I. Pride is undue self–estimation.
It is thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Vanity is the disposition to seek applause, to delight in it. The one excites condemnation; the other, contempt.
This undue self–estimation may be manifested and cherished on various grounds as;
1. Personal advantages.
2. Intellectual superiority.
3. Social position.
4. Correctness of conduct, of opinion, or religious attainment.
Spiritual pride is so called not because it has its seat in the spirit or soul, as distinguished from what is sensual; much less because it arises from the Spirit, but because it relates to spiritual things.
There are two forms of this evil. The one is Pharisaism; the other is assumption of superiority in spiritual attainments. These agree in that under both forms it leads its subjects to say, “Stand by, for I am holier than thou”“Lord, I thank thee that I am not as this publican” But they differ essentially in their grounds and in their character.
The spiritual pride of the Pharisees rested on the assumption that they, irrespective of their personal character, in virtue of their descent and their membership in the theocracy, were the favorites of heaven. Where an order of nobility exists, those who belong to it feel superior to other classes as of society, and are recognized and looked up to as such, not because of their personal qualities, exterior, intellectual, or moral, but simply because they belong to a privileged class, to a higher order of men than the masses.
So the Pharisees held that because they were the children of Abraham, and of the commonwealth of Israel, they were the favorites of heaven, secure of pardon, exaltation, dominion and eternal life. They were holy; other men were common, sinners, profane, in no respect worthy of being placed upon an equality with themselves. They were not to be admitted to their peculiar privileges. They were but dogs, who should be satisfied to eat of the crumbs which fell from the tables of the Jews.
In like manner, those who regard the Church as an external society, of a given organization, to which the promises of God exclusively belong, as is done by Romanists and Anglicans, regard themselves in virtue of membership in that Church the favorites of God; the exclusive and certain heirs of the blessings of salvation. All other men are out of the ark, out of the pale, left to uncovenanted mercies, having no assured portion in the blessings promised to the Church. This is High Churchism.
It is to be remarked, however, that the sense of superiority founded on the external relations, always generates the belief of inward personal superiority. The noble feels that he, as a man, is a higher order of man than the plebeian. The Pharisee or Jew felt that he was personally holier and better than the Gentile. And the Churchman has the same conviction with regard to the dissenter and the schismatic.
II. The other form of spiritual pride is not founded on the external relations of its subject, but primarily on his outward state.
It is the as assumption of personal superiority in the spiritual graces to other men. It is accompanied on the one hand with self–complacency and self approbation; and on the other with depreciation and undervaluing of their fellow Christians or their fellow–men.
This may be nothing more than that false estimate which a man makes of his own character and his own merits, when unconvinced of sin. In this sense, every man who does not feel the need of a better righteousness than his own may be called spiritually proud and self–righteous.
But the term is more frequently used in reference to religious men, men who profess to be religious and who assume that their attainments in religion render them superior to their brethren and justify them in cherishing self–complacency in view of their spiritual state, and in looking down upon others.
In all its forms spiritual pride is one of the most offensive of sins. Christ placed the Pharisees below publicans and harlots. Their sin was of a higher order. It was a test of character. It formed a more fatal barrier to their entrance into heaven. This teaches that spiritual sins, as pride and malignancy, are more evil than mere sins of the Flesh.
The reasons why pride is thus offensive are;
1. Because it is an utter falsehood. It is a false estimate. It supposes that to be true which is not true. It supposes that we are what we are not.
2. Because it is founded on ignorance of God, of his law and of its requirements.
3. Because it is the opposite of the state of mind which becomes our true character and our true relation to God.
4. Because it is in its own nature offensive and disgusting for the loathsome to assume that it is attractive, the impotent that it is strong, the evil that it is good, the revolting that it is beautiful.
5. Because it is the source of malignity, contempt, cruelty and injustice.
Hodge, C. 1996. Sermon Outlines : Taken from Princeton Sermons. Index created by Christian Classics Foundation. (electronic ed. based on the first Banner of Truth Trust ed.). Christian Classics Foundation: Simpsonville SC
Preached: 14 July 2013