Here we see, 1. That religion is so far from destroying good manners that it reaches us to behave ourselves lowly and reverently towards our superiors, to keep our distance, and give place to those to whom it belongs “Put not forth thyself rudely and carelessly in the king’s presence, or in the presence of great men; do not compare with them” (so some understand it); “do not vie with them in apparel, furniture, gardens, house-keeping, or retinue, for that is an affront to them and will waste thy own estate.” 2. That religion teaches us humility and self-denial, which is a better lesson than that of good manners: “Deny thyself the place thou art entitled to; covet not to make a fair show, nor air at preferment, nor thrust thyself into the company of those that are above thee; be content in a low sphere if that is it which God has allotted to thee.” The reason he gives is because this is really the way to advancement, as our Saviour shows in a parable that seems to be borrowed from this, Luke 14:9. Not that we must therefore pretend modesty and humility, and make a stratagem of it, for the courting of honour, but therefore we must really be modest and humble, because God will put honour on such and so will men too. It is better, more for a man’s satisfaction and reputation, to be advanced above his pretensions and expectations, than to be thrust down below them, in the presence of the prince, whom it was a great piece of honour to be admitted to the sight of and a great piece of presumption to look upon without leave.
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