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manifested in the death of Jesus, the mighty influence also of the Holy Ghost is promised to dwell with the Christian. By his agency, through means of the motives offered in the written word, he is delivered from the unfeeling selfishness or the partial good-will natural to the human heart. For the fruit of that Spirit which distinguishes and infinitely ennobles every true believer in Jesus, is expressly affirmed to be love, and to be in all goodness.
IV. Meekness is an essential branch of the Christian temper. If you are a believer in Jesus, you will not hastily take offence, or yield to the suggestions of pride and self-love. A trivial injury, a reproachful word, a small indiscretion, or a casual loss, will not inflame your mind. Nay, supposing you are tried by some great provocation, you will watch over your own selfish spirit with a godly jealousy; lest you should be hurried into passion by ill usage, or drawn by the misconduct of others to dishonour your holy profession, to bring guilt upon your own soul, and grieve the Spirit of God. Even when you suffer such considerable injuries, as render it a duty to seek redress, you will still exercise meekness. You first use every mild method to bring, if possible, your ad- . versary to reason. You will be disposed to try arguments before punishment, conference before law, and private admonition before you proceed to make public example. And, if at length your own security, or the common good compel you to seek relief from the interference of public justice, even this will be done by you with calmness, without passionate exclamations, or bitter reflections upon your enemy.
Further, You must as a real Christian, shew the meekness of your spirit by carefully avoiding just cause of offence to others. For this excellent grace does not more effectually support under provocations, than enable men to deny their own inclinations rather than give uneasiness. It will make you cautious, that neither your words or actions carry with them any provocation. You will not be overbearing in company, nor positive and warm in asserting your own opinion and sense of things. You will be civil and respectful to every one. Men generally know
how to do all this where they think it necessary to serve their temporal interests; from better principles and from higher views, you will make it the habitual exercise of your life towards every one. And to mention no more instances in which
Christian meekness will eminently discover itself, you will shew that you are under the government of this temper in the matter of religion. Instead of overflowing with the gall of bitterness against those who depart from the undoubted essentials of Christianity, you will endeavour their recovery by calmly producing the strongest arguments in demonstration of the truth; and by cordially praying they may have understanding and a sincere heart to perceive their force. You will abhor the thought of covering your private resentment with the venerable name of zeal for God's glory and for the good of man. You will not think that contempt of your erring brother, or passion against him, can be justified by any means, or on any account what
Therefore, though it is so common for those who call themselves Christians, to vent their rage against the adversaries of our most holy faith, you " in meekness will instruct those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” 2 Tim. ii. 25.
Thus extensive is the grace of meekness, that eminent branch of the Christian temper, as it respects our fellowcreatures.
Now the peculiar motives which will excite and support its influence in your heart, if you are a Christian, are such as the philosophers of old, and their unbelieving successors at this day know nothing of; though in both, there has often been a resemblance of this amiable temper. You will not be meek from a love of ease, which leads some to submit to the ill humours of others, rather than bear the trouble of contention, and by which they gain the credit of sweetness of temper; nor from a proud disdain of appearing to be hurt by malice or perverseness,
which would imply a feebleness and weakness in your own mind: but you
will be meek because this is the will of God concerning you. He commands you to “be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto men,” Tit. iii. 2.
