THE RULE AND EXERCISES OF HOLY LIVING:
IN WHICH ARE DESCRIBED THE
MEANS AND INSTRUMENTS OF
OBTAINING EVERY VIRTUE
AND THE REMEDIES AGAINST EVERY VICE,
SERVING TO THE RESISTING ALL TEMPTATIONS
THE WHOLE DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN,
AND THE PARTS OF DEVOTION
FITTED TO ALL OCCASIONS, AND
FURNISHED FOR ALL NECESSITIES.
JEREMY TAYLOR, D.D.
Chaplain in Ordinary to King
Charles the First, and some time
Lord Bishop of Down and Connor.
CHAPTER II - Of Christian Sobriety
Arguments against Pride, by way
Acts or Offices of Humility.
Means and Exercises for
obtaining and increasing the Grace of Humility.
Signs of Humility.
A Prayer for the Grace of Humility.
Acts of Humility and Modesty by way of Prayer and Meditation.
Humility is the
great ornament and jewel of Christian religion; that whereby it is
distinguished from all the wisdom of the world; it not having been taught by
the wise men of the Gentiles, but first put into a discipline, and made part
of a religion, by our Lord Jesus Christ, who propounded himself imitable by
his disciples so signally in nothing as in the twin sisters of meekness and
humility. ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and humble; and ye shall find rest
unto your souls.’
For all the world, all that we are, and all that
we have, our bodies and our souls, our actions and our sufferings, our
conditions at home, our accidents abroad, our many sins, and our seldom
virtues, are as so many arguments to make our souls dwell low in the deep
valleys of humility.
Arguments against Pride, by way
1. Our body is
weak and impure, sending out more uncleannesses from its several sinks than
could be endured, if they were not necessary and natural; and we are forced
to pass that through our mouths, which as soon as we see upon the ground, we
loathe like rottenness and vomiting.
2. Our strength is inferior to that of many
beasts, and our infirmities so many that we are forced to dress and tend
horses and asses, that they may help our needs, and relieve our wants.
3. Our beauty is in colour inferior to many
flowers, and in proportion of parts it is no better than nothing; for even a
dog hath parts as well proportioned and fitted to his purposes, and the
designs of his nature, as we have; and when it is most florid and gay, three
fits of an ague can change it into yellowness and leanness, and the
hollowness and wrinkles of deformity.
4. Our learning is then best when it teaches most
humility; but to be proud of learning is the greatest ignorance in the
world. For our learning is so long in getting, and so very imperfect, that
the greatest clerk knows not the thousandth part of what he is ignorant; and
knows so uncertainly what he seems to know, and knows no otherwise than a
fool or a child even what is told him or what he guesses at, that except
those things which concern his duty, and which God hath revealed to him,
which also every woman knows so far as is necessary, the most learned man
hath nothing to be proud of, unless this be a sufficient argument to exalt
him, that he uncertainly guesses at some more unnecessary things than many
others, who yet know all that concerns them, and mind other things more
necessary for the needs of life and commonwealths.
5. He that is proud of riches is a fool. For if he
be exalted above his neighbours, because he hath more gold, how much
inferior is he to a gold mine! How much is he to give place to a chain of
pearl, or a knot of diamonds! For certainly that hath the greatest
excellence from whence he derives all his gallantry and pre-eminence over
6. If a man be exalted by reason of any excellence
in his soul, he may please to remember that all souls are equal; and their
differing operations are because their instrument is in better tune, their
body is more healthful or better tempered; which is no more praise to him
than it is that he was born in Italy.
7. He that is proud of his birth is proud of the
blessings of others, not of himself; for if his parents were more eminent in
any circumstance than their neighbours, he is to thank God, and rejoice in
them; but still he may be a fool, or unfortunate, or deformed; and when
himself was born, it was indifferent to him whether his father were a king,
or a peasant, for he knew not anything nor chose anything; and most commonly
it is true, that he that boasts of his ancestors, who were the founders and
raisers of a noble family, doth confess that he hath in himself a less
virtue and a less honour, and therefore he is degenerated.
