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lany, by covering its guilt under a plausible name or pretext".
Beware of “ evil surmisings.” Do not hastily pronounce that an act springs from a corrupt design, when you have no clear evidence to substantiate the charge. On the contrary, when there is any thing in the case to justify it, lean on the side of charity. This temper is expected from us by Christ our Saviour. Judge not—where the law of God is silent, or where you can have no competent knowledge to guide your decision--that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again
A compliance with this duty will appear reasonable, when you remember how often you have acted with conscious uprightness, and yet wrong intentions have been suspected, if not charged upon you, by the uncharitableness of others. Your conduct, however righteous, has often, perhaps, been cruelly misconstrued, and impeached, and unjustly condemned. You will learn, from this, to sympathize with those who may share in the treatment which you have experienced ; knowing that men may really design nothing but the glory of God, and the good of society, whilst their names, and their motives, and their conduct, may be branded with infamy.
3. In forming a judgment, or in speaking of the actions of men, exercise as much candour as is consistent with truth and facts. Many actions, which have appeared to us, at first sight, to wear a doubtful aspect, have been found, on examination, to be strictly just and good. It is not always possible to form a Isą. v. 20.
dd Mat. vii. 1, 2.
proper opinion of an action from its mere superficies: it may have internal characters, which stamp an excellence upon it, that is not seen, but on a close inspection. Besides, there are circumstances of necessity, which powerfully plead for the wisdom of deeds that we may hastily condemn, for want of more accurate knowledge. Is it without reason, then, that our Lord has given us this wise admonition : "Judge not according to the appearance, bat judge righteous judgmento.”
Quarrels will sometimes happen amongst neighbours, divisions and feuds in family connections, and contests about rights or property amongst bodies of public men. On these occasions, the most bitter and violent accusations are common from both sides, which have little or no foundation in truth. The respective parties, as they may be wrought upon by passion or self-interest, are apt to give partial and discoloured statements of the fact; which cannot, in many instances, be known, without a rigid inquiry into all the particulars of the disputed point.
We should not, therefore, as some do, receive ill impressions from common report; but suspend our judgment, until we are able more fully to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the circulated rumours. “ He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and shame unto him."
4. Be charitable in the opinion which you form of the characters of men. Let not a single offence, contrary to the whole tenor of a man's life, induce you to execrate his name, or impeach his sincerity, Brand no one as an incorrigible villain, because he was once guilty of fraud and deceit towards you, and of which he may have repented with many tears: • John vii. 24.
f Prov. xviii. 13.
neither denounce any one as an hypocrite in religion, because he has been once detected in doing wrong. You must avoid that unjust practice of the enemies of God, who cry out, that, with the generality of professors, all pretensions to conscience is only a cloak to cover over wicked designs, and a snare to entrap the simple. - To correct this unchristian spirit, which springs from prejudice and rancour and hatred to piety, remember how often violent temptation, suited to your constitutional sin, has overcome you, or brought you to the very point of yielding.
Further, recollect that some of the most eininent men, whom God has canonized as saints, such as Job, and Noah, and Abraham, and David, and Peter, did not continue in the path of duty without a fall, or something to blemish, for a time, the general integrity of their characters. But, though overtaken with a fault, they soon recovered from their declensions, and persevered in the way of godliness unto the end.
And, if we know the weakness of our own hearts, we shall not think it impossible, for such as we are, to fall into offences contrary to our soberest reason, duty, knowledge, or inclination. In such circumstances, should we wish others to pursue us with unrelenting severity, when, on our contrition, God has freely forgiven, and restored us to favour?
In like manner, clear symptoms of repentance, in those who have scandalized their profession by soine gross sin, should incline you to pass a favourable judgment upon them. Be willing to hope that secret remorse and shame for their fall has exceeded the reproach which their backslidings have brought upon them. The Christian rule, in all such cases, should be our guide: “ Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
8 Gal. vi. 1.
ON MEEKNESS AND FOR BEARANCE.
Matt. v. 5. Blessed are the meek; for thy shall inherit the
Sin has rendered this world a very disordered state. It is full of trouble, vexation, and sorrow, arising from the depravity of human nature". And no marvel; for where evil passions run riot, there none of the rights of God or man can be free from their insolence. There are many“unreasonable and wicked men," with whom we must in some degree be connected, whose turbulent, litigious, violent, unjust, and unmerciful tempers it is not easy to bear with patience. Hence the necessity of meekness; a divine grace, which the Christian will have frequent occasion to exercise so long as he lives on earth.
1. Maintain a meek and forbearing spirit, under every kind of ill-treatment which you may receive at the hands of others. Trifling injuries, or reproachful words, or slanderous reports, must not, as is too much the case with others, kindle in you a desire of revenge. Such things will be deemed worthy of but little notice, and draw forth your forbearance.
Should a great provocation or offence be offered, it is our duty to guard against a selfish spirit of passionate resentment; lest, being overcome by the
a John xvi. 33.
unkind usage of others, we should vex the Holy Spirit, bring guilt upon our souls, and discredit our sacred profession in the eyes of the world. Passion is sure to aggravate the affront, which meekness will diminish or forgive. If, then, we are abused by some, or falsely accused by others, instead of retaliation, let us not render evil for evil, or railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing; knowing that we are thereunto called, that we should inherit a blessing"
And when you have been so deeply injured, either in your person, character, or property, that you are entitled to redress from the magistrate, you must seek it not from a spirit of revenge, but in meekness; and not until every means has been tried, without effect, to bring your enemy to an accommodation of the difference betwixt you. And, finally, should you be compelled to bring the affair into a court of justice, you will not violate the laws of charity, by breaking out into wrathful exclamations against your adversary, but act with moderation and justice.
2. Manifest a meek spirit, by carefully avoiding any just cause of offence to others. We are required by the Gospel, not only to bear the insults and provocations of worldly people, but to forbear the gratification of our own inclinations, rather than give any uneasiness, or trouble, or sorrow, to others. Christian meekness will teach us to refrain from every thing improper in our behaviour towards meno
Both in our language and actions, we should try to conciliate all by an obliging carriage. A civil, kind, and respectful conduct is what we should discover towards one another, in our daily intercourse. This temper sweetens the asperities of life, and renders 1 Pet. iii. 9.
1 Cor. x. 31–33.