It wouldn’t be right to go a whole year on a site founded on the premise of promoting Puritan writings without citing one every now and then (even if we are reading Calvin’s Institutes most of 2015!). I know I find it hard to go very long without reading something by the Puritans, and this week I found myself returning to one that is on my top 10 list: Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot.
To those who may not be familiar with this little jewel, the title isn’t referring to a criminal on a small piece of real estate. Boston uses that phrase to refer to afflicting incidents and circumstances in life, which everyone encounters without exception. This short but powerful little book consists of seven sermons: three on Eccl. 7:13, one on Prov. 16:19, and three on 1 Pet. 5:6. The excerpt below is from the one on Prov. 16:19 (“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” -KJV), and the book is accessible online at CCEL (emphasis added):
III. I am to confirm the doctrine, or the decision of the text, that the case of the former is better than that of the latter. It is better to be in a low afflicted condition, with the spirit humbled and brought down to the lot, than to be of a proud and high spirit, getting the lot brought up to it, and matters going according to one’s mind. This will appear from the following considerations.
1. Humility is so far preferable to pride, that in no circumstances whatever its preferableness can fail. Let all the afflictions in the world attend the humble spirit, and all the prosperity in the world attend pride, humility will still have the better. As gold in a dunghill is more excellent than so much lead in a cabinet, For,
(1.) Humility is a part of the image of God. Pride is the master-piece of the image of the devil. Let us view Him who was the express image of the Father’s person, and we shall behold Him meek and lowly in heart. None more afflicted, yet His spirit perfectly brought down to His lot. ‘He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. ” That is a shining part of the Divine image; for though God cannot be low in respect of His state and condition, yet He is of infinite condescension. None bears as He, nor suffers patiently so much contradiction to His will; which is proposed to us for our encouragement in affliction, as it shone in Christ. ‘For consider Him that endures such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied, and faint in your minds. “
Pride, on the other hand, is the very image of the devil. Shall we value ourselves on the height of our spirits? Satan will vie with the highest of us in that point. Though he is the most miserable, yet he is the proudest in the whole creation. There is the greatest distance between his spirit and his lot; the former is as high as the throne of God, the latter as low as hell. As it is impossible that ever his lot should be brought up to his spirit; so his spirit will never come down to his lot. Therefore he will be eternally in a state of war with his lot. Thus, even at this time, he has no rest, but goes about, seeks rest indeed, but finds none.