The Language of Holy Humility & its Conversational Counterfeit

Luke 5:8, 9
       When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This word of Peter’s came from the same principle with theirs who, under the Old Testament, so often said that they did exceedingly fear and quake at the extraordinary display of the divine glory and majesty. It was the language of Peter’s humility and self-denial.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The most holy men are always the most humble men.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Humility is one of the chief of all the Christian virtues; it is the hallmark of the child of God…The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The most holy men, when once they have fixed their eyes awhile upon God’s holiness, and then looked upon themselves, have been quite out of love with themselves. After the vision the prophet Isaiah had of God sitting upon the throne, and the seraphim about Him, covering their faces, and crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” how was this gracious man smitten with the sense of his own vileness! They did no more cry up God as holy than he did cry out upon himself as unclean, Isaiah 6:5. So [also] Job, “Now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself,” Job 42:5,6.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud.

DAVID BRAINERD (1718-1747): I could not but think, as I have often remarked to others, that much more of true religion consists in deep humility, brokenness of heart, and an abasing sense of barrenness and want of grace and holiness than most who are called Christians imagine; especially those who have been esteemed the converts of the late day. Many seem to know of no other religion but elevated joys and affections, arising only from some flights of imagination, or some suggestion made to their mind, of Christ being theirs, God living in them, and the like.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): The humble, however, even when they have extraordinary discoveries of God’s glory, are overwhelmed with their own vileness and sinfulness.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The state of the heart of God’s children is not to be judged by what they call “comfort,” or the lack of it; by strong words or lively feelings; but by steady obedience to His Word.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are conscious of defects and defilements; but it is equally true, that you could not be right, if you did not feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Real progress may be usually reckoned by the gauge of humility…The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Most men are too great and too good in their own esteem. Self-love representeth ourselves to ourselves in a feigned shape and likeness, much more wise, and holy, and just, than we are; it maketh us loath other men’s sins, rather than our own; to extenuate other men’s gifts and graces, and cry up our own; but this should not be: “Let each esteem other better than themselves,” Philippians 2:3. Humility is content to sit in the meanest place: “Who am less than the least of all saints,” Ephesians 3:8; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” I Timothy 1:15.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Poverty of spirit is the bag into which Christ puts the riches of His grace.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The most difficult thing in the world is to become poor in spirit.

C. H. SPURGEON: Humility itself may be counterfeited with much ostentation.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If our humility is not unconsciousness it is exhibitionism…I always think of a man whom I once met. I was due to preach for a weekend in a certain town and he met me at the station, and then, before I had had time to say almost anything to him, he said, “Well, of course, I am not one of the great people in this church, I am just, you know, a very ordinary, humble man. I am not a great theologian, I am not a great speaker. I do not take part in the prayer meeting, but you know I am just the man who carries the visiting preacher’s bag.” “Oh, what a humble man I am!” I thought.

C. H. SPURGEON: Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed…Oh, let us beware of mock humility!

JONATHAN EDWARDS: Those who possess apparent humility are inclined to boast of it, and to make an exhibition of it in some affected singularity…But it is quite otherwise with real humility; those who are truly self-abased, make no display of their humility; nor do they at all affect singularity in dress or manner.

JOHN NEWTON: To speak of one’s self in abasing terms is easy: and such language is often a thin veil, through which the motions of pride may be easily discerned; but though the language of humility may be counterfeited, its real fruits and actings are inimitable…An humble frame of mind is the strength and ornament of every other grace, and the proper soil wherein they grow.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Humility is the sweet spice that grows from poverty of spirit…Poverty of spirit is a kind of self-annihilation.

R. C. CHAPMAN: Christ was the only one who could, without a struggle, be content to be “a worm, and no man,” Psalm 22:6—The more we have of Christ in our hearts, the less room for self—Self-humiliation brings with it a tenderness of spirit; and as we sink in our own esteem, the Lord fulfills in us that precious promise, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word,” Isaiah 66:2.

ROWLAND HILL: If you want to see the height of the hill of God’s eternal love you must go down into the valley of humility…Where do the rivers run that fertilize our soil―is it on the barren top of yonder hill? No, it is in the vales beneath. If you would have the river, whose streams make glad the city of our God, to run through your hearts and enrich them to His glory, you must abide in the vale of humility.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): The proud hilltops let the rain run off; the lowly valleys are richly watered.

C. H. SPURGEON: Humble hearts lie in the valleys where streams of grace are flowing, and hence they drink of them…Let us be humble that we may not need to be humbled, but may be exalted by the grace of God.


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