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Author Topic: A Discourse on Meekness and Quietness of Spirit  (Read 8808 times)
airIam2worship
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« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2007, 12:55:30 PM »

LACK OF MEEKNESS LAMENTED


And now, have we not reason to lament the lack of the adornment of a meek and quiet spirit among those that profess religion, and especially in our own hearts? If this is Christianity, how little is there of the thing, even among those that make great pretensions to the name! Surely, as one said in another case, either this is not gospel, or these are not gospel-professors. And oh, how bare and unbecoming does profession appear for lack of this adorning! When the Israelites had stripped themselves of their ornaments to furnish up a golden calf, it is said they were "made naked to their shame." How naked are we—like Adam when he had sinned—for lack of this ornament. It is well if it be to the shame of true repentance.

I am not teaching you to judge and censure others in this matter; there is too much of that to be found among us: we are quick-sighted enough to spy faults in others, the transports of whose passions we should interpret favorably. But we have all cause, more or less, to condemn ourselves, and confess guilt in this matter. In many things we all offend, and perhaps in this as much as in any, coming short of the law of meekness and quietness.

We are called Christians, and it is our privilege and honor that we are so: we name the name of the meek and lowly Jesus, but how few are actuated by his spirit, or conform to His example! It is a shame that any occasion should be given to charge it upon professors, who, in other things, are most strict and sober, that in this they are most faulty; and that many who pretend to conscience and devotion, should indulge themselves in a peevish, contentious, and morose temper and conversation, to the great reproach of that worthy name by which we are called. May we not say, as that Mahommedan did when a Christian prince had perfidiously broke his league with him, "O Jesus, are these Your Christians?"

It is the manifest design of our holy and excellent religion to smooth and soften and sweeten our temper; and is it not a wretched thing that any who profess it should be soured and embittered, and less conversant and fit for human society than others? He was looked upon as a very good man in his day, and not without cause, who yet had such an unhappy temper, and was sometimes so transported with passion that his friend would say of him, "He had grace enough for ten men, and yet not enough for himself." The disciples of Jesus Christ did not know "what manner of spirit they were of," so apt are we to deceive ourselves, especially when these extravagances shroud themselves under the specious and plausible pretense of zeal for God and religion. But yet the fault is not to be laid upon the profession, or the strictness and singularity of it in other things which are praiseworthy; nor may we think the worse of Christianity for any such blemish: we know very well that the wisdom that is from above is peaceable and gentle, and easy to be entreated, and all that is sweet and amiable and endearing, though she is not herein justified of all who call themselves her children. But the blame must be laid upon the corruption and folly of the professors themselves, who are not so perfectly delivered into the mold of Christianity as they should be; but neglect their ornament, and prostitute their honor, and suffer the authority of their graces to be trampled upon. They let "fire go out of the rod of their branches, which devoured their fruit;" so that there is no meekness as a strong rod to be a scepter to rule in the soul, which is "a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation."

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« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2007, 01:03:05 PM »

And yet, blessed be God, even in this corrupt and degenerate world there are many who appear in the excellent ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; and some whose natural temper is quick and choleric, yet have been enabled, by the power of divine grace, to show in a good conversation their works with meekness and wisdom. It is not so impractical as some imagine to subdue these passions, and to preserve the peace of the soul, even in a stormy day.

But that we may each of us judge ourselves and find matter for repentance herein, I shall only mention those instances of irregular deportment towards our particular relations which evidence the lack of meekness and quietness of spirit.

