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Author Topic: A Discourse on Meekness and Quietness of Spirit  (Read 8786 times)
airIam2worship
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« Reply #45 on: February 16, 2007, 02:20:31 PM »

3. David was a pattern of meekness, and it is promised that "the feeble shall be as David." In this, as in other instances, he was a man after God's own heart. When his own brother was so rough upon him without reason, "Why did you come down here?" how mild was his answer. "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?" When his enemies reproached him, he was not at all disturbed at it. "I, as a deaf man, heard not." When Saul persecuted him with such an unwearied malice, he did not take the advantage which Providence seemed to offer him, more than once, to revenge himself, but left it to God. David's meek spirit concurred with the proverb of the ancients: "Wickedness proceeds from the wicked, but my hand shall not be upon you." When Nabal's churlishness provoked him, yet Abigail's prudence soon pacified him, and it pleased him to be pacified. When Shimei cursed him with a bitter curse in the day of his calamity, he resented not the offense, nor would hear any talk of punishing the offender: "So let him curse; let him alone, for the Lord has bidden him;" quietly committing his cause to God, who judges righteously. And other instances there are in his story which evidence the truth of what he said: "My soul is even like a weaned child." And yet David was a great soldier, a man of celebrated courage, that slew a lion and a bear, and a Philistine—as much a ravenous beast as either of them—which shows that it was his wisdom and grace, and not his cowardice, that at other times made him so quiet. David was a man that met with very many disquieting and disturbing events in the several scenes of his life, through which, though they sometimes ruffled him a little, yet, for the main, he preserved an admirable temper, and an evenness and composure of mind which was very exemplary. When, upon the surprise of a fright, he changed his behavior before Abimelech, and counterfeited that madness which angry people realize, yet his mind was so very quiet and undisturbed that at that time he penned the 34th Psalm, in which not only the excellency of the matter, and the calmness of the expression, but the composing of it alphabetically in the Hebrew—speaks him to be, even then, in a calm frame, and to have very much the command of his own thoughts. As at another time when his own followers spoke of stoning him, though he could not still the tumult of his troops, he could those of his spirit, for then he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God." As to those prayers against his enemies which we find in some of his psalms, surely they did not proceed from any such irregular passion as did in the least clash even with the evangelical laws of meekness. We cannot imagine that one who was so piously calm in his common conversation, should be sinfully hot in his devotion; nor are they to be looked upon as the private expressions of his own angry resentments, but as inspired predictions of God's judgments upon the public and obstinate enemies of Christ and His kingdom, as appears by comparing Psa. 69:22, 23, with Rom. 11:9, 10; and Psa. 109:8, with Acts 1:20. Nor are they any more opposite to the spirit of the gospel than the cries of the souls under the altar, or the triumphs of heaven and earth in the destruction of Babylon. Rev. 6:10; 19:1.

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« Reply #46 on: February 16, 2007, 02:36:23 PM »

4. Paul was a pattern of meekness. Though his natural temper seems to have been warm and eager, which made him eminently active and zealous, yet that temper was so rectified and sanctified, that he was no less eminently meek: he became all things to all men. He studied to please all with whom he had to do, and to render himself engaging to them, for their good to edification. How patiently did he bear the greatest injuries and indignities, not only from Jews and heathens, but from false brethren, that were so very industrious to abuse and undermine him. How glad was he that Christ was preached, though out of envy and ill-will, by those that studied to add affliction to his bonds. In governing the church, he was not led by the sudden resolves of passion, but always deliberated calmly concerning the use of the rod of discipline when there was occasion for it. "Shall I come to you with a rod, or in the spirit of meekness?" that is, Shall I proceed immediately to censures, or shall I not rather continue the same gentle usage as hitherto, waiting still for your reformation? Here the spirit of meekness appears more open and legible than in the use of the rod, though that also is very well consistent with it.

