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flection that forces itself upon him, as he looks about on his congregation : "On the words that I am about to speak, and the manner in which I speak them, are depending the eternal destinies of many of these perishing souls !"" And oh! how much wisdom does it need to direct the inquiring soul! One wrong word may prove the ruin of a soul. What wisdom do we need in order to make the crooked straight and the rough places plain ; to seek the wandering and set them right; to instruct the way. ward, to persuade the obstinate, to rebuke the transgressor, to comfort the disconsolate, to strengthen the feeble, and to present every man at last perfect before God!
But I forbear. I have said enough to show that the minister of Christ cannot be too thoroughly furnished with the stores of learning, both human and divine ; that he of all men should be a novice neither in Christian experience nor in theological disci. pline ; that he needs a sound mind in a sound body; that he cannot be too watchful, too mcak, too diligent, too laborious, if he task himself to the utmost of his strength. I have said enough to convince the most inconsiderate that the ministry have large claims upon the people of God, for support in their work, for a comfortable subsistence, for a ready and cheerful co-operation, and for a constant remembrance in their prayers. Let your prayers go forth from hearts sincere and sympathizing for him who is called to watch over you in the Lord. What can he accomplish else? “ It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." "Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. For we are laborers together with God." Of what avail will all our preaching, all our labors be, without the Spirit ? What a blessing, rich and eternal, to you and yours, will the ministry be, if the Spirit be given! To how many of you will it then prove a savor of life unto life, to whom, without the Spirit it must prove a savor of death unto death! Pray, then, we beseech you, brethren, in all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, that we, who are called to this work, and who are not "sufficient of our: selves to think any thing as of ourselves,” may receive all needful sufficiency of God; may be enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge ; may be made wise to win souls, and may save both ourselves and them that hear us; that when we are called to give an account for your souls, we “may do it with joy and not with grief.”
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”-Rom.xii. 18
This chapter may with propriety be termed the Christian's manual. It contains, in few words, a beautiful system of Christian morals. No production of man on the subject of morals could be perfect, that did not contain the great principles embodied in this chapter.
Some have called the precepts found in the text and context the romance of Christianity; as though it were extravagant to suppose that in this selfish world, agitated continually with the conflicts of life, exposed to strifes and contentions, any could live in peace. But this blessed gospel is not romance. We are told the light of heaven shines, and the darkness of earth comprehendeth it not. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. One born blind cannot conceive of the beauties of the rainbow ; so one under the dominion of supreme selfishness cannot well comprehend the exercise and blessedness of benev olence.
The didactic parts of the Bible are given in plain, intelligible language. They are adapted to all grades of character, all conditions of life. They are sublime and beautiful for their simplicity, solemn and weighty for their authority. They are given to be obeyed.
We shall, first, endeavor to give the true import of this passage. Secondly, attempt to show how this precept can be obeyed. Thirdly, urge some motives to induce obedience.
I. We shall endeavor to give the true import of this passage.
This precept is not a solitary one; it is found in substance both in the Old and the New Testaments In the 34th Psalm: Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Heb, sii. 14: Follow peace
with all men. The language of the text is guarded : If it be possible. Here is no ground for the charge of extravagance. We are not responsible for the wickedness or cruelty of others. There may be instances in which the good of society, the cause of morals, the safety of the public, may require that an example be made of the incorrigible, the obstinately wicked.
Some men, as the Scriptures affirm, are like a troubled sea, which cannot rest. They seem to have an evil spirit, like the men of Shechem, (Judges ix. 23 ;) a 'spirit of treachery and selfishness, which will disturb any community; Ishmaelites — their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them. Peace may be disturbed, but we must not cause the disturbance, or do any thing to prolong it.
As much as lieth in you. We may have an unhappy temperament, an irascible temper, a restless disposition. This we must subdue. It is said that Socrates was naturally ill-tempered, easily provoked, and revengeful; but by mere dint of resolution and discipline he mastered his evil propensity, and became habitually calm, peaceable, and gentle. If a heathen could subdue himself, what excuse
can we bave for remaining under the dominion of passion, who are surrounded by the influence of the gospel, who live under laws pervaded by the spirit of forbearance and equity, and are furnished with such examples of mildness and long-suffering as are found in the Bible ?
As much as lieth in you. We are to do all in our power to exhibit a good spirit to others, to do them good, to forbear with them to return blessing for railing; never to give them any provocation, to keep within the bounds of propriety and justice.
