1 Peter 3:10
Peter's Epistles were written on the very eve of the persecution by Nero, who, anxious to divert the suspicions of the people who accused him of setting fire to Rome, charged the Christians with the crime, and caused them to be seized and tortured and slain. Some were crucified; some were clothed in the skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn by the dogs; some, having been rubbed over with pitch, were made to serve as torches to light up the imperial gardens, - this gratified at once sovereign and people. It is true that this severity was confined to the neighborhood of Rome, but Rome was the center of life to her provinces; the pulsations of the heart thrilled to the most distant parts of the empire. The words of our text have a new meaning as they rise before us on this dark background. Some may ask - What is the bearing of this on us? The answer is, that when Paul said, "They that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," he uttered what would be a fact to the end of the age. The fire, the rack, the headsman's axe, are gone; but in their place there are words that burn, looks that go like poisoned shafts to the soul, and treatment that stings like a scourge. As long as the truth which the Church is called to maintain and to live before a world that hates it is what it is, as long as our spiritual life needs trial for its cleansing and development, so long will Christ's people find how true it is that, because they are not of the world, but Christ hath chosen them out of the world, therefore the world hateth them. We can only glance at the bare outline of such a long passage as this. It contains three requirements, each of which has a benediction attached to it.

I. CALL TO BLESS THOSE WHO PERSECUTE US. From the ninth verse to the twelfth: you can hardly read these words without feeling you are listening to one who heard the sermon on the mount, and is inspired with its spirit; and we cannot help noting the change they imply in Peter himself. But perhaps it was what he saw in his Lord, more than what he heard from him, to which the change was due; Christ's character carrying his words home with transfiguring force. We do not wonder that it was Peter who wrote, "Not rendering evil for evil," etc., and it is the word and example of the same gracious Lord that lays the same burden on us. And mark the blessing to ourselves that grows out of that. Never give place to evil in word, or act, or thought, let the provocation be what it may. Yea, not only so, return evil with good, recompense wrong with right, and your fidelity to Christ will make an open way through the skies, through which you shall see his smile and hear his "Well done!" and find for your prayers and spirit a clear path to his throne.

II. CALL TO BE FEARLESS ABOUT WHAT OUR PERSECUTORS CAN DO TO US. "And who is he that will harm you," etc.? Persecution need not harm us, brethren; it is only one of God's refining fires, that, when thus he has tried us, we may come forth as gold. And what is the remedy for this fear? Peter is thinking of a passage in Isaiah where Judah is called, instead of fearing idolatrous Syria and trusting in Sennacherib, to fear and trust in the Lord. "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear." Now, with that Old Testament passage before us, the change which the Revisers have made here is very striking. Instead of" Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts," it is, "Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord." Peter, the Jew, who knew that perhaps the very highest title which could be ascribed to Jehovah was "the Lord of hosts," did not hesitate to give that title to Christ. Peter had known him in the humiliation of his human life; he had even washed Peter's feet, yet Peter uses his name and that of "the Lord of hosts" as convertible terms - speaks of these two as one. Peter, at least, had no doubt of the Deity of Jesus. And this attitude also has a blessing attached to it, "If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ye."

III. CALL TO MAINTAIN A GOOD CONSCIENCE IN THOSE THINGS ABOUT WHICH OUR PERSECUTORS REPROACH US. "And be ready always to give an answer," etc. A good conscience, a good conduct, a good answer - I think that is the order here. A good conscience. Be sure that you are suffering for goodness and not for badness; be sure that you have an unclouded sky between you and God; be sure that, when your heart does not condemn you, you hear him saying, "Neither do I condemn thee." And out of that will come what Peter calls "your good conversation," i.e. conduct. For as the sunshine develops and perfects the hidden beauties of nature and the fruits of the earth, so does the light of God's favor resting upon the conscious soul draw forth into character the graces of the spiritual life. The clear conscience that catches Heaven's smile is always followed by a brave and beautiful piety, which is its own justification against those who speak evil of it. And see the blessing attached to that! There is a broad sense, no doubt, in which we might apply these words to the Christian hope generally, and the duty of being able to give an intelligent and saris-factory reason for its possession; but their meaning here seems to be more defined. The good conduct that issues from the good conscience and puts to shame the evil speakers, leads them to question us about the hope which they see hidden within us and sustaining us, and they come to envy it, and secretly to want to know what it is. Now, says Peter, "be ready to tell them; let them know that it is the grace of Christ which renews and sanctifies." One of the benedictions of persecution endured and triumphed over is that it may bring the very persecutors themselves to the feet of Jesus. Then, brethren, can we not endorse the truth in the verse which closes this long passage, "It is good, if the will of the Lord be so, that ye suffer for well-doing." It is good in its purifying efficacy on ourselves; it is good in its tendency to glorify God; it is good as a saving power on our fellow-men. - C.N.







