« הקודםהמשך »
of justice, and the due order world.
That all men should cease to resist, would be of very little importance, unless all men were to cease to attack ; for, otherwise, such a system would be merely the extinction of all rights, and the quiet toleration of every wrong. On the contrary, if the object be to diminish, as much as possible, the quantity of evil in the universe, and if its sudden destruction be impossible, it is much better to render vice and violence unsuccessful in their object, by that calm, yet vigilant resistance, which is more desirous of preventing future, than revenging past aggression.
As I cannot, for these reasons, believe, that the meekness of the gospel is pusillanimity, I cannot allow it any more to be error; it cannot consist in an undue depreciation of ourselves, or an ignorance of any one superiority we may chance to possess over our fellow creatures; the gospel never teaches ignorance; it stimulates man to the study of himself as the best of all wisdom; it permits him to discover the rank which God has assigned to him; but threatens him
with omnipotent anger, if he turns the gifts of the Creator to the scorn, and oppression of the creature, and when he feels the pride of talents, or of power; the scriptures unveil to him the glory of God, and tell him of the days of the life of man, that they are few, and evil; and that when the breath of his nostrils is gone, he returneth again to his dust.
Christian meekness is neither ignorance, nor pusillanimity; but the meekness of the gospel, so far as it is concerned in the vindication of its own rights, vindicates them only when they are of considerable importance. Nothing more distant from the ornament of a meek, and quiet spirit, than the incessant, and scrupulous vindication of minute rights, and an avidity for litigation and contest; a meek man will cede much, and before he vindicates a right, or resents an injury, will consider, if that for which he contends is worth the price of peace, not only if it be an object for which justice will permit him to struggle, but one which prudence forbids him to relinquish; he will pass over
many trifling wrongs, forgive slight injuries, as the natural, and inevitable consequences of the imperfect morality of man; he will subdue malice by openness, and benignity; turn away wrath by soft answers ; disarm hostility by patience; and endure much for the gospel, that he may gain the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which, in the sight of God, is of a great price.
Evangelical meekness is
meekness is never more exemplified, than in the proper management of superior talents, so as to make them rather a source of pleasure, and encouragement, than of apprehension to those with whom we live. The same observation applies equally to superior rank, superior birth, and every species of artificial, as well as natural distinction; meekness softens down the distance between man, and man, sweetens the malevolent passions which it is apt to excite, and is so far from diminishing subordination, that it strengthens it by converting a duty into a pleasure: For mankind are at the bottom, perhaps, well aware that they must be governed, and the
obedience of men may be raised into a’, species of idolatry, when those who could command them court them; and, when they find the garb of power laid aside, ont purpose to give pleasure, and diffuse the cheerfulness, and confidence of equality. !} The true meekness of the gospel, therefore, is powerfully evinced in the suppression of any superiority that may be painful, and oppressive, by informing, rather than exposing the ignorant, by rising up the humble, and judiciously bringing forward to notice, those whose merits are obscured by their apprehensions; Christianity is not confined to churches, and to hospitals ; to houses of mourning, or of prayer ; but it penetrates every situation, and it decorates every relation of life; the ornament of a meek, and a quiet spirit may be worn amidst worldly joys, without diminishing them. We may
be near to God, when we seem the most distant from him, and offer up a sacrifice, of meekness, that shall be as pleasant as a prayer in the temple.
It is not only unchristian, but it is unworthy, and little, to thrust forward
every pretension to notice;--to blazon our. selves over with the arms, and insignia of our merits, and to be perpetually occupied with putting the rest of the world in mind of their inferiority ;---greatness is, then, infinitely attractive, when it seems unconscious of its self ; when it is detected by others; not when it publishes, and praises its own importance ;—when it is called forth, by the chances of the world, to eminence, and light; and is unconscious of the wonder, amid the praises, and acclamations of mankind.
A meek man does not exact minute, and constant attentions from his fellow-creatures; he is not apt to form an exaggerated estimate of the duties which are owing to him ;-he is grateful for little services, and affectionate for any slight mark of notice, and respect;-he attributes every act of benevolence, not to his own merits, but to yours ;-he is thankful for what has been conferred, without being incensed that more has been withheld : To give to the meek, is to lend to that Saviour whom they imitate ; it is to confer favors upon a man