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does not insist upon the utmost of his own right with a stiff and unyielding obstinacy, but abates of his just pretensions for the sake of peace; and what he practises himself, he persuades others to practise in the like contests. This is that moderation and gentleness, which the great apostle recommends a few verses before my text. Phil. iv. 5. Let your moderation be known unto all
And our blessed Lord himself gives the moderate man this illustrious encomium, blessed are the meek, who submit rather than quarrel, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God; Mat. v. 5—9. Happy souls whom the God of truth, and the God of peace, acknowledges for his children, and to whom he promises a large inheritance !
And let it be observed also, that whatsoever hard usage the sons of peace may meet with, while the ferment of parties is hottest, and the storm is high, yet when the clamour and rage are sunk and calm, when the party-fury hath spent itself, and is grown cool enough to suffer men to bethink themselves, and to see all things in their true colours, then the man of moderation stands approved of men as well as of God; the divine virtue appears in its own lovely form, and receives a becoming share of honour.
III. Humility is a lovely virtue. It is beautiful and becoming for a man to divest himself of all affected grandeur, and not to exalt his head above his neighbour. o that we were all clothed with humility! It is an ornament that becomes sinners well. Let us put it on with our daily raiment, and strive to vie with each other which shall practise this grace in the greatest perfection.
How unlovely a carriage is it to boast ourselves of any superior quality we possess, or to assume lofty airs, because we have more money than our neighbours ! To aggrandize ourselves in our own estcem, in our own language, in our behaviour, because we fancy ourselves to be better dressed, or better fed than our fellow-crcatures! And if we have a little honour put upon us by the providence of God, it is a criminal vanity for us to grow haughty and insolent upon that account. I am in pain whicnsoever I hear a man treat his servant as he does his dog : as though a poor man were not made of the same clay, nor born of the same ancient race as his master: As though Adam, whose name is dust, was not our common father, or a lord had not the same original as other men.
Nay, the nobler possessions of the mind, ingenuity and learning, and even grace itself, are no sufficient ground for pride. It is a comely thing to see a. man exalted by many divine gifts, and yet abasing himself. It is a lovely sight to behold a person
well adorned with virtue and merit, and glorified in the mouthis of all men, and yet concealing himself: To see a man of shining worth drawing, as it were, a curtain before himself, that the world might not see him, while the world do what they can to do him justice, and draw aside the veil to make his merit visible. Not that a man of worth is always bound to practise concealment; this would be to rob mankind of the blessing God has designed for them, and to wrap up his talents, in the unprofitable napkin. But there are occasions wherein a worthy and illustrious person may be equally useful to the world, and yet withdraw himself from public applause. This is the hour to make his humility appear.
How graceful and engaging is it in persons of title and quality to stoop to those that are of a mean degree, to converse freely at proper seasons with those that are poor and despicable in the world, to give them leave to offer their humble requests, or sometimes to debate a point of importance with them: Not all the dignity of their raiment can render them half so honourable as this condescension does; for nothing makes them so much like God. The High and Holy One, who inhabits eternity, stoops down from heaven to visit the afflicted, and to dwell with the poor. And surely, when we set ourselves before the divine Majesty, we are meaner and more contemptible in his eyes, than it is possible for any fellow-creature to be in ours; he humbles himself to behold princes.
It must be allowed indeed, that where God and the world have placed any person in a superior station, and given him a sensible advancement above his fellow-creatures, he is not bound to renounce the honours that are his due, nor to act beneath the dignity of his character and state. This would be to confound all the beautiful order of things in the natural, civil, and religious life. But there are cases and seasons that often occur, when great degrees of humility may be practised without danger of sinking one's own character, or doing a dishonour to our station in the world. There is an art of maintaining state with an air of modesty, nor is there any need to put on haughty and scornful airs, in order to secure the honours of a tribunal, or the highest offices of magistracy. I have known a man who acted in an exalted station with so much condescension and candour, that all men agreed to love and honour him so far, that it was hard to say, whether he was most honoured, or most beloved.
How amiable a behaviour is it in younger persons, when respect is paid to age, and the honour is given to the hoary head that nature and scripture join to require ; Lev. xix. 32. « Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man: and fear thy God: I am the Lord. Though the character of the aged person, in respect of riches, quality, and learning, may be much inferior, yet the wisdom that is naturally supposed to be derived from long experience, lays a foundation for this superior honour. And I look upon it as a part of the shame and just reproach of our day, that there is such a licentious insolence assumed by youth to treat their elders with contempt. But so much the more lovely is the carriage of those who, in spite of evil custom, treat old age with reverence, and abhor the pert and petulant indignities that some of their companions cast upon the writings and counsels of their ancestors.
And here I beg leave also humbly to admonish my fathers, that they practise the lovely grace of condescension, when they converse with those that are young. I entreat them to permit a youth of an inquisitive genius, to propose an argument for some farther improvement of knowledge, or to raise an objection against an established doctrine, and not to answer him with an imperious frown, or with the reproaches of heresy or impertinence. I bescech then to indulge the rising generation in some degrees of freedom of sentiment, and to offer soine demonstration for their own opinions, besides their authority, and the multitude of their years.