He that will love life.
The text is a quotation from a psalm (Psalm 34:12). The quotation in the original is slightly varied in the old Greek translation, and by St. Peter. One is tempted to wish that the R.V., instead of adopting "he that would love life," had just added a few letters to the Authorised translation. We should then read, "he that willeth to love life," that is, "he whose deliberate will it is to love life; he who sets himself to love a life, which is true life." Let us, then, address ourselves to the question now so often asked, "Is life worth living?"

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY LIFE? There are two words in the New Testament which, from the necessities of our language, are alike rendered "life." One of these words, βίος, signifies the principle of animal life, the things by which that life is preserved or gladdened, and the span of time through which it is continued. The other word belongs to a higher sphere, ζωή. It is the new life; which may be stunted or strengthened, as grace is used or abused; and which, after the resurrection, is to be clothed upon with a fitting framework. The question, then, for us as Christians really is, not whether life, in the New Testament sense of the word, ζωή, is worth living, but whether existence, βίος under mere animal or external conditions, is worth living? The last, no doubt, is an intricate question, and much may be said in favour of a reply in the negative. We may be reminded of the transitoriness of human existence. The vanity of our expectations may be appealed to, the compression of the successive objects of hope in the iron grasp of the coarse hand of necessity. The loss of those we love is a condition of advancing years. And this is accompanied by the protracted humiliation of the breaking up of the machine, by the sure martyrdom of gout, or of some other bodily torture. With this comes weariness of life. Much, very much, may of course be justly urged in mitigation of this pessimism. "Life rightly used," exclaimed a great statesman, "has happiness for each of its ages." The sweetnesses of domestic love; the pleasures of human society and friendship; the overplus of health over sickness and pain; activities, expectations, little surprises that come to the weariest lot; the air, the sky, the sunshine; — these, and a thousand like things, are woven into a contexture of no funereal tint. "We bless Thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life."

II. BUT ABOUT THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, IS EXISTENCE ELEVATED INTO LIFE WORTH LIVING? WE AS CHRISTIANS CAN MAKE NO DOUBT.

1. Present acceptance makes life worth living. "A tranquil God tranquillises all things, and to see His peacefulness is to be at peace."

2. There are times of exquisite pleasure in communion with God. These compensate for the languor of old age and for the slow "martyrdom of life."

3. Nor must we forget the pleasure which there is in work for God. The study of Scripture is a perpetual delight for those who pursue it. The Church's sacramental life is full of joy. The teaching of the young, the ministry to the sick, the gathering in of the fallen, the adornment, the quickening, the elevation of service and worship, have pleasures of their own which give animation and variety to life. But what is to be said of one form of sorrow inseparable from true religion — the sorrow of repentance? "That kind of sorrow is its own consolation"; "He has given a new kind of tears upon earth, which make those happy who shed them." "Oh that we could understand that the mystery of grace gives blessedness with tears!"

4. That life is worth living is, above all, proved by the view which Jesus took of it. Does He not say of Himself, "My delights were with the sons of men"? He is in some measure (if we may reverently say it) like a great artist, when, after the preparatory toil and thought, his idea stands out before him in its definite unity and beauty, and he cannot rest for joy until it smiles before him in marble, or is fixed in the music of deathless lines. No doubt human life is tragic and pathetic, yet there is a magic smile on the face of the drama after all.

