Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

his will, as soon as that is made known to us. This I understand by the character of the meek, in Psal. xxv. 9- "The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way." And in that prophecy of Christ, Isa. lxi. 1. "The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek." And by the temper with which St James directs us to receive the word of God, James i. 21. "Receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls." In all which places, meekness signifies not only a sedate composure of mind, free from ruffle and hurry; but also a teachable, tractable temper, arising from a diffidence of ourselves, and a sense of our need of divine light and conduct; that we have the proper disposition of learners, willing to hear and receive God's instructions; and that, therefore, we are willing to give up any prejudices which swayed us before, upon a discovery of his mind to the contrary.

This sort of meekness is a necessary qualification for the obedience of faith, and for the success and efficacy of God's word upon us. We should be of Samuel's temper, 1 Sam. iii. 9- "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Where there is plain revelation, we must meekly submit, and yield up any different apprehension to the declarations of him who is truth itself; and in. precepts of duty, cheerfully and readily acquiesce in the significations of his pleasure, without any more ado. He is not meek towards God, who is not content to believe what he plainly reveals, unless he be shewn how it is; that is, in other words, unless God will please to make him as wise as himself; or, who is not willing to sacrifice all his present inclinations, and change any present practice, upon God's sole authority; like those in Acts x. 33. "Now we are all here present before God, to hear what is commanded of God."

(2.) A cheerful and absolute resignation to his providence, is another branch of meekness towards God; in opposition to fretfulness and murmuring. Though God allow the complaints of nature under our burthens and exercises, yet he expects we should check and suppress all complaints of him, every impeachment of his justice, wisdom, and goodness, in his dispensations. It is a meek spirit, to "be dumb, and not open our mouths" against any thing which God does, Psal. xxxix. 9. When we have humbly prayed for any temporal good, if he see meet to deny it, as soon as his pleasure is known by the event, we should behave like David upon the death of his son, 2 Sam. xii. 22, 23. "He said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again?" It is meekness, not to charge God foolishly, but to charge ourselves with our own sins, when he chastens us for them; and, therefore, to "accept the punishment of our iniquities," Lev. xxvi. 41.

These are expressions of meekness towards God: and every man, who observes his own heart, will be sensible that he hath no small occasion at some times to rule his own spirit, in order to keep it under the rule of God. But,

2. The scripture leads us principally and most frequently to consider meekness in relation to other men. And so it is plainly to be understood here; for it stands in connection with several graces and duties which refer to men. The meek are such as exercise themselves in a careful restraint and regulation of their passions, reducing them within the bounds of reason and religion; and so are, in their general character, of a sweet and easy, a courteous and obliging behaviour. It consists, and expresses itself, in the following things:

1. In a calmness of temper, and behaviour thereupon, ** under provocations." This is its most direct and eminent province.

The meek will not take offence hastily, and without just reason; but be very careful that they "be not angry without a cause," Matt. v. 22. We should not rashly suppose, that a provocation is meant. A thing may at first carry that aspect, and yet there may be no design either of affront or prejudice; and then certainly what was not ill intended, should not be ill taken. We should not give way to suspicions and surmises, which cannot be supported with good evidence; nor pot the worst construction upon words or actions, but the best that they will admit. Resentment should not be allowed to rise, at least should be checked, till we have carefully considered whether there be ground for it. How much of mad passion would be prevented, if this rule were observed! This is included in the exhortation to "be slow to wrath," James i. 19.; and in those properties of charity, that it "is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, hopeth all things," 1 Cor. xiii. 5—7'

Meekness will not allow resentment to rise higher than the merit of the offence given. A trivial injury, a reproachful word, a small indiscretion, a casual loss not worth speaking of, raises in many the most outrageous passions: whereas a meek frame of spirit would esteem such things either not worthy of any notice, or to deserve but a very slight one.

But supposing a real and great provocation, a meek man will keep a strict guard upon his own spirits and words; that his mind be not inflamed by ill usage, nor other people's sins draw him into "speak inadvisedly with his lips for which, in a particular instance, Moses is blamed, Psal. cvi. S3. He was refused an entrance into Canaan upon that very account, though, in his general character, he is pronounced to have been the meekest man upon earth, Numb. xii. 3. Meekness will make us careful not to "render railing for railing but rather if possible, to break the force of other people's unreasonable anger by gentle returns: "Soft answers turn away wrath," Prov. xv. 1. We should gladly try to win with kindness a man that hath injured us, to "overcome evil with good," Rom. xii. 21. How much more pleasant would it be thus to gain our brother, than, by unhallowed transports of passion, to break in upon our own peace, and make ourselves transgressors?