8. Whatsoever other difference there is between
thee and thy neighbour, if it be bad, it is thine own, but thou hast no
reason to boast of thy misery and shame: if it be good thou hast received it
from God; and then thou art more obliged to pay duty and tribute, use and
principal to him, and it were a strange folly for a man to be proud of being
more in debt than another.
9. Remember what thou wert before thou wert
begotten. Nothing. What wert thou in the first regions of thy dwelling,
before thy birth? Uncleanness. What wert thou for many years after? A great
sinner. What in all thy excellencies? A mere debtor to God, to thy parents,
to the earth, to all the creatures. But we may, if we please, use the method
of the Platonists,[Apuleius
de Dennon. Socratis.] who reduce all the causes and arguments for humility, which we can take
from ourselves to these seven heads. 1. The spirit of a man is light and
troublesome. 2. His body is brutish and sickly. 3. He is constant in his
folly and error, and inconsistent in his manners and good purposes. 4. His
labours are vain, intricate, and endless. 5. His fortune is changeable, but
seldom pleasing, never perfect. 6. His wisdom comes not till he be ready to
die, that is, till he be past using it. 7. His death is certain, always
ready at the door, but never far off. Upon these or the like meditations if
we dwell, or frequently retire to them, we shall see nothing more reasonable
than to be humble, and nothing more foolish than to be proud.
Acts or Offices of Humility.
The grace of
humility is exercised by these following rules.
1. Think not thyself better for anything that
happens to thee from without. For although thou mayest, by gifts bestowed
upon thee, be better than another, as one horse is better than another, that
is of more use to others; yet as thou art a man, thou hast nothing to
commend thee to thyself but that only by which thou art a man, that is, by
what thou choosiest and refusest.
2. Humility consists not in railing against
thyself, or wearing mean clothes, or going softly and submissively; but in
hearty and real evil or mean opinion of thyself. Believe thyself an unworthy
person heartily, as thou believest thyself to be hungry, or poor, or sick,
when thou art so.
3. Whatsoever evil thou sayest of thyself, be
content that others should think to be true: and if thou callest thyself
fool, be not angry if another say so of thee. For if thou thinkest so truly,
all men in the world desire other men to be of their opinion; and he is an
hypocrite that accuses himself before others, with an intent not to be
believed. But he that calls himself intemperate, foolish, lustful, and is
angry when his neighbours call him so, is both a false and a proud person.
4. Love to be concealed, and little esteemed:113Ama
nesciri et pro nihilo reputari.—Gerson. be content to want praise, never being troubled when thou art slighted
or undervalued; for thou canst not undervalue thyself, and if thou thinkest
so meanly as there is reason, no contempt will seem unreasonable, and
therefore it will be very tolerable.114I1villan
nobilitado non cognosce partentado.
5. Never be ashamed of thy birth, or thy parents,
or thy trade,115Chi
del arte sua se vergogna, semqure vive con vergogna. or thy present employment, for the meanness or poverty of any of them;
and when there is an occasion to speak of them, such an occasion as would
invite you to speak of anything that pleases you, omit it not, but speak as
readily and indifferently of thy meanness as of thy greatness. Primislaus,
the first king of Bohemia, kept his country-shoes always by him, to remember
from whence he was raised: and Agathocles, by the furniture of his table,
confessed that from a potter he was raised to be the king of Sicily.
6. Never speak anything directly tending to thy
praise or glory; that is, with the purpose to be commended, and for no other
end. If other ends be mingled with thy honour, as if the glory of God, or
charity, or necessity, or anything of prudence be thy end, you are not tied
to omit your discourse or your design, that you may avoid praise, but pursue
your end, though praise come along in the company. Only let not praise be
7. When thou hast said or done anything for which
thou receivest praise or estimation, take it indifferently, and return it to
God, reflecting upon his as the giver of the gift, or the blesser of the
action, or the aid of the design; and give God thanks for making thee an
instrument of his glory, for the benefit of others.
