the heart, and tends mightily to the practice of every social virtue. Humility is patient and kind. Humility is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Humility does not demand its own way. Humility is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.