to put off anger wrath, hatred, variance, emulation, and strife; and to put on kindness, meekness, and long-suffering." Your Saviour, the foundation of all your hope and access to God with confidence, denounces a severe threatening against every sally of unbridled passion; “Whosoever,” says he,“ is angry with his brother without a cause,” that is through a selfish passionate spirit, “shall be in danger of the judgment,” that is, shall fall under the anger of God: “and whosoever shall say to him, Raca,"—or thou worthless fellow,-suffering himself to mock and deride others,—shall be still more severely punished, “shall be in danger of the council : but whosoever shall say, Thou fool,” that is, shall allow himself to be so far transported by his passion as to revile another, to represent him not only as fit to be despised, but even to be abhorred, he shall meet with still sorer punishment, “ he shall be in danger of hell-fire.” So awful are the denunciations by which you, O Christian, are warned to watch against every violation of meekness, and to regard anger as one of the worst enemies to your soul. Besides the express and repeated command of God, proving the absolute necessity of meekness, such honour is put upon this grace as must make it the ambition of every Christian to possess it : “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city,” Prov. xvi. 32. The meek are pronounced blessed, and the inheritance of the good land, wherein dwelleth righteousness, is promised to them, Matt. v. 5. Meekness is distinguished as the principal “ ornament” of a Christian, and as being “ of great price” in the sight of God. 1 Pet. iii. 4.
Added to all these motives there is one still more powerful,—the astonishing meekness of that adorable person, the Author and Finisher of our salvation. The inspired writers always remind us of this great pattern, and fix our attention on the cross of Christ, when they would make us sensible of the hatefulness of an impetuous, quarrelsome, or angry temper.
" Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
“Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not:-who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree,” that he might bring us to God. He, your Lord and Master, was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. I must go, therefore, you will say, and implore grace from God to imitate this perfect pattern; since it is written, “ He that saith, he abideth in him," that is, in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John ii. 6.
A still more effectual means than any yet named, which disposes every real Christian to the exercise of meekness, is what has passed in his own heart. Self-abasement and shame for sin, are inseparable from repentance and true faith in Jesus Christ.A kind of knowledge this, which greatly subdues haughtiness of spirit; and by so doing makes it easy to pass by those provocations, which set the proud and self-admiring in a flame. Just as persons who have committed some enormous crime, when truly penitent, find no resentment of passion, whatever is said of them, or whatever is done to them: so to your heart, when humbled for your sin before God, this thought will readily occur, under every provocation to wrath, of far worse treatment am I deserving, and of a much severer trial of my patience.”
This powerful inducement to suppress all sinful anger, and prevent every violation of the law of meekness, St. Paul urges in its full force. He founds his exhortation solely on the sinful state in which we are all by nature involved, as every true believer in Christ most clearly knows. “Put them in mind,”-says he,“ to be gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy,
hateful and hating one another.” Titus iii. 2, 3.
As you make a progress in the knowledge and practice of your religion, fresh evidences of your own corruption will discover themselves, and prove so many repeated admonitions to pray for and exercise meekness; knowing with what rich forbearance God endures the multitude of your own failings. For though the dominion of sin be destroyed, the struggle between the flesh and the spirit still remains, and consequently sufficient cause for humbling yourself, till mortality is swallowed up of life.*
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED-CANDOUR-FORGIVENESS
In delineating the character of a real Christian, as it respects the tempers he exercises towards his fellow-creatures, we have already described him as sincere and just in all his dealings, as merciful and kind towards all men, meek and patient under all provocations. But, besides these, other graces are still requisite to complete his character. These I proceed to enumerate.
V. Candour is an essential branch of the Christian temper: it discovers itself by the charitable judgment which it passes on the actions, the characters, and the intentions of our fellow-creatures.
By their actions you are not to understand such as are plainly condemned in the word of God, and declared sitively to expose men to the wrath of God: because so far is it from any act of charity to strengthen the drunkard or the fornicator, the fraudulent or liar, the covetous, the profane, or the careless, by flattering them, or leaving them to flatter themselves that they shall escape for their wickedness, unless they become new creatures;—that it is joining with their invisible adversary the devil, and giving him your aid, to delude their souls till they are lost for
But besides the multitude of evil actions and tempers, distinguished in Scripture by the name of sins, which 66
before men to judgment;" there is a considerable part
of human conduct of a doubtful aspect. here is the peculiar province for the exercise of charitable judgment: and in this place, O Christian, you will esteem it your bounden duty, and make it your practice. You will watch over your tongue, to restrain it from condemn
* See Prayer the 10th.