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2. Next to cruelty, malice, and similar tempers, with the words and actions that naturally spring therefrom, nothing is more disgustful, not only to persons of sense and religion, but even to the generality of men, than pride, haughtiness of spirit, and its genuine fruits, an assuming, arrogant, overbearing behaviour.
Even uncommon learning, joined with shining talents, will not make amends for this : but a man of eminent endowments, if he be eminently haughty, will be despised by many, and disliked by all. Of this the famous master of Trinity college in Cambridge was a remarkable instance. How few persons of his time had a stronger understanding, or deeper learning, than Dr. Bentley! And yet how few were less beloved! unless one who was little, if at all inferior to him in sense or learning, and equally distant from humility : the author of the “divine legation of Moses." Whoever, therefore, desires to please his neighbour for his good, must take care of splitting upon this rock. Otherwise the same pride which impels him to seek the esteem of his neighbour, will infallibly hinder his attaining it.
3. Almost as disgustful to the generality of men as haughtiness itself, is a passionate temper and behaviour. Men of a tender disposition are afraid even to converse with persons of this spirit. And others are not fond of their acquaintance; as frequently, (perhaps when they expected nothing less, me 'ing .th shocks, which if they bear for the present, yet they do not willingly put themselves in the way of meeting with again. Hence pas. ionate men have seldom many friends; at least, not for any
lep 'th of time. Crowds, indeed, may attend them for a season, especially when it may promote their interest. But they are usually disgusted on after another, and fall off like leaves in autumn. If, therefore, you desire lastingly to please your neighbour for his good, by all possible means avoid violent passion.
4. Yea, and if you desire to please, even on this account, take that advice of the apostle : “Put away all lying.” It is the remark of an ingenious author, that of all vices, lying never yet found an apologist; any that would openly plead in its favour, whatever his private sentiments might be. But it should be remembered, Mr. Addison went to a better world, before lord Chesterfield's letters were published. Perhaps his apology for it was the best that ever was, or can be made for so bad a cause. But after all, the labour he has bestowed upon it, “has only semblance of worth; not substance.” It has no solidity in it; it is nothing better than a shining phantom. And as lying can never be commendable or innocent, so neither can it be pleasing: at least, when it is stripped of its disguise, and appears in its own shape. Consequently it ought to be carefully avoided, by all those who wish to please their neighbour for his good to edification.
5. But is not flattery, a man may say, one species of lying? And has not this been allowed in all ages, to be the sure means of pleasing? Has not that observation been confirmed by numberless experiments ;
Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit ?
“Flattery creates friends, plain dealing enemies ?" Has not a late witty writer, in his “ Sentimental Journal,” related some striking instances of this ? I answer, it is true : flattery is pleasing for a while, and that not only to weak minds; as the desire of praise, whether deserved or undeserved, is planted in every child of man.
But it is pleasing only for a while. As soon as the mask drops off, as soon as it
appears that the speaker meant nothing by his soft words, we are pleased no longer. Every man's own experience teaches him this. And we all know that if a man continues to flatter, after his insincerity is discovered, it is disgustful, not agreeable. Therefore, even this fashionable way of lying, is to be avoided, by all that are desirous of pleasing their neighbour to his lasting advantage..
6. Nay, whoever desires to do this, must remember, that not only lying, in every species of it, but even dissimulation, (which is not the same with lying, though nearly related to it,) is displeasing to men of understanding, though they have not religion.
Terence represents even an old heathen, when it was imputed to him, as answering with indignation ; " Simulare non est meum :" " Dissimulation is no part of my character." Guile, subtlety, cunning, the whole art of deceiving, by whatever terms it is expressed, is not accounted an accomplishment by wise men; but is, indeed, an abomination to them. And even those who practise it most, who are the greatest artificers of fraud, are not pleased with it in other men, neither are fond of conversing with those that practise it on themselves. Yea, the greatest deceivers are greatly displeased at those that play their own arts back upon
them. II. Now if cruelty, malice, envy, hatred, revenge, ill nature ; if pride and haughtiness; if irrational anger; if lying and dissimulation, together with guile, subtlety, and cunning; are all and every one displeasing to all men, especially to wise and good men; we may easily gather from hence, what is the sure way to please them for their good to edification. Only we are to remember, that there are those in every time and place, whom we must not expect to please. We must not, therefore, be surprised, when we meet with men who are not to be pleased any way. It is now, as it was of old when our Lord himself complained, “Whereunto shall I liken the men of this generation? They are like unto children sitting in the market place, and saying to each other, we have piped unto you, but ye have not danced : we have mourned unto you, but ye have not wept." But leaving these froward ones to themselves, we may reasonably hope to please others, by a careful and steady observation of the few directions following.