8. Secure a good name to thyself by living
virtuously and humbly; but let this good name be nursed abroad, and never be
brought home to look upon it: let others use it for their own advantage; let
them speak of it if they please; but do not thou at all use it, but as an
instrument to do God glory, and thy neighbour more advantage. Let thy face,
like Moses’s, shine to others, but make no looking-glasses for thyself.
9. Take no content in praise when it is offered
thee; but let thy rejoicing in God’s gift be allayed with fear, lest this
good bring thee to evil. Use the praise as you use your pleasure in eating
and drinking; if it comes, make it do drudgery; let it serve other ends, and
minister to necessities, and to caution, lest by pride you lose your just
praise, which you have deserved, or else, by being praised unjustly, you
receive shame into yourself with God and wise men.
10. Use no stratagems and devices to get praise.
Some use to inquire into the faults of their own actions or discourses, on
purpose to hear that it was well done or spoken, and without fault; others
bring the matter into talk, or thrust themselves into company, and intimate
and give occasion to be thought or spoken of. These men make a bait to
persuade themselves to swallow the hook, till by drinking the waters of
vanity they swell and burst.
11. Make no suppletories to thyself, when thou art
disgraced or slighted, by pleasing thyself with supposing thou didest
deserve praise, though they understood thee not, or enviously detracted from
thee: neither do thou get to thyself a private theatre and flatterers,116Alter
alteri satis amplum theatrum sumus; satis unus, satismullus.—Sen. in whose vain noises and fantastie praises thou mayest keep up thine
own good opinion of thyself.
12. Entertain no fancies of vanity and private
whispers of this devil of pride, such as was that of Nebuchadnezzar: ‘Is not
this great Babylon, which I have built for the honour of my name, and the
might of my majesty, and the power of my kingdom?’ Some fantastic spirits
will walk alone, and dream waking of greatness, of palaces, of excellent
orations, full theatres, loud applauses, sudden advancement, great fortunes,
and so will spend an hour with imaginative pleasure; all their employment
being nothing but fumes of pride, and secret indefinite desires and
significations of what their heart wishes. In this, although there is
nothing of its own nature directly vicious, yet is either an ill mother or
an ill daughter an ill sign or an ill effect; and therefore at no hand
consisting with the safety and interests of humility.
13. Suffer others to be praised in thy presence,
and entertain their good and glory with delight; but at no hand disparage
them, or lessen the report, or make an objection; and think not the
advancement of thy brother is a lessening of thy worth. But this act is also
to extend further.
14. Be content that he should be employed, and
thou laid by as unprofitable; his sentence approved, thine rejected; he be
preferred, and thou fixed in a low employment.
15. Never compare thyself with others, unless it
be to advance them and to depress thyself. To which purpose, we must be
sure, in some sense or other, to think ourselves the worst in every company
where we come: one is more learned than I am, another is more prudent, a
third more charitable, or less proud. For the humble man observes their
good, and reflects only upon his own vileness; or considers the many evils
of himself certainly known to himself, and the ill of others but by
uncertain report; or he considers that the evils done by another are out of
much infirmity or ignorance, but his own sins are against a clearer light,
and if the other had so great helps, he would have done more good and less
evil; or he remembers, that his old sins before his conversion were greater
in the nature of the thing, or in certain circumstances, than the sins of
other men. So St. Paul reckoned himself the chiefest of sinners, because
formerly he had acted the chiefest sin of persecuting the church of God. But
this rule is to be used with this caution, that though it be good always to
think meanest of ourselves, yet it is not ever safe to speak it, because
those circumstances and considerations which determine thy thoughts are not
known to others as to thyself; and it may concern others that they hear thee
give God thanks for the graces he hath given thee. But if thou preservest
thy thoughts and opinions of thyself truly humble, you may with more safety
give God thanks in public for that good which cannot, or ought not to be
16. Be not always ready to excuse every oversight,
or indiscretion, or ill action, but if thou beest guilty of it confess it
plainly; for virtue scorns a lie for its cover, but to hide a sin with it is
like a crust of leprosy drawn upon an ulcer. If thou beest not guilty
(unless it be scandalous,) be not over-earnest to remove it, but rather use
it as an argument to chastise all greatness of fancy and opinion in thyself;
and accustom thyself to bear reproof patiently and contentedly, and the
harsh words of thy enemies, as knowing that the anger of an enemy is a
better monitor, and represents our faults, or admonishes us of our duty,
with more heartiness than the kindness does or precious balms of a friend.
