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son's natural disposition, that he made this answer: "Natural disposition! why I am naturally as irritable as any man; but when I find anger, or passion, or any other evil temper, arise in my mind, immediately I go to my Redeemer, and, confessing my sins, I give myself up to be managed by him. This is the way I have taken to get the mastery of my passions." Study meekness, therefore, and let it be evident by submission to God, by bearing provocations, curbing the tongue, studying domestic quietness, acknowledging offences, conciliating the affections of others, and rendering them every service in your power. Its advantages are every way great. The meek enjoy themselves, enjoy their friends, enjoy their God, and enjoy the promises; for large is their portion of these. "The meek shall eat and be satisfied; the meek will he guide in judgment; the meek shall inherit the earth. The Lord lifteth up the meek. He will beautify the meek with salvation. The meek shall increase their joy in the Lord. Blessed are the meek." This is encouragement sufficient, one would think, to excite us most earnestly to attain this spirit. For here is contentment, direction, possession, exalta
* Three great dictates of meekness (as one observes) we find put together in one scripture, James i. 19. "Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath," which some observe to be couched in three proper names of Ishmael's son, Gen. xxv. 14. 1st Chron. i. 30, (which Bishop Prideaux, in the beginning of the wars, recommended to a gentleman that had been his pupil, as the summary of his advice) Mishma, Dumah, Massa: the signification of which is, Hear, keep silence, bear.-Hear reason, keep passion silent, and then you will not find it difficult to bear the provocation.
Psal. xxii. 26. xxv. 9. xxxvii. 11. cxlvi. 6. cxlix. 4. Isaiah xxix. 19. Matt. v. 5.
tion, ornament, and felicity. And history corroborates these declarations; for, in the ordinary dispensations of Providence, some tell us, that they have found it remarkably true, in times of public trouble and calamity, that it hath fared best with the meek and quiet.* But, perhaps, you will say, Those with whom I have to do are so very contrary, troublesome, and churlish; they try me all the day long: it is necessary almost to have the disposition of an angel to bear with them: they cross me in every purpose and endeavour to thwart every design. Now the best way to act with such people is to leave them to themselves, if you can do nothing with them by kindness. They will soon find that all the arrows they shoot will fall upon their own heads, and that they themselves are the greatest sufferers. Where two persons dwell together of a warm spirit, great contentions are likely to ensue, if some plan be not laid down, or christianity has no influence. Perhaps your natural temper may be irritable, and your lot may be cast with those whose dispositions are the same. Never ask the proud question, "Who ought to give way first ?" but rather, Whose anger shall subside first. "I have heard," says Mr. Henry, "of a married couple, who, though they were both naturally of a hot and hasty temper, yet lived very comfortably, in that relation, by observing an agreement made between themselves, Never to be both angry together; an excellent law of meekness, which, if faithfully lived up to, would prevent many of those breaches
* Dr. Hammond's Pract. Cat. p. 117.
among relations, which occasion so much guilt and grief, and are seldom healed without a scar."
Study also the divine art of contentment. It is a divine injunction, "Be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."* And what is more reasonable than to acquiesce with his will, to remember we are under his care, and that that is best for us which he sees best? Even some of the heathens confessed this. Epictetus, a pagan philosopher, thus directs his speech to God: "Use me to what thou pleasest. I consent unto thee, and am indifferent. I refuse nothing which seemeth good to thee; lead me whither thou wilt; put on me what garment thou pleasest. Wilt thou have me to be a governor or a private man; to stay at home or to be banished; to be poor or to be rich? I will, in respect to all these things, apologise for thee with men." Let us remember, too, that it is a false estimate we make when we imagine every body is better off than ourselves. There is a greater equality of blessings than we imagine. Socrates well observed, "that if we should bring into one common stock all our mishaps, so that each should receive his portion of them, gladly the most would take up their own, and go their ways.' "If you consider things as you ought, you will find a thousand incentives to this duty. Reason dictates, religion demands it, gratitude requires it; our condition in this world, however low, calls for it. God's relations, providences, promises, goodness, are
Heb. xiii. 5.
all arguments for it.* Our own interest, too, is concerned in it; for if we give way to a querulous, discontented disposition, we shall be of all creatures the most miserable. Look upon yourself then, my dear reader, as one who has no cause for dissatisfaction; as one who lives in God's house, at his table, under his protection, waited upon by his servants, served by heaven and earth, protected by his authority; to whom no evil can transpire without his permission, and who shall finally be brought to the everlasting enjoyment of his presence in a better world.
Once more beware of a narrow bigotted spirit. Young disciples are liable to fall a victim to this. Not that you are to make no distinctions; to imagine that the opinions of men are of no consequence as long as they are charitable and moral. There is a counterfeit candour which admits error with the same unconcern as if it were of no consequence: but where is the excellency of that kind of charity that insults the understanding, smiles at sin, trifles with truth, covers every failing with a gloss, and suffers our fellow-creatures to go on in the most awful state of rebellion against God? Such a spurious candour you must reject, whatever reproach and insult it may expose you to. There is, however, a narrowness of mind which becomes exceedingly injurious, of
* When Mr. Joseph Alleine, who was deprived of the use of his arms and legs before death, was asked by a friend how he could be so well contented to lie so long in that condition, he answered, "What! is God my Father, Jesus Christ my Saviour, and the Holy Spirit my Sanctifier and Comforter; and shall I not be content without limbs and health? He is an unreasonable wretch that cannot be content with a God, though he had nothing else."
which you will do well to beware. Bigotry is a severe judge sitting upon the throne of ignorance, and passing the sentence of condemnation upon all who differ in the least from the opinions of her subjects. Persecution and cruelty are her servants, carrying her sanguinary commands into execution. Now who would wish to harbour such a detestable monster? a monster that would put out every one's eyes but her own; that would proscribe every sentiment except that which she admires; that wishes every understanding to be swallowed up in one; that would destroy every mode of worship but that which she adopts; in fine, that would depopulate the church, and reserve heaven only for a few solitary individuals. My dear reader, avoid such a principle. Never judge harshly, partially, and uncharitably of others. Do not imagine that others are not going to heaven, because they see not as you do. The minds of men differ: they never can be exactly alike and as others give you leave to judge and think for yourself, so in return you must let them have the same liberty. Love and revere all the servants of God wherever you find them, although in some things they may not be agreed with you. Be not like those who seem never happy except others are walking exactly in the same circle with them; who love to make parties, and cause divisions, and all under the pretence of superior sanctity or greater knowledge. Abominate the thought, that nothing can be good except it proceed from your own denomination. Stand upon the grave of of party prejudice, and ex
claim, "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen." This is the noble