1. First, Let love not visit you as a transient guest, but be the constant temper of your soul. See that your heart be filled at all times, and on all occasions, with real, undissembled benevolence; not to those only that love you, but to every soul of man. Let it pant in your heart; let it sparkle in your eyes ; let it shine on all your actions. Whenever you open your lips, let it be with love; and let there be in your tongue the law of kindness. Your word will then distil as the rain, and as the dew upon the tender herb. Be not straitened or limited in your affection, but let it embrace every child of man. Every one that is born of a woman has a claim to your good will. You owe this not to some, but to all. And let all men know, that you desire both their temporal and eternal happiness, as sincerely as you do your own.
2. Secondly, If you would please your neighbour for his good, study to be lowly in heart. Be little and vile in your own eyes, in honour preferring others before yourself. Be deeply sensible of your own weaknesses, follies, and imperfections ; as well as of the sin remaining in your heart, and cleaving to all your words and actions. And let this spirit appear in all you speak or do. "Be clothed with humility."
Reject with horror that favourite maxim of the old heathen, sprung from the bottomless pit; Tanti eris aliis, quanti tibi fueris : The more you value yourself, the more others will value you.” Not so; on the contrary, both God and man “resist the proud :” and as “God giveth grace to the humble ;" so humility, not pride, recommends us to the esteem and favour of men, especially those that fear God.
3. If you desire to please your neighbour for his good to edification, you should, thirdly, labour and pray, that you may be meek, as well as lowly in heart. Labour to be of a calm, dispassionate temper ; gentle towards all men. And let the gentleness of your disposition appear in the whole tenor of your conversation. Let all your words and all your actions be regulated thereby. Remember, likewise, that advice of St. Peter: as an addition to your gentleness, “Be merciful;"' be courteous: be pitiful; be tenderly compassionate to all that are in distress; to all that are under any affliction of mind, body, or estate. Let
“ The various scenes of human wo,
Excite our softest sympathy." Weep with them that weep. If you can do no more, at least mix your tears with theirs; and give them healing words, such as may calm their minds, and mitigate their sorrows. But if you can, if you are able to give them actual assistance, let it not be wanting. Be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless. This will greatly tend to conciliate the affection, and to give a profitable pleasure, not only to those who are immediate objects of your compassion; but to others likewise, that“ see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
4. And while you are pitiful to the afflicted, see that you are courteous towards all men. It matters not, in this respect, whether they are high or low, rich or poor, superior or inferior to you. No, nor even whether good or bad, whether they fear God or not. Indeed the mode of showing your courtesy may vary, as Christian prudence will direct: but the thing itself is due to all : the lowest and worst have a claim to our courtesy. It may either be inward or outward ; either a temper or a mode of behaviour. Such a mode of behaviour as naturally springs from courtesy of heart. Is this the same with good breeding, or politeness? (which seems to be only a high degree of good breeding :) nay, good breeding is chiefly the fruit of education; but education cannot give courtesy of heart. Mr. Addison's well known definition of politeness, seems rather to be a definition of this : “A constant desire of pleasing all men, appearing through the whole conversation." Now this may subsist even in a high degree, where there has been no advantage of education. I have seen as real courtesy in an Irish cabin, as could be found in St. James's, or the Louvre.
5. Shall we endeavour to go a little deeper to search the foundation of this matter? What is the source of that desire to please, which we term courtesy? Let us look attentively into our heart, and we shall soon find an answer. The same apostle that teaches us to be courteous, teaches us to honour all men: and his Master teaches me to love all
Join these together, and what will be the effect? A poor wretch cries to me for an alms : I look, and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has an immortal spirit, made to know, and love, and dwell with God to eternity. I honour him for his Creator's sake. I see, through all these rags, that he is purpled over with the blood of Christ. I love him for the sake of his Redeemer. The courtesy, therefore, which I feel and show towards him, is a mixture of the honour and love, which I bear to the offspring of God; the purchase of his Son's blood, and the candidate for immortality. This courtesy let us feel and show towards all men; and we shall please all men to their edification.
