A DISCOURSE Concerning Meekness AND Quietness of Spirit.

To which is added, A SERMON On Acts 28. 22.

SHEWING That the Christian Religion is not a SECT; and yet that it is every where spoken against.

By Matthew Henry, Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers-Chap­pel, 1699.


I Do not think it at all needful to tell the World, what it was which led me to the Writing of this Discourse concerning Meek­ness, the substance of which was preached se­veral years ago; Nor am I concern'd to Apolo­gize for the Publication of it; If I thought it needed an Apology, I would not consent to it. That Temper of Mind which it endea­vours to promote, and to charm Men into, every one will own to be highly conducive to the Comfort of Humane Life, the Honour of our Holy Religion, and the Welfare and Hap­piness of all Societies, Civil and Sacred: And therefore, while the Design cannot be dislik'd, I hope what is weak and defective in the Management will be excus'd. Some useful Discourses have been of late published against Rash Anger, and an excellent Dis­swasive from Revenge by the present Bishop of Chester, wherein those brutish Vices are justly expos'd to our Loathing; It is the same Design I am driving, while I recommend the [Page] contrary Virtues to the Love and Practice of all that profess Relation to the Holy Jesus: And if this Es [...]ay have that good Effect upon those into whose Hands it shall at any time fall, I have my End.

As to the Sermon annexed, it is published (with some Enlargements) at the Request of a very [...]orthy [...]riend who heard it preach'd i [...] London, last Summer: And since, blessed be God, there are a great many Testimonies born at this day, against the avowed Infidelity, and Impiety of the Age, I hope this may be accepted as a Mite cast into that Treasury by a Cordial Friend to [...]cace and Holiness,


To the READER.

IT was with real difficulty, through the not easily vincible Aversion of the Reverend Author, that these two Discourses are now at length brought together▪ into publick view. Nor, were that more distinctly known, would they be the less acceptable to the more Iudi­cious part of the World.

Through the Humility and Self-depressing thoughts that are wont to accompany true Worth, the best Men are not always the most equal Iudges of their own Performances.

The Reason which Socrates is reported to have given, why he made nothing publick, Apud Stob., that the Paper was dearer, and of more value than what he had to write, we can easily apprehend satisfy'd no body but himself.

Indeed, if many, that more truly might, had made that judgment, more Mercy had been us'd towards that perishable Commodity without Injustice, or Infelicity to the World.

But in reference to what hath true value in it, and so real usefulness unto common Good, as appears in this little Volume; a s [...]rt of extortion was not unduly us'd, to draw it forth, and wrest it out of the hands that Penn'd it, in the first intention, for a few, that it might [Page] serve a further end; and, as it was equally capable, do good to many.

It hath, indeed, been so ancient, and so common a wont, to let things that tend, tho' never so directly, to the bettering of Mens Minds, stand to be gaz'd at in Books, or obtain at the most (as hath long ago been noted) some­what of cold praise, without any thought of ever being possest of the things themselves, that Men easily agree, because it is a fashion, to pardon to one another this absurd neglect, seldom knowing shame for it, or taking no­tice of the incongruity, that it should be thus in reference to things of this most excellent kind; when in things that apparently serve to bodily, or secular advantage, there is so observable a difference!

Otherwise, for the former of these Dis­courses concerning Christian Meekness, were it a Common Design to have Minds habited and cloath'd, according to it, what a blessed calm would it introduce into our World! How serene and peaceful a Region would it make every Man's Soul to himself, and to all about him! It would then be truly said of the Chri­stian Church, This is the House of God, this is the Gate of Heaven.

How near an Alliance this Complexion of Soul hath with the Heavenly Regions, the In­genious MoralistSen. de irâ aptly represents, taking no­tice, That the upper and better order'd part [Page] of the World, next the Stars, is driven to­gether into no [...]loud, hurried into no Tem­pest, never tost about in any Whirlwind, is ever free from any thing of Tumult, only the inferior Regions throw about Thunders and Lightnings. So is the sublime Mind always quiet, placed in a station of undi­sturb [...]d Tranquility, sober, venerable, and compos'd, &c.

And nothing is more plain, than that the higher and greater things our Minds are exercis'd and taken up with, the more sedate they are, and less liable to unbeseeming Commotion; And hereto the scope and design of the annexed Discourse most aptly agrees.

Christianity is too high and too great a thing to be a SECT; of too near affinity to Heaven, the common term of all our pursuits and hopes. That Holy Religion, by its direct and steady tendency thitherward, abstracts our Minds from low and little Arts and Aims. All Parties terminate in the Earth, there can be no room for them above; the will be buried in the dust. Christian Religion is debased and abused, when it is made subservient to so mean purposes. It is treated Ignominiously, when Men so represent it, or concern themselves about the Affairs of it, as if it were a Sect: Or, as if to be a Christian, and to be a Sectary, were terms of the same signif [...]cation; or its Cause were accordingly to be managed, wrathfully, and with fury, with calumny and slander, of such as in every arbitrary mode of Speech and Practice agree not with us. So the little Interests are w [...]nt to be served, and contended for, that belong only to this present World, and will end with it.

[Page] Too many, God knows, treat the Noble Cause of Religion at this rate, at least what they pre­tend to be it. Religion it self, indeed, disdains to be so served; nor, where Minds are once deep­ly [...] with the spirit of it, can admit or en­dare [...]: B [...]t it is dishonoured beyond all that can be expres'd, by having any thing of this kind made so m [...]ch as seem to belong to it.

I shall not offer at describing them who do it this wrong, it being so fully done by the worthy Auth [...]rs own words, p. 8. of this Sermon.

May the Blessing of Heaven succeed all such great, worthy, pacifick Designs, as are here pursu'd! Amen.



PAge 1. line ult. for, no such possibility is suppos'd, read, it is suppos'd [...]. p. 16. l. 18, 19. for in a stri [...]t, r. constant. p. 20. l. [...]7. r. [...] p. 21. l. 15. r. the Rebels. p. 26. Marg. r. T [...]rtu [...]. de Pa­tientia. p, 54. l. 34. for Wrath, r. Wealth. p. 59. l. 5. r. thy self. p. 73. l. 9. dele you. p. 74. l. 2. for new, r. most. p. 75. l. 15. for unwel. come, r. [...]. p. 79. l. 17 d [...]e you. p. 81. l. 27. r. are very un [...]it. p. 101. l, 11 12. r. 'tis the learned Bishop Hall's Remark. p. 107. l. 28. r. all [...]sion. p. 127. Marg. for p. [...] ▪ r. Dict. Pub. Mini. p. 118. l. 20. r. lay. p. 121. l. 1 [...]. r. give. p. 141. [...]arg r. [...] p. 145. l. 30. r. at any time p. 148. l. 9, 10. for Unrighteou [...]n [...]ss, r. Uprightness. p. 151. l. 20. r. Farie [...]. p 152. l. 15. d [...]e Courage, and. Besides many literal mi­stakes, as p. 32. l. 2. haply for happily. p. 35. l. 10. place for places. p. 44. l. 1 [...]. hungry for h [...]ng [...] p. 106. [...]. 18. r. [...]. And in the Latin, as p. 51. [...]arg. r. desideras. p. 54. Marg. r. quaesiveris. p. 77. l. 9. r. E­van [...]lium. &c And in the Greek, as, p. 79. l. 20. r. [...]. p. 131. Marg. r. [...] And several others.

In the SERMON.

Page 3. Marg. r. [...]. l. 17. r. could f [...]r would. p. 5. l. 11. r. Geni [...]us. l. 28, 29. r. recovering it. p. 6. l. 31. for Creator. r. Center. p. 13. l. 30. r charg [...]. p 18. l. 34. for marks r. means. p. 22. l. 15. for or, r. for. p. 26. l. 24. r. L [...]'s godly Conversation. p. 41. l. 6. for commanded, r. concern'd. p. 43. l. 31. for affect r. assert. p 47. l. 2. r. This is the way. l. 17. r. that they [...]re.

A Discourse concerni …

A Discourse concerning MEEKNESS.

1 Peter III. 4. [latter part.]‘—Even the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God of Great Price.’

THE Apostle Peter in this Epistle, (as al­so his beloved Brother Paul in many of his) is very large in pressing upon Chri­stians the conscientious discharge of the Duties of their particular Relations, and not without good reason; for generally it holds true, That we are really, Verse 1, 2: as we are relatively: He is here in the former part of this Chapter directing Chri­stian Wives how to carry themselves in that Re­lation, to the Glory of God, their own Comfort, and the Spiritual Benefit and Advantage of their Yokefellows: And among other good Lessons he teacheth them how to dress themselves as be­cometh Women professing godliness. Genus muli­ebre est [...], Lorin. i [...] lo [...]. Those of that Sex are commonly observ'd to be ve­ry sollicitous about their Ornaments. When the Question is ask'd, Can a Maid forget her Ornaments, or a Bride her Attire? no such possibility [...]is suppos'd▪ Ier. 2. 32. This prevail­ing [Page 2] inclination the Apostle here takes hold of, for the recommending of those Graces and Duties to their choice and practice, which are indeed the most excellent and amiable adorning, not on­ly of their Sex to whom the Exhortation is pri­marily directed, but of the other also for whom no doubt it is likewise intended. Observe his Method:

1. He endeavours to wean them from the va­nity of outward Ornaments, [...] [...]. v. 3. whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning, &c. This doth not forbid the sober and moderate use of decent Ornaments, when it is according to the Quality, Place, and Station, and in due season, (not on days of Fasting and Humiliation, when 'tis pro­per for Ornaments to be laid aside, Exod. 33. 4, 5.) But it forbids the inordinate Love, and excessive use (that is, the abuse) of them. There may be the p [...]aiting of the Hair,, and the wearing of Gold, and there must be the putting on of Apparel, that shame which came into the World with sin hath made it necessary; But we must not make these things our adorning; that is, we must not set our hearts upon them, nor value our selves by them, nor think the better of our selves for them, nor pride our selves in them, as if they added any real excellency to us, nor say to them as Saul did to Samuel, Honour me now before this People, out of a vain ambition to make a fair shew in the flesh. We must spend no more care, or thoughts, or time, or words, or cost, about them, and lay no more stress or weight upon them than they d [...]serve, and that is but a very little. It is but glory hung upon us, as the ex­pression is, Isa. 22. 24. and hath no glory if com­pared with the glory that excelleth it even in the [Page 3] Creatures that are far below us;Matth. 6. 29, 30. for Solomon in all his glory was not array'd or beautified like one of those Lillies which to day is, and to mor­row is cast into the Oven. We must not seek first these things, nor seek them most, as if we had Bodies for no other end but to bear out our clothes, and had nothing else to do with them but to make them fine. It was the Folly, and prov'd the Ruin of that rich man in the Parable, that he made his Purple, and his fine Linnen, (with other the Ornaments and Delights of the Body) his good things, the things in which he placed his happiness, and in which he had his Consolation, Luke 16. 19, 25. that is, in the Language of this Scripture, he made them his adorning, 2 Cor. 5. 3. and so, being uncloathed of these, he was found naked. Let not the wearing of Gold, and the putting on of Apparel be [...]; the World; so it may be rendred: ('tis Mundus mu­liebris Immun­dum mulie­brem p [...]tiùs convenìt dìci. So Ter­tullian de habitu. mul. cap. 4..) Let not these things be all the World with us, as they are with many, who reckon to be out of the Fashion (whatever it be) is to be out of the World. Christians are called out of the World, and delivered from it, and should evi­dence a Victory obtained by Faith over it, as in other Instances, so in this.Gal. 1. 4. It is prescribed Rule of our Holy Religion (whether they will hear,1 John 54. or whether they will forbear) that Women adorn themselves in modest Apparel, with shamefaced­ness and sobriety, 1 Tim. 2. 9. But whereas there are some on the one hand, that exclaim against vanity in Apparel as the crying Sin of this Age above any other, as if it were a new thing under the Sun, and the former days w [...]re in this respect better than these: Eccl. 7. 1 [...] And others on the other hand, condemn it as a piece of Phanaticism to wi [...]ness [Page 4] (as there is occasion) against this Vanity: Both may receive a sufficient Answer, if they will but read that excellent Homily of the Church of England, intituled, An Homily against Excess of Apparel, (No. 18.) by which it will appear, That even in those early days of the Reformation, it was a Vanity that prevail'd much in our Land, and which the Rulers of the Church thought themselves obliged to reprove. But we will hasten to the Text.

2. He endeavours to bring them in love with the better Ornaments, Verse 4. those of the Mind, the Graces of the blessed Spirit, here called the hid­den Man of the Heart, [...]. Gro­tius observes, that tho' he writes to Women, yet he useth a Word of the Masculine Gender, be­cause the Ornament he recommends, is such as both Men and Women must be adorned with. Grace, as a living Principle of regular Holy Thoughts, Words, and Actions, is sometimes cal­led, the new Man, Eph. 4. 24. sometimes the in­ward Man, Rom. 7. 22. and 2 Cor. 4. 16. and so here, the hidden Man of the Heart. 'Tis call'd a Man, because its made up of many Parts and Members, and its Actings are Vital and Rational, and it restores those to the Dignity of Men, who by sin had made themselves like the Beasts that perish. 'Tis call'd the Man of the Heart, because out of the Heart are the issues of the Life; Pro. 4. 23. there lie the Springs of the Words and Actions, and therefore into that the Salt of Grace is cast, and so all the Waters are healed. 2 Kin. 2. 21. He is the Christian indeed that [...]s one inwardly, and that Circumcision, that Baptism, which is of the Heart, Rom. 2. 29. 'Tis call'd the hidden Man of the Heart, because the Work of Grace is a [Page 5] secret thing, and doth not make a pompous shew in the eye of the World; 'tis a Mystery of God­liness; a Life that is hid with Christ in God,Colos. 3. 3 to whom secret things belong; therefore the Saints are called his hidden ones, Psal. 83. 3. for the World knows them not, much less▪ doth it yet appear what they shall be. The King's Daughter that is espoused to Christ is all glorious within, Ps. 45. 13. The working of Grace in the Soul is often represented as a Regeneration, or being begotten again; and perhaps when this good Work is call'd the hidden Man of the Heart, there may be some allusion to the forming of the Bones in the Womb of her that is with Child, which So­lomon speaks of as unaccountable,Psal. 139. 14, 15, 16. as is also the way of the Spirit, Eccle. 11. 5. compare Iohn 3. 8. And lastly, it consists in that which is not cor­ruptible; 'tis not deprav'd or vitiated by the cor­ruption that is in the World thro' Lust, and is in the Soul a Well of living Water, springing up unto eternal Life, John 4. 14.

In the Text he instanceth in one particular Grace; one Member of this hidden Man in the Heart, which we must every one of us adorn our selves with, and that is a meek and quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Where observe,

1. The Grace it self here recommended to us; it is a meek and quiet Spirit. There must be not only a meek and quiet Behaviour outwardly; there may be that either by constraint, or with some base and disguised Design, while the Soul in the mean time is rough and turbulent and en­venom'd; the Words may be softer than Oyl, while War is in the Heart, Heb. 4. 12. [...]. Psal. 55. 21. But the Word of God is a Discerner and Iudge of the Thoughts [Page 6] and Intents of the Heart. The Power of Men's Laws may bind a Man to the good Behaviour, but it is only the Power of God's Grace that will renew a right Spirit within him, Psal. 51. 10. That's it that makes the Tree good, and then the Fruit will be good. The God with whom we have to do, demands the Heart, looks at the Prin­ciple, and requires Truth in the inward parts, not only in the Duties of his own immediate Wor­ship, that those be done in the Spirit, but also in the Duty we owe to our Neighbour, that that also be done with a pure Heart, and without dis­simulation. The Word of Command which the Captain of our Salvation gives, is, Christians, take heed to your Spirits, Mal. 2. 15.

2. The Excellency of this Grace, it is in the sig [...]t of God of great price. It is really a preci­ous Grace, for it is so in the sight of God, and we know that he can neither deceive nor be de­ceived. It is [...] which is the same word that is used, 1 Tim. 2. 9. for that costly Array, which is joyn'd with Gold and Pearls, [...]. Persons of Quality in their Ornaments affect not so much that which is Gay, as that which is Rich; not that which makes a Glitter­ing, Gawdy Shew, and pleaseth Children and [...]ools, but that which is of intrinsick value, and recommends it self to the intelligent. A meek and quiet Spirit is such an Ornament, which hath not that Gaiety that is agreeable to the humor of a carnal World, but that real VVorth which re­commends it to the favour of God. 'Tis one of those Graces which are compar'd to the Pow­ders of the Merchant, (Cant. 3. 6.) far fetch'd, and dear bought, even with the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus. Herein we should every one [Page 7] labour, and this we should be ambitious of,2 Cor. 5. 9. [...]. as the greatest Honour, that Present or Absent, Li­ving and Dying, we may be accepted of the Lord; and blessed be God it is a thing attainable, thro' the Mediator, from whom we have received how to walk so as to please him; we must walk with meekness and quietness of Spirit, for this is in the sight of God of great price. Therefore this mark of Honour is in a special manner put upon the Grace of Meekness, because it is commonly de­spised and look'd upon with Contempt by the Children of this World, as a piece of mean-spi­ritedness; but (however they be termed and treated now) they are happy, and will appear so shortly, whom God approveth of, and to whom he saith, VVell done good and faithful Servant; for by his Judgment we must stand or fall eter­nally.

These words therefore will easily afford us this plain Doctrine;

That Meekness and Quietness of Spirit is a very excellent Grace, which we should every one of us put on, and be adorned with.

In the prosecution hereof we shall endeavour,

  • 1. To shew what this Meekness and Quietness of Spirit is. And,
  • 2. VVhat excellency there is in it. And,
  • 3. Apply it.

CHAP. I. The Nature of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.

MEekness and Quietness seem to import much the same thing, but the latter ha­ving something of Metaphor in it, will illustrate the former, and therefore we shall speak of them distinctly.

[1.] We must be of a meek Spirit.— [...] qu. [...] facilis: So the Criticks. Meekness is easiness of Spirit; not a sinful easiness to be de­bauched, as Ephraim's that willingly walked after the Commandment of the idolatrous Princes, Hos. 5. 11. Nor a simple easiness to be imposed upon and deceiv'd, as Rehoboam's, who when he was forty Years old is said to be young and tender-hearted, 2 Chron. 13. 7. but a gracious easiness to be wrought upon by that which is good, as their's whose Heart of Stone is taken away, and to whom a Heart of Flesh is given. Meekness is easiness, for it accommodates the Soul to every Occurrence, and so makes a Man easie to himself and to all about him. The Latines call a meek Man mansuetus: qu. manu assuetus; us'd to the Hand, which alludes to the taming and reclaim­ing of Creatures wild by Nature,Jam. 3. 7, 8. and bringing them to be tractable and familiar. Man's cor­rupt Nature hath made him like the wild Ass us'd to the VVilderness, or the swift Dromedary tra­versing her ways, Jer. 2. 23, 24. But the Grace of Meekness, when that gets Dominion in the Soul, alters the temper of it, brings it to hand, sub­mits it to management, and now the VVolf dwels with the Lamb, and the Leopard lies down with [Page 9] the Kid and a little Child may lead them; for Enemies are laid aside, and there's nothing to hurt or destroy, Isa, 11. 6, 9.

Meekness may be considered with respect both to God and to our Brethren; it belongs to both the Tables of the Law, and attends upon the First great Commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, as well as the Second which is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy Self; though its special reference is to the latter.

First, There is Meekness towards God, and it is the easie and quiet Submission of the Soul to his whole Will, according as he is pleased to make it known, whether by his Word or by his Providence.

1. It is the silent submission of the Soul to the Word of God: The Understanding bowed to every Divine Truth, and the Will to every Di­vine Precept; and both without murmuring or disputing. The Word is then an engrafted Word when it is received with [...] Meekness, Jam. 1. 21. i. e. with a sincere willingness to be taught, and desire to learn. Meekness is a Grace that cleaves the Stock, and holds it open, that the Word as the Imp may be graffed in; it breaks up the Fal­low Ground, and makes it fit to receive the Seed, captivates the high thoughts, and lays the Soul like White Paper under God's Pen: When the Day Spring takes hold of the ends of the Earth, it is said to be turned as Clay to the Seal, Job 38. 12, 13, 14. Meekness doth in like manner dis­pose the Soul to admit the Rays of Divine Light; which before it rebelled against, it opens the Heart, as Lydias was opened; and sets us down with Mary at the feet of Christ; the learners [Page 10] Place and Posture: Compare, Deut. 33. 3. The promise of Teaching is made to the Meek, be­cause they are disposed to learn, the meek will he teach his way, Psal 25. 8, 9. The Word of God is Gospel indeed, Good tidings to the meek, Isa. 61. 1. they will entertain it and bid it welcome; the Poor in Spirit are Evangelized, Mat. 11. 5. and Wisdoms Alms are given to those that with meekness,Prov. 8. 4. wait daily at her Gates, and like Beg­gars wait at the Posts of her Doors. The Lan­guage of this meekness is that of the Child Sa­muel, 1 Sam. 3. 9. Speak Lord for thy Servant heareth; and that of Ioshua, who when he was in that high Post of Honour, giving command to Isra­el, and bidding Defiance to all their Enemies, his Breast filled with great and bold thoughts; yet upon the intimation of a Message from Heaven thus submits himself to it, Iosh. 5. 14. What saith my Lord unto his Servant? And that of Paul, (and it was the first breath of the New Man) Acts 9. 6. Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And that of Cornelius, Acts 10. 33. And now we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God: And that of the good Man I have read of, who when he was go­ing to hear the Word, used to say, Now, let the Word of the Lord come, and if I had six hundred Necks I would bow them all to the Authority of it. To receive the Word with meekness, is to be de­livered into it, as into a Mold: it seems to be Pauls Metaphor, Rom. 6. 17. that form of Doc­trine [...], into which you were given up. Meekness softens the Wax that it may receive the impression of the Seal, whether it be for Doc­trine or Reproof; for Correction or Instruction in Righteousness: It opens the Ear to Discipline, [Page 11] silenceth objections, and suppresseth the risings of the Carnal mind against the Word;Mitescere est non con­tradicere divinae Scripturae sive intel­lectae si vi­tiae percutit, sive non in­tellectae qua­si nos melius sapere posse­mus. Aug. l. 2. de doctrina Christi. consent­ing to the Law that it is good, and esteeming all the Precepts concerning all things to be right, even then when they give the greatest check to Flesh and Blood.

2. It is the silent submission of the Soul to the Providence of God, for that also is the Will of God concerning us.

(1.) When the Events of Providence are grie­vous and afflictive, displeasing to sense, and cros­sing our secular interests; meekness doth not on­ly quiet us under them, but reconcile us to them; and inable us not only to bear, but to receive evil as well as good at the hand of the Lord; which is the excellent frame that Iob argues himself in­to, Iob. 2. 10. 'Tis to kiss the Rod, and even to accept of the punishment of our iniquity; tak­ing all in good part that God doth: Not daring to strive with our Maker, no, nor desiring to pre­scribe to him, but Dumb and not opening the Mouth because God doth it. How meek was Aaron under the severe dispensation which took away his Sons with a particular mark of Divine Wrath, he held his peace, Levit, 10. 3. God was Sanctified, and therefore Aaron was Satisfi­ed, and had not a word to say against it. Un­like to this was the Temper, or rather the Di­stemper of David, who then was not like a Man after Gods own Heart, when he was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza, 2 Sam. 6. 8. as if God must have ask'd David leave thus to assert the Honour of his Ark. When Gods Anger is kindled, ours must be stifled; such is the Law of Meekness, that whatsoever pleaseth God must not displease us: David was [Page 12] in a better frame when he Penn'd the 56 Psalm, the Title of which, some think, speaks the calm­ness and submissiveness of his Spirit when the Philistines took him in Gath: It is upon Ionath­elem-reckokim, the silent Dove afar off: It was his calamity that he was afar off, but he was then as a silent Dove; (mourning perhaps, Isa. 38. 14.) but not murmuring, not strugling, not re­sisting, when seized by the Birds of Prey; and the Psalm he Pen'd in this frame was Michtam, a Golden Psalm. The Language of this meek­ness is that of Eli, 1 Sam. 3. 18. It is the Lord; and that of David to the same purpose, 2 Sam. 15. 25, 26. Here I am, let him do to me as seem­eth good unto him. Not only, he can do what he will, subscribing to his Power, for who can stay his Hand: Or, He may do what he will, sub­scribing to his Soveraignty, for he giveth not ac­count of any of his matters: Or, He will do what he will, subscribing to his Unchangableness, for he is in one mind, and who can turn him? But let him do what he will, subscribing to his Wisdom and Goodness, as Hezekiah, Isa. 39. 8. Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spo­ken. Let him do what he will, for he will do what is best, and therefore if God should refer the matter to me, (saith the meek and quiet Soul) being well assured that he knows what is good for me better than I do for my my self, I would refer it to him again; he shall chuse our Inheritance for us, Psal. 47. 4.

(2.) When the methods of Providence are dark and intricate, and we are quite at a loss what God is about to do with us, his way is in the Sea and his Path in the great Waters, and his footsteeps are not known, clouds and darkness are round about [Page 13] him, a meek and quite Spirit aquiesceth in an as­surance that all things shall work together for good to us, if we love God, though we cannot apprehend how or which way. It teacheth us to follow God with an implicit Faith, as Abraham did when he went out not knowing whither he went, but knowing very well whom he followed, Heb. 11. 8. and quieteth us with this, that tho' what he doth, we know not n [...]w, yet we shall know hereafter, Iohn 13. 7. When poor Iob was brought to that dismal plunge that he could no way trace the footsteps of the Divine Provi­dence; but was almost lost in that Labyrinth, Iob. 23 8, 9. how quietly doth he sit down, v. 10. with this thought, But he knows the way that I take, when he hath tryed me I shall come forth as Gold.

Secondly, There is Meekness towards our Bre­thren, towards all Men, Tit 3. 2. and so we take it here. Meekness is especially conversant about the affection of Anger, not wholly to ex­tirpate and eradicate it out of the Soul;Not [...], but [...]. that were to quench a Coal which sometime there is occasion for, even at Gods Altar, Anger is cos fortitudinis. and to rebate and blunt the Edge even of our Spiritual Wea­pons with the which we are to carry on our Spiritual Warfare. But its office is to direct and govern this Affection, that we may be angry and not sin, Ephes. 4. 26.

Meekness in the School of the Philosophers is a Virtue consisting in a mean between the ex­treams of rash excessive Anger on the one Hand, and a defect of Anger on the other, in which Aristotle confesseth it very hard exactly to de­termine.Ethic. l. 4. c. 6.

[Page 14] Meekness in the School of Christ is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5. 22, 23. it is a Grace (both gratis data, and gratum faciens) wrought by the Holy Ghost both as a Sanctifier and as a Comforter in the Hearts of all true Be­lievers, teaching and enabling them at all times to keep their passions under the Conduct and Go­vernment of Religion and right Reason: I say it is wrought in the Hearts of all true Believers, because, though there are some rough and knotty pieces that the Spirit works upon, whose Na­tural Temper is unhappily sower and harsh, which are long in the squaring; yet wheresoever there is true Grace, there is a disposition to strive against, and strength in some measure to conquer that Distemper. And tho' in this as in other Gra­ces an absolute Sinless Perfection cannot be ex­pected in this present state, yet we are to labour after it and press towards it.

More particularly: The Work and Office of Meekness is to enable us prudently to govern our own anger when at any time we are provok'd, and patiently to bear the Anger of others, that it may not be a provocation to us. The former is its Office especially in Superiors, the latter in Inseriors, and both in Equals.

First, Meekness teacheth us prudently to govern our own Anger, whenever any thing occurs that is provoking. As it is the work of Temperance to moderate our Natural Appetites towards those things that are pleasing to sense, so it is the work of Meekness to moderate our Natural Passions against those things that are displeasing to sense, and to guide and govern our Resentments of those things. Anger in the Soul is like Mettle in a Horse, good if it be well managed: Now [Page 15] Meekness is the Bridle, as Wisdom is the Hand that gives Law to it; puts it into the right way, and keeps it of an even, steddy and regular pace in that way, reducing it when it turns aside, pre­serving it in a due Decorum, and restraining it and giving it check, when at any time it grows headstrong and outragious, and threatens Mis­chief to our selves or others. It must thus be held in, like the Horse and Mule with Bit and Bridle (Psal. 32. 9.) lest it break the Hedge, run over those that stand in its way, or throw the Rider himself head-long.Non cognosci­tur andaci [...] nisi in Bello, amicus nisi in necessi­tate, sapiens nisi in ira. Sent. Arab. It is true of Anger, which we say of Fire, That it's a good Servant, but a bad Master; it's good on the Hearth, but bad in the Hangings. Now meekness keeps it in its place, sets banks to this Sea, and saith, Hitherto thou shalt come and no further; here shall thy proud Waves be staid.

In reference to our own Anger when at any time we meet with the Excitements of it, the work of MEEKNESS is to do these four things.

1. To consider the Circumstances of that which we apprehend to be a Provocation, so as at no time to express our displeasure but upon due and ma­ture deliberation. The Office of Meekness is to keep Reason upon the Throne in the Soul, as it ought to be, to preserve the Understanding clear and unclouded, the Judgment untainted and un­biassed in the midst of the greatest Provocations, so as to be able to set every thing in its true Light, and to see it in its own Colour, and to de­termine accordingly, as also to keep silence in the Court, that the still small Voice, in which the Lord is (as he was with Elijah at Mount Horeb, 1 Kin, 19. 12, 13.) may not be drown'd by the [Page 16] noise of the Tumult of the Passions. A meek Man will never be angry at a Child, at a Servant, at a Friend, till he hath first seriously weigh'd the Cause in just and even Ballances, while a steddy and impartial Hand held the Scales, and a free and unprejudiced Thought had adjudg'd it necessary. It is said of our Lord Jesus, Iohn 11. 33. [...], he troubled himself—which speaks it a considerate Act, and what he saw reason for. Then things go right in the Soul when no Resentments are admitted into the Affe­ctions, but what have first undergone the Scrutiny of the Understanding, and thence received their Pass. That Passion which cometh not in by this Door, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a Thief and a Robber, which we should stand upon our Guard against. In a time of War (and such a time it is in every sanctified Soul, in a strict War between Grace and Corruption) due care must be taken to examine all Passengers, especially those that come arm'd, whence they came, whither they go, who they are for, and what they would have? Thus should it be in the well-govern'd, well-disciplin'd Soul. Let Meekness stand Centinel, and upon the advance of a Pro­vocation, let us examine who it is we are about to be angry with,Expendan­tur verba, dicendum hoc, si dicen dum adver­sum hunc, tempus ser­monis sit hu­jus, &c. Ambr. de Offic. l. 1. c. 9 and for what? What are the merits of the Cause, wherein lay the Offence, what was the Nature and Tendency of it? What are likely to be the Consequences of our Resent­ments, and what harm will it be if we stifle them and let them go no further? Such as these are the Interrogatories which Meekness would put to the Soul, and in answer to them would ab­stract all that which Passion is apt to suggest, and hear Reason only, as it becomes rational Creatures to do.

[Page 17] Three great Dictates of Meekness we find put together in one Scripture, Iames 1. 19. Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to Wrath; which some observe to be couch'd in three proper Names of Ishmael's Son▪ Gen. 25. 14. 1 Chron. 1. 30. (which Bishop Prideaux in the beginning of the Wars recommended to a Gentleman that had been his Pupil, as the summary of his Advice) Mishma, Dumah, Massa: the signification of which is, Hear, Keep silence, Bear. Hear Reason, keep Passion silent, and then you will not find it difficult to bear the Provocation.

It is said of the Holy one of Israel, when the Aegyptians provok'd him, that he weigh'd a Path to his Anger: So the Margin reads it from the Hebrew, Psal. 78. 50. Libravit semitam irae suae. Iustice first poised the Cause, and then Anger pour'd out the Vials. Thus Gen. 11. 5. The Lord came down to see the Pride of the Babel-builders, before he scatter'd them, and Gen. 18. 21. He came down to see the Wickedness of Sodom, be­fore he overthrew it, though both were obvi­ous and bare-faced,In corrept [...] ­one vitio­rum subessementi debet Iracundia, n [...]n praeesse. Greg. in Iob. l. 26. c. 36. to teach us to consider be­fore we are angry, and to judge before we pa [...]s Sentence, that herein we may be followers of God, as dear Children, and be merciful as our Father which is in Heaven is merciful.

We read, Iames 3. 13. of the meekness of Wisdom; for where there is not Wisdom, that Wisdom which is profitable to direct, Eccl. 10. 10 Pro. 14. 8. Ratio id ju­dicare vul [...] quod aequum est, Ira id aequum vi­deri vult, quod judica­vit. [...]en. that Wisdom of the Prudent which is to understand [...]is way, meekness will not long be preserv'd. It is our Rashness and Inconsideration that betrays us to all the Mischiefs of an ungovern'd Passion, in the neck of which the Reins are laid (which should be kept in the Hand of Reason) and so we are [Page 18] hurry'd upon a thousand Precipices. Nehemiah is a remarkable instance of Prudence presiding in just resentments; He owns, Neb. 5. 6, 7. I was very angry when I heard their Cry, but that anger did not at all transgress the Laws of Meekness, for it follows, Then I consulted with my self, or, as the Hebrew hath it, My heart consulted in me. Before he express'd his Displeasure, he retir'd into his own bosom, took time for a sober thought upon the case, and then he rebuked the Nobles, in a very solid rational Discourse, v. 8, 9, 10, 11. and the success was good, v. 12, 13. In every Cause, when Passion presently demands Judgment, Meek­ness moves for further time, and will have the matter fairly argued, and Council heard on both sides.

When the injur'd Levite had pitch'd upon a very barbarous Course to irritate the Tribes of Israel (who commonly were too fiery to need a Spur) against the Men of Gibeah, yet withall he refer'd the matter to their deliberate Counsels, to teach us when our Hearts are meditating revenge, to do likewise, Iudg. 19. 30. so and so the matter is, consider of it, take advice, and then speak your minds. When Iob had any quarrel with his Servants, he was willing to admit a rati [...]nal debate of the matter, and to hear what they had to say for themselves: For (saith he) what shall I do when God riseth up? and withal, did not he that made me in the Womb, make him? Job 31. 13, 14, 15. When our Hearts are at any time hot within us, we would do well to put that Question to our selves which God put to Cain, Gen. 4. 6. Why am I wroth? Why am I angry at all? Why so soon angry? Why so very angry? Why so far transported and dispossess'd of my [Page 19] self by my anger? What reason is there for all this? Do I well to be angry for a Gourd? that came up in a Night, and perished in a Night, Jona. 4. 9. Should I be touch'd to the quick by such a sudden and transient Provocation? Will not my cooler Thoughts correct these hasty Resentments, and therefore were it not better to check them now? Such are the reasonings of the Meekness of Wisdom.

2. The Work of Meekness is to calm the Spi­rit, so as that the inward Peace may not be disturbed by any outward Provocation. No doubt but a Man may express his displeasure against the Miscar­riages of another, as much as at any time there is occasion for, without suffering his Resentments to recoil upon himself, and to put his own Soul into a hurry. What need a Man to tear himself (his Soul, so it is in the Hebrew) in his anger? Job 18. 4. Cannot we charge home upon our Enemies Camp, without the wilful disordering of our own Troops? Doubtless we may, if Meek­ness have the command, for that's a Grace which preserves a Man Master of himself, while he contends to be Master of another; And tho' there may be some firing in the Out-works, yet fortifies the Heart, the Main-Fort, the Inner­wards, against the assaults of Provocation which do us no great harm, while they do not rob us of our Peace, nor disturb the Rest of our Souls. As Patience in case of Sorrow, so Meekness in case of Anger keeps possession of the Soul (as the expression is, Luke 21. 19.) that we be not dis­seiz'd of that Free-hold, and takes care when the Bell is up, that it do not overturn. The Drift of Christ's Farewell-Sermon to his Disci­ples we have in the first Words of it, Io [...]. 14. 1. [Page 20] Let not your Hearts be troubled—. It is the Duty and Interest of all good People, whatever happens, to keep Trouble from their Hearts, and to have them even and sedate, tho' the Eye (as Iob expresseth it) should continue unavoidably in the Provocation of this World, Iob 17. 2. The Wicked [...] the Turbulent and Unquiet, so the Word primarily signifies) are like the troubled Sea when it cannot rest, Isa. 57. 20. but that Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps the Hearts and Minds of all the Meek of the Earth. Meekness preserves the Mind from be­ing ruffled, and discomposed, and the Spirit from being unhing'd by the Vanities and Vexations of this lower World: It stills the noise of the Sea, the noise of her Waves, and the Tumult of the Soul; permits not the Passions to crowd out in a disorderly manner, like a confused ungovern'd Rabble; but draws them out like the Train'd­bands, Rank and File, every one in his own or­der, ready to March, to Charge, to Fire, to Re­treat, as Wisdom and Grace give the Word of Command.

It is said of the Just and Holy God, that he is Lord of his Anger, Nahum 1. 2. where we trans­late it, he is furious (perhaps not so well, for Fury is not in him, Isa. 27. 4. but) he is [...] the Lord of Anger, Compos irae, so some of the Criticks render it; he is Master of his own An­ger, and we should labour to be so too. Which some Interpreters give as the sense of that which God said to Cain, Gen. 4. 7. Unto thee, or subject unto thee, shall be its Desire, and thou shalt rule over it; viz. over this Passion of Anger, which thou hast conceived in thy Bosom, thou shouldst and (if thou wouldst use the Grace offer'd to [Page 21] thee) thou mightest subdue and keep under these intemperate Heats, so as that they may not dis­quiet the repose of thy Soul, nor break out into any Exorbitances.

3. Meekness will curb the Tongue, and keep the Mouth as with a Bridle when the Heart is hot, Psal. 39. 1, 2, 3. Even then when there may be occasion for a keenness of expression, and we are called to rebuke sharply, ( [...], cuttingly) Tit. 1. 2. yet meekness forbids all fury and in­decency of Language, and every thing that sounds like clamour and evil speaking, Ephes. 4. 31. The meekness of Moses was not at hand when he spoke that unadvised word, Numb. 20. 10. Hear now [...] Rebels, for which he was shut out of Canaan, though Rebels they were, and at that time very provoking. Men in passion are apt to give reviling Language, to call names, and those most sensless and ridiculous, to take the blessed Name of God in vain, and profane that; It is a wretched way by which the Chil­dren of Hell vent their passion at their beasts, their Servants, any person, or any thing that pro­vokes them, to Swear at them: Men in passion are apt to reveal secrets, to make rash vows and resolutions which afterwards prove a snare, and sometimes to slander and belye their brethren, and bring railing Accusations, and so to do the Devils work; and to speak that in their hast concerning others, (as D [...]vid, Psal 116. 11. All Men are lyars) which they see cause to repent of at leisure. How brutishly did Saul in his pas­sion call his own Son, the Heir apparent to the Crown, the Son of the perverse rebellious Wo­man, 1 Sam. 20. 30. that is, in the filthy Dia­lect of Passion in our Days, the Son of a Whore; [Page 22] a fine credit to himself and his Family! Raca and Thou Fool, are instanced in by our Saviour as breaches of the Law of the Sixth Command­ment, Mat. 5. 22. and the Passion in the Heart is so far from excusing such opprobrious Speeches, (for which purpose it is commonly alledg'd) that really it is that which gives'em their malignity, they are the Smoke from that Fire, the Gall and Wormwood springing from that Root of Bitterness; and if for every idle word that Men speak,Mat. 12. 36. much more for such wicked words as these, must they give an Account at the Day of Iudgment. And as it is a reflection upon God to Kill, so it is to Curse Men that are made after the Image of God, Iam. 3. 9. (though never so much our inferiours) that is, to speak ill of them, or to wish ill to them.