The apostle Peter's advice may be addressed to persons of all ages and characters; 1 Pet. v. 5, Ye younger,
1 submit yourselves to the elder: Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. If we have more knowledge than others, how lovely is our conduct, when we teach and instruct them, not like sovereigns of their faith, and dictators to their umderstanding, but in a way of friendly conversation, and mutual improvement? If any thing occur2 to be debated, it is a sign of modesty to yield to the force of argument, and not to resolve before-hand' to be infallible and obstinate, as though we were exempted from the common frailty of human pature, and free from all possibility of mistake. While we are arguing with others, in order to convince them, how graceful a thing it is, when we have the power of the argument on our own side, to keep ourselves from insult and triumph! how engaging a behaviour toward our opponent, when we seem to part as though we were equal in the debate, while it is evident to all the company, that the truth lies wholly on our side !
Yet I will gwn there are seasons, when the obstinate and the assuming disputant should be made to feel the force of an argument, by displaying it in its victorious and triumphant colours : But this is seldoin to be practised, so as to insult the opposite party, except in cases where they have shewn a haughty and insufferable insclepce. Some persons perhaps can hardly be taught
humility without heing severely humbled ; and yet where there is need of this chastisement, I had rather any other hand should be einployed in it than mine.
IV. Meekness is another of the lovely graces. This is con: trary to wrath and malice, and all the angry passions, as humility stands in opposition to pride. As there are generally some secret workings of pride in the heart, when a man gives indulgence to his wrathiful passions ; so where a person has thoroughly learned the practice of humility, the grace of meekness is easily attained, and indeed it seems to be a necessary consequent of it.
How lovely is the character of a man, who can hear himself censured and reviled, without reviling again! Who can sustain repeated affronts, without kindling into flame and fury. Who has learned to bear injuries from his fellow-creatures, and yet withhold himself from meditating revenge ! He can sit and hear a strong opposition inade to his sentiments, without conceiving an affront: He can bear to be contradicted without resenting: And as he never loves to give offence to any man, so neither is he presently offended. It is only the more peevish and feeble pieces of human nature, that are ready to take offence at trifles, and many times they make their own foolish jealousies a. sufficient ground for their indignation.
We cannot expect to pass through the world, and find every thing peaceful and pleasant in it. All men will not be of our mind, nor agree to promote our interest. There are savages in this wilderness, which lies in our way to the heavenly Canaan; and we must sometimes , hear them roar against us. Divine courage will enable us to walk onward without fear, and meek. ness will teach us to pass by without resenting. We should learn to feel many a spark of angry fire falling upon us, from the toogues of others, and yet our hearts should not be like tinder ready to catch the flame, and to return the blaze. The meek christian, at such a season, possesses his soul in patience, as good David did, when Shimei sent his malice and his curses after him: The saint at that time was in an humble temper, and said, Let Shimei curse.
We should not render evil for evil, but according to the sacred direction of scripture, endeavour to overcome evil with good; Rom. xii. 21.
Anger is not utterly forbidden to the christian ; yet happy is he that has the least occasion for it. In Eph. iv. 26. the apostle gives this rule: Be ye angry, and sin not. As it he would have said, when the affairs of life seem to require a just resentment and anger, look upon it as a dangerous moment, and watch against a sinful excess. Let us never give a wild loose to our wrath, but always hold the reins of government with a strong hand, lest it break out into forbidden mischief. When we
give ourselves leave to be offended, let the anger appear to be directed against the sin of the offender, if possible, more than against his person.
Let our arger be well-timed, both as to the season and the length of it. The seasons of it should be
very uncommon; a christian should seldom awaken liis anger, and the continuance of it must be very short. Let not the SUN 50
upon your urath, nor gire place to the devil; Eph. iy. 26, 27, The Jong sullen resentment which is practised by some persons, carried on froin day to day with a gloomy silence, and now and then venting itself in a spiteful word, or a sly reproach, is by po means becoming the name and spirit of a christian. This is giring place to the devil, and making room for him to lodge in our hearts. This is as much contrary to meekness, as a short and sudden fury is, and perbaps carries in it a guilt more aggravated įn the sight of God.
Yet neither should our anger indulge itself in loud and noisy practises, nor fill the house with a brawling sound. It is better to dwell in a corner of the house-top, than to cohabit in a palace with such a brawling companion of life; Prov. xxi, 9. And the wise man has repeated it again in the xxv. chapter, as a matter worthy of a double notice. St. Paul forbids this practice to the Ephesians : Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; Eph. iv. 31.
Nor should our resentments carry us to any cruel practices. The word of God spends its curses upon such sort of anger; Gen. xlix. 7. Cursed be the wrath of Simeon, for it was fierce, and the anger of Leri, for it was cruel. You know what mischiefs it hurried them into, even to foul treachery and murder, and the destruction of a whole country. The grace of meekness is an enemy to all these practices, and a happy preservative from them.
V. Patience is a lovely virtue. I am not now speaking of that religious exercise of it, which consists in a humble submission to the providences of God, without repining at his hand, or sending up our murmurs against heaven; but a patient conduct to our sellow.creatures, is the thing which I chiefly design here to recommend.
When some persons stand in need of any of the necessaries or conveniences of life, they must be supplied first, they can brook no delay; let all the world stand by waiting till they are served ; and their anger is quickly kindled if their affairs are not dispatched in a moment. They make no allowances for the necessities or conveniences of others; nor for the various accidents that attend human life, which may stop the speed of the