Meekness will make us slow in using rough methods to right ourselves, even from considerable injuries, which we ought not to sit down easy under: it will dispose to try the mildest ways first, to bring people, if possible, by them to reason; to try argument before punishment, and conference before law, and private admonition before we make a public example. And if, at last, our own security, or the common good, shall oblige to seek public justice against any, which certainly sometimes may be the case; this should be done without hatred to their persons, and merely with a view to reach those lawful and commendable ends. Or if we are necessitated, in a case of property, to appeal to the decision of the law, care is to be taken that this difference upon a point of interest between us and our neighbour, be managed with all the temper that may be, instead of being widened by bitter reflections and passionate exclamations. So meekness will direct.

It will always keep us in a readiness to be reconciled, when an offence is acknowledged, and reasonable satisfaction offered. The gospel teaches us to be rarely and hardly provoked ; but to be quickly and easily pacified: “Anger resteth in the bosom of fools,” Eccl. vii. 9. And, therefore, with that difficult precept of “being angry and not sinning,” it is connected, that we should be particularly watchful against the continuance of passion: “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” Eph. iv. 26. Implacableness is eminently the reverse of the Christian temper. When Peter asked Christ, “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him 2 until seven times?” Christ makes him this return, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times;” not only so far, “but until seventy times seven,” that is, be it ever so often that he hath offended thee; yet if thou canst have hope that he is to come to a better mind, thou shouldst be ready to pass it by. Or if he should persist in his ill mind, meekness should guard us against all malice and ill will, and make us ready to help even the worst enemy in the common offices of life, if he need it ; and heartily to pray for him, especially for his repentall Ce. 2. Meekness should express itself in a care to avoid giving offence to others, and a modesty of behaviour for that purpose towards all. St. Paul directs Titus to recommend meekness in this sense to Christians, Titus ii. 2. “Put them in mind —to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” As this grace will conduct us to a proper behaviour under ill treatment from others; so it will teach us to moderate our affections and passions in such a manner, as not willingly to give offence to others, and to behave in a courteous and affable manner, towards all men. As “charity, so meekness is kind, and doth not behave itself unseemly,” I Cor. xiii. 4, 5. It will make a man observant of the tempers of others, and willingly to deny his own humour in little things, rather than give them uneasiness; and cautions that neither his words nor actions may carry any thing in them unnecessarily provoking. A meek man will not be overbear-. ing in company, and full of himself, to the neglect of others; but will studiously express civility to all, agreeable to their stations. Most men know how to do all this, when they apprehend it necessary to serve a present secular end: but the

grace of meekness would teach us to make it the habitual exercise of our lives, out of a sense of duty to God, and from love to our neighbour.

3. Meekness is shewn in a modest comporting of ourselves to our station and circumstances.

It will dispose those who are in any station of inferiority, contentedly to submit to the duties of that station. It will incline children to "obey their parents in all things, because this is well pleasing to the Lord," Col. iii. 50.; and servants to "be obedient to them that are,their masters, in singleness of their heart, as unto Christ; with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not to men," Eph. vi. 5—7- Or, as it is expressed in another place, Titus ii. 9- "to please them well in all things, not answering again." It will have a like influence upon subjects, to induce them to "be subject to the higher powers, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake," Rom. xiii. 5. And we find "the ornament of a meek and a quiet spirit," particularly recommended to wives, 1 Peter iii. 4. The meek will cheerfully pay "honour to whom honour is due, and fear to whom fear;" it will be no uneasy thing to them; but the froward fret at any yoke.

On the other hand, the same excellent temper will form persons in superior relations, or under smiling providences, to a lowly and condescending behaviour. Parents should exercise this frame in their management of their children, not behaving towards them in transports of p;ission: "Ye fathers," says the apostle, "provoke not your children to wrath," Eph. vi. 4. Husbands are commanded to "love their wives, and not to be bitter against them," Col. iii. 19-; and masters are directed to treat their servants with lenity, "forbearing threatening, knowing that their Master also is in heaven," Eph. vi. 9- These are all precepts of meekness to those in superior relations; and the same should appear in superiority of rank or circumstances. The meek man is not assuming in grandeur, or riches, or power; but his meekness shines more brightly for being set in a more conspicuous light. The meekness of a man in obscurity is not so easily distinguished, from the necessity of his condition; but when it appears in a higher orb, or upon remarkable advancement, it hath more clearly the aspect of virtue. When people treat their inferiors with due regard, are easy of access, ready to do them any

« AnteriorContinuar »