1. Superiors are commonly very apt to chide, and that is for lack of meekness. It is spoken to the praise of Him who is the great ruler of this perverse and rebellious world, that He "will not always chide." But how many little rulers are there of families and petty societies that herein are very unlike Him, for they are always chiding. Upon every little default they are put into a flame, and transported beyond due bounds; easily provoked, either for no cause at all, or for very small cause; greatly provoked, and very outrageous and unreasonable when they are provoked. Their bearing is fiery and hasty, their language is scurrilous and indecent; they care not what they say, nor what they do, nor whom they insult; they are "such sons of Belial, that a man cannot speak to them." One had as good meet a bear robbed of her whelps as meet them. These require meekness. Husbands should not be bitter against their wives. Parents should not provoke their children. Masters must forbear threatening. These are the rules, but how few are ruled by them. The undue and intemperate passion of superiors goes under the excuse of necessary strictness and the maintaining of authority, and the education and control of children and servants. But surely every little failure need not be criticized, but rather should be passed by; or if the fault must be reproved and corrected, may it not be done without so much noise and clamor? Is this the product of a meek and quiet spirit? Is this the best badge of your authority you have to put on? And are these the ensigns of your honor? Is there no other way of making your inferiors know their place but by putting them among the dogs of your flock, and threatening them as such? Not that I am against government and good order in families, and such reproofs as are necessary to the support and preservation of it, and those so sharpened as some tempers require and call for. But while you are governing others, please learn to govern yourselves, and do not disorder your own souls under pretense of keeping order in your families; for though you yourselves may not be aware of it, yet it is certain that by those indications of your displeasure which transgress the laws of meekness, you do but render yourselves contemptible and ridiculous, and rather prostitute than preserve your authority. Though your children dare not tell you so, yet perhaps they cannot but think that you are very unfit to command yourselves.* Time was when you were yourselves children and scholars, and perhaps servants and apprentices; and so, if you will but allow yourselves the liberty of reflection, you cannot but know the heart of an inferior, Exod. 23:9, and should therefore treat those that are now under you as you yourselves then wished to be treated. A due expression of displeasure, so much as is necessary to the amendment of what is amiss, will very well consist with meekness and quietness. And your gravity and dreadful composure therein will contribute very much to the preserving of your authority, and will command respect abundantly more than your noise and scolding. Masters of families and masters of schools too have need, in this matter, to behave themselves wisely, so as to avoid the two extremes, that of Eli's foolish indulgence on the one hand, and that of Saul's brutish rage on the other; and for attaining this golden mean, wisdom is profitable to direct.

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« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2007, 01:03:54 PM »

*No one is fit to rule except he is willing to be governed. Seneca.

2. Inferiors are commonly very apt to complain. If everything is not fair to their mind, they are fretting and vexing, and their hearts are hot within them; they are uneasy in their place and station, finding fault with everything that is said or done to them. Here is lacking a quiet spirit, which would reconcile us to the post we are in, and to all the difficulties of it, and would make the best of the present state, though it is attended with many inconveniences. Those unquiet people whom the apostle Jude in his epistle compares to raging waves of the sea and wandering stars, were murmurers and complainers—blamers of their lot, so the word signifies. It is an instance of unquietness, to be ever and anon quarreling with our allotment. Those wives lacked a meek and quiet spirit who "covered the altar of the Lord with tears:" not tears of repentance for sin, but tears of vexation at the disappointments they met in their outward condition. Hannah's meekness and quietness was in some degree lacking, when she fretted and wept, and would not eat; but prayer composed her spirit; her countenance was no more sad. It was the unquietness of the spirit of the elder brother in the parable, that quarreled so unreasonably with his father for receiving and entertaining the penitent prodigal. Those that are given to be uneasy, will never lack something or other to complain of. It is true, though not so readily apprehended, that the sullenness and murmuring and silent frets of children and servants, are as great a transgression of the law of meekness, as the more open, noisy, and avowed passions of their parents and masters. We find the king's chamberlains angry with the king. And Cain's quarrel with God Himself for accepting Abel, was interpreted as anger by God. "Why are you angry, and why is your countenance fallen?" The sour looks of inferiors are as certain indicators of anger resting in the bosom, as the disdainful looks of superiors; and how many such instances of discontentment there have been, especially under a continual cross, our own consciences may perhaps tell us. It is the lack of meekness only that makes those whom divine Providence has put under the yoke, children of Belial, that is, impatient of the yoke.

