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with a smile on his countenance, he lifted up his eyes and exclaimed, “O God, what a miracle of thy power! What cannot thy grace accomplish !" When he arrived at Cape Town, many who had long heard of his dark and cruel deeds, were struck with the gentleness of his demeanour Before he died, “My former life,” said he, “ is stained with blood; but Jesus Christ has pardoned me, and I am going to heaven.”
Mahine, a heathen chief, and a distinguished warrior, was not only a terror to all on the island where he lived, but also to those on the neighbouring islands. After his conversion to God, he took great interest in instructing the rising generation, was stedfast, diligent, meek, and humble as a little child; and died happy in God.
Makea, of Rarotonga, was an idolator, a cruel tyrant, and a great cannibal. But he became a convert to the faith, assisted Mr. Williams when building his missionary vessel, was useful in the church of Christ, manifested a christian spirit in his deportment, and fell asleep in Jesus.
Maoæ, whose office it was to rally dispirited warriors, spent whole nights in going from house to house stimulating the people, and giving them assurances from the gods of success in approaching war, embraced the gospel, and held fast his confidence to the end. questioned respecting the foundation of his hopes of future happiness, he answered, “The blood of Jesus is my foundation ; Jesus is the best King; He gives a pillow without thorns.” When asked whether he was afraid to die, he replied, “No, no: the ship is in the sea; the sails are spread; she is ready. I have a good pilot, and a good landing-place before me. My outside man and my inside man differ. Let the one rot till the trumpet shall be blown; but let my soul go to the throne of Je
Such conversions are worthy of record and reiteration. They are the result of missionary toil; and a proof of the transforming influence of the religion of Christ. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Another requisite part of christian gentleness is,
3. Inoffensiveness. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city,” Prov. xvi. 32. The possessors of this heavenly virtue are wishful to avoid every thing that would wound the feelings, or inflict injury on their fellow men, provided it involves not the omission of any duty affecting their moral responsibility. When the Rev. W. Clowes, one of the most successful home missionaries England ever produced, was once preaching in Lincoln, some one threw a stone, which brought blood from his face. The manner in which he bore the insult, and prayed for the insulter, led to the conversion of a respectable tradesman.
One great and prevailing evil of the present day, is backbiting; and we fear there are many who even make a profession of religion who are guilty of this abominable practice. Such instigators and retailers of slander injure the character of others, and often the innocent. " Whose lips are spears and arrows, and whose tongue is a sharp sword.” “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”
But a true christian will not stoop to low and cunning deeds, nor try to disguise his intentions. He answers to the psalmist's description of a sincere citizen of Zion: “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour." It also comprehends,
4. Affability. And what is more desirable in the intercourse with our fellow-creatures than the mani
festation of brotherly kindness and civil behaviour ? A. harsh, blustering man always seems in a turbulent atmosphere, in a state of confusion. Others are so reserved, distant, and sullen, that it requires a considerable pressure to unclasp their minds and reach the thoughts of their hearts; and not a few are so pompous, and have so much affectation or assumption, that they are disagreeable associates, and lack common civility.
On the other hand, there are many persons who make no profession of religion who are nevertheless remarkably kind and obliging; their actions, frankness, and urbanity, are truly characteristic of an affable disposition; in this respect, some uncouth professors and boisterous officials in the church would do well to follow their example.
“Oh! if they knew, who walk the earth,
As christians, we are not to be influenced by the customs and manners of the world, nor by those who profess religion unless their conduct is in accordance with the word of God. We must be courteous and conciliatory, and in our conversation endeavour to promote personal, social, and domestic happiness. Gentleness renders the character attractive, wins the admiration of the wise, and widens the circle of friendship.
This principle was exemplified in the conduct of Paul, when Festus charged him with insanity; but he modestly replied, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.” King Agrippa, attracted with his manner, and perhaps his theme too, said unto Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds,"
Acts xxvi. 28, 29. Furthermore, to be gentle is to be,
5. Unassuming. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” An unrenewed heart is the fountain of impurity and the seat of pride. It was pride which occasioned the expulsion of Lucifer from heaven, -Adam and Eve from paradise. Look at the cases of Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod. Pride leads to haughtiness, self-will, and undue assumption. Some estimate character according to the number of talents possessed, the degree of learning acquired, the amount of influence exerted, and the titles and offices sustained. But we can only make a prudent and correct estimate from that which constitutes our moral character and christian attainments. We must not think too highly of ourselves, but be meek and lowly in heart, and profit by the advice of the apostle: "I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” Rom. xii. 3.
We are not to glory in wisdom, might, or riches; but in our knowledge of, and interest in, the one living and true God. “ Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth : for in these things I delight, saith the Lord," Jer. ix. 23, 24. Notice,
II. BY WHOM, AND ON WHAT OCCASIONS, THE EXER
CISE OF GENTLENESS IS NECESSARY.
The manifestation of this virtue is desirable in general; but it is looked for especially in the conduct of christians. It was a prominent trait in the character of Christ, conformable with ancient prophecy. “He shall
feed his flock like a shepherd : he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young,” Isa. xl. 11. The same prophet also remarks, “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” Again, we read, “Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” Zech. ix. 9.
It was not only a subject of prophecy, but was also manifest in the life of Christ.
"I Paul beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” 2 Cor. x. 1. It shone in the doctrines he taught, in the miracles he wrought, and in the invitations he uttered. We must imbibe his spirit, and emulate his example.
1. It must be exercised by ministers and officials in the administration of church discipline. Every legally constituted society has its rules or laws by which its members are governed, and which requirestrict obedience. The necessity and utility of national laws must be admitted; without them a nation would be in a perpetual ferment and confusion. Equally necessary is the discipline of the church; its laws and discipline should be in accordance with the New Testament, and uniform with the law of Christ. It is a violation of the principles and spirit of the gospel that the priesthood has assumed so much authority, and arrogated to itself the prerogative of imposing fines, penalties, and bodily mortifications.
The members of the church are of course amenable to the laws by which the whole body is governed; but neither priestly tyranny nor lay despotism ought to be tolerated. A scriptural course should be adopted before censures are inflicted, or excommunication takes place. The steps to be taken are clearly pointed out for our guidance.