Many other examples of meekness might be adduced, but the time would fail me to tell of Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Joshua; of Samuel also, and Job and Jeremiah, and all the prophets and apostles, martyrs and confessors, and eminent saints, who by meekness subdued, not kingdoms, but their own spirits; stopped the mouths, not of lions, but of more fierce and formidable enemies; quenched the violence, not of fire, but of intemperate and more ungovernable passions; and so wrought righteousness, obtained promises, escaped the edge of the sword, and out of weakness were made strong; and by all this obtained a good report. Heb. 11:32-34. But, after all,

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« Reply #47 on: February 16, 2007, 02:37:23 PM »

5. Our LORD JESUS was the great pattern of meekness and quietness of spirit; all the rest had their spots, but here is a copy without a blot. We must follow the rest no further than they were conformable to this great original: "Be followers of me," says Paul, "as I am of Christ." He fulfilled all righteousness, and was a complete example of all that is holy, just, and good; but I think in most, if not all those places of Scripture where He is particularly and expressly propounded to us for an example, it is to recommend to us some or other of the duties of Christianity; those, I mean, which tend to the sweetening of our conversation with one another. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, that He might teach us how to dwell together in unity. We must walk in love, as Christ loved us; forgive, as Christ forgave us; please one another, for Christ pleased not Himself; be charitable to the poor, for we know the grace of our Lord Jesus; wash one another's feet, that is, stoop to the lowest offices of love, for Christ did so; doing all with lowliness of mind, for it is the same mind that was in Christ Jesus; but above all, our Lord Jesus was an example of meekness. Moses had this grace as a servant, but Christ as a son: He was anointed with it above measure. He is called the "Lamb of God," for His meekness and patience and inoffensiveness, and even in His exaltation He retains the same character. One of the elders told John that "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" would open the sealed book; "and I beheld," says John, "and lo, a Lamb." He that was a lion for strength and courage, was a lamb for mildness and gentleness; and if a lion, yet "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," which the dying patriarch describes to be a lion gone up from the prey, and that is stooped down and couched, and not to be roused up, Gen. 49:9, indicating the quietness and repose even of this lion. If Christ is a lion, He is a lion resting: the devil is a lion roaring. But the adorations given to Christ by the heavenly hosts speak of Him as a Lamb. "Blessing and glory to Him that sits upon the throne;" they do not say, and to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but the "the Lamb." Though He has a name given Him above every name, yet He will be known by that name which denotes His meekness, as if this were to be His name forever, and this his memorial to all generations. As He that rides upon the heavens by His name Jah, is the Father of the fatherless, and the Judge of the widows; so Christ rides "prosperously, because of meekness."

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« Reply #48 on: February 16, 2007, 02:38:19 PM »

Now it is the character of all the saints that they follow the Lamb: as a lamb they follow Him in His meekness, and are therefore so often called the sheep of Christ. This is that part of his copy which He expressly calls us to write after: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." If the master is mild, it ill becomes the servant to be froward. The apostle is speaking of Christ's meekness under His sufferings, when he says that He "left us an example, that we should follow His steps."

Let us observe particularly the meekness of our Lord Jesus towards his Father, and towards his friends, and towards his foes, in each of which He is an example to us.

1. He was very meek toward God His Father, cheerfully submitting to His whole will, and standing complete in it. In His commanding will, "Lo, I come," says He, "I delight to do Your will:" though it enjoined Him a very hard service, yet it was "His food and drink;" and He always did those things that pleased His Father. So likewise in His disposing will He acquiesced from first to last. When He was entering on that sharp encounter, though sense startled at it, and said, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me;" yet He soon submitted with a great deal of meekness: "Not as I will, but as You will." Though it was a very bitter cup, yet his Father put it into His hand, and therefore He drank it: "The cup that My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"

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« Reply #49 on: February 16, 2007, 02:39:26 PM »

2. He was very meek towards His friends that loved and followed Him. With what remarkable instances of mildness, gentleness, and tenderness did He train up His disciples, though from first to last He was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Where nature is corrupt, such are apt to be peevish and froward with those about them; yet how meekly and calmly did He bear with their weaknesses and infirmities. After they had been long under the inspection and influence of such a teacher, and had all the advantages that men could have for acquaintance with the things of God, yet how weak and defective were they in knowledge and gifts and graces! How ignorant and forgetful were they; how slow of heart to understand and believe! And what blunders did they make! Dull scholars it should seem they were, and bad proficients. But their hearts being upright with Him, He did not cast them off, nor turn them out of His school, but corrected their mistakes, instructed them in their duty and the doctrine they were to preach, by precept upon precept, and line upon line; and taught them, as they were able to bear it, as one that considered their frame, and could "have compassion on the ignorant, and on those who are out of the way." As long as He was with them, so long He suffered them. Mark 9:19. This, as it is a great encouragement to Christian learners, so it is a great example to Christian teachers.