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« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2007, 01:06:58 PM »

3. Equals are commonly very apt to clash and contend. It is for lack of meekness that there are in the church so many pulpit and paper quarrels, such strifes of words and perverse disputings; that there are in the state such factions and parties, and between them such animosities and heart-burnings; that there are in neighborhoods such strifes and brawls and vexatious lawsuits, or such distances and estrangements and shyness one of another; that there are in families envies and quarrels among the children and servants, crossing, thwarting, and finding fault one with another; and that brethren that dwell together do not, as they should, dwell together in unity. It is for lack of meekness that we are so impatient of contradiction in our opinions, desires, and designs, that we must have our own saying, right or wrong, and everything our own way; that we are so impatient of competitors, not enduring that any should stand in our light, or share in that work of honor which we would engross to ourselves; that we are so impatient of contempt, so quick in our apprehension and resentment of the least slight of affront, and so pregnant in our fancy of injuries, where really there are none, or none intended. They are not only loud and professed contentions that evidence a lack of meekness, but also those silent alienations in affection and conversation which make a less noise; little piques and prejudices conceived, which men are themselves so ashamed of that they will not own them: these show the spirit disturbed, and lacking the ornament of meekness. In a word, willfully doing anything to disquiet others—slandering, backbiting, whispering, talebearing, or the like, is too plain an evidence that we are not ourselves rightly disposed to be quiet.

And now, may we not all remember our faults this day; and instead of condemning others, though ever so faulty, should we not each of us bewail before the Lord that we have been so little motivated by this excellent spirit, and repent of all we have at any time said or done contrary to the law of meekness? Instead of going about to extenuate and excuse our sinful passions, let us rather aggravate them, and lay a load upon ourselves for them: "So foolish have I been and ignorant, and so like a beast before God." Think how often we have appeared before God, and the world without our ornament, without our livery, to our shame. God kept account of the particular instances of the unquietness of Israel: "They have tempted me," says He, "now these ten times." Conscience is God's register that records all our miscarriages: even what we say and do in our haste, is not so quick as to escape its observation. Let us therefore be often opening that book now, for our conviction and humiliation, or else it will be opened shortly to our confusion and condemnation. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord. May we not all say, as Joseph's brethren did—and perhaps some are, as they were, in a special manner called to say it by humbling providences—"We are verily guilty concerning our brother." Such a time, in such a company, upon such an occasion I lacked meekness; my spirit was provoked, and I spoke unadvisedly with my lips, and now I remember it against myself. More, have not I lived a life of unquietness in the family, in the neighborhood, always in the fire of contention, as in my element, and breathing threatenings? And by so doing have not I dishonored my God, discredited my profession, disturbed my soul, grieved the blessed Spirit, and been to many an occasion of sin? And for all this should I not be greatly humbled and ashamed? Before we can put on the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, we must wash in the laver of true repentance, not only for our gross and open extravagances of passion, but for all our neglects and omissions of the duties of meekness.

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« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2007, 01:08:09 PM »

ENCOURAGEMENTS TO MEEKNESS—SCRIPTURE PRECEPTS


Have we not reason to labor and endeavor, since there is such a virtue and such a praise, to attain these things? Should we not lay out ourselves to the utmost for this ornament of a meek and quiet spirit? For your direction in this endeavor, if you are indeed willing to be directed, I shall briefly lay before you some Scripture precepts concerning meekness; some patterns of it; some particular instances in which we have special need of it; some good principles that we should abide by; and some good practices that we should abound in, in order to our growth in this grace. In opening these things, we will endeavor to keep close to the law, and to the testimony.

If we lay the word of God before us for our rule, and will be ruled by it, we shall find the command of God making meekness and quietness as much our duty as they are our ornament. We are there told, as the will of God that we must seek meekness.

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« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2007, 01:13:59 PM »

1. This command we have in Zeph. 2:3, and it is especially directed to the meek: "Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth—seek meekness." Though they were meek, and were pronounced so by Him that searches the heart, yet they must seek meekness; which teaches us that those who have much of this grace, have still need of more, and must desire and endeavor after more. He that sits down content with the grace he has, and is not pressing forward towards perfection, and striving to grow in grace, to get the habit of it more strengthened and confirmed, and the operation of it more quickened and invigorated, it is to be feared has no true grace at all; and that, though he sits ever so high and ever so easy in his own opinion, he will yet sit down short of heaven. Where there is life, one way or other there will be growth, until we come to the perfect man. "He that has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." Paul was a man of great attainments in grace, and yet we find him "forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward to those that are ahead." Those who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, are yet told that they "have need of patience." Thus the meek of the earth—who being on the earth, are in a state of infirmity and imperfection, of trial and temptation—have still need of meekness; that is, they must learn to be yet more calm and composed, more steady and even and regular in the government of their passions, and in the management of their whole conversation. They who have silenced all angry words, must learn to suppress the first risings and motions of angry thoughts.

