« AnteriorContinuar »
finding professors, who deal around them an unbridled tongue in rash judgings, censures, obloquy, pious hints, religious innuendos, lamentable reports, and ear-whispered dirty tales, are base Christians, and nuisances in society, both civil and ecclesiastical. They are the reverse of that modesty, purity and chastity, here so beautifully recom. mended. The constituent branch, the essential nature, or the first fruit of true religion, or the wisdom which descends from above, is, that it is pure. Wherefore, having great and precious promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filt binefs of flesh and Spirit : Cleanse your hands ye finners, ani purify your hearts ye double minded.
The second line in this beautiful picture of true religion is, that it is peaceable. First pure, then peaceable. Peace follows after spiritual purity, stands connected with it, and depends upon it. Those who are truly wise, will endeavour to preserve peace where it exists, restore it where it is broken, and recover it where it is loit. Peace, how charming, how entertaining, and captivating to the pure mind! In families, neighbourhoods and societies, where this heavenly wisdom governs men, it renders them peaceable. The distinguished features of a truly religious man are, that he is peaceable, and a peace maker; he loves peace; peace is his atmosphere ; he dwells in peace; and the benign rays of peace flow from him as beams from the sun. Our exalted Mediator, styled the Wisdom of the Father, is called our Peace. An honourable branch of the name of the Most High is, that he is the God of Peace. True peace is the purchase of Christ Jesus, and an effect of the operation of the Spirit of grace. The great design of heaven, in the whole scheme of our redemption, was to accomplish and promote peace; peace between an offended God and offending man ; peace of conscience ; and peace between the children of inen. 24 .
The The great blessedness of the celestial state is, that all is harmonious, tranquil and peaceable there. We are commanded, as far as possible, to live peaceably with all men., Follow peace and holiness, without wbicb no man can see the Lord. The truly religious are not addicted to strifes and contentions ; they do not indulge boisterous passions and furious heats; they are peaceable, being governed by the religion of peace. They neither offer wrong to others, nor bitterly revenge wrong when offered to themselves. They know it to be their wisdom to be harmless and innocent; when they are reviled, not to revile again; not to return railing for railing. They have made their peace with God by faith in Christ Jesus—They preserve peace of mind in a diligent discharge of all Christian duties ; and endeavour to keep a conscience void of offence. They promote peace among their fellow-men ; maintain it in their families, cultivate it in their neighbourhoods ; and the establishment of it in church and state, affords them the highest pleasure. They are opposed to schisms, rents, and divisions. They well know that Cain, who separated himself, and went out from the presence of God, had a mark set upon him ; as also those mentioned by St Jude, who separated themselves, were branded with being fenSual, not having the Spirit. They attend to the commandments of heaven, which require them to mark those who caufe divisions. The pious are not only peaceable themselves, but they will be striving to be peace-makers, in order that they may be partakers of the blessings, and interested in the promises of Christ, when he says, Blesed are the peace-makers, for they fall be called the children of God. From these things, it is manifest, that all are far from true wisdom, who love to live in differences, and cherish contentions ; who prefer throwing oil into a flame rather than water. Many seem as if they cared not whe
ther church or state, or society prospered, or was destroyed, provided their corrupt humours might have room to display themselves and be gratified. But, how far is this temper from the religion which is from above !
