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Godi.” To the Colossians again, whom he intreats to mortify their earthly affections, he employs a similar argument, drawn from a contrast between their former condition, as Heathens, and that in which they were placed by becoming professors of the Gospel. “ For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
. But now ye also put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy:” and “
put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also do yek.” And to Titus he delivers the same rule of Christian conduct, founded upon the same distinction between the Heathen, and the follower of Christ. “ Put them in mind,” says he, giving to this his son in the faith instructions
upon the points of exhortation, which he should press upon his hear
i 1 Cor. vi. 10, 11.
k Col. iii. 7, 8, 19, 19.
“ Put them in mind—to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish,
; living in malice and envy, hateful, and bating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life?."
From these and the like passages, the time would not permit me to particularize, I apprehend it to be clearly made out, that a contrast and opposition were intended to be remarked, in this important article of practice, between the Christian and the Heathen characters : that whilst the Heathens allowed themselves to in
1 Tit. jji. 3-7.
dulge in “ bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil-speaking and malice,” it was the distinguishing mark of the true followers of Christ, that they were “ kind one to another, tender hearted, merciful and gentle, showing meekness unto all men, forbearing and forgiving one another.” And so much stress I apprehend to be laid upon this distinction and contrariety between the two, for the purpose of inculcating upon the minds of “ all who profess and call themselves Christians,” that, whatever be their profession, they are in truth no better than Heathens, unless they “ walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
The text has thus far led me only to notice the fact, that it is represented in the Gospel as a duty peculiarly incumbent upon Christians, to put away from them
“ all malice,” with all its fruits of “ bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil-speaking;” and to cultivate in its stead that kindness and tender heartedness, which is especially manifested by mutual forgiveness, and the forbearing of one another in love. A leading motive to the performance of the duty is alluded to in the latter part of the text, where it is said, “ forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” I trust that it will not be departing from the spirit of the text, although we may not adhere strictly to its letter, if we take the subject somewhat more largely ; and consider other weighty motives, which, in common with this, are proposed to us by the holy scriptures, for the avoiding of malice, and the cherishing of Christian charity in our hearts,
I. Now, that we may in the first instance be convinced of the hatefulness of a malignant temper, let us only look to the source, from whence the scriptures teach us that it proceeds. From the bitterness of the fountain, we may judge of the character of the water which it sends forth. From the corruptness of the tree we may estimate the quality of the fruit. The Author of malice is the Devil. Look to the several proofs, whereby it manifests itself; and you will be convinced of the source, from whence it sprung; of the being, who first gave evidence of its existence. Does maliçe betray: itself by envy of superior, excellence ?. Behold Satan aspiring with impious arrogance to contend with the Almighty, and “ exalting his throne above the stars of God," and “ likening himself to the Most Highn!"Does malice delight in the overthrow of unoffending innocence ? Behold the same wily Adversary of man, as well as of God, polluting the virtue, and so destroying the happiness, of man! Is it an act of malice to seduce others into sin? By an appropriate appellation he is styled “ the Tempter :” he tempted our first parents to forsake their allegiance to God, and to commit sin : he tempted Christ in the wilderness: he temptethus continually; with what success alas ! we too well know, when