17. Give God thanks for every weakness, deformity,
and imperfection, and accept is as a favour and grace of God, and an
instrument to resist pride, and nurse humility, ever remembering, that when
God, by giving thee a crooked back, hath also made thy spirit stoop or less
vain, thou art more ready to enter the narrow gate of heaven, than by being
straight, and standing upright, and thinking highly. Thus the apostles
rejoiced in their infirmities, not moral, but natural and accidental, in
their being beaten and whipped like slaves, in their nakedness, and poverty.
18. Upbraid no man’s weakness to him to discomfort
him, neither report it to disparage him, neither delight to remember it to
lessen him, or to set thyself above him. Be sure never to praise thyself, or
to dispraise any man else, unless God’s glory or some holy end do hallow it.
And it was noted to the praise of Cyrus, that, amongst his equals in age,117Ama
l’amico tuo con il difetto suo. In colloquiis pueri invisi aliis non fient,
si non omnino in disputationibus victoriam sempetr obtinere laborent. Non
tantum egregium est scire vincere, sed etiam posse vinci pulchrum est, ubi
victoria est damnosa.—Plut. de Educ. Liber. he would never play at any sport, or use any exercise, in which he knew
himself more excellent than they; but in such in which he was unskillful he
would make his challenges, lest he should shame them by his victory, and
that himself might learn something of their skill, and do them civilities.
19. Besides the foregoing parts and actions,
humility teaches us to submit ourselves and all our faculties to God, ‘to
believe all things, to do all things, to suffer all things,’ which his will
enjoins us; to be content in every state or change, knowing we have deserved
worse than the worst we feel, and, as Anytus said to Alcibiades, he hath
taken but half when he might have taken all, to adore his goodness, to fear
his greatness, to worship his eternal and infinite excellencies, and to
submit ourselves to all our superiors, in all things, according to
godliness, and to be meek and gentle in our conversation towards others.118Nihil
ita dignum est odio, ut eorum mores, qui compellantibus se difficiles,
Now, although, according to the nature of every
grace, this begins as a gift, and is increased like a habit, that is, best
by its own acts; yet, besides the former acts and offices of humility, there
are certain other exercises and considerations, which are good helps and
instruments for the procuring and increasing this grace, and the curing of
Means and Exercises for
obtaining and increasing the Grace of Humility.
1. Make confession
of thy sins often to God; and consider what all that evil amounts to which
you then charge upon yourself. Look not upon them as scattered in the course
of a long life; now an intemperate anger, then too full a meal; now idle
talking, and another time impatience; but unite them into one continued
representation, and remember, that he whose life seems fair, by reason that
his faults are scattered at large distances in the several parts of his
life, yet, if all his errors and follies were articled against him, the man
would seem vicious and miserable; and possibly this exercise, really applied
upon thy spirit may be useful.
2. Remember that we usually disparage others upon
slight grounds and little instances, and toward them one fly is enough to
spoil a whole box of ointment; and if a man be highly commended, we think
him sufficiently lessened if we clap one sin or folly or infirmity into his
account. Let us, therefore, be just to ourselves, since we are so severe to
others, and consider that whatsoever good any one can think or say of us, we
can tell him of hundreds of base, and unworthy, and foolish actions, any one
of which were enough (we hope) to destroy another’s reputation; therefore,
let so many be sufficient to destroy our over-high thoughts of ourselves.
3. When our neighbour is cried up by public fame
and popular noises, that we may disparage and lessen him, we cry out that
the people is a herd of unlearned and ignorant persons, ill judges, loud
trumpets, but which never give certain sound; let us use the same art to
humble ourselves, and never take delight and pleasure in public reports and
acclamations of assemblies, and please ourselves with their judgment, of
whom, in other the like cases, we affirm that they are mad.
