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and many of the satisfactions of social life, can still be enjoyed. Assisted by such considerations as these, let us enliven faith, strengthen patience, and animate hope, till we be enabled to 'overcome evil with good:' always looking forward to better days; nourishing trust in the gracious government of the universe; and listening to him who hath said of old, and who still says to all his servants, ' Fear not, for I am with thee; be not afraid, for I am thy God. Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will answer thee; wait on the Lord, be of good courage; and he shall strengthen your hearts, all ye that wait upon the Lord.'
III. Be not overcome by the evil examples of the world, so as to follow them into sin. This undoubtedly is one of the most dangerous evils, which good men are called to overcome; and where it is most difficult to gain the victory. He who, in the former instances that have been mentioned, can 'overcome evil with good;' who can generously forgive injuries, and magnanimously bear up under misfortunes, will be often in hazard of being overcome by evil, under this form. After having maintained his ground against many a rough blast, be may be in danger of being betrayed by a nattering gale, in the days of his ease and prosperity; of being insensibly carried down the stream by that multitude of evil-doers, who surround and deceive him. For the character of the world too certainly is, that it * lieth in wickedness.' Fashions of vice may change with the times. In one age, one set of corrupt habits may prevail; and in another, the passions of men may take a different turn. But in every age, the multitude of men will be prone to indulge vicious desires. On the surface of behaviour, vice may be disguised under a plausible and polished appearance, while, at bottom, there lies the poisoned root of evil. Pleasure will ever captivate the young and unthinking. Riches and advancement ensnare the more sober and staid. Attached to their different pursuits, and connecting with them the ideas of wisdom and importance, the multitude will ridicule those who go not along with them, as formal and precise, as raw, uneducated, and ignorant of the world. Assailed by such reproaches, the timid become afraid; the modest are abashed; the complaisant and good-natured submit to their supposed friends. They begin to imagine, that the general opinion of the world cannot but have some reason on its side; and, half seduced by persuasion, half compelled by ridicule, they surrender their former convictions, and consent to live as they see others around them living.
Thus, in several important instances, 1 have shown how the exhortation in the text is to be complied with, and in what manner our good should overcome evil; overcoming injuries by generous forgiveness; overcoming misfortunes by patience and resignation; overcoming the temptations of evil examples by steady adherence to conscience and duty. In many of these cases, the conflict we are called to maintain, may be arduous and difficult; inclined, as we too often are, by the bent of our nature, to the evil side. But, if we wish and desire to do well, let us not be discouraged, nor despair of victory. Weak in ourselves, we have ground to be ' strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.' 'This is the victory' (says the Apostle John) ' that overcometh the world, even our faith.' It is the steadiness of firm and rooted principle of belief in God and Christ, of belief in the everlasting importance of religion and virtue, which we are to oppose to the host of evildoers. The principle of good, feeble though it may be at present in human nature, is never left unbefjiended by God. It is a principle derived from heaven, and partakes of heavenly efficacy. If it once take root in the soul, it will be made to arise and grow from small beginnings into gradual maturity, under his protection and influence from whom its origin came. To them who have no might, it is written,' he increaseth strength.' [Isaiah xl. 29.] The contest between sin and righteousness, which at present takes place in the world, is a struggle between God and Belial, between the powers of light and the kingdom of darkness; and in this state of things we must easily discern, to which side the final victory will belong. Let us endeavour to do our duty, and God will be with us. Let us sincerely study to overcome evil with good, and we shall overcome it. Our feeble powers shall be aided by Divine might, and our imperfect services crowned with divine rewards. 'They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.' [Isaiah xl. 31.] [dr. H. BLAIR.]
ON A PEACEABLE DISPOSITION.
Rom. xii. 18.—If it be possible, as much as licth in you, live peaceably with all men.
[Text taken from the Epistle for the Day.] In discoursing on this text, I shall, first, show what is included in the precept of ' living peaceably with all men;' and next, what arguments recommend our obedience to this precept. I. This precept implies, in the first place, a sacred regard, in rendering to every man what is due. Justice is the basis on which all society rests. To live peaceably, therefore, requires, as its first condition, that we content ourselves with what is our own, and never seek to encroach on the just rights of our neighbour; that, in our dealings, we take no unfair advantage; but conscientiously adhere to the great rule of doing to others, according as we wish they should do to us. It supposes, that we never knowingly abet a wrong cause, nor espouse an unjust side; but always give our countenance to what is fair and equal. We are never to disturb any man in the enjoyment of his lawful pleasure; nor to hinder him from advancing his lawful profit. But under a sense of our natural equality, and of that mutual relation which connects us together as men, we are to carry on our private interest in consistency with what is requisite for general erder and good. 'Render tribute to whom tribute is due; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Covet not what is thy brother's. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.'