6. Once more. Take all opportunities of declaring to others the affection which you really feel for them. This may be done with such an air, and in such a manner, as is not liable to the imputation of flattery: and experience shows, that honest men are pleased by this, full as much as knaves are by flattery. Those who are persuaded that your expressions of good will towards them are the language of your heart, will be as well satisfied with them, as with the strongest encomiums which you could pass upon them. You may judge them by yourselves, by what you feel in your own breast. You like to be honoured : but had you not rather be beloved ?
7. Permit me to add one advice more. If you would please all men for their good, at all events speak to all men the very truth from your heart. When you speak, open the window of your breast: let your words be the very picture of your heart. In all companies, and on all occasions, be a man of veracity: nay, be not content with bare veracity; but" in simplicity and godly sincerity, have all your conversation in the world;" as " an Ísraelite indeed in whom is no guile."
8. To sum up all in one word: if you would please men, please God! Let truth and love possess your whole soul. Let them be the springs of all your affections, passions, tempers ; the rule of all your thoughts. Let them inspire all your discourse; continually seasoned with that salt, and “meet to minister grace to the hearers." Let all your actions be wrought in love. Never “ let mercy or truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck.” Let them be open and conspicuous to all ; and “write them on the table of thy heart:" “So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man."
SERMON CVI. - The Duty of Constant Communion. The following discourse was written above five and fifty years ago, for the use of my pupils at Oxford. I have added very little, but retrenched much; as I then used more words than I do now. But I thank God, I have not yet seen cause to alter my sentiments in any point which is therein delivered.
J. W. 1788.
“Do this in remembrance of me,” Luke xxii, 19.
It is no wonder that men who have no fear of God, should never think of doing this. But it is strange that it should be neglected by any that do fear God, and desire to save their souls: and yet nothing is more common. One reason why many neglect it is, they are so much afraid of “ eating and drinking unworthily," that they never think how much greater the danger is, when they do not eat or drink at all. That I may do what I can to bring these well meaning men to a more just way of thinking, I shall,
I. Show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord's supper as often as he can: and,
II. Answer some objections.
I. I am to show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord's supper as often as he can.
1. The first reason why it is the duty of every Christian so to do, is, because it is a plain command of Christ. That this is his command, appears from the words of the text: “Do this in remembrance of me:' by which, as the apostles were obliged to bless, break, and give the bread to all that joined with them in these holy things; so were all Christians obliged to receive those signs of Christ's body and blood. Here, therefore, the bread and wine are commanded to be received, in remembrance of his death, to the end of the world. Observe too, that this command was given by our Lord, when he was just laying down his life for our sakes. They are, therefore, as it were, his dying words to all his followers.
2. A second reason why every Christian should do this, as often as he can is, because the benefits of doing it are so great, to all that do it in obedience to him: viz. the forgiveness of our past sins, the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls. In this world we are never free from temptations. Whatever way of life we are in, whatever our condition be, whether we are sick or well, in trouble or at ease, enemies of our souls are watching to lead us into sin. And too often they prevail over us. Now, when we are convinced of having sinned against God, what surer way have we of procuring pardon from him, than the "showing forth the Lord's death," and beseeching him, for the sake of his Son's sufferings, to blot out all our sins ?
3. The grace of God.given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, and enables us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and the blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls : this gives strength to perform our duty and leads us on to perfection. If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's supper; then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared
We must neglect no occasion, which the good providence of God affords us, for this purpose. This is the true rule : so often are we to receive as God gives us opportunity. Whoever, therefore, does not receive, but goes from the holy table when all things are prepared, either does not understand his duty, or does not care for the dying command of his Saviour, the forgiveness of his sins, the strengthening of his soul, and the refreshing it with the hope of glory.
4. Let every one, therefore, who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God, and consult the good of his own soul, by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord's day's service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day: four times a week always, and every saint's day beside. Accordingly, those that joined in the prayers of the faithful, never failed to partake of the blessed sacrament. What opinion they had of any who turned his back upon it, we may learn from that ancient canon: “If