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Among the virtues of the Christian life, that of meekness, though accompanied with less show than many others, does not hold a less important place. It is a disposition of inind highly amiable in itself ; it is a distinguishing mark of the disciples of Jesus ; it is extremely favourable to the cultivation and improvement of every other virtue ; and it is of high price in the sight of God. « The meek will he
guide in judgment; and the meek will he “ teach his way.” Let us attempt to describe it, and to point out the blessedness with which it is connected.
I. This virtue is not the effect of natural disposition, nor is it a habit to be acquired in the school of the world; but it is a Christian grace, and a fruit of the Spirit. There are some who have in them much of the milk of human kindness, and who consequently possess a softness of disposition which is productive of an easy, gentle, and inoffensive behaviour. But such men are yielding and submissive more from want of spirit and firmness to withstand opposition, than from any fixed principle of conduct. There are others who have much complaisance in their behaviour, and much smoothness of phrase in their speech,
who yet have not “ the ornament of a meek • and quiet spirit.” They have been much conversant in the ways of men ; they have acquired an artificial politeness which enables them to conceal every feeling of disgust and dislike ; and often, under the veil of gentle appearances and the most obliging manners, they conceal the bitterest malice and ill-will. But the meekness which is taught in the school of Jesus, is founded on a good temper, a steady principle of virtue, a modest opinion of ourselves, a sincere benevolence and good will to our neighbour, and above all, a love of
peace and quietness. It is in no respect inconsistent with firmness and vigour of mind; it is yielding and submissive in no one point of religious or moral importance; it is more nearly connected with a natural politeness, which proceeds from the heart, than with an artificial complaisance of manners.
Meekness must also be distinguished from gentleness, a virtue to which it bears a very great resemblance, and with which it is often, perhaps, unavoidably, confounded. We have no way to judge of moral habits, but by the effect which they produce ; and both meekness and gentleness are productive of the same
calm, mild, and equable behaviour. But, properly speaking, gentleness is a qualification of those actions which we do to others
i meekness, of those actions which regard the conduct of others towards us, or the events which happen to us from without. Thus we are said, to give a reproof with gentleness or. tenderness, and to receive it with meekness.
Who, then, is the meek man? What influence has this virtue on the character and conduct?
In one respect, meekness does not differ from humility. The meek man is modest and diffident in his opinion of himself. He is sensible of the weakness and corruption of his nature, and of the greatness and frequency of his own particular faults. In his composition there is no arrogance nor pride, no obstinacy nor self-conceit. He is not haughty, distant, or reserved; but is free of access, and easy to be entreated. In his manners he is unaffected ; in his behaviour unassuming ; in his dispositions complying and obliging. When he is blamed or spoken evil of, he is more ready to confess his faults, and to condemn himself, than to retaliate
upon others. If any mąn differ in opinion from
him, he is disposed rather to distrust his own than to condemn the other's judgment. In every case where his own opinions and inclinations are concerned, he will rather yield, than, by disputation and opposition, produce animosity and discord.
I do not, however, mean that he will yield in matters of duty and of essential importance. This would be a servile and sinful compliance, not the meek and humble submission to which I allude ; and it would indicate the greatest weakness and corruption of mind. On these points the meekest man will give place, no, not for a moment. But in matters of indifference, and in trifles, he is by no means anxious to impose his opinion upon others. And it must be remembered that the greatest part of human life is nothing but a series of little and unimportant events ; and that these are the chief cause of those jarrings and dissentions which disturb and embitter human society. For it is an observation founded on experience that men seldom quarrel about serious and important matters. Their evil passions and prejudices, their obstinacy and self-conceit, are most apparent in things of no moment. And unhappily this is the case particularly
in matters of religion, The less essential any doctrine is, the more eagerly is it contested ; the smaller the difference is between parties and sects, their virulence against each other becomes proportionably greater.
Farther, the meek man is actuated by good will to others, judges of their actions with charity, and views their characters in the most favourable light. With him there is no malice, nor envying, nor strife. This arises from the former part of his character, viz. the just opinion which he has of himself, for it is by viewing our own character and conduct in too favourable a point of view, that we are often led to think unfavourably of others. He who loveth himself more than he ought to do, will not love his brother also, But the meek man wishes well to all mankind; rejoiceth in the success of others; envyeth not their attainments ; is candid to their merits ; unwilling to think evil of any man ; always leans to the charitable side, where an action admits of two interpretations. In short, the calmness and serenity of his own mind is diffused over every thing around him. To the jaundiced eye, every thing is of an unnatural colour. All
All appears distorted and