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Readings for the Young

By S. S.

No. VIII. Pride.

Dominant over human passions, which it rules with despotic sway, sits Pride but, unlike the passions which in their indulgence give, for the time being, pleasure to our corporeal natures, <<520>>this tendency of the mind is a constant source of painful emotions, and is only at rest when some great elevation has been attained or some rival distanced, again to be tormented by some “Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate,” who will not bow to the self-sufficiency of its victim.

The curse of our race from the earliest part of our history, it has been the cause of those harvests of sorrow that Israel so often reaped in agony and tears. When passing through the waves of the silent sea, when crossing the howling desert, who led onward the hosts of Israel but the God-appointed?—the meekest of mankind, and yet the wisest? For he knew that the heart full of the holiness of the Lord can have no room for pride; that the mind which acknowledges that all power was from God cannot be elated at the results of its actions; that he who acknowledges that he owes his prosperity to his Maker’s bounty cannot say that he is thereby better than his poor but virtuous brother.

In the appointment of him through whom the law was given to be our prophet and leader, the Most High emphatically pointed out those qualities of the heart most acceptable to Him, but which, as if in antagonism to his will, mankind most neglect to cultivate—a spirit humble and contrite, a hand that knows no evil, and a heart free from guile.

When the life of man extended to a thousand years, death seemed so remote that the evil tendencies of the heart grew and flourished in rank luxuriance. Man felt himself immortal. What was the after life to him? But now, “as the shadow of a day that is past,” so is his existence. His feelings towards his Creator should be as humble as the dust to which his body must return. But, like the war-horse that in the fierceness of his strength spurns the ground beneath his flying feet, so man, the creature of every wind, the butterfly of an hour, acts as if all strength was self-derived, as if prosperity would endure for ever; and with a proud and obdurate heart he sets at defiance the commands of his God, and neglects every duty under the lea of necessity or that His commands are not of sufficient importance for so wise a being as himself to pay any regard to. But when the soul approaches towards the gates of eternity, will <<521>>pride support it then? When the judgment-seat of the Most High flashes forth with blinding light, on what then will it rest? Will the blessings of the widow not acquired serve it for a garb? Will the tears of orphans, wrung from them by cruel injustice, purify it for the august Presence? Or will the plea of necessity want of importance be a sufficient shield? I fear not. Our duties are plain, and cannot be set aside. We must banish arrogance from our heart as we would a venomous reptile from our dwelling, and implant there the flowers whose fruits are love and duty towards God and mankind, and will not wither to eternity.