It must be a rare instance of brutality and malice to injure one who is habitually kind and forgiving, to abuse good-nature. Yet there are such persons. They will torture the sensitive and impose upon the retiring and helpless. But even in that case, it is better io suffer wrong than to do wrong. The object is peace; great sacrifices are to be made to attain it. The preceptis exceeding broad. We are to go to the extent of possibility; not of expediency, not of policy, not of comfort, but of possibility-if it be possible. We are to make every effort ; each one is held responsible for his own exertions; they are to be put forth to the utmost extent.
As much as lieth in you. If you have tried seventy times, you are not to give up the matter in despair, but as in the case of forgiveness, until seventy times seven-to the extent of our power.
We are to live peaceably with all men. Of some it is said,
if all the world were like them, there would be no contention; they are peaceably disposed, always doing good. Of others, that they are always in trouble ; restless, domineering, exacting, cruel, envious, jealous, revengeful, hateful, and hating one another. Even with such we must live peaceably-receive, but never return an injury.
We can neither approve nor love what is unlovely. An evil disposition is hateful; but if called to give an expression in relation to it, we must call things by their right names.
We can only approve of things that are excellent.
If no good is to be done, we are to avoid all needless exposure of the faults of others. There must be no man who can say in truth, If you had done all in your power, we should never bave been at variance.
It does not say, live peaceably with all reasonable men, all fair men, all kind men; but if there are unreasonable men, unkind and uncomfortable men, we are, if possible, as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with them. It requires no effort to live in peace with one who is benevolent and well-disposed.
The qualifying words in the text suppose there will be trials, provocations, and occasions of strife. If you do well when you bave no temptation to do otherwise, what reward can you claim ? but if, when you are injured or insulted, or cruelly treated, you take it patiently, this is praiseworthy, this is what the text requires. The men of the world act on the principle of retaliation-an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but the gospel proposes another rule : Resist not evil; do good to them who injure you, and pray for them who despitefully use you. So far our duty is plain.
Some may be ready to inquire, How shall we conduct ourselves towards those who are opposed to the truth, who hate the light? Shall we conceal the offensive parts of the Bible ? Shall we be silent when the doctrines or duties of religion are assailed ?
e answer, No. We have special directions in this matter. We have also the example of Christ and bis apostles. Jude says : It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Says Christ: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword.
There are many such passages of Scripture as these. teach us that natural men will pervert the gospel and oppose it; that it is the duty of Christians, of ministers especially, to refute error and bear witness to the truth. Controversy cannot always be avoided, but we must be careful not to lose our temper, not to indulge ill-will, not to treat those who differ from us as enemies. The deeper the error, the more tender should be our compassion ; for in proportion to their exposure to perish in their sins, should be our desire to save the souls of men. Am I your enemy, inquires an apostle, because I tell you the truth?
Those who are guilty of immorality, or are chargeable with heresy, must be admonished ; an effort must be made to reclaim
them, lest they die in their sins, or fatally injure others. No duty is required of us which cannot be performed if attempted in a proper spirit. If we are to contend for the faith, it should be with right motives--it must not be for victory ; and in a right way, not with carnal weapons. If we exhort or reprove, it must be with all long-suffering and doctrine. If the text were understood and obeyed, it would put an end to all war, to duels and personal animosity, to litigation and strife.
One or the other of contending parties must be in fanlt; it is usually true of both. If peace is sought, it may be obtained. If rulers violate the laws of God and declare war, the oppressed nation has a right to resist, and private individuals may be called into the field, in which case they are not responsible for the consequences.
It will be a great advance in the progress of civil society, when nations bind themselves to settle all difficulties by arbitration. If men will take time to consider, reason will gain the ascendency. We are assured the period will come, when men shall learn war
II. How can this precept be obeyed ?
We answer, in general, by watching against besetting sins. . Watch and pray, said Christ, that ye enter not into temptation. Every one has his easily besetting sins; and not among the least of them is a hasty temper, an overbearing disposition, a revengeful spirit. If a man is aware of his infirmity and will guard against it, he may hope to escape the evil of transgression. More particularly.
1. By cultivating a peaceable spirit.
He acts and is acted upon. He is constantly exerting an influence, and is also affected by the temper and conduct of others.
If we cherish kindly feelings, are disposed to put a fair construction upon the actions of men ; if we are discreet, temperate, humane, and ready to communicate, we shall do much towards maintaining peace in the community. It is said, “Love begets love;" the same is true of peace. It will be no difficult matter to live in peace, if we ourselves are peaceable. A wrathful man stirreth up strife, but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
To cherish a peaceable disposition, we must have a deep sense of our own unworthiness; we must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. We must mortify pride, overcome selfishness, and put a strong restraint upon every unholy feeling. Religion inculcates humility. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love : in honor preferring one another. It enjoins fervent charity, a disposition to do good to all men. Above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves. Says Paul: I beseech you walk worthy of your vocation, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One who