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the whole glory of his salvation, from beginning to end, to the free and sovereign grace of his Lord and Saviour.
Blessed be God, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"; and that in the instances of David, and Jonah, and St. Peter, and all who have heartily used their language, we see the willingness and
power of God to help us, even when we are sinking in the great depths. The same Psalm which begins with the earnest supplication, “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice,” is concluded with the cheering exhortation and promise, “ O Israel trust in the Lord ! for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption; and He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.”
XXVI. -THE HELM OF A GREAT SHIP.
" In many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the
same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” James iii. 2~5.—See also Ps. xxxii. 9;
xxxix. 1. James i. 26. The Apostle here teaches us, that if we would • bridle the whole body," we must begin by bridling the tongue. This is not, perhaps, the rule which we should have expected. Men, for the most part, take little account of their words. Many who are sensible that they are to some extent responsible for their actions, seem to think that words are of so airy and fleeting a nature, that it shows an overscrupulous mind for a man to be always setting a watch before his mouth, and keeping the door of his lips. As they seldom themselves reflect on what they are about to say, on what they have said; so they think that the eternal Judge will never bring them to a reckoning for what they call slight offences of the tongue, committed without meaning or purpose.
2 Rom. v. 20.
Now God has taught us that for every idle word we shall give account in the day of judgment. But this is not all. St. James teaches us that a man who does not set a bridle upon his tongue, has no real mastery over his various passions; and that the true government of the tongue is the great test of religious sincerity in other things.
And as he knew that this doctrine would startle that vast number of persons who take little or no account of what they say, he shows by two similitudes, that what seems small and insignificant, has often the greatest power for good or evil. 6 The strength of a horse” is far greater than the strength of a man; yet, when a bit is put into his mouth, he is tamed by what seems so powerless and insignificant; and his whole body is turned at the will of the rider.
In like manner, the helm is a very small part of a ship; yet, whatever be the bulk of the vessel, it obeys the helm or rudder, and is turned about whithersoever the governor listeth.” The helm seems to have power even over the fierce winds by which the ship is driven; for it enables “the governor” to direct the course of the vessel, notwithstanding the violence of the winds.
By these similitudes, St. James prepares us to admit, that although the tongue is indeed a very small member, yet a man's whole character is affected by the licence which he gives it on the one hand, or the care which he takes to bridle it on the other. And this declaration of an inspired Apostle should lead us very seriously to reflect on our own practice, and way of thinking, in this respect. We cannot but see that our words have great power over the passions of most people whom we meet with. " A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." 66 A word spoken in season, how good is it" !" But what we are perhaps less prepared to acknowledge is, that if we bridle our tongue, it is a sign that we are able to bridle our whole body; but if we do not bridle our tongue,
it is a sign that we are unruly and ungoverned in other respects. Thus an unbridled tongue is a sign of an ill-regulated mind. May we lay this plain declaration of an inspired writer to heart, and heartily purpose with the Psalmist, that our mouths shall not offend :” and may we strive to act up to his holy resolution ; " I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the
wicked is before me ! Not only let us take care that “no corrupt communication" may proceed out of our mouth; but that whatsoever we say, may be “ good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers 5."
XXVII.-ONE BODY AND MANY MEMBERS.
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have
not the same office : so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom. xii. 4,5.-See also I Cor.
xii. 12-27. The union of all Christians with Christ and with each other, in one Holy Church, is a great article of Christian faith. It means much more than that we are united together by professing the same truths; and more also than that we have all a sameness of nature, such as we all derive from Adam. This is indeed true, but more than this is meant by the union betwixt Christ and His people. It means that Christ, who is in heaven, is also dwelling by His Spirit in all His members, so as to make them one with Him and with
3 Prov. xv. 1.
# Prov. xv. 23.
5 Eph. iv. 29.
each other, by an union which is closer than that of parent and child; and this Divine presence in our hearts is ordinarily and chiefly vouchsafed by means of the holy sacraments; which are the channels of grace to all those in whom their effect is not hindered by impenitence, and unbelief.
It has pleased God to set forth to us this high and mysterious fact, by comparing it to the union between our own body and its various members; and the similitude reminds us of many most instructive truths.
1. If we are " the body of Christ, " then we have the comfort of knowing that Christ is our life. He is to our souls what the living principle is to our bodies. Being our “ Head',” He is our counsellor and guide in all difficulties and anxieties. Being our “ Life," He is our strength in all assaults of Satan, in all trials and temptations. So that it is not our own strength, nor our own wisdom, that we depend upon; but the strength and wisdom of Christ. And thus the Apostle ® says, “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” We have therefore the comfort of trusting that we are adopted in Christ, and justified and accepted; and may fully believe that no trials or temptations shall be too great for us, if we are strong in the Lord who dwelleth in us, and in the power of His might'. And surely if we remember that we are the members of Christ,” we shall regard both our souls and bodies with a more solemn and reverential feeling; and shall fear above all things to defile by any wilful sin what is His and not our own to.
2. We are reminded by this similitude, that we are bound to devote ourselves to Christ's service in continual usefulness and duty. That is scarcely to be called a member of our body which is of no use to 6 Col. iji. 4.
7 Eph. iv. 15. 9 Eph. vi. 10.
10 I Cor. vi, 15-20.
8 Gal. ii. 20.
the body; nor can he be called a true member of Christ who is of no use to the Church (which is Christ's body), according to the calling in life which God has appointed for him. The Apostle says, “ there are many members in one body, and all have not the same office.”
All have some office, but all have not the same office. And thus in Christ's body, every member is appointed to some useful office; some work of faith, and labour of love, in the daily duties of our various callings. No two members are appointed to the same office, but all have some service or other assigned to them. The services of some are more honourable than the occupations of others; but there is no member of Christ that is not called to serve God, in some course of useful and dutiful obedience. As we should cut off from the body a member that became useless and cumbrous, so will Christ cut off such members as are mere incumbrances on His Church; and however diligent we may be in the business of this world, we are cumberers of the ground in His sight, if we are not setting His glory before us as the end of all our undertakings.
3. This similitude reminds us of our mutual dependence one upon another. - The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you." If any member could sever itself from the rest, in a proud independence, it would utterly perish. The members “ have the same care one of another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it'.” Thus in the Church, there is no member so high but that he may have need of the service of the lowest; and none so low but that he may minister most needfully to the highest. This thought will effectually put down all feelings of pride in those who have higher gifts than others, and all risings of discontent in such as are called to more mean and lowly services. It is
Il Cor. xii. 25, 26.