Also Christ was meek in his forgiving and passing by their unkindness and disrespect to Himself. He was not extreme to mark what they did amiss of this kind. When they murmured at the cost that was bestowed upon Him, and called it waste, and had indignation at it, He did not resent it as He might have done, nor seem to observe how much what they said reflected upon Him; nor did He condemn them any other way than by commending the woman. When Peter and James and John, the first three of His disciples, were with Him in the garden, and very unseasonably slept while He was in his agony praying, so little concerned did they seem to be for Him, yet observe how meekly He spoke to them: "Could you not watch with Me one hour?" And when they did not have a word to say for themselves, so inexcusable was their fault, He had something to say for them, and instead of accusing them, He apologizes for them: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." When Peter had denied Him, and had cursed and sworn he did not know Him, than which—besides the falsehood and perfidiousness of it—nothing could be more unkind, with what meekness did He bear it! It is not said the Lord turned and frowned upon Peter, though he deserved to be frowned into hell, but "the Lord turned and looked upon Peter," and that look recovered him into the way to heaven: it was a kind look, and not an angry one. Some days after, when Christ and Peter met in Galilee, and had dined together as a token of reconciliation, and some discourse passed between them, not a word was said of this matter; Christ not upbraid him with his fault, nor chide him for it, nor did there appear any other fruit of the falling out of these lovers, but only the renewing of their love with greater endearments; which teaches us to forgive and forget the unkindness of those that are for the main our true friends, and if any occasion of difference happens, to turn it into an occasion of confirming our love to them.

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« Reply #50 on: February 16, 2007, 02:40:39 PM »

3. He was very meek towards his enemies, that hated and persecuted Him. The whole story of His life is filled with instances of invincible meekness. While He "endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself," He had a perpetual serenity and harmony within, and was never in the least discomposed by it. When His preaching and miracles were caviled at and reproached, and He Himself represented under the blackest characters, not only as the drunkard's companion, but as the devil's confederate, with what a wonderful calmness did He bear it! How mildly did He answer with reason and tenderness, when He could have replied in thunder and lightning! How well satisfied, under all such invidious reflections, with this, that "wisdom is justified of all her children." When some of his disciples would have had fire from heaven upon those crude people that refused Him entertainment in their town, He was so far from complying with the motion, that He rebuked it: "You know not what manner of spirit you are of." "This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you." The design of Christ and of His holy religion is to shape men into a mild and merciful temper, and to make them sensibly tender of the lives and comfort even of their worst enemies. Christianity was intended to revive humanity, and to make those men, who had made themselves beasts. But our Lord Jesus did in a more especial manner evidence His meekness when He was in His last sufferings—that dreadful scene. Though He was the most innocent and the most excellent person that ever was, who, by the doctrine He had preached and the miracles He had wrought, had richly deserved all the honors and respect that the world could pay Him, and infinitely more; and though the injuries He received were ingeniously and industriously contrived to the highest degree of affront and provocation; yet He bore all with an undisturbed meekness, and with that shield quenched all the fiery darts which his malicious enemies shot at Him.

His meekness towards His enemies appeared in what He said to them: not one angry word, in the midst of all the indignities they offered Him. "When He was reviled, He reviled not again." When He was buffeted and spit upon and abused, He took it all patiently; one would wonder at the gracious words which even then proceeded out of His mouth: witness that mild reply to him that smote him: "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?"

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« Reply #51 on: February 16, 2007, 02:42:02 PM »

        Also His meekness towards His enemies appeared in what He said to God for them: "Father, forgive them;" so giving an example to His own rule: "Pray for those who despitefully use you." Though He was then deeply engaged in the most solemn transaction that ever passed between heaven and earth, though He had so much to do with God for Himself and His friends, yet He did not forget to offer this prayer for His enemies.

        The mercy He begged of God for them was the greatest mercy—that which He was then dying to purchase and procure—the pardon of their sins: not only, Father, spare them, or reprieve them, but, Father, forgive them; the excuse He pleaded for them was the best their crime was capable of: "They know not what they do."