4. We change our opinion of others by their
kindness or unkindness towards us. If he be my patron, and bounteous, he is
wise, he is noble, his faults are but warts, his virtues are mountains; but
if he proves unkind, or rejects our importunate suit, then he is
ill-natured, covetous, and his free meal is called gluttony; that which
before we called civility is now very drunkenness, and all he speaks if
flat, and dull, and ignorant as a swine. This, indeed, is unjust towards
others; but a good instrument if we turn the edge of it upon ourselves. We
use ourselves ill, abusing ourselves with false principles, cheating
ourselves with lies and pretences, stealing the choice and elections from
our wills, placing voluntary ignorance in our understandings, denying the
desires of the spirit, setting up a faction against every noble and just
desire, the least of which, because we should resent up to reviling the
injurious person, it is but reason we should at least not flatter ourselves
with fond and too kind opinions.
5. Every day call to mind some one of thy foulest
sins, or the most shameful of thy disgraces, or the indiscreetest of thy
actions, or anything that did then most trouble thee, and apply it to the
present swelling of thy spirit and opinion, and it may help to allay it.
6. Pray often for his grace with all humility of
gesture and passion of desire, and in thy devotion interpose many acts of
humility, by way of confession and address to God, and reflection upon
7. Avoid great offices and employments, and the
noises of worldly honour.119Fabis
abstine, dixit Pythagoras. Olim nam Magistratus per suffragia fabis lata
creabantur.—Plut. For in those states, many times so many ceremonies and circumstances
will seem necessary, as will destroy the sobriety of thy thoughts. If the
number of thy servants be fewer, and their observances less, and their
reverences less solemn, possibly they will seem less than thy dignity; and
if they be so much and so many it is likely they will be too big for thy
spirit. And here be thou very careful, lest thou be abused by a pretence,
that thou wouldest use thy great dignity as an opportunity of doing great
good. For supposing it might be good for others, yet it is not good for
thee; they may have encouragement in noble things from thee, and, by the
same instrument, thou mayest thyself be tempted to pride and vanity. And
certain it is, God is as much glorified by thy example of humility in a low
or temperate condition, as by thy bounty in a great and dangerous.
8. Make no reflex upon thy own humility, nor upon
any other grace with which God hath enriched thy soul. For since God
oftentimes hides from his saints and servants the sight of those excellent
things by which, they shine to others (though the dark side of the lantern
be toward themselves,) that he may secure the grace of humility, it is good
that thou do so thyself; and if thou beholdest a grace of God in thee,
remember to give him thanks for it, that thou mayest not boast in that which
is none of they own; and consider how thou hast sullied it by handling it
with dirty fingers, with thy own imperfections, and with mixture of an
handsome circumstances. Spiritual pride is very dangerous, not only by
reason it spoils so many graces, by which we draw nigh unto the kingdom of
God, but also because it so frequently creeps upon the spirit of holy
persons. For it is no wonder for a beggar to call himself poor, or a
drunkard to confess that he is no sober person; but for a holy person to be
humble, for one whom all men esteem a saint to fear lest himself become a
devil, and to observe his own danger, and to discern his own infirmities,
and make discovery of his bad adherences, is as hard as for a prince to
submit himself to be guided by tutors, and make himself subject to
discipline, like the meanest of his servants.
9. Often meditate upon the effects of pride on one
side, and humility on the other. First, That pride is like a canker, and
destroys the beauty of the fairest flowers, the most excellent gifts and
graces; but humility crowns them all. Secondly, That pride is a great
hinderance to the perceiving the things of God,120Matt.
