Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 13
All this to make it known through the region of eternity that pride can degrade the highest angels into devils, and humility raise fallen flesh and blood to the thrones of angels. Thus, this is the great end of God raising a new creation out of a fallen kingdom of angels. For this end, it stands in its state of war between the fire and pride of fallen angels, and the humility of the Lamb of God. That the last trumpet may sound the great truth through the depths of eternity, that evil can have no beginning but from pride, and no end but from humility. The truth is this: Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you. Under the banner of the truth, give yourself up to the meek and humble Spirit of the holy Jesus. Humility must sow the seed, or there can be no reaping in heaven. Don't look at pride only as an unbecoming temper, nor at humility only as a decent virtue. The one is death, and the other is life. One is all hell, and the other is all heaven. As much as you have pride within you, you have the fallen angel alive in you. As much as you have true humility, you have of the Lamb of God within you. If you could see what every stirring of pride does to your soul, you would beg of everything you touch to tear the viper from you, even if it required the loss of a hand, or an eye. If you could see what a sweet, divine, transforming power that is in humility, how it expels the poison of your nature, and makes room for the Spirit of God to live in you, you would rather wish to be the footstool of all the world than lack the smallest degree of it.
We need to know two things. 1. That our salvation consists wholly in being saved from ourselves, or that which we are by nature. 2. That in the whole nature of things, nothing could be this salvation or savior to us but the humility of God, which is beyond all expression. Hence, the first unalterable term of the Saviour to fallen man is: Except a man denies himself, he cannot be My disciple. Self is the root, the branches, and the tree, of all evil of our fallen state. All the evils of fallen angels and men have their birth in the pride of "self". On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility. It is humility alone that makes the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell. What is then, or in what lies, the great struggle for eternal life? It all lies in the strife between pride and humility. Pride and humility are the two master powers, and the two kingdoms in strife for the eternal possession of man. There never was, nor ever will be, more than one humility, and that is the one humility of Christ. Pride and "self" have the entirety of man, until man has his entirety from Christ. He therefore only fights the good fight whose strife is that the self-idolatrous nature, which he hath from Adam, may be brought to death by the supernatural humility of Christ brought to life in him.
To die to "self", or to come from under its power, is not, cannot be done, by any active resistance we can make to it by the powers of nature. The one true way of dying to self is the way of patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God. This is the truth and perfection of dying to self. For if I ask you what the Lamb of God means, must you not tell me that it is and means the perfection of patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God? Must you not therefore say that a desire and faith of these virtues is an application to Christ, a giving up of yourself to Him, and the perfection of faith in Him? And then, because this inclination of your heart to sink down in patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God is truly giving up all that you are and all that you have from fallen Adam, it is perfectly leaving all you have to follow Christ. It is your highest act of faith in Him. Christ is nowhere but in these virtues. When they are there, He is in His own kingdom. Let this be the Christ you follow.
The spirit of divine love can have no birth in any fallen creature until that creature wills and chooses to be dead to self in patient, humble resignation to the power and mercy of God.
I seek for completeness in my salvation through the merits and meditation of the meek, humble, patient, and suffering Lamb of God, who alone has power to bring forth the blessed birth of these heavenly virtues in my soul. There is no possibility of salvation except in and by the birth of the meek, humble, patient, and resigned Lamb of God in our souls. When the Lamb of God has brought forth a real birth of His own meekness, humility, and full resignation to God in our souls, then it is the birthday of the spirit of love in our souls, which, whenever we attain it, will feast our souls with such peace and joy in God that it will blot out the remembrance of everything that we called peace or joy before.
This way to God is infallible. This infallibility is grounded in the twofold character of our Saviour. 1. He is the Lamb of God, a principle of all meekness and humility in the soul. 2. He is the Light of heaven, and He blesses eternal nature, and turns it into a kingdom of heaven. When we are willing to get rest to our souls in meek, humble resignation to God, it is then that He, as the Light of God and heaven, joyfully breaks in upon us, turns our darkness into light, and begins that kingdom of God and of love within us, which will never have an end.
Until the spirit of the heart is renewed, until it is emptied of all earthly desires, and stands in habitual hunger and thirst after God, which is the true spirit of prayers; until then, all our prayer will be, more or less, only too much like lessons given to scholars, and we shall mostly say them only because we dare not neglect them. But don't be discouraged. Take the following advice, and then you may go to church without any danger of mere lip-labor or hypocrisy, although there should be a hymn or a prayer, whose language is higher than that of your heart. Do this: go to the church as the publican went to the temple; stand inwardly in the spirit of your mind in that form which he outwardly expressed, when he cast down his eyes, and could only say, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." Stand unchangeably, at least in your desire, in this form or state of heart. It will sanctify every petition that comes out of your mouth. When anything is read or sung or prayed that is more exalted than your heart is, if you make this an occasion of further sinking down in the spirit of the publican, you will then be helped, and highly blessed, by those prayers and praises which seem to belong to a heart better than yours.
This, my friend, is a secret of secrets. It will help you reap where you have not sown, and be a continual source of grace to your soul. Everything that inwardly stirs in you, or outwardly happens to you, becomes a real good to you, if it finds or excites in you this humble state of mind. Nothing is in vain, or without profit to the humble soul. It stands always in a state of divine growth; everything that falls on it is like a dew of heaven to it. Shut up yourself, therefore, in this form of humility. All good is enclosed in it. It is a water of heaven, that turns the fire of the fallen soul into the meekness of the divine life, and creates oil, out of which the love for God and man gets its flame. Be enclosed, therefore, always in it. Let it be as a garment wherewith you are always covered, and a girdle with which you are encompassed. Breathe nothing but in and from its spirit, see nothing but with its eyes; hear nothing but with its ears. Then, whether you are in the church or out of the church, hearing the praises of God or receiving wrongs from men and the world, all will be edification, and everything will help forward your growth in the life of God.
A Prayer for Humility
I will give you an infallible guide. You can perform this experiment to verify the truth. It is this: retire from the world and all conversation, only for one month; neither write, nor read, nor debate anything with yourself. Stop all the former workings of your heart and mind, and with all the strength of your heart, stand all this month, as continually as you can, in the following form of prayer to God. Offer it frequently on your knees; but whether sitting, walking, or standing, be always inwardly longing and earnestly praying this one prayer to God: "That of His great goodness He would make known to you, and take from your heart, every kind and form and degree of pride, whether it be from evil spirits, or your own corrupt nature; and that He would awaken in you the deepest depth and truth of that humility, which can make you capable of His light and Holy Spirit." Reject every thought, but that of waiting and praying in this matter from the bottom of your heart, with such truth and earnestness, as people in torment wish to pray and be delivered from it. If you can, and will give yourself up in truth and sincerity to this spirit of prayer, I will venture to declare that, if you had twice as many evil spirits in you as Mary Magdalene had, they will all be cast out of you, and you will be forced with her to weep tears of love at the feet of the holy Jesus.