Of all sins, it is the most secret, subtle and insinuating!
(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)
"In his pride, the wicked does not seek Him. In all his thoughts, there is no room for God." Psalm 10:4
The pride of the wicked is the principal reason why they will not seek after the knowledge of God.
In the first place, pride renders God a disagreeable object of contemplation to the wicked — and a knowledge of Him as undesirable. Pride consists in an unduly exalted opinion of one's self. It is, therefore, impatient of a rival, hates a superior, and cannot endure a master. In proportion as it prevails in the heart — pride makes us wish . . .
to see nothing above us,
to acknowledge no law but our own wills,
to follow no rule but our own inclinations.
Thus it led Satan to rebel against his Creator — and our first parents to desire to be as gods.
Since such are the effects of pride, it is evident that nothing can be more painful to a proud heart than the thoughts of such a being as God — one who is infinitely powerful, just, and holy — who can neither be resisted, deceived, nor deluded — who disposes, according to His own sovereign pleasure, of all creatures and events — and who, in an especial manner, hates pride, and is determined to abase and punish it. Such a Being, pride can contemplate only with feelings of dread, aversion, and abhorrence. It must look upon God as its natural enemy — the great Enemy whom it has to fear.
The knowledge of God directly tends to bring this infinite, irresistible, irreconcilable Enemy full to the view of the proud man. It teaches him that he has a superior, a master . . .
from whose authority he cannot escape,
whose power he cannot resist,
and whose will he must obey —
or be crushed before Him, and be rendered miserable forever! It shows him what he hates to see — that, in despite of his opposition . . .
God's counsel shall stand,
He will do all His pleasure, and
that He is infinitely above them.
These truths torture the proud unhumbled hearts of the wicked, and hence they hate the Scriptures which teach these truths. On the contrary, they wish to remain ignorant of such a Being, and to banish all thoughts of Him from their minds. With this view, they neglect, pervert, or explain away those passages of Scripture which describe God's true character, and endeavor to believe that He is altogether such a one as themselves.
How foolish, how absurd, how ruinous, how blindly destructive of its own self — does pride appear! By attempting to soar — it only plunges itself in the mire! While endeavoring to erect for itself a throne — it undermines the ground on which it stands, and digs its own grave!
Pride plunged Satan from Heaven into Hell; it banished our first parents from paradise; and it will, in a similar manner, ruin all who indulge in it. Pride . . .
keeps us in ignorance of God,
shuts us out from His favor,
prevents us from resembling Him, and
deprives us in this world, of all the honor and happiness which communion with Him would confer.
And in the next world, unless previously hated, repented of, and renounced — pride will bar the door of Heaven forever against us, and close the gates of Hell upon us!
O then, my friends, beware, above all things — beware of pride! Beware, lest you indulge it imperceptibly, for of all sins, it is the most secret, subtle and insinuating!