1 Peter 3:9
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Avoiding DivisionsAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 3:8-9
Brotherly LoveEssex Remembrancer1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian CourtesyJ. Summerfield, M. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian CourtesyT. Binney.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian CourtesyJ. Fawcett, M. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian PolitenessHugh S. Carpenter, D. D.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian UnityThos. Wagstaffe.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christian UnityJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:8-9
Christlike CompassionT. De Witt Talmage.1 Peter 3:8-9
Do not RetaliateF. B. Meyer.1 Peter 3:8-9
Fire Does not Extinguish Fire1 Peter 3:8-9
Good for Evil1 Peter 3:8-9
Good MannersW. M. Statham.1 Peter 3:8-9
Goodness Spoilt by RudenessGood Words.1 Peter 3:8-9
Minor MoralsD. Dickson.1 Peter 3:8-9
Oneness of MindF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
PityJ. Mainwrigg, B. D.1 Peter 3:8-9
Politeness1 Peter 3:8-9
PolitenessJ. C. Lees, D. D.1 Peter 3:8-9
Politeness and its Place1 Peter 3:8-9
Railing for RailingJ. Trapp.1 Peter 3:8-9
Small Courtesies not Overlooked1 Peter 3:8-9
SympathyH. C. Atwool, M. D.1 Peter 3:8-9
The Reward of Courtesy1 Peter 3:8-9
The Social IdealF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
The True Gentleman Does not Indict PainJ. H. Newman, D. D.1 Peter 3:8-9
The Work and Wages of the Christian WorkerJohn Macpherson, M. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
True Courtesy, and How to Attain to ItC. H. Irwin, M. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
True PolitenessE. J. Hardy, M. A.1 Peter 3:8-9
Unity Between Christian PeopleU. R. Thomas.1 Peter 3:8-9
Unity Between Christian PeopleU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 3:8-12
Injunctions to AllR. Finlayson 1 Peter 3:8-22
The Conduct Becoming the Christian Towards His PersecutorsC. New 1 Peter 3:9-17
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.

Finally, be ye all of one mind.

1. It is a mutual agreement.

2. It is a mutual care of the common interest. If there be ever so much agreement in opinion and judgment, yet if the interests are divided it is not unity.

3. The terms of union and all the means of it must be lawful. Otherwise it is not unity, but conspiracy.


1. It is the safety of all societies.

2. Unity best serves the purposes of religion. I need not say that dissensions destroy the beauty and charity of religion, that thereby God is dishonoured.

3. It is the perfection of all political virtues, and for the most part of the Christian virtues also. Good government, wholesome laws, mutual security, arts and sciences, trade and commerce, are all the children of union. And as unity is the perfection of political, so it is for the most part of Christian virtues also. The apostle tells us that love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10). And then for these other Christian virtues, peace, humility, forgiveness, patience, contentment, charity, these do all as naturally flow from unity as a stream does from its fountain.

III. THE RELATION THAT IS BETWEEN UNITY AND CHARITY. I cannot express this better than in St. 's similitude. If there be a thorn in the foot, the back bends, the eyes search, the hands are ready, and all parts are quick and active to relieve the member that is grieved. And this is the just resemblance of that charity that arises from unity. The whole body feels the smart and needs of a suffering member.


1. The practice of these virtues recommends our religion to the world; that is, it gives people occasion to respect it, and speak well of it, and the least of it is that it gives them no just occasion to speak ill of it.

2. The practice of these virtues makes us like God.

3. It is the state of heaven. Unity and charity are immortal graces; they live at God's right hand, and are part of the employment and the happiness of the other world.

(Thos. Wagstaffe.)

I. WHEREIN DOES UNITY BETWEEN CHRISTIAN PEOPLE CONSIST? Leighton suggests that St. Peter here describes five graces, of which love is the root or stalk, having two on either side: on the one side, like mindedness and compassionateness, on the other side, tender-heartedness and humble-mindedness.



1. There is a direction as to detail of speech. Refrain from —

(1)The malicious.

(2)The false.

