Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit
Or "in his own eyes" F2; as multitudes may be seen, by looking round; man is a creature but of small knowledge in things natural, civil, mechanical, philosophical, moral, or divine; yet greatly conceited for the most part of his knowledge and wisdom. As by a "fool" in this book is generally understood a wicked profane man, so by a wise man is meant a good and righteous man, and may be so understood here; and many there are who are good and righteous only their own conceit and esteem, not truly so; they place their righteousness in outward things, in the observance of external duties; and though there may be some little imperfection in them, yet they think, as they mean well, God will accept the will for the deed: and some have imagined they have arrived to perfection; and such are generally conceited, proud, and haughty, and despise others; all which flows from ignorance; for, though they fancy themselves to be wise, they are very ignorant of themselves; of the plague of their own hearts; of the law of God, and the spirituality of it, and the extensiveness of its demands; of the strict justice and righteousness of God, which will not admit of an imperfect righteousness in the room of a perfect one; and also of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the nature and necessity of that to justify: and this being their case, they are in very dangerous circumstances; they are building on a sand; they are liable to fall into a ditch; they cannot be justified nor saved by their own works; they oppose themselves to God's way of justifying and saving sinners; and he sets himself against them, he resisteth the proud. Wherefore [there is] more hope of a fool than of him;
of a profane sinner than of a self-righteous person; for Christ came to save sinners, to call them to repentance, and he receives them as such; but not self-righteous persons; and, humanly speaking, there is a greater likelihood and greater hopes of convincing sinners, and bringing them to repentance and to forsake their sins, than there is of convincing a self-righteous man of the insufficiency of his righteousness, and the folly of trusting to it, and of bringing him to repent of such a confidence, and to forsake it; for it is most natural to him; it is his own, and the effect of great labour and pains; and encourages vanity and boasting, which would be excluded should he part with it; see ( Matthew 21:31 Matthew 21:32 ) .