Page images
PDF
EPUB

her lifetime she imparted but little joy, and her death occasioned as little sorrow. - Meekness is amiable, and should be studied by all the professing people of God. It is generally interwoven into the very frame, and becomes part of the composition of a prosperous soul. “ Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Anger is “ giving place to the Devil,” and as it were, making room for him to lodge in our hearts. Wherefore let us put away all these, (viz.) “ All bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, with all malice. And let us be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us.'

EXAMPLE III.

Mrs. Mild is quite the contrary of Mrs. Bick . ering. She possesses an amiable disposition, rendered doubly amiable by the renovating and sanctifying grace of God. She can bear to hear herself censured and reviled without reviling again. In her house, no noise or confusion are to be heard or seen. In her we behold“ the serpent's eye in the dove's head.” She is both wise, and harmless, and gentle, and kind, and it need not be added, possesses a very prosperous soul. She can sustain repeated affronts without breaking out into a flame and fury. She can bear injuries without meditating revenge. As she never loves to give offence to any, so she is not easily offended. Time would fail to tell of her prudence, and of her judicious arrangements in her domestic affairs, especially in relation to her soul, and to the temporal and eternal welfare of her children and servants.

O that all professing christians were like Mrs. Mild. Alas! that believers should be such " peevish and feeble pieces of human nature” as will take offence at any little thing. Let us never make our own foolish jealousies a ground for our indignation. In this world we must meet with gibes and insults, with injuries and scorn; but still it should be our study to shine on, regardless of these things, and to pray for our enemies, while 6 as far as lieth in us, we do good unto all men, and especially to the household of faith.” Such was Mrs. Mild, and such may the writer, and every reader be!

EXAMPLE IV.

MR. Levity moved in a religious circle, and was believed to be a well-meaning and sincere christian. But such was the frivolity of his character, that he was no ornament to religion, nor did he enjoy much of its reality and sweetness in his own soul.

Cheerful piety is always amiable; and the “ ways of wisdom are (always) ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Christianity does not require that we should be mopish and morose, or that we should be melancholy, in order to enjoy it. We may safely say,

“ Religion never was design'd
To make our pleasures less."

But Mr. Levity went beyond all decent and reasonable bounds, and seemed to have forgotten “ that no corrupt communication should proceed out of our mouths, but that wbich is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.' Christians surely should talk, when they meet together, of something that may improve them in knowledge, in virtue, and in religion. They should blush to think they have been an hour or two in each other's company without saying or hearing any thing that is worth remembering. It is sad when we are returning from a visit, if we be compelled to lament" that we have neither said any thing for the improvement of the company, nor heard any thing for our own.” Yet this is almost sure to be the case if Mr. Levity be present. If puns, or sharp-biting jests, or ludicrous speeches and anecdotes would profit the soul, and cause it to prosper, the company of Mr. Levity would be much to be desired; this is far from being the case, and but few, it is to be feared, can bear testimony to the spiritual benefit they have derived from his society.

The duties of christianity lead us to nothing below the dignity of man. And yet Mr. Levity would sometimes distort his own countenance, and almost burst the sides of those who courted his company, by exhibiting many of the wild and wanton grimaces of madness and folly. How degrading for a man, made after the image of the Son of God, to resign all the honours of humanity to base and senseless merriment !

Mr. Gravity once ventured to give Mr. Levity a gentle reproof, when, with a significant air, he replied, “ What, Sir! cannot we be merry, and not sin ?” “Yes,” said Mr. Gravity," there is indeed a time to laugh. Our holy religion, however, requires that we should confine our mirth within the limits of

virtue, and that we should take heed lest when we indulge the sprightly powers of our natures, we should trespass upon sacred things, or transgress the rules of piety." “ Dear me," said Mr. Levity,do let us enjoy ourselves, there can be no harm in it." “ I merely wished," said Mr. Gravity," to remind you of your christian profession, and that Solomon says, The heart of a fool is in the house of mirth! (Eccles. vii. 4.) where he would continually be. Indeed I must take the liberty to tell you,” continued Mr. Gravity, " that a very learned, pious, and polite divine, has said, " If we are always affecting to throw out some turns of wit upon every occurrence of life, and to tack on a jest to every thing that is spoken; if we interline all our discourse and conversation with merriment, banter, and joking; it is very unworthy of that gravity and honour which belongs to the christian * life.” “ Sir," said Mr. Levity," I respect your authority, and bow to it;" and his conversation immediately assumed that decorous and solemn character which becomes the christian.

Man, who has a rational soul, should act conformably to that immortal principle, and not spend his time and his breath as an everlasting trifler. It is wonderful that any man's personal vanity should ever so far get the ascendancy over his reason, not. to say his religion, as to cause him to glory in being

a walking jest, a mere living trifle !” when, in fact, he is a huge mass of folly and impertinence.

To the credit of Mr. Levity, it must be said, that,

* Dr. Watts.

having received several checks from his pious friends, and having been induced to read his Bible with more care and attention, his conduct became altered, and his company very agreeable and edifying. He conquered his natural volatility, and, by the grace of God, became an excellent and a useful man. Occasionally, indeed, he forgot himself, and his natural vivacity passed the bounds of propriety, but he always felt some bad consequence afterwards, and became fully sensible that excessive levity and soul prosperity were not compatible with each other.

Let these examples suffice. And enough it is presumed has been said on the subject of hinderances to soul prosperity. Every good man may easily judge what is his greatest hinderance, in particular, and what is his “ easy besetting sin." We cannot, indeed, always tell where the enemy may lurk, or where he may spread his snares; but knowing the plague of our own hearts, and how ready they are to depart from the living God, we may generally know what particular snares are connected with our situations, or arise out of them; and great care should be taken to place the strongest guard where the danger is greatest, and the defence most feeble. Our greatest danger may be at home or abroad, or may lie in a thousand diversified circumstances. Hence we always need the upholding and supporting arm of the Lord. “ Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." Inward corruptions need to be crucified, day by day; and self-denial should be constantly practised. Where these are not, it may be asked, where is religion? O that we may be enabled to stand in the evil day, and ever to “ deny ourselves of all ungod.

« PreviousContinue »