Page images

saw him in prophetic vision, and thus described him: "He shall not strive, nor cry, "neither shall any man hear his voice in the "streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, "and smoking flax shall he not quench. "When he was reviled, he reviled not again. "When he suffered, he threatened not." To the errours of his friends, he was mild and gentle; he was patient under, and ready to forgive the injuries, reproaches, and insults of his enemies. When the impetuous zeal of his disciples led them to beg that he would command fire to descend from heaven, and consume a people who believed not on his name, with what meekness did he reprove their fault, and correct their mistake? "Ye "know not what manner of spirit ye are of; "the son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Though he came to his own, and his own received him not, he was not angry and exasperated at their rejection of him, but when he drew near unto Jerusalem, he beheld the city and wept over it. When Jesus left the celestial mansions to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, meekness descended along with him from heaven, and accom


panied him during the whole of his abode upon earth. Amidst the hardships of his humble station, and notwithstanding the obloquy, the neglect, and the ill usage which he met with, she was his constant attendant, She breathed in his words, she shone forth in his looks. When, towards the close of his life, his friends forsook him and fled, when malice was directing all her shafts against him, when cruelty assailed him in the most terrible forms, when justice refused to listen to his cry, when pity seemed to have almost entirely fled from the society of men, even then meekness did not desert him, but dictated his last words, which were a prayer for his enemies, "Father forgive them, for they "know not what they do."

Not only was meekness a distinguishing feature in the character of our Master; it is also the spirit which every part of his religion breathes. Before his appearance, the very

reverse of this virtue was evident both in the general state of society and in the characters of individuals. It was the It was the age of war and conquest. The arts of civil and domestick life were unknown and uncultivated, and rapine, bloodshed and cruelty, prevailed over

the face of the earth. In private life, too, however much they might cultivate patriotism, courage, and other shining qualifications, the peaceful virtue of meekness escaped their notice. Both Jews and Gentiles were remarkable for a pride and haughtiness of character very inconsistent with the weak and dependent state of human nature. They had some love for their friends, but it went no farther. They knew not what it was to forbear taking offence, or to forgive injuries. The dagger of assassination was daily drawn in revenge of wrongs. Man became the enemy of man, and those who should have lived together as brethren, took pleasure only in promoting discord and disorder, or, like savage beasts, in devouring one another. But this is not so much a matter of surprise, when they neglected the true foundation of peace and harmony; when even their moralists and philosophers represented meekness, gentleness and humility, as nearly allied to weakness of mind, and meanness of spirit, and as inconsistent with a great and noble character. But what were the precepts of Jesus and his Apostles?" Blessed are the meek," said he, for they shall inherit the earth.” When his


disciples were disputing about precedence and power, Jesus called a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said unto them,

except ye become as little children, ye shall "not enter into the kingdom of heaven." In truth, to love one another, to live at peace with all men, to bear the infirmities of the weak, to forgive the wrongs of the injurious, to be slow to wrath, to cultivate meekness, gentleness and kindness, are the constant precepts of that charitable religion, which was proclaimed by the Saviour of men, and which proceeded from the God of peace; that religion whose benign influences have dispelled the ignorance and barbarity of the nations, enlightened and civilized the human mind, softened and refined the manners of society, restrained the ravages and the cruelty of war, mitigated the severity of punishments, and taught all men to consider themselves as the children of one universal parent, who is good unto all, and whose tender mercies "are over all his works.'


Besides, how much reason have we to rejoice in the happiness of our lot, when we compare Christianity with another pretended revelation from God, which has gained over


to its side a great part of the human race! What joy and exultation should fill our minds when we contemplate the character and life of Jesus, and then consider the character of the ferocious prophet of the east; when we behold our Saviour meek and lowly in heart, condescending and inoffensive to all men, and after that, turn our eyes to Mahomet dyed in blood, riding in triumph over thousands of slain, and dragging the proselytes of his religion at the wheels of his chariot; what delightful joy should we not feel when we compare the gospel which proclaims peace on earth, and good will towards men, with that religion which carries war and desolation in its train, and every step of which has been marked with cruelty and rapine.

This virtue, then, though confined chiefly to the calm sequestered vale of life, or to the scenes of private and domestick retirement, cannot be unimportant when it runs through every part of our holy religion, when it is so often, and so eagerly recommended by it, and when it has so great an influence on the happiness of mankind. It is not calculated to gain the applause of men, but it is of high price in the sight of God. To do acts of pub

« PreviousContinue »