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prayed for his murderers, and suggested in his prayer the only plea which could be alleged in extenuation of their guilt? Is this to remember the petition framed by Him for your daily devotions ; that God would so forgive your trespasses, as you forgive them who trespass against you? Is this to obey his solemn command; Bless them that curse you ; pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (k) ? Is this to give credit to his awful declaration : Whosoever fall say to his brother, Raca ; whosoever shall malignantly address another even with a Night term of reproach, shall be in danger of the council : and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire (1) ? Is this to believe his renewed warning by the mouth of St. Paul: Be not deceived; revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God (m) ? Do you attempt to excuse yourself by the absurd apology so frequent on the lips of the passionate ; that you should not have offended with your
had not received provocation? As though it would have been a noble proof of self-denial to have refrained from outrageous language when there was
(k) Matth. v.44. (1) Ibid, 22.
no motive to excite it? As though it would have been a signal testimony of obedience to God, to have refrained from finning when there was no temptation to offend! Why does the Almighty permit provocations to affail thee, but to prove thee, to know what is in thine heart, whether thou wilt keep his commandments or no : whether thou wilt obey the headlong impulse of wrath; or strive through the grace of thy God, and for the sake of pleafing Him, to remain unmoved ? How is obedience to be exercised, but by trials ? When is it to be manifested, but in the hour of trial ? Let every man, my beloved brethren, be swift to hear, how to speak, Now to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. I beseech you that
ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye 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 peace (n).
IV. I proceed to those fins of the tongue which owe their origin to vanity and pride. (n) James i. 19, 20. Eph. iv. 1-3.
may be comprehended under the term boastfulness. The boastful man speaketh of himself, and seeketh his own glory. His heart is lifted up; his mouth uttereth proud things : he giveth not the honour unto God: he vaunteth himself against the Most High. When he meditates an important undertaking, he says not with the Apostle, If the Lord will, I fall do this or that. His language is that which the Scripture reprobates ; To-morrow I will go into such a city, and stay there a year, and buy and fell, and get gain (0). When his enterprises prosper, he remembers not that it is the Lord who giveth him power to get wealth. He exclaims with Nebuchadnezzar: Is not this
Is not this great Babylon that I have built ? — with the king of Assyria, By my wisdom I have done it, for I am prudent :with the vaunting Israelite, My power, and the might of my arm, hath gotten me this wealth (p). If he talks of religion, it is to say to his neighbour ; Stand by thyself : come not near to me : for I am holier than thou. I thank God that I am not as other men are. I am rich and increased with spiritual goods
(0) James, iv. 13. 15.
and have need of nothing (9). If he meets with opposition, he cries out with the overbearing boaster described by the Psalmist: With my tongue will I prevail: my lips are my own.
Who is lord over me (r)? Even health and bodily strength and activity are with him the subjects of vain-glory, as though he had conferred them upon him. felf. Not unfrequently wickedness itself becomes his boast. He openly triumphs in the violence with which he has borne down an opponent; in the cunning with which he has over-reached a competitor ; in the revenge which he has exercised against a person who has offended him ; in being mighty to drink wine, and a man of Atrength to mingle strong drink (s). Solicitous in every circumstance of life to magnify himself, he speaks contemptuously and degradingly of others : and the more contemptuously and degradingly in proportion as he apprehends that they may be advantageously compared with him, or
stand in the way of his enterprises and projects. This is he who seeketh honour from
men, not the honour which cometh only from
(g) Isaiah, lxv. 5. Luke, xviii. 11. Rev. iii. 17. fr) Pf. xii. 4.
(s) IC. v. 22.
God. This is he who perceiveth not that before honour is humility. This is he who knoweth not that every one who exalteth himself shall be abased. This is he who knoweth not that in each of the catalogues of grievous sinners recorded by St. Paul as objects of divine vengeance, boasters have a place. Does the boaster call himself a disciple and imitator of the Lord Jesus ? Come and learn of me, said Christ; for I am meek and lowly in heart. He did not found a trumpet before him ; nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. Though come missioned to display his miraculous power in public as one of the proofs that he was the predicted Saviour, he delighted to find occasions of exerting it in private: he repeatedly enjoined the concealment of his mighty deeds : he studiously transferred the entire praise of his works from himself to his Father: he commanded the few witnesses, whom he permitted to behold his transfiguration, to make no mention of that display of glory until after his death. Seest thou a man wife in his own conceit? There is more, hope of a fool than of him. Brethren; in honour prefer one another. Be courteous in word and in deed. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth :