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SERMON and their lives irregular. But what I mean
to assert is, That where no attention is given to the government of temper, meetness for Heaven is not yet acquired, and the regenerating power of religion is as yet unknown. One of the first works of the spirit of God is, to infuse into every heart which it inhabits, that gentle wisdom which is from above, They who are Christ's bave crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts; but let it not be forgotten, that among the works of the flesh, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, and envyings, are as expressly enumerated, as uncleanness, murders, drunkenness, and revelling *. They who continue either in the one, or the other, shall not inberit, indeed cannot inherit, the kingdom of God.
Having thus shewn the importance of gentleness, both as a moral virtue, and as a Christian grace, I shall conclude the subject, with briefly suggesting some considerations which may be of use to facilitate the practice of it.
For this end, let me advise you to view your character with an impartial eye; and
* Gal. v. 19, 20, 21.
to learn from your own failings, to give SERMON that indulgence which in your turn you a claim, It is pride which fills the world with so.much harshness and severity. In the fulness of self-estimation, we forget what we are.
We claim attentions to which we are not entitled. We are rigorous to offences, as if we had never offended ; unfeeling to distress, as if we knew not what it was to suffer. From those airy regions of pride and folly, let us descend to our
Let us survey the natural equality on which Providence has placed man with man, and reflect on the infirmities common to all. If the reflection on natural equality and mutual offences be insufficient to prompt humanity, let us at least remember what we are in the sight of God. Have we none of that forbearance to give to one another, which we all so earneatly intreat from Heaven? Can we look for clemency or gentleness from our Judge, when we are so backward to shew it to our own brethren?
Accustom yourselves also to reflect on the small moment of those things which are the usual incentives to violence and con
In the ruffled and angry hour, we view every appearance through a false medium. The most inconsiderable point of interest, or honour, swells into a momentous object; and the slightest attack seems to threaten immediate ruin, But after passion or pride has subsided, we look round in vain for the mighty mischiefs we dreaded. The fabric, which our disturbed imagination had reared, totally disappears. But, though the cause of contention has dwindled
consequences remain, We have alienated a friend, we have embittered an enemy; we have sown the seeds of future suspicion, malevolence, or disgust,
Suspend your violence, I beseech you, for a moment, when causes of discord occur. Anticipate that period of coolness, which, of itself, will soon arrive. selves to think, how little you have any prospect of gaining by fierce contentica; but how much of the true happiness of life you are certain of throwing away. Easily, and from the smallest chink, the bitter waters of strife áre let forth; but their course cannot be foreseen; and he seldom fails of suffering most from their 6
poisonous effect, who first allowed them ȘERMON to flow.
But gentleness will, most of all, be promoted by frequent views of those great objects which our holy religion presents. Let the prospects of immortality fill your minds. Look upon this world as a state of passage. Consider yourselves as engaged in the pursuit of higher interests; as acting now, under the eye of God, an introductory part to a more important scene. Elevated by such sentiments, your minds will become calm and sedate. You will look down, as from a superiour station, on the petty disturbances of the world. They are the selfish, the sensual, and the vain, who are most subject to the impotence of passion. They are linked so closely to the world; by so many sides they touch every object, and every person around them, that they are perpetually hurt, and perpetually hurting others. But the spirit of true religion removes us to a proper distance from the grating objects of worldly contention, It leaves us sufficiently connected with the world, for acting our part in it with propriety; but disengages us from it so far, as
SERMON to weaken its power of disturbing our
tranquillity. It inspires magnanimity; and magnanimity always breathes gentleness. It leads us to view the follies of men with pity, not with rancour; and to treat, with the mildness of a superiour nature, what in little minds would call forth all the bitterness of passion.
Aided by such considerations, let us cultivate that gentle wisdom which is, in so many respects, important both to our duty and our happiness. Let us assume it as the ornament of every age, and of
. Let it temper the petulance of youth, and soften the moroseness of old age.
Let it mitigate authority in those who rule, and promote deference among those who obey. I conclude with repeating the caution, not to mistake for trụe gentleness, that flimsy imitation of it called polished manners, which often, among men of the world, under a smooth appearance, conceals much asperity. Let yours be native gentleness of heart, flowing from the love of God, and the love of man. Unite this amiable spirit with a proper zeal for all that is right, and just, and true. Let piety be combined in