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most diligent servant, and constrain him unwillingly to delay his message or his work.
But the patient christian considers all things; desires but his share of the attendance of his fellowcreatures, and waits without clamour till the proper season. He makes wise and kind allowances for every incident of life that may give just occasion to a delay; and gains the love of all that are about him by his most engaging carriage.
How lovely is it to see a teacher waiting upon those that are slow of understanding, and taking due time and pains to make the learner conceive what he means, without upbraiding him with his weakness, or reproaching him with the names of stupid and senseless? This is to imitate God, the God of long suffering and patience, Who giveth wisdom to all that ask, and upbraideth not; James i. 5. The patient man attends and waits upon those that are slow of speech, and hears an argument fully proposed before he makes his reply. This is an honourable and lovely character; But he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him; Prov. xviii. 13. Perhaps he is utterly mistaken in the objection which his friend was going to make, then he is justly put to the blush for his folly and impatience.
The virtue of patience teaches us to be calm and easy toward our fellow-creatures, while we sustain sharp and continued afflictions from the hand of God. It is the unhappy conduct of some christians, that when the great God puts them under any sore trial or chastisement, they are angry with all their friends around them, and scatter abroad their discontents in the family, and many times make them fall heaviest upon their most intimate friends. If one were to search this matter to the bottom, we should find the spring of it is an impatience at the sovereign hand of God; but because their christianity forbids them to vent their uneasiness at heaven, they divert the stream of their resentment, and make their fellow- creatures feel it: So a piece of unripe fruit pressed with a heavy weight from above, scatters its sour juice on every thing that stands near it, and gives a just emblem of the impatient christian.
But what a lovely sight is it to behold a person burdened with many sorrows, and perhaps his flesh upon him has pain and anguish, while his soul mourns within him; yet his passions are calm, he possesses his spirit in patience, he takes kindly all the relief that his friends attempt to afford him, nor does he give them any grief or uneasiness but what they feel through the force of mere sympathy and compassion ? Thus, even in the midst of ca. lamities, he knits the hearts of his friends faster to himself, and lays greater obligations upon their love by so lovely and divine a conduct under the weight of his heavy sorrows.
VI. Love to mankind in the various branches of it, is a most lovely quality, and well becomes a christian.
Should I speak of love in the heart, which ever thinks the best concerning others, and wishes and seeks their welfare and happiness: Should I speak of it as it works on the tongue, and appears in all friendly language, whether the object be present or afar off: Should I describe it as it discovers itself in the hand of assistance and bounty, to relieve the poor aud helpless: Each of these would yield sufficient matter for a whole discourse ; and this grace would appear lovely in all its forms. It is a pain to my thoughts to omit it here: Methinks I can hardly tell how to let it go without large encomiums: Nor could I prevail with myself to pass it over now with so brief a mention, if I did not design to employ an hour or two on this subject hereafter.
[The Second Part of this Sermon.] I proceed to shew how the very light of nature recommends every agreeable and obliging character; every lovely quality that is found among mankind; and reason exhorts us to the acquirement and practice of it.
I. Our own interest directs us to it. It is a natural good quality, and a most useful thing to desire the love of others, to seek the favour of our fellow-creatures. It is a very lawful ambition to covet the good-will of those with whom we converse; and to pursue such practices as may procure us a place in their good opinion and friendship. We who are born for society, must naturally desire to stand well with mankind; and that our neighhours should wish our welfare, should treat us with decency, and civility, and love; should assist our interest, and do us good when we stand in need of them : And if so, then the rule of justice obliges us to practise the same towards them, which we desire they should practise towards us. The more we exercise of humility, meekness, patience, charity, and good-will towards our neighbours, the more reason have we to expect the same returns of a lovely carriage from them. And it is no small advantage in life, for a person to be much beloved. When he falls under sudden distresses, every man is ready to relieve him, when he meets with perplexing difficulties lie has the ready assistance of multitudes at his command, because he hath many lovers.
Il. it is a most generous character, and the sign of a great and good soul, to delight to please those with whom we converse. It is a lovely sight to behold a person solicitous to make all around about him easy and happy. Such amiable souls as these it is a frequent practice, and a pleasure to them, to contradict, their own natural inclinations, in order to serve the desires, or the interest of their friends. Happy temper! that finds so much satisfaction in this self-denial, that the very virtue loses its name, and it becomes but another sort of self-pleasing. Such persons are in pain, when they find their friends hard to be pleased, and they suffer sometimes too much uneasiness in themselves, because of the perverse humours of those they converse with. This unea. siness indeed may arise to a criminal excess, but the spring of it has something amiable. I could wish every soul of us would learn a lovely
carriage. For, III. It makes us resemble God himself. And yet there are some that will be selfish and churlish, that will practise the furious or the peevish passions, through some reigning principle of pride, or covetousness, impatience, or envy. There are some that delight in vexing their fellow-creatures, and in giving them torment and pain. Part of these qualities make us a-kin to brutes of the worser kind, when we take care of none but self, and are regardless of neighbour's welfare, “ If self be healthy and rich, easy and honoured, it is no matter though the rest of the world sustain sickness, and poverty, and scandal.” Others of these unlovely characters approach nearer to the spirit of the devil, who takes delight in torturing his fellow-creatures, and doing what mischief he can amongst men.
But it is a God-like temper to take a sweet satisfaction in diffusing our goodness, and in pleasing and in serving all that are near us. Let us then be followers of God as dear children; Eph.
