by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894
Chapter III. Meekness and Humility in Practice.
There the taste of the fruit brought pride, cruelty and death: pride which has ruled the world; cruelty, which, born of pride and jealousy in Cain’s bosom, has ever since deluged the earth with blood ; death, which crushes with its power all the empty baubles of the pride of man, and sends him, poor and naked, to the punishment which pride deserves. Here, on the contrary, we are commanded to be like to God ; for, “ whom God foreknew, He also predestined to be made conformable to the image of His Son.” (Hom, viii.) And this likeness is to be produced in us by the imitation of His examples, by the practice of His virtues. The taste of this fruit brings health and life ; it changes cruelty into meekness, pride into humility ; it raises us from our fall and restores us to our lost inheritance. But as meekness is the spontaneous offspring of humility, we need not dwell on the practice of that virtue ; and hence, we may here dismiss it and occupy ourselves henceforth with humility alone. This we must strive to acquire by practice, according to the advice of the wise man : “ Son, humble thy heart and endure ; and in thy humiliation, keep patience. And here, at the very outset, let us be forewarned that it is no easy task that we are undertaking. Our nature revolts against it with all its power ; and nature must be subdued, nature must die, before we can secure the coveted prize. The beginning of humility is the knowledge of ourselves, and therefore the contempt of ourselves. We must then be intimately convinced that we are nothing of ourselves; we have nothing that we can call our own, except our sins, our excesses, our shame. All that we have comes from God, and is left to us only by His sufferance, in spite of our unworthiness. If we had been dealt with according to justice, we should, long since, have been cast away to share in the re-probation of Lucifer, whom we had imitated in his pride. Hence it follows, that whatever ill-treatment we may receive, whatever humiliation we may be subjected to, we shall always be less unhappy than we deserve; that we have no right to complain of the injuries we suffer, the insults offered to us, the pains we endure. “ I have sinned, and I have not received what I have deserved.’ (Job xxxiii. 27.) Besides thus knowing ourselves as we are and estimating ourselves accordingly, we must know God, our Sovereign Lord, and remember that all honour and glory belong exclusively to Him. “ He has made all things for Himself,” and all His creatures must necessarily give Him glory. If, therefore, He has bestowed on us talents and gifts, excellencies of body or mind, endowments of nature or fortune; it is for His glory. Woe to us if we divert any of His treasures to our own use; if we are not ready to return to Him what He has entrusted to us, principal and interest, whenever He may demand our account. Our fate will be that of the wicked servant, who had buried his talent in the earth, and who was cast into exterior darkness. “ To God alone be honour and glory for ever and ever.” (1 Tim . i.) “I will not give my glory to another,” says the Lord. (Is. xlviii.)