This is the Disease, which Meekness prevents, and is in the Tongue a Law of Kindness, as the expression is, Pro. 31. 26. It is to the Tongue as the Helm is to the Ship (it is the Apostles com­parison, Iam. 3. 3, 4.) not to silence it, but to guide it, to steer it wisely, especially when the Wind is high.Mat. 12. 36. In So [...]rate irae signum erat, vocem submittere, loqui parcius apparchat tunc illum sibi obstare. Ita resert Seneca de ira. l. 3 c. 13 Plutarch de non irascen­do. If at any time we have conceiv'd a Pas­sion, and thought evil, Meekness will lay the Hand upon the Mouth (as the Wise Man's Ad­vice is, Prov. 30. 32.) to keep that evil thought from venting it self in any evil Word, reflecting upon God or our Brother. It will reason a matter in variance without noise, give a reproof without a reproach, convince a Man of his folly without calling him a Fool, will teach Superiors either to forbear threatning, Eph. 6. 9. or (as the Margin reads it) to moderate it, and will look diligently, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us, and thereby we and many others be defiled, Heb. 12. 15.

[Page 23] 4. Meekness will cool the Heat of Passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us when we are angry, to be soon pacified. The Anger of a meek man is like fire struck out of Steel, hard to be got out, but when it is out, soon gone. The wisdom that is from above, as it is gentle, and so not apt to provoke; so it is easie to be intreat­ed when any provocation is given, Iames 3. 17. and hath the ear always open to the first pro­posals and overtures of satisfaction, submission, and reconciliation, and so the anger is turned away. He that is of a meek spirit will be for­ward to forgive injuries, and to put up affronts, and hath some excuse or other ready where­with to extenuate and qualifie the provocation, which an angry man, for the exasperating and justifying of his own resentments will industri­ously aggravate. It is but saying, there's no great harm done,'Tis a Max­im in the Law, In ver­bis dubiis benignior sententia est praeferenda. And semper fit praesump­tio in meli­orem par­tem. Vid. Alciat. de praesumpt. Reg. 3. or if there be, there was none intended, and peradventure it was an oversight, and so the offence being look'd at through that end of the Perspective which diminisheth, 'tis easily past by, and the Distemper being taken in time goes off quickly, the Fire is quenched be­fore it gets head, and by a speedy interposal the Plague is stayed. While the world is so full of the sparks of Provocation, and there is so much tinder in the hearts of the best, no marvel if an­ger come sometimes into the bosom of a wise man, but it rests only in the bosom of Fools, Eccl. 7. 9. Angry thoughts, as other vain thoughts, may crowd into the heart upon a sudden surprize, but meekness will not suffer them to Iodge there, (Ier. 4. 14.) nor let the Sun go down upon the wrath, (Eph. 4. 26.) for if it do, there's danger [Page 24] lest it rise bloody the next morning. Anger con­cocted becomes Malice; 'tis the wisdom of meekness by proper applications to discuss the humour before it comes to a head. One would have thought when David so heinously resented Nabal's abuse, that nothing less than the blood of Nabal and all his house could have quench'd his Heat, but it was done at a cheaper rate, and he shewed his Meekness, by yielding to the di­version that Abigail's Present and Speech gave him, and that with satisfaction and thankfulness; He was not only soon pacified, but blessed her, and blessed God for her that pacified him. God doth not contend for ever, neither is he always wroth; his anger endureth but a moment, Ps. 30. 5. How unlike then are those to him whose Sword devours for ever, and whose anger burns like the Coals of Iuniper? But the Grace of Meekness, if it fail of keeping the Peace of the Soul from being broken, yet fails not to recover it presently, and to make up the Breach, and upon the least transport steps in with help in the time of need, restores the Soul, puts it in frame again, and no great harm is done. Such as these are the Atchievements of Meekness, as it governs our own Anger.

Secondly, Meekness teacheth and enableth us patiently to bear the Anger of others, which in­stance of Meekness we have especially occasion for, in reference to our Superiors and Equals; commonly that which provokes Anger is Anger, as Fire kindleth Fire; now Meekness prevents that violent Collision which forceth out these Sparks, and softens at least one side, and so puts a stop to a great deal of Mischief; for it is the second blow that makes the Quarrel. Our first [Page 25] care should be to prevent the Anger of others, by giving no offence to any, but becoming all things to all Men, every one studying to please his Neighbour for good to Edification, Rom. 15. 2. and endeavouring as much as lies in us, to ac­commodate our selves to the temper of all with whom we have to do, and to make our selves acceptable and agreeable to them: How easie and comfortable should we make every Relation, and every instance of Conversation, if we were but better acquainted with this Art of Obliging. Napthalie's Tribe, that was famous for giving goodly Words (Gen. 49. 21.) had the happiness of being satisfied with Favour, Deut. 33. 23. For every Man shall kiss his Lips that giveth a right Answer, Pro. 24. 26. In the Conjugal Relation, it is taken for granted, 1 Cor. 7. 33, 34. that the care of the Husband is to please his Wife; and the care of the Wife is to please her Husband; and where there is that mutual care, comfort cannot be wanting. Some People love to be cross­grain'd, and take a pleasure in displeasing, and especially contrive to provoke those whom they find passionate and easily provok'd, that (as he that giveth his Neighbour drink, and putteth his Bottle to him, Hab. 2. 15, 16.) they may look upon his shame to which in his Passion he exposeth himself, and so they make a mock at sin, and be­come like the mad Man that casteth Fire-brands, Arrows and Death; and saith, Am not I in sport? But the Law of Christ forbids us to provoke one another, Gal. 5. 26. (unless it be to love and to good works,) and enjoyns us (as it follows there, Chap. 6. 2.) to bear one anothers Burthens, and so to fulfil the Law of Christ.

[Page 26] But because they must rise betimes, that will please every Body, and carry their Cup even, in­deed that will shed no offence; our next care there­fore must be so to behave our selves when others are angry, that we may not make ill worse. And this is one principal thing in which the Younger must submit themselves to the Elder; nay, in which all of us must be subject one to another, as our Rule is, 1 Pet. 5. 5. And here Meekness is of use either to injoyn Silence, or to indite a soft Answer.

1. To injoyn Silence. It is prescribed to Ser­vants, Tit. 2. 9. to please their Masters well in all things, not answering again; for that must needs be displeasing: Better say nothing than say that which is provoking. When our Hearts are hot within us, it is good for us to keep silence, and hold our Peace: So David did, Psal. 39. 2, 3. and when he did speak, it was in prayer to God, and not in reply to the wicked that were before him. Quid refert inter provo­cantem & provocatum, nisi quod ille prior in maleficio deprehendi­tur, et ille posterior: nulla verò in maleficio ordinis ratio est. Tertul. do Divin. c. 10. If the Heart be angry, angry words will but enflame it the more, as Wheels are heated by a rapid Motion. One Reflection and Repartee begets another, and the beginning of the Debate is like the letting forth of VVater, hardly stop'd, when the least breach is made in the Dam; and therefore Meekness saith, By all means keep silence, and leave it off before it be meddled with. When a Fire is begun, it is good, if possible, to smother it, and so prevent it's spreading. Come on, let us deal wisely, and stifle it in the Birth, lest afterwards it prove too strong to be dealt with. Anger in the Heart is like those Books which were stow'd up in the Cellars in the Conflagration of London, which tho' they were extreamly hea­ted yet never took Fire, till they took Air many [Page 27] days after, where giving vent to the Heat, put them into a Flame. When the Spirits are in a Ferment, tho' it may be some present pain to check and suppress them, and the head-strong Passion hardly admit the Bridle, yet afterwards it will be no grief of Heart to us.

Those who find themselves wrong'd and ag­griv'd, think they may have leave to speak, but it's better be silent than speak amiss, and make work for Repentance. At such a time he that holds his Tongue, holds his Peace; and if we soberly reflect, we shall find that we have been often the worse for our speaking, but seldom the worse for our silence. Complures vidi loquen­do pece [...]tum incidisse, vix quen­quam tacen­do: ideo (que) tacere nosse quàm loqui difficilius est. Ambr­de Offic. l. 1. c. 2. This must be especially remembred and observ'd by as many as are under the Yoke; who will certainly have most comfort in Meekness, and Patience, and silent Submission not only to the Good and Gentle, but also to the Froward. It is good in such cases to remember our place, and if the Spirit of a Ruler rise up against us, not to leave that, i. e. Locus tuus patientia est, locus tu­us sapientia est, locus tu­us, ratio est, et sedatio indignatio­nis. Ambr. ubi supra. c. 21. not to do anything unbecoming that, for yielding pacifieth great Offences, Eccl. 10. 4. We have a common Proverb that teacheth us this, When thou art the Hammer, knock thy fill, but when thou art the Anvil, lye thou still. For it is the posture thou art cut out for, and which best becomes thee.

If others be angry at us without Cause, and we have never so much Reason on our side, yet oftentimes it is best to adjourn our own Vindica­tion, (though we think it necessary▪ till the Passion be over; for there is nothing said or done in Passion but it may be better said, and better done afterwards: When we are calm, we shall be likely to say it and do it in a better manner, and [Page 28] when our Brother is calm, we shall be likely to say it, and do it to better purpose. A needful Truth spoken in a Heat may do more hurt than good, and offend rather than satisfie. The Pro­phet himself forbore even a Message from God, when he saw Amaziah in a Passion; 2 Chr. 25. 16. Sometimes it may be adviseable to get some one else to say that for us, which is to be said, rather than say it our selves. However, we have a righteous God, to whom (if we do in a meek silence suffer our selves to be run down unjustly) we may commit our Cause, and having his Pro­mise that he will bring forth our Righteousness as the Light, and our Iudgment as the Noon-day, Psal. 37. 6. We had better leave it in his Hands, than undertake to manage it our selves, lest that which we call clearing our selves, God should call quarrelling with our Brethren. David was greatly provok'd by those that sought his hurt, and spoke mischievous things against him, and yet (saith he) I as a deaf Man heard not, I was as a dumb [...] Man that openeth not his Mouth, Ps. 38. 13. and why so? 'twas not because he wanted some­thing to say, or because he knew not how to say it; but v. 15. because in thee, O Lord, do I hope, thou wilt hear, O Lord my God: And what need I hear and God hear too? His concerning himself in the matter supersedes Ours, and he is not only engaged in Iustice to own every righ­teous, but wronged Cause, but he is further engaged in Honour to appear for those that in obedience to the Law of Meekness commit their Cause to him, and trust him with it. If there be any vindication, or avenging necessary (which infinite Wisdom is the best Judge of) he can do it better than we can, and therefore give place [Page 29] unto Wrath, Rom. 12. 19. i. e. to the Judgment of God, which is according to Truth and Equity, make room for him to take the Seat, and do not you step in before him: 'Tis fit our wrath should stand by to give way to his; for the wrath of a Man, engageth not the Righteousness of God, Jam. 1. 20. for him: Even just Appeals made to him, if they be made in Passion, are not admitted into the Court of Heaven, being not duly put in; that one thing is Error sufficient to over­rule them: Let not therefore those that do well and suffer for it, spoil their own Vindication by mis-timing and mis-managing it, but tread in the steps of the Lord Jesus, Who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffer'd he threatned not, but was as a Lamb dumb before the Shearers, and so committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. It is indeed a great piece of Self-denial to be silent, when we have enough to say, and provocation to say it; but if we do thus control our Tongues out of a pure regard to Peace and Love, it will turn to a good account, and will be an evidence for us that we are Christ's Disciples, having learn'd to deny our selves. It is better by silence to yield to our Brother, who is, or hath been, or may be our Friend, than by angry speaking to yield to the Devil, who hath been, and is, and ever will be our sworn Enemy.

2. To indite a soft Answer. This Solomon com­mends as a proper expedient to turn away wrath, while grievous words do but stir up anger, Pro. 15. 1. When any speak angrily to us, we must pause a while, and study an Answer, which both for the Matter and Manner of it, may be mild and gentle. This brings VVater while peevish­ness [Page 30] and provocation would but bring Oil to the Flame. Thus is Death and Life in the Power of the Tongue; it is either healing or killing, an Antidote or a Poison, according as it's used. When the Waves of the Sea beat on a Rock, they batter, and make a noise, but a soft Sand re­ceives them silently, and returns them without damage. A soft Tongue is a wonderful Speci­fick, and hath a very strange Vertue in it; for, Solomon saith, it breaks the Bone, Pro. 25. 15. that is, it qualifies those that were provok'd, and makes them pliable; it heaps Coals of Fire upon the Head of an Enemy, not to burn him, but to melt him, Pro. 25. 21, 22. Hard words (we say) break no Bones, but it seems soft ones do (and yet do no harm) as they calm an angry Spirit and prevent its Progress, breaking it as we do a [...]lint upon a Cushion. A Stone that falls on a Wool-pack rests there, and rebounds not to do any further Mischief, such is a meek Answer to an angry Question. It is observed in that rencounter which was between the Royal Tribe, and the other ten, that the words of the Men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the Men of Israel, 2 Sam. 14. 43. When Passion is up, that God whose Eyes are upon all the ways of Men, takes notice who speaks fiercely, and sets a mark upon them.

The good effect of a soft Answer, and the ill consequents of a peevish one, are observable in the Stories of Gideon and Iophthah: Both of them in the day of their Triumphs over the Enemies of Israel, were causelesly quarrel'd with by the Ephraimites (an angry sort of People it seemsHence we read of the Envy of E­phraim, ija. 11. 13.) who took it very heinously when the danger was past, and the Victory was won, that they had not been call'd upon to engage in the [Page 31] Battle; Gideon pacified them with a soft An­swer, Iudg. 8. 2. What have I done now in com­parison of you? magnifying their Atchievements, and lessening his own, speaking honourably of them, and meanly of himself; Is not the glean­ing of the Grapes of Ephraim, better than the Vintage of Abiezar? In which Reply it's hard to say whether there was more of Wit or Wis­dom; And the effect was very good; the Ephrai­mites were pleased, their Anger turned away, a Civil War prevented; and no Body could think the worse of Gideon for his Mildness and Self-denial; but on the contrary, that he won more true Honour, by this Victory over his own Passion, than he did by his Victory over all the Host of Midian; for he that hath Rule over his own Spirit, is better than the Mighty, Pro. 16. 32. The Angel of the Lord had pronounced him a migh­ty Man of Valour, Judg. 6. 12. and this his tame submission did not at all derogate from that part of his Character. But Iephthah (who by many instances appears to be a Man of a rough and hasty Spirit, tho' enroll'd among the emi­nent Believers, Heb. 11. 32. for all good People are not alike happy in their Temper.) When the Ephraimites in like manner pick a Quarrel with him, he rallies them, upbraids them with their Cowardice, boasts of his own Courage, chal­lenges them to make good their Cause, Iud. 12▪ 2, 3. they retort a scurrillous Reflection upon Iephthah's Country (as it's usual with Men in Passion to taunt and jear one another) Ye Gilea­dites are Fugitives, verse 4. From Words they go to Blows, and so great a matter doth this little Fire kindle, that there goes no less to quench the Flame, than the Blood of two and forty [Page 32] thousand Ephraimites, v. 6. All which had been haply prevented if Iephthah had had but half as much meekness in his heart, as he had reason on his side.

A soft Answer is the Dictate and Dialect of that Wisdom which is from above, which is peaceable, gentle, and easie to be intreated: And to recommend it to us, we have the pattern of good men, as that of Iacob's Carriage to Esau, tho' a Brother offended, who is so hard to be won, yet as he had prevail'd with God by Faith and Prayer, so he prevail'd with his Brother by Meekness and Humility: We have also the Pattern of good Angels, who even then when a rebuke was need­ful, yet durst not turn it into a railing Accusa­tion, durst not give any reviling Language, no not to the Devil himself, but refer'd the matter to God, The Lord rebuke thee, as that passage, Iude ver. 9. is commonly understood. Nay, we have the Pattern of a good God, who tho' he could plead against us with his great Power, yet gives soft Answers: witness his dealing with Cain, when he was wroth and his countenance fallen, reasoning the case with him, Gen. 4. 6, 7. Why art thou wroth—If thou dost well, shalt not thou be accepted? With Ionah likewise, when he was so discontented, Ion. 4. 4, 9. Dost thou well to be angry? This is represented in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, by the carriage of the Fa­ther towards the Elder Brother that was so high, and humorsom, so angry that he would not come in. The Father did not say, Let him stay out then, but he came himself and intreated him, (when he might have interposed his Authority and commanded him) and said, Son, thou art ever with me, Luke 15. 28, 31. When a passion­ate [Page 33] Parley is begun, there is a Plague broke out, the meek Man like Aaron takes his Censer with the Incense of a soft Answer, steps in seasonably and stays the Plague.

This soft Answer, in case we have committed a Fault (tho' perhaps not culpable to that degree that we are charged with) must be Penitent, Humble and Submissive, and we must be ready to acknowledge our Error, and not stand in it, or in­sist upon our own Vindication, but rather ag­gravate than excuse it, rather condemn than justi­fie our selves: It will be a good evidence of our Repentance towards God, to humble our selves to our Brethren, whom we have offended, as it will be also a good evidence of our being for­given of God if we be ready to sorgive those that have offended us: And such yielding paci­fieth great Offences. Meekness teacheth us as oft as we trespass against our Brother to turn again and say, I repent, Luke 17. 4. An ac­knowledgment in case of a wilful Affront is perhaps as necessary to pardon, as (we common­ly say) Restitution is in case of wrong:—And so much for the opening of the Nature of Meek­ness, which yet will receive further light from what follows.

[2.] We must be of a quiet Spirit. Quiet­ness is the evenness, the composure, and the rest of the Soul, which speaks both the nature and the excellency of the Grace of Meekness. The greatest Comfort and Happiness of Man is some­times set forth by Quietness. That Peace of Con­science which Christ hath left for a Legacy to his Disciples, that present Sabbatism of the Soul, which is an earnest of the Rest that remains for the People of God, is call'd, Quietness and As­surance [Page 34] for ever, and is promised, as the effect of Righteousness, Isa. 32. 17. and it follows, v. 18. My People shall dwell in quiet resting-places. So graciously hath God been pleased to twist Inter­ests with us, as to enjoyn the same thing under the Notion of a Duty, which he proposeth and promiseth under the Notion of a Priviledge. Justly may we say, that we serve a good Master, whose Yoke is easie, Matth. 11. 30. 'tis [...], not only easie, but sweet, and gracious (so the word signifies) not only tolerable, but amiable and acceptable: Wisdom's ways are not only pleasant, but pleasantness it self, and all her paths are Peace, Pro. 3. 17. It is the Character of the Lord's People both in respect of Holiness and Happiness, that (however they be branded as the Troublers of Israel) they are the Quiet in the Land, Psal. 35. 20. If every Saint be made a spi­ritual Prince (Rev. 1. 6.) having a Dignity above others, and a Dominion over himself, surely he is like that Seraiah, Jer. 51. 59. a quiet Prince. It is a Reign with Christ, the transcendent Solomon, under the influence of whose Golden Scepter there is abundance of Peace as long as the Moon endures, yea, and longer, for of the increase of his Government and Peace, there shall be no end. Quietness is in the Text recommended to us as a Grace, which we should be endued with, and as a Duty which we should practise. In the midst of all the Affronts and Injuries that are, or can be offer'd us, we must keep our Spirits sedate, and undisturbed, and evidence by a calm and even, and regular behaviour, that they are so. This is Quietness. Our Saviour hath pronoun­ced the Blessing of Adoption upon the Peace-makers, Mat. 5. 9. [...], those that are for [Page 35] Peace, as David professeth himself to be, Psal. 120. 7. in opposition (such an opposition as Meekness is capable of) to those that delight in War, Psal. 68. 30. Now if Charity be for Peace-making, Surely this Charity begins at home and is for making Peace there in the first place; Peace in our own Souls, is some conformity to the example of the God of Peace, who tho' he doth not always give Peace on this Earth, yet ever­more makes Peace in his own high place, Job 25. v. 2. This,Dr. H [...]m­mond. Pract­later. p. 125, some think, is the primary intention of that Peace-making, on which Christ there commands the Blessing: It is to have strong and hearty affections to Peace, to be peaceable-minded; for making in Scripture notes the bent and incli­nation of the Soul; as to make a Lye, is to be given to Lying; so to make Peace, is to be ad­dicted to Peace; to have a disposition in the Soul ready to command the Peace, when there is at any time, any kind of disturbance. In a word: Quietness of Spirit is the Soul's stillness, and silence, from intending Provocation to, or resenting Provocatio [...] from any with whom we have to do.

The word hath something in it of a Meta­phor, which we would not chase, but fairly prosecute, for the Illustration of the Grace of Meekness.

1. We must be quiet as the Air is quiet from Winds. Disorderly Passions are like stormy Winds in the Soul, they toss and hurry it, and often split, or strand, or overset it; they move it as the Trees of the Wood are mov'd with the Wind; 'tis the Prophets comparison, Isa. 7. 2. and is an apt Emblem of a Man in Passion. Now Meek­ness restrains these Winds, saith to them, Peace, [Page 36] be still, and so preserves a calm in the Soul, and makes it conformable to him, who hath the Winds in his Fists, and is herein to be praised, that even the stormy Winds fulfil his Word. A brisk Gale is often useful, especially to the Ships of Desire, as the Hebrew phrase is, Iob 9. 26. so there should be in the Soul such a warmth and vigor as will help to speed us to the desired Harbour. It is not well to lye Wind-bound in dulness and indifferency. But Tempests are perillous, yea, tho' the Wind be in the right Point; so are strong Passions, even in good Men, they both hinder the Voyage, and hazzard the Ship: Such a Quickness as consists with Quietness, is what we should all labour after, and Meekness will contribute very much towards it, it will si­lence the Noise, controul the Force, moderate the Impetus, and correct all undue and disorderly Transports.Ae [...]lus sis affectuum tuorum. Neiremb. What manner of Grace is this, that even the VVinds and the Seas obey it? If we will but use the Authority which God hath given us over our own Hearts, we may keep the winds of Passion under the command of Religion and Reason, and then the Soul is quiet; the Sun shines, all's pleasant and [...]erene and smiling, and the Man sleeps sweetly and safely on the Lee­side. We make our Voyage among Rocks and Quick-sands, but if the Weather be calm, we can the better steer so as to avoid them, and by a due care and temper hit the mean between extreams, whereas he that suffers these VVinds of Passion to get head, and spreads a large Sail before them, while he shuns one Rock, splits upon another, and is in danger of being drown'd in destruct­ion and perdition, by many foolish and hurtful Lusts, especially those whence VVars and Fightings come.

[Page 37] 2. We must be quiet as the Sea is quiet from VVaves. The wicked (whose sin and punish­ment both lye in the unruliness of their own Souls, and the Violence and Disorder of their own Passions, which perhaps will not be the least of their eternal Torments) are compared to the troubled Sea, when it cannot rest, whose Waters cast forth Mire and Dirt, Isa. 57. 20. that is, they are uneasie to themselves, and to all about them, raging Waves of the Sea (so they are described, Iude 13.) foaming out their own shame; their hard Speeches which they speak against God, ver. 15. and Dignities, ver. 8. and things which they know not, ver. 10. their great swelling words, ver. 16. and mockings, ver. 18. these are the shame they foam out. Now Meek­ness is a Grace of the Spirit, that moves upon the face of the VVaters and quiets them, smooths the ruffled Sea, and stills the Noise of it, ('tis now mare pacificum) it casts forth none of the Mire and Dirt of Passion. The Waves mount not up to the Heaven in Proud and Vain-glorious Boastings; go not down to the depths to scrape up vile and scurrilous Language; no reeling to and fro, as Men overcome with Drink, or with their own Passion, which is all one, (for if VVine be a mocker, and strong Drink raging, Pro. 20. 1. Anger is no less so,) none of that transport which brings them to their wits end; I refer to the Psalmist's description of a Storm, Ps. 107. 26, 27. but as it follows there, v. 30. They are glad be­cause they are quiet, so he bringeth them to their desir'd Haven. This calmness and evenness of Spirit makes our passage over the Sea of this World safe and pleasant, quick and speedy to­wards the desired Harbour, and is amiable and [Page 38] exemplary in the Eyes of others, such a path doth the meek and quiet Christian make to shine after him. One would think the deep to be hoary.

3. We must be quiet as the Land is quiet from VVar. It was the observable Felicity of Asa's Reign, that in his days the Land was quiet, 2 Chr. 14. 1, 5. In the preceding Reigns there was no peace to him that went out, or to him that came in, whether outward-bound or home-wards bound, they were exposed to great vexations, ch. 15. 5. but now the rumors and allarms of War were still'd, and the people deliver'd from the noise of Archers at the place of drawing VVaters, as when the Land had rest in Deborah's time, Iud. 5. 11. Such a quietness there should be in the Soul, and such a quietness there will be where Meekness sways the Scepter. A Soul enflamed with Wrath and Passion upon all occasions is like a Kingdom embroil'd in War, in a Civil War, subject to continual Frights, and Losses, and Pe­rils, Deaths and Terrors in their most horrid Shapes, walk triumphantly, Sleeps disturb'd, Families broken, Friends suspected, Enemies fear'd, Laws silenced, Commerce ruin'd, Business neglected, Cities wasted, such heaps upon heaps, doth ungovern'd Anger lay when it is let loose in the Soul. Ius (que) datum sceleri, &c. But Meek­ness makes these Wars to cease, breaks the Bow, cuts the Spear, sheaths the Sword, and in the midst of a Contentious World preserves the Soul from being the Seat of War, and makes Peace in those Borders. The rest of the Soul is not disturb'd, it's Comforts not plunder'd, it's Government not disorder'd, the Laws of Religion and Reason rule, and not the Sword: The Tra­ding-Duties [Page 39] are not interrupted, neither its Com­munion with God, nor its Communion with the Saints intercepted, no breaking in of Tempta­tion, no going out of Corruption, no complaining in the Streets, no occasion given, no occasion taken to complain. Happy is the Soul that is in such a case, Psal. 144. 14, 15. The words of such wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that ruleth among Fools, and this wisdom is better than weapons of war, Eccl. 9. 17, 18. This is the Quietness we should every one of us la­bour after, and it is what we might attain to, if we would but more support and exercise the Au­thority of our Graces (which are as the Commis­sioners of the Peace) and guide and controul the power of our Passions (which are as the Commis­sioners of Array) in our Souls.

4. We must be quiet as the Child is quiet after weaning. It is the Psalmist's comparison, Psal. 131. 2. I have behaved (or rather, I have composed, so Ainsworth reads it) and quieted my Self, (my Soul, Heb. for our Souls are our selves, and our principal care must be concerning them) as a Child that is weaned of his Mother, my Soul is even as a weaned Child. A Child while it is in the weaning perhaps is a little cross, and froward, and troublesom for a time, but when it is per­fectly wean'd, how quickly doth it forget the Breast, and accommodate its self to its new way of feeding; Thus a quiet Soul, if provok'd by the denial or loss of some Creature-Comfort or Delight, that hath been dear, quiets it self, and doth not fret at it, nor perplex it self with anxi­ous Cares, how to live without it, but compo­seth it self to make the best of that which is. If Wormwood be put upon the Breasts, which we [Page 40] have call'd the Breasts of our Consolation, it is but to make us indifferent to them, and we must set our selves to answer that Intention, and sit loose to them accordingly. And this Holy In­differency to the Delights of Sense, is (like the weaning of a Child) a good step taken towards the perfect Man, the measure of the Stature of the fulness of Christ. Yet cor­rupt Passi­ons appear betimes. Vi­di zelan­tem par­vulum qui intuebatur pallidus a­maro aspe­ctucollacta­neum suum. Aug. Conf. 1, 7. A Child newly weaned is free from all the uneasiness and disquietment of Care, and Fear, and Envy, and Anger, and Revenge: How undisturbed are its Sleeps, and even then its Dreams pleasant and smiling? How easie its Days? How quiet its Nights? If put into a little pett now and then, how soon is it over, the Provocation forgiven, the Sense of it forgotten, and both bury'd in an innocent Kiss? Thus, if ever we would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, must we be converted from Pride, Envy, Ambition and Strife for precedency, and must become like little Children. Et si citò pueri inter se moventur, facilesed an­tur & ma­j [...]ri suavitate in se re­currunt; nesciunt se subdole ar­tificioseque tractare. Amb. de Of fic. l. 1. c. 21. So our Savi­our hath told us (who, even after his Resur­rection, is call'd, The Holy Child Iesus, Act. 4. 27.) Matth. 18. 3. And even when we have put away other childish Things, yet still in Malice we must be Children, 1 Cor. 14. 20. And as for the Quar­rels of others, in all Broils and Heats, a meek and quiet Christian endeavours to be as dis-inter­essed, and as little engaged as a weaned Child in the Mothers Arms, that is not capable of such angry Resentments.

This is that Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, which is here recommended to us, such a Com­mand and Composure of the Soul, as that it be not unhinged by any Provocation whatsoever, but all its Powers and Faculties preserved in due Temper, for the just discharge of their respective [Page 41] Offices.Col. 3. 8. In a word; Put off all Wrath, and An­ger, and Malice, (those corrupted Limbs of the old Man) pluck up and cast away those Roots of Bitterness, and stand upon a constant Guard against all the Exorbitances of your own Pas­sion, and then you will soon know, to your com­fort, better than I can tell you, what it is to be of a Meek and Quiet Spirit.

CHAP. II. The Excellency of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.

THE very opening of this Cause, one would think, were enough to carry it, and the ex­plaining of the Nature of Meekness and Quiet­ness, should suffice to recommend it to us: Such an amiable Sweetness doth there appear in it, upon the very first View; if we look upon this Beauty, we cannot but be enamour'd with it. But because of the Opposition that there is in our corrupt Hearts to this, as to other the Graces of the Holy Spirit, I shall endeavour more particu­larly to shew the Excellency of it, that we may be brought, if possible, to be in love with it, and to submit our Souls to the charming Power of it.

It is said, Pro. 17. 27. That a Man of under­standing is of an excellent Spirit.—He is [...] (so the Chetib, though the Keri, which our Translation follows, reads it [...] frigidus Spi­ritu, so Tremellius, he is of a cool Spirit; put them together, and it teacheth us, That a cool Spirit is an excellent Spirit, and he is a Man of understanding that is acted and govern'd by such a Spirit. The Text tells us (what need we more?) [Page 42] that it in the sight of God of great price, and we may be sure that's precious indeed which is so in God's sight; that's good, very good which he pronounceth so, for his Judgment is accor­ding to Truth, and sooner or later he will bring all the World to be of his Mind; for as he hath decided it, so shall our Doom be, and he will be justified when he speaketh, and clear when he judgeth.

The excellency of a meek and quiet Spirit, will appear, if we consider the Credit of it, and the Comfort of it, the present Profit there is by it, and the Preparedness there is in it, for something further.

[1.] Consider how Creditable a meek and quiet Spirit is. Credit and Reputation is a thing which most People are very sensibly touch'd with the Ambition of, tho' few consider aright either what it is, or what is the right way of obtain­ing it, and particularly it is little believed what a great deal of true honour there is in the Grace of Meekness, and what a sure and ready way, mild and quiet Souls take to gain the good word of their Master, and of all their Fellow-Servants that love our Master, and are like him.

Let us see what Credit there is in Meek­ness.

1. There is in it the credit of a Victory. What a great Figure do the Names of high and migh­ty Conquerors make in the Records of Fame? How is their Conduct, their Valor, and their Success more than either cry'd up and celebrated? But if we will believe the Word of Truth, and pass a Judgment upon things according to the Rules of that, He that is slow to anger is better than [Page 43] the Mighty, and he that ruleth his Spirit, than he that taketh a City, Pro. 16. 32. Behold a greater than Alexander or Caesar is here: The former of which some think lost more true Honour by yielding to his own ungovern'd Anger, than he got by all his Conquests. No triumphant Cha­riot so easie, so safe, so truly glorious, as that in which the meek and quiet Soul rides over all the Provocations of an injurious World, with a gra­cious unconcernedness: No train so splendid, so noble, as that train of Comforts and Graces, which attend this Chariot. The Conquest of an unruly Passion is more honourable, than the Con­quest of an unruly People, for it requires more true Conduct: It is easier to kill an Enemy without us, which may be done at a Blow, than to Chain up and govern an Enemy within us which requires a constant even steddy Hand, and a long and regular Management. It was more the Honour of David to yield himself conquer'd by Abigail's Perswasions, than to have made himself a Conqueror over Nabal and all his House. A rational Victory must needs be al­lowed more honourable to a rational Creature than a brutal one. This is a cheap, safe and unbloody Conquest that doth no Body any harm, no Lives, no Treasures sacrificed to it, the Glory of these Triumphs, not stain'd as others use to be with Funerals: Every Battle of the Warrior (saith the Prophet, Isa. 9. 5.) is with confused noise, and Garments roll'd in Blood, but this shall be with burning, even by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts; as a Spirit of Iudgment, and a Spirit of Burning. Nay, in meek and quiet suffering, we are more than Conquerors, thro' Christ that loved us, Rom. 8. 37. Conquerors with little loss; we [Page 44] lose nothing but the gratifying of a base Lust, Conquerors with great gain, the Spoils we di­vide are very rich, the Favour of God, the Com­forts of the Spirit, the Foretasts of everlasting Pleasures, these are more glorious and excellent than the Mountains of Prey. We are more than Conquerors; that is, Triumphers, we live a Life of Victory, every day a day of Triumph in the meek and quiet Soul.

Meekness is a Victory over our Selves, and the Rebellious Lusts in our own Bosoms; 'tis the quieting of intestine Broils, the stilling of an In­surrection at Home, which is oftentimes more hard to do, than to resist a foreign Invasion. It is an effectual Victory over those that injure us, and make themselves Enemies to us, and is often a means of winning their Hearts. The Law of Meekness is, If thine Enemy hung [...], feed him, if he thirst [...], Propina illi, not only give him drink, (which is an Act of Charity) but drink to him, in token of Friendship, and true Love, and Reconciliation, and in so doing thou shalt heap Coals of Fire upon his Head, not to consume him, but to melt and mollifie him, that he may be cast into a new mould; and thus while the angry and revengeful Man, that will bear down all before him with a high hand is over­come of evil, the patient and forgiving overcome evil with good, Rom. 12. 20, 21. and forasmuch as their ways please the Lord, he maketh even their Enemies to be at Peace with them, Pro. 16. 7. Nay, Meekness is a Victory over Satan the great­est Enemy of all: What Conquest can sound more great than that? It is written for Caution to us all, and it reflects honour upon those who through Grace overcome, that we wrestle not [Page 45] against Flesh and Blood, but against Principali­ties and Powers, and the Rulers of the darkness of this World, Eph. 6. 12. The magnifying of the Adversary magnifies the Victory over him; such as these are the meek Man's vanquish'd Enemies, the spoils of these are the Trophies of his Victory. [...] Chrysost. Hom. 19. It is the design of the Devil, that great Deceiver and Destroyer of Souls, that is baffled, 'tis his attempt that is defeated, his assault that is re­puls'd by our Meekness and Quietness. Our Lord Jesus was more admired for his controul­ing and commanding the unclean Spirits, than for any other of the Cures he wrought: Un­ruly Passions are unclean Spirits, Legions of which some Souls are possess'd with, and despe­rate outragious work they make: The Soul be­comes like that miserable Creature, (Mark 5. 3, 4, 5. that cry'd and cut himself, or that, Mark 9. 22. who was so often cast into the Fire, and into the Waters. The meek and quiet Soul is through Grace a Conqueror over these Enemies, their fiery darts are quenched by the shield of Faith, Satan is in some measure trodden under his Feet, and the Victory will be compleat shortly, when he that overcometh shall sit down with Christ upon his Throne, even as he overcame and is set down with the Father upon his Throne; where he still appears in the Emblem of his Meekness, a Lamb as it had been slain, Rev. 5. 6. And upon Mount Zion, at the Head of his Hea­venly Hosts, he appears also as a Lamb, Rev. 14. 1. Such is the Honour that Meekness hath in those higher Regions.

2. There is in it, the Credit of a Beauty. The Beauty of a thing consists in the Symmetry, Harmony and Agreeableness of all the Parts: [Page 46] Now what is Meekness, but the Souls Agreement with it self? 'Tis the joynt Concurrence of all the Affections to the universal Peace and Quiet of the Soul, every one regularly acting in its own Place and Order, and so contributing to the common good. Next to the Beauty of Holiness, which is the Souls Agreement with God, is the Beauty of Meekness, which is the Soul's Agree­ment with it Self. Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is, for the Powers of the Soul thus to dwell together in Unity, the Reason knowing how to Rule, and the Affections at the same time knowing how to Obey. Exorbitant Passion is a Discord in the Soul: It is like a Tumor in the Face, which spoils the Beauty of it: Meekness scatters the Humor, binds down the swelling, and so prevents the De­formity, and preserves the Beauty. This is one instance of the comliness of Grace, thro' my comliness (saith God to Israel, Ezek. 16. 14.) which I had put upon thee. It puts a charming Loveliness and Amiableness upon the Soul, which renders it acceptable to all that know what true Worth and Beauty is. He that in Righteousness, and Peace, and Ioy in the Holy Ghost: that is, in Christian Meekness and Quiet­ness of Spirit, serveth Christ, is acceptable to God and approved of Men, Rom. 14. 17, 18. and to whom else can we wish to recommend our selves?

Solomon (a very competent Judge of Beauty) hath determined, That it is a Man's Wisdom that makes his Face to shine, Eccl. 8. 1. and doubtless the Meekness of Wisdom, contributes as much as any one Branch of it to this Luster. We read in Scripture of three, whose Faces [Page 47] shone remarkably, and they were all three emi­nent for Meekness. The Face of Moses shone, Exod. 34. 30. and he was the meekest of all the Men on Earth. The Face of Stephen shone, Acts 6. 15. and he it was, who in the midst of a shower of Stones, so meekly submitted, and prayed for his Persecutors. The Face of our Lord Iesus shone in his Transfiguration, and he was the great Pattern of Meekness. It is a sweet and pleasing Air, which this Grace puts npon the Countenance, while it keeps the Soul in tune, and frees it from those jarring ill­favoured Discords, which are the certain effect of an ungovern'd Passion.