(Bp. Alexander.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
I. A REASONABLE DESIRE. We have, in common with the beasts the intense desire to preserve our lives, a natural shrinking from death; and it would be easy to show you the important place of this universal sentiment in the Divine economy. It is indeed the basis of society; the secret of man's right relations with his brother. For his jealousy in guarding the treasure of his own life makes him careful to preserve the treasure of life for his brother. But it may be thought that the supreme interest which the Christian has in the life to come should make him indifferent to the continuance of this life. But that notion belongs to extravagant sentiment, and has no countenance from Bible teachings. It is only morbid feeling that leads to ill-speaking of present scenes and opportunities. But St. Peter uses another expression for the befitting Christian desire. A man should hope for "good days": days filled up with goodness, in the sense of good doings, and consequent good enjoyings. Ours cannot be "good days" unless we enjoy a fair measure of health, have useful occupation, and the pleasure of loving friendships.

II. THIS REASONABLE DESIRE ATTAINED. The apostle lays down three conditions, and they are all thoroughly practical.

1. He who would see good days will have to rule his speech: "let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." If we would see how this "ruling of our speech" stands related to "seeing good days," let us think how many of the misunderstandings and separations and troubles of our lives have come out of hasty, unwise, unkind, impure speeches.

2. He will have to order his conduct. And that involves work of two kinds, each closely related to the other. As soon as we take our life into our hands, and resolve to get it into fair shape, we find there is much to cut off. The attaining of good ever goes along with the clearing out of evil. And this makes the moral conflict of our lives. We must be doing good, seeking good, filling up our lives with good, that evil cannot even squeeze in edgeways. Activity in goodness is our safeguard. Temptation gains its effective power upon the idlers.

3. He will have to tone his relations. "Let him seek peace, and ensue it." By peace we must understand peaceableness, the spirit of the peacemaker, gentle, considerate, charitable.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

Let him refrain his tongue from evil
Most important among Christian duties is control of the tongue, and yet it is much neglected. Many who would hesitate to do a foolish or wicked thing do not scruple to say what is both unwise and wrong.

I. Let us guard against THE UNKIND WORD of every class.

II. Another which we must guard against is THE DISCONTENTED WORD. Count up God's mercies and blessings every day, and you cannot murmur.

III. Let us guard against THE UNTRUTHFUL WORD of every kind. A lie is no less a lie because it is printed in a prospectus, or written up in a shop window.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

"From evil." This is a large field, the evil of the tongue; but I give it too narrow a name: we have good warrant to give it a much larger — a whole universe, a world of iniquity; a vast bulk of evils, and great variety of them, as of countries on the earth or creatures in the world. There be in the daily discourses of the greatest part of men many things that belong to this world of evil, and yet pass unsuspected, so that we do not think them to be within its compass, not using due diligence and exactness in our discoveries of the several parts of it, although it is all within ourselves, yea, within a small part of ourselves, our tongues.

1. Profane speech, that which is grossly and manifestly wicked; and in this part lie impious speeches, which directly reflect upon the glory and name of God; blasphemies and oaths and cursings, of which there is so great, so lamentable abundance amongst us; and to these join scoffs and mockings at religion, also impure or filthy speaking, which either pollutes or offends the hearers, and is the noisome breath of a rotten, polluted heart.

2. Consider next, as another grand part of the tongue, uncharitable speeches, tending to the defaming and disgrace of others; and these are likewise of two sorts — open railings and reproaches, secret slander and detraction. The former is unjust and cruel, but it, is somewhat the less dangerous because open. It is a fight in plain field; but truly it is no piece of a Christian's warfare to encounter it in the same way. But the other kind, detraction, is more universal amongst all sorts, as being a far easier way of mischief. The former are the arrows that fly by day, but this is the pestilence that walketh in darkness; it spreads and infects secretly and insensibly, is not felt, but in the effects of it; and it works either by calumnies altogether forged and untrue, of which malice is inventive, or by the advantage of real faults, of which it is very discerning, and these are stretched and aggravated to the utmost.

3. Vain, fruitless speeches are an evil of the tongue. Not only those they call harmless lies, which some people take a pleasure in and trade much in, light buffooneries and foolish jestings, but the greatest part of those discourses which men account the blameless entertainments one of another, come within the compass of this evil; frothy, unsavoury stuff, tending to no purpose nor good at all.

