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great Fundamentals of his Religion. Come unto me, fays he, and learn of me: But what are we to learn? Not to restore Sight to the Blind or Life to the Dead; but learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in Heart. But why did our Lord propose these Virtues only to our Imitation? Was it because he had no other, or because he excelled in thefe above the reft? In him dwelt the Fulnefs of the Godhead, which is not confiftent with the Abfence of any one Virtue; and though, as to the outward Exercife, he might be more remarkable for one than another, according as Opportunities or Circumftances might require; yet, as to the inward Habits and Difpofitions themfelves, he was equally perfect in them all; and therefore the Reason why he recommends only these two to his Followers must be, partly, because he was the only Master that could teach them, and partly because there was fome fpecial Excellency in the Virtues themfelves, above any other of the Chriftian Law; and therefore we find him comprifing the whole under these two Articles, Take my Yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in Heart.
And indeed, if we attend a little to the Story and Procefs of his Life, we fhall foon fee, that never was any Man's Meekness fo tried as was his : For, as the real Excellence and Dignity of his Perfon heightened every Affront and rude Treatment of him, to an incomparable Degree, fo did the outward Lownefs and Meannefs of his Condition expofe him to an infinite Number of them; and yet, notwithstanding the Number and Heinousness of his Provocations, we do not find that he was ever in the leaft difcompofed, or put into a Paffion by them. Mofes indeed was a Man fo very eminent for this Virtue, that the Scripture gives us this Character of him, that he was very meek, above all the Men which were upon the Face
of the Earth; and yet we find, that, with all his Meeknefs, he could not bear with the Perverseness of that untractable People the Jews, who, as the Pfalmift's Obfervation is, so provoked his Spirit, that he spake unadvisedly with his Lips. Now our bleffed Lord had to deal with the fame Generation of Men, but under infinitely greater Prejudices and Difaffections: From them he suffered more Indignities than ever could be offered to Mofes; and yet none of their ill Ufage raised any angry Refentment in him, though they did it in those that stood by and beheld his Abuses. Thus the Unkindness of the rude Samaritans could not fo much as strike a Spark into his Divine Breast, when, at the fame Time, it made his two zealous Difciples, James and John, kindle to that Degree as to defire Fire from Heaven to confume them: And, in like Manner, the rough Seizure of his facred Perfon by the Soldiers could not extort from him fo much as an angry Look, when yet the very Sight of it made his warm Difciple draw his Sword. If I have fpo ken Evil, bear Witness of the Evil; but, if well, why fmiteft thou me? is all the Anfwer that he returned to the infulting Officer who ftruck him. What could be faid more mild or difpaffionate? What could argue a more fedate and well-governed Spirit? His greatest Apoftle, when under a lefs Provocation, had not this Command over himfelf; for, being not actually smitten, but only ordered by the High-Prieft to be so treated, he returns him this sharp and fevere Answer, God fhall fmite thee, thou whited Wall; for fittest thou to judge me after the Law, and commandeft me to be fmitten contrary to the Law? There is not indeed any Thing in this Answer but what may be justified by the Provocation; but yet we cannot but perceive a great Difference between the Behaviour of the Master and the Disciple, though this is far from being the highest
highest Instance of his Meekness. To have a due Estimate of that, we must look upon him under the Shame, and Dishonour, and Torments of the Crofs, encountering, at once, with the Pains and Agonies of Death, the Contradictions of Sinners, and the Vengeance of Almighty God, and all this without any the leaft Shew of Impatience or Difcompofure; and then we fhall find the Prediction of the Prophet verified to the full; He was oppreffed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his Mouth; be was brought as a Lamb to the Slaughter, and as a Sheep before ber Shearers is dumb, fo be opened not bis Mouth.
