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improperly resent it. It is kindness to an adversary; gentleness to a foe; and submission, for the sake of peace, on all occasions, where principles are not required to be compromised, or the conscience violated. The Apostle exhorts Titus to enforce the cultivation of this spirit on his hearers. He bids him to "put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers; to obey magistrates; to be ready to every good work; to speak evil of no man; to be no brawlers, but gentle; shewing all meekness unto all men."* Now this deportment is a principle of Christianity; and the existence of vital and solid religion in the heart, becomes strongly equivocal, if our temper be rash, impetuous, and vindictive. We do not, indeed, affirm but that the meekest man may be overcome, and led to "speak unadvisedly with his lips," and that he may be occasionally under the influence of momentary irritation. The sacred writings, which are always faithful in the delineation of character, as well as in the statement of truth, furnish us with some painful instances of failure on this head. Moses was a pattern of meekness, and Job a model of patience, yet they both failed in the perfect exemplification of the respective grace for which they were so illustrious. These deficiences, however, occasioned them bitter regret, as they invariably will, where the heart is under the governing influence of divine love. It will be your perpetual desire and aim, my Christain brethren, if you are properly impressed with the importance of religion, to uphold and promote this blessed spirit, of which the text speaks, in all your dealings and intercourse with men. Yes, if you are some of the happy persons here described, you stir no waters of strife; you delight not in angry controversy; and if you should be constrained, on any religious question, to differ from your fellow Christians, it will be the
*Titus iii. 1, 2.
difference of an honest conviction, and not of conceit or caprice; and you will exercise your privilege of dissenting in opinion from those with whom you cannot concur, either in matters of faith or discipline, with all courtesy and kindness. And farther, if, as you pass along the journey of life, you are treated with cruel and unjust usage, scorned by the wealthy, and oppressed by the proud, it will be your serious and prayerful endeavour to follow the bright and blessed example of Him, "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; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously."* And blessed and glorious would the state of the Christian world be, if such were the spirit of all its members.
Now we have, in sacred history, a most happy illustration of this valuable and excellent spirit. The case is recorded of David, and I make no apology for inserting it at large. "And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial : the Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. Then said Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his
* 1 Peter ii. 22, 23.
head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zuriah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David, who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."* Nothing can exceed the tender and subdued spirit which this passage breathes. It is full of the grace of meekness, and affords a most perfect exhibition of its divine character. There is another instance of the same kind displayed by David, in the case of Nabal. Nabal had treated the messengers of the king with contempt, and the king was determined to revenge the affront. He therefore forms the dreadful purpose of exterminating the aggressor and all his house. Abigail, the wife of Nabal, is informed of the monarch's intention, and becomes an intercessor for the preservation of her husband. The intercession is effectual, the heart of the sovereign relents. "And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.”+
Thirdly. I shall now proceed to state some of our obligations to the cultivation of this spirit.
The first I mention is derived from the plain and positive precepts of the Christian religion. It is both represented and pressed upon us, as an eminent branch of that holy conversation which becometh the profession of godliThe apostle, therefore, addressing the converts to the faith of Christ, at Ephesus, urges the exercise of this
* 2 Sam. xvi. 5-12.
† 1 Sam. xxv. 32, 33,
temper as an evidence of the change. His language is most earnest, and the motive which he suggests most affecting. "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." And the following verse states to us wherein that worthiness of our vocation consists. Thus he adds, "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love."* So, likewise, are the friends of Christ commanded to "put on meekness" as a garment, that they may always adorn their Christian profession.
The exercise of this temper is further enforced upon our attention, and in the strongest manner, by the consideration of its absolute necessity in order to salvation. For, what was the spirit of Christ? It was meek and lowly. And what saith the scripture upon this point? Hearken, my brethren, to the awful decision: "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his."+ In the enumeration which the apostle makes of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, he includes meekness in particular, with several other virtues nearly allied to it. It is, indeed, one of the brightest ornaments of our religious character. Wealth may decorate the dying body, but only graces like these can enrich and dignify the mind. Hence St. Peter, speaking to pious females, says, "whose adorning, let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." It is a disposition of which, in various ways, he hath expressed both its value and necessity. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." By general consent, that man is the most glorious conqueror who has obtained a victory over himself.
To these precepts and strong recommendations, I may
Eph. iv 1, 2.
↑ Rom. viii. 9.
1 Pet. iii. 3, 4.
enforce many more, but I can only briefly mention them. Meekness has a powerful influence on our moral improvement. It tends to mould us into the image of that divine spirit whose emblem is not a bird of prey, but the innocent dove. It will also exhibit our religion in the most favourable light, and put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. It is a grace which all can understand, and which, censorious as the world is, will not fail of admiration whereever it is seen. The meekness of the martyrs, under taunts and tortures, won over many to their cause. In like manner, the display of the same spirit by the Christian, amidst the ordinary ills of life, exhibits a spectacle to those around them, which says more in favour of Christianity than all his discourses on the delights of devotion, or of fellowship with God.* And, finally, let it be observed, that your personal comfort and peace are deeply interested in the possession of meekness. The impatient and unsubdued spirit will always find something to disturb its quiet, and will therefore be always unhappy; but the meek and submissive mind will be calm and tranquil, and will pass unruffled the raging tempest, which would transport the other into perfect fury. We proceed to consider,
II. THE PROMISE ANNEXED TO ITS POSSESSOR, "The meek shall inherit the earth."
It has been generally admitted, that the allusion in these words, is to the promise contained in the thirtyseventh Psalm, where it is said, "The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Now, it is highly probable, that this passage refers to the possession of the land of Canaan, which the Jews obtained by a divine grant, and from which the adversaries of their peace were gradually expelled. But both
Leifchild's Christian Temper.