ON THE OTHER FRUITS OF HUMILITY
Consider first, that the moral virtues, as well as the theological, have all of them a necessary dependence on humility. That prudence will come to nothing, which is self-conceited and builds upon the devices of man, rather than upon the light and grace of God, procured by humble prayer. Justice will be deficient in many of its branches, if corrupted by pride, which always makes men partial to themselves, and so full of themselves, as to be ever ready to judge, censure, despise, and condemn their neighbours; and unwilling to regulate their thoughts, words, and deeds, by that golden rule of doing in all things as they would be done by. That fortitude will fail, when it comes to the trial, which for want of humility is built upon sand, and not upon the rock. And that temperance can never be perfect which only withholds the sensual appetite from excess, and does not withal restrain the irregularities of the other passions, and qualify the fumes of pride, that they may not turn the head with self-conceit: now this is the proper business of humility, and can never be effected without humility.
Consider 2ndly, that not only the four cardinal virtues but all the others depend in like manner on the foundation of humility. Meekness, which restrains anger and bears with equality of soul all affronts and provocations, goes always hand-in-hand with humility, and is recommended to us jointly with humility, by the great example of our Lord: ‘learn of me,’ said he, ‘for I am meek and humble of heart.’ Poverty of spirit (which disengages the soul from the love of the world) is either humility itself, or the offspring of humility. Purity and chastity can never be maintained but by humility: the most shameful falls into the worst of impurities are often the punishment of pride, Rom. i. 24. Modesty, when it only regulates the exterior, and is not accompanied with humility of heart, is but hypocritical and Pharisaical, and deserves not the name of virtue. Obedience is the favourite daughter of humility, as disobedience is the first-born of pride. Patience under crosses and sufferings springs also from humility, which reaches us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in all his appointments, even to kiss the rod, and to be convinced that what we suffer is nothing to what we deserve. In a word, a perpetual conformity with the blessed will of God in all things, is ever the inseparable companion of true humility; and brings along with it to the soul the happy fruits of tranquillity and peace, which are the joint offspring of these two virtues.
Consider 3rdly, that humility is also the parent of these two necessary virtues of penitence and self-denial: because the more humble we are, the more we know ourselves, and the greater sense we have of our sins; and consequently the greater horror and hatred for them, and the greater desire of punishing them by penance,and of making satisfaction for them by a penitential life. And in like manner, the more humble we are, the more we are also sensible of our own weakness, and of all the dangers that surround us on all sides from the devil and the world, and most of all from our own passions, and that unhappy self-love which is the root of all evils; and thus the humble knowledge of ourselves puts us upon keeping a greater guard upon ourselves, and a closer rein upon our passions and disorderly inclinations, in order to restrain all their irregularities and bring them all under perfect subjection. Now this is self-denial; the business of which is to subdue self-love, and to force it to submit to the love of God. Thus all virtues depend upon humility. O lovely humility! O how blessed it is to be thus little in our own eyes! There is no other way to any degree of true greatness.
Conclude, if thou aspirest to perfection, to enter upon the path of humility; no other way can bring thee thither. If thou aimest at arriving thither by any other road, thou wilt be sure to fall down some dreadful precipice.