. v. i. He is the original beauty, he is the loveliest and the best of beings. To be good, and to do good, is a divine perfection, and let us remember it is a perfection that may be imitated too. He causes his sun to rise, and his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust, and fills the hearts even of the evil as well as the good with food and gladness, when he gives them fruitful seasons ; Acts xiv. 17. Let us not dare then to be rough and quarrelsome, and sullen, and ill-natured, while we profess to be his offspring. Let there be something lovely in our whole temper and conduct, while we pretend to be imitators of the God of love. And does the light of nature furnish us with all these motives for a lovely carriage? then surely the light of scripture enforces them all. The gospel obliges christians to this practice by much stronger arguments, and
it lays on us more substantial obligations. I. The blessed and ever glorious Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, give us in the gospel a divine example of this practice. Has God, the great and glorious God, manifested a lovely conduct in his works of creation, and his ways of providence; how much more glorious a pattern has he set us in the transactions of his redeeming love! What condescension hath he here shewn! What gentleness! what patience and forbearance! what forgiveness! what infinite and endless discoveries of grace has he made in his gospel ! God the Father reconciling the world to himself by Jesus Christ, has a peculiar sweetness of aspect and most amiable appearance. Here every chris
tian beholds him such as he revealed himself to Moses, when he caused his glory to pass before him; Ex. xxxiv. 6. The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, &c. The Son of God stooping down to take flesh and blood upon him, made the most amiable figure in the universe. Even in his glorious and triumphant state in heaven, he is represented by a lamb that was slain, an emblem of meekness and innocence. And if ever the blessed Spirit ap. peared in the shape of any living creature, it was in the form of a dore, a lovely and gentle animal. Thus the blessed Trinity conspire to teach us this amiable and divine carriage.
II. The Son of God incarnate has brought a lovely pat tern of this practice nearer to us in his whole deportment on earth. I cannot part with the most graceful example of our Lord Jesus Christ with a slight notice. He came into this world partly with a design to become our pattern in every virtue, and in every grace. Let us turn our eyes towards him in all the circumstances and behaviours of life, and he will ever appear, as he is in himself, the chiefest of ten thousands, and altogether lovely. Let us take a survey of him under those several particulars, in which an amiable carriage has been described.
Is prudence a lovely virtue? How perfectly wise was the conduct of our Lord! How carefully did he attend to the circumstances of time and place, while he dwelt among mankind ! How happily did he suit his conversation to his company! How wisely did he derive his divine discourses from the daily occurrences of life! How admirably did he distribute his benefits according to the various necessities of men! So that the unprejudiced world pronounced concerning him, He has done all things well. Shall we be rash and foolish, fickle and imprudent, and live at random in our words and our works, when we have so divine a pattern of prudence before us in the history of the goss pel?
Is moderation another lovely character, and a peace-maker an amiable title? Such was our blessed Lord, and such should his followers be. How glorious a sight is it to behold the Son of God coming down from heaven to be a mediator betwixt his offended Father and his offending creatures ! to reconcile heaven and earth together, and rather than fail in this attempt, he gladly exposed himself to shame and death, and made a cement of everlasting friendship betwixt God and man with his own blood. Shall we, who are reconciled by such amazing transactions, quarrel with each other for trilles, and form ourselves into parties for rage, and strife, and hatred, and yet profess the name of the great reconciler! Are we not commanded to follow peace with all men, as far as possible, with the security of our holiness and peace with God? And how can we otherwise hope to be the subjects and favourites of the Prince of peace?
Is humility another part of an amiable character ! Who was ever humble as the Son of God? The brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, who emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and humbled himself yet lower, even to the death of the cross, and to the dust of the grave; Phil. i. 6-9. Therefore the Father loved him, and the Father exalted hiin. This is the man, the God-man, who calls us to the practice of this virtue; Learn of me, says he, for I am meek and lowly, and ye shall find rest for your souls; Mat. xi. 29. What folly and madness is it for dust and ashes to be proud, when God's own Son was humble? And he gives us a noble instance to assure us that humility is a lovely quality: When the rich young man in the gospel came and kneeled before him to ask his advice, Jesus looked upon him and loved him; and would have left it upon record in his word, that there was something lovely in a modest and humble carriage, even where the saving grace of God was wanting: Mark x. 21.
Meekness and patience are the next things I mentioned, that go to make up the character of a lovely person. But who was meek as the Son of God is? What affronts did he endure even while he was inviting sinners in the most affecting language to their own eternal happiness? What shameful mockery did he sustain? What loads of malicious and infamous blasphemy? But when he was reviled, he reviled not again; 1 Pet. ii. 23. as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so opened he not his mouth; Is. liii. 7. O when shall we learn to imitate our blessed Lord, and forbear and forgive as he did.
How was his patience tried to the utmost? And that not only in the fruitless and thankless labours of his life among a cruel and insolent race of men, but in the approaches of his bloody death. When the blessed Redeemer lay agonizing in the garden, or hung bleeding on the cross, to see him oppressed with the weight of the wrath of God due to our sins, conflicting with the rage of devils, forsaken by his friends, and surrounded with the profane insults of barbarous men: What a mournful and moving spectacle! And yet there is something divinely amiable in it, to behold him all over calm and patient, and meditating immortal and forgiving love. What unworthy followers are we of the blessed Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, when upon every occasion we take fire, and break out into an impatient fury?
But if I should enter upon the last instance of a lovely character, and begin the mention of love, how far beyond all example, and beyond all description, is the love of our Lord Jesus !