echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

Tag: pride

Some see pride as only that which manifests itself in costly apparel and bodily ornaments, beyond the degree and rank of the person. Some look no further than the treatment of one man towards another. Now consider with me that the greatest pride in the world is man’s undue esteem of himself toward God, and this is in the heart of everyone by nature. Everyone by nature lifts up himself against God, goes about to dethrone God, and to crown himself. Everyone takes counsel in his heart against the Lord, saying, “Let us break His bands asunder, and cast His cords from us” (Psalm 2:3). This is the voice of everyone that dares willfully to sin. This is the working of the pride of a man against God, to thrust God out of the throne of His majesty, and to set himself in. For what is God’s glory and respect among His creatures? Is it not that He, being the beginning and Author of all, should be likewise the end of all?

This is the very purpose for which God made man, that having received himself from God, he should have what he might freely give up to God. All man is, and all that he has, is to be offered to God, as the end and center of all. But a sinning creature brings God under to serve him, to provide for him. And though this pride of man against God is not always so easily noticed, it is the very daring sin of the world. …

Consider how far man’s pride is from his true excellency in his union with God. We must therefore distinguish between the high esteem that man is to have of himself, and pride. For man to look on himself as a noble being, of rank above all the natural world, is not pride, for in this way he is (being a spiritual understanding agent) in a capacity of being acquainted with God and of being united to God.

—James Janeway
Heaven upon Earth (London: Dilbourn, 1673), 38-39.

We make ourselves our own end in frequent self-applauses, and inward overweening reflections. Nothing more ordinary in the natures of men, than a dotage on their own perfections, acquisitions, or actions in the world. Most “think of themselves above what they ought to think” (Rom12:3-4). Few think of themselves so meanly as they ought to think: this sticks as close to us as our skin; and as humility is the beauty of grace, this is the filthiest soil of nature. Our thoughts run more delightfully upon the track of our own perfections than the excellency of God; and when we find any thing of a seeming worth, that may make us glitter in the eyes of the world, how cheerfully do we grasp and embrace ourselves!

To magnify ourselves is a form of self-idolatry, which itself is a form of atheism in the practice of rejected our Creator in favor of the creature.

We magnify ourselves in ascribing the glory of what we do or have to ourselves, to our own wisdom, power, virtue, etc. How flaunting is Nebuchadnezzar at the prospect of Babylon, which he had exalted to be the head of so great an empire: “Is not this great Babylon that I have built?” (Dan 4:30). He struts upon the battlements of his palace, as if there were no God but himself in the world, while his eye could not but see the heavens above him to be none of his own framing. Attributing his acquisitions to his own arm, and referring them to his own honour, for his own delight; not for the honour of God, as a creature ought; nor for the advantage of his subjects, as the duty of a prince. He regards Babylon as his heaven, and himself as his idol, as if he were all, and God nothing.

An example of this we have in the present age; but it is often observed that God vindicates His own honour, brings the most heroical men to contempt and unfortunate ends, as a punishment of their pride, as he did here: “When the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven” (Dan 4:31). This was Herod’s crime, to suffer others to do it. He had discovered his eloquence actively, and made himself his own end passively, in approving the flatteries of the people, and offered not with one hand to God the glory he received from his people with the other (Acts 12:22-23). Samosatenus is reported to put down the hymns which were sung for the glory of God and Christ, and caused songs to be sung in the temple for his own honour.

When anything succeeds well, we are ready to attribute it to our own prudence and industry. If we meet with a cross, we fret against the stars and fortune and second causes, and sometimes against God, as they curse God as well as their king (Isa 8:21), not acknowledging any defect in themselves. The psalmist, by his repetition of “Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name give glory” (Ps 115:1), implies the naturality of this temper, and the difficulty to cleanse our hearts from those self-reflections. If it be angelical to refuse an undue glory stolen from God’s throne (Rev 22:8-9), it is diabolical to accept and cherish it. “To seek our own glory is not glory” (Prov 25:27). It is vile, and the dishonour of a creature, who, by the law of his creation, is referred to another end. So much as we sacrifice to our own credit, to the dexterity of our hands, or the sagacity of our wit, we detract from God.

—Stephen Charnock
Adapted from The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 1:226–227.

If the heart be directly and chiefly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly, to have the heart principally set upon that, is to place it in the room of God and his glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then abominable pride: if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.

—David Brainerd
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2:414.

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