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seat, in preference to any other of the guests; and that some of them were much mortified on being obliged to take lower seats than they had expected or desired to occupy. To these persons the Lord Jesus recommended more humility of conduct than they had manifested. And He showed them that by this means they might in reality attain their desired end, and not meet with the mortification to which they were exposed by their customary manner of acting. He said unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, or to a great feast, as the word is often used to mean, sit not down in the highest room, lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room, there being no other left vacant. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher : then shalt thou have worship, or honour, in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. They will consider a person to be worthy of their respect and deference who is elevated to a more eminent station than that in which he had placed himself."
From this parable our blessed Saviour deduced the general principle stated in the text. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. In these words two opposite characters are contrasted ; and the natural consequence of adopting the one or the other of them is pointed out.
| Proverbs xxv. 7.
The first of these is the natural character of fallen man.
Pride or self-exaltation is the common principle of the unrenewed mind. The gratification of this was the bait which Satan laid to tempt our first parents. Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. The pride of life is one of the ruling passions of the human heart. It is not peculiar to the rich and great, or to those who are generally supposed to have some reason for it, in consequence of possessing this world's goods or honours. The same spirit reigns in the hearts of the poor as well as of the rich. It is natural to those who are in the lowest situations of society, as well as to those who are in the highest. And this appears in nothing more evidently than in the opinions which are entertained by numbers of persons on religious subjects. How common is the idea among men, high and low, rich and poor, that their own virtue and holiness are meritorious in the sight of God, and render them acceptable to Him, and deserving of His favour. The children of this world, whatever
2 Genesis iii. 5.
3 | Joun ii. 16.
be their station in life, cannot and will not believe that their hearts are so corrupt and depraved as the word of God represents them to be.“ They think it too degrading to the dignity of human nature to receive this doctrine. If they are conscious—and who is not ?—that they sometimes do wrong; they imagine that they need only to be a little sorry for it, and to resolve not to do it again, and then all will be well with them. But if this were the case, the coming of Christ into the world was unnecessary and useless. If men could have saved themselves, there would have been no need that a Saviour should have come down from heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ declared that He, the Son of man, came to seek and to save that which was lost. And of all those who are made partakers of His great salvation, the language of the Father of heaven will be, This My son was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
The holy Scriptures declare to us, that we are all by nature dead in trespasses and sins, dead to God, and lost to Him, as to the purposes for which we were created; and lost also as to all hope of future happiness, which we have forfeited by sin. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. And therefore unless we are quickened to newness of life by almighty power and grace, unless we are found by Him who came from heaven to seek and to save us, we shall be lost for ever, eternal death will be our portion. What need then have we to be humble, when such is the degraded and deplorable state in which we are by nature! With what disapprobation must all that self-complacency with which mankind regard themselves, and that spirit of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness which they indulge, be viewed by the infinitely holy Lord God Almighty? Let us fear to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Let us think soberly and humbly of ourselves, that we may walk so as to please God.?
4 Jerem. xvii. 9. 5 Luke xix. 10. Luke xv.32. 7 Romans iii. 23.
The Pharisees, with whom our Lord Jesus Christ had condescended to sit down and eat bread, evidently felt the utmost contempt for the poor afflicted man who had presented himself before them, with a desire of being healed by the Almighty Physician ; and at the same time it appears that they had entertained the greatest jealousy of each other, lest one should be preferred before another by the master of the house who had invited them to partake of his provision. Such a spirit of selfishness the religion of Christ is intended to suppress. Those who profess to embrace this holy faith are exhorted : Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love ; in honour preferring one another. Be of the same mind, or sympathising, one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.10 Thus our natural pride and self-importance is to be laid low. But if it be not abased in this way, it will be brought down in a more awful manner. For God beholdeth the proud afar off ; and hath determined to hide pride from man," by abasing him here or hereafter. And those that walk in pride He is able to abase. 12 Let the proud in heart consider this, and in time humble themselves under the mighty hand of God; that they may not be brought low in the great day of God, and throughout eternity bewail their folly. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased. Such was the end of the pride of the Pharisees; and such will be the end of all who follow their steps.
8 Romans xii. 3.
9 1 Thessalonians iv. I.
With this haughty and self-sufficient character another is contrasted, which obtains the honour of which that we have been considering is disappointed. He that humbleth Himself shall be exalted. For thus saith the Lord, To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.13 The Psalmist also observes, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a
10 Rom. xii, 10,16. 11 Job xxiii. 17. 12 Dan. iv. 37. 13 Isaiah lxvi.2.