3. There is in it the Credit of an Ornament. The Text speaks of it, as an Adorning, much more excellent and valuable than Gold, or Pearls, or the most costly Array, much more recommending than all the Bravery of the Daughters of Zion. It is an adorning to the Soul, the principal, the immortal part of the Man. That outward adorning doth but deck, and beautifie the Body, which at the best, is but a Sister to the Worms, and will ere long be a Feast for them, but this is the Ornament of the Soul, by which we are ally'd to the invisible World. 'Tis an adorning which recommends us to God, which is in his sight of great price; so the Text saith, and in that saith enough to its praise. Ornaments go by Estimation: now we may be sure, that the Judgment of God is right and unerring. Every thing is in­deed, as it is with God: Those are righteous indeed,Luke 1. 6., that are righteous before God; and that is an Ornament indeed, which he calls and counts so. It is an Ornament of God's own [Page 48] making; Is the Soul thus deck'd? 'Tis he that hath deck'd it: By his Spirit he hath garnished the Heavens, Job 26. 13. and by the same Spi­rit hath he garnished the meek and quiet Soul. It is an Ornament of his accepting, (it must needs be so, if it be of his own working) for to him that hath this Ornament, more adorning shall be given. He hath promised, Psal. 149. 4. that he will beautifie the meek with Salvation; and if the Garaments of Salvation will not beautifie, what will? The Robes of Glory will be the everlasting Ornament of the meek and quiet Spirits. This Meekness is an Ornament which (like the Israelites Cloths in the Wilderness) never waxeth old, nor will ever go out of fashion, while right Reason and Religion have any place in the World: All wise and good People will reckon those best drest, that put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and walk with him in the white of Meekness and Innocence. Solo­mon in all his Glory was not arrayed like one of these Lillies of the Vallies, tho' Lillies among Thorns.

The same Ornament, which in the Text is recommended to Wives, is by the same Apostle recommended to us all, 1 Pet. 5. 5. Yea all of you be subject one to another, that explains what Meekness is; it is that mutual yielding which we owe one to another, for edification, and in the fear of God, (Eph 5. 21.) This seems to be a hard Saying, how shall we digest it? an im­practicable Duty, how shall we conquer it? why, it follows, be cloathed with Humility. The word is [...], innodate, from [...],Vobis infix­am [...]abete. Erasm., a Knot: Which notes, (1.) The fixed­ness of this Grace. We must gird it fast to [Page 49] us, and not leave it to hang loose so as to be snatch'd away by every Temptation; Careles­ness is no commendation of the Souls adorning; Watchfulness and Resolution in the strength of Christ must tye the Knot upon our Graces, and make them as the Girdle that cleaves to a Man's Loins. (2.) The comliness and Ornament of it; Put it on as a Knot of Ribbands, as an Orna­ment to the Soul; such is the Meekness of Wis­dom, it gives to the Head an Ornament of Grace, and (which is more) a Crown of Glory, Pro. 1. 9. and 4. 9.

4. There is in it the Credit of true Courage. Meekness is commonly despised and run down by the Grandees of the Age,Magni ani­mi est pro­prium, placi­dumesse & injurias su­perne despi­cere. Sen., as a piece of Cowardise and Mean-spiritedness, and the evi­dence of a little Soul, and is posted accordingly, while the most furious and angry Revenges are celebrated and applauded under the pompous Names of Valor, and Honour, and Greatness of Spirit, which ariseth from a mistaken Notion of Courage, the true Nature whereof, is thus stated by a very ingenuous PenNorris, Miscell. p. 167, 168., That it is a Resolution never to decline any evil of pain, when the chusing of it, and the exposing of our selves to it, is the only Remedy against a greater evil; And therefore he that accepts a challenge, and so runs himself upon the evil of sin, which is the greater evil, only for fear of shame and re­proach, which is the less evil, he is the Coward, while he that refuseth the challenge, and so ex­poseth himself to reproach, for fear of sin, he is the valiant Man. True Courage is such a pre­sence of Mind, as enableth a Man rather to suf­fer than to sin, to chuse Affliction rather than Iniquity, to pass by an Affront, tho' he lose by [Page 50] it, and be hiss'd at for a Fool and a Sneak, rather than to engage in a sinful Quarrel. He that can deny the brutual Lust of Anger and Revenge, rather than violate the Royal Law of Love and Charity (however contrary the Sentiments of the World may be) he is truly Resolute and Couragious.Paul shew'd more true Valor when he said, I can do no­thing against the Truth, than Goliah did when he desyed all the Hosts of Israel. Ward. The Lord is with thee, thou mighty Man of Valor. Fretting and Vexing is the fruit of the Weakness of Women and Children, but much below the strength of a Man, especi­ally of the New Man, that is born from above. When our Lord Jesus is described in his Majesty, riding prosperously, the Glory he appears in, is Truth, and Meekness, and Righteousness, Psal. 45. 4. The Courage of those who over­come this great red Dragon of Wrath and Re­venge, by meek and patient suffering, and by not loving their Lives unto the Death, Rev. 12. 11. will turn to the best and most honourable ac­count on 'tother side the Grave, and will be crowned with Glory, and Honour, and Immorta­lity, when those that caused their terror in the Land of the Living, fall ingloriously, and bear their shame with them that go down to the Pit, Ezek. 32. 24.

5. The Credit of a Conformity to the best Patterns. The Resemblance of those that are confessedly Excellent and Glorious, hath in it an Excellency and Glory. To be meek, is to be like the greatest Saints; the Elders that obtain­ed a good Report, and were of Renown in their Generation. 'Tis to be like the greatest Angels, whose Meekness in their Converse with, and Ministration to the Saints, is very observable in the Scriptures; nay, it is to be like the Great God himself, whose Goodness is his Glory, (who [Page 51] is Deus Optimus, and therefore Maximus) who is slow to Anger, and in whom Fury is not, Isa. 27. 4. We are then followers of God, as dear Children, when we walk in Love, and are kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, Eph. 5. 1, 2. compare chap. 4. l. The more quiet and sedate we are, the more like we are to that God, who tho' he be nearly concer­ned in all the Affairs of this lower World, is yet far from being moved by its most violent Con­vulsions and Revolutions;The He­brew Cri­ticks ob­serve, that in the name [...] All the Let­ters are quiescent. But as he was from Eternity, so he is and will be to Eternity, infi­nitely happy in the enjoyment of himself. It is spoken to his Praise and Glory, Psal. 29. 10. The Lord sits upon the Floods, even then, when the Floods have lifted up their voice, have lifted up their Waves, Psal. 93. 3, 4. Such is the Rest of the eternal Mind, that he sits as firm and undistur­bed upon the moveable Flood,Quad diside­ras magnum & summum est, Deoque vicinum, non concuti. Sen. as upon the im­moveable Rock, the same Yesterday, to Day, and for Ever; And the meek and quiet Soul that preserves its Peace and Evenness against all the ruffling Insults of Passion and Provocation, doth thereby somewhat participate of a Divine Nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4.—Diis proximus ille est. Quem ratio non ira mo­vet. Claud.

Let the true Honour that attends this Grace of Meekness, recommend it to us: It is one of those things that are Honest, and Pure, and Lovely, and of good Report; A Vertue that hath a Praise attending it, Phil. 4. 8. A Praise, perhaps not of the most of Men, but of God, Rom. 2. 29. It is the certain way to get and keep, if not a great Name, yet a good Name. Such as is better than precious Ointment. Though there be those that trample upon the meek of the Earth, and look upon them as Michal upon [Page 52] David despising them in their Hearts, yet if this is to be vile, let us be yet more vile, and base in our own sight, and we shall find (as David argues there) that there are those of whom we shall be had in honour, sooner or later, 2 Sam. 6. 22. for the Word of Christ shall not fall to the Ground, that those who humble themselves shall be exalted.

[2.] Consider how comfortable a meek and quiet Spirit is. Inward Comfort is a desirable good, which hath more in it of reality, and de­pends less upon Opinion, than that of Credit: And this is that which Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, hath such a direct tendency to, nay which it carries along with it. What is true Comfort and Pleasure, but a Quietness in our own Bosom? Those are most easie to them­selves, that are so to all about them, while they that are a burthen and a Terror to others, will not be much otherwise to themselves. He that would lead a quiet, must lead a peaceable Life, 1 Tim. 2. 2. The surest way to find Rest to our Souls, is to learn of him who is meek and lowly in heart, Mat. 11. 29. Let but our moderation be known unto all Men; And the Peace of God which passeth all understanding, will keep our Hearts and Minds, Phil. 4. 5, 7. Quietness is the thing which even the busie, noisie part of the World pretend to desire and pursue; They will be quiet, yea, that they will, or they'l know why, they will not endure the least disturbance of their Quietness. But verily they go a mad way to work, in pursuit of quietness; greatly to dis­quiet themselves inwardly, and put their Souls into a continual hurry, only to prevent or re­medy some small outward Disquietment from [Page 53] others. But he that is meek, finds a sweeter, safer Quietness, and much greater Comfort than that which they in vain pursue. Great Peace have they that love this Law of Love, for no­thing shall offend them, (Psal. 119. 165.) What­ever Offence is intended, it is not so interpreted, and by that means the Peace is preserved. If there be a Heaven any where upon Earth, it is in the meek and quiet Soul, that Acts, and Breaths above that lower Region, which is infested with Storms and Tempests, the Harmony of whose Faculties, is like the Musick of the Spheres they talk of, a perpetual Melody. Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.

A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for he enjoys Himself, he en­joys his Friends, he enjoys his God, and he puts it out of the reach of his Enemies to disturb him in these Enjoyments.

1. He enjoys Himself. Meekness is very near­ly ally'd to that Patience which our Lord Jesus prescribes to us, as necessary to the keeping of the Possession of our own Souls, Luke 21. 19. How Calm are the Thoughts, how Serene are the Affections, how Rational the Prospects, and how even and composed are all the Resolves of the Meek and Quiet Soul? How free from the Pains and Tortures of the angry Man,Opinion is the rate of Things,From which our Peace doth flow,I have a better fate than Kings,Because I think it so.Mrs. Phillips who is disseiz'd and dispos­sessed of himself; and while he toils and vexes to make other things his own, makes his own Soul not so: His Reason is in a mist, confounded and bewildred, cannot argue, infer, or foresee with [Page 54] any certainty. His Affections are upon the full­speed, hurry'd on with an impetus, which is as uneasie as it is hazzardous. Who is that good Man that is satisfied from himself? —Ne te quaesiverius extra. Pro. 14. 14. Who but the quiet Man that needs not go a­broad for satisfaction, but having Christ dwel­ling in his Heart by Faith, hath in him that Peace, which the World can neither give, nor take away: While those that are fretful and passionate, rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the Bread of Sorrow, in pursuit of revengeful Projects, the God of Peace giveth to his belov'd (Iedidijah's, one of Solomon's Names, who was a Man of Peace) sleep, Psal. 127. 2.) The sleep of the Meek is quiet, and sweet, and un­disturbed: Those that by Innocency and Mild­ness, make themselves the Sheep of Christ, shall be made to lye down in the green Pastures, Psal. 23. 2. That which would break an angry Man's Heart, will not break a meek Man's Sleep. It is promised, Psal. 22. 26. That the meek shall eat and be satisfied. He hath what sweetness is to be had in his Common-Comforts, whilst the angry Man either cannot eat, his Stomach's too full, and too high, as Ahab, 1 Kings 21. 4. or eats and is not satisfied, unless he can be re­venged, as Haman, Esth. 5. 12, 13. All this avails me nothing, (tho' it was a Banquet of Wine with the King and Queen) as long as Mordecai is unhang'd.

It is spoken of as the Happiness of the Meek, that they delight themselves in the abundance of Peace, Psal. 37. 11. others may delight themselves in the abundance of Wea [...]th; a poor delight that is interwoven with so much Trouble and Dis­quietment; but the meek, tho' they have but a [Page 55] little Wealth, have Peace, abundance of Peace, Peace like a River, and this such as they have a Heart to delight themselves in, sat lucis intus, as Oecolumpadius said, their Souls are a Goshen in the midst of the Aegypt of this World, they have Light in their Dwelling, when Clouds and Darkness are round about them: This is the joy which a stranger doth not intermeddle with. We may certainly have (and we would do well to consider it) less inward disturbance, and more true ease and satisfaction in forgiving twenty in­juries, than in avenging one. No doubt Abigail intended more than she express'd, when to qua­lifie David, and to perswade him to pass by the Affront which Nabal had given him, she pru­dently suggested, that hereafter this shall be no grief unto thee, 1 Sam. 25▪ ver. 31. nor offence of Heart.—Not only so, but it would be very sweet, and easie, and comfortable in the reflection. Such a re­joycing is it, especially in a Suffering-day, to have the Testimony of Conscience that in simplicity, and godly sincerity, 2 Cor: 1. 12. not with fleshly Wisdom, but by the Grace of God, particularly the Grace of Meekness, we have had our Conversation in the World, and so have pleased God, and done our Duty. He did not speak the Sense, no not of the sober Heathen, that said, Est vindicta bo­num, vitâ jucundius ipsâ: Revenge is sweeter than Life, for it often proves more bitter than Death.

2. He enjoys his Friends:—And that's a thing in which lies much of the Comfort of humane Life. Man was intended to be a so­ciable Creature, and a Christian much more. But the angry Man is unfit to be so, that takes Fire at every Provocation; fitter to be abandon­ed [Page 56] to the Lions Dens, and the Mountains of the Leopards, than to go forth by the footsteps of the Flock. He that hath his hand against every Man, cannot but have (with Ishmael's Character, Ishma­el's Fate) every Man's hand against him, (Gen. 16. 12.) and so he lives in a State of War; But Meekness is the Cement of Society, the Bond of Christian-Communion; it plaineth and polisheth the Materials of that Beautiful Fabrick, and makes them lye close and tight, and the living Stones which are built up a Spiritual House, to be like the Stones of the Temple that Herod built, all as one Stone, whereas, Hard upon hard (as the Spaniards Proverb is) will never make a Wall. Meekness preserves among Brethren that Unity, which is like the Ointment upon the Holy Head, and the Dew upon the Holy Hill, Psal. 133. 1, 2. In our present state of Imper­fection there can be no Friendship, Correspon­dence or Conversation maintain'd without mu­tual Allowances; we do not yet dwell with An­gels or Spirits of just Men made perfect, but with Men subject to like Passions. Now Meekness teaches us to consider this, and to allow accor­dingly, and so Distances and Strangeness, Fewds and Quarrels are happily prevented, and the beginnings of them crushed by a timely care. How necessary to true Friendship it is to surren­der our Passions, and to subject them all to the Laws of it, was (perhaps) intimated by Iona­than's delivering to David his Sword, and his Bow, and his Girdle, all his Military Habiliments, when he entred into a Covenant of Friendship with him, 1 Sam. 18. 3. 4.

3. He enjoys his God; and that's most com­fortable of all. 'Tis the Quintessence of all [Page 57] Happiness, and that without which all our other Enjoyments are sapless, and insipid: For this, none are better qualified than those that are ar­rayed with the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 'Twas when the Psalmist had newly conquer'd an unruly Passion, and compos'd himself, that he lift up his Soul to God, in that pious and pathe­tical Breathing, Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none upon Earth, that I desire in com­parison of thee? Psal. 73. 25. We enjoy God when we have the Evidences and Assurances of his F [...] ­vor, the Tasts and Tokens of his Love, when we experience in our selves the Communications of his Grace, and the continued instances of his Image stamped upon us: And this those that are most meek and quiet have usually the greatest degrees of. In our Wrath and Passion, we give place to the Devil, and so provoke God to with­draw from us: Nothing grieves the Holy Spirit of God (by whom we have Fellowship with the Father) more than bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, Eph. 4. 30, 31. But to this Man doth the God of Heaven look with a peculiar Regard, even to him that is poor, poor in Spirit, (Isa. 66. 2.) [...]to him that is quiet, so the Syriack; to him that is meek, so the Caldee. The great God over-looks Heaven and Earth to give a favourable look to the Meek and Quiet Soul. Nay, he not only looks at such, but, Isa. 57. 15. He dwells with them; noting a constant Intercourse and Communion between God and humble Souls. His Secret is with them; he gives them more Grace, and they that thus dwell in Love, dwell in God, and God in Them. The Waters were dark indeed, but they were [Page 58] quiet, when the Spirit of God moved upon them, and out of them produced a beautiful World.

This calm and sedate Frame, doth very much qualifie and dispose us for the Reception and Entertainment of Divine Visits, and sets bounds to the Mountain, (Exod. 19. 12.) on which God is to descend, that no Interruption may break in, and chargeth the Daughters of Ierusalem, by the Roes and the Hinds of the Field (those sweet, and gentle, and peaceable Creatures) not to stir up or awake our Love until he please, Cant. 2. 7. Some think it was for the quieting and compo­sing of his Spirit (which seems to have been a little ruffled) that Elisha call'd for the Minstrel, 2 Kings 3. 15. and then the hand of the Lord came upon him. Never was God more intimate with any meer Man, than he was with Moses, the meekest of all the Men on the Earth, and it was requir'd as a needful Qualification of the High-Priest, who was to draw near to Minister, that he should have Compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, Heb. 5. 1, 2. The meek will be guide in Iudgment, with a still small Voice which cannot be heard, when the Passions are loud and tumultuous. The angry Man when he awakes, is still with the Devil, contriving some malicious Project; The meek and quiet Man, when he awakes is still with God, solacing himself in his favour. Return unto thy Rest, O my Soul, saith David, Psal. 116. 7. when v. 6. he had reckon'd himself among the simple, i. e. the mild, innocent, and inoffensive People. Return to thy Noah, so the word is, (for Noah had his Name from Rest) perhaps alluding to the Rest which the Dove found with Noah in [Page 59] the Ark, when she could find none any where else. Those that are harmless, and galless, and simple as Doves, can with comfort return to God as to their Rest. It is excellently paraphras'd by Mr. Patrick, God and thy Self (my Soul) enjoy; in quiet Rest, free'd from thy Fears. It is said, Psalm 147. 6. That the Lord lifteth up the meek; As far as their Meekness Reigns, they are lifted up above the stormy Region, and fixt in a Sphere perpetually calm and serene. They are advan­ced indeed that are at home in God, and live a Life of Communion with him, not only in Solemn Ordinances, but even in the Common Accidents and Occurences of the World. Every Day is a Sabbath-day, a Day of Holy Rest with the meek and quiet Soul, that is, one of the Days of Heaven. As this Grace gets ground, the Com­forts of the Holy Ghost grow stronger and stron­ger, according to that precious Promise, Isa. 29. 19. The Meek also shall increase their Ioy in the Lord, and the Poor among Men, shall rejoyce in the Holy One of Israel.

4. It is not in the Power of his Enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these Enjoyments. His Peace is not only sweet, but safe and secure: As far as he acts under the Law of Meekness, it is above the reach of the assaults of those that wish ill to it. He that abides quietly under the shadow of the Almighty, shall surely be deli­vered from the Snare of the Fowler, Psal. 91. 1, 3. The greatest Provocations that Men can give would not hurt us,Nemo laedi­tur nisi à seipso. Dict. Diogen. if we did not, by our inor­dinate and foolish concern, come too near them, and within reach of their Canon; we may therefore thank our selves, if we be damaged; He that hath learned, with Meekness and Quiet­ness, [Page 60] to forgive Injuries, and pass them by, hath found the best and surest way of baffling and de­feating them,Idcirco quis te laedit ut doleas, quia fructus lae­dentis in do­lore laesi est, ergo, cum fructumejus everteris non dolendo, ipse doleat necesse est amissione fructûs sui Improbum caedis susti­nendo. Tertull. de patientiâ cap. 8. nay, it is a kind of innocent Re­venge. It was an evidence that Saul was acted by another Spirit, in that when the Children of Belial despis'd him, and brought him no Pre­sents, hoping by that Contempt to give a shock to his Infant-Government, he held his peace, and so neither his Soul, nor his Crown received any disturbance, 1 Sam. 10. 27. Shimei, when he cur­sed David, intended thereby to pour Vinegar into his Wounds, and to add affliction to the afflicted: but David, by his Meekness, preserv'd his Peace, and Shimei's design was frustrated, So let him curse; (2 Sam. 16. 10.) Alas poor Crea­ture! he hurts himself more than David, who, while he keeps his Heart from being Tinder to those Sparks, is no more prejudiced by them, than the Moon is by the foolish Curr that barks at it. The meek Man's Prayer is that of David, Psal. 61. 2. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I: And there I can (as Mr. Norris expresses it,)

—smile to see,
The Shafts of Fortune all drop short of me.

The meek Man is like a Ship that rides at Anchor, movetur sed non amovetur; the Storm moves it, (the meek Man is not a Stock or Stone under Provocation,) but doth not remove it from its Port. It is a Grace that in reference to the Temptations of Affront and Injury, as Faith in reference to Temptation in general,Meekness is the grea­test Affront to all Injuries in the World, for it returns them upon the injurious, and makes them Useless, Ineffective and Innocent. Taylor, Great Exempl. p. 304. quencheth the siery Darts of the Wicked; it is Armor of [Page 61] Proof against the spiteful and envenom'd Arrows of Provocation, and is an impregnable Wall to se­cure the Peace of the Soul there, where Thief cannot break thro' to steal, while the angry Man lays all his Comforts at the Mercy of every Wasp that will strike at him.

So that, upon the whole Matter, it appears, That the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, is as easie as it is comely.

[3.] Consider how profitable a meek and quiet Spirit is. All People are for what they can get; 'tis that which the busie World is set upon, Every one for his Gain from his Quarter, Isa. 56. 11. 'Tis for this that they break their Sleep, and spend their Spirits, and raise so great a Dust: Now it will be hard to convince such, that really there is more to be gotten by Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, than by all this Hurry and Adoe. They readily believe, that in all Labour, there is Pro­fit; but let God himself tell them, In Returning and rest shall ye be saved, in Quietness and in Confidence shall be your strength, they will not take his Word for it, but they say, (as it follows there) No, for we will flee upon Horses, and we will ride upon the Swift, Isa. 30. 15, 16. He that came from Heaven to bless us, hath entail'd a special Blessing upon the Grace of Meekness, Mat. 5. 5. Blessed are the Meek; and his saying, they are blessed, makes them so, for those whom he blesseth, are blessed indeed; blessed, and they shall be blessed.

Meekness is gainful and profitable.

1. As it is the Condition of the Promise: The Meek are therefore blessed, for they shall inherit the Earth. 'Tis quoted from Psal. 37. 11. and is almost the only express Promise of temporal [Page 62] good things in all the new Testament.As Heaven is taken by Violence, so is Earth by Meek­ness. Trap. in loc. Not that the Meek shall be put off with the Earth only, then they would not be truly blessed, but they shall have that as an Earnest of something more. Some read it, They shall inherit the Land; i. e. the Land of Canaan, which was not only a Type and Figure, but to them that believed, a Token and Pledge of the Heavenly Inheritance. So that, ‘A double Canaan (as Dr. Hammond ob­serves) is thought little enough for the meek Man.Pract. Cat. p. (mihi) 117 The same Felicity, in a manner, atten­ding him, which we believe of Adam, if he had not fallen, a Life in Paradise, and from thence a Transplantation to Heaven.—’ But besides this, Meekness is a branch of God­liness, which hath more than other Branches of it, the promise of the Life that now is, 1 Tim. 4. 8. They shall inherit the Earth; the sweetest and surest Tenure is that by Inheritance, which is founded in Sonship: That which comes by Descent to the Heir, the Law attributes to the Act of God, who hath a special Hand in pro­viding for the Meek. They are his Children, and if Children, then Heirs. It is not always the largest Proportion of this World's Goods, that falls to the meek Man's share, but whether he hath more less, he hath it by the best Title; not by a Common, but a Covenant-Right: He holds in Capite, Terram in­habitant quam sibi divinitus concessam esse norunt, & securè agunt sub Dei tutelâ, et hoc illis satis est donec mundi haereditatem ulti [...]o die adeant. Feroces vero omnia possidendo nihil possident. Calv. in Mat. 5. 5. in Christ our Head, an honour­able Tenure.

If he hath but a little, he hath it from God's Love, and with his Blessing, and behold all things [Page 63] are clean and comfortable to him. The wise Man hath determined it, Prov. 17. 1. Better is a dry Morsel and quietness therewith, than a House­full of Sacrifices with strife: And chap. 15. 17. Better is a Dinner of Herbs where love is, than a stalled Ox and hatred therewith. Be the Com­mons never so short, he that hath Rule over his own Spirit, knows how to make the best of them; how to suck Honey out of the Rock, and Oil out of the f [...]inty Rock, Deut. 32. 13. Blessed are the meek, for they shall weild the Earth; so Old Wickleff's Translation reads it, (as I remem­ber 'tis quoted in The Book of Martyrs) and very significantly. Good Management contri­butes more to our comfort, than great Possessions. Whatever a meek Man hath of this Earth, he knows how to weild it, to make a right and good use of it, and that's all in all. Quiet Souls so far inherit the Earth, that they are sure to have as much of it as is good for them; as much as will serve to bear their Charges thro' this World to a better, and who would cover more? Enough is as good as a Feast. The Pro­mise of God without present Possession, is bet­ter than Possession of the World, without an interest in the Promise.

2. As it hath in its own Nature a direct ten­dency to our present Benefit and Advantage. He that is thus wise, is wise for himself, even in this World, and effectually Consults his own Interest.

1. Meekness hath a good influence upon our Health. If envy be the rottenness of the Bones, Pro. 14. 30. Meekness is the Preservation of them. As the indulging of inordinate Appetites towards those things that are pleasing to the Flesh, so the [Page 64] indulging of inordinate Passions against those things that are displeasing, do in the effect pre­judice and injure the very Body which they con­tend so much for. The Excesses and Exorbitan­ces of Anger, stir up those peccant Humors in the Body, which kindle and increase wasting and killing Diseases, but Meekness governs these Humors, and so contributes very much to the good Temper and Constitution of the Body. When Ahab was sick for Naboth's Vine­yard, Meekness would soon have cured him. Moses, the meekest of Men, not only liv'd to be old, but was then free from the Infirmities of Age; His Eye was not dim, nor his Natural Force abated, Deut. 34. 7. which may be very much imputed to his Meekness, as a means. The days of old Age would not be such evil Days, if old People did not, by their own frowardness and unquietness, make them worse than other­wise they would be. Ungovern'd Anger enflames the Natural Heat, and so begets acute Diseases, drys up the Radical Moisture, and so hastens Chronical Decays. The Body is call'd, the Sheath or Scabbard of the Soul, Dan. 7. 15. Marg. How often doth an envious fretful Soul, like a Sharp Knife, cut its own Sheath, and, as they say of the Vipers Brood, eat its own way out: All which Meekness happily prevents.

The Quietness of the Spirit will help to cool distempering Heats, to suppress Melancholy Vapours; and this, as other of Wisdom's Pre­cepts, will be Health to the Navel, and Marrow to the Bones; Length of Days, and long Life, and Peace shall they add unto thee, but Wrath kills the foolish Man, Job 5. 2.

[Page 65] 2. It hath a good influence upon our Wealth, the preservation and increase of it. As in King­doms, so in Families and Neighbourhoods; War begets Poverty. Many a one hath brought a fair Estate to ruine, by giving way to the Efforts of an ungovern'd Anger, that barbarous Idol to which even the Children's Portions, and the Families Maintenance are oftentimes sacrificed. Contention will as soon cloath a Man with Rags as Sloath­fulness; that therefore which keeps the Peace doth not a little befriend the plenty. It was A­braham's meek Management of his Quarrel with Lot, that secured both his own and his Kinsman's Possessions, which otherwise would have been an easie Prey to the Canaanite and the Perizzite that dwelt then in the Land, Gen. 13. 7, 8. And Isaac, whom I have sometimes thought to be the most quiet and calm of all the Patriarchs, and that passed the days of his Pilgrimage most silently, raised the greatest Estate of any of them, Gen. 26. 13. he grew till he became very great: And his Son Iacob lost nothing at long run, by his meek and quiet Carriage towards his Uncle Laban. Revenge is costly; Haman bid largely for it, no less than ten thousand Talents of Sil­ver, Esth. 3. 9. it's better to forgive, and save the Charges. Mr. Dod us'd to say, Love is better than Law, for Love is cheap, but Law is charge­able. Those Tradesmen are commonly observ'd to thrive most, that make the least noise, that with quietness Work, and mind their own Bu­siness, 2 Thes. 3. 12.

3. It hath a good influence upon our Safety. In the day of the Lord's Anger, the meek of the Earth are most likely to be secured. It may be you shall be hid, so runs the Promise, Zeph. 2. 3. [Page 66] If any be, you shall, you stand fairest for spe­cial Protections. Meekness approacheth to that Innocence which is commonly an effectual secu­rity against Wrongs and Injuries. However, some base and servile Spirits may insult over the Tame and Humble: Yet with all Persons of Honour, it is confessedly a piece of Cowardise to set upon an unarm'd unresisting Man, that resents not Provocation, and is ready to yield to every demand. Who is he that will harm you, if you be followers [...], of him that is Good, in his Goodness, 1 Pet. 3. 13. Who draws his Swor [...] or cocks his Pistol at the harmless silent Lamb, while every one is ready to do it, at the furious barking Dog? thus doth the meek Man escape many of those perplexing Troubles, those Woes, and Sorrows, and Wounds without cause, which he that is Passionate, Provoking and Re­vengeful, pulls upon his own Head. Wise Men turn away Wrath, but a Fool's Lips enter into Contention, and his Mouth calleth for Strokes. It is an Honour to a Man to cease from strife, but every Fool will be meddling to his own hurt. An instance of this I remember Mr. Baxter gives in his Book of Obedient Patience, which was this, ‘That once going along London-streets a Hectoring rude Fellow justled him; he went on his way and took no notice of it; but the same Man affronting the next he met in like manner, he drew his Sword and demanded Satisfaction, and Mischief was done.’ He that would sleep both in a whole Skin, and in a whole Conscience, must learn rather to forgive Injuries, than to revenge them. The two Goats that met upon the narrow Bridge (as it is in Luther's Fa­ble) were both in danger, should they quarrel, [Page 67] but were both preserv'd by the Condescension of one that lay down and let the other go over him. It is the evil of Passion that it turns our Friends into Enemies, but it is the excellency of Meekness, that it turns our Enemies into Friends, which is an effectual way of conquering them. Saul, as inveterate an Enemy as could be, was more than once melted by David's Mildness and Meekness, Is this thy voice, my Son David? saith he, 1 Sam. 24. 16. I have sinned, return my Son David, 1 Sam. 26. 21. And after that, Saul perse­cuted him no more, Chap. 27. 4. The change that Iacob's Meekness made in Esau is no less o [...]ser­vable, and (some think) is remark'd as very strange and surprizing, by an unusual Pointing in the Hebrew Text, upon Esau's kissing Iacob, Gen. 33. 4. [...] a prick over every Letter, to put the Reader in mind to take special notice of it. In the ordinary Dispensations of Providence, some tell usDr: Ham­mond, Pract. Cat. p. 117., they have found it remarkably true in times of Publick Trouble and Calamity, it hath commonly fared best with the meek and quiet; their Lot hath been safe and easie, espe­cially if compared with the contrary Fate of the turbulent and seditious. Whoso is wise and ob­serves these things will understand the loving kindness of the Lord to the quiet in the Land, against whom we read indeed of Plots laid, and deceitful matters devis'd, Psal. 35. 20.—37, 12, 14. But those by a kind and over-ruling Pro­vidence ordinarily baffled and made succesless. Thus doth this Grace of Meekness carry its own Recompence along with it, and in keeping of this Commandment, as well as after keeping it, there is a great Reward, Psalm 19. 11.

[Page 68] [4.] Consider what a Preparative it is for something further. It is a very desirable thing to stand compleat in all the Will of God, Col. 4. 12. to be fitted and furnished for every good Work, to be made ready, a people prepared for the Lord: A living Principle of Grace is the best Preparation for the whole Will of God. Grace is establishing to the Heart, it is the Root of the Matter, and a good Foundation for the time to come. This Grace of Meekness is particularly a good Preparation, for what lies before us in this World.

1. It makes us fit for any Duty. It puts the Soul in Frame, and keeps it so for all Religious Exercises. There was no noise of Axes and Hammers in the building of the Temple: Those are most fit for Temple-service that are most quiet and compos'd. The Work of God is best done, when it is done without noise. Meekness qualities and disposes us to hear and receive the Word: When Malice and Envy are laid aside, and we are like new-born Babes, for Innocency and Inoffensiveness, then we are most fit to re­ceive the sincere Milk of the Word, and are most likely to grow thereby, 1 Pet. 2. 1, 2. Meekness prepares the Soil of the Heart, for the Seed of the Word, as the Husbandman opens and breaks the Clods of his Ground, and makes plain the face thereof, and then casts in the principal Wheat, and the appointed Barley, Isa. 28. 24, 25. Christs Ministers are Fishers of Men, but we seldom fish successfully in these troubled Waters. The Voice Eliphaz heard was ushered in with a profound silence, Iob 4. 16. and in slumbrings upon the Bed, a quiet Place and Posture. God openeth the Ears of Men, and sealeth their Instructi­ons, [Page 69] Job 33. 15, 16. Prayer is another Duty which Meekness doth dispose us for the right and acceptable Performance of. We do not lift up pure Hands in Prayer, if they be not without Wrath, 1 Tim. 2. 8. Prayers made in Wrath are written in Gall, and can never be plea­sing to, or prevailing with the God of Love and Peace. Our Rule is, First go and be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift, Leave thy Gift: [...]. Chrysost. Hom. Mat. 5. 23, 24. And if we do not take this me­thod, though we seek God in a due Ordinance we do not seek him in the due Order.

The Lord's Day is a day of Rest, and none are fit for it, but those that are in a quiet Frame, whose Souls are entred into that present Sab­batism, which the Gospel hath provided for the People of God, Heb. 4. 9. The Lord's Supper is a Gospel-Feast of Unleavened Bread, Quid est ad pacem Dei accedere sine pace? ad remissionem debitorum cum retentione? quomodo placabit patrem iratus in fratrem, cùm, omnis ir [...] ab i [...]itio interdicta sic nobis? Tertul. de Orat. c. 10. which must be kept not with the old Leaven of Wrath, and Malice, and Wickedness, but with the Unlea­vened Bread of Sincerity and Truth.

God made a gracious visit to Abraham, Gen. 13. 14. After that Lot was separated from him, viz. After the Strife betwixt him and Lot was over, in which he had discovered so much Mild­ness and Humility. The more carefully we pre­serve the Communion of Saints, the fitter we are for Communion with God. It is observable, that the Sacrifices which God appointed under the Law, were not ravenous Beasts, and Birds of [Page 70] Prey, but Calves, and Kids, and Lambs, and Tur­tle Doves, and young Pigeons, all of them Emblems of Meekness, and Gentleness, and In­offensiveness, for with such Sacrifices God is well pleased. This quietness of Spirit contributes very much to the constant steddiness and regularity of a religious Conversation. Hot and eager Spirits that are ready to take Fire at every thing, are usually very inconstant in their Profession, and of great Inconsistency with themselves, like a Man in an Ague Fit, sometimes burning hot, and sometimes shivering for cold; or like those that Gallop in the beginning of their Journey, and tire before the end of it; whereas the meek and quiet Christian is still the same, and by keeping to a constant rate rids Ground. If you would have one Foot of the Compasses go even round the Circumference, you must be sure to keep the other fixt and quiet in the Centre, for your strength is to sit still.

2. It makes us fit for any Relation, which God in his Providence may call us into. Those that are quiet themselves, cannot but be easie to all that are about them, and the nearer any are to us in Relation and Converse, the more desirable it is that we should be easie to them. Relations are various, as Superiors, Inferiors and Equals; he that is of a meek and quiet Spirit, is cut out for any of them. Moses was forty Years a Cour­tier in Aegypt, forty Years a Servant in Midian, and forty Years a King in Ieshrun, and his Meek­ness qualified him for each of these Posts, and still he held fast his Integrity. There are various Du­ties requisite, according as the Relation is, and various Graces to be exercised, but this of Meek­ness is the Golden Thread that must run thro' [Page 71] all. If Man be a sociable Creature, the more he hath of Humanity, the more fit he is for So­ciety. Meekness would greatly help to preserve the Wisdom and due Authority of Superiors, the Obedience and due Subjection of Inferiors, and the Love and mutual Kindness and Serviceable­ness of Equals. A calm and quiet Spirit receives the comfort of the Relation most thankfully, studies the Duty of the Relation most carefully, and bears the Inconvenience of the Re­lation (for there is no unmixed Comfort under the Sun) most chearfully and easily. I have heard of a Married Couple, who, tho' they were both naturally of a hot and hasty Temper, yet lived very comfortably in that Relation by observing an Agreement made between them­selves, Never to be both angry together; an ex­cellent law of Meekness it is, which if faith­fully liv'd up to, would prevent many of those Breaches among Relations, which occasion so much Guilt and Grief, and are seldom heal'd with­out a Scar. 'Twas part of the good Advice given by a Pious and Ingenious Father, to his Children newly entred into the Conjugal Relation,

Doth one speak Fire? 'tother with Water come;
Is one provok'd? be 'tother soft or dumb.

And thus one wise, both happy. But where Wrath and Anger are indulged, all Relations are embittered, those that should be helps meet, become as Thorns in our Eyes, and Goads in our sides. Two indeed are better than one, and yet it is better to dwell alone in the Wilderness, than with a Contentious and Angry Relation, who is like a continual dropping in a very rainy day, Pro. [Page 72] 21. 19.—27. 15. Some of the Hebrew Cri­ticks have noted, that if you take away [...] the fear of the Lord, from [...] and [...] Hus­band and Wife; there remains nothing but [...] and [...] Fire, Fire.—It is so in other Relations.

3. It makes us fit for any Condition, according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. Those that through Grace are enabled to com­pose and quiet themselves, are fit to live in this World, where we meet with so much every day to discompose and disquiet us. In general, whether the outward Condition be prosperous or adverse, whether the World smile or frown upon us, a meek and quiet Spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise: In Prosperity humble and condescending, the Estate rising, but the Mind not rising with it; in Adversity encourag'd and chear'd up, cast down, but not in despair; in both even, like a Dye, throw it which way you will it lights on a square side. St. Paul that had learn'd in every Estate to be content, [...], sa­tisfied within himself, knew how to be abased, and knew how to abound, every where, and in all things he was instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need, Phil. 4. 11, 12. Changes without, made none within. It is a Temper which, as far as it hath the As­cendant in the Soul, makes every Burthen sit light, by bringing the Mind to the Condition, when the Condition is not in every thing brought to the Mind. Prosperity and Adversity have each of them their particular Temptation to Peevishness and Frowardness, the former by making Men imperious, the latter by ma­king Men impatient; against the Assaults of each [Page 73] of these Temptations, the Grace of Meekness will stand upon the Guard. Being to pass thro' this World by Honour and Dishonour, by evil Re­port, and good Report; that is, thro'a great va­riety of Conditions and Treatments, we have need of that long-suffering and kindness, and love unfeigned, which will be armour of Righte­ousness, on the right hand and on the left. I refer you to that Scripture, 2 Cor. 6. 6, 7, 8. Meekness and quietness will fortifie the Soul on each hand, and suit it to the several Entertainments which the World gives us, like a skilful Pilot, that which Point of the Compass soever the Wind blows from, will shift his Sails accordingly, and knows either how to get forward, and weather his Point with it, or however to lye by with­out damage. [...] Epict. c. 13. It is the continual easiness of a quiet Temper to make the best of that which is.