        Now in all these things our Master has left us an example. What is the practice of religion, but the imitation of God endeavored by us? And what is the principle of it, but the image of God renewed in us? We are bid to be followers of God, as dear children. But this sets the copy we are to write after at a mighty distance, for God is in heaven, and we are upon earth; and therefore in the Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, God in our nature, the copy is brought among us, and the transcribing of it in some measure appears more practicable. "He that has seen Me," says Christ, "has seen the Father;" and so he that imitates Christ, imitates the Father. The religion which our Lord Jesus came into the world to establish, being every way so well calculated for the peace and order of the world, and being designed to recover the lapsed souls of men from their degenerate state, and to sweeten their spirits and temper, and so to befriend human society, and to make it some way conformable to the blessed society above; He not only gave such precepts as were wonderfully fitted to this great end, but recommended them to the world by the loveliness and amiableness of His own example. Are we not called Christians from Christ, whom we call Master and Lord, and shall we not endeavor to accommodate ourselves to Him? We profess to rejoice in Him as our forerunner, and shall we not run after Him? To what purpose were we listed under His banner, but that we might follow Him as our leader? We all have reason to say that Jesus Christ is very meek, or else we that have provoked Him so much and so often would have been in hell long ago; we owe it to His meekness, to whom all judgment is committed, that we have not before this been carried away with a swift destruction, and dealt with according to the desert of our sins, which, if duly considered, one would think should tend greatly to soften us. The apostle draws an argument from that kindness and love to us which we ourselves have experienced, who were foolish and disobedient, to persuade us to be "gentle, showing all meekness;" and he beseeches the Corinthians "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," as a thing very winning, and of dear and precious account. Let "the same mind" therefore be in us, not only which was, but which, as we find to our comfort, still is in Christ Jesus. That we may not forfeit our interest in His meekness, let us tread in the steps of it; and as ever we hope to be like Him in glory hereafter, let us study to be like Him in grace, in this grace now. It is a certain rule, by which we must all be tried shortly, that "if any man has not the Spirit of Christ," that is, if his spirit is not in some measure like Christ's, "He is none of his." Rom. 8:9. And if we are not owned as His, we are undone forever.

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« Reply #52 on: February 16, 2007, 05:56:33 PM »

WHEN MEEKNESS IS SPECIALLY REQUIRED


The rule is general—we must show "all meekness;" but it will be useful to observe some special cases to which the Scripture applies this rule.

1. We must give reproofs with meekness. It is the apostle's direction, "If a man is overtaken in a fault," that is, if he is surprised by a temptation and overcome, as the best may be, if God leaves them to themselves, "you which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness." By the spiritual man, to whom he gives this rule, he means not ministers only; doubtless it is a rule to private Christians: all that have opportunity must reprove, and all that reprove must do it with meekness. You that are spiritual, if you would approve yourselves so indeed, actuated by the Holy Spirit, and minding the things of the Spirit, be careful in this matter. Especially let those that are Christians of the highest form, that excel in grace and holiness and the best gifts—such are called spiritual, in distinction from babes in Christ, 1 Cor. 3:1—let them look upon themselves as obliged, in a more peculiar manner, to help others; for where God gives five talents, He expects the improvement of five; the strong must bear the infirmities of the weak. The setting of a dislocated joint or a broken bone is, for the present, painful to the patient; but it must be done, and it is in order to the making of broken bones to rejoice. Now this you must do with the spirit of meekness, with all the candor and gentleness and convincing evidences of love and kindness that can be. The three qualifications of a good surgeon are very requisite in a reprover: namely, to have an eagle's eye, a lion's heart, and a lady's hand; that is, to be endued with a great deal of wisdom and courage and meekness. Though sometimes it is necessary to reprove with warmth, yet we must never reprove with wrath, "for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God."

There is an observable difference, but no contradiction between the directions Paul gives to Timothy, and those he gives to Titus in this matter. To Titus he writes to "reprove sharply," and to "rebuke with all authority." To Timothy he writes "not to strive, but to be gentle;" to reprove "with all long-suffering." The reason for this difference may be found in the different temperament of those they had to deal with. Timothy was among the Ephesians, a tractable, complaisant people, who would be easily managed, and with them he must always deal gently. Titus was among the Cretians, who were headstrong, and not to be wrought upon except by sharper methods. Thus, in reproving, a difference must be made; on some we must "have compassion, and others save with fear," but never with anger, "pulling them out of the fire." Or the reason for the different instructions they received may be found—as Gregory, one of the ancients, assigns it—in the different temperament of Timothy and Titus. "Titus was a man of a very soft and mild temperament, and he needed a spur to quicken him to a necessary sharpness in his reproofs; but Timothy was a man of a more warm and sanguine temperament, and he needed a bridle to keep him from an intemperate heat in his reproofs;" and then it teaches us, that those who are naturally keen and fervent should double their guard upon their own spirits when they are reproving, that they may do it with all meekness.