4. Doubleness and guile; so great a part, that it is here particularly named a part, though the evil of it is less known and discerned; and so there is in it, as I may say, much terra incognita; yet it is of a very large compass, as large, we may confidently say, as all the other three together. What of men's speech is not manifestly evil in any of the other kinds is the most of it naught this way; speech good to appearance, plausible and fair, but not upright; not silver, but silver dross, as Solomon calls it (Proverbs 26:23); each, some way or other, speaking falsehood and deceit to his neighbour; and daring to act thus falsely with God in His services; religious speeches abused by some in hypocrisy, as holy vestments, for a mask or disguise; doing nothing but compassing him about with lies, deceiving indeed ourselves, while we think to deceive Him who cannot be deceived and will not be mocked. But to add something for remedy of these evils in some part discovered —for to vanquish this world of evils is a great conquest — it must begin at the heart, otherwise it will be but a mountebank cure, a false, imagined conquest. The weights and wheels are there, and the clock strikes according to their motion. A guileful heart makes guileful tongue and lips. It is the work house, where is the forge of deceits and slanders and other evil speakings; and the tongue is only the outer shop where they are vended, and the lips of the door of it; so then such ware as is made within, such and no other, can be set out. In like manner, a purified heart will unteach the tongue all filthy, impure speeches, and will give it a holy strain; and the spirit of charity and humility will banish that mischievous humour, which sets so deep in the most, of reproaching and disgracing others in any way, either openly or secretly; for it is wicked self-love and pride of heart whence these do spring, searching and disclosing the failings of others, on which love will rather cast a mantle to hide them. Be choice in your society, sit not with vain persons, whose tongues have nothing else to utter but impurity or malice or folly. But frequent the company of grave and godly persons, in whose hearts and lips piety and love and wisdom are set, and it is the way to learn their language. Use a little of the bridle in the quantity of speech. Incline a little rather to sparing than lavishing, for "in many words there wants not sin." In the use of the tongue, when thou dost speak, divert it from evil and guile by a habit of and delight in profitable and gracious discourse. Thus St. Paul makes the opposition (Ephesians 4:29): Let there be no corrupt or rotten communication; and yet he urges not total silence, but enjoins such speech as "may edify and minister grace unto the hearers." And are not such discourses much more worthy the choosing than the base trash we usually fill one another's ears with? An excellent task for the tongue is that which David chooseth, "And my tongue shall speak of Thy righteousness, and of Thy praise all the day long." Were the day ten days long, no vacant room for any unholy or offensive or feigned speech! And they lose not who love to speak praise to Him! for He loves to speak peace to them; and instead of the world's vain tongue liberty, to have such intercourse and discourse is no sad, melancholy life, as the world mistakes it.

(Abp. Leighton.)

