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193 glitter of finery adorned his dwelling ! He was content with the situation of a carpenter. He was partly supported by the kindness of a few pious followers, “ who ministered unto him of their substance ; "a and paid a trifle of tribute by a miracle. His most eminent disciple manifested a similar spirit : “ I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Similar to these examples are the instructions addressed in the sacred Scriptures, to the disciples of the Saviour. content with such things as you have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."c
Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." “ Be careful for nothing : but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."e "Art thou called, being a slave ? care not for it."
The admonition given to Baruch is most important: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not."8 By discontent multitudes have destroyed their peace, and, it is to be feared, undone their souls. Dissatisfied with the allotments of the Most High, they have aimed at greater things, and in pursuit of these have neglected the admonitions of conscience; have violated the precepts of Heaven, and following the shadows of time, have slighted and lost the treasures of eternity. The course of some has ended in disappointment; others have succeeded in obtaining the wealth or honour they pursued, but have lost religion and heaven in the pursuit. Many young persons, employed in the service of pious families, or in situations where their religious privileges were fully en. joyed, have left such situations for others, where they had no such advantages, but where a few more pounds a year might be obtained. In such cases religion has often died. They have gained a little worldly profit; but it has been gained by the loss of everlasting life, and the ruin of an immortal soul. Ah, dreadful profit! wretched bargain ! deceived and foolish purchasers ! How much happier are they, whose worldly profits and possessions may be much smaller, but who, taught by Jesus, are content with such things as they have; whose home is the skies, whose heart is there ; who pass through life as travellers to heaven, and who, having
(a) Luke viii. 3. (6) Phil. iv. 11-13. (c) Heb. xiii. 5. (d) 1 Tim. vi. 6-10. (e) Phil, iv. 5, 6. (f) 1 Cor. vii. 21. (g) Jer. xlv. 5,
GOVERNMENT OF THE TEMPER. sought first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, read their title clear to the inheritance of the saints in light.
GOVERNMENT OF THE TEMPER.-GOVERNMENT OF THE THOUGHTS.-GOVERNMENT OF THE LIPS.-SELF-EXAMIN. ATION.-THE IMPROVEMENT OF TIME.-ON AVOIDING IDLENESS, AND ON DILIGENCE, - ON RECREATIONSDUTY TO CIVIL RULERS.
MORTIFY THE MOST FLAGRANT VICES.
WHETHER we regard the honour of religion, or the
comfort of domestic life, much depends upon governing the temper. Some persons are naturally possessed of a temper kind and sweet ; and are thus prepared, when they become partakers of religion, to display its most attractive charms. Others are naturally violent and passionate, or sullen and morose.
IT IS AS MUCH THE OFFICE OF RELIGION TO SOFTEN AND SUBDUE HARSH AND UNRULY TEMPERS, AS IT IS TO
Little do they know of the design of religion, and little do they feel of its power, who are insensible to this.
The word of God inculcates meekness and gentleness, and the mild and lovely tempers of the Saviour. « Cease from anger, and forsake wrath."a “ Be ye angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath ; neither give place to the devil.”b “ Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, be put away from you, with all malice."¢ « Put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering.' “ Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted."e
“ The fruit of the Spirit is peace, gentleness, meekness.”'f
“ Follow after meekness."8
(a) Psal. xxxvii. 8. (8) Eph. iv. 26. Col. iii. 8. (d) Col. iii. 12. (e) Eph. iv. 32 (f) Gal. v. 22.
(c) Eph. iv. 31. ơ) 1 Tim. vi. 11.
GOVERNMENT OF THE TEMPER.
195 In these important passages, how many weighty reasons are included, for cherishing a meek and gentle temper, and for repressing harshness, sullenness, and passion. If the authority of the infinite God avails, you here have his commands. If a dread of yielding to the wicked one can prevail, he cautions us not to give place to the devil by indulging wrath.
The Most High enforces the necessity of gentleness and meekness, by pronouncing the meek blessed; by declaring gentleness a fruit of the Spirit; and by teaching us, that if we would walk worthy of our holy calling, it must be with lowliness and meekness. Important promises are made to the meek. “ The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way.”
“ The meek shall increase their joy in the Lord."i If any thing more were wanting to stampa value on mild and gentle tempers, it may be found in the declaration, that they form an ornament to the human character, highly valued by God himself. “ Whose adorning, let it be THE ORNAMENT OF A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT, which is in THE SIGHT OF GOD OF GREAT PRICE."k
After these testimonies to the importance of mildness and gentleness, think not that the government of your temper is of little importance. A furious, or sullen and sour, professor of the gospel, instead of recommending religion, more effectually teaches men to hate it, than does a drunkard or a blasphemer. And the same authority that condemns drunkenness and the drunkard, declares harsh tempers the fruits of the flesh, and forbids them to the followers of the Lamb.