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« Reply #53 on: February 16, 2007, 05:57:56 PM »

Christ's ministers must be careful, while they display God's wrath, to conceal their own; and be very jealous over themselves, lest sinful anger shelter itself under the cloak of zeal against sin. When reproving—whoever be the reprover—degenerates into railing and reviling and opprobrious language, how can we expect the desired success? It may provoke to contention and to every evil work, but it will never provoke to love and to good works. The work of heaven is not likely to be done by a tongue set on fire of hell. Has Christ need of madmen? or will you talk deceitfully and passionately for Him? A potion given too hot, scalds the patient, and does more harm than good; and so many reproofs, good for the matter of it, have been spoiled by an irregular management. Meekness hides the lancet, gilds the pill, and makes it passable; dips the nail in oil, and then it drives the better. Twice we find Jonathan reproving his father for his rage against David; once he did it with meekness: "Let not the king sin against his servant"—against David—and it is said, "Saul listened to him." But another time his spirit was provoked: "Why shall he be slain?" and the issue of it was ill. Saul was not only impatient of the reproof, but enraged at the reprover, and cast a javelin at him. Reproofs are likely to answer the intention when they manifestly evidence the good will of the reprover, and are made up of soft words and hard arguments; this is to "restore with the spirit of meekness," and there is a good reason added, "considering yourself;" he may fall today, I may tomorrow. Those who think they stand fast, know not how soon they may be shaken and overthrown, and therefore we must treat those that are overtaken in a fault, with the same tenderness and compassion that we would wish to find, if it were our own case.

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« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2007, 05:59:19 PM »

2. We must receive reproofs with meekness. If we do that which deserves rebuke, and meet those that are so just and kind as to give it us, we must be quiet under it, not quarreling with the reprover, nor objecting to the reproof, nor fretting that we are touched in a sore place; but submitting to it, and laying our souls under the conviction of it. If reproofs are physical, it becomes us to be patient. "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness," and an excellent oil, healing to the wounds of sin, and making the face to shine; and let us never reckon that it breaks the head, if it helps to break the heart. Meekness suffers the word of admonition, and takes it patiently and thankfully, not only from the hand of God that sends it, but from the hand of our friend that brings it. We must not be like the reprobate Sodomites, or that pert Hebrew, Exod. 2:14, that flew in the face of their reprovers, though really they were the best friends they had, with, "Who made you a judge?" but like David, who, when Abigail so prudently scotched the wheels of his passion, not only blessed God that sent her, and blessed her advice, but blessed her:  not only hearkened to her voice, but accepted her person. Though perhaps the reprover supposes the fault greater than really it was, and though the reproof be not given with all the prudence in the world, yet meekness will teach us to accept it quietly, and to make the best use we can of it. Further, if indeed we are completely innocent of that for which we are reproved, still the meekness of wisdom would teach us to apply the reproof to some other fault of which our own consciences convict us: we would not quarrel with a real intended kindness, though not done with ceremony, and though in some circumstances mistaken or misplaced.

You that are in inferior relations—children, servants, scholars—must, with all meekness and submission, receive the reproofs of your parent, masters, and teachers; their age supposes them to have more understanding than you, and their place gives them an authority over you to which you are to pay a deference, and in which you are to acquiesce, else farewell all order and peace. The angel rebuked Hagar for flying from her mistress, though she dealt harshly with her, and obliged her to return and submit herself under her hands. "If the spirit of a ruler rises up against you," and you are chided for a fault, "do not leave your place," as an inferior; for "calmness lays great errors to rest." "If you have thought evil, lay your hand upon your mouth" to keep that evil thought from breaking out in any undue and unbecoming language. Reproofs are likely to do us good when we meekly submit to them; they are "as an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold," when "an obedient ear" is given to a wise reprover. Yes, even superiors are to receive reproofs from their inferiors with meekness, as they would any other token of kindness and good will. Naaman, who turned away from the prophet in a rage, yet heeded the reproof his own servants gave him, and was overruled by the reason of it, which was no more a disparagement to him than it was to receive instruction from his wife's maid to whom to go for a cure of his leprosy. Meekness teaches us, when a just reproof is given, to regard not so much who speaks, as what is spoken.

