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This may be done on the ground of its worth and beneficial results. We
the cultivation of this fruit of the Spirit on the ground
1. Of its worth. By what rule, in our moral arithmetic, can we calculate, or what method of investigation will conduct us to a correct estimate of its value ? Its price is above rubies. We argue its importance from the fact, that it is a fruit of the Spirit of God, which is a sufficient guarantee of its price; for every thing connected with the existence, operation, and effects of that Spirit is sublime and precious. Every unit or part of religion is momentous and indispensable. Many there are, it is true, who discover no beauty in it that they should desire it. And why? Because they are in darkness, gross darkness,—they have eyes but they see not. If a blind man treads on jewels, or stumbles on diamonds, they no more attract his notice than the pebbles by the way side; he sees not, he knows not their worth. So with the morally blind, until the irradiations of the gospel come in contact with their spiritual vision; they see no excellency in the graces of the Spirit, or in the religion of Christ.
But an intelligent christian views religion in a different light, and from another stand-point from the men of the world; and is therefore more competent to estimate its value. “Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Those who suppose they can be religious without a properly regulated temper and conduct in every point, are mistaken. " For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all," Jam. ii. 10. We also urgently commend the cultivation of this virtue on the ground,
2. Of its beneficial results. We derive great spiritual benefit from the possession of christian gentleness, and others are more or less favourably impressed by its exercise. “Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in
the Lord.” It enables us more efficiently to fulfil the requirements of the gospel, to exercise a proper control over the passions and affections, and maintain propriety, uniformity, and becoming conduct. Where this interesting feature of religion does not exist, there is often disorder and strife, which is incompatible with our fellowship and communion with Christ; but when this grace exists in the heart, it adds materially to our spiritual enjoyments and devout aspirations.
“Let this amiable temper,” says one writer, fluence all our conduct; let nothing of sternness, sourness, or unkindness appear at any time: but on the contrary, the greatest courtesy, affability, meekness, gentleness, humility, and love--constantly maintain the christian spirit and temper; let us be universally conscientious and uniformly pious."
“ The kind intent of christian love
All rude attire disdains,
And soothes where'er it pains.”
Let us offer a few directions to aid its acquisition. Observe,
·1. Temptations must be resisted. These may be various and powerful, but the wiles and darts of Satan must be resisted and overcome. The enemy is skilful in the art of seduction, and fertile in expedients to accomplish his designs. He attacks the imagination, through which he frequently gains access to the mind. He presents dazzling pictures to the eye, to draw the heart from God. Eve was tempted with the idea of elevation and great intellectuality: “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;"-David with the notion of a populous empire: “Number those men, and dwell with delight on thine own greatness.” He exhibited a map of the world to the Saviour, as an inducement to
idolatry: from "an exceeding high mountain he sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” And also suggested to Judas Iscariot, the opportunity of making money by selling his Lord; Judas adopting the suggestion, covenanted or made a bargain with the chief men of the sanhedrim for ".
thirty pieces of silver,” or sold his Master for £3. 78. 6d.
" And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he
sift you as wheat.” And “we are not ignorant of Satan's devices ;" nor can we expect exemption from temptation. But « when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," Isa. lix. 19. How explicit, full, and encouraging is this declaration; and how consoling the Divine agency engaged on our behalf, when contending with the Prince of darkness.
“My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise ;
To draw thee from the skies."
2. There must be a constant adherence to God. In this respect the conduct of Hezekiah is worthy of our attention; for, amidst the idolatry of the people over whom he reigned, it is recorded of him that, “he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses," 2 Kings xviii. 6.
When Barnabas visited Antioch, and saw the grace of God in the conversion of sinners, he was glad, and exhorted them all “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Such advice was judicious and seasonable, and is equally important to believers at the present day.
To cleave unto the Lord is a Divine requirement, and implies an adherence to his truth and to his ways; and to attend properly to this duty we must come out from amongst the ungodly, shun the evils that are in the world, and manifest a decided preference for the things which belong to our peace.
We must cleave unto the Lord amidst opposition, calumny, and temptation : amidst privation, affliction, and death ; for He is our helper in trouble, our guide in difficulty, our friend in need, and our refuge in danger. “ Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
3. The standard of religious character must be maintained Many professors lower the tone of an evangelical piety by a partial application of the powers of the mind to the subject of religion; whereas it requires a full and total dedication of body and soul to God. Others by inconsistent deeds, and conformity to the maxims of the world, lower the standard of religion,-a fact which accounts for the lack of christian gentleness in the conduct of many professing godliness.
To remedy this defect, personal piety and holiness unto the Lord must characterise their deportment. “Be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without
, spot, and blameless."
Are any of you grieving over the imperfection of your character, or mourning on account of the lack of the fruit of the Spirit I have endeavoured to explain? Did you once possess this amiable virtue, but are now deploring its loss, as you exclaim, “O that it was with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shone upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; while as yet the Almighty was with me?” If such be your experience and lamentation, give yourselves afresh to the Lord, humble yourselves before him, and attend to the instructions given, that you may be enabled to attain to the privileges and enjoyments you once possessed.
Satan will try to displace your affections, and beguile you with his charms; but you must resist him, and he will flee from you. Cleave unto the Lord ; live to his honour and glory; and lift high the christian standard. Be on your guard, like the sentinel in the garrison, or the watchman on the tower. Guard your thoughts, looks, actions, and conversation. “Pray without ceasing." Prayer tends to refine the taste, promote gentleness, and prepares the soul for its departure to immortality and glory. “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let'my last end be like his !"
“You see the man; you see his hold on heaven.