I. 2. In the second place, the duty of living peaceably, not only prohibits all acts of open injustice, but requires us carefully to avoid giving unnecessary provocation or offence to others. When we consider from what small beginnings discord often arises, and to what astonishing heights from such beginnings it will grow, we shall see much cause to watch with care over our words and actions, in our intercourse with the world. The man of peace is mild in his demeanour, and inoffensive in his discourse. He appears to despise no man. He is not fond
of contradicting and opposing, and is always averse to censure and to blame. He never officiously seeks to intermeddle in the affairs of others, nor to pry into their secrets; and avoids every occasion of disturbing the good-will, which men appear to bear to one another. Opposite to this, stands the character of the man of quarrelsome spirit; who, himself easily provoked by everv trifle, is constantly offending and provoking others by the harshness of his behaviour. He is loud in his censures, positive in his opinions, and impatient of all contradiction. He is * a busy body in other men's matters ;' descants on their characters, enquires into their conduct, and, on the authority of his own suspicions, assigns what motives he pleases to their actions. Into the violence of party-spirit he never fails to enter deeply; and confidently ascribes the worst principles to all, who differ from him in opinion. Such persons are the pests of society, and the troublers of all good order in human life. * Let every man study to be quiet,' says the Apostle, 'and to do his own business. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth.'
I. 8. In the third place, the study of peace requires, that, on some occasions, we scruple not to give up our own opinion, or even to depart from our strict right, for the sake of peace. A good and a wise man looks forward coolly to the effects, that are likely to follow the rigorous prosecution of any private rights of his own. If these appear to be pregnant with mischiefs to the society with which he is connected, in a much greater proportion than any advantage they can bring to himself, it then becomes his duty rather quietly to suffer wrong, than to kindle the flames of lasting discord. But how many are there, who, having once begun a claim, espoused a side, or engaged in a controversy, are determined to pursue it to the last, let the consequences be what they will. False notions of honour are brought in to justify their passions. Pride will not allow them to yield, or to make the least concession; when the true point of honour would have led to generous acknowledgments and condescension. They never make the first advances to returning reconciliation and peace. They are haughty in their claims, and require great submission, before they can be appeased. The lover of peace, on the other hand, looks upon men and manners in a milder and softer light. He views them with a Christian eye. Conscious that he himself has been often in the wrong; sensible that offence is frequently thought to be given, where no injury was intended; knowing that all men are liable to be misled by false reports into unjust suspicions of their neighbours; he can pass over many things without disturbance or emotion, which, in more combustible tempers, would kindle a flame. In all public matters, in which he is engaged, he will not be pertinaciously adhesive to every measure, which he has once proposed, as if his honour were necessarily engaged to carry it through. If he see the passions of men beginning to rise and swell, he will endeavour to allay the growing storm. He will give up his favourite schemes; he will yield to an opponent, rather than become the cause of violent embroilments; and, next to religion and a good conscience, the cause of peace and union will be to him most sacred and dear.
I. 4. In the fourth place, our study of peace, in order to be effectual, must be of an extensive nature; it must not be limited to those, with whom by interest, by good opinion, or by equality of station, we are connected. 'Live peaceably with all men,' says the Apostle. No man is to be contemned, because he is mean; or to be treated with incivility, because he is one in whom we have no concern. Even to those whom we account bad men, the obligation of living at peace extends. Without entering into any close connexion with them, without admitting them to be our friends and companions, it is certainly possible to live amongst them in a peaceable manner. Human society is, at present, composed of a confused mixture of good and evil men; and from our imperfect knowledge of characters, it is often not easy to distinguish the one class of men from the other. We are commonly prejudiced in favour of those, who concur with us in our modes of .thinking; and are prone to look with an evil eye on those, who differ from us in subjects of importance. But if all the supposed blemishes of those, with whom we differ in opinion; if the heretical doctrines which we ascribe to them, or the bad principles with which we charge them, were sufficient to justify the breach of peace, very little harmonious correspondence would remain among men. Appearances of religious zeal have been too often employed to cover the pride and ill-nature of turbulent persons. The man of peace will bear with many, whose opinions or