4. It makes us fit for a Day of Persecution. If Tribulation and Affliction arise because of the word (which is no foreign Supposition) the meek and quiet Spirit is arm'd for it, so as to pre­serve its Peace and Purity at such a time, which are our two great Concernments, that we may neither torment our selves with a base fear, nor pollute our selves with a base compliance. We use to say, We will give any thing for a quiet Life, I say, any thing but a quiet Conscience, which will be best secur'd under the Shield of a meek and quiet Spirit, which doth not render rai­ling for railing, 1 Pet. 3. 9. nor aggravate the threatned Trouble, or respresent it to it self in [Page 74] its most formidable Colours, but has learn'd to put a but upon the power of themost new enraged Enemies; they can but kill the Body, and to wit­ness the most righteous Testimony with Meek­ness and Fear, 1 Pet. 3. 15. like our Master, who when he suffered, threatned not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Pet. 2. 23. Suffering-Saints, (as the Suffering-Jesus) are compar'd to Sheep, Isa. 53. 7. Rom. 8. 36.) as Sheep dumb before the Shearer, nay, dumb before the Butcher. The meek and quiet Christian, if duly call'd do it, can tamely part, not only with the Wool, but with the Blood; not only with the Estate, but with the Life, and even then rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of Glory. Angry froward. People in a day of Rebuke, are apt to pull Crosses upon themselves by needless Provo­cations, or to murmur, and complain, and fly in the face of Instruments, and give unbecoming Language, contrary to the Laws of our Holy Religion, and the Example of our Master, and so do more hurt than good by their suffering. Whenever we have the honour to be persecuted for righteousness-sake, our great care must be to glorifie God, and to adorn our Profession (which is done most effectually by Meekness and Mildness under the hardest Censures, and the most cruel Usage.) So manifesting that we are indeed under the power and influence of that Holy Religion, which we think it worth our while to suffer for.

5. It makes us fit for Death and Eternity. The Grave is a quiet place, there the wicked cease from troubling, Job 3. 17. Those that were most troublesom are there bound to the Peace; and their Hatred and Envy (those great make-bates) [Page 75] are there perished, Eccles. 9. 6. Whether we will or no, in the Grave we shall lye still and be quiet, Job 3. 13. What a great Change them must it needs be to unquiet, angry and litigious People, and what a mighty shock will that sudden forced Rest give them after such a violent rapid Motion! It is therefore our Wisdom to compose our selves for the Grave, to prepare our selves for it, by Adapting and Accommodating our selves to that which is likely to be our long Home; this is dying daily; quieting our selves, for Death will shortly quiet us.

The meek and quiet Soul is at Death let into that Rest, which it hath been so much labouring after, and how [...]welcome must that needs be?—Thoughts of Death and the Grave are very agree­able to those who love to be quiet, for then and there, they shall enter into Peace, and rest in their Beds, Isa. 57. 2.

After Death we expect the Judgment, than which, nothing is more dreadful to them that are Contentious, Rom. 2. 8. The coming of the Ma­ster brings terror along with it, to those that smite their Fellow-Servants, Luke 12. 45, 46. but those that are meek and quiet are likely to have their Plea ready, their Accounts stated, and when­ever it comes, it will be no surprize to them: To those whose Moderation is known to all Men, it will be no ungrateful News, to hear that the Lord is at hand, Phil. 4. 5. It is therefore prescrib'd as that which ought to be our constant care, that whenever our Master comes, we may be found of him in Peace, 2 Pet. 3. 14. i. e. in a peaceable Temper. Blessed is that Servant, whom his Lord when he comes shall find in such a frame. A good Man (saith the late excellent A. B. Til­lotson, [Page 76] in his Preface to his Book of Family Re­ligion) would be loth to be taken out of the World reeking hot from a sharp Contention with a perverse Adversary; and not a little out of Countenance to find himself in this Temper translated into the calm and peaceable Regions of the Blessed, where nothing but perfect Cha­rity and Good-will reigns for ever. Heaven for certain is a quiet Place, and none are fit for it but quiet People. The Heavenly Canaan, that Land of Peac [...], would be no Heaven to those that delight in War; turbulent and unquiet People would be out of their Element, like a Fish upon Dry Ground, in those Calm Regi­ons.

They are the Sheep of Christ, such as are patient and inoffensive, that are called to in­herit the Kingdom; without are Dogs that bite and devour, Rev. 22. 15.

They are the Wings of a Dove, not those of a Hawk or Eagle that David would fly upon to his desired Rest, Psal. 55. 6.

Now lay all this together, and then consider, Whether there be not a real excellency in this Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, which doth highly recommend it to all that Love either God, or themselves, or have any sensible Regard to their own Comfort, either in this World, or in that to come.

CHAP. III. The Application.

AND now, First, Have we not reason to la­ment the want of the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, among those that profess Religion, and especially in our own Bosoms? If this be Christianity, the Lord help us! How little is there of the Thing, even among those that make great Pretensions to the Name? Surely, (as one said in another Case) Aut hoc non Evangelium, aut hi non Evangelici: Either this is not Gospel, or these are not Gospel-Pro­fessors. And, O how hare and uncomly doth Profession appear, for want of this adorning! When the Israelities had stript themselves of their Ornaments to furnish up a Golden Calf, it is said, they were made naked to their shame, Exod. 32. 25. How naked are we (like Adam when he had sinn'd) for want of this Ornament, 'tis well if it were to the shame of true Repentance, for there's reason enough for it.

I am not teaching you to Judge and Censure others in this matter, there is but too much of that to be found among us; we are quick­sighted enough to spy faults in others, the trans­ports of whose Passions, we should interpret favourably. But we have all cause more or less to condemn our selves, and confess Guilt in this Matter. In many things we all offend, and perhaps in this, as much as in any, coming short of the Law of Meekness and Quietness.

We are called Christians, and it is our Pri­viledge and Honour that we are so: We name the Name of the meek and lowly Jesus, but [Page 78] how few are acted by his Spirit, or conform'd to his Example? It is a shame that any occasion should be given to charge it upon Professors, who in other things are most strict and sober, that in this they are most faulty; And that many who pretend to Conscience and Devotion should in­dulge themselves in a peevish, froward and mo­rose Temper and Conversation, to the great re­proach of that worthy Name by which we are called. May we not say, as that Mahometan did when a Christian Prince had per [...]idiously broke his League with him, O Iesus, are these thy Christians?

It is the manifest Design of our Holy and Ex­cellent Religion to smooth, and soften, and sweeten our Tempers, and to work off the rug­gedness and unevenness of them; is it not a wretched thing therefore, that any who profess it, should be sowr'd, and embitter'd, and less con­versable and fit for humane Society, than other People? He was look'd upon as a very good Man in his Day, and not without Cause, who yet had such an unhappy temper, and was some­times so transported with Passion, that his Friend would say of him, He had Grace enough for ten Men, and yet not enough for himself. All the Disciples of Jesus Christ, even those of the first three, do not know what manner of Spirit they are of, Luke 9. 35. So apt are we to de­ceive our selves, especially when these Exorbi­tances shrowd themselves under the specious and plausible pretence of Zeal for God and Religion. But yet the Fault is not to be laid upon the Pro­fession, or the strictness and singularity of that in other things that are praise-worthy; nor may we think the worse of Christianity for any [Page 79] such Blemishes: We know very well, that the Wisdom that is from above is peaceable, and gentle, and easie to be entreated, and all that's sweet, and aimable, and endearing, tho' she is not herein justified of all that call themselves her Children. But the blame must be laid upon the Corrup­tion and Folly of the Professors themselves, who are not so perfectly deliver'd into the Mold of Christianity as they should, but neglect their Ornament, and prostitute their Honour, and suffer the Authority of their Graces to be tram­pled upon, they let fire go out of the Rod of their Branches, which devour their Fruit; so that there is no Meekness as a strong Rod, to be a Scepter to rule in the Soul, which is a lamen­tation, and shall be for a lamentation, (I refer you to that complaint, Ezek. 19. 14.) something resembling the woful Degeneracy of the Angels that sinn [...]d, of whom it is said, Iude 6. That they kept not [...], S [...]tm Principatum. So the Vulgar: Might it not be read,Cudworth. intellect. Syst. p. 816. The Go­vernment of themselves, they lost the Command they should have had over their inferior Facul­ties, and suffered them to get head. And is it not much like this, when those pretend to the Dignity, who have lost the Dominion of a Re­ligious Profession, having no rule over their own Spirits.

And yet, blessed be God! even in this corrupt and degenerate World, there are many who ap­pear in the excellent Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit; and some whose natural Temper is Hasty and Cholerick, as 'tis said Calvin's was, yet have been enabled by the Power of Divine Grace to shew in a good Conversation, their Works with Meekness and Wisdom. It is not so [Page 80] impracticable, as some imagine it, to subdue these Passions, and to preserve the Peace of the Soul, even in a stormy day.

But that we may each of us judge our selves, and find matter for Repentance herein, I shall only mention those instances of irregular Deportment towards our particular Relations, which evidence the want of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.

1. Superiors are commonly very apt to chide, and that's for want of Meekness. It's spoken to the praise of him, who is the Great Ruler of this perverse and rebellious World, that he will not always chide, Psa. 103. 9: But how many Little Rulers are there of Families and petty Societies, that herein are very unlike him, for they are al­ways chiding? Upon every little Default they are put into a flame, and transported beyond due Bounds: Easily provok'd, either for no cause at all, or for very small cause; greatly provok'd, and very outragious, and unreasonable when they are provok'd. Their Carriage fiery and hasty; their Language scurrilous and undecent; they care not what they say, nor what they do, nor who they fall foul upon, such Sons of Belial, that a Man cannot speak to them, 1 Sam. 25. 17. one had as good meet a Bear robb'd of her Whelps, as meet Them. Here wants Meekness. Husbands should not be bitter against their Wives, Col. 3. 19. Parents should not provoke their Children, Eph. 6. 4. Masters must forbear threatning, Eph. 6. 9. These are the Rules, but how few are rul'd by them? The undue and intemperate Passion of Superiors, goes under the umbrage and excuse of necessary strictness, and the maintaining of Authority, and the Education and Controul of Children and Servants: But surely every little faileur needs [Page 81] not be animadverted upon, but rather should be passed by; or if the fault must needs be reproved and corrected, may it not be done without such a Heat? What nee [...]s so much noise and clamor, and all this adoe? Is this the product of a meek and quiet Spirit? Is this the best Badge of your Authority you have to put on? And are these the Ensigns of your Honour? Is there no other way of making your Inferiors know their place, but by putting them among the Dogs of your Flock, and threatning them as such? Not that I am against Government and good Order in Fa­milies, and such Reproofs as are necessary to the support and preservation of that, and those so sharpned, as some Tempers require and call for. But while you are governing others, pray learn to govern your selves, and do not disorder your own Souls under pretence of keeping Order in your Families: For tho' you your selves may not be aware of it, yet it is certain, that by those Indications of your displeasure, which transgress the Laws of Meekness, you do but render your selves Contemptible, and Ridicu­lous, and rather prostitute than preserve your Authority. Tho' your Children dare not tell you so, yet perhaps they cannot but think that you are [...] very unfit to command them who are so very unable to command your selves.Nemo [...]egere potest nisi qui & regi. Seneca. Time was when you were your selves Children, and Scholars, and perhaps Servants and Apprentices, and so (if you will but allow your selves the liberty of Reflection) you cannot but know the Heart of an Inferior, (Exod. 23. 9.) and should therefore treat those that are now under you, as you your selves then wish'd to be treated. A due expression of Displeasure, so much as is [Page 82] necessary to the amendment of what is amiss, will very well consist with Meekness and Quiet­ness. And your Gravity and Awful Com­posedness therein will contribute very much to the preserving of your Authority, and will command respect abundantly more than your Noise and Chiding. Masters of Families (and Masters of Schools too) have need, in this mat­ter, to behave themselves wisely, Psal. 101. 2. so as to avoid the two Extreams, that of Eli's foolish Indulgence on the one hand, 1 Sam. 2. 23, 24. and that of Saul's brutish Rage, on the other Hand, 1 Sam. 20. 30, 33. and for the hitting of this Golden Mean, Wisdom is profita­ble to direct.

2. Inferiors are commonly very apt to com­plain. If every thing be not just to their Mind, they are freting, and vexing, and their Hearts are hot within them; they are uneasie in their Place and Station, finding fault with every thing that is said or done to them. Here wants a quiet Spirit, which would reconcile us to the Post we are in, and to all the difficulties of it, and would make the best of the present state, tho' it be attended with many Inconveniencies. Those unquiet People, whom the Apostle Iude in his Epistle compares to raging Waves of the Sea, and wandring Stars, ver. 13. were Murmurers and Complainers, ver. 16. [...], Blamers of their Lot.—So the Word signifies. 'Tis an instance of Unquietness to be ever and anon quarrelling with our Allotment. Those Wives wanted a meek and quiet Spirit, that cover'd the Altar of the Lord with Tears, Mal. 2. 13. Not Tears of Repentance for Sin, but Tears of Vexation, at the Disappointments they met with in their [Page 83] outward Condition. Hannab's Meekness and Quietness was in some degree wanting, when she fretted, and wept, and would not eat, 1 Sam. 1. 7. but Prayer compos'd her Spirit, and set here to rights, v. 18. Her Countenance was no more sad. It was the unquietness of the Spirit of the Elder Brother, in the Parable, that quar­rel'd so unreasonably with the Father for re­ceiving and entertaining the Penitent Prodigal, Luke 15. 19. For those that are given to be un­easie, will never want something or other to com­plain of. It is true (tho' not so readily appre­hended) that the sullenness, and murmuring, and silent frets of Children and Servants is as great a Transgression of the Law of Meekness, as the more open, noisie and avowed Passions of their Parents and Masters. We find the King's Cham­berlains wroth with the King, Esth. 2. 21. and Cain's quarrel with God himself, for accepting of Abel, was interpreted Anger at God, Gen. 4. 6. Why art thou wroth, and why is thy Countenance fallen? The Sowr Looks of Inferiors, are as certain an indication of Anger resting in the Bo­som, as the Big Looks of Superiors; and how many such instances of Discontent there have been, especially under a continual Cross, our own Consciences may perhaps tell us. It is the want of Meekness only, that makes those whom Divine Providence hath put under the Yoke, Children of Belial, that is, impatient of the Yoke.

3. Equals are commonly very apt to clash and contend. It is for want of Meekness that there are in the Church so many Pulpit and Paper-Quarrels, such strifes of Words, and perverse Disputings: That there are in the State such [Page 84] Factions and Parties, and between them such Animosities and Heart-Burnings; That there are in Neighbourhoods such Strifes, and Brawls, and Vexatious Law-suits, or such Distances, and Estrangements, and Shiness one of another: That there are in Families Envies, and Quarrels among the Children and Servants, Crossing, and Thwar­ting, and finding Fault one with another: And that Brethren that dwell together, do not as they should dwell together in Unity. It is for want of Meekness that we are so impatient of Con­tradiction in our Opinions, Desires and Designs, that we must have our own Saying, right or wrong, and every thing our own way: That we are so impatient of Competitors, not enduring that any should stand in our Light, or share in that Work or Honour, which we would engross to our selves: That we are so impatient of Con­tempt, so quick in our Apprehension and Resent­ment of the least Slight or Affront, and so preg­nant in our Fancy of Injuries, where really there are none, or none intended. They are not only Loud and profess'd Contentions, that evidence a want of Meekness, but also those silent Aliena­tions in Affection and Conversation, which make a less noise, little Piques and Prejudices con­ceived, which Men are themselves so ashamed of, that they will not own them; those shew the Spirit disturb'd, and wanting the Ornament of Meekness. In a word; The wilful doing any thing to disquiet others, Slandering, Back­biting, Whispering, Tale-bearing, or the like, is too plain an Evidence, that we are not our selves rightly disposed to be quiet.

And now, may we not all remember our Faults this Day? and instead of condemning others, [Page 85] tho' never so Faulty, should we not each of us bewail it before the Lord, that we have been so little acted by this excellent Spirit, and repent of all that which we have at any time said or done, contrary to the Law of Meekness, and from under the Direction and Influence of it? Instead of going about to extenuate and excuse our sinful Passions, let us rather aggravate them, and lay load upon our selves for them; So foo­lish have I been and ignorant, and so like a Beast, as the Psalmist speaks, when he is recovering himself from an intemperate heat, Psal. 73. 22. Think how often we have appear'd before God and the World, without our Ornament, without our Livery, to our shame. God kept account of the particular Instances of the unquietness of Israel: They have tempted me (saith he) now these ten times, Numb. 14. 22. Conscience is God's Register that Records all our Miscarria­ges: Even what we say and do in our haste, is not so quick as to escape its Observation: Let us therefore be often opening that Book now, for our Conviction and Humiliation, or else it will be opened shortly to our Confusion and Condemnation. But if we would judge our selves, we should not be judged of the Lord. May we not all say, as Ioseph's Brethren did, (and per­haps some are, as they were, in a special manner call'd to say it, by humbling Providences) We are verily guilty concerning our Brother, Gen. 42. 21. Such a Time, in such a Company, upon such an Occasion, I wanted Meekness, and was unquiet; my Spirit was provok'd, and I spake unadvi­sedly with my Lips, and now I remember it against my self. Nay, have not I lived a Life of Unquietness, in the Family, in the Neighbour­hood, [Page 86] always in the Fire of Contention, as in my Element, and breathing Threatnings? And by so doing, have not I dishonour'd my God, discredited my Profession, disturbed my own Soul, grieved the blessed Spirit, and been to many, an occasion of Sin? And for all this, ought not I to be greatly humbled and ashamed? Before we can put on the Ornament of a Meek and Quiet Spirit, we must first wash in the La­ver of true Repentance, not only for our Gross and Open Extravagancies of Passion, but for all our Neglects and Omissions of the Duties of Meekness.

Secondly, Have we not Reason to labour and endeavour, since there is such a Vertue, there is such a Praise, to attain these things? Should we not lay out our selves to the utmost, for this Ornament of a Meek and Quiet Spirit? For your Direction in this Endeavour, (if you be indeed willing to be directed) I shall briefly lay before you,

  • 1. Some Scripture Precepts of Meekness.
  • 2. Some Patterns of it.
  • 3. Some particular Instances, in which we have special need of it.
  • 4. Some good Principles that we should abide by. And,
  • 5. Some good Practices that we should abound in, in order to our growth in this Grace of Meek­ness.

And in opening these Things, we will en­deavour to keep close to the Law and to the Te­stimony.

Some Scripture Precepts of Meekness.

If we lay the Word of God before us for our Rule, and will be rul'd by it, we shall find the command of God making Meekness and Quietness to be as much our Duty, as it is our Ornament. We are there told it as the Will of God;

1. That we must seek Meekness. This Com­mand we have, Zeph. 2. 3. and (which is espe­cially observable) it is directed to the Meek of the Earth: Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the Earth:—Seek Meekness. Tho' they were Meek, and were pronounced so by him that searcheth the heart, yet they must seek Meekness, which teacheth us, That those who have much of this Grace,Putomultos potuisse ad sapientiam pervenire, nisi putas­sent se per­venisse. Sen. de tranqu. have still need of more, and must desire and endeavour after more; Si dixisti, suf­ficit, periisti. He that sits down content with the Grace he hath, and is not pressing forwards to­wards Perfection, and striving to grow in Grace, to get the Habits of it more strengthened and confirm'd, and the Actings of it more quickned and invigorated, it is to be fear'd hath no true Grace at all; but tho' he sit never so high, and never so easie in his own opinion, yet sits down short of Heaven. Where there's Life, one way or other there will be Growth, till we come to the perfect Man. Job 17. 9. He that hath clean hands will be stronger and stronger. Paul was a Man of great attainments in Grace, and yet we find him forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those that are before, Phi. 3. 13, 14. Those who took joyfully the spoiling of their [Page 88] Goods, are yet told that they had need of Pati­ence, Heb. 10. 34, 36. Thus the meek of the Earth (who being on the Earth, are in a state of Infir­mity and Imperfection, of Trial and Temptati­on) have still need of Meekness, that is, they must learn to be yet more calm and compos'd, more steddy, and even, and regular in the Go­vernment of their Passions, and in the managery of their whole Conversation. They who have silenc'd all angry Words, must learn to suppress the very first Risings and Motions of angry Thoughts.

It is observable, When the meek of the Earth, are especially concern'd to seek Meekness, even then when the Decree is ready to bring forth, v. 2. when the day of the Lord's Anger hastens on, when the Times are bad, and desolating Judg­ments are breaking in, then we have occasion for all the Meekness we have, and all we can get, and all little enough. Meekness towards God, the Author, and towards Men, the Instruments of our Trouble: Meekness to bear the Trial, and to bear our Testimony in the Trial. There is sometimes an Hour of Temptation, Rev. 3. 10. a Critical Day, when the exercise of Meekness is the Work of the Day; Sometimes the Chil­dren of Men are more than ordinary provoking, and then the Children of God have more than ordinary need of Meekness. When God is justly angry, and Men are unjustly angry, when our Mothers Children are angry with us, and our Father angry too, there's anger enough stirring, and then, Blessed are the Meek, that are careful to keep possession of their Souls, when they can keep possession of nothing else; whose Hearts are fixed, and quiet in shaking and unquiet Times.

Now the way prescribed for the attainment of [Page 89] Meekness is to seek it. Ask it of God, pray for it, 'tis a fruit of the Spirit, 'tis given by the God of all Grace, and to him we must go for it. It is a Branch of that Wisdom, which he that lacketh must ask of God, and it shall be given him, Jam. 1. 5. The God we address to is call'd, The God of Patience and Consolation, Rom. 15. 5. and he is therefore the God of Consolation, because the God of Patience (for the more patient we are, the more we are comforted under our Af­flictions) and as such we must eye him, when we come to him for Grace to make us like­minded, that is, meek and loving one towards another, which is the Errand the Apostle there comes upon, to the Throne of Grace. God's People are, and should be a Generation of Seek­ers, that covet the best Gifts, and make their Court to the best Giver; who never said to the wrestling Seed of Iacob, Seek in vain, but hath given us an assurance firm enough for us to build upon, and rich enough for us to encourage our selves with, Seek and ye shall find. What would we more? Seek Meekness, and ye shall find it.

The Promise annexed is very encouraging to the meek of the Earth, that seek Meekess; It may be you shall be hid in the day of the Lord's Anger. Tho' it be but a Promise with an [it may be,] yet it ministers abundance of Comfort: God's Pro­babilities, are better than the Worlds Certainties: And the meek ones of the Earth, that hope in his Mercy, and can venture their All upon an in­timation of his Good-will, shall find to their comfort, that when God brings a Flood upon the World of the Ungodly, he hath an Ark for all his Noahs, his resting quiet People, in which they shall be hid, it may be from the C [...]lamity it [Page 90] self, however from the sting and malignity of it, hid (as Luther said) either in Heaven or under Heaven, either in the Possession, or under the Protection of Heaven. See Psal. 91. 1, 2.

2. We must put on Meekness. This precept we have, Col. 3. 12. Put on therefore (as the Elect of God, Holy and Beloved)—Meekness. It is one of the Members of the new Man, which, according to the Obligations we lye under from our Baptism, we must put on. Put it on as Ar­mour, to keep Provocations from the Heart, and so to defend the Vitals. They that have try'd it will say, it is Armour of Proof; when you are putting on the whole Armour of God, do not forget this. Put it on as Attire, as your neces­sary Cloathing, which you cannot go without; look upon your selves as Ungirt, Undrest, Un­blest without it. Put it on as a Livery-Garment, by which you may be known to be the Disciples of the Meek, and Humble, and Patient Jesus, and to belong to that Peaceable Family. Put it on as an Ornament, as a Robe, and a Diadem, by which you may be both beautified and dignified in the Eyes of others. Put it on as the Elect of God, Aliter indu­untur mili­tes, aliter sacerdotes, [...]rgoinduite vobis conve­nientia ve­stimenta. Aquin. in loc. Holy and Beloved, because you are so in Profession; and that you may approve yourselves so in Truth and Reality, be cloath'd with Meek­ness. As the Elect of God, a choice People, a chosen People, whom God hath set apart for himself, from the rest of the World; as holy, fan­ctified to God, sanctified by him; study these Graces, which put such a Lustre upon Holiness, and re­commend it to those that are without. As be­loved, beloved of God, beloved of Man, beloved of your Ministers; for Loves sake put on Meek­ness. What winning perswasive Rhetorick is here? [Page 91] enough (one would think) to smooth the roughest Soul, and to soften and sweeten the most obsti­nate Heart! Meekness is a Grace of the Spirits working, a Garment of his preparing, but we must put it on, i. e. must lay our Souls under the commanding Power and Influence of it. Put it on, not as a loose outer Garment, to be p [...]t off in hot Weather, but let it cleave to us, as the Girdle cleaves to a Man's Loyns; so put it on, as to reckon our selves naked, to our shame, without it.

3. We must follow after Meekness.—This Precept we have, 1 Tim. 6. 11. Meekness is there put in opposition to those foolish and hurts [...] Lusts, which Timothy must flee from. Thou, O Man of God, flee these things, and follow after Righteousness, Godliness, Faith, Love, Patience, Meekness: See what good Company it is rank'd with. Every Christian is in a sense a Man of God, (tho' Timothy is call'd so as a Minister) and those that belong to God are concern'd to be and do so, as to recommend themselves to him, and his Religion to the World, therefore let the Men of God follow after Meekness. The Occasions and Provocations of Anger often set our Meekness at a distance from us, and we have it to seek then when we have most need of it; But we must follow after it, and not be taken off from the pursuit, by any Diversion whatsoever. While others are Ingenious and Industrious enough in following after Malice and Revenge, projecting and prosecuting angry Designs, be you as wise and diligent to preserve the Peace, both within doors and without.—Following Meekness, bespeaks a sincere Desire, and a serious Endea­vour to get the Mastery of our Passion, and to [Page 92] check, and govern, and moderate all the Motions of it. Tho' we cannot fully attain this Mastery, yet we must follow after it and aim at it. Follow Meekness, that is, as much as in you lies live peaceably with all Men, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit; we can but make one side of the Bargain, if others will quarrel, yet let us be peaceable; if others will strike the Fire, that's their fault, let not us be as Tinder to it.

4. We must shew all Meekness unto all Men. This is one of the Subjects which Paul directs a young Minister to preach upon, Tit. 3. 2. Put them in mind to shew all Meekness.—It is that which we have need to be often minded of. Meek­ness is there opposed to Brawling and Clamour, which is the Fruit and Product of our own Anger, and the Cause and Provocation of the Anger of others. Observe, it is all Meekness, that is here recommended to us [...]—all kinds of Meekness, bearing Meekness, and forbearing Meekness, qualifying Meekness, condescending Meekness, forgiving Meekness; the Meekness that endears our Friends, and that which recon­cil [...]s our Enemies; the Meekness of Authority over Inferiors; the Meekness of Obedience to Superiors, and the Meekness of Wisdom towards all. All Meekness is Meekness in all Relations, in reference to all Injuries, all sorts of Provocation, Meekness in all the Branches and Instances of it: In this piece of our Obedience, we must be U­niversal. Observe further, we must not only have Meekness, all Meekness, but we must shew it, by drawing out this Grace into Exercise, as there is occasion: In our Words, in our Looks, in our Actions, in every thing that falls under the Obser­vation [Page 93] of Men, we must manifest that we have indeed a regard to the Law of Meekness, and that we make Conscience what we say and do, when we are provok'd. We must not only have the Law of Love written in our Hearts, but in our Tongues too, we must have the Law of Kindness, Pro. 31. 26. And thus the Tree is known by its Fruits. This Light must shine, that others may see the good Works of it, and hear the good Words of it too, not to glorifie us, but to glorifie our Father, Mat. 15. 16. we should study to ap­pear in all our Converse, so mild, and gentle, and peaceable, that all that see us may witness for us, that we are of the Meek of the Earth. We must not only be moderate, but let our Mo­deration be known, Phil. 4. 5. He that is in this respect a wise Man, let him shew it in the Meek­ness of Wisdom, Iam. 3. 13. What are good Cloaths worth, if they be not worn? Why hath the Servant a fine Livery given him, but to shew it for the honour of his Master, and of the Fa­mily he belongs to? How can we say we are meek, if we do not shew it? The shewing of our Meekness will beautifie our P [...]ofession, and will adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour, and may have a very good influence upon others, who cannot but be in Love with such an excel­lent Grace, when thus, like the Ointment of the right Hand, it betrayeth it self, and the House is filled with the Odor of it. Again, This Meek­ness must be thus shew'd unto all Men, Foes as well as Friends, those without, as those within, all that we have any thing to do with. We must shew our Meekness not only to those above us, that we stand in awe of, but to those below us, that we have an Authority over. The Poor [Page 94] indeed useth Intreaties, but whatever is the Pra­ctice, it is not the Priviledge of the rich to answer roughly, Prov. 18. 23. We must shew our Meekness not only to the Good and Gentle, but also to the Froward, for this is thank-worthy, 1 Pet. 2. 18, 19. Our Meekness must be as extensive as our Love, so exceeding broad is this Commandment, All Meekness to all Men. We must shew this Meek­ness most, to those with whom we do most con­verse. There are some, that when they are in Com­pany with Strangers, appear very mild and good humored, their Behaviour is plausible enough, and complaisant, but in their Families they are peevish, and froward, and ill-natured, and those about them scarce know how to speak to them;Habet ubi se etiam in privato lare explicet magnus Ani­mus. Sen. This shews that the fear of Man gives greater check to their Passions, than the fear of God. Our Rule is to be meek towards all, even to the Brute Creatures, over whom we are Lords, but must no [...] be Tyrants; A good Man is merciful to his Beast.

Observe the Reason which the Apostle there gives, why we should shew all Meekness towards all Men, for we our selves also were sometime foolish, verse 3. Time was when perhaps we were as bad as the worst of those we are now angry at,Haec & nos risimus ali­quando, Fi­unt, non nas­cuntur Chri­stiani. Tertul. and if now it be better with us, we are purely beholden to the free Grace of God in Christ, that made the difference: And shall we be harsh to our Brethren, who have found God so kind to us? Hath God forgiven us that great Debt, and pass'd by so many wilful Provoca­tions, and shall we be extream to mark what is done amiss against us, and make the worst of every slip and oversight? The great Gospel Ar­gument for mutual forbearance and forgiveness [Page 95] is, that God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us, Col. 3. 13.

It may be of use also for the qualifying of our Anger at our Inferiors, to remember not only our former sinfulness against God in our Uncon­verted State, but our former Infirmities in the Age and State of Inferiors; were not we our selves sometimes foolish? Our Children are careless, and playful, and froward, and scarce governable, and were not we our selves so when we were of their Age? And if we have now put away childish Things, yet they have not.—, Children may be brought up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, without being pro­voked to wrath.

5. We must study to be quiet, 1 Thes. 4. 11. that is, study not to disturb others, nor to be your selves disturbed by others; those are quiet that are not apt either to give or take offence, [...], be ambitious of this, as the greatest Honour, to be quiet: So the word signi­fies. The most of Men are ambitious of the Honour of great Business, and Power, and Pre­ferment; they Covet it, they Court it, they compass Sea and Land to obtain it; but the am­bition of a Christian should be carryed out to­wards Quietness, we should reckon that the hap­piest Post, and desire it accordingly, which lies most out of the Road of Provocation. I cannot avoid mentioning, for the illustration of this, that most excellent Poem of my Lord Hale, (the Sense of which is borrowed from a Hea­then.)

[Page 96] Let him that will ascend the toterring Seat
Of Courtly Grandeur, and become as Great,
As are his mounting Wishes, as for me
Let sweet Repose and Rest my Portion be.
—Let my Age,
Slide gently by, not over [...]hwart the Stage
Of Publick Action, unheard, unseen,
And unconcern'd as if I ne're had been.

This is studying to be quiet. Subdue and keep under all those disorderly Passions, which tend to the muddying and clouding of the Soul. Compose your selves to this holy Rest; put your selves in a posture to invite this blessed Sleep, which God gives to his beloved. Take pains as Students in Arts and Sciences do, to understand the Mystery of this Grace. I call it a Mystery, because St. Paul, who was so well versed in the deep things of God, speaks of this as a Mystery, Phil. 4. 12. [...], I am instructed as in a My­stery, both to be [...]ull and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need, that is, in one word, to be quiet:—To study the Art of Quietness, is to take pains with our selves, to work upon our own Hearts, the Principles, Rules and Laws of Meekness; and to furnish our selves with such Considerations as tend to the quieting of the Spirit, in the midst of the greatest Provoca­tions. Others are studying to disquiet us, the more need we have to study how to quiet our selves, by a careful watching against all that which is ruffling and discomposing. Christians should above all Studies, study to be quiet, and labour to be acted by an even Spirit, under all the unevennesses of Providence, and remember [Page 97] that one good Word, which Sir William Temple tells us the then Prince of Orange (now K. Wil­liam) said he learnt from the Master of his Ship, who in a Storm was calling to the Steersman with this Word, Steddy, Steddy; Let but the hand be steddy, and the heart quiet, and then, though our Passage be rough, we may make a shift to weather the Point, and get safe to the Har­bour.

Some Scripture Patterns of Meekness and Quiet­ness of Spirit.

Good Examples help very much to illustrate and enforce good Rules, bringing them closer to particular Cases, and shewing them to be practi­cable. Precedents are of great use in the Law. If we would be found walking in the same Spirit, and walking in the same Steps, with those that are gone before us to Glory, this is the Spirit we must be acted by, and these are the Steps we must walk in: This is the Way of good Men for wise Men to walk in. Let us go forth then by the Footsteps of the Flock, and set our selves to follow them, who through Faith and Patience inherit the Promises. We are compassed about with a great Cloud of Witnesses, that will bear their Testimony to the Comfort of Meek­ness, and upon trial recommend it to us; but we shall single out only some few out of the Scripture.

1. Abraham was a Pattern of Meekness, and he was the Father of the Faithful. The Apostle here in the verse but one before the Text, proposeth Sa­rah for an Example to Women, particularly an [Page 98] Example of Meekness in an inferior Relation; she obeyed Abraham, and (in token of the respect due to a Husband) she called him Lord. Now Abraham is a Pattern of the same Grace in a Superior. He that was famous for Faith, was famous for Meekness; for the more we have of Faith towards God, the more we shall have of Meekness towards all Men.—How meek was Abraham, when there happened a strife betwixt his Herdsmen and Lot's, which, had it proceeded, might have been of ill Consequence, for the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the Land, but it was seasonably taken up by the Prudence of Abraham, Gen. 13. 8. Let there be no strife, I pray thee: Tho' he might command the Peace, yet for Love's sake he rather beseech­eth. Every word hath an air of Meekness, and a tendency to keep the Peace. And when the Expedient, pitch'd upon for the prevention of Strife, was their parting from each other, tho' Let was the Iunior, yet Abraham, for Peace-sake quitted his right, and gave Lot the choice, ver. 9. and the gracious visit which God gave him thereupon, v. 14. was an abundant recom­pence for his mildness and condescension. Ano­ther instance of Abraham's Meekness, we have in his Carriage towards Sarah, when she quar­rel'd with him so unreasonably about her Maid, angry at that which she her self had the doing of, Gen. 16. 5, 6. My wrong be upon thee;—The Lord judge between me and thee. Abraham might soon have replied, You may e'ne thank your self, it was your own Contrivance; but laying aside the present Provocation, he abides by one of the Original Rules of the Re­lation, Behold thy Maid is in thy Hand. He did [Page 99] not answer Passion with Passion, that would have put all into a flame presently; but he an­swered Passion with Meekness, and so all was quiet. Another instance of Abraham's Meekness, we have in the Transactions between Him and Abimelech his Neighbour, Gen. 21. 24, 25. He first enters into a Covenant of Friendship with him, which was confirm'd by an Oath, and then (not reproacheth him, but) reproveth him for a wrong that his Servants had done him about a Well of Water, which gives us this Rule of Meekness, Not to break Friendship for a small matter of dif­ference: Such and such occasions there are, which they that are disposed to it, might quarrel about, but what is that between me and thee? If Meek­ness Rule, matters in Variance may be fairly reasoned and adjusted without Violation or In­fringment of Friendship. This is the Example of that great Patriarch. The future Happiness of the Saints is represented as the Bosom of A­braham, Luke 16. 23. a quiet State. Those that hope to lye in the Bosom of Abraham shortly, must tread in the steps of Abraham now, whose Children we are, as long as we thus do well, and who (as Maimonides expresseth it) is the Father of all that are gathered under the Wings of the Divine Majesty.

2. Moses was a Pattern of Meekness, it was his Master Grace,Iosephus Antiq. l. 4. c. 8. gives this cha­racter of M [...]ses, Af­fectus it [...] semper in p [...]testate habuit, ut omnino illis carere videretur, et nomina tantum eorum ex his quae in aliis hominibus conspiceret, cognita habere. that in which, more than in any other, he excell'd. This Testimony the Holy Ghost gives of him, Numb. 12. 3. That the Man Moses was very meek, above all the Men which were upon the face of the Earth.

[Page 100] This Character of him comes in there in a Parenthesis, (probably inserted by the same in­spired Pen, that wrote the last Chapter of Deu­teronomy) upon occasion of an Affront he receiv'd from those of his own House; which intimates, that his quiet and patient bearing of that, was, of all other, the greatest Proof and Instance of his Meekness. Those can bear any Provocation, that can bear it from their near Relations. The Meekness of Moses, as the Patience of Iob, was try'd on all hands. Armour of Proof shall be sure to be shot at. It should seem that his Wife was none of the best humour'd Women; for what a Passion was she in, about the circumcising of her Son, when she reproach'd him as a bloody Husband, and we do not read of one word that he reply'd, but let her have her saying, Exod. 4. 25, 26. When God was angry, and Zipporah angry, it was best for him to be quiet. The Lot of his Publick Work, was cast in the Provoca­tion, in the day of Temptation in the Wilderness, Psa. 95. 8. But, as if all the Mutinies of Mur­muring Israel, were too little to try the Meek­ness of Moses, his own Brother and Sister (and those of no lessa Figure than Miriam the Pro­phetess, and Aaron the Saint of the Lord) pick a quarrel with him, speak against him, envy his Honour, reproach his Marriage, and are ready to head a Rebellion against him, Num. 12. 1, 2. God heard this, v. 2. and was angry, v. 9. But Moses, tho' he had reason enough to resent it heinously, was not at all moved by it, took no notice of it, made no complaint to God, no answer to them, and was so little interested in the matter, that we don't find one word he said, till we find him, v. 13. praying so heartily for his provoking Sister, who [Page 101] was then under the Tokens of God's Displea­sure for the affront she gave him. The less a Man strives for himself, the more is God engaged in Honour and Faithfulness to appear for him. When Christ said, I seek not mine own Glory, he presently added, but there is one that seeketh and judgeth. And it was upon this occasion that Moses obtain'd this good Report, That he was the me [...]kest of all the Men on the Earth.‘No Man could have given greater proofs of Courage, than Moses (saith the Learned Bi­shop Hall's Remark. Contemp. l. 6.) He slew the Aegyptain, beat the Midianite Shepherds, con­fronted Pharaoh in his own Court, not fearing the Wrath of the King; he durst look God in the Face amidst all the Terrors of Mount Sinai, and draw near to the thick Darkness where God was, and yet that Spirit which made and knew his Heart, saith, He was the Meekest, Mildest Man upon the Earth. Mildness and Fortitude may well lodge together in the same Breast, which corrects the Mistake of those that will allow none Valiant but the Fierce.’

