Pride is a devilish thing, and it behooves us to be on guard against it.
This is part two of Thomas Manton on the slaying of pride, from Sermon 11 in Sermons from Psalm 131, which you can read in full here.
Thirdly, Constant watchfulness, especially when we are most in danger of this sin; then we should keep a double watch. Pride is incident to all, but especially to those who are ennobled with any excellency of birth, honour, or estate, or parts, or office. Few are able to master their comforts; they are too strong wine for weak heads. To learn to abound is the harder lesson, Phil iv. 12
. When God lifteth them up, they lift up themselves; the wind of strong applause soon oversets a little vessel. Even gracious persons may be tainted. Pride once crept into heaven, and then into paradise; and it is hardly kept out of the best heart
Christians are not so much in danger of sensual [of the senses] lusts [desires] as of this sin; it groweth upon us many times by the decrease of other sins; as mortified, so proud [ie. we end up proud of our non-pride and/or spiritualness]: are ministers by their office: 1 Tim. iii. 6, ‘Not a novice, lest, lifted up by pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.’ But withal, those are most prone that rise out of the dunghill and from a low estate to great wealth and honour; partly because they are not able to digest such a sudden and unusual happiness; partly because they look less to God, and more to their own prudence and industry: Hab. i. 16, ‘Sacrifice to their own net.’
Now all these should watch: Deut. viii. 14, ‘Take heed lest thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God;’ 1 Tim. vi. 17, ‘Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches.’ The honourable should watch, the minister watch, the gifted watch, but especially those whom God hath more than ordinarily blessed with worldly increase, Ps. cxix. 70,71.
Fourthly, Use those things with fear which may feed your pride, and so avoid all occasions of being lifted up. As, for instance, do not look upon your graces and privileges without looking upon your infirmities, which may be a counterbalance to you: Mark ix. 24, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’ There is much corruption still remaineth in us, and often gets the advantage of us in thought, word, and deed. Never reflect upon your praises, but remember your imperfections, which the world seeth not, the many sins which you are conscious unto, and how much more you deserve reproofs than praises;
And if you will thoroughly slight the honour and vainglory of the world, never count yourselves humble, till you are more willing to be admonished than praised, reproved than flattered. It is the proud man that despiseth reproof, but the humble prizeth it. Instances of the one: Amaziah to the prophet: 2 Chron. xxv. 16, ‘Art thou made of the king’s counsel? forbear; why shouldst thou be smitten?’ The false prophet Zedekiah to Micaiah: 2 Chron. xviii. 23, ‘Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to thee?’ The pharisees to Christ: ‘Are we blind also?’ John ix. 39, 40.
Holy and humble men are of another temper. Job did not despise the cause of his servants when they contended with him. Job xxx. 13, 14; David: Ps. cxli. 5, ‘Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness.’ This is a notable remedy against pride, to bear a faithful reproof, and take it in better part than praises and acclamations.
Again, when you reflect upon your enjoyments, consider your account, Luke xii. 48. What will ye do when ye shall appear before the tribunal to answer for all this honour and estate? Surely such a day and such a reckoning should damp men, and quench all self-exalting thoughts.
Never look upon your afflictions, but consider the mercies yet continued, notwithstanding your ill-deservings, Ezra iii. 19, that we may not murmur, which is an effect of pride, but submit to God’s chastisements; that is the way to increase humility; for afflictions are humbling occasions, and so must be improved.
Fifthly, The example of Christ. There was not a more excellent person, nor more worthy, in all the world. Now what was his life but a lecture of humility? Mat. xi. 29, ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart;’ ‘He sought not his own glory, but the glory of him that sent him,’ John v. 41. That is our business as well as Christ’s; not to seek ourselves, but to please God and glorify God.
He chose a mean life, withdrew himself when they would make him a king, John vi. 15; came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, Mat. xx. 28. Vain men would be admired of all, are desirous of worldly power and glory; but this is contrary to the Spirit of Christ. Surely we should dress ourselves by this glass. The meek, humble, lowly mind is an express resemblance of Christ, as pride is of the devil.
When Christ came to save us, he would not choose a life of pomp, but poverty. He submitted to be conceived in the womb of a maiden, took the form of a servant, was laid in a manger, sacrificed two pigeons. He lived in the world as a man of sorrows, born of mean parents, working at their trade. Justin Martyr saith he made ploughs or yokes: ‘Is not this the carpenter?’ Mark vi. After he entered into the ministry, he was scorned, opposed by men, preached out of a ship to people on the shore. Finally, he humbled himself to the death, the death of the cross.
Now the same mind should be in you that was in Jesus, Phil. ii. 5. Unless you think it a disgrace to imitate him, either you must be humble, or seek another lord and master.
May God grant we be on watch against our pride, the humility to take reproof, and a desire to be like the Lord Christ, and may we pray to those ends.