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- 4 He never shows us a smiling countenance, while he meditates evil against us in his heart. He never praises us among our friends; and Vien joins in traducing us among our enemies. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another. In his manners, he is simple and unaffected ; in all his proceedings, open and consistent.-BLAIR.
· SECTION XIV.
Gentleness. I BEGIN with distinguishing true gentleness from passive tameness of spirit, and from unlimited compliance with the manners of others. That passive tameness which submits, without opposition, to every encroachment of the violent and assuming, forms no part of christian duty ; but, on the contrary, is destructive of general happiness and order. That unlimited complaisance, which, on every occasion, falls in with the opinions and manners of others, is so far from being a virtue, that it is itself a vice, and the parent of many TicEs.
? It overthrows all steadiness of principle; and produces that sinful conformity with the world, which taints the whole character. In the present corrupted state of human manners, always to assent, and to comply, is the very worst maxim we can adopt. It is impossible to support the purity and dignity of christian morals, without opposing the world on various occasions, even though we should stand alone. - 3 That gentleness therefore wbich belongs to virtue, is to be carefully distinguished from the mean spirt of cowards, and the fawning assent of sycophants. It renounces no just right froin fear. It gives up no important truth from flattery. It is indeed not only consistent with a firm mind, but it necessarily requires a manly spirit, and a fixed principle, in order to give it any real value. Upon this solid ground only, the polish of genileness can with advantage be superinduced.
4'lt stands opposed, not to the most determined regard for virtue and truth, but to harshness and severity, to pride and arrogance, to violence and oppression. It is properly, that part of the great virtue of charity, which makes us unwilling to give rain to any of our brethren. Compassion prompts us to relieve their wants. Forbearance prevents us from retaliating their injuries. Meekness restrains our angry passions ; candour, our severe judgments.
5 Gentleness corrects whatever is offensive in our man. ners; and by a constant train of humane attentions, studies
to alleviate the burden of common misery. Its office, there. · fore, is extensive. It is not, like some other virtues, called
forth only on peculiar emergencies; but it is continually in action, when we are engaged in intercourse with men. It ought to form our address, to regulate our speech, and to diffuse itself over our whole behaviour.
6 We must not, however, confound this gentle “wisdom which is from above,” with that artificial courtesy, that studied smoothness of manners, which is learned in the school of the world. Such accomplishments, the most frivolous and empty may possess. Too often they are employed by the artful, as a snare; too often affected by the hard and unfeel. ing, as a cover to the baseness of their minds. We cannot, at the same time, avoid observing the homage, which, even in such instances, the world is constrained to pay to virtue.
7 In order to render society agreeable, it is found necessary to assume somewhat, that may at least carry its appearance. Virtue is the universal charm. Even its shadow is courted, when the substance is wanting. The imitation of its form has been reduced into an art; and in the commerce of life, the first study of all who would either gain the estcem, or win the hearts of others, is to learn the speech, and to adopt the manners, of candour, gentleness, and humanity.
8 But that gentleness which is the characteristic of a good man, has, like every other virtue, its seat in the heart; and, let me add, nothing except what flows from the heart, can render even external manners truly pleasing. For no assumed behaviour can at all times hide the real character. In that unaffected civility which springs from a gentle inind,there is a charm infinitely more powerful, than in all the studied manners of the most finished courtier.
9 True gentleness is founded on a sense of what we owe to him who made us, and to the common nature of which we all share. It arises from reflections on our own failings and wants ; and from just views of the condition, and the duty of man. It is native feeling, heightened and improved by principle. It is the heart which easily relents; which feels for every thing that is human; and is backward and slow to inflict the least wound.
10 It is affable in its dress, and mild in its demeanour; ever ready to oblige, and willing to be obliged by others ; breathing habitual kindness towards friends, courtesy to strangers, long-suffering to enemies. It exercises authority with moderation ; adıninisters reproof with tenderness ; confers favours with ease and modesty. It is unassuming in opinion, and temperate in zeal. It contends not eagerly about tri. fles; slow to contradict, and still slower to blame; but prompt to allay dissention, and restore peace.
11 It neither intermeddles unnecessarily with the affairs, por pries inquisitively into the secrets of others. It delights above all things to alleviate distress; and, if it cannot dry up the falling tear, to sooth at least the grieving heart. Where it has not the power of being useful, it is never bur. densome. It seeks to please, rather than to shine and dazzle; and conceals with care that superiority, either of talents or of rank, which is oppressive to those who are beneath it.
