Page images

duty, and to their truest happiness. And how ready is he to grant us a reprieve, to give us time to repent, and to forgive, yea, to blot out our past offences, whenever we are willing to return unto him through Christ, and to acknowledge and forsake our transgressions! Do we not admire this condescending gentleness? Do we not adore this merciful forbearance? And does it not behove us then to conform ourselves to it, and in every transaction with our fellow creatures, to behave with meekness and humility ?

This virtue is recommended to us also, by the example as well as the precept of our compassionate Redeemer. He was all gentleness and meekness. It was such a distinguishing feature of his character, that the Apostle Paul, in exhorting his Corinthian converts, makes use of this emphatic expression,—“I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Examine every part of our blessed Saviour's intercourse with men ; you will perceive no harshness, no pride, no resentment. Though he knew the world would hate him, yet he only mourned over it, and for our sakes was content to bear, with calm and unruffled patience, every indignity that malice could invent, and relentless cruelty perpetrate :—“when he was reviled, he reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” Yes, in every stage of his humi


liation, he constantly pursued the great — the stupendous object he had in view, - even the salvation of a ruined world; welcoming every circumstance which could in any way tend to promote his great design : and when at last, in full completion of his mission of mercy, the Lord of Life “tasted death for every man, “even the death of the cross,”—he went “as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Though his almighty power was sufficient at any time, in a moment, to have crushed his enemies, say, did he ever exert it but for the good of mankind ? On the memorable occasion of his being refused admittance into a village of the Samaritans, when his disciples, referring to the example of Elias, wished to call down fire from heaven to consume them, so far from yielding to resentment, he rebuked their intemperate zeal, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” And can we call ourselves the true disciples of Christ, if we cherish hatred or anger, malice or envy, in our hearts? No: if we desire indeed to belong to the benevolent friend of mankind, we must endeavour, by divine assistance, to follow his example, and walk even as he walked. Learn then, of the immaculate Jesus, not to give way to bitter resentment, and a turbulent behaviour ; but learn of him to subdue your passions, to control your pride, and to cherish a spirit of gentleness and forbearance. Under all circumstances, let the injunction of your crucified Saviour sink deep into your hearts, and be engraven on your lives,“Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.” It has been well observed, that, if any other than Jesus had taught this lesson, the imperfection of the teacher would have furnished us with objections to the doctrine. He therefore taught it himself, and that too by his own example, which is such as should silence all objections ; such as should make us adore, be confounded, and imitate.'

And is not this meek and gentle spirit the very basis and tendency of that religion which Christ came to establish upon earth? Yes, my brethren, the Gospel, like its divine Author, is universally kind and benevolent. Its first glad tidings were “peace on earth and good will towards men;" its most distinguishing character is love: and in the pure exercise of love consists the chief enjoyment of heaven, from whence it

It is among the first and principal instructions of Him who brought it down from heaven :-In his incomparable Sermon on the Mount, when he is declaring the essential articles of the Gospel covenant, and the terms upon which, through faith in his name, we may hope for the favour of God, the character of the meek hath a peculiar beatitude annexed to it; “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.' Indeed, every where in Scripture, the greatest stress is laid upon the exercise of this virtue. In every page of the New Testament we find it presented to our view, whilst its spirit breathes forth in almost every sentence.


. Reflect further, brethren, upon the advantages of a meek and quiet spirit in our daily intercourse with our fellow mortals : how often does “a soft answer turn away wrath,” and prevent those disagreements which too frequently arise even among friends and near relations. How does this truly christian grace diffuse cheerfulness and good humour on all who are under its influence! It renders the exchange of ordinary courtesies, and the discharge of the common offices of life, easy and agreeable; it cements and strengthens family love ; sweetens friendship, and heightens all our comforts and enjoyments.

On the other hand, can there be a spectacle more revolting, than to see persons united by the dearest ties, instead of indulging the soft interchange of comfort and support, giving way to jealousies, and harrassing one another with

peevishness and contention? How miserable the state of that man, whose home, the spot where his best earthly happiness ought to be found, where his first pleasures should centre, -where, after all the toil and fatigue of business or labour, he would naturally wish to meet with peace and consolation, how truly miserable to find that home the seat of the most bitter inquietude ! When parents and children, brothers and sisters, nay husbands and wives, break the tender bonds of nature, and livein perpetual quarrels and jarring discontent, does not the order of things seem subverted, and is not all changed into discord and confusion ?

How different the state of that family where self-government presides, where christian love and harmony are preserved, where meekness and affection reign, unembittered by strife or animosities, where there is a constant endeavour in all, to please and serve, to comfort and support each other. Such a family must surely feel a solid delight, far exceeding all the pleasures of sense : it forms one closely connected interest, acting in concert, and jointly promoting the common happiness, as if all its members were one body, animated by one soul. It may indeed be regarded as a faint picture of that blissful state where all is love : where the redeemed of the Lord, in universal harmony attune their golden harps, and sing praises unto God “that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

And while the spirit of meekness is so highly conducive to the welfare and happiness of others, let us never forget what inexpressible satis

« PreviousContinue »