The Meekness of Moses qualified him to be a Magistrate, especially to be King in Ieshurun, among a People so very provoking, that they gave him occasion to use all the Meekness he had, and all little enough to bear their Manners in the Wilderness. When they murmured against him, quarrel'd with him, arraigned his Autho­rity, and were sometimes ready to stone him; he resented these Provocations with very little of personal Application or Concern, but instead of using his Interest in Heaven, to summon Plagues upon them, he made it his Business to stand in the Gap, and by his Intercession for them, to [Page 102] turn away the Wrath of God from them, and this not once nor twice, but many times.

And yet we must observe, that tho' Moses was the meekest Man in the World, yet when God's Honour & Glory were concern'd, none more warm and zealous; witness his resentment of the golden Calf, when in a Holy Indignation at that abo­minable Iniquity, he deliberately broke the Ta­bles. And when Korah and his Crew invaded the Priests Office, Moses, in a pious Wrath, said unto the Lord, Respect not thou their Offering, Numb. 16. 15. He that was a Lamb in his own Cause, was a Lion in the Cause of God; Anger at Sin, as Sin, is very well consistent with Reign­ing Meekness. Nor can it be forgotten, that tho' Moses was so eminent for Meekness, yet he once transgress'd the Laws of it; when he was old, and his Spirit was provok'd, he spake unadvisedly with his Lips, and it went ill with him for it, Psal. 106. 32, 33. which is written, not for Imitation, but for Admonition, not to justifie our rash An­ger, but to engage us to stand upon our Guard at all times against it, that he who thinks he stands may take heed lest he fall, and that he who hath thus fallen may not wonder if he come under the Rebukes of Divine Providence for it in this World, as Moses did, and yet may not despair of being pardoned upon Repentance.

3. David was a Pattern of Meekness, and it is promised, Zach. 12. 8. That the Feeble shall be as David. In this, as in other instances, he was a Man after God's own Heart. When his own Brother was so rough upon him without Reason, 1 Sam. 17. 28. Why camest thou down hither, &c? how mild was his Answer? What have I now done? Is there not a Cause? ver. 29. When [Page 103] his Enemies reproached him, he was not at all disturbed at it, Psal. 38. 13. I, as a deaf Man, heard not. When Saul persecuted him with such an unwearied Malice, he did not take the advantage which Providence seem'd to offer him, more than once, to revenge and right himself, but left it to God to do it for him. David's meek Spirit con­curr'd with the Proverb of the Antients, Wicked­ness proceedeth from the Wicked; but my Hand shall not be upon him, 1 Sam. 24. 13. When Na­bal's Churlishness provok'd him, yet Abigail's Pru­dence soon pacified him, and it pleased him to be pacified. When Shimei cur­sed him,Non ergo movebatur c [...]nvici's David, cui abundabat bonorum operum conscientia ita (que) is qui citò injuria movetur facit se dignum contumelia videri. Ambr. De Offic. Lib. 1. Cap. 6. with a bitter Curse, in the day of his Calamity, he re­sented not the Offence, nor would hear any talk of punish­ing the Offender: So let him curse; let him alone, for the Lord hath bidden him, 2 Sam. 16. 10, 12. quietly committing his Cause to God, who judgeth righteously, verse 12. And other instances there are in his Story, which evidence the Truth of what he said, Psal. 131. 2. My Soul is even like a weaned Child. David fuit fortis in praelio, mansuetus in imperio, patiens in convitio, ferre magis promptu [...] quam referre injurias. Ambr. l. 2. c. 17. And yet David, a great Soldier, a Man of celebrated Courage, that slew a Lion, and a Bear, and a Philistine, as much a ra­venous Beast as either of them, which shews that it was his Wisdom and Grace, and not his Cowardise, that at other times made him so quiet. David was a Man that met with very many disquieting and disturbing Events in the several Scenes of his Life, through which (tho' sometimes they ruffled him a little, yet) for the [Page 104] main he preserv'd an admirable Temper, and an evenness and composedness of Mind, which was very exemplary. When upon the surprize of a fright, he changed his Behaviour before Abimelech, and counterfeited that madness, which angry People realize; yet his Mind was so very quiet and undisturbed, that at that time he penn'd the 34th Psalm, in which not only the excellency of the Matter, and the calmness of the Expression, but the composure of it Alphabetically (in the Hebrew) speaks him to be even then in a sedate frame, and to have very much the command of his own Thoughts. As at another time, when his own Followers spake of stoning him, tho' he could not still the Tumult of his Troops, he could those of his Spirits, for then he encouraged him­self in the Lord his God, 1 Sam. 30. 6. As to those Prayers against his Enemies, which we find in some of his Psalms, and which sometimes sound a little harsh, surely they did not proceed from any such irregular Passion, as did in the least clash even with the Evangelical Laws of Meekness: We ca [...]not imagine, that one who was so piously calm in his common Conversation, should be sinfully hot in his Devotion; Nor are they to be look'd upon as the private Expressions of his own angry Resentments, but as inspired Predicti­ons of God's Judgments upon the Publick and Ob­stinate Enemies of Christ and his Kingdom, as ap­pears by comparing Ps. 69. 22, 23. with Ro. 11. 9, 10. and Psa. 109. 8. with Act. 1. 20. Nor are they any more opposite to the Spirit of the Gospel, than the cries of the Souls under the Altar, Rev. 6. 10. or the Triumphs of Heaven and Earth in the destruction of Babylon, Rev. 19. 1, 2.

[Page 105] 4. Saint Paul was a Pattern of Meekness. Tho' his natural Temper seems to have been warm and eager, which made him eminently Active and Zealous, yet that Temper was so rectified and sanctified, that he was no less eminently meek. He became all things to all Men, 1 Cor. 9. 19, &c. He studied to please all with whom he had to do, and to render himself easie to them, for their good to Edification. How patiently did he bear the greatest Injuries and Indignities, not only from Jews and Heathen, but from false Brethren, that were so very industrious to abuse and undermine him? How glad was he that Christ was prea­ched, tho' out of Envy, and Ill-will by those that studied to add Affliction to his Bonds? In governing the Church, he was not led by the sud­den Resolves of Passion, but always deliberated calmly concerning the use of the Rod of Disci­pline, when there was occasion for it, 1 Cor. 4. 21. Shall I come to you with a Rod, or in the Spirit of Meekness? That is, shall I proceed imme­diately to Censures, or shall I not rather continue the same gentle Usage I have hitherto treated you with, waiting still for your Reformation? wherein the Spirit of Meekness appears more open and legible, than in the use of the Rod, tho' that also is very well consistent with it.

Many other Patterns of Meekness might be in­stanc'd in, but the time would fail me to tell of Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Joshua, of Samuel also, and Job, and Jeremiah, and all the Prophets and Apostles, Martyrs and Confessors, and eminent Saints; who, by Meekness, subdued (not King­doms, but) their own Spirits; stopped the Mouths (not of Lions, but) of more fierce and formidable Enemies; quenched the violence (not of Fire, but) [Page 106] of intemperate and more ungovernable Passions; and so wrought Righteousness, obtained Promises, escaped the edge of the Sword, and out of weakness were made strong; and by all this obtained a good Report, Heb. 11. 32, 33, 34.—But after all,

5. Our Lord Iesus was the great Pattern of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. All the rest had their Spots, the fairest Marbles had their Flaws, but here is a Copy without a blot. We must follow the rest no further than they were conformable to this great Original: Be followers of me (saith Paul, 1 Cor. 11. 1.) as I am of Christ. He fulfilled all Righteousness, and was a compleat Exemplar of all that's Holy, Just and Good, but I think in most, if not all, those places of Scrip­ture where he is particularly and expresly pro­pounded to us for an example, 'tis to recommend to us some or other of the Homiletical Graces of Christianity, those I mean which tend to the sweetning of our Converse one with another: And therefore the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, that he might teach us how to dwell together in Unity. We must walk in love, as Christ loved us, Eph. 5. 2. Forgive, as Christ forgave us, Col. 3. 13. Please one another, for Christ pleased not himself, Rom. 15. 2, 3. Be Chari­table to the poor, for we know the Grace of our Lord Iesus, 2 Cor. 8. 9. Wash one anothers feet, i. e. stoop to the meanest Offices of Love, for Christ did so, John 13. 14. Mat. 20. 27, 28. Doing all with lowliness of Mind, for it is the same Mind that was in Christ Iesus, Phil. 2. 3, 5. and many other the like: But above all our Lord Jesus was an Example of Meekness. Moses had this Grace as a Servant, but Christ as a Son, he was anointed with it above measure. He is [Page 107] therefore call'd the Lamb of God, for his Meek­ness, and Patience, and Inoffensiveness, and even in his Exaltation, he retains the same Character. One of the Elders told Iohn, (Rev. 5. 5.) That the Lion of the Tribe of Judah would open the Sealed Book; And I beheld (saith Iohn, v. 6.) and lo a Lamb. He that was a Lion for Strength and Courage, was a Lamb for Mildness and Gentleness: And if a Lion, yet the Lion of the Tribe of Iudah, which the dying Patriarch describes to be a Lion gone up from the Prey, and that is stooped down, and couched, not to be roused up, Gen. 49. 9. which speaks the Quietness and Repose even of this Lion. If Christ be a Lion, he is a Lion resting, the Devil is a Lion roaring, (1 Pet. 5. 8.) But the Adorations given to Christ by the Heavenly Hosts speak of him as the Lamb, Rev. 5. 8, 12, 13. Blessing and Glory—to him that sis upon the Throne; they do not say, and to the Lion of the Tribe of Iudah, but to the Lamb; tho' he hath a Name given him above every Name, yet he will be known by that Name, which speaks his Meek­ness, as if this were to be his Name for ever, and this his Memorial to all Generations: As he that rides upon the Heavens, by his Name Iah, is the Father of the Fatherless, and the Iudge of the Widows, The Hea­then by mistake, call'd Christ Chrestus, Gracious, and the Christians Chrestiani: So Sueton. vit. Claud. c. 25. Impulsore Chresto. Lactantius takes notice of this, Instit. l. 4. c. 7. So doth Ter­tullian, Apol. c. 3. and thence calls the Christian Name Nomen Innocuum. Psa. 68. 4, 5. Some make his Name [...] to have anallusion to [...], which signifies Kind, and Gentle, and Gracious. Christ rides prosper­ously, because of Meekness, Psal. 45. 4.

Now 'tis the character of all the Saints, that they follow the Lamb, Rev. 14. 4. as a Lamb, they fol­low [Page 108] him in his Meekness, and are therefore so oft called the Sheep of Christ. This is that part of his Copy which he expresly calls us to write af­ter, Mat. 11. 29. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in Heart. If the Master be mild, it ill be­comes the Servant to be froward. The Apostle is speaking of Christ's Meekness under his Suffer­ings, when he saith, That he left us an example, that we should follow his Steps, 1 Pet. 3. 21.

Let us observe particularly the Meekness of our Lord Jesus, both towards his Father, and to­wards his Friends, and towards his Foes, in each of which he is an Example to us.

1. He was very meek toward God, his Father, chearfully submitting to his whole Will, and stan­ding compleat in it. In his Commanding-will, Lo I come, (saith he) I delight to do thy Will, tho' it enjoyn'd him a very hard piece of Service, yet it was his Meat and Drink, Joh. 4. 34. and he always did those things that pleased his Father, Joh. 8. 29. So likewise in his Disposing-will, h [...] acquiesced from first to last. When he was entring upon that sharp encounter, tho' Sense startled at it, and said Father if it be possible let the Cup pass from me, yet he soon submitted with a great deal of Meek, ness, Not as I will, but as thou wilt, Mat. 26. 39, 42. Tho' it was a very bitter Cup, yet his Father put it into his Hand, and therefore he drank it with­out any struggle or reluctance, when it came to the setting to, reasoning himself from that To­pick into this Compliance, Iohn 18. 11. The Cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? And it comes in there as a reason, why he would not have a Sword drawn in his defence.

2. He was very meek towards his Friends that lov'd and follow'd him. With what remarkable [Page 109] Instances of Mildness, and Gentleness, and Ten­derness did he train up his Disciples; tho' from first to last, he was a Man of Sorrows, and ac­quainted with Grief, and where the Nature is corrupt, such are apt to be peevish and froward with those about them, yet how meek and calm his carriage was towards them all along, we may see,

(1.) In his bearing with their Weaknesses and Infirmities. After they had been long under the Inspection and Influence of such a Teacher, and had all the Advantages that Men could have for getting acquaintance with the things of God, yet how weak and defective were they in Knowledge, and Gifts, and Graces? How ignorant and for­getful were they? How slow of Heart to under­stand and believe? And what Blunders did they make? Dull Scholars it should seem they were, and very bad Proficients. But their Hearts being upright with him, he did not cast them off, nor turn them out of his School, but made the best of them, rectified their Mistakes, instructed them in their Duty, and the Doctrine they were to preach, by Precept upon Precept, and Line upon Line, and taught them as they were able to bear it, as one that considered their Frame, and could have Compassion on the Ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, Heb. 5. 2. As long as he was with them, so long he suffered them, Mark 9. 19. This, as it is a great Encouragement to Christian Learners, so it is a great Example to Christian Teachers.

(2.) In his forgiving and passing by their Un­kindnesses and Disrespects to himself. He was not extream to mark, no not what they did amiss of this kind. When they murmured at the cost [Page 110] that was bestowed upon him, and call'd it wast, and had indignation at it, he did not resent it as he might have done, nor seem to observe how much what they said, reflected upon him, nor did he condemn them any other way, than by com­mending the Woman, Mat. 26. 8, 11. When Peter, and Iames, and Iohn, the first three of his Dis­ciples, were with him in the Garden, and very unseasonably slept, while he was in his Agony praying, so little concern'd did they seem to be for him, and such a grievous slight did they put upon him; yet observe how meekly he spoke to them, did not give them any hard Language, but, Could ye not watch with me one hour? And when they had not a word to say for themselves, so inex­cusable was their fault, he had something to say for them, and instead of accusing them, he Apo­logizeth for them, The Spirit indeed is willing, but the Flesh is weak, Mat. 26. 40, 41. When Peter had denied him, and had cursed and sworn he did not know him, than which (besides the falshood and perfidiousness of it) nothing could be more unkind, with what Meekness did he bear it? It is not said, the Lord turn'd and frown'd upon Peter, tho' he deserv'd to be frown'd into Hell, but the Lord turn'd and looked upon Peter, Luke 22. 61. and that Look recovered him into the way to Heaven; it was a kind Look, and not an angry one. Some days after when Christ and Peter met in Galilee, and had Dined together in token of Reconciliation, and some Discourse past between them, not a word was said of this matter; Christ did not upbraid him with his fault, nor chide him for it, nor did there appear any other Fruit of the falling out of these Lovers, but only the renewing of their Love with grea­ter [Page 111] Endearments, Iohn 21. 15, 16, 17. which teach­eth us to forgive and forget the Unkindnesses of those that (we are satisfied) are for the main our true Friends, and if any occasion of Differ­ence happen, to turn it into an occasion of con­firming our love to them, as the Apostle expres­seth it, 2 Cor. 2. 8.

3. He was very meek towards his Enemies, that hated and persecuted him. The whole Story of his Life is fill'd with instances of in­vincible Meekness; while he endur'd the Con­tradiction of Sinners against himself, which was a constant Jarr, yet he had a perpetual Serenity and Harmony within himself, and was never in the least discomposed by it. When his Preach­ing and Miracles were cavill'd at and reproached, and he himself represented under the blackest Characters, not only as the Drunkard's Compa­nion, but as the Devil's Confederate, with what a wonderful calmness did he bear it? How mildly did he answer, with Reason and Tender­ness, when he could have replyed in Thunder and Lightning? How well satisfied under all such invidious Reflections with this, that Wisdom is however justified of all her Children? Mat 11. 19. When some of his Disciples would have had Fire from Heaven upon those rude People that refused him Entertainment in their Town, he was so far from complying with the Motion, that he rebuked it, Luke 9. 55. Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of. This perswasion cometh not of him that calleth you, Gal. 5. 8. The design of Christ and of his Holy Religion is to shape Men into a mild and merciful Temper, and to make them sensibly tender of the Lives and Comforts even of their worst Enemies. Christianity was [Page 112] intended to revive Humanity, and to make those Men, who had made themselves Beasts. But our Lord Jesus did in a more especial manner evidence his Meekness when he was in his last sufferings, that awful Scene. Tho' he was the most innocent and the most excellent Person that ever was, who by the Doctrine he had preach'd, and the Miracles he had wrought, had richly deserved all the Honours and Respects that the World could pay him, and infinitely more, and tho' the Injuries he received were ingeniously and industriously contrived to the highest degree of Affront and Provocation, yet he bore all with an undisturbed Meekness, and with that Shield quench'd all the fiery Darts, which his malicious Enemies shot at him.

His Meekness towards his Enemies appear'd,

(1.) In what he said to them, not one angry word, in the midst of all the Indignities they offer'd him. When he was reviled, he reviled not again, 1 Pet. 2. 23. When he was buffeted and spit upon, and abused, he took it all patiently; one would wonder at the gracious words which even then proceeded out of his Mouth, witness that mild reply to him that smote him, Ioh. 18. 23. If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but i [...] well, why smitest thou me?

(2.) In what he said to God for them; Father forgive them,—so giving an Example to his own Rule, Mat. 5. 44. Pray for them which de­spitefully use you. Though he was then deeply engaged in the most solemn Transaction that ever pass'd between Heaven and Earth; tho' he had so much to do with God for himself and his Friends, yet he did not forget to put up this Prayer for his Enemies. The mercy he begg'd of God [Page 113] for them, was the greatest Mercy, that which he was then dying to purchase and procure, the pardon of their sins; not only, Father spare them, or reprieve them, but, Father forgive them; the Excuse he pleaded for them, was the best their Crime was capable of; They know not what they do. They did it ignorantly, Acts 3. 27. 1 Cor. 2. 8. 1 Tim. 1. 17.

Now in all these things our Master hath left us an Example. What is the Practice of Religion, but the Imitation of God endeavour'd by us? And what the Principle of it, but the Image of God renewed in us. We are bid to be followers of God, as dear Children. But this sets the Copy we are to write after, at a mighty distance, for God is in Heaven, and we are upon Earth, and therefore in the Lord Iesus Christ, God incarnate, God in our Nature, the Copy is brought among us, and the transcribing of it, in some measure, appears more practicable: He that hath seen me, (saith Christ) hath seen the Father, John 14. 9. and so he that imitates Christ, imitates the Fa­ther. The Religion which our Lord Jesus came into the World to establish, being every way so well calculated for the Peace and Order of the World, and being design'd to recover the lapsed Souls of Men from their degenerate State, and to sweeten their Spirits and Temper, and so to be­friend humane Society, and to make it some way conformable to the blessed Society above, he not only gave such Precepts as were wonderfully fit­ted to this great end, but recommended them to the World, by the loveliness and amiableness of his own Example. Are we not called Christians from Christ, whom we call Master and Lord, and shall we not endeavour to accommodate our [Page 114] selves to him? We profess to rejoyce in him, as our Fore-runner, and shall we not run after him? To what purpose were we listed under his Ban­ner, but that we might follow him as our Leader? We have all of us reason to say, that Jesus Christ is very meek, or else we that have pro­vok'd him so much and so often, had been in Hell long ago: We owe it to his Meekness to whom all Judgment is committed, that we have not e're this been carryed away with a swift Destru­ction, and dealt with according to the desert of our sins, which, if duly considered, one would think should tend greatly to the mollifying of us. The Apostle fetcheth an Argument from that Kindness and Love to us, which we our selves have experienced, who were Foolish and Diso­bedient, to perswade us to be gentle, and to shew all Meekness, Tit. 3. 2, 3, 4. and he beseecheth the Corinthians by the Meekness and Gentleness of Christ, as a thing very winning and of dear and precious account, 2 Cor. 10. 1. Let the same mind therefore be in us, not only which was, but which, as we find to our comfort, still is in Christ Iesus, Phil. 2. 5. That we may not forfeit our Interest in his Meekness, let us tread in the steps of it; and as ever we hope to be like him in Glory hereafter, let us study to be like him in Grace, in this Grace now. It is a certain Rule, by which we must all be tried shortly, That if any Man hath not the Spirit of Christ, (that is, if he be not Spirited, in some measure, as Christ was spi­rited) he is none of his, Rom. 8. 9. And if we be not own'd as his, we are undone for ever.

Some particular Instances wherein the Exercise of Meekness is in a special manner requir'd.

The Rule is general, we must shew all Meek­ness; 'twill be of use to observe some special cases to which the Scripture applies this general Rule.

1. We must give Reproofs with Meekness. It is the Apostles Direction, Gal. 6. 1. If a Man be over­taken in a fault, (i. e. if he be surpriz'd by a Temp­tion and overcome, as the best may be, if God leave them to themselves) ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the Spirit of Meekness. By the Spiritual Man, to whom he gives this Rule, he means not Ministers only, as if none were spi­ritual but they, tho' they perhaps are chiefly in­tended, because they are, as the Prophet speaks, Isa. 29. 21. Reprovers in the Gate; i. e. Reprovers by Office, yet doubtless it is a Rule to private Christians; all that have opportunity must re­prove, and all that reprove must do it with Meek­ness. Ye that are Spiritual, if you would approve your selves so indeed, acted by the Holy Spirit, and minding the things of the Spirit, be careful in this matter. Especially let those that are Chri­stians of the highest Form, that excel in Grace, and Holiness, and the best Gifts, (such are call'd Spiritual in distinction from the Babes in Christ, 1 Cor. 3. 1.) Let them look upon themselves as obli­ged, in a more peculiar manner, to help others; for where God gives five Talents, he expects the improvement of five; the strong must bear the infirmities of the weak, Rom. 15. 1. Do you there­fore restore such a one, [...], set him in joynt again. The setting of a dislocated joynt or [Page 116] a broken Bone is for the present painful to the Patient, but it must be done, and it is in order to the making of broken Bones to rejoyce. Now this you must do with the Spirit of Meekness, with all the candor, and gentleness, and convin­cing Evidences of Love and Kindness that can be. The three Qualifications of a good Surgeon, are very requisite in a Reprover, viz. to have an Eagle's Eye, a Lion's Heart, and a Lady's Hand; that is, that he be endued with a great deal of Wisdom, and Courage, and Meekness. Tho' some­times it is needful to reprove with warmth, yet we must never reprove with Wrath, for the Wrath of Man worketh not the Righteousness of God, Jam. 1. 20. There is an observable Difference, but no contradiction betwixt the Directions Paul gives to Timothy, and those he gives to Titus in this matter. To Titus he writes to reprove sharply, Tit. 1. 13. and to rebuke with all Authority, Cap. 2. v. 15. To Timothy he writes not to strive, but to be gentle, 2 Tim. 2. 24. to reprove with all long-suf­fering, Chap. 4. 2. The Reason of which may be taken either, [1.] From the different Temper of those they had to deal with. Timothy was among the Ephesians, a tractable complaisant People, that would be easily managed, and with them he must always deal gently. Titus was among the Cretians, that were head-strong and rough hewn, and not to be wrought upon, but by sharper methods. Thus in reproving, a difference must be made: Of some we must have compassion, and others save with Fear, but never with Anger, plucking them out of the fire, Iude, ver. 23. Or, [2.] The Reason may be taken (as Gregory, one of the Antients, assigneth it) from the different Temper of Timothy and Titus. Titus was a Man [Page 117] of a very soft and mild Temper, and he had need of a Spur to quicken him to a needful Acrimony in his Reproofs; but Timothy was a Man of a more warm and sanguine Temper, and he had need of a Bridle to keep him from an intempe­rate heat in his Reproofs; and then it teacheth us, that those who are naturally keen and fervent, should double their Guard upon their own Spi­rits, when they are reproving, that they may do it with all Meekness. Christ's Ministers must be careful while they display God's Wrath, to con­ceal their own, & be very jealous over themselves, lest sinful Anger shelter it self under the Cloke of Zeal against sin. When Reproving (whoever be the Reprover) degenerates into Railing and Re­viling, and Opprobrious Language, how can we expect the desir'd success? It may provoke to Con­tention and every evil Work; but it will never provoke to Love, and to good Works. The work of Heaven is not likely to be done by a Tongue set on fire of Hell. Hath Christ need of mad Men? or will you talk deceitfully and passionately for him? A Potion given too hot s [...]lds the Patient, and doth more hurt than good, and so many a Reproof, good for the matter of it, hath been spoiled by an irregular Management. Meekness hides the Lancet, gilds the Pill, and makes it pas­sable; dips the Nail in Oil, and then it drives the better. Twice we find Ionathan reproving his Fa­ther, for his rage against David; once he did it with Meekness, and it sped well, 1 Sam. 19. 4, 5. Let not the King sin against his Servant, [against Da­vid,] and 'tis said, v. 6. Saul hearkned to him. But another time his Spirit was provok'd, and he did it in a heat, Cap. 20. 32. Wherefore shall he be slain? and the issue of it was ill. Saul was not only impatient [Page 118] of the Reproof, but enraged at the Repro­ver, and cast a Iavelin at him, v. 33. Reproofs are then likely to answer the intention, when they ma­nifestly evidence the good will of the Reprover, and are made up of soft Words and hard Arguments. This is to restore with the Spirit of Meekness, and there's a good reason added, considering thy self; ille hodie, ego [...]ras; those who think they stand fast, know not how soon they may be shaken and overthrown, and therefore we must treat those that are overtaken in a fault, with the same ten­derness and compassion that we would wish to find, if it were our own case.

2. We must receive Reproofs with Meekness. If we do that which deserves Rebuke, and we meet with those that are so just and kind to give it us, we must be quiet under it, not quarrelling with the Reprover, nor objecting against the Re­proof, nor fretting that we are touch'd in a sore place, but submit to it, and laying our Souls under the Conviction of it.Ne (que) ulli patientius reprehen­du [...]r, quàm qui maxime laudari merentur. Plin. If Reproofs be Physick, it becomes us to be Patient. Let the Righteous smite me, it shall be a Kindness, and an excellent Oil, healing to the wounds of Sin, and making the face to shine; and let us never reckon that it breaks the Head, if it do but help to break the Heart, Psa. 141. 5. Meekness suf [...]ers the word of Admo­nition, and takes it patiently and thankfully, not only from the hand of God that sends it, but from the hand of our Friend that brings it. We must not be like the Reprobate Sodomites, Gen. 19. 9. or that pert Hebrew, Exod. 2. 14. that flew in the Face of their Reprovers, (tho' really they were the best Friends they had) with, Who made thee a Iudge? but like David, who, when Abi­gail so prudently scotch'd the Wheels of his Pas­sion, [Page 119] not only bless'd God that sent her, and bles­sed her Advice, but blessed her, 1 Sam. 25. 32, 33. and v. 35. not only hearkned to her Voice, but accepted her Person. Tho perhaps the Reprover supposeth the fault greater than really it was, and though the Reproof be not given with all the Prudence in the World, yet Meekness will teach us to ac­cept it quietly, and to make the best use we can of it; nay, if indeed we be altogether innocent of that which we are reproved for, yet the Meekness of Wisdom would teach us to apply the Reproof to some other fault, which our own Consciences convict us of: We would not quarrel with a real intended Kindness, tho' not done with Ceremony, & tho' in some circumstances mistaken or misplac'd.

You that are in Inferior Relations, Children, Servants, Scholars, must with all Meekness and Submission receive the Reproofs of your Parents, Masters and Teachers: Their Age supposeth them to have more Understanding than you; however, their Place gives them an Authority over you, to which you are to pay a Deference, and in which you are to acquiesce, else farewel all Order and Peace in Societies. The Angel rebuked Hagar for flying from her Mistriss, tho' she dealt hardly with her, and obliged her to return and submit her self under her hands, Gen. 16. 6, 9. If the Spirit of any Ruler rise up against thee, and thou be chid­den for a Fault, leave not thy Place, as an Infe­rior, for yielding pacifies great offences done, and prevents the like, Eccl. 10. 4. If thou hast thought evil, lay thy hand upon thy Mouth, to keep that evil thought from breaking out in any undue and unbecoming Language, Pro. 30. 32. Reproofs are then likely to do us good, when we meekly submit to them; then are they as an Ear-ring of [Page 120] Gold, and an Ornament of fine Gold, when an obedient Ear is given to a wise Reprover, Pro. 25. v. 12. Nay, even Superiors are to receive Re­proofs from their Inferiors with Meekness, as they would any other Token of Kindness and Good­will. Naaman when he turn'd away from the Prophet in a rage, yet hearkned to the Reproof which his own Servants gave him, and was over­rul'd by the Reason of it, 2 Kin. 5. 11, 13, 14. which was no more a disparagement to him, than it was to receive Instruction from his Wife's Maid, to whom to go [...]or a cure of his Leprosie, v. 2, 3. Meek­ness teacheth us, when a just Reproof is given, to regard not so much who speaks, as what is spoken.

3. We must instruct Gain-sayers with Meekness, 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25. It is there prescrib'd to Ministers, that they must not [...], but be gentle to all Men, in Meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. They serve the Prince of Peace, they preach the Gospel of Peace, they are the Ambas­sadors of Peace, and therefore must be sure to keep the Peace. The Apostles, those prime Mi­nisters of State in Christ's Kingdom, were not Mi­litary Men or Men of strife and noise, but Fisher­men that follow their Employment with quiet­ness and silence. 'Tis highly necessary that the Guides of the Church be strict Governours of their own Passions. Learn of me (saith Christ) for I am meek and lowly, and therefore fit to teach you, Mat. 11. 29. We must contend earnestly, but not angrily and passionately, no not for the [...]ith once delivered to the Saints, Iude, v. 3. when we have never so great an assurance, that it is the cause of Truth we are pleading, yet we must so manage our Defence of it, against those who gain­say, as to make it appear, that it is not the Con­fusion [Page 121] of the Erroneous, but the Confutation of the Error that we intend. This Meekness would teach us not to prejudge a Cause, nor to con­demn an Adversary unheard, but calmly to state matters in difference, as knowing that a Truth well open'd, is half confirm'd. It would teach us not to aggravate matters in dispute, nor to father upon an Adversary all the absurd Consequences which we think may be inferr'd from his Opi­nion: It would teach us to judge charitably of those that differ from us, and to forbear all per­sonal Reflections in arguing with them. God's Cause needs not the Patronage of our sinful Heats and Passions, which not only shatter the Peace, but often give [...] a mighty shock even to the Truth it self, we plead for. Meekness would prevent and cure that Bigotry, which hath been so long the Bane of the Church, and contribute a great deal towards the Advancement of that happy State, in which, notwithstanding little Differences of Apprehension and Opinion, the Lord shall be one, and his Name one. Publick Reformations are carry'd on with most Credit and Comfort, and are most likely to settle upon la­sting Foundations, when Meekness sits at the Stern, and guides the Motions of them. When Christ was purging the Temple, tho' he was therein acted by a Zeal for God's House that even eat him up, yet he did it with Meekness and Prudence, which appear'd in this instance, that when he drove out the Sheep and Oxen, which would easily be caught again, he said to them that sold Doves, Take these things hence, Joh. 2. 16. He did not let loose the Doves, and send them flying, for that would have been to the loss and prejudice of the Owners. Angry, noisie, bitter [Page 122] Arguings, ill become the Asserters of that Truth, which is great and will prevail, without all that adoe. It was a very froward and perverse Gene­ration that our Lord Jesus lived in, and yet it is said, Mat. 12. 19. He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any Man hear his Voice in the Street, tho' he could have broke them as easily as a bruised Reed, and extinguish'd them as soon as one could quench the wiek of a Candle newly lighted, yet he will not do it, till the day comes when he shall bring forth Iudgment unto Victory. Moses dealt with a very obstinate and stiff-neck'd Peo­ple, And yet my Doctrine (saith he) shall drop as the Dew, and distil as the small Rain, Deut. 32. 2. 'Twas not the Wind, nor the Earthquake, nor the Fire that brought Elijah into Temper, (for the Lord was not in them) but the still small Voice did it, when he heard that, he wrap'd his Face in his Mantle, 1 Kin. 19. 11, 12, 13. In dealing with Gain-sayers, a Spirit of Meekness will teach us to consider their Temper, Education, Custom, the Power of Prejudice they Labour under, the In­fluence of others upon them, and to make Allow­ances accordingly, and not to call (as passionate Contenders are apt to do) every false Step, an Apostacy, every Errour and Mistake, nay, every Misconstrued Misplaced Word, a Heresie, and every Misdemeanor, no less than Treason and Re­belion; Methods of Proceeding, more likely to irritate and harden, than to convince and reduce Gain-sayers. I have heard it observed long since, That the Scourge of the Tongue hath driven many out of the Temple, but never drove any into it.

4. We must make Profession of the Hope that is in us, with Meekness. 1 Pet. 3. 15. Be ready always to give Answer, (to make your Defence [Page 123] or Apology, so the word is, [...]) whether judicially or extrajudicially, as there is occasion, to every Man that (soberly, not scoffing­ly and in derision) asks you a Reason, or an Account of the hope that is in you, i. e. of the Religion you profess, which you hope to be saved by, with Meekness and Fear. Observe, it is very well consistent with Christian Quietness, to appear in the Defence of Truth, and to avow our Christian Profession, when at any time we are duly call'd to it. That is not Meekness, but base Cowardise that tamely betrays, and delivers up any of Christ's Truths or Institutions, by silence, as if we were ashamed or afraid to confess our Master. But the Office of Meekness at such a time is to direct us how, and in what manner to bear our Testimony, not with Pride and Passion, but with Humility and Mildness. Those that would suc­cessfuly confess the Truth, must first learn to deny themselves; And we must give an account of our Hope, with a Holy Fear of missing it in such a Critical Juncture. When we give a Reason for our Religion, we must not boast of our selves, or of our own Attainments, nor reflect Contempt and Wrath upon our Persecutors, but remember that the present Truth, (so 'tis call'd, 2 Pet. 1. 12) the Truth which is now to be asserted, is the same with the Word of Christ's Patience, Rev. 3. 10. i. e. the word which must be patiently suffered for, according to the Example of him, who with invincible Meekness, (before Pontius Pilate) wit­nessed a good Confession, 1 Tim. 6. 13. A great Abase­ment and Diffidence of our selves may very well consist with a firm Assurance of the Truth, and a profound Veneration for it.

[Page 124] In lesser things, wherein wise and good Men are not all of a mind, Meekness teaches us not to be too confident that we are in the right, nor to censure and condemn those that differ us, as if we were the People, and Wisdom should die with us, but quietly to walk according to the Light that God hath given us, and charitably to believe that others do so too, waiting till God shall re­veal either this to them, (Phil. 3. 15.) or that to us. Let it in such cases suffice to vindicate our selves, which every Man hath a right to do, with­out a Magisterial Sentencing of others; why should we be many Masters, when we are all Offenders, (Iam. 3. 1, 2.) and the Bar is our place, not the Bench? Meekness will likewise teach us to manage a singular opinion, wherein we differ from others, with all possible deference to them, and suspicion of our selves, not resenting it as an Affront to be Contradicted, but taking it as a Kindness to be better inform'd. Nor must we be angry that our Hope is enquir'd into, even such a trial of it, if we approve our selves well in it, may be sound to Praise, and Honour, and Glory, to which our Meekness will very much contribute, as it puts a lustre upon, and a convincing Power into the Testimony we bear▪ we then walk wor­thy of the vocation wherewith we are called, when we walk in all lowliness and meekness, Eph. 4. 1, 2.

5. We must bear Reproaches with Meekness. Reproach is a branch of that Persecution which all that will live godly in Christ Iesus, must count upon; and we must submit to it, behaving our selves quietly, and with a due decorum, not only when Princes sit and speak against us, but even when the Abjects gather themselves toge­ther [Page 125] against us, and we become the Song of the Drunkards. Sometimes we find it easier to keep calm in a solemn and expected Engagement, than in a sudden Skirmish, or a hastly Rencounter, and therefore even against those slight Attacks, it is requisite that Meekness be set upon the Guard. If we be nick-named, and slandered, and have all manner of Evil said against us falsly, our Rule is, Not to be disturbed at it, nor to render Rail­ing for Railing, 1 Pet. 3. 9. but tho' we may, as we have opportunity, with Meekness deny the Charge, as Hannab did when Eli overhastily censur'd her for a Drunkard; No, my Lord, I have drank neither Wine nor strong Drink, 1 Sam. 1. 15. Yet when that is done, we must without meditating any Re­venge, quietly commit our Cause to God, who will sooner or later, clear up our Innocency as the Light, which is promised, Psal. 37. 5, 6. and therefore fret not thy self, but wait patiently, v. 7. cease from Anger, and forsake Wrath, v. 8. Mr. Dod was wont to charm his Friends into silence under Reproaches, with this, That if a Dog bark at a Sheep, the Sheep will not bark at the Dog again. We do but gratifie our great Adversary, and do his Work for him, when we suffer the Peace and Serenity of our Minds to be broken in upon, by the Reproaches of the World: For me to disquiet my self, and put my self into a Passion, because another abuseth me, is as if I should scratch up the Skin of my Face, to fetch off the Dirt which my Adversary throws in it. When reproaches provokes our Passions, which put us upon rendring Bitterness for Bitterness, we thereby lose the Com­fort, and forfeit the Honour and Reward, which the Divine Promise hath annexed to the Reproach of Christ, and shall we suffer so many things in vain? [Page 126] We likewise thereby give occasion to those who had spoken evil of us falsly, to speak evil of us truly; and perhaps our Religion suffers more by our Impatience under the Reproach, than by the Reproach it self. What have we the Law, and Pat­tern, and Promise of Christ for, but to calm our Spirits under Reproaches for well doing? Truly those can bear but a little for Christ, that cannot bear a hard or a foul word for him. If we either faint, or fret in such a Day of Adversity, 'tis a sign our Strength is small indeed. May it not sa­tisfie us, that by our Meekness and Quietness under Reproaches, we engage God for us, who hath promised, that he will with Righteousness judge the Poor, the poor in Spirit, and will re­prove with equity for the meck of the Earth, Isa. 11. v. 4. He that hath bid us to open our Mouths for the Dumb, Pro. 31. 8. will not himself be silent, Psa. 12. 5. And shall we not learn at last, instead of [...]retting and being exceeding Angry, to rejoyce and to be exceeding glad, Mat. 5. 11, 12. when we suffer thus for Righteousness sake? May we not put such Reproaches as Pearls, in our Crown, and be assured that they will pass well in the Account another day, when there will be an advantagious Resurrection of Names, as well as Bodies, in the prospect of which, we have reason to rejoyce, That we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his Name, Dominus ip­se matedi­ctus est, & tamen solus est benedi­ctus Tertul. de Pattent. cap. 8. Acts 5. 4 [...]. That we are honour'd to be dishonour'd for him, who for our sakes endured the Cross, and despised the shame. 'Tis one of the Laws of Meekness, Spernere se sperni; to despise being despised.

Some good Principles or Considerations, which tend to make us meek and quiet.