12 In a word, it is that spirit, and that tenor of manners, which the gospel of Christ enjoins, when it commands us, "to bear one another's burdens; to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep; to please every one his neighbour for his good; to be kind and tender-hearted; to be pitiful and courteous; to support the weak, and to be patient towards all men."
sacrifice to the violence of the times, in the reign of CHARLES the First
THE earl of Strafford defended himself against the accusations of the house of Commons, with all the presence of mind, judgment, and sagacity, that could be expected from innocence and ability. His children were placed beside him as he was thus defending his life, and the cause of his roval master. After he had, in a long and eloquent speech, delivered without premeditation, confuted all the accusations of his enemies, he thus drew to a conclusion
" 2 "But, my lords, I have troubled you too long: longer than I should have done, but for the sake of these dear pledges, which a saint in heaven has left me.”_Upon this he paused; dropped a tear; looked upon his children, and proceeded. “What I forfeit for myself, is a trifle: that my indis. cretions should reach my posterity, wounds me to the heart.
3 Pardon my infirmity --Something I should have added, but I am not able; and therefore I let it pass. And now, my lords, for inyself. I have long been taught, that the afflictions of this life, are overpaid by that eternal weight of glory, which awaits the innocent. And so, my lords, even so, with the utmost iranquillity, I submit myself to your judgment, whether that judgment be life or death: not my will, but thine, O God, be done!"
4 His eloquence and innocence, induced those judges to pity, who were the most zealous to connemn nim. The king himself went to the house of lords, and spoke for some tiine in his defence: but the spirit of vengeance, which had been chained for eleven years, was now roused; and nothing but his blood could give the people satisfaction. He was condemned by both houses of parliament, and nothing remained but for the king to give his consent to the bill of attainder.
5 But in the present commotions, the consent of the king, would very easily be dispensed with; and imminent danger might attend his refusal. Charles, however, who loved Strafford tenderly, hesitated, and seemed reluctant; trying every expedient to put off so dreadful an office, as that of signing the warrant for his execution. While he continued in this agitation otinind, and state of suspense, his doubts 'were at last silenced by an act of great magnanimity in the condemned lord.
6 He received a letter from that unfortunate nobleman, desiring that his life might be made a sacrifice to obtain reconciliation between the king and his people: adding, that he was prepared to die; and that to a willing mind, there could be no injury. This instance of noble generosity, was but ill repaid by his master, who complied with his request. He consented io sign the fatal bill by commission; and Strafford was beheaded on Tower-hill; behaving with all that coinposed dignity of resolution, which was expected from his character.
GOLDSMITA. SECTION II. An eminent instance of true fortitude. ALL who have been distinguished as servants of God, or benefactors of men; all who, in perilous situations, have acted their part with such honour as to render their names illustrious through succeeding ages, have been eminent for fortitude of mind. Of this we have one conspicuous example in the aposile Paul, whom it will be instructive for us to view in a remarkable occurrence of his life.
2 After having long acted as the apostle of the Gentiles, his mission called hiin to go to Jerusalem, where he knew that he was to encounter the utmost violence of his enemies. Just before he set sail, he called together the elders of his favourite church at Ephesus, and, in a pathetic speech, which does great honour to his character, gave them his last farewell. Deeply affected by their knowledge of the certain dangers to which he was exposing himself, all the assembly were filled with distress, and melted into tears.
3 The circumstances were such, as might have conveyed dejection even into a resolute mind; and would have totally overwhelmed the feeble. “ They all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him; sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more."—What were then the sentiments, what was the language, of this great and good man? Hear the words which spoke his firm and undaunted mind.
4 “Behold, I go bound in the spirit, to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Spirit witnesseth in every ciiy, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me; neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
5 There was uttered the voice, there breathed the spirit, of a brave and virtuous man. Such a man knows not what it is to shrink from danger, when conscience points out his path. In that path he is determined to walk, let the consequences be what they may. This was the magnanimous behaviour of that great apostle, when he had persecution and distress full in view.
6 Attend now to the sentiments of the same excellent man, when the time of his last suffering approached ; and remark the majesty, and the ease, with which he looked on death “I am now ready to be offered, and the cime of my departure is at hand. "I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
7 How many years of life does such a dying moment over balance! Who would not choose, in this manner, to go off the stage, with such a song of triuinph in his mouth, rather than prolong his existence through a wretched old age, stained with sin and shame?
BLAIR. SECTION III. The good man's comfort in affliction. THE religion of Christ not only arms us with fortitude against the approach of evil; but, supposing evils to fall uron us with their heaviest pressure, it lightens the load by many consolations to which others are strangers. While bad men trace, in the calamities with which they are visited, the hand of an offended sovereign, Christians are taught to view them as the well-intended chastisements of a merciful Father,