Speak no guile
One of the attributes by which the Most High specially desires Himself to be known by His intelligent universe is absolute and unchanging veracity. Whatever He reveals to us He would have us receive as the pure and simple verity. Whatever He has promised, though heaven and earth should pass away, He will assuredly perform. In this attribute of inviolable truth God commands us to be imitators of Him. He wills us never to utter anything but the exact verity. In the commandment given to our race by Moses it is written, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." In the text, as in other places, He has promised His special favour to those that speak no guile. Our Lord Himself has declared that liars are the children of the devil; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. It is manifest that these teachings have not been without effect wherever the Bible has been openly and plainly spread before the people. Wherever the Word of God is freely circulated, and generally read, a barefaced and habitual liar is rarely to be met with among men who lay any claim to the respect of their fellow citizens. While, however, such cases are rare, I fear that indirect, and what are termed minor variations from strict veracity, are by no means uncommon. The law of absolute veracity would require that we should utter nothing but the perfect verity. We are, however, limited in comprehension, and imperfect in knowledge. To this our imperfection the law of God has respect, and it requires of us no more than our nature can perform. But some one may ask, Are we obliged to tell every one whom we meet all that we know and all that we are thinking about? Do we violate the law of veracity because we do not make a confidant of every companion, or reveal all our thoughts even to our most intimate friends? We may ask ourselves, and it would be well if we asked ourselves much oftener, whether it is or is not our duty to speak. If we decide, either from moral or prudential reasons, that it is our duty to be silent, it is clear that the law of veracity has no command to utter. If we, on the other hand, decide that it is our duty to speak, then the law pronounces its decision, and forbids us to speak anything but the truth. But the inquiry may arise, Are we always obliged, when we speak, to speak the whole truth? If we intend to convey the impression that what we say is the whole truth, when we know that it is only a part, we violate the law of veracity. If we have no such intention, but merely relate the fact as a fact, without any design to create any other impression, then we are innocent. The same law applies to promises. A promise is the expression of our intention to do something, with the design of creating in another the expectation that it will be done. Simply to express an intention is not to make a promise. If, in the course of ordinary conversation, I happen to mention my purpose to leave town tomorrow, this is not a promise, for I did not intend to create an expectation. If I not only say that I am going, but enter into an engagement with another to accompany him, this constitutes a promise. We are morally bound to fulfil the expectation which we have voluntarily created. If a moral obligation exists, it must be fulfilled. If a doubt remains, we must decide against ourselves, or leave the question to the decision of others. In no other manner can we retain our love of veracity unimpaired. By the habit of deciding doubtful cases in our own favour, selfishness gains the victory over our love of truth, and, before we are aware of it, we become reckless of our obligations and regardless of the sanctity of our word. And here, again, it may be asked — for questions on this subject seem to be almost innumerable — Are we bound to fulfil to the letter every promise which we make, even when it is without any condition? I would not say even so much as this. The very object for which the promise was made may have become unattainable, and of course the whole engagement falls to the ground. But if I break an engagement from idleness, or because I prefer at the moment to read some book which happens to interest me, I am guilty. It is of no avail to say my friend will excuse it: this may be, but it alters not the fact that I have trifled with my conscience, degraded my moral nature, and sinned against God. All this should plainly teach us several important lessons. In the first place, a promise should always, if possible, be definite, and distinctly understood by both parties. Again, if there be from a necessity a contingency, this contingency should be as accurately defined as the promise itself. And, lastly, when we are in doubt respecting the validity of any obligation — that is, when there is a conflict in our minds between the claims of veracity and those of interest and convenience — it is always safe to decide in favour of veracity. This may, it is true, cost us trouble, and sometimes apparently useless trouble, but it will confirm our virtue and teach us practical wisdom. Such, then, is the law of God, revealed to us in the Scriptures. But, let us ask, Is this law obeyed? Let us glance at a few of the occasions which give rise to the violation of the precept, and we shall see how easily men are seduced into disobedience to the law of God.

1. The inordinate love of wealth gives occasion to frequent violations of the plainest precepts of veracity. When large profits can be secured by falsehood, I am told that, in our large commercial centres, lying and even false swearing are matters of daily occurrence. The common adulteration of articles of traffic comes under the same condemnation. Men take every means to give to a worthless compound the appearance of a general product, and then solemnly declare it to be what they know it ,is not. Or we may come to facts which transpire every day, in every city and village in our land. The seller represents his goods as of the very best quality, and offers them to the buyer at a price which he declares to be scarcely above cost. The buyer, on the other hand, considers the quality inferior, the price unreasonable, and, at most, is willing to purchase only on a very long credit. The bargain is at length concluded, the goods are delivered, and the parties separate. All at once the language of these men is suddenly transformed. The seller is rejoicing that he has disposed of his merchandise at so handsome an advance, the buyer that he has received so good an article at so low a price.

2. Idle curiosity gives occasion to a large amount of false speaking. Many persons have an insatiable desire to know all the affairs of their neighbours, their likes and dislikes, their domestic arrangements, their opinions on all matters and of all persons, and thus to worm themselves into the most secret recesses of their confidence. This is commonly done from no malicious design — for such persons are commonly good natured — but from mere childish inquisitiveness. To accomplish our purpose, however, not a little management is necessary, and we are obliged to pretend to know already much of which we are entirely ignorant. This is the first departure from truth. We obtained our knowledge under the injunction of secrecy. But a secret which does not belong to us is not easily kept, for this intense desire to know is always accompanied by an equally intense desire to tell. We must reveal it to our intimate friends; and here is departure from truth the second. Or, again, we may meet with another person as inquisitive as ourselves, in whom we dare not confide, and whose prying curiosity we can elude in no other way than by falsehood or prevarication; here is departure the third. Thus the habit grows upon us.

