IT seems very strange to me that my mind should be impressed to write on the subject of humility, when I cannot find one particle of it in myself, and when I firmly believe we cannot tell anything to profit except we have learned it by experience, and that the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Savior comes to us through the exercise of divine grace in our hearts, which is christian experience. Yet being impressed, I feel it a solemn duty. If I have an earthly master, and he tells me to do certain things, I have no right to question, and ask the reason why, but my duty is to obey. And now as I start out in this task I am already encouraged and comforted, because as I hope my Master has at this moment caused me to perceive that he does not require humility at My hands; that HE is my humility, and he graciously and in mercy supplies every want and deficiency in me. If I have quit the service of my former master, whose reign over me was in darkness unto death wherein sin prevailed, calling forth every Inst of the flesh, and have entered the service of him who reigneth in righteousness, then would I yield my “members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” For the apostle tells us, “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” There is no fruit yielded in our service as servants under sin. The end thereof is death. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life.” Humility is not one of the results of any of the works of the flesh. “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like.” Is it any wonder then when I search in my own flesh for humility, that I find it not! Every possible emanation from the flesh is in direct opposition to an humble and contrite heart. The natural heart is filled with pride and self-esteem. It is continually in conflict and in battle for supremacy. It even presumes to say that the arm of God is shortened that he cannot save, unless mighty man humbles himself and accepts the proffered salvation. When I deplore in myself the absence of humility, and grieve and mourn because of the presence of every opposition to it, I discover I am not looking for it in the right direction. I want to do something that will ape humility, and try to deceive myself into thinking it is the real thing. In other words, I am trying all the time to get religion, and I am proud (not humbled to think how well I get along. I search out my brother’s faults, and talk to others about him in an ugly way, saying, (if not in words) in my arrogance, if he would do as I do he would be above reproach. Is that humility? When the tree is corrupt, the fruit must of necessity be corrupt also. A clean thing cannot come out of an unclean. Of the olden time before the flood we read this Scripture: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” So also throughout all the Scriptures the same truth is set forth; that man is totally depraved, and in him is no good thing. Again it is written, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Now when the children of God look to themselves for good deeds, looking away from Christ, and depending upon the deeds done in their body, they find the filthy self-righteousness of the proud spirit of the pharisee. Hide thy drooping head, O humility, thou hast no place there. And yet it is in this very proud Pharisaic heart that the sweet spirit of grace takes up its abode, and causes the lofty head to bow low, the proud body to fall prostrate in the dust in humble acknowledgment and gratitude to a covenant-keeping God for his gracious and tender mercy. When we discover the superabounding of grace where sin did abound, what a change has taken place. The poor child Has Had his fill of sin; that which he once loved he now abhors. He sees himself as he never saw himself before: a vile and depraved sinner. From the moment this work of grace begins, we observe the fruit that is yielded. The growth of the old, corrupt tree has ceased, its leaves faded, its beauty gone, its force abated, “a corn of wheat” has fallen into the ground, an incorruptible seed “by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” This seed takes root in the corrupt soil of the heart. The Husbandman careth for it in such a way that soon is manifested the upward growth: “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The foul growths and evil weeds so conspicuous before, are cut down and dug up by the roots, by the hand of him whose Spirit worketh grace in the heart. How interesting to watch the growth of the tender plants, from the time they begin the christian journey, and how anxious we are for them, and how careful of them when, they have entered the warfare. The nursing mothers in Israel bathe their scars, and pour oil into the bleeding wounds. And then we rejoice as we see tribulation working patience. The frequent conflicts cause them to endure hardness as good soldiers. Now the work of the Spirit in this earthly soil, what does it produce! The apostle tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against which there is no law.” But one might ask, Can a clean thing come out of an unclean! We answer, no, emphatically no. Well, that one may say, you have been comparing this fruit-yielding work of the Spirit to natural seed sown in the earth. Has the earth been changed, that it should bring forth “bread to the eater,” when before it brought forth briars and thorns! No, the earth has not been changed, but it has been subdued, and the briars and thorns have been plowed under, and they die, and the soil is prepared and made ready for the sower. So this corrupt heart of ours. The plow and harrow of divine grace is set to work by the spiritual Husbandman, causing death to the unwholesome and corrupt works of the flesh. They are trodden under foot, they die. “Our old man is crucified with him, [Christ] that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Christ died; by his death the law which condemned us was satisfied, the sword of justice was removed from the way of the “tree of life.” Christ arose from the dead, and all the Father had given him arose with him to newness of life. And this is what the work of the Spirit now makes manifest. The saints of God, as such, are pure and holy, as he is pure and holy. The bodies were prepared for the sowing of the seed. The incorruptible seed has been sown; it has taken root downward, and bears fruit upward. And now we enter the vineyard of our Lord, and eat his pleasant fruits. Again the apostle tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” Well, what of the production? The first thing we discover in this new conception and birth is, that the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he would “take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them an heart of flesh.” They manifest a broken heart, which is an humble heart and a contrite spirit. So the very first result of fruit yielding in the new born soul is humility; and what did the man do toward bringing about that result? I will tell you what he did, he fought against it with all the power of all the pride of his natural heart. But glorious news, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ever afterward when you meet and talk with that child, you will discover the meek and humble spirit. As the garden needs the hoe to keep down the weeds of evil growth, so also there is a needs be that the spirit be in continuous exercise. The law of God is written in our heart, and when we violate that law we are chastised, which chastisements in the end “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Each one of us remembers the humility of soul we have felt after a spiritual whipping; how we were ready to crawl in the very dust to the feet of our brethren, imploring forgiveness. O humility, thou canst now raise thy bowed head, for now thy light shineth, and the angels of God rejoice. Wisdom tells us, “Before honor is humility.” Also, “By humility are riches and honor and life.” And the apostle warns you to “Let no man beguile you in a voluntary-humility.” And he also admonishes you to “Be subject to one another, clothed with humility.” How rich the clothing, wrought gold, as the clothing of the daughter of the King. If you ask me if I ever knew a time when I realized that I was truly humble, I would answer, no, and I would tell you, too, that the times when I thought I was humble, I found it to be pride of the worst sort. The natural man for his own ends will sometimes sham humility; the truly penitent child of God never. The power of God which works humility caused the persecuting Saul of Tarsus to become Paul (the little). The same power also filled the mouth of the psalmist with these words: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Now, O humility, blessed is thy condition; salvation has entered thy portals; thou art clothed with righteousness. The mighty man of war is brought low, behold him now, a child of peace. Jesus, clothed in thy habiliments, has set up his temple in the hearts of the inhabitants of Zion, and great is the joy and rejoicing in Jerusalem.
B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa., June 14, 1901.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 14
July 15, 1901