It is observable that when the meek of the earth are especially concerned to seek meekness, when the day of the Lord's anger hastens on, when the times are bad, and desolating judgments are breaking in, then we have occasion for all the meekness we have and all we can get, and all is little enough: meekness towards God the author, and towards men the instruments of our trouble; meekness to bear the trial, and to bear our testimony in the trial. There is sometimes an "hour of temptation," a critical day when the exercise of meekness is the work of the day: sometimes the children of men are more than ordinarily provoking, and then the children of God have more than commonly need of meekness. When God is justly angry and men are unjustly angry, when our mother's children are angry with us and our Father angry too, there is anger enough stirring, and then "blessed are the meek," that are careful to keep possession of their souls when they can keep possession of nothing else.

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« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2007, 01:14:50 PM »

Now the way prescribed for the attainment of meekness is to seek it. Ask it of God, pray for it: it is fruit of the Spirit, it is given by the God of all grace, and to Him we must go for it. It is a branch of that wisdom which he that lacks must ask of God, and it shall be given him. The God we address is called "the God of patience and consolation;" and He is the God of consolation because the God of patience—for the more patient we are, the more we are comforted under our afflictions—and as such we must look to Him when we come to Him for grace to make us "like-minded," that is, meek and loving one towards another, which is the apostle's errand at the throne of grace. God's people are, and should be, a generation that "covet the best gifts," and make their court to the best Giver, who never said to the wrestling seed of Jacob, Seek in vain; but has given us an assurance firm enough for us to build upon, and rich enough for us to encourage ourselves with—Seek, and you shall find. What would we more? Seek meekness, and you shall find it.

The promise annexed is very encouraging to the meek of the earth that seek meekness: "It may be you shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Though it is but a promise with an "it may be," yet it ministers abundance of comfort: God's probabilities are better than the world's certainties; and the meek ones of the earth that hope in His mercy, and can venture their all upon an intimation of His good will, shall find to their comfort, that when God brings a flood upon the world of the ungodly, He has an ark for all his Noahs, His resting, quiet people, in which they shall be hid, it may be, from the calamity itself, at least from the sting and malignity of it—"HID," as Luther said, "either in heaven or under heaven, either in the possession or under the protection of heaven."

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« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2007, 01:20:49 PM »

2. We must put on meekness. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, meekness." It is one of the members of the new man, which we must put on. Put it on as armor, to keep provocations from the heart, and so to defend the vitals. Those who have tried it will say it is "armor of proof." When you are putting on "the whole armor of God," do not forget this. Put it on as attire, as your necessary clothing, which you cannot go without; look upon yourselves as ungirt, undressed, unblessed without it. Put it on as a livery garment, by which you may be known to be the disciples of the meek and humble and patient Jesus, and to belong to that peaceable family. Put it on as an  ornament, as a robe and a diadem, by which you may be both beautiful and dignified in the eyes of others. Put it on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, because you are so in profession; and that you may approve yourselves so in truth and reality, be clothed with meekness as the elect of God, a choice people, a chosen people, whom God has set apart for Himself from the rest of the world, as holy, sanctified to God, sanctified by Him: study these graces, which put such a luster upon holiness, and recommend it to those that are without, as beloved, beloved of God, beloved of man, beloved of your ministers: for love's sake, put on meekness. What winning, persuasive rhetoric is here! enough, one would think, to smooth the roughest soul, and to soften and sweeten the most obstinate heart. Meekness is a grace of the Spirit's working, a garment of his preparing; but we must put it on, that is, we must lay our souls under the commanding power and influence of it. Put it on, not as a loose outer garment, to be put off in hot weather, but let it cleave to us, as the belt cleaves to a man's loins; so put it on as to reckon ourselves naked to our shame without it.