3. Another frequent occasion for falsehood is found in the fear of speaking or acting at variance with received conventionalities. We express joy when we feel none. We counterfeit sadness when we suffer no sorrow. We use the expressions that are in vogue without any regard to the truthfulness of their application, but merely because we hear them used by others. Many a family has become habitual liars by the daily repetition of these conventional falsehoods. Children know that such language is false, and they must have more than usual virtue if they are not fatally corrupted. But some one will say, To do as you advise, and avoid the errors against which you have cautioned us, would require great care and intense watchfulness in all our conversation. We should be obliged to think before we speak, abandon many of the ordinary topics of discourse, and be content to improve men rather than amuse them. Be it so. In this we shall only follow the examples of better and wiser men. It was the prayer of David, "Set a watch, O Lord, over my mouth; keep the door of my lips." But you will say, To obey these precepts with strictness, to speak nothing but the simple verity, and utter only what God will approve, would render us very peculiar. The world lieth in wickedness, and how can a child of God live in it, and not be peculiar? Wicked men imitate the example of the father of lies; and can we be imitators of the God of truth without being peculiar? Was there ever a being on earth so peculiar as Jesus of Nazareth, the Author and Finisher of our faith? Unless the teachings of Christ exert their effect on our intercourse with our fellow men, what do we more than others? and how shall the world be the better or the wiser for our having lived in it? But, you will say, this is a lesson most difficult to be learned. It requires that we should be always on our guard, watching over ourselves with a vigilance such as we had never imagined. The gospel of Christ has provided for us all needful assistance. The cure must be performed in the inmost spirit, and the Spirit helpeth our infirmities.

(F. Wayland.)

Eschew evil
This we must eschew, as the bullet shot out of a gun, or to be stricken with a sharp sword; we must abhor it, as a toad or poison; we must abhor it with a deadly, an utter hatred, and accordingly avoid it most carefully.

(John Rogers.)

1. God is thereby dishonoured (1 Samuel 15:23).

2. God's wrath is provoked, and that must needs be dangerous (Psalm 106:29; Jeremiah 7:17).

3. God hates it and such as commit it (Psalm 5:4; Deuteronomy 28:15; Leviticus 26:14)

4. It brought misery into the world, with shame and confusion upon all, and hath always been the cause of all evils.

5. It bringeth eternal destruction both of body and soul.

(John Rogers.)

1. We are to eschew all evil, even the least.

2. All persons are to eschew the same, not the greatest excepted; God's law binds them, be they princes, magistrates, ministers, etc. They should eschew it most, for by their example they do most hurt.

3. At all times. Some things be in season at one time, some at another, but sin is never in season.

4. In all places. God is the God of all places, neither can any place change the nature of sin. Thou must eschew sin as well abroad as at home; in thy house, chamber, shop, as well as at church.

5. All kinds of sin are also to be avoided. Error in judgment and wickedness in conversation, evil against God, our neighbours, or ourselves.

6. We must also avoid evil under what colour or pretence soever it comes.

(John Rogers.)

I think we ought to buoy for ourselves in our course, as we buoy a harbour. Off this shoal a black buoy floats, and says to those who sail by, as plainly as if it spoke in all languages, "Keep to the right here"; and over against it floats another, and says, "Keep to the left here." Now, in life's ocean, wherever we know the quicksands are, wherever we have once been stranded, let us sink the buoy and anchor of memory, and keep to the right or the left, as the shoal may be.

(H. W. Beecher.)

In an old English work entitled, "Warwick's Spare Moments," we find the following excellent remarks: "When I plant a choyse flower in a fertile soyle, I see nature presently to thrust up with it the stinging nettle, the stinking hemlocks, the drowzie poppie, and many noysome weeds, which will either choake my plant with excluding the sunne, or divert its nourishment to themselves; but if I weed but these at first, my flower thrives to its goodnesse and glory. This is also my case when I endeavour to plant grace in the fertile soyle of a good wit; for luxurious nature thrusts up with it either stinging wrath, or stinking wantonnesse, or drowzie sloath, or some other vices, which robb my plant of its desired flourishing, but these being pluckt up, the good wit produceth, in its time, the faire flower of virtue. I will not, there fore, think the best wits, as they are wits, fittest to make the best men, but as they are the purged best wits. The ground of their goodnesse is, not the goodnesse of their wit's ground, the good weeding and cleansing it. I must first eschew the evill ere I can doe good; supplant vices, ere I can implant virtue."

And do good
1. It is good and amiable of itself, as the Lord is.

2. God commands it, who is our Sovereign Lord and King.

3. All promises in Scripture of good things, here and hereafter, are made to well doing (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28:1).

4. This brings us peace of conscience in this world.

5. This brings us to eternal happiness in the world to come (Matthew 7:21; John 5:29; Romans 2:10).

6. It is the glory of a man when he is dead.

(John Rogers.)