2. There is a deep and wide precept applying to the whole of life.


1. The Christian man is called to inherit blessing.

2. The cultivation of the spirit that promoted social unity ensures the summon bonum of the individual life.

3. Relationship to God is the great determining condition and motive in all that leads to true Christian unity.

(1)God knows what we are doing.

(2)God cares for what we are doing.

(U. R. Thomas.)

Not that he would have these Jews to be of one mind with the idolatrous and profane Gentiles amongst whom they lived; but that, being believing Jews, they would all agree together in the matters of faith and religion of Christ, that they would all embrace the Lord Jesus, the only Foundation; and that some only should not look for salvation by Him, some by the law, and some by both, but that all should seek unto Him alone. And as they were thus to agree in matters of faith, so also in their civil affairs, avoiding contention and strife.

(John Rogers.)

Beware of two extremes that often cause divisions.

1. Captivity to custom.

2. Affectation of novelty.

(Abp. Leighton.)

All of one mind, cemented into a holy unity by a common sympathy. Ministering to the saints. Pitiful to the weak, erring, and poor. Courteous to equals. Calm and forgiving under abuse and injury. Seeking peace. Living under the smile of God. Where in all the world can we discover such a community of Christians? It were a fair vision, worth going far to see, An oasis in the desert. A snatch of celestial harmony amid the jarring discords of human selfishness. The New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven. Yet nothing less than this is the Christian ideal, as it is also that which our Lord died to secure. And it would well become us, if, without waiting for others, each one would adopt the injunctions of these verses as the binding rule of daily life. This would be our worthiest contribution to the convincing of the world, and to the coming of the kingdom of our Lord. And it would spread. And does not the apostle's use of the word "finally" teach us that all Christian doctrine is intended to lead up to and inaugurate that life of love, the bold outlines of which are sketched in these words?

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

This oneness of mind does not demand the monotony of similarity, but unity in variety. Not the oneness of a hop pole, or of a pile of hop poles; but of the plant which, with tendril, leaf, and fruit, rears itself aloft in the summer air. Not the oneness of a brick, or of a pile of bricks; but of the house, in which so many different materials and contrivances combine to shelter human life. Not the oneness of a child; but of a family of children who differ in age, character, temperament, and chosen pursuits, but are one in love and tender sympathy.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Having compassion one of another
We have got into a strange way of thinking about that word "compassion." It seems to imply a sense of superiority in the person who experiences the emotion for which it stands. We talk about sympathising with people in misfortune; but how do we set about it? I ant afraid the usual way is to go to some one in distress and say something like this: "You poor thing; I am so sorry for you." And then, if it is a kind of distress that appeals to our superior power for help, we give a little alms, or we do some little act of kindness before we go away, and dismiss the subject from our thoughts. But if it is grief that excites our sympathy, we too often make matters worse by offering consolations in which we do not half believe, such as saying it is all for the best, or time will wear it out. It is easy enough to say that other people's misfortunes are all for the best. But is it always true? Should we like to be told so in a case of our own? Everything that happens is for the best in the wise counsels of our Father in heaven. But it is for us to turn it to the best account. The true sympathy is to enter into the feeling one's self, and share it with the one to whom it properly belongs. And if we believe in the structure of Christ's body, of which we call ourselves members, we must know that what belongs to one belongs to all — "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it," etc. The sympathy suggested by St. Peter's word is a comprehensive feeling. It is not limited to any one kind of experience, such as grief or pain. It must diffuse itself throughout the whole capacity of loving hearts. Let it once but take possession of us all and see how all jangling discords will subside before its gentle touch. There will be no more room for envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness. Let us seek this precious stream of harmony at the fountainhead. Let the love of Christ constrain us to be of one heart and one soul. And now, as to the thoroughness of this sympathy, it must be a partaking of the results of every impression made upon each other. There is nothing truer than the common saying that habit is a sort of second nature, and we all know that we have it in our power to contract very much such habits as we wish. This fact is at the bottom of all our plans for bringing up our children, that is to say, if we try to bring them up after any sensible plan at all. Some of us are naturally more disposed to personal affection than others. And these take more kindly, as the saying is, to the exercise of a general sympathy with humanity at large. It is well for such persons if they do not rest satisfied with the emotion alone and pride themselves on being holier than their hard-hearted brethren. But the fact of being less disposed to feel for other people is no excuse for not trying to do it. We may cultivate it like any other habit, only far more effectually by the grace of God, till it almost seems natural to us to have compassion one of another. I remember urging this once upon a man, hard and unloving by nature, who had trouble in his family, and his answer struck me very forcibly. "I see," he said, "you want me to force sympathy in a hot bed." And that is just one of the ways in which it may be done, and as a tender plant it will repay the greatest care. But, perhaps, all this while, you have no very clear idea what I mean by sympathy. It seems to me that it is another way of expressing a very common idea — that of doing as you would be done by. It is the putting of one's self into the person of another — so far as it is possible or right to do so. That is to say, so far as it comes within our province as brethren, members of the same family of God — nay, more than that, of the same body of Christ — to care for each other's concerns. Think of it when your friends are cross and you are tempted to answer them back — think of it when they are tired and you would worry them into your activity, or when they are cheerful and eager for some enjoyment and you would depress them with your selfish cares. Think of it again when you are judging of other people's conduct under trials to which you have never been exposed, and when words of thoughtless censure or bitter scorn are welling to your lips.