In order to the well governing of the Soul, the Judgment must be furnished with proper Dictates, else it will never be able to keep the Peace in the Affections: The Motions of the Soul are then likely to be even, and regular, and constant, when we have fix'd to our selves good Prin­ciples, which we are govern'd by, and act under the influence of. There are some carnal corrupt Principles, which angry froward People are guided by; such as these, That the forgiving one Injury invites another, Veterem fe­rendo inju­riam, invi­tas novam. P. [...]. whereas it often qua­lifies an Adversary; or if otherwise, the forgiving of one Offence, will enable us to bear the next the more easily. And that we must have satis­faction given us for every wrong done us, whereas if we have not Satisfaction for it, yet if it be not our own Fault, we may have Satisfaction under it, and that's as good. And, That there's no living in the World without buffing, and hectoring, and frightning People; Oderint dum metuant; whereas to live continually in that Element, is to live in a Hell upon Earth; mutual Indignation and mu­tual Fear perhaps contributing to the Torment of Devils and damned Spirits: But, in opposition to these and the like ill Principles, shall we treasure up these few good Truths, chosen out of many which might be mentioned proper for this purpose, and make use of them, as there is oc­casion?

1. That he hath the sweetest and surest Peace, who is the most Master of his own Passions. The [Page 128] comfort that a Man hath in governing himself, is much greater than he could have in having Peo­ple to serve him, and Nations to bow down to him. It is certain the worst Enemies we have, if ever they break loose and get head, are in our own Bosoms. Enemies without threaten only the evil of pain; they can but kill the Body, and no great hurt in that to a Child of God, if they do not provoke the Enemies within, our own irregular Passions, which if they be not kept under, plunge us in the evil of sin, and that's the much greater evil. An Invasion from Abroad doth not so much disturb the Peace of a Kingdom, as an Insur­rection at Home doth; and therefore it concerns us to double our Guard, where our danger is grea­test, and above all keepings, to keep our Hearts, that no Passion be allowed to stir without a good reason to be given for it, and a good use to be made of it; and then if we be troubled on every side, yet not distressed, perplexed, yet not in de­spair, 2 Cor. 4. 8, 9. Offended by our Fellow-Ser­vants, but not offending our Master; reproached by our Neighbours but not by our own Consci­ences; this is like Zion's Peace, Peace within the Walls, Psa. 122. 7. We have need to pray as one did, Liberame à malo isto homine, meipso; Lord deliver me from that ill Man, mine own self, and then I am safe enough. The Lusts that war in our Members, Jam. 4. 1. are the Enemies that war against our Souls, 1 Pet. 2. 11. If this War be brought to a good issue, and those Enemies sup­prest, whatever other Disturbances are given, Peace is in the Soul with Grace and Mercy from God, and from the Lord Iesus. Nehemiah was aware of this, as the design of his Enemies, when they hired a pretended Prophet to give an Alarm, and [Page 129] to advise him meanly to shift for himself, it was (saith he) Neh. 6. 13. That I should be afraid and do so, and sin. Whatever we lose, we shall not lose our Peace, if we do but keep our Integrity; therefore instead of being solicitous to subdue our Enemies that lay Siege to us, let us double our watch against the Traitors within the Gar­rison, from whom especially our danger is; since we cannot prevent the shooting of the fiery Darts, let us have our Shield ready, wherewith to quench them. If we would not hurt our selves, blessed be God no Enemy in the World can hurt us. Let us but keep the Peace within, by the governing of our own Passions, and then whatever assaults may be made upon us, we may therein, with the Daughter of Zion, despise them, and laugh them to scorn, and shake our Head at them, [allud.] Isa. 37. 22. Let us believe, that in hurrying and dis­quieting times, our strength is to sit still, in a holy Quietness and Composure of Mind; This is the rest, wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing, and it is enough, Isa. 28. 12.

2. That in many things we all offend. This truth we have, Iames 3. 2. and it comes in as a reason why we must not be many Masters, v. 1. It would help to subdue and moderate our Anger, at the Offences of others, if we would but consider,

[1.] That it is incident to humane Nature to offend. While we are in this World, we must not expect to converse with Angels, or the Spi­rits of just Men made perfect; no, we are oblig'd to a Communication with Creatures that are foolish and corrupt, peevish and provoking, and who are all subject to like Passions; such as these we must live among, else must we needs go out [Page 130] of the World. And have we not reason then to count upon something or other, uneasie an dis­pleasing in all Relations and Conversations. The best Men have their roughnesses and unevennesses in this imperfect state; those that are savingly enlightned, yet knowing but in part, have their blind side; the Harmony, even of the Communion of Saints, will sometimes be disturbed with jar­ring strings; why then should we be surpriz'd into Passion and Disquiet, when that which gives us the Disturbance, is no more than what we look'd for? Instead of being angry, we should think with our selves, thus; Alas! what could I expect but Provocation, from corrupt and fallen Man? Among such foolish Creatures as we are, it must needs be, that Offences will come; and why should not I have my share of those Offences? The God of Heaven gives this as a reason of his Patience towards a provoking World, that it is in their Nature to be provoking, Gen. 8. 21. I will not again curse the Ground any more for Man's sake, for the imagination of Man's Heart is evil [...]r [...]m his Youth, and therefore better is not to be expected from him. And upon this inducement he had compassion on Israel, Psal. 78. 39. For he remembred that they were but Flesh; not only frail Creatures, but sinful, and bent to backslide. Do Men gather Grapes of Thorns? I knew that thou wouldst deal treacherously, for thou wast called a Transgressor from the Womb, Isa. 48. 8. And should not we, much more, be qualified by the same consideration? If thou seest the violent perverting of Iudgment and Iustice in a Province, remem­ber what a provoking Creature sinful Man is, and then thou wilt not marvel at the matter, Eccl. 5. 8. The consideration of the common Infirmity [Page 131] and Corruption of Mankind, should be made use of, not to excuse our own Faults to our selves, which doth take off the edge of our Repen­tance, and is the poor Subterfuge of a deceived Heart; but to excuse the faults of others, and so take off the edge of our Passion and Displea­sure, and preserve the Meekness and Quietness of our Spirits.

[2.] That it is incident to our selves among the rest to offend. The Apostle there puts himself into the number, We all offend. We offend God; if we say, [...], Chrys. we do not, we deceive our selves, and yet he bears with us from day to day, and is not extream to mark what we do amiss; tho' our Debts to him are Talents, our Brethren's to us but Pence. Think then, if God should be as angry with me for every Provocation, as I am with those about me, what would become of me? They are carless in their observance, and perhaps wilful in their offence, and am not I so to God? yea, am not I a thousand times worse? Iob qua­lified himself with this, when his Servants were provoking, and he was tempted to be harsh with them, What then shall I do, when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Job 31. 13, 14.

And are we not apt enough likewise, to offend our Brethren? [...] Either we have offended or may offend; so that we have need that others should bear with us, & why then should not we bear with them? Hanc veni [...]m petimus (que) damus (que) vicissim. Our Rule is, What we would that Men should do to us, when we offend them, the same we should do to them, when they offend us, for this is the Law and the Prophets, Mat. 7. 12. [...] Solomon ap­peals to our own Consciences herein, Eccl. 7. 22. [Page 132] For oftentimes also thine own Heart (which is instead of a thousand Witnesses) knoweth that thou thy self likewise hath cursed others. The penitent remembrance of that former guilt, would greatly help to curb the passionate Resentment of the present Trouble. When the undutiful Re­bellious Son (in a Story that I once read) drag'd his Father by the Hair of the Head to the House­door, it qualified the Anger of the old Man, to remember, that just so far he had drag'd his Fa­ther; as it seems to have silenced Adonibezek, that he was now treated no otherwise, than he had formerly treated others, Iudg. 1. 7.

3. That Men are God's Hand: So it is said, Psal. 17. 14. From Men which are thy Hand, O Lord, or rather, Tools, in thy Hand, so v. 13. which are thy Sword. We must abide by this Princi­ple, that whatever it is that crosseth us, or is displeasing to us, at any time, God hath an over­ruling hand in it. David was govern'd by this Principle, when he bore Shimei's spiteful Re­proaches, with such an invincible Patience, So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David, 2 Sam. 16. 10. and v. 11. Let him alone, for the Lord hath bidden him. This con­sideration will not only silence our Murmurings against God, [the Author] but all our Quarrel­lings with Men, [the Instruments of our Trouble and Vexation. Men's Reproaches are God's Rebukes, and whoever he be that affronts me, I must see and say, that therein my Father cor­rects me. This quieted the Spirit of Iob, in reference to the Injuries of the Caldeans and Sa­beans, though he dwelt as a King in the Army, chap. 29. 25. and his Power and Interest seem to have been unstain'd, when those Rapparees first [Page 133] made that inroad upon him, and so he could not but see his help in the Gate, yet we find him not meditating any Revenge, but charming the Disturbances of his own Soul, with the con­sideration of God's Sovereign disposal, overlook­ing all the Instruments of his Trouble, thoughts of which would but have mingled Anger (the more disquieting Passion) with his Sorrow; this therefore sufficeth to still the storm, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord, chap. 1. 21. When his Brethren stood aloof from him, his Kindred and his Friends looked scornfully upon him, as an Alien, and instead of Oil pour'd Vinegar into his Wounds, so that his Eye continued in their Provocation, yet even in that part of his Trouble he owns the hand of God, Chap. 19. 13. He hath put my Bre­thren far from me. It is a very quieting Truth, (the Lord help us to mix Faith with it) That every Creature is that to us, and no more, that God makes it to be; and that while many seek the Ruler's Favour, and more perhaps fear the Ruler's Displeasure, Every Man's Iudgment pro­ceedeth from the Lord. Would we but more closely observe, and readily own the Hand of God, in that which disquiets and provokes us, surely, though we regarded not Man, yet if we had any fear of God before our Eyes, that would reconcile us better to it, and suppress all intem­perate and undue Resentments. In snarling at the Stone, we reflect upon the Hand that throws it, and lay our selves under the Woe pronounced against him, that strivos with his Maker, Isa. 45. 9. We know it is interpreted, a taking up Arms against the King, if we take [Page 134] up Arms against any that are commissioned by him.

4. That there is no Provocation given us at any time, but, if it be skilfully and graciously im­proved, there is good to be gotten by it. If we have but that Wisdom of the Prudent, which is to understand his way, and all the Advantages and Opportunities of it, doubtless we may, quite contrary to the intention of those that tres­pass against us, gain some spiritual, that is, some real Benefit to our Souls, by the Injuries and Offences that are done to us, for even these are made to work together for good to them that love God. This is a Holy and a Happy way of opposing our Adversaries, and resisting evil. 'Tis an ill Weed indeed out of which the Spi­ritual Bee cannot extract something profitable, and for it's purpose. Whatever Lion roars against us, let us but go in the Strength and Spirit of the Lord, as Samson did, and we may not only rend it as a Kid, so that it shall do us no real harm, but we may withal get Meat out of the Eater, and Sweetness out of the Strong. As it turns to the unspeakable Preju­dice of many that they look upon Reproofs as Reproaches, and treat them accordingly with Anger and Displeasure; so it would turn to our unspeakable Advantage, if we could but learn to call Reproaches Reproofs, and make use of them as such, for our Conviction and Humili­ation; and thus the Reproach of Christ, may become true Riches to us, and greater than the Treasures of Aegypt.

We are told of an Imposthume that was cured with the thrust of an Enemies Sword, and [Page 135] of one that was happily converted from Drunkenness, by being called, in Reproach, a Tipler. It is very possible we may be inlight­ned, or humbled, or reformed, may be brought nearer to God, or weaned from the World, may be furnished with matter for Repentance, or Prayer, or Praise, by the Injuries that are done us, and may be much furthered in our way to Heaven, by that which was intended for an Af­front or Provocation. [...]. Epict. Enc [...] c. 10. This Principle would put another Aspect upon Injuries, and Unkind­nesses, and would quite alter the Property of them, and teach us to call them by another Name: Whatever the Subordinate Instrument intended, it is likely he meant not so, neither did his Heart think so, Isa. 10. 7. but God desig [...]ed it as other our Afflictions, to yield the peaceable Fruit of Righteousness; so that instead of being angry at the Man that meant us ill, we should rather be thankful to the God, that intended us good, and study to answer his Intention. This kept Ioseph in that good Temper towards his Brethren, tho' he had occasion enough to quar­rel with them, Gen. 50. 20. You thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. This satisfied Paul, in reference to the Thorn in the Flesh, i. e. the Calumnies and Oppositions of the false Apostles, which touch'd him more sen­sibly than all the Efforts of persecuting Rage; that it was intended to hide Pride from him, lest he should be exalted above measure, with the abundance of Revelations, 2 Cor. 12. 7. and there seems to be an instance of that good effect it had upon him, immediately upon the mention of it, for within a few Lines after he lets fall that humble word, verse 11. I am no­thing. [Page 136] We should be apt to think too highly of our selves, and too kindly of the World, if we did not meet with some Injuries and Contempts, by which we are taught to cease from Man. Did we but more carefully study the Improvement of an Injury, we should not be so apt to desire the Revenge of it.

5. That what is said and done in haste, is likely to be matter for a deliberate Repentance. We find David often remembring with regret, what he said in his haste, particularly one angry word he had said in the day of his Distress and Trouble, which seem'd to reflect upon Sa­muel, and indeed upon all that had given him any Encouragement to hope for the Kingdom, Psal. 116. 11. I said in my haste, All Men are Liars; and this hasty word, was a grief to him long after. He that hasteth with his Feet sinneth, Prov. 19. 2. When a Man is transported by Passion, into any Indecency, we commonly qualifie it with this, that he is a little hasty, as if there were no harm in that, but we see there is harm in it; he that is in haste may contract much guilt in a little time. What we say or do unadvisedly when we are hot, we must unsay and undoe again when we are cool, or do worse. Now who would wilfully do that, which sooner or later he must repent of? A Heathen that was tempted to a chargeable Sin, could resist the Temptation with this consideration, That he would not buy Repentance so dear. Is Repen­tance such a pleasant Work that we should so industriously treasure up unto our selves wrath against the day of wrath, either the day of God's Wrath against us, or our own against our selves. You little think what a Torrent [Page 137] of Self-affliction you let in when you let the Reins loose to an immoderate ungovern'd Passion. You are angry at others, and reproach them, and call them hard Names, and are ready to abhor them, and to revenge your selves upon them, and your corrupt Nature takes a strange kind of Pleasure in this. But do you know that all this will at last rebound in your own Faces, and return into your own Bosoms? Either here or in a worse Place, you must repent of all this, that is, you must turn all these Passions upon your selves, you must be angry at your selves, and reproach your selves, and call your selves Fools, and abhor your selves, and smite upon your own Breasts; nay, and if God give you Grace, take a Holy Revenge upon your selves (which is reckoned among the Products of godly sorrow, 2 Cor. 7. 11.) and what can be more uneasie than all this? You take a mighty Liberty in chiding those that you have under your Power, and giving them very ill-favoured Language, because you know they dare not chide you again; but dare not your own Hearts smite you, and your Consciences chide you? And is it not easier to bear the Chidings of any Man in the World, (which may either be avoided, or answered, or slighted) than to bear the Re­proaches of our own Consciences, which, as we cannot get out of the hearing of, so we cannot make a light matter of; for when Con­science is awake it will be heard, and will tell us home, wherein we are verily guilty concer­ning, our Brother, Gen. 42. 21. Let this Thought therefore quiet our Spirits, when they begin to be tumultuous, that hereby we shall but make work for Repentance; whereas, on the contrary, [Page 138] as Abigail suggested to David, 1 Sam. 25. 30, 31. The bearing and forgiving of an Injury, will be no trouble or grief of Mind afterwards. Let Wisdom and Grace therefore do that which Time will do however, cool our Heat, and take off the Edge of our Resentment.

6. That that is truly best for us which is most pleasing and acceptable to God, and that a meek and quiet Spirit is so. No Principle hath such a commanding influence upon the Soul, as that which hath a regard to God, and wherein we approve our selves to him. It was a good hint which the Woman of Tekoah gave to David, when she was sueing for a Merciful Sentence, 2 Sam. 14. 11. I pray thee, let the King remember the Lord thy God:—Nor could any thought be more mollifying than that. Remember how gracious, and merciful, and patient God is, how slow to anger, how ready to forgive, and how well pleased he is to see his People like him: Remember the Eye of thy God upon thee, the Love of thy God towards thee, and the Glory of thy God set before thee. Remember how much it is thy concern to be accepted of God, and to walk worthy of thy relation to him, unto all well-pleasing, and how much Meekness and Quiet­ness of Spirit, doth contribute to this, as it is consonant to that excellent Religion which our Lord Jesus hath establish'd, and as it renders the Heart a fit Habitation for the blessed Spirit, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Sa­viour, to lead quiet and peaceable Lives, 1 Tim. 2. 2, 3. It is a good evidence of our Reconcili­ation to God, if we be cordially reconciled to every cross Providence, which necessarily includes a meek Behaviour towards those who are any [Page 139] way Instrumental in the Cross. Very excel­lently doth St. Austin express it (in Psal. 122.) Quis placet Deo? cui Deus placuerit. Those please God that are pleased with him, and with all he doth, whether immediately by his own hand, or mediately by the Agency of provoking injurious Men. This is standing compleat in all the Will of God, not only his commanding, but his disposing Will, saying it, without Reluct­ancy, The Will of the Lord be done.—He that acts from an Honest Principle of Re­spect to God, and sincerely desires to stand right in his Favour, cannot but be in some measure adorn'd with that meek and quiet Spirit, which he knows to be in the sight of God of great price.

Such as these are softning Principles, and as many as walk according to these Rules, Peace shall be upon them, and Mercy, and no doubt it shall be upon the Israel of God.

Some Rules of Direction.

The Laws of our Holy Religion are so far from clashing and interfering, that one Chri­stian Duty doth very much further and promote another; the Fruits of the Spirit, are like Links in a Chain, one draws on another; it is so in this; many other Graces contribute to the Ornament of a Meek and Quiet Spirit.

You see how desirable the Attainment is, will you therefore, through desire, separate your selves to the pursuit of it, and seek and inter­meddle with all Wisdom, Pro. 18. 1. and all little enough, that you may reach to the Meekness of Wisdom.

[Page 140] 1. Sit loose to the World, and to every thing in it. The more the World is crucified to us, the more our corrupt Passions will be crucified in us. If we would keep calm and quiet, we must by Faith live above the stormy Region. It is certain, those that have any thing, or have any thing to do in the World, cannot but meet with that every day from those with whom they deal, which will cross and provoke them; and if the Affections be set upon these things, and we be fill'd with a prevailing Concern about them, as the principal Things, those Crosses must needs pierce to the quick, and enflame the Soul, and that which toucheth us in these things, toucheth us in the Apple of our Eye. If the Appetites be carryed out inordinately towards those things that are pleasing to Sense, the Passions will be to the very same degree, carry'd out against those that are dis­pleasing. And therefore (Christians) whatever you have of the World in your Hands, be it more or less, as you tender the Peace as well as the Purity of your Souls, keep it out of your Hearts, and evermore let out your Af­fections towards your Possessions, Enjoyments, and Delights in the World with a due Consi­deration of the Disappointment and Provoca­tion, which probably you will meet with in them, and let that restrain and give check to their Inordinacy.

It is the excellent Advice of Epictetus, what­ever we take a pleasure in, to consider the Na­ture of the thing, and to proportion our com­placency accordingly: [...]. If thou art in love with a China-Cup, or a Ve­nice-Glass, [Page 141] love it as a piece of brittle Ware, and then the breaking of it will be no great Of­fence, nor put thee into any disturbing Passion, for it is but what thou didst expect. Those that Idolize any thing in this World, will be greatly discomposed, if they be cross'd in it. The Money which Micha's Mother had, was her God, (it is Bishop Hall's Note) before it had the shape either of a Graven or a Molten Image, else the loss of it would not have set her a cursing, as it seems it did, Iudg. 17. 2. Those that are greedy of Gain, trouble their own Hearts, as well as their own Houses, Pro. 15. 27. They are a burthen to themselves, and a Terror to all about them. They that will be rich, that are resolved upon it, come what will, cannot but fall into these foolish and hurtful lusts, 1 Tim. 6. 9. And those also that serve their own Bellies, that are pleased with nothing un­less it be wound up to the height of Pleasure-ableness, that are like the tender and delicate Wo­man, that would not set so much as the Sole of her Foot to the Ground, for Tenderness and Delicacy, lye very open to that which is disquieting, and cannot, without a great Disturbance to them­selves, bear a Disappointment: And therefore Plutarch (that great Moralist) prescribes it for the Preservation of our Meekness, ‘Not to be curious in Diet, or Cloaths,Ne quare molliane tibi contin­gant dura. Phurant. or Attendance; for (saith he) they who need but few things, are not liable to Anger, if they be disappoin­ted of many.’

Would we but learn in these things to cross our selves, we should not be so apt to take it heinously if another crosseth us. And there­fore the Method of the Lessons in Christ's [Page 142] School, is first to deny our selves, and then to take up our Cross, Matth. 16. 24. We must also mortifie the desire of the Applause of Men, as altogether Impertinent to our True Happiness. If we have learnt not to value our selves by their good word, we shall not much disturb our selves for their ill word. St. Paul bore Re­proaches with so much Meekness, because he did not build upon the Opinion of Man, reckon­ing it a small thing to be judged of Man's day, 1 Cor. 4. 3.

2. Be often repenting of your sinful Passion, and renewing your Covenants against it. If our rash Anger were more bitter to us in the Reflection, afterwards we should not be so apt to Relapse into it. Repentance in general, if it be sound and deep, and grounded in true Contrition and Humiliation, is very meekning, and disposeth the Soul to bear Injuries with abundance of Patience. Those that live a Life of Repentance (as we have every one of us reason to do) can­not but live a quiet Life; for no body can lightly say worse of the true Penitent, than he saith of himself. Call him a Fool (an Affront which many think deserves a Challenge) the humble Soul can bear it patiently with this thought, Yea, a Fool I am, and I have call'd my self so many a time; more brutish than any Man; I have not the Understanding of a Man, Prov. 30. 2. But Repentance doth, in a special man­ner, dispose us to Meekness, when it fastens upon any irregular inordinate Passion, with which we have been transported. Godly Sorrow for our former Transgressions in this matter, will work a carefulness in us, not again to Transgress. If others be causelesly or excessively angry with [Page 143] me, am not I justly requited for the like or more indecent Passions. Charge it home there­fore with Sorrow and Shame upon your Con­sciences, aggravating the Sin, and laying load upon your selves for it, and you will find that the burnt Child, especially while the pain is smarting, will dread the Fire; compare Iob 42. 6. with ch. 40. 46.

With our Repentance for our former unquiet­ness, we must engage our selves by a firm Reso­lution, in the strength of the Grace of Jesus Christ to be more mild and gentle for the future. Say, You will take heed to your ways that you of­fend not, as you have done, with your Tongue; and be often remembring that you said so, as David doth, Psalm 39. 1. Resolution would do much towards the conquering of the most rugged Na­ture, and the quiet bearing of the greatest Pro­vocation; it would be like the Bit and Bridle to the Horse and Mule, that have no Understand­ing. It may be of good use every Morning to renew a Charge upon our Affections to keep the Peace, and having welcom'd Christ in Faith and Meditation, let no rude unruly Passion stir up or awake our Love.

3. Keep out of the way of Provocation, and stand upon your Guard against it. While we are so very apt to offend in this matter, we have need to pray (and to practise accordingly) Lord, lead us not into Temptation.—Those are Enemies to themselves and to their own Peace,Facilius est exclu­dere per­niciosa quàm regere, & non admittere quàm admissa moderari. Seneca. as well as to humane Society, that seek occasion of Quarrel, that fish for Provo­cations [Page 144] and dig up Mischief; but meek and quiet People will on the contrary, studiously avoid even that which is justly provoking, and will see it as if they saw it not. Those that would not be angry, must wink at that which would stir up Anger, or put a favourable Con­struction upon it. The Advice of the Wise Man is very good to the purpose, Eccles. 7. 21. Also take no heed to all Words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy Servant curse thee; and 'tis better for thee not to hear it,Non vis esse iracundus? ne sis curi­osus Sen. unless thou couldst hear it patiently, and not be provoked to sin in the hearing of it. 'Tis a common Story of Coty's, that being presented with a Cupboard of curious Glasses, he return'd his Thanks to his Friend that sent them, and gratified the Messenger that brought them, and then deliberately broke them all, lest by the casual breaking of them severally, he should be provok'd to Passion. And Dion relates it, to the honour of Iulius Caesar, that Pompey's Cabinet of Letters coming to his hand, he would not read them, because he was his Enemy, and he would be likely to find in them, that which would increase the Quarrel; and therefore (as Dr. Reynold's expresses it) he chose rather to make a Fire on his Hearth, than in his Heart; De non existentibus & non apparren­tibus eadem est ratio: Keep the Injury out of sight, and it will be out of mind.

But seeing Briars and Thorns are with us, and we dwell among Scorpions (so the Prophet, Ezek. 2. 6.) and it must needs be, that Offences will come, let us be so much the more careful, as we are when we go with a Candle among Barrels of Gunpowder, and exercise our selves to have Consciences void of Offence, not apt to offend [Page 145] others, nor to resent the Offences of others. When we are at any time engaged in Business or Company, where we foresee Provocation, we must double our Watch, and be more than or­dinary circumspect. I will keep my Mouth with a Bridle, (saith David) i. e. with a particular actual care and diligence, while the Wicked is before me, and frequent Acts will confirm the good Disposition, and bring it to a Habit. Plu­tarch adviseth, ‘To set some time to our selves for special strictness: So many Days or Weeks in which, whatever Provocations do occur, we will not suffer our selves to be disturbed by them.’ And thus he supposeth, by degrees, the Habit of vicious Anger, may be conquer'd and subdued. But after all, the Grace of Faith hath the surest influence upon the Establishment and Quietness of the Spirit: Faith acted upon the Mercy of God, the Meekness of Christ, the Love of the Spirit, the Commands of the Word, the Promises of the Covenant, and the Peace and Quietness of the upper World; this is the approved Shield, with which we may be able to quench all the fiery Darts of the Wicked one, and all his wicked Instruments.

4. Learn to pause. It is a good Rule, as in our Communion with God, so in our Converse with Men, Eccl. 5. 2. Be not rash with thy Mouth, and let not thine Heart be hasty to utter any thing. When we are at any time provok'd, Delays may be as advantagious, as in other cases they are dange­rous. The discretion of a Man deferreth his Anger, Prov. 19. 11. I would beat thee, Caedisse [...] nisi iratus essem. Se­neca makes it the Saying of Socrates; Ambr. De Offic. and others ascribe it to Archytas Terentium. (said Socrates to [Page 146] his Servant) if I were not angry; but he that is hasty of Spirit, that joyns in with his Anger upon the first rise of it, exalteth solly, Pro. 14. 29. The Office of Reason is to govern the Passions, but then we must give it time to act, and not suffer the Tongue to over-run [...] it: Some have advis'd, when we are provoked to anger, to take at least so much time to deliberate, as while we repeat the Alphabet; and others have thought it more proper to repeat the Lords Payer, and per­haps by that time we are past the fifth Petition, [Forgive us our Trespasses, as we forgive them that Trespass against us] we may be reduced into Temper. It is a good Rule, To think twice before we speak once; for he that hasteth with his Feet sinneth. It was the noted saying of a great Statesman in Q. Elizabeth's Court, Take time and we shall have done the sooner. Potest paena dilata exigi, [...] potest exacta re­v [...]cari. Sen. [...]. Nor can there be any thing lost by deferring our An­ger; for there is nothing said or done in our Wrath, but it might be better said and better done in Meekness.

5. Pray to God by his Spirit to work in you this excellent Grace of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. It is a part of that Comliness, which he puts upon the Soul, and he must be sought unto for it. If any Man lack this Meekness of Wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives libe­rally, and doth not upbraid us with our Folly. When we begin at any time to be froward and unquiet, we must lift up a Prayer to him that stilleth the Noise of the Sea, for that Grace which establisheth the Heart. When David's Heart was hot within him, the first word that broke out was a Prayer, Psa. 39. 3, 4. When we are surprized by a Provocation, and begin to be [Page 147] in a ferment upon it, it will not only be a present Diversion, but a Sovereign Cure to lift up an Ejaculation to God for Grace and Strength to resist and overcome the Temptation: Lord, keep me quiet now! Let your Requests in this matter, be made known to God; and the Peace of God shall keep your Hearts and Minds, Phil. 4. 6, 7. You are ready enough to complain of unquiet People about you; but you have more reason to com­plain of unquiet Passions within you; the other are but Thorns in the Hedge, these are Thorns in the Flesh, against which, if you beseech the Lord, as Paul did, 2 Cor. 12. 8. with Faith, and Fervency, and Constancy, you shall receive Grace sufficient.

6. Be often examining your growth and profi­ciency in this Grace. Enquire what ground you have got of your Passion, [...]. Epict. l. 12. and what Improve­ments you have made in Meekness. Provocations recur every day, such as have been wont perhaps, to put you into a Passion, these give you an op­portunity to make the Trial. Do you find that you are less subject to Anger, and when angry, that you are less transported by it than formerly, that your apprehension of Injuries is less quick, and your Resentments less keen than usual? Is the little Kindom of your Mind more quiet than it hath been, and the discontented Party weakned and kept under? 'Tis well if it be so, and a good sign that the Soul prospereth, and is in Health. We should examine every Night, whe­ther we have been quiet all Day? we shall sleep the better if we find we have. Let Conscience keep up a Grand Inquest in the Soul, under a Charge from the Judge of Heaven and Earth, to enquire, and due presentment make of all Riots, [Page 148] Routs, and Breaches of the Peace, aud let no­thing be left unpresented for Favour, Affection or Self-love; nor let any thing presented, be left unprosecuted according to Law. Those whose natural Temper, or their Age, or Distemper leads them to be hot, and hasty, and unquiet, have an opportunity by their Meekness and Gentleness to discover both the Truth and Strength of Grace in general; for it is the surest mark of Uprigh­t [...]sness to keep our selves from our own Ini­quity, Psal. 18. 23. And yet if the Children of God bring forth these Fruits of the Spirit in old Age, when commonly Men are most froward and peevish, it shews not only, that they are upright, but rather that the Lord is upright, in whose strength they stand, that he is their Rock, in whom they have cast Anchor, and there is no unrighteousness in him, Psal. 92. 14, 15.

7. Delight in the Company of meek and quiet Persons. Solomon prescribes it as a preservative against foolish Passion, to make no Friendship with an angry Man, lest thou learn his way, Prov. 22. 24, 25. When thy Neighbours Heart is on fire, it's time to look to thy own. But Man is a soci­able Creature, and cut out for Converse; let us therefore, since we must have some Company, chuse to have Fellowship with those that are meek and quiet, that we may learn their way, for it is a good way. The Wolf is no Companion for the Lamb, nor the Leopard for the Kid, till they have forgot to hurt and destroy. Company is assimilating, and we are apt insensibly to grow like those with whom we ordinarily converse, especially with whom we delight to converse, therefore let the quiet in the Land, be the Men of our choice, especially into standing Relations [Page 149] and Bosom-friendship. Observe in others, how sweet and amiable Meekness is, and what a Heaven upon Earth those enjoy that have the command of their own Passions; and study to transcribe such Copies.—There are those that take a pleasure in huffing and hectoring Company, and are never well but when they are in the midst of Noise and Cla­mour; sure Heaven would not be Heaven to such, for that is a calm and quiet Region; no noise there but what is Sweet and Harmo­nious.

8. Study the Cross of our Lord Iesus.—Did we but know more of Jesus Christ, and him crucified, we should experience more of the Fellowship of his Sufferings. Think often how, and in what manner he suffered; see him led as a Lamb to the Slaughter, and arm your selves with the same Mind. Think also why, and for what end he suffered, that you may not in any thing contradict the design of your dying Sa­viour, nor receive his Grace in vain. Christ died as the great Peace-maker, to take down all Partition-Walls, to quench all threatning Flames, and to reconcile his Followers, not only to God, but one to another, by the slaying of all Enmi­ties, Eph. 2. 14, 16. The Apostle often prescribes a believing regard to the sufferings of Christ, as a powerful allay to all sinful and intemperate Heats, as Eph. 5. 2. Phil. 2. 5, &c. Those that would shew forth the meek and humble Life of Christ, in their mortal Bodies, must bear about with them continually the dying of the Lord Iesus, 2 Cor. 4. 10. The Ordinance of the Lord's Supper, in which we shew forth the Lord's Death, and the New-Testa­ment, in his Blood, must therefore be improved [Page 150] by us for this blessed end, as a Love-feast, at which all our sinful Passions must be laid aside, and a Marriage-feast, where the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit is a considerable part of the Wedding-Garment. The forgiving of Injuries, and a Re­conciliation to our Brother is both a necessary Branch of our Preparation for that Ordinance, and a good evidence and instance of our profiting by it. If God hath there spoken Peace to us, let not us go away and speak War to our Bre­thren. The Year of Release under the Law, which put an end to all Actions, Suits and Quarrels, be­gun in the close of the day of Attonement; then the Iubilee-Trumpet sounded.

9. Converse much in your Thoughts with the dark and silent Grave. You meet with many things now that disturb and disquiet you, and much ado you have to bear them; think how quiet Death will make you, and how uncapable of resenting or resisting Injuries, and what an easie prey this Flesh you are so jealous for, will shortly be to the Worm, that shall feed sweetly on it. You will e're long be out of the reach of Provocation, there where the wicked cease from troubling, and where their Envy and their Hatred is for ever perished. And is not a quiet Spirit, the best Pre­parative for that quiet State? Think how all these things, which now disquiet us, will appear when we come to look Death in the Face; how small and inconsiderable they seem to one that is step­ping into Eternity. Think, what need is there that I should so ill resent an Affront or Injury, that am but a Worm to day, and, may be Worms Meat to morrow. They say, when Bees fight, the throwing up of Dust among them, quickly parts the Fray.

[Page 151] Hi motus animorum at (que) haec certamina tanta
Pulveris exigui jactu compressa quiescunt.
Virg. Georg. lib. 4.

A little sprinkling of the Dust of the Grave, which we are upon the brink of, would do much towards the quieting of our Spirits, and the taking up of our Quarrels. Death will quiet us shortly, let Grace quiet us now. When David's Heart was hot within him, he prayed, Lord, make me to know my end, Psal. 39. 3, 4.

To conclude: I know no Errand that I can come upon of this kind to you, in which methinks I should be more likely to prevail, than in this; so much doth Meekness conduce to the Comfort and Repose of our own Souls, and the making of our Lives sweet and pleasant to us. If thou be wise herein, thou shalt be wise for thy self. That which I have been so intent upon in this Dis­course, is only to perswade you not to be your own Tormentors, but to govern your Passions, so that they may not be furio [...]s to your selves. The Ornament I have been recommending to you is confessedly excellent and lovely; will you put it on, and wear it, that by this all Men may know that you are Christ's Disciples, and you may be found among the Sheep, on the right Hand, at the great day,Chrysostom argues ex­cellently from the easiness of forgiving and being meek: [...], &c. Hom. 19. ad pop. Antioch. This is one of Epictetus's [...]. when Christs Angels shall gather out of his Kingdom every thing that offends. Every one will give Meekness a good Word, but in this, as in other instances; Probitus laudatur & alget.

Love is commended by all, and yet the Love of many waxeth cold; But let all that would not be self-condemned, practise what they praise. And [Page 152] as there is nothing in which I should more expect to prevail, so there is nothing in which it will easier appear, whether I have prevailed or no; this Tree will soon be known by its Fruits: So many are the Passages of almost every day, which call for the exercise of this Grace, that our pro­fiting therein will quickly appear to our selves, and to all with whom we converse. Our Meek­ness and Quietness is more obvious, and falls more directly under a Trial and Observation than our Love to God, and our Faith in Christ, and other Graces, the exercise whereof lies more imme­diately between God and our own Souls. Shall we therefore set our selves to manifest in all our C [...]iage and Converse, that we have indeed got­ten good by this plain Discourse; that our Re­lations and Neighbours, and all that we have Dealings with, may observe a Change in us for the better, and may take Knowledge of us that we have been with Iesus; and let not the Im­pressions hereof ever wear off, but living and dying, let us be found among the Quiet in the Land: We all wish to see quiet Familes, and quiet Churches, and quiet Neighbourhoods, and quiet Nations, and it will be so if there be quiet Hearts, and not otherwise.



Shewing, That the CHRISTIAN RELIGION Is not a SECT, And yet that it is Every where Spoken against.

By MATTHEW HENRY, Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON: Printed for, and Sold by, Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns, in Cheapside, M DC XCIX.

Christianity no Sect to be spoken against.

ACTS 28. 22.‘—For as concerning this Sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.’

WOULD you think that such a spite­ful scornful Word as this should ever be said of the Christian Religion? That pure Religion and undefiled, Iam. [...] 27. which came into the World supported by the strongest Evidences of Truth, and recommended by the most endearing Allurements of Grace and Goodness: 1 Tim [...] [...] 15. The sayings whereof are so faithful, and so well worthy of all acceptation: That Sa­cred Institution which scatters the brightest Rays of Divine Light and Love that ever were darted from Heaven to Earth: That's it which is here so invidiously call'd a Sect, and is said to be every where spoken against.

It will be worth while to observe,

1. Who they were that said this, they were [Page 2] the chief of the Iews that were at Rome, ver. 17. The Iews were look'd upon (at least they look'd upon themselves) as a very knowing People; The Iews at Rome; a place of Learning and En­quiry, thought themselves more knowing than the other Jews; St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ro­mans, chap. 17. 2.—20. takes notice of it: Thou art called a [...] and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his Will,—and art confident that thou thy self art a Guide of the Blind, a Light of them which are in Darkness, &c. And we have reason to suppose that the Chief of the Jews there who had the greatest Advantages of Education and Correspondence, were the most intelligent: It might also be justly expected that upon the first notices of the Gospel, the Iews should have been of all People most ready to acquaint themselves with a Religion which was so much the Honour and Perfection of their own: And yet it seems, the Iews, the chief of the Jews at Rome knew no more of Christianity but this, that it was a Sect every where spoken against. This we know, (said they) and it was all they knew concerning it.

The Iews were of all other the most bitter and inveterate Enemies to the Christians;1. Thes. 2. 15, 16. while the Roman Emperors tolerated them, (as they did till Nero's timeTertul­lian confi­dently as­serts Pri­mum Ne­ronem in hanc Sec­tam tum maxime Romae o­rientem, Caesariano gladio [...]erocisse. Apol. cap. 5) the Iews with an unwearied Malice persecuted them from City to City, and were the first Wheel in most of the Opposition that the Gospel met with, when it was first Preached: Now one would think they would not have been so vigorous and industri­ous to suppress Christianity if they had not very well acquainted themselves with it, and known it to deserve such opposition; But it seems by this, they knew little or nothing of the Religion [Page 3] they so much mal [...]gned, had never search'd into the Merits of its Cause, no [...] weigh'd the Proofs of its Divine Authority but against all Law and Reason condemn'd it [...],Inquisi­tione & ag­nitione neglecta Nomen de­tinetur No­men expug­natur—Vox sola praedamnat Tert. Ap. c. 3. as Iustin [...] complains) purely upon common Fame, and follow the cry to run it down, because it was [...] where spoken against.