1. We must do all good that we can, and our places require, having respect unto all God's commandments (Psalm 119:6; Luke 1:6; 2 Kings 23:25).

2. We must do good at all times. Aguish fits of goodness, as before the Communion, or in afflictions, etc., God cares not for; He will have us to be ever doing some good.

3. We must do good in all places; not in the church only, but everywhere.

4. So in all companies we must do good, or take good; if we cannot do what we would, we must do What we can; it is some good to keep away evil.

5. We must do good to all persons, all duties towards God — publicly, privately, on His Sabbaths, on other days; so towards our families, neighbours, friends, superiors, inferiors, equals. We must do good as occasion offers itself, yea, towards our enemies,

6. We must do good in our general calling as Christians, by a holy conversation agreeable to our profession, and by our counsels, exhortations, admonitions, reproofs, prayers. We must do good also in our particular callings, as magistrates, ministers, husbands, wives, parents, masters, etc.

7. We must do good also, though it be hard and difficult so to do. If one way will not serve the turn, whereby to bring to pass our religious purposes, we must set upon another, as Luke 5:18.

8. We must do good, though we have no thanks for our labour, yea, though we have ill-will and hard measure.

9. We must do good also, though we have few encouragements and small company (Joshua 24:15).

10. We must do good while we may, while life and means last, yea and constantly.

11. We must also do the same in a particular faith, and in uprightness of heart, declaring the same by the reformation of our lives; and this must be in obedience to God, aiming at His glory, and not seeking ourselves, either in our profit, pleasure, or credit, etc., all which must be done willingly.

(John Rogers.)

All are doing good or evil. Men are sowing to the flesh or to the spirit. Every man is working iniquity or righteousness. To do good is Godlike. The Most High has never left Himself without witness, in that "He did good and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." We ought to be like God. Because God is holy, and perfect, and beneficent, we ought to be pure, and upright, and useful. To live for the good of others makes us like Christ. He went about doing good. He is our Pattern as well as our Redeemer. Then we are often commanded to be doing good. Here are a few words of Scripture: "Trust in the Lord, and do good"; "Depart from evil, and do good"; "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you"; "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men"; "To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased"; "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Our redemption by Christ was to this very end (Titus 2:14). It is well to have some rules for doing good. Here are some:

1. Set your heart on doing good. Be instant in season and out of season. Be in dead earnest.

2. Begin at once. The opportunity is never wanting.

3. Study how to do good. Read God's Word and the lives of good men and see how others did good. Ingeniously find out right ways, the best ways, of working.

4. Pray for Divine direction. God is all-wise. Beseech Him to use you for His glory and the good of men.

5. Never despise the day of small things. I have been at the heads of some of our noble rivers, and a barrel would have held all the waters they sent forth in an hour. One grain of wheat has in a few years been so multiplied as to produce millions of bushels in a year.

6. Be not afraid of trials. They are sure to come, but go on. Expect opposition, but do not needlessly provoke it.

7. Aim high. Earnestly covet the best gifts and the largest success. He who strives to do but little will commonly do less. Plan great things.

8. Keep your heart with all diligence. Watch against pride, and vanity, and self-seeking.

9. While you love God supremely, love all men fervently. Cherish the purest and most kindly feelings.

10. Give no just cause of offence. Be not morose or censorious. Meddle not. Be not a critic, nor a judge, nor a busybody; but be the servant of all men for their good.

11. Never discourage others in their good works.

12. Not only work your self, but set others to doing good according to their ability. "He who makes a king is greater than a king." He who incites another to a life of usefulness, doubles his own.

13. Be prepared for delays, disappointments, and discouragements. God may design to cure your hot haste and rashness by subjecting you to many hindrances.

14. Be diligent. Be always at it. He that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Blessed are they that sow by all watercourses.

15. Cheer fully and trustfully leave all issues with God. Duty is yours. Results are the Lord's.

16. Always do the best you can under the circumstances. If you cannot run, walk; if you cannot walk, crawl; if you cannot crawl, your strength is to sit still. But let nothing fail through your inadvertence, or unbelief, or vanity, or cowardice, or prayerlessness.

17. Waste no time on unwise plans and impracticable schemes. Be sure you are right, then go ahead. Prove all things. Learn to discriminate. All is not gold that glitters.