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« Reply #55 on: February 16, 2007, 06:00:22 PM »

3. We must instruct gainsayers with meekness, 2 Tim. 2:24, 25. It is prescribed to ministers that they "must not strive, but be gentle to all men," in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. They serve the Prince of peace; they preach the gospel of peace; they are the ambassadors of peace; and therefore must be sure to keep the peace. The apostles, those prime-ministers of state in Christ's kingdom, were not military men, or men of strife and noise, but fishermen that followed their employment with quietness and silence. It is highly necessary that the guides of the church be strict governors of their own passions. "Learn of me," says Christ; "for I am meek and lowly," and therefore fit to teach you. We must "contend earnestly," but not angrily and passionately—no, not for "the faith once delivered to the saints." When we have ever so great an assurance that it is the cause of truth we are pleading, yet we must so manage our defense against those who gainsay, as to make it appear that it is not the confusion of the erroneous, but the confutation of the error that we intend. This meekness would teach us not to prejudge a cause, nor to condemn an adversary unheard, but calmly to state matters in difference, as knowing that a truth well opened is half confirmed. It would teach us not to aggravate matters in dispute, nor to father upon an adversary all the absurd consequences which we think may be inferred from his opinion; it would teach us to judge charitably of those that differ from us, and to forbear all personal reflections in arguing with them. God's cause needs not the patronage of our sinful passions, which often give a mighty shock even to the truth for which we plead. Meekness would prevent and cure that bigotry which has been so long the bane of the church, and contribute a great deal towards the advancement of that happy state in which, notwithstanding little differences of apprehension and opinion, the Lord shall be one, and His name one. Public reformations are carried on with most credit and comfort, and are most likely to settle on lasting foundations, when meekness sits at the stern and guides the motions of them. When Christ was purging the temple, though He was therein actuated by a zeal for God's house that even ate Him up, yet He did it with meekness and prudence, which appeared in this instance, that when He drove out the sheep and oxen, which would easily be caught again, He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away." He did not let loose the doves and send them flying, for that would have been to the loss and prejudice of the owners. Angry, noisy, bitter arguings ill become the assertors of that truth which is great, and will prevail. Our Lord Jesus lived in a very froward and perverse generation, yet it is said, "He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear His voice in the street." Though He could break them as easily as a bruised reed, and extinguish them as soon as one could quench the wick of a candle newly lighted, yet He will not do it until the day comes when "He shall lead justice to victory." Moses dealt with a very obstinate and stiff-necked people, and yet "my teaching," says he, "will fall on you like rain, my speech will settle like dew." It was not the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, that brought Elijah into temper—for the Lord was not in them—but "the still small voice;" when he heard that, he wrapped his face in his mantle. In dealing with gainsayers, a spirit of meekness will teach us to consider their temper, education, custom, the power of prejudice they labor under, the influence of others upon them, and to make allowances accordingly, and not to call, as passionate contenders are apt to do, every false step an apostasy; every error and mistake, no, every misconstrued, misplaced word, a heresy; and every misdemeanor no less than treason and rebellion: methods of proceeding more likely to irritate and harden, than to convince and reduce gainsayers. I have heard it observed long since, that "the scourge of the tongue has driven many out of the temple, but never drove any into it."

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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 #56 on: February 16, 2007, 06:01:27 PM »

4. We must make profession of the hope that is in us with meekness. "Be ready always to give an answer"—to make your defense or apology, so the word is—whether judicially or extrajudicially, as there is occasion, "to every man that"—soberly, not scoffingly and in derision—"asks you a reason for the hope that is in you," that is, of the hope you profess, which you hope to be saved by, "with meekness and fear." Observe, it is very well consistent with Christian quietness to appear in the defense of truth, and to avow our Christian profession, when at any time we are duly called to it. That is not meekness, but base cowardice, that tamely betrays and delivers up any of Christ's truths or institutions by silence, as if we were ashamed or afraid to confess our Master. But the office of meekness at such a time is to direct us how and in what manner to bear our testimony, not with pride and passion, but with humility and mildness. Those that would successfully confess the truth, must first learn to deny themselves; and we must give an account of our hope with a holy fear of missing it in such a critical juncture. When we give a reason for our religion, we must not boast of ourselves, or of our own attainments, nor reflect contempt and wrath upon our persecutors, but remember that "the present truth," so it is called, 2 Peter 1:12, the truth which is now to be asserted, is the same with the word of Christ's patience, Rev. 3:10; that is, the word which must be patiently suffered for, according to the example of Him who, with invincible meekness, before Pontius Pilate "witnessed a good confession." A great abasement and diffidence of ourselves may very well consist with a firm assurance of the truth, and a profound veneration for it.