(H. C. Atwool, M. D.)

A good many years ago there lay in the streets of Richmond a man dead drunk, his face exposed to the blistering noonday sun. A Christian woman passed along, looked at him, and said, "Poor fellow!" She took her handkerchief and spread it over his face, and passed on. The man roused himself up from his debauch, and began to look at the handkerchief, and lo! on it was the name of a highly respectable Christian woman of the city of Richmond. He went to her, he thanked her for her kindness, and that one little deed saved him for this life, and saved him for the life that is to come. He was afterwards Attorney-General of the United States; but higher than all, he became the consecrated disciple of Jesus Christ.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Love as brethren
Essex Remembrancer.

1. It is a peculiar and Divine principle.

2. It is comprehensive and universal.

3. It should be sincere and fervent.

4. It must be constant and permanent.


1. It will produce unanimity.

2. It will lead to the exercise of compassion and sympathy.

3. It will be regulated by Christian courtesy.

4. It should be manifested by Christians in their uniting in social exercises of devotion, and in the public worship of God.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Notwithstanding the many clear marks of wisdom and goodness which are found in creation, it must be confessed that the present world abounds with misery. How few can be found whose welfare is not more or less dependent on the will or humour of others; considering how much easier it is to injure than to promote human happiness, who can believe that the common Parent of all would have so little tenderness for His offspring as to leave them in a world thus constituted, without some better defence and stronger security than that of reason. But observe how admirably both the accidental and the necessary defects of reason are supplied by the active, uniform, instinctive principle of pity. For by giving to all men this principle, and placing them in a state of mutual dependency, God hath plainly constituted them the guardians of each other's welfare. This tender affection is accordingly found so essential an ingredient in the composition of our nature, that the absence of it is termed inhumanity — a word which carries with it the deepest infamy. For it marks the outrage which nature suffers before it can take place. Interest or passion may put men upon acts of cruelty, and these acts by degrees may be formed into habits. And it were well if certain nations, among the most civilised in other respects, were more sensible of this danger. Nor is it any excuse to say that, for the safety of society, actions must be punished with severity. For though all this be true, yet is anyone so much a member of the community as to forget that he is a man? Or does sound policy require that the celestial justice should be transformed into an infernal fury, and employed in a Christian country in torturing malefactors by arts and inventions which are truly diabolical? As errors and corruptions in religion and government may account for these instances of national cruelty, so those of education may generate in particulars the same barbarous spirit. The veriest caviller must admit, unless he is stout enough to combat conviction, that benevolence and pity are qualities as proper to the whole species as modesty and chastity are peculiar to the one half of it. When God was pleased to place us in this state of trial, to render it the more supportable He gave men social and benevolent affections. And when He is pleased to admonish them by the mouth of His inspired apostle to be pitiful or compassionate, it is only referring them to those very feelings with which He has impressed, to those very faculties with which He has endowed them.

(J. Mainwrigg, B. D.)