2. Upon what [...] they said this. They were now appointing a time to discourse with St. Paul upon the grand Question in debate, whe­ther Iesus of Nazar [...] was [...] Messiah or no. And they seem'd willing to hear what that great Man had to say [...] defence of the Religion he preach'd, We desire (say they) to hear of thee what [...]—Now one would expect that [...] good a Cause, managed by such a skilful Advoca [...] would not but carry the day, and be Victorious, and that they would all have been brought over to the belief of Christianity; But we find v. 24. that it prov'd otherwise; after all, there were those that believed not, and the Text intimates the reason of their Infidelity, they came to hear the word under a Prejudice; They had already imbib'd an ill opinion of the way, which right or wrong they resolved to hold fast; And tho' some of them by the help of Divine Grace got over this stumbling Block, that like the Bereans were more Noble than the rest,Acts 17. 11. and of freer thought: yet many of them continued under the power of those Prejudices, and were seal'd up under Unbelief, v. 26. 27. Thus is the Power of the Word in many, baffled by the Power of Prejudice. They do not believe, because they are resolved they will not: They conclude that no good thing can come out of Nazareth,John 1. 46. and will not be perswaded to come and [Page 4] see: Thus do they prejudge the Cause,Prov. 18. 13. John 7. 51. answering the matter before they bear it, and it will pro [...]e folly and shame to them.

Now in the Account they here give of their Knowledge of the Christian Religion, we may observe,

1. That they look'd upon it to be a Sect, and we'll prove that to be f [...]lse.

2.—A Sect every where spoken against, and we will grant that to be true, that it is general­ly spoken against tho' tis most unreasonable and unjust it should be so.

First, [...], Electio op­tio, An O­pinion not forced up­on us by the Evi­dences of Truth, but chosen by us with some for­reign De­sign. The Christian Religion is here called (but miscalled) a Sect, [...], a Heresy, After the way which they call Heresy, (saith St. Paul, Acts 24. 14.) so worship I the God of my Fathers,—The Sect of the Nazarenes, so Tertullus calls it in his opening of the Indictment against Paul, Acts 24. 5. it's call'd this way, Acts. 9. 2. and that way, Acts 19. 9. as if it were a By-path out of the common Road. The Practice of serious Godliness is still look'd upon by many as a Sect that is a Party-business, and a piece of affected singularity in Opinion and Practice tending to promote some carnal Design, by creating and supporting invidious Distinctions among Men. This is the proper notion of a Sect, and there­fore the Masters and Maintainers of Sects are justly in an ill Name, as Enemies to the great Corporation of Mankind; but there is not the least colour of Reason to put this invidious and scandalous Character upon the Christian Religi­on. However, it may be mistaken and misre­presented, it is very far from being really a Sect. There were Sects of Religion among the [Page 5] Jews; we read of the Sect of the Sadducees, Acts 5. 17. which was built upon peculiar notions, such as overturn'd the foundation of Natural Religion, by denying a future state of Rewards and Punishments: There was also the Sect of the Pharisees, Acts 15. 5. the straitest Sect of their Religion, Acts 26. 5. which was founded in the observance and imposition of singular Rites and Customs, with an affected separation from, and contempt of all Mankind: These were Sects: But there is nothing of the Spirit and Genius of these in the Christian Religion, as it was in­stituted by its great Author.

1. True Christianity establisheth that which is of common concernment to all Mankind, and therefore is not a Sect. The Truths and Precepts of the everlasting Gospel are perfective of and no way repugnant to the Light and Law of Na­tural Religion. Is that a Sect which gives such mighty Encouragements and Assistances to those that in every Nation fear God and work Righteous­ness? Acts 10. 34. Is that a Sect which tends to nothing else but to reduce the revolted Race of Mankind to their Ancient Allegiance to the great Creator, and to renew that Image of God upon Man which was his Primitive Rectitude and Fe­licity? Is that a Sect which proclaims God in Christ reconciling the World unto himself, 2 Cor. 5. 19. and re­covering it from that degenerate and deplora­ble State into which it was sunk? Is that a Sect which publisheth Good-will towards Men,Luke 2. 14. and Christ the Lamb of God taking away the Sins of the World? Joh. 1. 29. 3. 16. Surely that which concurs so much with the uncorrupted and unprejudiced Sentiments, 1 John 2. 2. and conduceth much more to the true and real Happiness of all Mankind cannot be thought to [Page 6] take its rise from such narrow Opinions, and pri­vate Interests, as Sects ow their Original to.

2. True Christianity hath a direct tendency to the Vniting of the Children of Men, and the ga­thering of them together in one and therefore is far from being a Sect, Secta dici­tur à Se­sando. which is suppos'd to lead to Division, and to sow Discord among Breth­ren. The Preaching of the Gospel did indeed prove the occasion [...] Contention. Our Saviour foresaw and foretold it would be so, Luke 12. 51, 52, 53. that his Disciples and Follow [...] would be Men of strife, in the same sen [...] that [...] Prophet was, Ier. 15. 10. not Men stroing, but Men striven with; but the Gospel w [...]s by no means the Cause of this Contention, for it was intended to be the Cur [...] of all Contention. If there be any who under the Cloak and Colour of the Christian Name caus [...]visions, and pro­pagate Feuds and Quarrels among Men, let them bear their own Burthen; but it is certain that the Christian Religion as far as it obtains its just Pow­er and Influence upon the minds of Men will make them Meek and Quiet, Humble and Peace­able, Loving and Useful, Condescending and Forgiving, and every way Easy, and Accepta­ble and Profitable one to another. Is that a Sect which was introduced with a Proclamation of Peace on Earth? That which beats Swords in­to Plow-shares, and Spears into Pruning-hooks? Or, was he the Author of a Sect who is the Great Creator of Vnity, and who Died to break down partition Walls, Eph. 2. 14. 15, 16. John 11. 52. and to slay all Enmities, that he might gather together in one the Children of God that were scattered abroad? Was he the Author of a Sect who came into the World not to destroy Mens Lives, Luk, 9. 56. but to save them, and who taught [Page 7] his Followers not only to love one anoth [...] [...] to love their Ene [...]ies and to [...] every one their Neighbour that they could be any way ser­viceable to?Luke 10. 36, 37.

3. True Ch [...]anity aims at no Worldly Be­nefit or Advantage, and therefore must by [...] means be call'd a Sect. Those that espouse a Sect are suppos'd to be govern'd in it by their secular Interest, and to aim at Wealth, not Ho­nour, or the gratification or some [...]ase Lust: The Pharisees proved themselv [...] [...] a Sect by their Thirst after the praise of [...]; and their greedy devouring of Widows Houses: But the Pro­fessors of Christianity have not only been taught by the Law of their Religion to live above this World, and to look upon it with a Holy Con­tempt, but have been expos'd by their Profession to the Loss and Ruine of all their secular Com­forts and Enjoyments. Are those to be accoun­ted politick and designing Sectaries that have for Christ chearfully su [...]ered the loss of all things? Phil. 2. 8. Is that a Sect which instead of prefering a Man to Honour, or raising him an Estate, lays him open to Disgrace and Poverty, renders him obnoxi­ous to Fines and Forfeitures, Banishments and Imprisonments, Racks and Tortures, Flames and Gibbets, which were the common Lot of the Primitive Christians? Caesar Vaninus a swo [...] Enemy to the Christian Religion, and one who was industrious in searching out Objections a­gainst it, own'd he could find nothing in it that savour'd of a Carnal and Worldly Design; No, it hath always approv'd it self a Heavenly Cal­ling, Heb. 3. 1. and the strictest Professors of it (even their Enemies themselves being Judges) have had their Conversation in the World in Simplicity, 2 Cor. 1. Sin. 12. and Godly [Page 8] [...], not with Fleshly Wisdom Very unjust­ly therefore it is called a Sect.

As to this therefore, suffer a Word of Cauti­on and Exhortation.

1. Let us take heed left our Profession of Re­ligion degenerate into any thing which may make it look like a Sect. Christianity as it was in­stituted by Christ is not a Sect, let not Christi­ans then be Sectaries. We make our Profession of Religion a Sect when we monopolize the Church and its Ministry and Sacraments, and spend that zeal in matters of doubtful Disputation which should be reserved for the weightier matters of the Law. When we place our Religion in Meats and Drinks, Rom. 14. 17, 18. which should be placed in Righteousness, and Peace, and Ioy in the Holy Ghost. When we profess Religion with a Con­ceit of our selves, and a Contempt of others, and with any Wordly secular Design; when we sa­crifice the common Interests of Christ's King­dom to the particular Interests of a Party, and in a word, when our Profession is tainted with the Leaven of the Pharisees, Luke 12. 1. which is both sowring and swelling, then it degenerates into a Sect. Let us therefore adhere to the sure and large Founda­tions, and be acted by a Principle of Love to, and so maintain Communion with all that in every place, 1 Cor. 1. 2. and under every Denomination, call on the Name of Iesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. Let us be Modest in our Opinions, Cha­ritable and Candid in our Censures, Self-deny­ing in all our Converse, Acting always under the Influence of that Wisdom that is from above, which is first Pure, Jam. 3. 17. then Peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, with­out Partiality and Hypocrisy, that by this well-do­ing [Page 9] we may put to silence the Ignorance of those who call Religion a Sect. 1 Pet. 2. 15.

2. Let us not be deterr'd from serious God­liness, or any of the Instances of it, by the invi­dious Name of a Sect, which is put upon it. If a [...] and sober and circumspect Conversation, a conscientious Government of our Tongue, Pray­ing and singing Psalms in our Families, a religi­ous Observation of the Lord's Day, a diligent Attendance upon the Means of Grace, joyning in religious Societies for Prayer and Christian Con­ference, and endeavouring in our places the Sup­pression of Profaness and Immorality, if these and the like be call'd and counted the Marks and Bad­ges of a Sect, let us not be moved at it, but say as David did, 2 Sam. 6. 22. If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile. If the Practice of Piety be branded as a Sect, it is better for us to come under the reproaches of Men for following it, than under the Curse of God for neglecting it. It is a very small thing to be judged of Man's Day, but be that judgeth us is the Lord: 1 Cor. 4. 3, 4. Let us there­fore be more afraid of being Sectaries, than of be­ing call'd so.

Secondly, The Christian Religion is here said to be every where spoken against. That it was spoken against was evident enough, but that it was every where spoken against, was more than they could be sure of: They did not know all Places, nor had they correspondence with, or intelli­gence from every Country; but we must not wonder if those that oppose the Truth as it is in Jesus, make no conscience of transgressing the Laws of Truth in common Conversation. But we will suppose that the Acquaintance and Con­verse [Page 10] of tho [...] [...]ews at Rome lay mostly with those that were Enemies to Christianity, and spoke against it, and they therefore concluded it every where spoken against because they found it spoken against in all places that they [...] to, or had advice from. Thus [...]pt are we to em­brace that as a general Sentiment and Observati­on which we find received by those that we usu­ally associate with, and so we [...]un our selves in­to mistakes, which larger and more impartial Enquiries would soon rectify.

But we will take it for granted, however, that what they said was true, not because they said it, but because the experience of all Ages doth con­firm it, and concur with it: So that a little Ac­quaintance with Books and the World will prove the Observation which we ground upon this Text▪ [...]

That it is,Doct. and always hath been, the Lot of Christ's Holy Religion, to be every where spo­ken against. Or thus:

That true Christianity hath all along met with a great deal of Opposition and Contradiction in this World.

I purpose not to enter into a particular Dis­quisition of that which has been, and is spoken against Religion, nor do I undertake at present to shew how false and unreasonable it is, That hath been done many a time by the best Han [...], and so effectually that every impartial eye must needs look upon the cause of the Adversaries of Religion to be a baffled Cause: But I shall only make some improvement of this general Observa­tion, which cannot be unseasonable in an Age wherein the Gates of Hell seem to be making their utmost efforts against the Church; and the Devil, as the Calumniator and False Ac­cuser [Page 11] to be more wroth than ever with th [...] Wo­man the Church,Rev. 12. 17, and to push on the War with an unusual vigor against the r [...]ant of her Seed, which keep the Commandments of God, and have the Testimony of Iesus Christ.

I shall therefore (1.) enquire what it is in Chri­stianity that is spoken against. And (2.) shew you why so Holy and Excellent a Religion is spoken against, and then draw some Inferences from this Observation.

For the first, Who and What it is that is spo­ken against.

1. Iesus Christ, the Author of our Religion, is every where spoken against. When the First-be­gotten was brought into the World, old [...] on, among other great things, pronounced this concerning him, that he was a sign which should be spoken against, and by that means was set for the fall of many, Luke 2. 34. when he was here upon Earth he was spoken against. Psal. 118. 22. The [...], which was design'd to be the Head of the Corner, was rejected, and set at naught by the Builders. It was not the least of his Sufferings in the days of his flesh, that he endured the contradiction of Sinners against himself, Heb. 12. 3. They spoke against his Person as mean a [...]d contemptible, and one that had no form, Isa. 53. 2, 3. non comliness [...] They spoke against his Preaching as fal [...] and deceiving, Iohn 7. 12. as factious and seditious, Luk [...] 23. 2. as senseless and ridiculous, for the Pharis [...] derided him for it, Luke 16. 1 [...]. They spake against his Mi­racles as done in Confederacy with Belzebub the Prince of the Devils, Mat. 12. 24. They spoke a­gainst his Morals, charging him with Blasphemy against God, Profanation of the Sabbath-day; and all the instances of Debauchery which were [Page 12] usually met with in a Gluttonous Man, a Wine­bibber, and a Friend of Publicans and Sinners, Mat. 11. 19. They spoke against his Followers as a company of ignorant despicable People, Iohn 7. 48. 49. When he was in his Sufferings, pass through all the steps and stages of them, and you will find him every where spoken against, They reproched him in all his Offices, In his Office of Teaching, when they challenged him to tell who smote him: In his Office of Saving, when they chal­lenged him to save himself as he had saved others. In his Office of Ruling, when they challenged him to prove himself the King of the Iews by coming down from the Cross. Mat, 27. 39. The common People spoke a­gainst him, even they that passed by reviled him. The Pharisees & chief Priests, the Grandees of the Church were as severe as any in their Reflections upon him,Luke 23. 11. Princes also did sit and spake against him, Herod and his Men of War set him at nought, [...] made nothing of him that made all things.

Nay, even now he is set down at the right­hand of the Majesty on high,Eph. 1. 20. 21. far above all Prin­cipalities and Powers, i. e. both good and evil Angels, so as to be no more hurt by the contra­dictions of the one, than he is benefitted by the Adorations of the other, yet still he is spoken a­gainst. Besides the Contempt cast upon him by the Iews and Mahometans, are there not with us, even with us, those that daringly speak against him? Arians and Socinians are daily speaking against himPhil. 2. 6. as a meer Man, thinking that a Rob­bery in him, which He thought none, to be equal with God; Quakers and Entbus [...]asts speak against Him as a meer Name, setting up I know not what Christ within them, while they ex­plode that Iesus that was Crucified at Ierusalem. [Page 13] Atheists and Deists [...] against Him as a meer Cheat, accounting the [...] a great Imposture, and His [...] a Iest. Pro­fane and Ignorant [...] slightly of Him, as if our Beloved were no more than anoth [...] [...]e­loved; and some [...] cornfully of Him,Cant. 5. 9. as Iulian the Apostate did, that call'd Him in dis­dain the Galilean, and the Carpenter's Son. Such as these are the hard speeches, Jude 15. which ungodly Sin­ners have spoken against Him, the Lord rebuke them; even the Lord that hath chose [...] Ie [...]salem rebuke them.

2. God himself the great Object of our Religi­ous Regards, is every where spoken against. It is not only the Christian Revelation that is thus at­tack'd by virulent and blasphemous Tongues, but even Natural Religion also. The Glorious and Blessed God the great Creator and Benefactor of the Universe, that doth Good to all, and whose tender Merc [...]es are over all His Works, even He is every where spoken against. Some de­ny His Being: Tho' His Existence be so necessa­ry, so evident, that if He be not, tis impossible any thing else should be, yet there are Fools who say in their hearts, what they dare not speak out, that there is no God, Psal. 14. 1. And he that saith there is no God wisheth there were none, and if he could help it there should be none. O­thers Blaspheme the Attributes of God, that charge the All-seeing Ey [...] with Blindness, say­ing, The Lord shall not see, Psal. 94. 7. that charge the Eternal Mind with Forgetfulness, say­ing, God hath forgotten, Psal. 10. 11. that charge the Almighty Arm with Impotency, saying, Can God furnish a Table in the Wilderness, which is there call'd speaking against God, Psal. 78. 19, [Page 14] 20. Thos [...] [...] promise them­sel [...] [...] They shall not surely die, [...] re [...]uire it. Gen. 3. 4. Ps. 10. 13. And th [...]se that bold [...] [...] and Irreli­gi [...] saying unto [...] Depart from us—Job. 21. 14, 15. [...] of God, tho' He is infinitely Great and Glorious, others speak hardly of Him, tho' he is infinitely Just and Good▪ The Name of God is spoken against by the profane using of it; so it is construed Psal. [...] ▪ 39▪ 20. They speak against thee wickedly, thine Enemies take thy Name in vain [...] Can there be a greater slight put upon the Eternal God than for Men to use his Sacred and Blessed Name as a By-word, with which they give vent to their exorbitant Passions, or fill up the vacanci [...]s of their other Idle-words? The Name of God is thus abus'd not only by those that bel [...]h out bloody Oaths and [...]urses which make the Ears of every good Man to tingle, but by [...]ose that mention the Name of God slightly and irreverently, in their common Conversation;Jer. 12. 2. in whose mouths he is near when he is far from their reins: To use those forms of speech which properly signify an Acknowledgment and Adoration of God's Being, as O God, or O Lord, or an Appeal to his Omniscience, as God knows, or an Invocation of his Favour, as God bless me, or God be merci­ful to me [...] I say, to use these or the like expres­sions impertinently, and intending thereby to ex­press only our wonder, our surp [...]ize, or our passi­onate resentments, or any thing than that which is their proper and awful signification, is an evi­dence of a vain mind, that wants a due regard to that glorious and fearful Name, Deut. 28. 58. The Lord our God. I see not that the Profanation of the Ordinance [Page 15] of praying, is any bett [...] [...] the Profanation of the Ordinance of Swearing. The serious [...]si­deration of this, I hope, might prevent much of that [...] which is [...] God, and to his Holy Name, by some that [...] not with o­thers to an exce [...] of Ri [...]t.

The Pro [...]dence of God [...] likewise every where spoken against by Mur [...]u [...]ers and Complainers that qua [...]el with it,Jude 16. and find fault with the di­sposals of it,Isa. 8. 21. and when they are hardly bestead curse their King and their God. Thus is the mouth of the ungodly set against the Heavens, Psal. 73. 9. and their Tongue walket [...] [...]hbrough the Earth.

[...] The Word of God the great Rule of our Re­ligion is every where spoken against, so it was [...] was first preached, wherever the Apo­ [...]es [...] preaching the Doctrine of Christ they [...] those that spake against it, [...]ontradicting and [...]. So it is, now it is [...], Atheists speak against the Scriptures as not of Authority, [...] speak against it as dark and uncertain further than it is expounded, and supported by the Authority of their Church, whichTrident Concil. Sess. 4th. receives unwritten Traditions pari pie­tatis affectu ac reverentiâ, with the same pious af­fection and reverence that they receive the Scrip­ture, nay, and if we may judge by their practice, with much more. Thus is the Word of God blasphemed by them who call themselves the Temple of the Lord. But if we take away Revela­tion (as the Deists do) all Religion will soon be lost, and if we derogate from the Scriptures (as the Papists do) all Revelation is much endan­gered.

Those also speak against the Scriptures, who profanely Iest with them, and that they may [Page 16] the more securely Rebel against Scripture Laws, make themselves and their idle Companions mer­ry with the Scripture Language. The Word of the Lord is unto them a reproach, as the Prophet com­plains, Ier. 6. 10. And another Prophet found it so, whose serious word of the necessity, of Precept upon Precept was turned into an idle Song, (as Grotius understands it) Isa. 28. 13. The word of the Lord was unto them Precept upon Precept—Very likely it was done by the Drunkards of E­phraim, spoken of v. 1. and it gave occasion to that Caution, v. 22. Be ye not mockers lest your Bands be made strong. Profligate and Debauched Minds relish no wit like that which ridicules the Sacred Text, and exposeth that to Contempt:Ps. 137. 3. As of old, the insulting [...] must be humour'd with the Songs of Sion; and no Cups can please Belshazzar in his drunken Frol­lick but the Sacred Vessels of the Temple. Dan. 5. 2, 3. Thus industrious are the Powers of Darkness to Vilify the Scriptures, and to make them coutemptible; but he that sits in Heaven shall laugh at them, for in spite of all the little efforts of their impo­tent Malice, He will magnifie the Law and make it honourable, according to the word which he hath spoken, Isa. 42. 21.

4. The People of God, the Professors of this Religion are every where spoken against. Not only those of some particular Perswasion or De­nomination, but (without regard to that) such as have been zealous in fearing God, and work­ing Righteousness have been, in many places, very much spoken against. Our Blessed Saviour hath told his Disciples what Treatment of this kind they must expect, that they should be revil'd and have all manner of evil said against them fals­ly, [Page 17] Mat. 5. 11, 12. that they and their Names should be cast out as evil, Luke 6. 22. And if they called our Master, Belzebub, no nick-names fastned upon his Followers can seem strange. Mat. 5. 25. Mocking was an old way of persecu­ting the Covenant-Seed, for thus, He that was after the Flesh, betimes persecuted them that were af­ter the Spirit. Compare Gen. 21. 9. with Gal. 4. 29. God's Heritage ha [...]h always been as a speck­led Bird, that all the Birds are against, Ier. 12. 9.Zach. 3. 8. And his Children for signs and for wonders in Israel, that every one hath a saying to. Isa. 8. 18. Even Wisdoms Children have been call'd and counted Fools, and their life Madness; The Quiet in the Land represented as Enemies to the Publick Peace; And those who are the greatest Blessings of the Age branded as the Troublers of Israel. See this at large, represented by Caecilius in Minucius Felix. The Primitive Christians were painted out to the World under the blackest and most odious Characters that could be, as Men of the most profligate Lives and Consciences, and that even placed their Religion in the gros [...]est Impie­ties and Immoralities imaginable. Their Enemies found it necessary for the support of the King­dom of the Devil, the Father of Lies and Slan­ders, (fortiter Calumniari) to Characterize them as the worst of Men, to whom they were resolv'd to give the worst and most barbarous Treatment. It had not been possible to have baited them, if they had not first dress'd them up in the skins of wild Beasts. And as then, so ever since, more or less in all Ages of the Church, Reproach hath been entail'd upon the most serious and zealous Professors of Religion and Godli­ness.

[Page 18] [...] ▪ The Ministers of Christ, the Preachers of this Religion, are with a distinguishing Enmity every where spoken against. Under the Old Te­stament God's Messengers and his Prophets were generally mocked and misused, and it was Ierusa­lem's measure-filling Sin. 2 Chron. 36. 16. 'Twas one of the Devices they devis'd against Ieremiah to smite him with the tongue, because they would not, and they desired tha [...] others might not give heed to any of his words, Ier. 18. 18. Those to whom the Prophet Ezekiel was a very lovely Song, and with their mouths showed much love to him, yet were still talking against him by the Walls, and in the Doors of their Houses, and God lets him know it. Ezek. 33. 30, 31, 32. And then it is not strange if the Ministers of the New Testament (in which Truth shines with a stronger Light) be with no less Enmity spoken against by those that love Darkness rather than Light. The Apo­stles, those prime Ministers of State in Christ's Kingdom were so loaded with Reproach, that they were made a spectacle to the World, [...]—the Theatre they plaid upon. a specta­cle of Pity to those that have either Grace or good Nature, but a spectacle of scorn to those that had neither. They were trampled upon as the Filth of the World; and whereas the off-scou­ring of any thing is bad enough, they were look'd upon as the Off-scouring of all things; even unto this day; after they had in so many instan­ces approv'd themselves well, and could not but be made manifest in the Consciences of their worst Enemies, 1 Cor. 4. 9, 13. And it hath all along been the Policy of the Churches Enemies by all marks possible to bring the Ministry into con­tempt, and to represent the Churches Nazarites, even those that were purer than Snow, whiter than [Page 19] Milk, and more ruddy than Rubies, with a visage blacker than a Coal, so that they have not been known in the streets. I allude to that complaint, Lam. 4. 7, 8. Marvel not, if the Standard-bea­rers be most struck at.

6. The Christian Religion it self hath been and still is every where spoken against. The Truths of it contradicted as false and groundless, the great Doctrines of the Mediation of Christ, and the Resurrection of the Dead were ridicul'd by the A­thenian Philosophers, Acts 19. 18, 32. The Laws of it faulted as grievous and unreasonable, as hard sayings, which could not be born, by those who bid open defiance to the Obligation of them, and say, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their Cords from us, Ps. 2. 3. The Ordinances of it despis'd as mean, and having no form nor comeliness. Sabbaths mock'd at, as of old,—cui septima quaeque fuit lux Ignava—Iuvenal. sat. 5. Dicimur seeler atissimi de Sacramento infanticidij, & pabulo inde. & post convivium incesto, &c. Tertull. Apol. cap. 7. Lam. 1. 7. and the sanctification of them represented as only a Cloak for Idleness. Sa­craments reproach'd, and the Sacred Memorial of Christ's Death and Sufferings, by the Persecu­tors of the Primitive Christians represented to the World as the bloody and inhumane Killing and Eating of a Child, and their Love Feasts and Holy Kiss (which were then in use) as only introductions to the most abominable unclean­ness. Primitive Christianity was industriously put into an ill-name: it was call'd emphatically The Atheism, because it overthrew Idolatry, and undermin'd the false Gods, and worships that had so long obtain'd. This was the Out-cry at Ephesus, that if Paul's Doctrine took place, the Temple of the great Goddess would be despis'd, Acts 19. 26, 27. It was also branded as a No­velty, and an up-start Doctrine, because it took [Page 20] people off from that vain Conversation which they had received by Tradition from their Fathers. 1 Pet. 1. 18. It was call'd at Athens a New Doctrine, Acts 17. 18, 19. and indu­striously represented in all places as a Mushrome Sect, See Dr. Cave's Primitive Christianity, lib. 1. ch. 1. that was but of yesterday. It was look'd upon as nearly allied to Iudaism, because it was so much supported by the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and nothing was more despicable a­mong the Romans than the Iews, and their Reli­gion. The Professors of Christianity were look'd upon as unlearned and ignorant Men, Acts 4. 12. the very Dregs and Refuse of the People. Iu­lian forbad the calling of them Christians, Greg. Nazian. Invectiv. in Iulian. Orat. 1. p. (mihi) 42. and would have them called nothing but Galileans, thereby to expose them to the contempt of those who are (as indeed most people are) govern'd more by a sound of Words than by the reason of Things. Thus when the Devil was silenced in his Oracles (as it is well known he was upon the setting up of Christianity in the World) his mouth was opened in Lies and Slanders; and being forced to quit his pretentions to a Deity, he appears bare-faced, as a Devil, ( [...]) a False-Accuser.

The Reformed Religion in these latter ages, hath been in like manner spoken against: Though it maintains all that, [and only that] Doctrine, which Christ and his Apostles preach'd, and was before Luther there, where Popery, as such, ne­ver was before or since, that is, in the Holy Scrip­tures, yet the Professors and Preachers of it have been call'd and counted Hereticks, Lollards from Lolium, Tares so my Ld. Cook from Mr. Fox. Rev. 13. 17 and Schis­maticks, and by all possible Artifices expos'd to the odium of the People, that none might Buy or Sell, i. e. have the benefit and comfort of civil Society and Commerce, that had not the Mark, [Page 21] or the Name of the Beast, Rev. 13. 17. or the Number of his Name.

Nay, even among some that profess the Chri­stian and Reformed Religion, yet the Practice of serious Godliness is very much spoken against. The Power of Religion is not only disliked and deny'd, but contradicted and condemned by those that rest in the Form. Isa. 5. 20. They that call the Evil, Good, will call the Good, Evil; and it is not strange if they, who abandon themselves to work all uncleanness with greediness, 1 Pet. 4. 3, 4, speak ill of such as run not with them to the same excess of Ri­ot, where the Wicked walk on every side, Psal. 12. 8. he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. Isa. 59. 15. The old Enmity between the Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent is still working, and the old Game every day plaid over again. The Truth as it is in Iesus, Eph. 4. 21. compar'd with Tit. 1. 1. and the Truth which is ac­cording to Godliness will be contradicted by those that lye in wait to deceive. Bigots on all sides will have something to say against Catholick Charity and Moderation: They that are fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, and forward to every good Work, must expect to be evil spoken of by such as affect a Lukewarmness, and Indifferency in Religion: Nor can those who walk circumspectly, not as Fools but as Wise, escape the lash of their Tongues who live at large, and walk loosly, and at all adven­tures, as the Fools in Israel.

I come now in the Second Place to enquire what's the Reason that so Holy and Excellent a Religion as Christianity is, meets with such hard usage, and is thus spoken against, every where spoken against: When we hear such an Out-cry as this made against Christianity, it is natural [Page 22] to us to enquire, as Pilate did when such a Cla­mour was raised against its Author, Why, what evil hath it done? Truly we may say concerning it as Pilate did concerning him, We find no fault in it. Which of all its Opposers convinceth it of Sin or Error? It invades no Man's Right, breaks in upon no Man's Property, is no Distur­bance of the Peace, no Enemy to the Welfare of Families and Societies, is no Prejudice at all to the Interests of States aad Princes, but to all these highly Beneficial and Advantageous: Why then is it thus accused, condemned and spoken a­gainst? We will endeavour to find out the true Reason of it, though it is impossible to assign a justifiable Reason of that which is most unreason­able.

1. The Adversaries of Religion speak against it because they do not know it. Sound Knowledge hath not a greater Enemy in the World than Ig­norance. Our Lord Jesus was therefore despised and hated by the World, because the World knew him not, Iohn 1. 10. If they had known the Dignity of his Person, the Excellency of his Do­ctrine, and the gracious Design and Purpose of his coming into the World, certainly they would not have Crucified the Lord of Glory, 1 Cor. 2. 8. They that did it,Acts 3. 15, 17. did it through Ignorance, and knew not what they did. Thus they who say to the Almighty, Luke 23. 34. Depart from us, could not say so if they did not at the same time studiously decline the knowledge of his ways. Job 21. 14. No Man will speak a­gainst Religion and the Power of it, that hath ei­ther seriously weighed the Proofs and Evidences of it, or impartially tried the Comfort and Be­nefit of it.John 4. 10. If they knew this Gift, this inestima­ble Gift of God, instead of speaking against it, [Page 23] they would covet it earnestly as the best Gift. He that looks at a distance upon Men Dancing, would think them to be mad: (It was Peter Martyr's Comparison, in a Sermon which had so good an influence upon the Conversion of the Marquess of Vico) But let him come nearer them, and observe the Regularity and Harmony of all their Motions and Postures, and he will not on­ly admire their Order, but find in himself an in­clination to join with them: So he that con­tents himself with a distant and transient view of the Practice of Piety will perhaps take up hard thoughts of it, but a better Acquaintance will rectify the Mistake. When the Spouse in the Canticles had given a Description of her Beloved to the Daughters of Ierusalem, the same who before had scornfully ask'd,Cant. 5. 9. 6. 1. What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved? Now as seriously en­quire, Whither is thy Beloved gone, that we may seek him with thee? The People of God are called his Hidden Ones, Psal. 83. 3. and their Life is a Hidden Life, their way above, Col. 3. 3. and therefore it is that the World speaks evil of them,Prov. 15. 24. because it knows them not. Psa. 10▪ 5. 1 Ioh. 3. 1. They who speak evil of these Dignities, speak evil of those things which they know not, Quid iniquiusquàm ut oderins homines quod ignorant. Tunc enim meretur, qua [...]doc ognoscitur an mereatur Tert. Apol. cap. 1. as the Apostle speaks Iude 8. 10. How unjust then, and unreasonable is the Enmity and Malice of the Adversaries of Religion, to con­demn that which they never enquired into, and to load that with the vilest Reproaches which for ought they know, merits the highest Encomiums! And how excellent then are the ways of God, which none speak ill of but those that are unac­quainted with them! while those that know them witness to the goodness of them, and Wisdom is justified of all her Children, Mat. 11. 19.

[Page 24] 2. They speak against it because they do not like it, and we know Ill-will never speaks well. Tho' they have little acquaintance with Religion, yet they know this concerning it in general, that it is not agreeable with the way of their hearts which they are resolved to walk in,Antè nos incipiunt odisse qu [...]m nosse, ne cognitos aut imitari possint, aut damnare non possint Min. Fel. p. (mihi) 30. nor with the course of this World, which is the Card and Compass they steer by, and from which they take their measures; they know this, that it lays a restraint upon their Appetites and Passions, and consists much in the mortifying of their beloved Lusts and Corruptions, and therefore they have a se­cret Antipathy to it: The Carnal Mind, which is enmity against God, is so against all that bear the Image of God. Christ hath bidden his Disciples to expect the Hatred of the World,Rom. 8. 7. and not to marvel at it, Ioh. 1 Joh. 3. 15. 18, &c. They who hate to be themselves reform'd will never love those that are reform'd: Out of the abundance therefore of the Heart, and the Malignity that is there, it is no marvel if the mouth speak; where the Root of Bitterness is, it will bear Gall and Wormwood The Daring Sinner that stretcheth out his hand a­gainst God finds his hand too short to reach him;Joh 15. 25. but say they, Psa. 12. 4. with our Tongue will we prevail, our Lips are our own. The Beast that made War with Heaven in the Apocalyptick Vision, though he had ten Horns, and those crown'd, yet is not described doing mischief with them, but open­ing his Mouth in Blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his Name, and his Tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven, Rev. 13. 5, 6. The Poison of the Serpents Seed is under their Tongue, Rom. 3. 13.

[Page 25] 3. They speak against Religion because it speaks against them. They who have fellowship with the unfruitful Works of Darkness, hate the Light which discovers them, Ioh. 3. 19. Nor do any curse the Rising Sun but those that are scorch'd by it. Why were the Pharisees so exasperated a­gainst our Saviour but because he spake his Para­bles against them, Mat. 21. 45. and laid them open in their own colours? Why did the World hate him who so lo­ved the World,John 7. 7. but because he testified of it that its Works are evil? Why had Ioseph's Brethren such a spleen against him, but because he was a Witness against them,Gen. 37. 2. and brought to his Father their evil Report? 1 Ki. 22. 8. 21. 20. Why did Ahab hate Micajah, and call Elijah his Enemy but because they were the faithful Reprovers of his Wickedness, and never prophesied Good concerning him, but Evil? Why did the Inhabitants of the Earth rejoyce when the Witnesses were slain, but because those two Prophets by their plain and powerful Preach­ing tormented them that dwelt upon the Earth? Rev. 11. 10. The everlasting Gospel is a Testimony, Mat. 24. 14. either to us to convin [...]s,Naturale est & odisse quem times, & quem metueris, infestare sipossis. or against us to condemn us, and then no [...]onder if those speak against it who hate to be convinced by it, and dread to be con­demned by it. The Prophet complains of those that laid Snares for him that reproveth in the gate; and why is it faithful Ministers are so much ha­ted, but because their Business is to shew people their Transgressious? Min. Felix. If they would flatter Sinners that flatter themselves in a sinful way,Isa. 29. 21. and cry Peace to them,Isa. 58. 1. to whom the God of Heaven doth not speak Peace, they might avoid a great deal of Reproach and Censure; but they dare not do it.Gal. 1. 8, 9. They are not to make a new Law and Gospel, but to preach that which is made: they [Page 26] have their Rule in that Caution given to the Prophet, Ier. 15. 19. Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them. The Hearts and Lives of Men must be brought to comply with the Word of God, for the Word of God can never be made to comply with the Humours and Fancies of Men. Ministers as they would not for the World make the way to Heaven any straiter or narrower than Christ hath made it, so they dare not make it any broader or easier, not offer Life and Salvation upon any other Terms than the Gospel hath already settled. If they aim at pleasing Men, they cannot approve themselves the Servants of Christ, and therefore are they so much spoken against.Gal. 1. 10. And the same is the Reason why the most strict and serious Christians are so much spoken against, because their Piety and Devotion, their Justice and Sobriety, their Zeal and Charity, is a stand­ing Reproof to the wicked World, and con­demns it,Heb. 11. 7. as the Faith and holy Fear of No [...]h condemned the Infidelity and Security of the Old World. The Sodomites were [...]exed at Lot's Conversation as much as he was at their filthy Conversation. Wherefore doth the Blood-Thirsty hate and revile the Vpright, Prov. 29. 10. while the Iust seek his Soul, but for the same Reason for which Cain hated Abel, because his own Works were Evil and his Brothers Righ­teous. 1 John 3. 12.

Now for the APPLICATION of this DOCTRINE.

Let us see what good Use we may make of this Observation concerning the Wicked­ness of the Wicked in speaking so much a­gainst Religion and Godliness, and what is our Duty in reference hereunto.

First, Let us admire the Patience and Forbea­rance of the God of Heaven, in that he bears so much, and so long, with those that thus speak against Him and his Holy Religion. The Affront hereby given Him is very great, and (we would think) intollerable, even Hard Spee­ches that reflect upon an Infinite Majesty, have in them a kind of Infinite Malignity. He hears and knows all that which is said a­gainst Him, and against his Truth and VVays, and as a Jealous God resents it. He hath al­ways Power in his Hands to punish the prou­dest of his Enemies, nor would their imme­diate Ruine be any Loss to him, and yet Sentence against these Evil Words and Works is not executed speedily: Eccl. 8. 11. Be astonished O Heavens, at this, and wonder O Earth! that those wret­ches which rebel against the Beams of such Light and Glory, which spurn at the Bowels of such Love and Grace, are not immediate­ly made the visible Monuments of Divine VVrath and Vengeance, and like, Sodom and Gomorrah, set forth for an Example! That the Blasphemers and Scoffers of these last Days [Page 28] are not instantly struck Dumb, struck Dead. That He who hath so much said against him, yet doth himself keep silence, Ps. 50. 12. and doth not answer all these Reproaches and Contradictions (as he easi­ly could) in Thunder and Lightning. Though his Silence and Forbearance is turn'd to his Re­proch even by those that have the Benefit of it, who therefore think him altogether such an one as themselves, 2 Pet. 3. 3, 4. and take occasion from his Patience to question his Faithfulness, and challenge his Iu­stice, saying, Where is the Promise of his Coming? Yet he bears, and his Patience is stretched out even to Long-suffering,2 Pet. 3. 9. because he is not willing that any should perish, nor that any means should be left untried to prevent their perishing. There­fore he bears with Sinners, because this is the Day of his Patience, and of their Probation. The Wrath of God is reveal'd from Heaven in the Word of God,Rom. 1. 18 that we might be aw'd by Faith, more than in present Providences, which would be an aw to Sense. But there is a Day coming, a dreadful Day,Psal. 50. 3. when our God shall come, and shall no longer keep silence, a Day foretold in the early Ages of the VVorld,Jude 14. 15. by Enoch the seventh from Adam, when Judgment shall be executed upon ungodly Sinners for all their hard Speeches, which Day he will not anticipate, for he knows it is coming, Psal. 37. 13. It is agreeable to the regular course of Justice, that all Judgments be adjourn'd till the Iudgment-Day, and all Execu­tions defer'd till Execution-Day: And therefore now he condescends to reason with those that speak against him, for their Convicttion, as he doth by the Prophet Ezek. 18. 25, &c. where he fairly debates the Case with those who said, The way of the Lord is not equal, That every Mouth [Page 29] may be stopped with an unanswerable Argument before it be stopt with an irreversible Sentence, and those who have spoken against him may be sent speechless to Hell.Mat. 22. 12. He keeps silence now, be­cause when he doth speak he will be justified. When our Lord Jesus was here upon Earth, with what an invincible Patience did he endure the contra­diction of Sinners; when so many ill things were witnessed against him he was silent,Mat. 26. 63. to admirati­on, answered not a word to all their unjust Ca­lumnies and Accusations,Joh. 19. 9. but at the same time he bound them over to the Judgment of the great Day by that awful word, Mat. 26. 64. Hereaf­ter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Power,—and still he bears in expe­ctation of that same Day.Heb. 10. 13. He doth not take Vengeance presently because he hath an Eternity before him for the doing of it.