In lesser things, wherein wise and good men are not all in agreement, meekness teaches us not to be too confident that we are in the right, nor to censure and condemn those that differ from us, as if we were the people, and wisdom should die with us; but quietly to walk according to the light that God has given us, and charitably to believe that others do so too, waiting until God shall reveal either this to them, Phil. 3:15, or that to us. Let it in such cases suffice to vindicate ourselves, which every man has a right to do, without a magisterial sentencing of others. Why should we be many masters when we are all offenders, Jas. 3:1, 2, and the bar is our place, not the bench? Meekness will also teach us to manage a singular opinion, when we differ from others, with all possible deference to them and suspicion of ourselves, not resenting it as an affront to be contradicted, but taking it as a kindness to be better informed. Nor must we be angry that our hope is inquired into: even such a trial of it, if we approve ourselves well in it, may be found to praise and honor and glory, to which our meekness will very much contribute, as it puts a luster upon and a convincing power into the testimony we bear. We then "walk worthy of the vocation with which we are called," when we walk "in all lowliness and meekness."

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« Reply #57 on: February 16, 2007, 06:03:28 PM »

5. We must bear reproaches with meekness. Reproach is a branch of that persecution which all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must expect; and we must submit to it, behaving ourselves quietly and with a due decorum, not only when "princes sit and speak against us," but even when "the abjects gather themselves together against us," and we become "the song of the drunkard." Sometimes we find it easier to keep calm in a solemn and expected engagement than in a sudden skirmish or a hasty rencounter; and therefore, even against those slight attacks, it is necessary that meekness be set upon the guard. If we be slandered, and have all manner of evil said against us falsely, our rule is, not to be disturbed at it, not to render "railing for railing;" but though we may, as we have opportunity, with meekness deny the charge, as Hannah did when Eli over hastily censured her as drunken: "No, my lord, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink;" yet when that is done, we must, without meditating any revenge, quietly commit our cause to God, who will, sooner or later, clear up our innocence as the light, which is promised in Psa. 37:5, 6; and therefore "do not fret," but wait patiently; "cease from anger, and forsake wrath." Mr. Dod used to charm his friends into silence under reproaches with this: that "if a dog barks at a sheep, the sheep will not bark at the dog again." We only gratify our great adversary and do his work for him when we allow the peace and serenity of our minds to be broken in upon by the reproaches of the world. For me to disquiet myself and put myself into a passion because another abuses me, is as if I should scratch the skin off my face to wipe off the dirt which my adversary throws on it. When reproaches provoke our passions, which excite us to render bitterness for bitterness, we thereby lose the comfort and forfeit the honor and reward which the divine promise has annexed to the reproach of Christ; and shall we suffer so many things in vain? We also thereby give occasion to those who had spoken evil of us falsely, to speak evil of us truly; and perhaps our religion suffers more by our impatience under the reproach, than by the reproach itself. For what have we the law and pattern and promise of Christ, but to calm our spirits under reproaches for well-doing? Truly those can bear but a little for Christ who cannot bear a hard or an unkind word for Him. If we either faint or fret in such a day of adversity, it is a sign our strength is small indeed. May it not satisfy us, that by our meekness and quietness under reproaches we engage God for us, who has promised that He will "with righteousness judge the poor," the poor in spirit, and will "reprove with equity for the meek of the earth." He that has bid us to "open our mouth for the dumb," will not Himself be silent. And shall we not learn at last, instead of fretting and being exceedingly angry, to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, when "we suffer this for righteousness' sake?" May we not put such reproaches as pearls in our crown, and be assured that they will pass well in the account another day, when there will be an advantageous resurrection of names as well as bodies, in which prospect we have reason to "rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name;" that we are honored to be dishonored for Him who for our sakes endured the cross and despised the shame. It is one of the laws of meekness to despise being despised.