Be courteous
The apostles are not only careful to lay the foundation, but to build up. How comprehensive this whole verse, "Cherish fervent charity," and discover it in acts of pity or courtesy, according to circumstances. By courtesy we are to understand "a considerate regard to the feelings and accommodations of others, resulting from a principle of Divine love, and discovering itself by a corresponding behaviour in all the various circumstances of our ordinary intercourse with mankind."

I. SIMPLICITY AND GODLY SINCERITY. The courtesy of the world is an imposing form, a delusive shadow, an artificial mode or fashion which persons acquire under the discipline of their dancing master.

II. DISINTERESTEDNESS. The courtesy of the world is selfishness disguised.

III. UNIFORMITY. The courtesy of the carnal mind is a sickly, humorsome, capricious thing, altogether incapable of persevering exertion.

IV. IT IS INVARIABLY ASSOCIATED WITH HUMILITY. In honour preferring one another. The men of the world do this in appearance. It is not the habit which properly belongs to them; it is the costume of a better country than that which claims them for its own; a foreign dress, which, like the traveller in his journey, they find it convenient to assume; a mere cloak worn in public to cover the deformity of their natural disposition. The courtesy of those who follow Jesus is the unaffected expression of a poor and contrite spirit.

V. To this may be added VIGILANCE. It watches for opportunities of exertion, yet is not troublesome — not officious. It originates in a certain kindness of heart which may be called the wakefulness of love. Lessons:

1. Courtesy is a duty of more than human obligation. A breach of good manners is therefore not merely a departure from an arbitrary rule imposed by the fashion of the world, but a breach of charity. It is a violation of the law of love.

2. Courtesy to man is perfectly consistent with faithfulness to God. A good soldier of Jesus Christ must bear his testimony against sin; but our subject prescribes the manner only of so doing.

3. Man cannot practice Christian courtesy till he has renounced the world; for the world is not the school in which true politeness can be acquired. To be kind to the evil and to the unthankful is a lesson of heavenly wisdom.

(J. Summerfield, M. A.)

When the writer was a boy, there was in his neighbourhood a stable where a troublesome horse was kept. This horse had a most inveterate habit of kicking. His owner, however, took care always to explain that though his horse was a furious kicker, "it did not mean anything." Poor consolation certainly to anybody who received a kick — that the horse had no particular ill-will to him! It was just a way it had! Since we grew up to manhood, we have discovered that the quadruped in question was the type of many bipeds. Some Christians have a genial disposition which falls like sunshine on all around them. Such a man was Wilberforce; we wish there were more of this class — "Gentle unto all men, apt to teach; patient." "He is a good man at bottom, but has a troublesome temper," is a character which has many representatives in the Church. And for such the apology is usually made that "it is just their way!" Their way, forsooth! and is that all that grace is doing in them? There is certainly much to annoy in this world of ours. We are engaged, for instance, in some matter of business which requires concentration of thought, when we are interrupted by a visitor whose errand is of the most commonplace description. We feel a rising irritation at the unreasonable intrusion, but the text, "Be pitiful, be courteous," forces us into complacency, and we are the better for the lesson. Or we are enjoying that very pleasant thing, a busy leisure, say on some quiet Saturday evening, when some acquaintance for whom we have no particular esteem looks in, "just to pass an hour or two, knowing that we were not likely to be engaged." This is a little provoking, no doubt, and we are apt to give our visitor a very cold shake of the hand, till, "Be pitiful, be courteous," sounds in our conscience, and we perhaps discover at the close of the evening that we have had a valuable opportunity both for giving and getting advice. Did either of those visitors intend to annoy us? No, by no means. The inconvenience in both cases arose from ourselves, and not from our visitors. How very unreasonable, therefore, would it have been in us to get angry at them, and send them away smarting under some cutting words, in all likelihood to be our enemies forever after! One advice we would give; it is the result of experience. If you really are so engaged that you cannot afford a visitor a few minutes' conversation, tell him so. Do it plainly, frankly, politely; and you may be sure that he will be thankful to you for preventing him intruding unreasonably on your time. We pass, however, to another class of cases. We remember hearing it said of the manager of a bank, who died many years ago, that he could say "no" with a better grace than most men could say "yes." He spoke what was painful in the least painful manner possible. How much does usefulness in the world depend on manner! Often have we seen a harsh manner destroy much good. And living examples there are everywhere of Christian men who would have done much good but for that abominable manner of theirs. No doubt there is an opposite extreme — a silky, whining, namby-pambyism, which in the eyes of all sensible people is despised as silly and suspicious. This, however, is much rarer than the bad manner — the icy coldness, or suspecting distance, or rudeness of the rough Christian. Some years ago a friend of ours was in an omnibus passing from the heart of our city to one of the suburbs. The omnibus stopped to pick up a passenger, who, from being welcomed by the others, was evidently well known and esteemed. Our friend admired the hearty old man, who had a kind word for everybody; and his kind words were evidently considered compliments, though spoken in broad Scotch. From some words that dropped from him, he was evidently a man of unusual talent, and a Christian. Our friend wondered who he could be, and all the more as the unknown, with the most polite attention, gave a poor servant girl some information which she desired about a house she had been told to call at. Who could this lovable yet mysterious stranger be? It was Dr. Chalmers. The genial old man had room in his large heart for sympathy and kindness to all. If we are to do good to all as we have opportunity, we must abound in kind words. Passing along the street a few days ago, we saw a little child who had tripped his foot, and fallen down. He was crying over his distress. We lifted him up, instinctively saying, "Poor little fellow!" These little words of sympathy were very cheap, but they brushed away his tears, and spread sunshine over his face again. The poorest on earth can say a kind word to his struggling brother or sister; and who can tell the good that may be done by a single kind word? It may cheer an inquiring sinner; it may send a faint believer on his way rejoicing.