And it was fit indeed, that our bleffed Saviour, both by his Precept and Example, should recommend a Virtue to us, which proceeds from a Greatness and Generofity of Mind, and is itself a noble Atchievement; for he that is flow to Anger, is better than he that is mighty, and be that ruleth bis Spirit, than he that taketh a City: A Virtue, which is an Enemy to Pride and Arrogance, to Contention and Turbulency, to Morofity and Peevishness, to Reviling and Censuring, and whatever is the Product of a bitter and cholerick Spirit: A Virtue, which is fitted to all the Purposes of our Lives, and requifite in all Degrees and Conditions of Men; in Superiors, that they may rule with Affection; in Inferiors, that they may behave with Submiffion; in Parents, that they provoke not their Children to Wrath; and in Children, that they obey their Parents in all Things; in the Rich, that they be not puffed up with Pride; in the Poor, that they do not fwell with Envy; in thofe of mature Age, that they be not morofe and froward; in thofe that are young, that they fhew Reverence to their Elders; and, in fhort, in all, that they bring Honour to their Religion and holy Profeffion. This is the Virtue, which, in the Sight
of God, is an Ornament of great Price; which gains us the Good-will and Favour of Men; which conquers the Malice and Prejudice of Enemies; which allays all Storms and Tempefts in our Breasts; gives us the quiet Enjoyment of ourselves, and a true Relish of what we poffefs; and in this Senfe we may properly enough understand the Words of our Saviour, Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inberit the Earth.
The Meek indeed, we may generally observe, are far from having the largest Share of this World's Plenty: It is to the Bold and Daring, that Things of this Nature are ufually allotted: Thefe are they, that profper in the World, and have Riches in Poffeffion; nor can it be imagined, that our bleffed Lord, who himfelf made Choice of a State of Poverty, who recommends fo earnestly a Contempt of the World, warns us of the Danger of Riches, and diffuades us from laying up Treasures on Earth, fhould ever pronounce, a meek Man bleffed, merely for having Abundance of Wealth. The Senfe of the Words therefore must relate to the Manner of poffeffing, rather than the Greatness of the Poffeffions, and fo muft import, that the meek Man fhall enjoy what he has, be it little, or be it much, with Comfort and Satisfaction of Mind, being prepared to acquiefce in every Difpenfation of Providence, and to confine his Wants and Defires to his prefent Circumstances; whereas thofe of a contrary Difpofition, though they may poffefs a great deal, may yet be truly faid to enjoy little or nothing: And this feems to be the Sense of the Pfalmift, when, in Words directly parallel to these of our Lord, he tells us, that the Meek-fpirited shall poffefs the Earth, and be refreshed in the Multitude of Peace, i. e. they have Pleasure and Content in whatever they have; for, as he immediately fubjoins, a fmall Thing, that the Righteous has, is better than great
great Riches of the Ungodly. Which leads us to obferve,
II. What may be of Ufe to engage the Practice of this Duty. And, to this Purpose, it will be requifite for us frequently to confider, where we are, whom we converfe with, and what is our main Concern. We live in a troublesome and tempestuous World; we converse with Men of corrupt Natures and evil Difpofitions; our main Bufinefs and Concern lies in a diftant and heavenly Country; and therefore we must not affect Eafe and Tranquillity here, we must not expect to gather Grapes from Thorns, or Figs from Thistles. It is impoffible but that Offences fhould come; but then, when they come, we have wherewith to rebate their Sting, by confidering, that this is the common Fate of human Life; that every Thing is fent upon us by the Providence of God; and that by his wife Appointment it is, that thro' many Trials and Tribulations we must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
To the fame Purpose, it may be proper frequently to reflect on the horrid Deformity, and mischievous Confequences of immoderate Anger ; what Agonies of Mind, what Disorder of Spirits, what defperate Abfurdities of Behaviour, what Fury and Phrenfy it hurries Men into; what rash Oaths, what horrible Imprecations, what blafphemous, nay, what fenfeless Profanation of God's most holy Name; what Virulence of Expreffion, what bafe Divulging of Secrets, what Injuries and Violations of intimate Confidences, which are fure to be contemned ever after, but, perhaps, can never be repaired again. These Things are so notorious, and fo incident to the Paffion of Anger, that I verily believe, no Man ever faw another violently transported with it, who did not either pity or defpife him; and that none was ever fo tranfported himself, who did not commit something, whereof he