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« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2007, 01:21:43 PM »

3. We must follow after meekness. This precept we have, 1 Tim. 6:11. Meekness is there put in opposition to those foolish and hurtful lusts that Timothy must flee from: "You, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." See what good company it is ranked with. Every Christian is in a sense a man of God—though Timothy is called so as a minister—and those that belong to God are concerned to be and do so as to recommend themselves to Him, and His religion to the world; therefore let the men of God follow after meekness. The occasions and provocations of anger often set our meekness at a distance from us, and we have it to seek when we have most need of it; but we must follow after it, and not be taken off from the pursuit by any diversion whatever. While others are ingenious and industrious enough in following after malice and revenge, projecting and prosecuting angry designs, you be wise and diligent to preserve the peace both within doors and without. Following meekness bespeaks a sincere desire and a serious endeavor to get the mastery of our passion, and to check, govern, and moderate all the motions of it. Though we cannot fully attain this mastery, yet we must follow after it, and aim at it. Follow meekness, that is, as much as it is in you, live peacefully with all men, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit: we can only make one side of the bargain; if others will quarrel, yet let us be peaceful; if others will strike fire, that is their fault; let us not be as tinder to it.

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« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2007, 01:30:56 PM »

4. We must show all meekness unto all men. This is one of the subjects which Paul directs a young minister to preach upon. "Put them in mind to show all meekness." It is that which we have need to be often reminded of. Meekness is there opposed to brawling and clamor, which is the fruit and product of our own anger, and the cause and provocation of the anger of others. Observe, it is "all meekness" that is here recommended to us, all kinds of meekness—bearing meekness, and forbearing meekness; qualifying meekness, and condescending meekness; forgiving meekness; the meekness that endears our friends, and that which reconciles our enemies; the meekness of authority over inferiors; the meekness of obedience to superiors; and the meekness of wisdom towards all. "All meekness," is meekness in all relations, in reference to all injuries, all sorts of provocation, meekness in all the branches and instances of it: in this piece of our obedience we must be universal. Observe further, we must not only have meekness, all meekness, but we must show it by drawing out this grace into exercise as there is occasion: in our words, in our looks, in our actions, in every thing that falls under the observation of men, we must show that we have indeed a regard to the law of meekness, and that we make conscience of what we say and do when we are provoked. We must not only have the law of love written in our hearts, but on our tongues too we must have "the law of kindness." And thus the tree is known by its fruit. This light must shine, that others may see the good works of it, and hear the good works of it too, not to glorify us, but to glorify our Father; we should study to appear, in all our conversation, so mild and gentle and peaceful, that all who see us may witness for us that we are of the meek of the earth. We must not only be moderate, but "let our moderation be known."

He that is in this respect a wise man, let him show it in the "meekness of wisdom." What are good clothes worth if they are not worn? Why has the servant a fine livery given him, but to show it for the honor of his master, and of the family he belongs to? How can we say we are meek if we do not show it? The showing of our meekness will beautify our profession, and will adorn the doctrines of God our Savior, and may have a very good influence upon others, who cannot but be in love with such an excellent grace, when thus, like the ointment of the right hand, it betrays itself, and the house is filled with the odor of it.

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« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2007, 01:32:10 PM »

Again, this meekness must be thus showed unto all men—foes as well as friends, those without as well as those within, all that we have anything to do with. We must show our meekness not only to those above us, of whom we stand in awe, but to those below us, over whom we have authority. The poor indeed use entreaties, but whatever is the practice, it is not the privilege of the rich to "answer roughly." We must show our meekness "not only to the good and gentle, but also to the contentious; for this is thank worthy." Our meekness must be as extensive as our love, so exceedingly broad is this commandment, "all meekness to all men." We must show this meekness most to those with whom we most converse. There are some that, when they are in company with strangers, appear very mild and good-humored, their behavior is plausible enough and complaisant; but in their families they are peevish and froward and ill-natured, and those about them hardly know how to speak to them: this shows that the fear of man gives greater check to their passion than the fear of God. Our rule is to be meek towards all, even to the brute creation, over whom we are lords, but must not be tyrants.

Observe the reason which the apostle gives why we should show all meekness towards all men; "for we ourselves also were sometimes foolish." Time was when perhaps we were as bad as the worst of those we are now angry at; and if now it is better with us, we are purely beholden to the free grace of God in Christ that made the difference; and shall we be harsh to our brethren, who have found God so kind to us? Has God forgiven us our great debt, and passed by so many willful provocations, and shall we be extreme to mark what is done amiss against us, and make the worst of every slip and oversight? The great gospel argument for mutual forbearance and forgiveness is, that "God for Christ's sake has forgiven us."