And by the way, we may infer from hence, That those who would be like their Heavenly Father, must bear Reproach and Contradiction patiently. When any thing is said against us, reflecting never so little Disparagement upon us, or our Families, our Resentments of it are very sensible, and we are apt to take it hainous­ly; nay, and to say we do well to be angry, for it is not a thing to be endur'd; not to be endur'd! O think how much God bears with the Contempt and Reproach cast upon his great Name, and that will surely qualify our Resentments of any indignity done to our little Names! Who are we that we must not be spoken against? Or what are our Sayings that they must not be con­tradicted? Such Affronts as these we should learn to bear as David did when Shimei cursed him,2 Sam. 16. 10. 4. So let him Curse; 1 Pet. 2. 23. and as the Son of David [Page 30] did when his Enemies reviled him, Blessing them that Curse us, and Praying for them that this Per­secute us, that we may be the Children of our Father which is in Heaven. God adjourns his Vindicati­on to the great Day, and then surely we may adjourn ours to that day as St. Paul doth his, 1 Cor. 4. 5.

Secondly, Let us acknowledge the Power of Di­vine Grace, in keeping up the Christian Religion in the World, notwithstanding the universal Contradic­tion, and Opposition it hath met with. One would think that a way thus spoken against every where should have been long ere this lost and ruin'd, and the Christian Name cut off, to be no more in remembrance;Ps. 83 3, 4. which its Adversaries have so industriously endeavoured; if it had been of Men, it had certainly come to naught quickly,Acts 5. 38. though they had let it alone, but being of God, it was to admiration Victorious over all oppo [...]ition. A Sect, a Cheat could never have supported it self against so much Contradiction; no Human Pow­er or Policy could have kept it up, nor any thing less than an Almighty Arm. The conti­nuance of the Christian Religion in the world to this day is a standing Miracle for the Conviction of its Adversaries,See this excellently enlarged upon by the learned Grotius de v. R. C. l. 2. and the Confirmation of the Faith of those that adhere to it. VVhen we con­sider what a mighty Force was raised by the Powers of Darkness against Christianity when it was in its Infancy, how many they were that spoke against it, learned Men, great Men, Books were written, Laws were made against it; those that spoke for it, how few were they? and how mean and despicable! the foolish things of the VVorld, and the Weak, and yet we see the [Page 31] Word of God mightily growing and prevailing. Must we not needs say,Acts 19. 20. this is the Lord's doing, & it is marvellous in our eyes? The several false Reli­gions of the Heathen with their various Super­stitions and Idolatries, though they gave very little Opposition one to another, but agreed to­gether well enough, yet having no foundation in Truth they all wither'd away, and dwindled to nothing, and after the mighty sway they had born, and all means possible us'd to support 'em, at length their Day came to fall, their Oracles silenced, their Altars deserted, and the Gods themselves were famished, (Zeph. 2. 11.) and pe­rished from the Earth, according to that Predicti­on, Ier. 10. 11. which is put into the mouths of the Captiv'd Jews, to retort upon their in­sulting Enemies, and for that purpose is origi­nally in the Caldee Dialect: VVe may ask tri­umphantly, not only where are the Gods of Humath and of Arpad? Where are the Gods of Sepharvaim Hena,2 Kin. 18. 34. and Ivah, those obscure and petty De­ities? But where are the Gods of Babylon and Aegypt, Greece and Rome, the illustrious names of Saturn and Iupiter, Iuno and Diana? where are the Gods which our British and Saxon Au­cestors worshipped bofore they received the Light of the glorious Gospel? Are they not all forgotten as dead Men out of mind, and their names written in the dust? But Christ's Holy Religion, though for some Ages it was utterly destitute of all Secular Supports and Advanta­ges, and was assaulted on all hands by the most vigorous Attacks of its daring and most impla­cable Enemies, yet it hath strangely weather'd its point, and is in being, and, thanks be to God, in some places in a flourishing state to this day: Its [Page 32] cause an opposed, Exod. 3. 3, 4. but never a baffled cause: Let us turn aside now, and see this great sight, a Bush burning and yet not consum'd, and say, The Lord is in it of a Truth: Come and see the Cap­tain of our Salvation riding forth in the Chariot of the everlasting Gospel,Rev. 6. 2. with his Crown upon his Head, and his Bow in his Hand, conquering and to conquer—That which was every where spoken against Christianity,Acts 28. 3. was like the Viper which fasten'd upon St. Paul's Hand, it gave people occasion to think very ill concerning it, and to look for its speedy fall, as the barbarous people concerning him whom they concluded to be a Murtherer, and expected that he should have swollen, or fallen down Dead. But it hath in all Ages shaken those venomous Beasts into the Fire, and taken no harm, and so hath prov'd its own Divine Original. Let us herein acknow­ledge the Wisdom and Power of our Lord Jesus,Mat. 16. 18. who hath so firmly built his Church upon a Rock that the Gates of Hell, i. e. all its Powers, and Policies, and Numbers could never prevail against it. Mahomet, though he industriously adapted his Religion, to the Sensual Appetites of Men, whose Reason only, and not their Lusts, could object against it,See the learned Dr. Hum­frey Pri­deaux's ex­cellent Hi­story of the Life of Maho­met lately published. yet he obtain'd no strength, nor interest at all, till by a thousand Artifices he had got the Power of the Sword, and with it forbad any upon pain of Death to speak against him or his Doctrine; charging his first Followers, who were to propagate his Religion, if they met with any that objected against it, not to dispute with them, but to kill them immediately: By which means that grand Imposture in a little time got some footing in the world; and by the same Barbarous and Inhumane Methods, it hath [Page 33] been supported now above a Thousand Years. And in like manner that great Enemy of the Church, represented in St. Iohn's Vision, main­tains his Interest by causing that as many as would not worship the Image of the Reast should be killed, Rev. 13. 15. Thus are Errors and false Religions propagated; strip them of the [...] [...]ports, & they fall to the ground of course; but on the contra­ry, the Ch [...]stian Religion was planted and pre­serv'd not only without▪ but against secular Force, recommended and [...]pheld by its own intrinsick Truth and Excellen [...] and that Divine Power which accomp [...] [...] The Preachers and Pro­fessers of it every where [...] against, and yet e­very where [...]etting ground, and strangely victo­rious, purely by the word of their Testimony, Rev. 12. 10, 11. and by not loving [...]heir Lives unto the Death. Thus is come Salva [...]ion and Strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the Power of his Christ.

Thirdly, Let [...]s greatly lament the Folly and Wic­kedness of [...] who speak against Christ and his Ho­ly Religion, and if we can do any thin [...], have com­passion upon them, and help to undeceive them, and rectify their Mistakes. Surely this is one of the Abominations committed amo [...] us, for which we should be found among those that sigh and cry. Ezek. 9. 4. one of those Instances of the Pride of Sinners for which [...]ur Souls should weep in secret, Jer. 13. 17. This is that▪ Reproach of the solemn Assembly which is such a Burthen to all good Men. Zeph. 3. 18. Our Ears should tingle, and our Hearts tremble to hear the Reproach and Con­tempt cast upon Christ and his Religion, or to hear of it, and looking upon our selves as nearly concern'd in Sacred Things, we should be sensi­bly touch'd with the Profanation of them.

[Page 34] To affect us herewith, let us consider,

1. The great Dishonour hereby done to our God in the World. They that reflect upon his Truths and Ways, his Word and Ordinances, reflect upon him, He that toucheth these toucheth the apple of his eye; If therefore we have any love to God, or concern for his Honour, and have cordially espous'd the Interests of his Kingdom, what is an Affront to him, will surely be a Grief to us. It cannot but be a very melancholly Thought to every sensible Soul, That the God that made the World is made so light of in the World, That he who doth so much Good to the Children of Men, hat [...] so little Honour from them, nay, and hath so much Dishonour done him by them every day,Isa. 52. 5. and his Name continually blas­phemed. That the Lord Jesus, who so loved the World, is so much hated and despised by the World. The Reproaches of them who thus re­proach our Master, if we be his faithful Servants we should feel as falling upon us. Psa. 69 10. Mat. 25. 45. And if he take what is said and done against his People, as said and done against himself, much more reason have they to find themselves aggrieved in that which is said and done against him. If we pray heartily that God's Name may be hallowed, as we should do every day, we should grieve heartily that his Name is dishonoured, as we see it is every day. And our resentments of the Reproach cast upon God and Religion, we should make a humble and pious Remonstrance of before God in Prayer, as King Hezekiah spread Rabshakeh's blasphemous Letter before the Lord, with that tender and affectionate Request, Lord bow down thine ear and hear: Open, Lord, thine eyes and see, 2 Kin. 19. 16. How pathetically doth Ioshua [Page 35] plead, chap. 7. 9. What wilt thou do unto thy great Name? And with what a concern doth the Psal­mist in the name of the Church insist upon this, Psal. 74. 10. O God, how long shall the Adversary reproach? Shall the Enemy blaspheme thy Name for ever? And v. 18. Remember this that the Enemy hath reproached, O Lord, and that the foolish People have blasphemed thy Name. And how earnestly doth he beg, v. 22. Arise, O God, plead thine own Cause. Thus should the Honour of God and Re­ligion lie nearer our Hearts than any other con­cern whatsoever.

2. Consider the miserable Condition of those that presumptuously speak against God and Religion. Tho' they may do it with an Air of Assurance, as if they run no hazard, yet he that rolleth this Stone, it will certainly return upon him sooner or later. They that speak against Religion speak a­gainst their own Heads, Psa. 64. 8. and their own Tongues will at last fall upon them. We have reason to bewail their Madness, and to pity, and pray for them, for they know not what they do. Mise­rable Souls! How will they be deceived at last, when they shall find that God is not mocked! Gal. 6. 7. And that while they were studying to put contempt on Religion, they were but preparing eternal Shame and Confusion for themselves! The Lord is a jealous God, and will not hold them guilt­less that thus profane his Name: Their Wit, and Learning, and Figure in the World, may em­bolden them in their Sin, and bear them up a while in an open Defiance of all that's Sacred, but nothing can prevent their utter Ruine besides a serious and sincere Repentance, which is an un­saying, with Shame and Self-lothing, of all that which they have proudly spoken against God [Page 36] and Godliness. They that pervert the right ways of the Lord will certainly,Hos. 14. 9. 2 Pet. 3. 16. [...], and they that wrest the Scriptures do it to the [...] [...] Destruction. Religion's Motto is, Nemo me [...]n­pune lacessit. 'Tis ill jesting with edg-tools. Ie­rusalem will certainly be a b [...]thensome Stone to all People, Zach. 12. 3. that burth [...]n themselves with it. They th [...] spurn at the Rock of Salvation, will not only be unable to remove it, but will find it a Stone of Stumbling, 1 Pet. 2. 8. Isa. 28. 13. and a Rock of Offence. And we find those who ridicul'd the Word of the Lord, broken, and snared, and taken. Let all those therefore that mourn in Sion, weep over those that will [...]ot weep for themselves; and look with pity and compassion upon those that look upon them with scorn and contempt.

3. Consider the Mischief that is hereby done to the Souls of others. They who thus err, their error remaineth not with themselves, but this poisonous and malignant Breath infects others. Words spoken against Religion eat as doth a Can­ker, 2 Tim. 2. 17. and they who speak them, seldom perish a­lone in their iniquity, for many follow their perni­cious ways. 2 Pet. 2. 2. Unwary Souls are easily beguil'd, and brought to conceive rooted Prejudices a­gainst that which they hear every where spoken against, and few have Consideration and Resolution enough to maintain a good opinion of that which they that set up for Wits, make it their business to cry down. Act. 13. 7. 8, 9, 10. Sergius Paulus was a pr [...]dent Man, and yet St. Paul saw him in danger of being tur­ned away from the Faith, by the subtle Suggesti­ons of Elymas the Sorcerer, which therefore the Apostle resented with a more than ordinary keenness. It is sad to think how many Young Peo­ple, who perhaps were well Educated and Hope­ful, [Page 37] when they go abroad into the World, by conversing with those who lie in wait to deceive, have their minds insensibly vitiated and de­bauch'd, and perhaps they are made seven times more the Children of Hell than those that first seduced them. Under a pretence of free Thought, and fashionable Conversation, and a generous Disdain of Preciseness and Singularity; Atheistical Prin­ciples are imbid'd, the Restraints of Conscience shaken off, Brutish Lusts not only indulg'd but [...] for, and serious Godliness and Devoti­on loo [...]d upon with Contempt, and thus the Heart [...] impregnably fortify'd for Satan against Christ and his Gospel, Wrath is treasur'd up a­gainst the Day of Wrath, and those who might have been the Blessing prove the Plague of their Age, which is a Lamentation, and shall be for a Lamentation to all that wish well for the souls of Men, and to th [...]s [...] especially that are desirous of the welfare of the rising Generation.

Fourthly, Let us take heed that none of us do at at any time, directly or indirectly, speak against the ways of Religion and Godliness, or say a Confederacy, with those that do so. Isa. 8. 11, 12. Submit to Divine Instructi­ons given with a strong hand not to walk in the way of those People that speak ill of Religion. Take heed of embracing any Notions which se­cretly tend to d [...]rogate from the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, or to diminish the Honour of Religion in the Soul, or of accustoming your selv [...] to such Expressions as treat not Sacred Things with that awful Regard which is due to them. Those were never reckon'd Wise Men that would rather lose a Friend than a Iest, much less are they to be accounted so that will rather [Page 38] lose the Favour of their God. Those that in their common Converse make themselves merry with serious things, how can it be expected they should at any time be serious in them, or experi­ence the influence and comfort of them? It is not likely that those who make the Word of God the subject of their Iests, should ever make▪ it the Guide of their way, or find it the spring of their Joys. Let us not chuse to associate with those that have light thoughts of Religion, and are ready upon all occasions to speak against it. It is not without good reason that among the many words with which St. Peter exhorted his New Converts, this only is recorded, Save your selves from this untoward Generation, Acts 2. 40. Those that listen to the Counsel of the Vngodly, Psal. 1. 1. and Stand in the way of Sinners, as willing to walk with them, will come at length (if Al­mighty Grace prevent not) to set in the seat of the Scornful. Let us therefore abide by that which Iob and Eliphaz, even in the heat of Dispute, were agreed in, that the Counsel of the Wicked shall be far from us, which Protestation we have, Iob 21. 16. and 22. 18. It's dangerous making Friendship with those that have an enmity to serious Godliness, lest we learn their way, and get a Snare to our Souls.

There are two common Pretences, and seem­ingly plausible ones, under which those that speak against Religion shelter themselves, but they are neither of them justifiable.

1. They pretend, that it is only for Argu­ment sake, that they object against Religion, and pick quarrels with it, and (so little esteem they have of the thing call'd Sincerity) they will not be thought to mean as they say. And are the great [Page 39] Principles of Religion become such Moot-points, such Matters of doubtful Disputation, that it is indifferent which side of the Question a Man takes, and upon which he may argue, pro or con, at his pleasure? That grave and weighty say­ing of a Learned Heathen is enough to silence this pretence,Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. 2. ad Fin. Mala enim & impia consuetudo est, contra Deos disputandi, sive ex animo id fit, sive simulate. It's an ill thing to talk against Religi­on, whether a Man means as he saith or no, or (in the Language of our Age) whether he speak seriously, or only banter. Iulian, the Apostate, when, before he threw off his Disguise, he fre­quently argued against Christianity, pretended it was only for Disputation sake. But out of the abundance of the Heart the Mouth speaks, and whence can such evil things come but from an evil Treasure there?

2. They pretend that it is not Religion that they ridicule and expose to Contempt, but some particular Forms and Modes of religious Worship which they do not like. And this is one ill ef­fect of the unhappy Divisions among Christians, that while one side hath labour'd to make the o­ther contemptible; Religion in general hath suffer'd on all sides. To reprove what we think amiss, with Prudence and Meekness is well, but to reproach and make a Iest of that which our Fel­low-Christians look upon as Sacred, and make a part of their Religion, cannot be to any good purpose at all. To scoff at the Mistakes and Weaknesses of our Brethren, is the way to pro­voke and harden them, but not to convince and reform them. They who think to justify this way of ridiculing those that differ from them, by the Instance of Elijah's jeering the Priests of [Page 40] Ba [...], perhaps Know not what manner of Spirit they are of, no more than th [...]se Disciples did who would have their intemperate Heats countenan­ced by the Example of that great [...].Luk. 9. 55.

Fifthly, Let [...]s that profess the Chri [...]an Religion, be very cautious that we do not give occasion to any to speak against it. If there are those in all pla­ces that are industrious to cast [...]eproach upon Religion, then we have need to [...]alk circumspect­ly, and to look well to our goings, that those who watch for our halting may have no occasion given them to Blaspheme. It is certain that tho' in Religion there is nothing which may be justly spoken against, yet a [...]ong those that profess it there is too often f [...]und that which deserves to be tax'd, and which cannot pass without just and sever [...] Reflection [...]Pudet▪ haec opprobria no­bis—Are there no [...] those within the Pale of the Church,Ro. 2. 24. 2 Pet. 2 2. through [...], the Name of God and his [...],Jude 12. The fou­lest Re­proaches of the Pri­mitive Christians took rise from the vile pra­ctises of the Gno­sticks, and other Pseu­dochristi­ans. of which Vid. Eu­seb. Eccl. Hift. l. 4. c. 7. and by reason of whom the way of [...] evil spoken of. Are there not those who [...] Christ's Livery, but are a Scan­dal to his [...]mily, Spots in the [...]ove-Feasts, and a standing Reproach to that worthy Name, by which they are call'd? Now though it is cer­tainly very unjust and unfair to impute the faults of Professors to the Religion they profess, and to reproach Christianity, because there are those that are call'd Christians who expose themselves to Reproach; yet it is, without question, the Sin of those who give Men occasion to do so. This was the Condemnation in David's Case, and en­tail'd the Sword upon his House, though the Sin was pardon'd, that by it he had given great oc­casion to the Enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, [Page 41] 2 Sam. 12. 14. Let us therefore double our di­ligence and care, [...] no offenc [...] either to Jew or Gentile, that Religion which hath so of­ten been wounded in the House of her Friends, may nev [...]r be wou [...]ded through our sides.

If we [...]uire (as we are commanded to do) what it [...] that gives occasion of Reflection upon Religion, we shall find that the Imprudences of those that profess it, give some occasion, but their Immoralities much more.

1. The Imprudences of Christians often turn to the Reproach of Christianity. There may be such over-doing even in Well-doing, as may prove [...]ndoing. When more stress is laid than ought to be upon some instances of Religion, to the justling out of others, and the Exercises of Devotion are either mis-timed, or mis-placed, or [...]oportion'd, Religion is hereby mis-re­presented, or look'd upon to disadvantage. Rash and indiscreet Zeal may give occasion to those who seek occasion to speak against all reli­gious Zeal.Col. 4. 5. Therefore walk in Wisdom towards them that are without. Religion is a most sweet and pleasant and amiable thing: Let not us by our Indiscretion make it a Task to our selves, and a Terror to others. The more the Children of God are Children of Wisdom, the more they justi­fy it,Luk. 7. 35. and its ways. Christian Prudence is very much the beauty and strength of Christian Piety. Though it will secure the welfare of our own Souls if we walk in our Integrity, yet it is necessary for the preserving of the Cre­dit of our Profession,Prov. 14. 8. that we walk in Wisdom, that Wisdom of the Prudent which is to understand his way, Ec. 10. 10. that Wisdom which is profitable to di­rect. And if any Man lack this Wisdom, let him [Page 42] ask it of God, Jam. 1. 5. who gives liberally, and upbraids us not with our Folly. Pray [...]ith David, Psal. 27. 11. Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain Path because of mine Enemies. (Hebr. because of mine Observers.) Our Enemies are our Obser­vers, and will be ready to reproac [...] our Way, for the sake of the false steps we take in it, and therefore we have need to ponder the Path of our Feet, and let Discretion guide and govern our Zeal.

2. The Immoralites of those who profess Chri­stianity turn much more to the reproach of that Holy Religion; when those that are called Chri­stians, are griping and covetous, and greedy of the World, when they are false and deceitful, and unjust in their Dealings, sowre and morose, and unnatural to their Relations, turbulent and unquiet in Societies, when they are froward and passionate, proud and haughty, hard-hearted and oppressive, loose and intemperate. When they are found guilty of Lying and Cheating, Drunk­enness or Uncleanness. When it appears that they keep up some secret Haunts of Sin, under the cloke and covert of a specious Profession, when they that profess the Christian Faith lick up the vomit of Heathen, and allow themselves in those things that are contrary to the Light and Law even of Natural Religion. This is that which opens the mouths of the Adversaries to speak reproachfully of that Religion, the Pro­fession of which is made to consist with such vile Practises, which cannot possibly consist with the Power of it. This makes People ready to say as that Mahometan Prince did, when the Christians had broke their League with him, O Iesus, are these thy Christians? Or as the complaint was up­on [Page 43] another occasion, Aut hoc non Evangelium, aut hi non Eva [...]ngelici, Either this is not Gospel, o [...] these are not to be call'd Professors of the Gospel. If Ministers give offence in any thing, not they only,2 Cor. 6. 3 but their Ministry will be blamed. Nay, if Servants, Christians of the lowest rank and fi­gure, if they be unfaithful, and disobedient to the Government they are under,1 Tim. 6. 1. the Name of God, and his Doctrine, is likely to be blasphemed. Let us therefore who profess Relation to the E­ternal God, and Dependance upon the Blessed Jesus, and a Regard to the Holy Scriptures, as we tender the Reputation of our Religion, walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. Col. 1. 10. Let us Order our Conversation so in every thing, as that we may adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour. Tit. 2. 10. While we are call'd by so good a Name, let us not dare to do an ill thing. The Disciples of Christ are as a City upon a Hill, Mat. 5. 14. and have many eyes upon them, and therefore have heed to be­have themselves with a great deal of Cauti­on, and to abstain from all appearance of evil. 2 Thes. 5. 12. Let us not do any thing that is unjust, or unbecoming, us, nor allow our selves in that which we know the Gospel we profess doth by no means allow of, lest we be to answer another day, for all the Reproach of Religion which we have occasion'd: How light soever we may make of this now, we shall find that it will greatly enflame the Reckoning shortly, when God will affect the Honour of his own Name, and will be glorified upon those by whom he was not glorified. In consideration of this, let us see to it that we have our Conversation honest among the Adversaries of our Religion, that they who speak against us as Evil-doers, [Page 44] may,1 Pet. 2. 12. [...], our Good Works which they shall behold, be brought to glorify God, and to entertain good thoughts of Religion, or at least, that we may with well-doing put to silence the igno­rance of foolish Men. v. 15. Our Religion, I am sure, is an Honour to us; let not us then be a Dishonour to it.

Sixt [...]ly, If there be those every where that speak against Religion and Godliness, let us then as we have opportunity be ready to speak for it. Every Christian should be both a Witness and an Advo­cate for his Religion, and the rather because it is so much oppos'd and contradicted. Next to our Car [...] not to be a Shame to the Gospel, should be our Resolution not to be [...] of the Gospel. You are Subpaena'd by the King of Kings to ap­pear for him in the World: Ye are my Witnesses saith the Lord, Isa. 43. 10. Do not betray this Cause then by [...]clining your Testimony, how muc [...] soever you may be brow-beaten and con­fronted. Say with a holy boldness as Elihu, Job 36. 2. Suffer me a little and I will shew you, that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. You hear what is daringly said against God, how his holy Name is trampled upon and abus'd, his Truths contra­dicted, his Word and Ordinances vilified, and have you never a word to say for him? Is our Lord [...]sus appearing for us in Heaven, plead­ing our Cause there, pleading it with his own blood, and shall not we be ready to appear for him on Earth, and plead his Cause though it were with the hazzard of [...] blo [...]d? As it is then a time to [...]eep silence, when we our selves are spoken against, I as a Deaf Man heard not, so it is then a time to speak, when God is spoken a­gainst, [Page 45] and the [...] our [...] li [...]s at stake,Psal. 38. 33. and at such a time [...] heed, [...] by a cowardly silence [...] so Just a Cause,Eccl. 3. 7. as if we were either [...] or afraid to [...] Wisdom's Child [...]en should take all [...] to justify Wisdom, and indicate it from the asper­sions that are cast upon it. Read the doom of him that is asham'd of Christ and of his Words in this adulterous generation. Mark 8. 38. Of him shall the Son of Man be [...], when he comes in the Glory of his Father. Not [...]nfessing Christ when we are call'd to it, is in effect denying him, and disowning Relation to him, and they who do so,Luk. 12. 9. 2 Tim. 2. 12. except they repent as Peter did, will short­ly be denied and disowned by him. If we should, with an angry countenance at least, drive away a backbiting, Prov. 25. 23. Tongue that repro [...]cheth our Brother, much more a Blasphemous Tongue that reproacheth our Maker. Should we hear a near Relation or a dear Friend (in whose Repu­tation it is natural to us to reckon our selves sharers) spoken against and slander'd, we would readily appear in his Vindication; and have we no resentments of the Contempt and Contumely cast upon Religion? Can we sit by contentedly to hear God and Christ, and the Scripture and se­rious Godliness reflected upon, and have we no­thing to say i [...] their behalf? Common equity o­bligeth us to be the Patrons of a just, but wronged Cause. And that we may not think our selves discharged from this Duty by our inability to defend the Truths and Ways of God, and so make our Ignorance and unskilfulness in the word of Righteousness, an excuse for our Cowardise and want of Zeal, we ought to take pains to furnish our selves with a clear and distinct knowledge of [Page 46] the certai [...]ty of those thi [...] wherein we have been in­structed. Luke 1. 4. We must labour to understand not on­ly the Truths and Principles, but the Grounds and Evidences of our Religion, that we may be able to give an Answer ( [...], an Apology) to every Man that asks us a Reason of the Hope that is in us. 1 Pet. 3. 15. How industrious are the prophane Wits of the Age to find out something to say against Religion, and should not that quicken us to pro­vide our selves with the Armor of Righteousness, 2 Cor. 6. 7. both on the right hand and on the left, aiming at the Riches of the full, Col. 2. 2. assurance of Vnderstanding? And if we do (as there is occasion) with Humility and Sincerity, and from a principle of Zeal for God, and his Honour, appear in Defence of Religion, and its injur'd Cause, we may doubt­less take encouragement from that promise, Mat. 10. 19. It shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. God will own those that own him, and will not fail to furnish his faithful Advocates with needful Instructions, and many a time or­dains such strength out of the mouth of Babesi and Sucklings as strangely stills the Enemy and the A­venger. Psal. 8. 2.

Lastly, Let none of us ever th [...]k the worse of the way of Religion and Godliness for its being every where spoken against, nor b [...] frighten'd hereby from walking in that way. [...] Contempt cast upon the Practise of Piety is with many, an invincible Objection against it; their good Impressions, good purposes and good overtures are hereby crush'd and brought to nothing: They have that with­in 'em which tells 'em that the way of Sobriety and serious Godliness is a very good way, and [Page 47] they [...]ometimes hear that Word behind them, say­ing, This is the walk ye in it, Isa. 30. 21. But they have those abou [...]'em that tell them otherwise, and thus the convictions of Conscience are over-rul'd and baffled by the Censures and Reproaches of Men, whose Praise they covet more than the Praise of God.

But to take off the force of this Objection, let us consider these four Things.

1. Consider who they are that speak against Re­ligion and Godliness, not only that they are Mortal Men,Isa. 51. 7. 8, 12. whom the Moth shall eat up like a Garment, Men that shall die, and the Sons of Men which shall be made as Grass, all whose thoughts will shortly perish with them, and therefore why should we fear their Reproach, or be afraid of their revilings? Nor only they that are fallible Men who may be mistaken, and whose Judgment is by no means decisive, nor such as will bear us out: Shall we put what Men say in the Scale a­gainst what God saith? Let God be true and every Man a Liar. We must not be judg'd hereafter, and therefore should not be rul'd now by the Sentiments and Opinions of Men: But those that speak against Religion are also for the most part ill Men; Men of unsettled Heads, debauch'd Consciences, and profligate Lives. 'Tis the Fool and none but he, that saith in his heart, there is no God. The Scoffers of the last daies are Men that walk after their own Lusts, whose carnal, flesh­ly Interest retains them on that side. David was abus'd by the abjects, Psal. 35. 15. and the Christians at Thessalonica by certain lewd Fellows of the baser sort, Acts 17. 5. Such as those are the [Page 48] M [...]n that make a mock at Religion [...] we be [...] and influenced in the [...] Concerns [...] Souls by [...] Men as [...] Shall [...] have the [...] of us that hav [...] [...] themselves? Shall [...] and [...] of those, who know not what it is to be serious, carry the day against the delibera [...] Sentiments of all Wise and Good Men, who have with one consent subscrib'd to the E­quity and Goodnes [...] of Religion's Ways [...] If we chuse such as these for our Lea [...]ers, [...] the Blind, lead the Blind, and we know the consequence.

2. Consider how trifling and frivolous that is▪ which is commonly said against Re [...]igion and Godliness. The Devil made his [...] assault upon Mankind by Lies and Slan­ders, suggesting hard thoughts of God, and promising Impunity▪ [...]n Sin; and by the same wretched methods he still supports and carries on his Interest in the World. The [...] that speak against Religion, make Lies their Refuge, and under falshood they hide themselves. [...]ll those bold and daring things which are spo­ken against Religion, are either groundless and unproved Calummes, or very unjust and unfair Representations. Hence the Enemies of Religion are said to be absurd and unrea­sonable Men. 2 Thes. 3. 2. Men that while they cry up the Oracles of Reason, rebel against all the Light and Laws of it. Put all that together which is spoken against Godliness, and weigh it in the Balances of right Reason, and you will write Tekel upon it, weigh'd in the Ballances and [Page 49] found wanting. And, as if an over-ruling Provi­dence had forced the Scoffers of these last days to confess their own Infatuation. Some of those that have been most sharp in their Invectives a­gainst Religion, have been no less free in their Satyrs against Reason it self, as if they were re­solv'd to answer the Character of Solomon's Fool, whose Wisdom fails him so far,Eccl. 10. 3. that he saith to every one that he is a Fool.

3. Consider how much is to b [...] said for Religion notwithstanding it is every [...]here spoken against. Religion hath Reason on its side, its Cause is a Good Cause; and it is the right way whoever speaks against it.Arch B [...] Ti [...]otson's Serm. on 2 Pet. 2, 3. It is no disparagement (as that excellent Pen expresseth it) to be laughed at, but to deserve to be so; you have heard Religion re­proach'd, but did you ever find that it deserv'd to be so? Nay; on the contrary, have you not found that it very well deserves your best Affe­ctions and Services? Enquire of those that have made trial of it, consult the Experiences of o­thers: Call now, if there be any that will answer thee, Job. 5. 1. and to which of the Saints wilt thou turn? Ask thy Father and he will shew thee, Deut. 32. 7. thine Elders a [...]d they will tell thee, that the Fear of the Lord that is Wisdom, and to depart from Evil, that is Vnder­standing.Job. 28. 28. They will tell thee, That Religion's Ways are Ways of Pleasantness, Prov. 3. 17. and all her Paths are Peace, and that all the Wealth and Pleasure in this World is not worth one Hours Commu­nion with God in Jesus Christ. They will tell thee, That there is no Truths so certain and weighty as Divine Truths, and that no Statutes and Judgments are so righteous as the Divine Law, which is Holy, Iust, and Good. They will tell thee, That real Holiness and Sanctification [Page 50] is the Perfection of the Human Nature, as well as the Participation of a Divine Nature, That a firm Belief of the Principles of Religion is the greatest improvement of our intellectual Powers, a strict Adherence to its Rules our surest Guide in all our Ways, and a chearful Dependance up­on its Promises, the Fountain of better Ioys, and the Foundation of better Hopes than any we can be furnish'd with in the things of Sense and Time. They will tell thee that a Life of serious Godliness is incomparably the most Sublime and Honoura­ble, the most Sweet and Comfortable Life a Man can live in this World; and that nothing doth more answer the end of our Creation, better be­friend Societies, nor conduce more to our true interest in both Worlds than that Holy Religion which is every where spoken against.

4. Consider that the cause of Religion and Godliness, however it be spoken against and op­pos'd, will infallibly be the prevailing Cause at last. We are sensible of a mighty struggle in the World betwixt the seed of the Woman and the seed of the Serpent; Michael and his Angels on the one side, and the Dragon and his Angels on the other. Many there are that speak against Religion, and are very vigorous in opposing it, and some, tho' but a few, that are speaking for it, contending for the Faith, and striving against Sin, now it is desirable to know which of these contesting In­terests will be victorious; and we may be assur'd that the cause of God and Religion will certainly carry the day. Contradicted Truths will be ef­fectually clear'd and vindicated; Despised Ho­liness will be honour'd; Mistakes rectify'd; Re­proaches roll'd away; and every thing set in a true Light.Mal. 3. 18. Then you shall return and discern be­tween [Page 51] Truth and Falshood, Right and Wrong, which now it is not always easie to do. The Day of the Lord is said to be in the Valley of De­cision, Joel 3. 14. Because then and there will this great Cause be decided, which has been so long depending, and a definitive Sentence given from which there will ly no Appeal, and against which there will be no Exception. Psal. 50. 3. Our God will then come and will not Keep Silence; whoever now Speak against Religion he will then speak for it, and will undoubtedly be justified when he speaks, and clear when he judgeth. Psal. 51. 4. Particular Parties and Interests, as such, will wither and come to no­thing, But Catholick Christianity, that is Denying Vngodliness and Worldly Lusts, and living Soberly, Righteously, and Godly in this present World, in [...] ­pectation to the Blessed Hope: This is Good, and the Goodness of it being founded on the un­changeable will of the Eternal Mind, it is Eter­nally Good, and no doubt will be Eternally Glo­rious, whatever is said against it. This, this is that Gold, and Silver, and those Precious Stones, which will stand the Test of the Fire that shall try every Mans Work, I Cor. 3. 12, 13. and will be found unto [...], and Honour, and Glory at the Appearing of [...] Christ. I Pet. 1. 7.

Assure [...] selves (Christians) there is a Day of Recom [...]es for t [...]e Controversy of Sion coming,Isa. 34. 8: and it is at Hand;Jam. 5. 9. Behold the Iudge standeth be­fore the Door. Then Vice and Wickedness which now appear so daring, so threatning, will be effectually and irrecovera [...] crush'd, and such a fatal and incurable Blow given to the Serpen [...] Head that he shall never hil [...], [...] never spit his Venom any more: Then shall the Vpright have the Dominion, Psal. 49. 14. and all the faithful [Page 52] Souldiers of the Lord Jesus shall be call'd to set their Feet upon the Necks of Principalities and Powers.Jos. 10. 24. Then Atheists and Blasphemers, the Debauchees and prophane Scoffers of the Age, will have their Mouths stopt with an irresistable Conviction; will have all their vile Calumnies visibly confuted; their Hearts fill'd with un­speakable Horror, and their Faces with everlasting Shame:Isa. 28. 17. Their Refuge of Lies will then be swept away, and Rocks and Mountains call'd upon in vain to shelter them:Rev. 6. 16. Then shall the Righteous who are now trampled upon and despised, shine as the Sun in the Firmament of their Father. Ma. 13. 43. Wisdom and her Children shall be first justified, and then glori­fied before all the World: And they that through Grace have gotten the Victory over the Beast, Rev. 15. 2. and over his Image, shall solace themselves, and praise their Redeemer with everlasting Songs of Triumph. The Dirt that is now unjustly thrown upon them, will not only be wiped off, but will add to their Glory,Mat. 5. 11, 12. and every Reproach for the Testimony of Jesus will be a Pearl in their Crown. The Righteous Judge of Heaven and Earth will shortly render to every Man according to his Work: Rom. 2. 6, 7, 8, 9. To them who by patient continuance in Well-doing seek for Glory, and Honour, and Immor­tality in the other World, and (in pursuit of that) patiently bear Disgrace and Contempt in this, to them he will render Eternal Life, w [...]ich will make them as Happy as they can desire, far more Happy than they can now conceive. But to them that are Conten [...], and do not obey the Truth, but contradict it, and rebel against the Light and Laws of it, being [...]e [...]lv'd to obey Vnrighteousness, to them he will render, with a just and Almighty Hand, Indignation and Wrath, the effect of which [Page 53] will be such Tribulation and Anguish to the Soul, as will make them feel eternally, what now they will not be perswaded to believe, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the living God; Heb. 10. 31. for never any hardned their Hearts against him and prosper'd. Brethren, These are the true Sayings of God, Rev. 19. 9. on the certainty of which, we may venture our Immortal Souls.

They who speak and act so much against Re­ligion, design to run it down, and extirpate it, that the Name of it may be no more in remembrance, and perhaps you hear them sometimes boast of their success herein:Psa. 83. 4. If they can but handsomly (as they think) ridicule the sacred Text, or Ban­ter any of the Divine Mysteries, [...] as if a good Man, they [...] they had run down Religion: Run down Reli­gion? In the Name of my great Master, I defy all the Powers of Hell and Earth to run it down:Magna est Veritas & praevalebit. They may sooner run down the flowing Tide, or the Sun when he goes forth in his strength, than run down the least of the Dictates of Eter­nal Truth,Mat. 5. 18. not one iota or tittle of which shall fall to the Ground. Dagon will certainly fall before the Ark of the Lord; and the Rod of Aaron will Swallow up the Rods of the Magicians. Ex. 7. 12. Do they talk of running down Religion, and the Scrip­tures, and the Ordinances of Christ? The Virgin [...] Daughter of Sign hath despised them, Isa. 37. 22. and laughed them to scorn, the Daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her Head at them; and hath therefore put them to [...] [...]cause God hath despised them, as it is said, Psal. 53. 5.Psal. 2. 4. He that sets in the Heavens enjoying himself,Deut. 33. 26. and rides upon the Heavens, for the Help of his People, derides their Attempts against the Kingdom of his Son, as vain and fruitless. The [Page 54] L [...]rd [...] them, Psa. 37. 13. for he sees that his Day [...] They have their Day now, it is their Hour and the Power of Darkness: But God will have his Day shortly, and a Glorious Day it will be, when our Lord Jesus shall appear in all the Power and Grandeur of the Vpper World, to the ever­lasting Terror and Confusion of all his Adver­saries, and the everlasting Joy and Honour of all his faithful Servants and Soldiers; With the belie­ving Hopes and Prospects of which Day, let all those who heartily espouse and plead Religion's righteous Cause, Comfort themselves and one another.


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