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Arguments against Pride, by way of consideration.

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 his neighbours.

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,112112Apuleius 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.

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