It may be of use also for the qualifying of our anger at inferiors, to remember not only our former sinfulness against God in our unconverted state, but our former infirmities in the age and state of inferiors: were not we ourselves sometimes foolish? Our children are careless and playful and froward, and scarcely governable; and were not we ourselves so when we were of their age? And if we have now put away childish things, yet they have not. Children may be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, without being provoked to wrath.
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« Reply #41 on: February 16, 2007, 01:34:07 PM »

5. We must "study" to be quiet, that is, study not to disturb others, nor to be ourselves disturbed by others: be ambitious of this, as the greatest honor, so the word signifies. The most of men are ambitious of the honor of great business and power and preferment: they covet it, they court it, they compass sea and land to obtain it; but the ambition of a Christian should be carried out towards quietness: we should consider it the happiest post, and desire it accordingly, which lies most out of the road of provocation.

"Let him that will, ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes: as for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
———Let my age
Slide gently by, not overthwart the stage
Of public action, unheard, unseen,
And unconcerned, as if I never had been."

This is studying to be quiet. Subdue and keep under all those disorderly passions which tend to the disturbing and clouding of the soul. Compose yourselves to this holy rest; put yourselves in a posture to invite this blessed sleep which God gives to His beloved. Take pains, as students in arts and sciences do, to understand the mystery of this grace. I call it a mystery, because St. Paul, who was so well versed in the deep things of God, speaks of this as a mystery. "I am instructed," as in a mystery, "both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need:" that is, in one word, to be quiet. To study the are of quietness is to take pains with ourselves, to have in our own hearts the principles, rules, and laws of meekness; and to furnish ourselves with such considerations as tend to the quieting of the spirit in the midst of the greatest provocations. Others are studying to disquiet us; the more need we have to study how to quiet ourselves, by a careful watching against all that which is ruffling and discomposing. Christians should, above all studies, study to be quiet, and labor to be motivated by an even spirit under all the unevenness of Providence, and remember that one good word which Sir William Temple tells us the prince of Orange said he learned from the master of his ship, who, in a storm, was calling to the steersman, "Steady, steady." Let but the hand be steady and the heart quiet, and though our passage be rough, we may weather the point, and get safe to the harbor.

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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2007, 01:35:34 PM »

SCRIPTURE PATTERNS


Good examples help very much to illustrate and enforce good rules, bringing them closer to particular cases, and showing them to be practical. Precedents are of great use in the law. If we would be found walking in the same spirit, and walking in the same steps with those that are gone before us to glory, this is the spirit by which we must be motivated, and these the steps in which we must walk: this is the way of good men, for wise men to walk in. Let us go forth then "by the footsteps of the flock," and set ourselves to follow them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who will bear their testimony to the comfort of meekness, and upon trial recommend it to us; but we shall single out only some few from the Scripture.

1. Abraham was a pattern of meekness, and he was the father of the faithful. As he was famous for faith, so was he for meekness; for the more we have of faith towards God, the more we shall have of meekness towards all men. How meek was Abraham when there happened a strife between his herdsmen and Lot's, which, had it proceeded, might have been of ill consequence, for "the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land;" but it was seasonably overruled by the prudence of Abraham. "Let there be no strife, please:" though he might command peace, yet for love's sake he rather beseeches. Every word has an air of meekness, and a tendency to peace. And when the expedient for the prevention of strife was their parting from each other, though Lot was the junior, yet Abraham, for the sake of peace, quitted his right, and gave Lot the choice; and the gracious visit which God gave him thereupon was an abundant recompense for his mildness and condescension.

Another instance of Abraham's meekness we have when Sarah quarreled with him so unreasonably about her maid, angry at that which she herself had done. "My wrong be upon you: the Lord judge between you and me." Abraham might soon have replied, You may thank yourself, it was your own contrivance; but laying aside the present provocation, he abides by one of the original rules of the relation, "Behold, your maid is in your hand." He did not answer passion with passion, that would have put all into a flame; but he answered passion with meekness, and so all was quiet.

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« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2007, 01:37:12 PM »

Another instance of Abraham's meekness we have in the transactions between him and Abimelech his neighbor. He first enters into a covenant of friendship with him, which was confirmed by an oath, and then does not reproach him, but reproves him for a wrong that his servants had done him about a well of water; which gives us this rule of meekness, "Not to break friendship for a small matter of difference:" such and such occasions there are, which those who are disposed to it might quarrel about; but "what is that between me and you?"

