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The Notion of Pride stated, and the
ROMANS XII. 3.
Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think foberly.
T is a common Obfervation, that SERM. I. however forward Men may be to repine at the unequal Portion, which God has allotted them of worldly Bleffings; yet they are generally well fatisfied with their Share of inward Endowments: it being as hard to meet with a Perfon, who humbly thinks he has too little Sense and Merit, as it is to find one, who fancies he has too great Riches and Honours.
What makes Men uneafy in their Circumftances, is that they are continually fetting to View the bright Side of themselves, and the dark Side of their Condition in Life; VOL, II. B the
SERM. I. the first to find out their own Grievances, and the laft to difcern their own Faults and Follies. Whereas if they took a contrary Method, they would perceive, that God had been kinder to the Worft of Men, than the very Beft of Men could deferve. Self-Love is a Paffion interwoven in our Frame and Conftitution; and if it be not kept under due Regulations, Self-Conceit will be the neceffary Effect of it. For fince we are apt to believe, what we wish to be true; is it a Wonder, if we over-rate those Perfections, which we have, and imagine ourselves poffeft of those, which we have no Title to?
In our Youth Pleasure has often the Afcendant, in the Middle of our Age Ambition; and Avarice brings up the Rear at the Clofe of Life. But this Vice, of which I am speaking, attends too many of us from the Cradle to the Grave: we being equally vain, whether we purfue Pleasure, Honour or Wealth: The Mafter Paffion of the Soul is the fame, though it's Servants are often changed according to the different Stages of Life.
For this Reason the Apostle ushers in the Words of my Text with a peculiar Em
phafis and Force.
For I fay, according to the Grace given unto me to every one among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think foberly.
In which Words St. Paul advifeth us, that instead of viewing ourselves in that engaging Light, which the fervile Flattery of others, or our own affuming Vanity (our greatest Flatterer of all) might place us in, we should endeavour to form a true Eftimate of our Worth, or in the Words of the Text, think foberly.
Among the many Imputations, which we are willing to faften upon those whom we have an Averfion to, that of Pride is, I think, one of the most common. Now, if we would examine the innermoft Receffes of the Mind, I doubt we should often find, that our own Pride is the Caufe, why we tax others with it. Men elate with the Thoughts of their own Sufficiency are ever imagining, that others are wanting in their Regard to them, and therefore very apt to conclude, that Pride must be the Cause, why they with-hold from them that Respect, which they have an unquestioned Right to in their own Opinion. Of this we have a pregnant Inftance in Scripture: You B 2
SERM. I. take too much upon you, said Corab and his Accomplices, when they themselves were taking too much upon them, and invading the Province of Aaron. Hence it is, that their Character seldom escapes the Brand of Vanity, who have the Fortune to be poffeft of those Accomplishments, which would make their Detractors vain.
But before we asperse others with this Cenfure, let us confider what Pride is, and correct our Mistakes about the Nature of it.
In the following Difcourfe I fhall therefore Ift ftate the Notion of Pride.
IIdly, Confider the Unreasonableness of this Vice.
If then, I am to state the Notion of Pride. Our Happiness, as well as Knowledge, arifes from Senfation and Reflection; and may be reduced to thefe two Articles, viz. that of pleafing Senfations, and that of agreeable Thoughts. Now as to a Defire of indulging the former without Check or Control, are owing Luft, Drunkenness and Intemperance; fo from a Defire of indulging the latter beyond Measure, Pride takes it's Original. And it is very remarkable,
able, that those, who moft deny them- SERM. I. felves pleafing Senfations, will be, except they are very much upon their Guard, apt overmuch to indulge agreeable Reflections upon themselves. In Proportion as they refift the coarfer Self-Indulgences, the more refined and spiritual Vices will gain an easier Entrance. Just as fubtle and thin Matter finds Admittance and fills up the Vacancy, where Bodies of a groffer Contexture cannot penetrate. Pride fprings from a partial View of ourselves, a View of the bright Side of ourselves, without balancing against it our numerous Imperfections and Defects, how little Good we can perform without the Grace of God, and how little we actually do perform even with it. It does not confist in the bare Confcioufnefs, that we have fome Accomplishments, as for Inftance, good Senfe, Beauty, great Abilities; but in that Exultation of Mind, which is confequent upon that Consciousness, unallayed by any Self-Diffatisfaction arifing from a Survey of our Sins and Frailties. If our Virtues and Perfections (fuppofing them our own Acquifitions) were unallayed; then an unallayed Self-Complacency might justly be the Result of a Knowledge of them: But as B 3 human