Thirdly, This heavenly wisdom is gentle. The term gentle signifies patient, easy, moderate. It is rendered moderation, Phil. iv. 5. Let your moderation be known to all men. It is translated patient, 1 Tim. üi. 3. It difposes men to treat others with kindness, openness, and candour ; to bear with their infirmities ; to pass over many injuries as if unnoticed ; to forgive offences, and to interpret all things for the best. It is a sweet, equal, and placid spirit. Gentleness ftauds in oppofition to harshness, fe. verity, cruelty, incivility, and acrimony. To be gentle is not to stand upon the extremity of right, not to be pun&iliously rigorous in fractions of property, not cenforious in judging, not furious in opinion, not rude or overbearing in conversation. He who is governed by this gentle and heavenly religion, will be fair, calm, and equal. He will not kindle into a flame about the precise and perfect boundaries of righteousness with those with whom he has dealings; he will yield in doubtful and smaller matters, and recede in some things from what he imagines his right, for the sake of love and peace. Virtue and vice stand strongly and eternally distinguished one from another, yet the exact time of separation cannot certainly be determined in a thousand instances. Virtue and vice in this respect may be compared to the colours of the rainbow, which are strikingly discriminated ; yet to fix the perfect line of distinction between colour and colour, or mark, where the one colour ends and the other begins, is impoflble to the keenest eye and the most accurate observer. We are commanded not to be righteous overmucb. The truly gentle man will be avoiding bitter, unnecessary
and and rigorous cenfures. He will be putting the most caj. did, charitable and favourable constructions upon the foibles and weaknesses of others that they will poffibly bear: Gentleness, like charity, hopeth all things, believeth all things, and covereth a multitude of failings. Where dif. ferences in sentiments take place, he will not wilfully urge his own opinions beyond their weight, nor wrest his ad. versary's beyond their intention. He will carefully shun, as far as possible, all.vain disputings and wranglings. He will not set himself as the standard of rectitude and perfection, engrosling all conversation where he comes, and deciding as a mighty judge in every matter. He is rather ready to let his moderation and gentleness be known to all, in all things; patiently and sweetly instructing them who oppose themselves, and receiving with all tenderness the weak in faith, though not to doubtful dispu. tations. Wherefore let us all put on the ornament of a meek, quiet, patient, moderate and gentle fpirit. Bllle: are the meek, for they hall inherit the earth.
Fourthly, The wisdom which is from above is easy to be entreated. It is of an ingenious facility, and disposes the subject of it to be readily perfuaded or prevailed upon to forfake that which is evil, and to follow that which is good. It is true, there is an easiness and persuasibleness which is culpable and base, but it is not a blameable phiability to yield ourselves to the persuasions of Divine truth, and to the juft desires and reasonable requests of our fellow. creatures. Many are fo felf-willed, obftinate and perverse, that they will not relinquish their purpose, when others around them imagine that they must, and do feel the glaring conviction. A fool in his own conceit is wiser than seven men who can render a reason. But all those whose hearts have been rendered docile, tractable, and easy to be entreated by Divine grace, are of a very diffe
rent temper. Although they are determinately fixed in their aversion from that which is finful, yet they are easi. ly entreated to receive Divine truth, and readily submit to their duty. The unjust judge himself was recommend. ed, in a sort, by our Lord, for his being won by the widow's importunity. The religious will easily yield to the entreaties of others when better reason is discovered. Job would not despise the counsel of his fervant,-Moses was persuaded by the advice of Jethro,—and David was prevailed upon by the entreaties of a woman. Maný, after sufficient conviction of what is right is administered to them, will not drop their purpose, but either with a sulky obstinacy, or an outragious fury, adhere to their affertions. But those who are made wise from on high, are not self-willed, but easily entreated.
Fifthly; The wisdom which is from above is full of mercy. The truly pious are disposed to every thing that is kind, benevolent, charitable, and good ; feel compassion for the miserable,-inclined to relieve those that want, and to forgive those who offend. Some are ready to ap-' prehend clemency a disgrace, as if it argued men void of fortitude and spirit; but in the Divine judgment it is quite the reverse : It is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression! It is Christianity to pardon and forgive, but it is grossly wicked to be malicious and revengeful.' The religious man will feel a tender compassion for transgressors, easily pass over and forgive offences offered to him. He thinks of his own innumerable trespasses against God, for which he hopes for compassion and forgiveness, and that it would be enormously cruel in him not to forgive the little trespasses of his brethren of mankind. A Christian sympathy arises in his foul, when he beholds objects of distress. At seasons he enters into the feelings, pains, and sickness of the aflicted. He does not