And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them…
1. At every turn remember this saying, Be not highminded. Hath God given thee riches, wit, beauty, etc.? Let this sentence alway sound in thine ears. Hearest thou any say: few have the knowledge you have, or can speak as you do? Let this sentence stand sentinel to keep thee from pride.
2. All other sinners fly from God. The proud man resists Him (James 4:6). God gives grace to the lowly. The rain stays not on the tops of the mountains, but the valleys are watered and made fruitful. God teacheth the humble. The proud man is empty. Height. weakens a thing; and an empty vessel makes the loudest sound. They which brag most have least in them. The chaff is above the corn, not because it is best, but because it is lightest. Observe —
I. THE SIGNS OF THIS HIGHMINDEDNESS.
1. Impatience of admonition. The Pharisees take it in great scorn, that Christ reproveth them of blindness, when indeed they were beetle blind. Proud Zedekiah cannot endure Micah's admonition.
2. Diminishing the gifts of others while boasting of our own. The proud Pharisee abased the publican and exalted himself. Dost thou impute unto others coldness, covetousness, etc., saying thou wouldest be ashamed if thou wert no better than they, never looking at thine own infidelity, hypocrisy, etc.
3. Meddling with things above us. Many presently upon their supposed conversion enter into controversies and censure whole Churches. David approved his humility by not meddling with things which were too high for him.
4. Contention (Proverbs 13:20).
II. THE REMEDY.
1. The place to which the remedy is to be applied. The heart, as Peter adviseth, "Deck yourselves inwardly with lowliness of mind." There may be an abatement of pride outwardly, and none within. There may be as much pride under a leather jacket as under a velvet gown: who seemed more humble or was more proud than Diogenes in his tub?
2. The remedy itself —
(1) A continual remembrance of this and the like Scriptures. Draw these as a sword to take down this peacock.
(2) Remember the example and monition of Christ: Learn of Me (not to walk upon the sea, or to make a world), but to be humble and lowly in spirit.
(3) Consider how God hath judged the proud. Pride thrust angels out of heaven; our first parents out of paradise; hanged Haman upon his own gallows; made Nebuchadnezzar a beast, etc.
(4) Consider that if thou hast any excellency, it is the gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:6, 7). It is an ass that will be proud of a lion's skin, which is not his own. And God can take away thy knowledge, and make thee an idiot; and if thou beest rich, He can make thee poor.
(5) Doth thy heart tickle thee because of thy knowledge, faith, patience, etc.? Cast thy account, thou shalt find that thy wants are more than thy receipts. For one thing thou knowest thou art ignorant of ten. If thou hast one good thought, thou hast a thousand ill ones. Pliny records a secret of the bee — that in a storm it getteth up a little stone, by the weight of it to fly the more steadily, and to get home in safety. If thou be in danger to be blown away with pride, let the thoughts of thy wants be to thee as this little stone.
3. The parties that stand in need of it. All men, specially those which are extraordinarily graced by God. All other sins are in evil, this is in that which is good, and therefore the harder to be avoided. We are all of his mind, who, being asked what song he delighted most to hear, said that wherein his praises were set forth. Even Paul must be taken down with the buffetings of Satan, lest he be proud. Study and pray for humility, the honour of a Christian. Moses' face shone when he had talked with God, and he wist not. An excellent degree of grace is it to be excellent and not to take notice of it. As boughs the more laden with fruit are the more lowly, and as when the sun is at the highest our shadows are at the lowest, so the more graze would be adorned with the more humility. The devil will tempt thee to all viciousness; if he cannot prevail that way, he will tempt thee to be proud of thy goodness; yea, to be proud because thou art not proud. In the midst of grace pray for a humble heart.
(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;