The Virtue of
By William Law
Humility is the life and soul of piety, the foundation and support of every virtue and good work, the best guard and security of all holy affections. I recommend that you make humility a constant subject of your daily devotions, earnestly desiring you to think no day safe or likely to end well, in which you have not early humbled yourself before God and called upon Him to carry you through the day in the exercise of a meek and lowly spirit…
Humility does not consist in having a worse opinion of ourselves than we deserve, or in abasing ourselves lower than we really are, but as all virtue is founded in truth, so humility is founded in a true and just sense of our weakness, misery and sin. He who rightly feels and lives in this sense of his condition, lives in humility…
You must practice humility like a young beginner that has all of it to learn, that can learn but little at a time, and with great difficulty. You must consider that you have not only humility to learn, but that you must be content to proceed as a learner in it all your time, endeavoring after greater degrees of it, and practicing every day acts of humility as you every day practice acts of devotion….
In order to begin and set out well in the practice of humility, you must take it for granted that you are proud, that you have all your life been more or less infected with pride. You should believe also, that it is your greatest weakness, that your heart is most subject to it, that it is so constantly stealing upon you that you have reason to watch and suspect its approaches in all your actions.
There is no one vice that is more deeply rooted in our nature or that receives such constant nourishment from almost everything that we think or do, than pride. There is hardly anything in the world that we want or use, or any action or duty of life, but pride finds some means or other to take hold of it. At what time so ever we begin to offer ourselves to God, we can hardly be surer of any thing, than that we have a great deal of pride to repent of.
If you find it disagreeable to your mind to entertain this opinion of yourself, and cannot put yourself amongst those who from heaven had told you, that you have not only much, but all your humility to seek. You can have no greater sign of a confirmed pride, than when you think that you are humble enough. He who thinks he loves God enough shows himself to be an entire stranger to that holy passion. So he who thinks he has humility enough shows that he is not so much as a beginner in the practice of true humility.