Pride and Humility
A sermon (No. 97) delivered on Sabbath Morning, August 17, 1856
by C. H. Spurgeon.
at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark)
“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”-Proverbs 18:12.
Almost every event has its prophetic prelude. It is an old and common saying that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” the wise man teaches us the same lesson in the verse before us. When destruction walks through the land it casts its shadow; it is in the shape of pride. When honor visits a man’s house it casts its shadow before it; it is in the fashion of humility. “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty;” pride is as surely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain, and far more infallibly so than that. “Before honor is humility,” even as before the summer sweet birds return to sing in our land. Everything hath its prelude. The prelude of destruction is pride, and of honor, humility. There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls as pride, and yet there is no vice which is more frequently, more emphatically, and more eloquently condemned in Scripture. Against pride prophets have lifted up their voices, evangelists have spoken, and teachers have discoursed. Yea, more; the everlasting God has mounted to the very heights of eloquence when he would condemn the pride of man; and the full gushing of the Eternal’s mighty language has been most gloriously displayed in the condemnation of the pride of human nature. Perhaps the most eloquent passage of God’s Word is to be found toward the conclusion of the book of Job, where in most splendid strains of unanswerable eloquence God hides pride from man by utterly confounding him; and there is another very eloquent passage in the 14th chapter of Isaiah where the Lord’s holy choler seems to have risen up, and his anger to have waxed hot against the pride of man when he would utterly and effectually condemn it. He says concerning the great and mighty king of Babylon, “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms.” Mark how God addresses him, describing hell itself as being astonished at his fall, seeing that he had mounted so high; and yet declaring assuredly that his height and greatness were nothing to the Almighty, that he would pull him down, even though like an eagle he had built his nest among the stars. I say there is nothing more eloquently condemned in Scripture than pride, and yet there is no trap into which we poor silly birds so easily flee, no pitfall into which, like foolish beasts of the earth, we so continually run. On the other hand, humility is a grace that hath many promises given to it in the Scripture. Perhaps most promises are given to faith, and love is often considered to be the brightest of the train of virtues; yet humility holds by no means an inferior place in God’s word, and there are hundreds of promises linked to it. Every grace seems to be like a nail on which precious blessings hang, and humility hath many a mercy suspended from it. “He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted;” “Blessed are the poor in spirit;” and in multitudes of other passages we are reminded that God loveth the humble, but that he “bringeth down the mighty from their seats, and exalteth the humble and meek.” Now this morning we shall have a word to say concerning pride and humility. May the Holy Spirit preserve us from the one and produce in our hearts the other.
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