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From the Winter 2009 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

To Increase Humility

by Jeremy Taylor
17th Century Clergyman and Author

Confess your sins to God often, and consider what all that evil amounts to, which you then charge upon yourself. Do not look at them as scattered at large distances in the course of a long life, but unite them into one continued representation. If all our sins and follies were heaped against us, we would certainly appear vicious and miserable. Possibly this exercise really applied to your spirit may prove useful.
  2. Remember that we usually criticize others on slight grounds and for little cause, and that one fly is enough to spoil the ointment as far as they are concerned. Since we are so severe to others, let us consider that whatever good they can think or say of us, we can tell them of hundreds of base, and unworthy, and foolish acts, any one of which were enough to destroy someone else’s reputation. So let them destroy our over-high opinions of ourselves.
  3. When our neighbor is lifted up by public fame and popular acclaim, we cry out that the people is a herd of unlearned and ignorant persons, poor judges and fickle. Let us use the same art to humble ourselves, and never take delight and pleasure in public acclamation.
  4. We change our opinion of others by their kindness or unkindness towards us. If my patron is bounteous, I think him wise and noble, and his faults are but small blemishes, while his virtues are mountains. But if he proves ungenerous, he is ill-natured, covetous, gluttonous; all he speaks is flat, and dull, and ignorant. This is indeed unjust towards others, but a good instrument if we turn the edge of it upon ourselves. It is reasonable that we should at least not flatter ourselves with too kind opinions.
  5. Call to mind every day some one of your foulest sins, or the most shameful of your disgraces, or your most indiscreet act, or anything that most troubled you, and apply it to the present swelling of your spirit, and it may help allay it.
  6. Pray often for God’s grace, with all humility of gesture and passion of desire, and interpose many acts of humility, by way of confession to God, and reflection upon yourself.
   7. Avoid great offices and positions, and those conditions where many ceremonies and occasions though necessary, will destroy the sobriety of your thoughts. It is certain that God is as greatly glorified by your example of humility in a low or temperate condition as by your generosity in a great and dangerous one.

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