by William Romaine
Observe O my soul what an honour God has put upon this grace: “Before honour is humility” (Prov. 15:33)! Whom God honours, He humbles first. 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 saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15). O what an honour is here promised to the humble! The greatest they can have on this side of Heaven. God will dwell with them; and 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 amongst 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 honour to the learned of the world. But He puts honour upon the contrite and humble. He condescends to visit them; yea, He delights to dwell with them, and in them.the Highest above all heavens in the lowest hearts. There He communicates His choicest love and richest favours. O my God! bestow upon me this grace, which in Thy sight is so precious. Humble me, that I may be revived with Thy presence, and refreshed daily with Thy love. Give me more humility, and fit me for nearer fellowship with Thee. Bring down every high thought, and let me find it true, that You resisteth the proud, but giveth more grace unto the humble.
Thus the 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, every thing will tend to promote this communion. In the daily sense of his wants, he will go to his bountiful Saviour for a supply. In the feeling of his misery, He will depend on his loving Saviour for relief; whereby he will be led to more intercourse 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 Thy good Spirit. Viewing spots and blemishes in his best doings, his triumph will be, “I will make mention of Thy righteousness, Lord Jesus, even of Thine only” (Psa. 71:16). Thus every thing 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”.two graces at once: the blessings needed and thankfulness for them. Hereby a sweet intercourse will be kept open.
To the humble, God delights to give grace, and they delight to return Him His glory. The more He gives, the more glory would they gladly return. And He does give more, 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. Thou seest the necessity of it: O pray earnestly for it, and for more of it. The great idol self must be dethroned where God reigns. Thou canst not walk with Him unless thou art humble in heart. And if thou hast been walking with Him, thou wilt be taught to stop, whenever thou beginnest to look at self with admiration. O beg of the Lord, then, to give thee the true Gospel poverty of spirit. It is to be in constant practice, and used for everything; for thou seest how it keeps up fellowship with God, who makes the greatest communications of Himself to the humblest. And the reason is plain; because they return Him all His glory. If therefore thou wouldest have much grace in exercise, pray for much humility. O my God! whatever Thou givest, give humility with it, that I may not seek self in it, but Thine honour, nor lay it out upon myself, but to Thy glory. Meek and lowly Jesus, make me like Thyself; keep me learning of Thee, till I am perfectly like Thee. I would come always poor to Thee, to receive of Thy riches, and to receive with them an humble heart to praise Thee for them. O let Thy glory be mine end and aim. Let me and mine be Thine: I humbled, Thou exalted. Let Thy graces and gifts bring Thee in a constant revenue of praise. And may Thine increasing goodness be joined with a constant increase of humility, that my heart and all within me may bless and praise Thy holy name, today and forever. Amen.
And let this appear in my whole behaviour to others. This is another blessed fruit of humility: it has an influence over the believer’s intercourse 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 whatsoever bosom it enters, it renders men kind to one another, tender-hearted, ready to every good word and work. Thus runs the Divine exhortation, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom. 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; which has the most happy effects upon public, social, and private happiness. But would these 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 lowly spirit of Jesus. And yet it is not for want of precepts, nor for want of promised help; but it is because they are not walking by faith, as becometh 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 thy life and conversation. Do you think that the Scripture, saith in vain, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth 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 dwelleth in him, in his own nature, lusteth to envy.a passion made up of pride and discontent, offended with God, and displeased with the blessings which He bestows upon men. It 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 giveth 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. What ever so much, use ever so much, God has still more for you. And He gives more, when the creature is humbled enough to take it out of the hands of His mercy. Thus he overcomes envy; “for He resisteth 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 out of God; this is resisting His sovereignty, attacking His providence, and opposing His Law. He is concerned to pull such rebels down, and He says their pride goeth before destruction. But “He giveth 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 give 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 suffereth long and is kind; humility envieth not; humility vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil.
Originally edited by Emmett O'Donnell for Mt. Zion Publications, a ministry of Mt. Zion Bible Church, 2603 West Wright St., Pensacola, FL 32505. www.mountzion.org