xi. 25. and humility is an excellent preparative and instrument of spiritual
wisdom. Thirdly, That pride hinders the acceptation of our prayers, but
humility pierceth the clouds, and will not depart till the Most High shall
regard. Fourthly, That humility is but a speaking truth, and all pride is a
lie. Fifthly, That humility is the most certain way to real honour, and
pride is ever affronted or despised. Sixthly, That pride turned Lucifer into
a devil, and humility exalteth the Son of God above every name, and placed
him eternally at the right hand of his Father. Seventhly, That ‘God
resisteth the proud,’121James,
iv. 6. professing open defiance and hostility against such persons, but giveth
grace to the humble; grace and pardon, remedy and relief, against misery and
oppression, content in all conditions, tranquillity of spirit, patience in
afflictions, love abroad, peace at home, and utter freedom from contention,
and the sin of censuring others, and the trouble of being censured
themselves. For the humble man will not judge his brother for the mote in
his eye, being more troubled at the beam in his own eye; and is patient and
glad to be reproved, because himself hath cast the first stone at himself,
and therefore wonders not that others are of his mind.
10. Remember that the blessed Saviour of the world
hath done more to prescribe, and transmit, and secure this grace than any
xiii. 15. his whole life being a great continued example of humility; a vast
descent from the glorious bosom of his Father to the womb of a poor maiden,
to the form of a servant, to the miseries of a sinner, to a life of labour,
to a state of poverty, to a death of malefactors, to the grave of death, and
the intolerable calamities which we deserved; and it were a good design, and
yet but reasonable, that we should be as humble, in the midst of our
greatest imperfections and basest sins, as Christ was in the midst of his
fulness of the Spirit, great wisdom, perfect life and most admirable virtue.
11. Drive away all flatterers from thy company,
and at no hand endure them, for he that endures himself so to be abused by
another is not only a fool for entertaining the mockery, but loves to have
his own opinion of himself to be heightened and cherished.
12. Never change thy employment for the sudden
coming of another to thee; but if modesty permits, or discretion, appear to
him that visits thee the same that thou wert to God and thyself in thy
privacy. But if thou wert walking or sleeping, or in any other innocent
employment or retirement, snatch not up a book to seem studious, nor fall on
thy knees to seem devout, nor alter anything to make him believe thee better
employed than thou wert.
13. To the same purpose it is of great use that he
who would preserve his humility should choose some spiritual person to whom
he shall oblige himself to discover his very thoughts and fancies, every act
of his, and all his intercourse with others, in which there may be danger;
that by such an openness of spirit he may expose every blast of vain glory,
every idle thought, to be chastened and lessened by the rod of spiritual
discipline: and he that shall find himself tied to confess every proud
thought, every vanity of his spirit, will also perceive they must not dwell
with him, nor find any kindness from him; and, besides this, the nature of
pride is so shameful and unhandsome, that the very discovery of it is a huge
mortification and means of suppressant it. A man would be ashamed to be told
that he inquires after the faults of his last oration or action on purpose
to be commended; and, therefore, when the man shall tell his spiritual guide
the same shameful story of himself, it is very likely he will be humbled and
heartily ashamed of it.
14. Let every man suppose what opinion he should
have of one that should spend his time in playing with drum-sticks and
cockle-shells, and that should wrangle all day long with a little boy for
pins, or should study hard and labour to cozen a child of his gauds; and who
would run into a river, deep and dangerous, with a great burden upon his
back, even then when he were told of the danger, and earnestly importuned
not to do it? and let him but change the instances and the person, and he
shall find that he hath the same reason to think as bad of himself, who
pursues trifles with earnestness, spending mistime in vanity, and his labour
for that which profits not; who, knowing the laws of God, the rewards of
virtue, the cursed consequents of sin, that it is an evil spirit that tempts
him to do it, a devil, one that hates him, that longs extremely to ruin him;
that it is his own destruction that he is then working; that the pleasures
of his sin are base and brutish, unsatisfying in the enjoyment, soon over,
shameful in their story, bitter in the memory, painful in the effect here,
and intolerable hereafter, and for ever; yet in despite of all this, he runs
foolishly into his sin and his ruin, merely because he is a fool, and winks
hard, and rushes violently like a horse into the battle, or, like a madman,
to his death. He that can think great and good things of such a person, the
next step may court the pack for an instrument of pleasure, and admire a
swing for wisdom, and go for counsel to the prodigal and trifling
After the use of these and such like instruments
and considerations, if you would try how your soul is grown, you shall know
that humility, like the root of a goodly tree, is thrust very far into the
ground by these goodly fruits which appear above ground.