$ 2. The honour of religion, your own happiness, and that of those around you, depend so much on the daily exercise of mild and gentle tempers, that it may be important to pursue the subject by viewing the example of the holy Jesus. During his life of trials, he manifested unruffled gentleness and meekness. No passion, no resentment, no sullen anger, ever appeared in him. His life was a life of meekness; and when injuriously led to death, he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and not one angry word escaped his lips. Wrath and passion are most apt to be displayed to enemies. His enemies were many ; but he displayed no resentment. When the Jews were about to stone him, he mildly said, “ Many good works have I shown you from my Father, for which of those works (h) Ps. xxix. 9. (i) Isa. xxix. 19.
(k) 1 Pet. iii, 3.
GOVERNMENT OF THE THOUGHTS.
196 do ye stone me?" When cruelly insulted before the tribunal of Caiaphas, he said, “ If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me."'m His friends often displayed much dulness and unbelief; yet he manifested no reseniful emotions; but kindly instructed them, or mildly expostulated with them. And for them, when sleeping even during his agony, he pleaded in excuse, “ The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Would you honour religion, and have your dwelling the abode of peace, copy the gentleness of Jesus; and watch and pray for meekness like your Lord's. By soft words turn away anger; and never, never relax in your prayers and exertions, till your temper is brought into obedience to Christ. Great occasions for displaying some of the splendid virtues of Christianity seldom occur ; it is by a daily attention to its more retired graces, that you must manifest its power. A martyr's firmness you will probably never be called to display; but the Saviour's gentleness and mildness, you are called upon to manifest every day. Not once in your life you may be summoned to prove, by renouncing liberty, friends, and property, that you prefer your Lord to all earthly good; but a hundred petty, yet vexing, occurrences may arise even in a day, to give you an opportunity of proving, that you imitate Jesus's example, and show that you treasure in your heart, and display in your life, his admonitions respecting the loveliness and worth of a meek and quiet spirit.
$ 3. Another often much neglected duty is the government of the thoughts. Thought is the spring of action. Holy affections are strengthened by virtuous thoughts and medita
and countless sins are committed by the indulgence of impure, or sensual, or resentful thoughts. Think it not therefore a matter of small importance, what are the thoughts which fill your mind during your busy or your lonely hours
. Consider that God observes your every thought. “ The Lord looketh at the heart ;" “ and understandeth your thoughts afar off.”p The blessed Saviour ? also asserts, that the greatest crimes may be perpetrated in the secret chambers of the in- agination ;
for is whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."
(1) John X. 32. (m) John xviii. 23. (n) Matt. xxvi. 41.
(p) Ps. cxxxix. 2. (0) Matt, xv. 19; xii. 35.
(0) 1 Sam. xvi. 7. (r) Matt. v. 28
GOVERNMENT OF THE THOUGHTS.
197 & The indulgence of evil thoughts is represented as descriptive
of those who are hastening to perdition. “ The wicked will not seek after God : God is not in all his thoughts." Hence their thoughts are declared to be hateful to the heart-searching God, “ The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord." “ A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, God hateth.” Such thoughts need repentance and forgive
“ Repent therefore of this thy wickedness," said the apostle Peter, “and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart
may be forgiven thee." Those who wish for holiness and happiness, are exhorted to forsake evil thoughts.
“ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
On the other hand, to indulge pious thoughts is represented as descriptive of piety. “I will sing praise unto my God, my meditation of him shall be sweet.”X Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." To have the thoughts frequently occupied with divine subjects, was required from the people of God under the old dispensation; and reason and Scripture may convince us, that it is not less important under the new." The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, directed Timothy to meditate on these things, and to give himself to meditation and prayer. Peter, the favoured disciple of the Lord of glory, not long before he quitted this world, wrote his second epistle, that his beloved friends might be stirred up to have those things which belonged to their eternal peace “ALWAYS IN REMEMBRANCE." If after all these testimonies to the importance of repressing evil thoughts, and of cherishing those of a holy and pious nature, more were necessary, you have it in the declaration of the blessed God, that “ book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that THOUGHT UPON HIS NAME. They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my jewels."
To assist in governing the thoughts, it is a highly useful practice in the morning to fix upon some part of the divine word, though it should be but a single verse, which may furnish matter for meditation at leisure intervals during the day.
(5) Ps. x, 4. (w) Isa. Iv. 7.
(1) Prov. xv. 26. (u) Prov. vi. 16. (v) Acts viii. 29.
(6) Mal, iii. 16, 17.