ON THE MALIGNITY OF PRIDE
Consider first, the malignity of pride, inasmuch as it corrupts the very vitals of the soul, and leaves nothing sound in it. ‘Tis a rottenness at the heart that spoils the fairest plants that grow on this infected soil. The fruits of the good works of the proud are like those that are said to grow on the banks of the Lake of Sodom, fair to the eye but rotten within. Their virtues are blasted, and have nothing but an outward appearance, because the root of them is corrupted. God is not with them, truth is not with them, grace is not with them: they have no foundation within them for any solid good, because they want humility; for God resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble.
Consider 2ndly, the malignity of pride from another point, viz., from its filling the soul with all other evils For this dreadful vice, not content with shutting the gate against grace and against all good, and even changing those that should be the most virtuous actions into crimes, opens wide the door to all manner of sin and iniquity, by setting all the other passions at work, to serve, by all kinds of extravagances, its unbridled appetite after self-excellence. To gratify this predominant passion covetousness is employed to procure, right or wrong, those riches that may furnish the means of excelling, and prodigality in the expending of them. Anger, hatred, and vengeance are let loose against all that thwart or stand in the way of its lawless pretensions. Inferiors are oppressed: they are treated with contempt and scorn; equals are envied as rivals in honour: they are judged, condemned, and slandered; superiors are slighted and disobeyed, & c. not to speak of innumerable other mortal evils, quarrels, murders, rebellious, heresies, blasphemies, and what not, which are frequently the productions of pride, besides all the abominations of lust and all its fatal offspring, to which the proud are so often delivered up in punishment of their arrogance. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from all these evils by teaching us to be meek and humble of heart.
Consider 3rdly, that the malignity of pride is chiefly owing to its opposition to the glory of God and to his divine truth. God is the Being of all beings, all things else without him are nothing; all excellence and all glory is his; we have nothing, excepting sin, but what we can have from him; we know nothing but through him, we can do nothing without hum. To pretend therefore to any excellence, as to our own property, or to any glory as due to us, or to appropriate to ourselves the gifts and graces of God, and to be puffed up with them, and to glory in them as our own, is a sacrilegious robbery of that which belongs to God alone; ’tis attempting to seat ourselves in his throne; ’tis claiming a share in his self-excellence, which is no less essential to him than his self-existence, independence, and infinity. For as none but God can be of himself, so none but God can excel of himself. For this reason ‘every proud man is an abomination to the Lord,’ Prov. xvi. 4, because he pretends to rival him in his glory, and like the arch-rebel Lucifer, to dispute his prerogative of being alone self-excellent. His pride is a lie, and of the very worst sort of lies, even that which was first framed by the father of lies, in pretending to be like the most high, and therefore it is most hateful to the eternal truth.
Conclude to detest and abhor, and to fly with all thy power from this abominable vice, which is so hateful to God, and so pernicious to all that suffer their souls to be corrupted with it. ‘Give ear to the scripture,’ Tob. iv. 13, never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, nor in thy words, for from it all perdition took its beginning.