Signs of Humility.
1. The humble man
trusts not to his own discretion, but in matters of concernment relies
rather upon the judgment of his friends, counsellors, or spiritual guides.
2. He does not pertinaciously pursue the choice of his own will, but in all
things lets God choose for him, and his superiors, in those things which
concern them. 3. He does not murmur against commands.123Assai
commanda, chi ubbidisce al saggio. 4. He is not inquisitive into the reasonableness of indifferent and
innocent commands, but believes their command to be reasonable enough in
such cases to exact his obedience. 5. He lives according to a rule, and with
compliance to public customs, without any affectation or singularity. 6. He
is meek and indifferent in all accidents and chances. 7. He patiently bears
humilem patientia ostendit.—St. Hier. 8. He is always unsatisfied in his own conduct, resolutions, and
counsels. 9. He is a great lover of good men, and a praiser of wise men, and
a censurer of no man. 10. He is modest in his speech, and reserved in his
laughter. 11. He fears when he hears himself commended, lest God make
another judgment concerning his actions than men do. 12. He gives no part of
saucy answers when he is reproved, whether justly or unjustly. 13. He loves
to sit down in private, and, if he may, be refuses the temptation of offices
and new honours. 14. He is ingenuous, free, and open in his actions and
discourses. 15. He mends his fault, and gives thanks when he is admonished.
16. He is ready to do good offices to the murderers of his fame, to his
slanderers, backbiters, and detractors, as Christ washed the feet of Judas.
17. And is contented to be suspected of indiscretion, so before God he may
really be innocent, and not offensive to his neighbour, nor wanting to his
just and prudent interest.
A Prayer for the Grace of
O holy and most
gracious Master and Saviour Jesus, who by thy example and by thy precept, by
the practice of a whole life and frequent discourses, didst command us to be
meek and humble, in imitation of thy incomparable sweetness and great
humility, be pleased to give me the grace, as thou hast given me the
commandment: enable me to do whatsoever thou commandest, and command
whatsoever thou pleasest. O mortify in me all proud thoughts and vain
opinions of myself; let me return to thee the acknowledgment and the fruits
of all those good things thou hast given me, that, by confessing I am wholly
in debt to thee for them, I may not boast myself for what I have received,
and for what I am highly accountable; and for what is my own teach me to be
ashamed and humbled, it being nothing but sin and misery, weakness and
uncleanness. Let me go before my brethren in nothing but in striving to do
them honour and thee glory, never to seek my own praise, never to delight in
it when it is offered: that, despising myself, I may be accepted by thee in
the honours with which thou shalt crown thy humble and despised servants,
for Jesus’ sake, in the kingdom of eternal glory. Amen.
Acts of Humility and Modesty by
way of Prayer and Meditation.
Lord, I know that my spirit is light and thorny,
my body is brutish and exposed to sickness; I am constant to folly, and
inconstant in holy purposes. My labours are vain and fruitless; my fortune
full of change and trouble, seldom pleasing, never perfect; my wisdom is
folly; being ignorant even of the parts and passions of my own body; and
what am I, O Lord, before thee, but a miserable person, hugely in debt, not
able to pay?
Lord, I am nothing, and I have nothing of myself:
I am less than the least of all thy mercies.
What was I before birth? First, nothing, and then
uncleanness. What during my childhood? Weakness and folly. What in my youth?
Folly still, and passion, lust, and wildness. What in my whole life? A great
sinner, a deceived, and an abused person. Lord, pity me; for it is thy
goodness that I am kept from confusion and amazement, when I consider the
misery and shame of my person, and the defilements of my nature.
Lord, what am I? And, Lord, what art thou? “What
is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou so
How can man be justified with God? Or how can he
be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth
not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man that is a
worm, and the son of man which is a worm! Job, xxxv.4, etc.