(D. Dickson.)

The words "courtesy" and "courteousness" are derived from the term "court," and are used, in their primitive sense, to describe that refinement of manners which prevails in the palaces of princes and distinguishes the intercourse of the great; and because, from the corruption of courts, those who move in them have often used the manner and phraseology of respect when feelings directly the reverse have been rankling in the heart, the terms themselves have been associated in many minds with all that belongs to flattery, insincerity, and falsehood. Courtesy unquestionably refers to all that belongs to affability of manner in intercourse with one another; but Christian Courtesy involves along with it the internal principle from which that affability should proceed. All true courtesy presupposes the principle of benevolence, or goodwill towards men; a desire to promote, and complacency in, the happiness of others. It has been called "benevolence in trifles" — a care in little things, in words and manner and acts, by minute attention, to guard the feelings and to consult the comfort and happiness of others. It comprehends a readiness to conform to their tastes and habits in matters of indifference, an obvious preference of their accommodation to our own; a solicitude to avoid whatever may give pain, when no principle forbids; and, in short, a constant endeavour to prevent pain and impart pleasure.

I. Let us, then, examine SOME DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF COURTESY. Towards superiors it is respect and deference; towards inferiors it is condescension and civility; towards equals it is bland and affable attention. Or we shall see better what it is by looking at its opposites. Christian courtesy stands opposed to gross defects and errors in the behaviour. In relation, for instance, to superiors, it is opposed not only to impertinence and presumption, but to obsequiousness. In relation to inferiors it stands opposed to coldness, to neglect, to pride, to positive contempt of them altogether, or a disregard of their feelings. In relation to equals it stands opposed to moroseness, or an unwillingness to be conciliated; to sullenness, or a kind of settled gloom of countenance and carriage; to impertinence of remark and rudeness of reply; to inattention of two kinds, inattention either positive or negative that is, either to do something for others, or kindly to receive what is done for us. It stands opposed to whatever is eccentric, or the indulgence of what is not tolerated by the general usages of society. It stands opposed to fretfulness — that is, the art of determining never to be pleased, and the want of disposition even to appreciate the sacrifices made for the very purpose of promoting their pleasure. Finally, it stands opposed to pride — to pride of family, to pride of intellect, to pride of money, to pride of accomplishments, and to the worst of all pride — the pride of spiritual pretensions. It is to be observed that the possession of this virtue in full play implies two things. It implies that benevolence exists in the mind of the individual as a principle; not merely as a fluctuating feeling, according to the flow of the spirits and the circumstances of the day, but as a principle — that is, the steady purpose of the reason, based upon the remembrance of the relation of man and man, and a just regard to the will of God. It implies, secondly, that it is so regular as to be habitual; that an occasion of failure from a sudden irruption of what remains, either of unsanctified or incurable depravity, is felt and lamented; that an endeavour to repair the injury accompanies the neglect; and that the principle is reestablished in the moment of the judgment regaining the ascendency. Let us now observe more particularly the sphere in which this virtue is to act and to display itself; of course, this is commensurate with our social relations, but we may mention some a little more particularly.

