REMEDIES AGAINST PRIDE
Consider first, that in order to overcome thy pride, thou must not only be thoroughly sensible of the malignity of this evil in itself, and of the dreadful consequences of its being suffered to reign in the soul, but must also be convinced that thou thyself art continually in danger from it; that it is an evil deeply rooted in thy own corrupt nature; an obstinate and subtile enemy that will never cease to wage war against thee all thy life long, and that is so much the more dangerous to thee, by how much the less it is apprehended by thee; so that the first and most necessary prescription against pride is to study well, that we may know our corruption in this kind, by the help of a frequent review of our own interior, and of the secret springs that rule and set all our passions to work; that so having rightly discovered the monster that affects to hide itself in the inmost recesses of the soul, we may declare an eternal war against it, by perpetual watching, praying, and fighting, and by frequent repeated acts, both exterior and interior, of the virtue of humility.
Consider 2ndly, that the true knowledge of God and of ourselves, acquired by the daily exercise of meditation and mental prayer, is the sovereign remedy against all manner of pride. For all our pretensions to excellence, all our groundless imaginations, by which we take ourselves for something, all these fumes of self-conceit which are so apt to fly up and to turn our heads upon occasion of any advantages, real or imaginary, which we ascribe to ourselves, are all put to flight when the light of the knowledge of God comes in and takes place in the soul, and shows her that all that is not God is a mere nothing. All human greatness, all power, all height, and depth, and everything that is created, dwindles away and quite vanishes when God appears: ‘heaven and earth flee away from before his face, and no place is found for them,’ Apoc. xx. 11; how much less can a poor man glory in his sight? O how can earth and ashes be proud in the presence of the immense, eternal, infinite Deity?
Consider 3rdly, that the light of God, which by a diligence in the exercise of mental prayer flows more and more into the soul not only serves to humble us in his sight, and to quell our pride by the sense it gives us of his infinite greatness and majesty, before who we are but wretched worms, and less than nothing; but also helps us to that true knowledge of ourselves which obliges us to vilify and despise ourselves. For here we are made sensible what poor creatures indeed we are, how mean is our extraction: as to the body, from dirt and corruption; as to the soul, from nothing – how early we are infected with sin, how full we are now of all kind of miseries, both corporal and spiritual; what a perpetual repugnance we have to good, and what a violent propensity to evil from our very childhood, how much we are encompassed with darkness, ignorance, and error; exposed daily to innumerable dangers; capable of all that is wicked, and incapable of ourselves of any good; certain of death, (though we know not when, where, nor how,) which will make over these bodies of ours to worms and corruption, and transmit these souls to judgment; and dreadfully uncertain as to the issue of that great trial and our eternal lot. And shall not all this suffice to cure our pride?
Conclude to spare no pains to acquire these two most necessary branches of Christian science, viz., the true knowledge of God, and the true knowledge of yourselves; they are the foundation of true humility and of all good, and to be learnt by meditation and prayer.