18. Beware of all superstition. God has no pleasure in fools. We cannot honour Him in things whereof we ought to be ashamed. Follow divinely sanctioned methods of doing good.

19. Guard against fanaticism. God has no use for our delusions. Mild enthusiasm is a great foe to better piety. Like a fire in a forest, it burns up all the tender plants of righteousness.

20. But never confound pure, humble, intelligent zeal with its counterfeits. Superstition and fanaticism are from beneath, holy zeal is from above. Be keenly alive and ready to every good work.

21. Count nothing of much value in comparison of the soul.

22. Obtain and retain a deep sense of the great price put into your hand to do good and to lay up treasure in heaven. In the great gospel harvest, he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.

23. Put a high estimate on the value of time and opportunity. "I have lost a day" ought to be a dreadful sound in the ears of any mortal. Be on the alert.

24. Keep your eye on the person and grace of Christ. Without Him you can do nothing. He is our wisdom and strength and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. None ever followed Him too closely nor relied upon Him too exclusively.

(W. S. Plumer, D. D.)

Seek peace, and ensue it
I. WHAT WE ARE OBLIGED TO DO.

1. To reform our hearts and lives. We must subdue our lusts and bridle our passions, and govern our tongues, and conduct ourselves by the holy laws of our religion.

2. To obey our superiors as far as lawfully we can.

3. In those things in which we dissent from others we are to judge for ourselves only, and not for others.

4. That we be very diligent in the search after truth, as well as sincere lovers of it.

5. That we preserve in our minds a difference between the great things of religion and the smaller things relating to it, and let them have a proportionable regard and esteem.

6. That we endeavour to be exemplary in all those things in which we are all agreed.

7. We must put as favourable a construction upon things and judge as charitably of all men as they are capable of.

8. We must be careful that we give no offence to our weak brother in things that are indifferent.

9. Let us often consider how great mercies we enjoy, and with all thankfulness bless the holy name of God. This method will divert our complaints into praises, and greatly tend to the peace of the Church.

10. Let us put up our fervent prayers to God for the peace of the Church and State: to God, who maketh men to be of one mind: to God, who is the God of peace and unity and love.

II. SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES OF PEACE AND UNITY, AND ITS TENDENCY TOWARDS OUR HAPPINESS. Peace and unity hath given us the advantage of waiting upon God without distraction; it strengthens us against a common enemy and commends our holy religion to those who are strangers to it. It abates from the care and burden of our superiors and secures our rights and properties. It is at once our glory and our defence, and the summary of all the blessings of this lower world. It encourages all worthy and useful undertakings, and makes us formidable to those who wish us evil. Applications —

1. It is evident from what hath been said that our irregular heats and disputes are to be imputed to our lusts.

2. This may serve for the reproof of those among us who by their profligate lives and their intemperate speeches, their rash censuring and notorious uncharitableness, lay a foundation for new quarrels and contentions. These are the men that trouble the world.

3. Let me exhort you all to comply with my text. But what words shall I make use of to persuade you to unity and concord?(1) I cannot forbear to tell you that it is your interest as well as your duty to seek peace and ensue it.(2) I might exhort you to it for your brethren's sake also.(3) I pray and beseech you for the Lord's sake also: for His sake who hath commanded it; for His sake who came to restore it to the world, who is the great Mediator, and came to reconcile us to God, and to one another.

(Bp. Kidder.)

1. By living innocently and harmlessly with our neighbours.

2. By living helpfully, and doing good in our places.

3. By passing by such small wrongs as are done unto us.

4. By parting with some of our right to have peace.Herein we must not stand upon terms, though haply it were fit an adversary should come to us, as being younger, inferior in place, or who first gave the cause of offence.

(John Rogers.)

1. Because it is so pleasing to God. He is the God of peace; He gave His Son to make peace; and He loves that we should live in peace, and therefore gives us the gospel of peace and spirit of peace; yea, He so likes it that He pronounces them blessed that help it forward.

2. This shall be a sign that we are taught of God, and whereby our prayers will become the more acceptable (1 Timothy 2:8).

3. This is most comely (Psalm 133:3).

4. Great is the profit hereof.

5. If we live in peace, we are fit to do good to one another; else we can do no good, but evil.

(John Rogers.)

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