If meekness rules, matters in variance may be fairly reasoned and adjusted without violation or infringement of friendship. This is the example of that great patriarch. The future happiness of the saints is represented as the bosom of Abraham—a quiet state. Those who hope to lie in the bosom of Abraham shortly, must tread in the steps of Abraham now, whose children we are as long as we thus do well, "and who," as Maimonides expresses it, "is the father of all who are gathered under the wings of the divine Majesty."

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« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2007, 01:42:03 PM »

2. Moses was a pattern of meekness; it was his master-grace; that in which, more than in any other, he excelled. This testimony the Holy Spirit gives of him, that "the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."

This character of him is given upon occasion of an affront he received from those of his own house, which intimates that his quiet and patient bearing it, was the greatest proof and instance of his meekness. Those can bear any provocation that can bear it from their near relations. The meekness of Moses, as the patience of Job, was tried on all hands. Armor of proof shall be sure to be shot at. It should seem that his wife was none of the best-humored women; for what a passion was she in about the circumcising of her son, when she reproached him as a bloody husband; and we do not read of one word that he replied, but let her have her saying. When God was angry, and Zipporah angry, it was best for him to be quiet. The lot of his public work was cast "in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness;" but as if all the mutinies of murmuring Israel were too little to try the meekness of Moses, his own brother and sister, and those of no less a figure than Miriam the prophetess, and Aaron the saint of the Lord, quarrel with him, speak against him, envy his honor, reproach his marriage, and are ready to head a rebellion against him. God heard this, and was angry. Num. 12:2, 9; but Moses, though he had reason enough to resent it wrathfully, was not at all moved by it, took no notice of it, made no complaint to God, no answer to them, and we do not find one word that he said, until we find him praying heartily for his provoking sister, who was then under the tokens of God's displeasure for the affront she gave him. The less a man strives for himself, the more is God engaged in honor and faithfulness to appear for him. When Christ said, "I seek not mine own glory," he presently added, "but there is one that seeks and judges." And it was upon this occasion that Moses obtained this good report: "He was the meekest of all the men on the earth." "No man," says Bishop Hall, "could have given greater proofs of courage than Moses. He slew the Egyptian, beat the Midianite shepherds, confronted Pharaoh in his own court, not fearing the wrath of the king; he durst look God in the face amid all the terrors of mount Sinai, and draw near to the thick darkness where God was; and yet that Spirit which made and knew his heart, said he was the meekest, mildest man upon the earth. Mildness and fortitude may well lodge together in the same breast, which corrects the mistake of those that will allow none valiant but the fierce."

The meekness of Moses qualified him to be a magistrate, especially to be king in Jeshurun, among a people so very provoking that they gave him occasion to use all the meekness he had, and all little enough to bear their manners in the wilderness. When they murmured against him, quarreled with him, arraigned his authority, and were sometimes ready to stone him, he resented these provocations with very little of personal application or concern; but instead of using his interest in heaven to summon plagues upon them, he made it his business to stand in the gap, and by his intercession for them, to turn away the wrath of God from them; and this not once or twice only, but many times.

And yet we must observe that, though Moses was the meekest man in the world, yet when God's honor and glory were concerned, no one was more warm and zealous: witness his resentment of the golden calf, when, in a holy indignation at that abominable iniquity, he deliberately broke the tables. And when Korah and his crew invaded the priest's office, Moses, in a pious wrath, said unto the Lord, "Do not respect their offering." He that was a lamb in his own cause, was a lion in the cause of God: anger at sin as sin is very well consistent with reigning meekness. Nor can it be forgotten that though Moses was eminent for meekness, yet he once transgressed the laws of it. When he was old, and his spirit was provoked, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips, and it went ill with him for it, Psa. 106:32; which is written not for imitation, but for admonition—not to justify our rash anger, but to engage us to stand on guard at all times against it, that he who thinks he stands may take heed lest he fall, and that he who has thus fallen may not wonder if he come under the rebukes of divine Providence for it in this world, as Moses did, and yet may not despair of being pardoned upon repentance.

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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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