Thursday, 24 February 2011
An excerpt from a sermon delivered on August 17, 1856 by Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark on the topic of "Pride and Humility". I post this because I found it very convicting especially this particular section in which he describes and takes apart what pride is to the human soul. His rhetoric is quite strong, and I must admit, I did find it quite strong in comparison to the preaching we receive today in our churches. Also, I find paraphrasing a useful exercise for me, so I have done some editing, removing "thy" and "thou"s from the text, as well as some liberty in the substitution of archaic words and phrases. Nevertheless:
"In the first place, pride is a groundless thing. It stands on the sands; or worse than that, it puts its foot on the billows which yield beneath its tread; or worse still, it stands on bubbles, which soon must burst beneath its feet. Of all things pride has the worst foothold; it has no solid rock on earth on which to place itself. We have reasons for almost everything, but we have no reasons for pride.
Pride is a thing which should be unnatural to us, for we have nothing to be proud of. What is there in man of which he should glory? Our very creation is enough to humble us; what are we but creatures of futility? Our frailty should be sufficient to lay us low, for we shall be gone tomorrow. Our ignorance should tend to keep pride from our lips. What are we, but like the wild ass’s colt which knows nothing? And our sins ought effectually to stop our mouths, and lay us in the dust. Of all things in the world, pride towards God, is that which has the very least excuse; it has neither stick nor stone upon which to build.
Yet like the spider, it carries its own web in its bowels, and can, of itself, spin that web which is used to catch its prey. It seems to stand upon itself, for it has nothing besides its own web on which it can rest. Oh! man, learn to reject pride, seeing that you have no reason for it; whatever you are, you have nothing to make you proud. The more you have, the more you are in debt to God; and you should not be proud of that which renders you a debtor. Consider your origin; look back to the hole of the pit where you was dug out of. Consider what you would have been, even now, if it were not for Divine grace. And, consider, that you will yet be lost in hell if grace does not hold you up. Consider that amongst the damned, there are none that would have been more deserving than yourself, if grace had not kept you from destruction. Let this consideration humble you, that you have nothing on which to ground your pride.
Again, it is a brainless thing as well as a groundless thing; for it brings no profit with it. There is no wisdom in a self-exaltation. Other sins have some excuse, for men seem to gain by them; avarice, pleasure, lust, have some reason; but the man who is proud sells his soul cheaply. He opens wide the flood-gates of his heart, to let men see how deep is the flood within his soul; then suddenly it flows out, and all is gone — and all is nothing, for one puff of empty wind, one word of sweet applause — the soul is gone,and not a drop is left. In almost every other sin, we gather up the ashes when the fire is gone, but here, what is left? The covetous man hath his shining gold, but what has the proud man? He has less than he would have had without his pride, and is no gainer whatever.
Oh! man, if you were as mighty as Gabriel, and had all his holiness, still you would be an downright fool to be proud, for pride would sink you from your stationed angels to the rank of devils. Bring thee from the place where Lucifer, son of the morning, once dwelt, to take up you abode with hideous fiends eternal damnation. Pride exalts its head, and seeks to honor itself; but it is of all things most despised. It sought to plant crowns upon its brow, and so it has done, but its head was hot, and it put an ice crown there, and it melted all away. Poor pride has decked itself out finely sometimes; it has put on its most gaudy apparel, and said to others, “How brilliant I appear!” But, ah! Pride is, like a harlequin, dressed in bright colors, you are all the more foolish for that; you are but a gazing stock for fools less foolish than yourself. You have no crown, as you think you have, nothing solid and real, all is empty and vain.
If you, O man, desires shame, be proud. A monarch has waded through slaughter to a throne, and shut the gates of mercy on mankind to win a little glory; but when he has exalted himself, and has been proud, worms have devoured him, like Herod, or have devoured his empire, kill it passed away, and with it his pride and glory. Pride wins no crown; men never honor it, not even the menial slaves of earth; for all men look down on the proud man, and think him less than themselves.
Again, pride is the maddest thing that can exist; it feeds upon its own vitals; it will take away its own life, that with its blood it may make a purple for its shoulders. It saps, and undermines its own house that it may build its pinnacles a little higher, and then the whole structure tumbles down. Nothing proves men so mad as pride. For this they have given up rest, and ease, and repose, to find rank and power among men; for this they have dared to risk their hope of salvation, to leave the gentle yoke of Jesus, and go toiling wearily along the way of life, seeking to save themselves by their own works, and at last to stagger into the mire of fell despair. Oh! Man, hate pride, flee from it, abhor it, let it not dwell with you. If you want to have a madman in your heart, embrace pride, for you shall never find one more mad than he.
Then pride is a versatile thing; it changes its shape; it is all forms in the world; you may find it in any fashion you may choose, you may see it in the beggar’s rags as well as in the rich man’s garment. It dwells with the rich and with the poor. The man without a shoe to his foot may be as proud as if he were riding in a chariot. Pride can be found in every rank of society —among all classes of men. Sometimes it is an Arminian, and talks about the power of the creature; then it turns Calvinist, and boasts of its fancied security — forgetful of the Maker, who alone can keep our faith alive. Pride can profess any form of religion; it may be a Quaker, and wear no collar to its coat; it may be a Churchman, and worships God in splendid cathedrals; it may be a Dissenter, and go to the common meeting-house; it is one of the most catholic things in the world, it attends all kinds of chapels and churches; go where you will, you will see pride. It comes up with us to the house of God; it goes with us to our houses; it is found on the mart, and the exchange, in the streets, and everywhere. Let me hint at one or two of the forms which it assumes.
Sometimes pride takes the doctrinal shape; it teaches the doctrine of self-sufficiency; it tells us what man can do, and will not allow that we are lost, fallen, debased, and ruined creatures, as we were before. It hates divine sovereignty, and finds offence at election. Then if it is driven from that, it takes another form; follows that the doctrine of free grace is true but does not feel it. It acknowledges that salvation is of the Lord alone, but still it prompts men to seek heaven by their own works, even by the deeds of the law. And when driven from that, it will persuade men to join something with Christ in the matter of salvation; and when that is all torn up, and the poor rag of our righteousness is all burned, pride will get into the Christian’s heart as well as the sinner’s — it will flourish under the name of self-sufficiency, teaching the Christian that he is “rich and increased in goods, having need of nothing.” It will tell him that he does not need daily grace, that past experience will do for tomorrow — that he knows enough, prays enough. It will make him forget that he has “not yet attained;” it will not allow him to press forward to the things that are before, forgetting the things that are behind. It enters into his heart, and tempts the believer to set up an independent business for himself, and until the Lord brings about a spiritual bankruptcy, pride will keep him from going to God.
Pride has ten thousand shapes; it is not always that stiff and starched gentleman that you picture it; it is a vile, creeping, insinuating thing, that will twist itself like a serpent into our hearts. It will talk of humility, and chatter about being dust and ashes. I have known men talk about their corruption most marvellously, pretending to be all humility, while at the same time they were the proudest wretches that could be found this side the gulf of separation. Oh! my friends,youe cannot tell how many shapes pride will assume; look sharp about you, or you will be deceived by it, and when you think you are entertaining angels, you will find you have been receiving devils unawares."
The complete sermon can be read here. Do you think that Spurgeon is right in his assessment of pride in the human heart? Do you think that this type of preaching would seem out of place in our modern churches? How does pride manifest itself in your life?