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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 #58 on: February 16, 2007, 06:08:31 PM »

ARGUMENTS FOR MEEKNESS


For the good government of the soul, the judgment must be furnished with proper dictates, or else it will never be able to keep peace in the affections; the emotions of the soul are then likely to be even and regular and constant, when we have established good principles by which we are governed, and under the influence of which we act. We shall select a few truths, out of many which might be mentioned, proper for use as there is occasion.

1. He who is master of his own passions has the sweetest and surest peace. The comfort that a man has in governing himself is much greater than he could have in having people to serve him, and nations to bow down to him. It is certain the worst enemies we have, if ever they break loose and get head, are in our own bosoms. Enemies without threaten only the evil of pain; they can but kill the body, and no great hurt in that as a child of God, if they do not provoke the enemies within, our own irregular passions, which, if they are not kept under, plunge us in the evil of sin. An invasion from abroad does not disturb the peace of a kingdom as much as an insurrection at home; and therefore it concerns us to double our guard where our danger is greatest; and above all keepings, to keep our hearts, that no passion be allowed to stir without a good reason to be given for it, and a good use to be made of it; and then if we be troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, yet not in despair, 2 Cor. 4:8, 9; offended by our fellow-servants, but not offending our Master; reproached by our neighbors, but not by our own consciences—this is like Zion's peace, peace within the walls. We need to pray as one did, Lord, deliver me from that ill man, my own self, and then I am safe enough. The lusts that "war in our members" are the enemies that "war against the soul." If this war is brought to a good issue, and those enemies suppressed, whatever other disturbances are given, peace is in the soul, with grace and mercy from God, and from the Lord Jesus. Nehemiah was aware of this, as the design of his enemies, when they hired a pretended prophet to give an alarm, and to advise him meanly to shift for himself; it was, says he, "that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin." Whatever we lose, we shall not lose our peace, if we do but keep our integrity; therefore, instead of being solicitous to subdue our enemies that lay siege to us, let us double our watch against the traitors within the garrison, from whom especially our danger is: since we cannot prevent the shooting of the fiery darts, let us have our shield ready with which to quench them. If we would not hurt ourselves, blessed be God, no enemy in the world can hurt us. Let us but keep the peace within by the governing of our own passions, and then, whatever assaults may be made upon us, we may therein, with the daughter of Zion, despise them and laugh them to scorn, and shake our head at them. Isa. 37:22. Let us believe that in times of agitation and alarm our strength is to sit still, in a holy quietness and composure of mind: "this is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing;" and it is enough.

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« Reply #59 on: February 16, 2007, 06:09:46 PM »

2. In many things we all offend. We have this truth as a reason why not many of us should be masters. Jas. 3:2. It would help to subdue and moderate our anger at the offenses of others, if we considered,

1. That it is incident to human nature to offend. While we are in this world, we must not expect to converse with angels, or the spirits of just men made perfect; no, we are obliged to have a communication with creatures that are foolish and corrupt, peevish and provoking, and who are all subject to like passions: such as these we must live among, or else we would have to go out of the world. And do we not have reason then to count upon something or other uneasy and displeasing in all relations and conditions? The best men have their defects in this imperfect state; those who are savingly enlightened, yet knowing but in part, have their blind side; the harmony, even of the communion of the saints, will sometimes be disturbed with jarring strings; why then should we be surprised into passion and disquiet, when that which gives us the disturbance is no more than what we looked for? Instead of being angry, we should think with ourselves thus: Alas, what could I expect but provocation from corrupt and fallen man? Among such foolish creatures as we are, it must be that offenses will come; and why should not I have my share of them? The God of heaven gives this as a reason for His patience towards a provoking world, that it is in their nature to be provoking: "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth," and therefore better is not to be expected from him. And upon this account He had compassion on Israel. Psa. 78:39. "He remembered that they were but flesh;" not only frail creatures, but sinful, and bent to backslide. Do men gather grapes from thorns? "I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and was called a transgressor from the womb." And should not we, much more, be governed by the same consideration? "If you see the violent perverting judgment and justice in a province," remember what a provoking creature sinful man is, and then you will not marvel at the matter. The consideration of the common infirmity and corruption of mankind should be made use of, not to excuse our own faults to ourselves, which merely takes off the edge of our repentance, and is the poor subterfuge of a deceived heart; but to excuse the faults of others, and so take off the edge of our passion and displeasure, and preserve the meekness and quietness of our own spirits.

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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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