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OF VAIN-GLORY, ARROGANCE, TALKING
AND THINKING OF ONE'S SELF.
2 Tim. iii. 2.
OF VAIN-GLORY. WHEN a regard to the opinion or desire of the SERM. esteem of men is the main principle from which LXIII. their actions do proceed, or the chief end which they propound to themselves, instead of conscience of duty, love and reverence of God, hope of the rewards promised, a sober regard to their true good, this is vain-glory. Such was the vain-glory of the Pharisees, who fasted, who prayed, who gave alms, who did all their works that they might be seen of men, Matt. vi. and from them obtain the reward of estimation and &c. xxiii. 5. applause: this is that which St. Paul forbiddeth; Let nothing be done out of strife or vain-glory.
When men affect and delight in praise from mean or indifferent things; as from secular dignity, power, wealth, strength, beauty, wit, learning, eloquence, wisdom, or craft: as, There are many, saith the Psal. xlix. Psalmist, that boast themselves in the multitude of.6. their riches. Nebuchadnezzar was raised with the conceit of having built a palace for the glory of his majesty, Herod was puffed with applause for his Đásxoris oration, the philosophers were vain in the esteem Rom. i. 22, procured by their pretence to wisdom, the Pharisees
Phil. ii. 3.
SERM. were elevated with the praise accruing from exterLXIII.
nal acts of piety, (fasting twice a week, making long prayers, tithing mint and cumin ;) all which things being in themselves of little worth, the affect
ing of praise from them is manifestly frivolous and Rom. ii. 7. vain. Honour should be affected only from true
virtue and really good works.
Those who seek glory from evil things, (who glory in their shame,) from presumptuous transgression of God's law, (hectorly profaneness and debauchery,) from outrageous violence, from overreaching craft, or from any bad quality, are not only vain-glorious, but impudent.
When men affect praise immoderately, not being content with that measure of good reputation which naturally doth arise from a virtuous and blameless life.
As all other goods, so this should be affected moderately.
It is not worth industry, or a direct aim.
When they are unwilling to part with the esteem of men upon any account, but rather will desert their duty than endure disgrace, prizing the opin
ion of men before the favour and approbation of John xii. God; as it is said of those rulers, who believed in
our Lord, but because of the Pharisees did not confess him, that they might not be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the glory of men, rather
than the glory that is of God; and those to whom John v. 44. our Saviour said, How can ye believe, who receive
glory from one another, but do not seek the glory that is of God ?
When they pursue it irregularly, are cunning and politic to procure it, hunt for it in oblique ways, lay gins, traps, and baits for it; such are ostentation
xai eπόπτυστον. .
of things commendable, fair speeches, kind looks SERM. and gestures, devoid of sincerity, &c. Such ways ambitious and popular men do use.
This practice is upon many accounts vain and to sýriais culpable, and it produceth great inconvenience.
1. It is vain, because unprofitable. Is it not a fool- Naz. Ep. ish thing for a man to affect that which little con
63: cerneth him to have, which having he is not considerably benefited ? Such manifestly is the good opinion of men; how doth that reach us? Do we feel the commotions of their fancy ? doth their breath blow us any good ? 2. It is vain, because uncertain. How easily are Qui dedit
hoc hodie, the judgments of men altered! how fickle are their
cras auferet conceits! the wind of heaven is not more fleeting and variable than the wind of popular air. In a trice the case is turned with them; they admire and scorn, they approve and condemn, they applaud and reproach, they court and persecute the same person, as their fancy is casually moved, or as fortune doth favour a person. Histories are full of instances of persons who have been now the favourites of the people, presently the objects of their hatred and obloquy.
3. It is vain, because unsatisfactory. How can a --Stultus man be satisfied with the opinion of bad judges ; Sæpe dat who esteem a man without good grounds, commonly for things not deserving regard; who cannot discern those things which really deserve esteem, good principles and honest intention? These only God can know, these only wise and good men can well guess at : it is therefore vain much to prize any judgment but that of God and of wise men, which are but few. Praise becometh not the mouth of a fool.
SERM. How also can a man rationally be pleased with the
commendation of others, who is sensible of his so Falsus ho- great defects, and conscious to himself of so many nor juvat,
miscarriages? which considering, he should be Quem nisi
ashamed to receive, he should in himself blush to sum?
own any praise.
4. It is vain, because fond. It is ugly and unseemly to men; they despise nothing more than acting out of this principle. It misbecometh a man to perform things for so pitiful a reward, or to look upon it as a valuable recompense for his performances, there being considerations so vastly greater to induce and encourage him; the satisfaction of conscience, the pleasing God, and procuring his favour; the obtaining eternal happiness.
5. It is vain, because unjust. If we seek glory to ourselves, we wrong God thereby, to whom the glory thereof is due. If there be in us any natural endowment considerable, (strength, beauty, wit,) it is from God, the Author of our being and life: is there any supervenient or acquisite perfection, (as skill, knowledge, wisdom,) it is from God, who
gave us the means and opportunities of getting it, who guided our proceeding and blessed our industry: is there any advantage of fortune belonging to us, (as dignity, power, wealth,) it is the gift of God, who dispenseth these things, who disposeth all things by his providence: is there any virtuous disposition in
us, or any good work performed by us, it is the Phil. ii 13. production of God, who worketh in us to will and
to do according to his good pleasure: have we any good that we can call our own, that we have independently and absolutely made or purchased to our. selves; if not any, why do we assume to ourselves
John jii. 27.
the glory of it, as if we were its makers or authors ? SERM.
LXIII. it is St. Paul's expostulation; Who made thee to differ? what hast thou, which thou didst not re-1 Cor. iv.7. ceive? and if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
This is that which maketh this vice so odious to God, who is sensible of the injury done him, in robbing him of his due honour: how sensible he is he shewed in that great instance of smiting Herod with a miraculous vengeance; because he did not give the Acts xii.23. glory to God, but arrogated glory to himself, receiving with complacence the profane flatteries of the people. He hath said, I will not give my glory to another.
6. It is vain, because mischievous. It corrupteth our mind with a lewd pleasure, which choketh the purer pleasures of a good conscience, spiritual joy
It incenseth God's displeasure, who cannot endure to see us act out of so mean and base a principle.
It depriveth us of the reward due to good works, performed out of pure conscience, and other genuine principles of piety. 'Anexovot tòy poobór. They have Matt. vi. 1. their reward.
7. It is vain, because unbeseeming us.
It is observable, that the word 55.79 signifieth to praise or applaud, and also to infatuate or make mad.
Glory doth sit unhandsomely upon us, who are so weak and frail, who are so impure and sinful, who are so liable to reproach and blame : it is like purple on a beggar-a panegyric upon a fly. When all is Job xii. 17.
Isa. xliv.25. said that can be well of us, we are ridiculous, be- Eccles. vii. cause a thousand times more might be said to our
8. ii. 2.