1. It should be seen in the family, and should regulate the intercourse of kindred. Here it is the mode of manifesting love, properly so called; and it preserves and purifies affection, by requiring that its expression be respectful and delicate; it keeps it from being disordered and debased by vulgar familiarity; it prompts to little ingenious devices, by which it is sustained.

2. But, further, the virtue to which I refer should be seen in the Church. As far as the present condition of society allows, it will promote among the members of a church the expression of interest and sympathy.

3. Again, it should accompany the Christian into the world. In the transaction of business a Christian should be distinguished by a readiness to oblige, and a carefulness to observe whatever may diffuse pleasure and give satisfaction. In social and familiar intercourse it requires to be often and habitually observed. But I remark, more particularly, that in argumentative conversation courtesy is eminently required. It should make us fair in argument, just to objections, calm in reply, capable of combining affability of manner with firmness of opinion, and respect for conscience with opposition to mistake. It should lead us to despise a spirit of personality. But two observations still remain.(1) I wish it, then, not to be supposed that Christian courtesy extinguishes all strong feeling, and forbids the excited and powerful expressions of benevolence. Goodwill towards man implies no approval of his vices; love to humanity does not destroy distinctions of character.(2) Neither is it to be supposed that courtesy to others involves a forgetfulness of what we owe to ourselves, or a just sense of what others owe to us. There are two extreme opposites to which the man whose courtesy is Christian and conscientious cannot go; and, therefore, his character may sometimes be mistaken. He cannot give, as is said in Scripture, "flattering words" — that is one extreme. And he cannot return "railing for railing" — that is another. In this descriptive account of courtesy it may not be amiss to make a remark, suggested by our Lord's conduct. It is to be distinctly noticed that in all His allusions to publicans and sinners He never uttered anything against them like the language He employed towards the Pharisees; it was their profession of religion, in connection with their vices, which called forth His terrible rebuke. Now, from this circumstance we learn that in the exercise of courtesy a greater degree of it may be expressed towards decidedly worldly characters than towards inconsistent professors of religion.

II. THE OBLIGATIONS under which we lie to the cultivation of this Christian grace.

1. In the first place, it rests upon the very same authority with every other part of the Divine law. God has expressly enjoined it; and we are thus, at once, in possession of the most infallible of all arguments to vindicate its propriety.

2. Secondly, to Divine authority we join Divine example. Our Lord during His incarnation exemplified this virtue.

3. In the third place, to the example of our Divine Master we add some of the examples of eminent saints. Abraham, when he stood up before his dead and "bowed himself to the people of the land"; Solomon's bearing towards the Queen of Sheba, rising and paying her distinguished regard; many of the prophets, from their deportment to the kings, though armed with messages to which the monarchs had to bow; but, above all, Paul — Paul, the most distinguished for zeal as an apostle, was the most remarkable for courtesy as a man.

4. I conclude this part of the subject by simply repeating a few passages of Scripture, which either especially inculcate or obviously involve the exercise of the duty. I merely enumerate them: "Be gentle towards all men." "Let all wrath, and anger, and clamour, and malice, and evil speaking, be put away from you; and be ye kind one to another, with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another." "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others"; that is, avoid selfishness, and cultivate courteousness and reciprocal sympathy. "Let each man please his neighbour to his good for edification." "Let your speech be always with grace." "Give honour to whom honour is due." "Honour the king." "Honour all men; love the brotherhood." "Give none offence to any man, neither to Jew nor Gentile, nor to the Church of God." "Let love be without dissimulation."

III. INDUCEMENTS to the exercise.

1. Now, in the first place, in relation to this virtue of courteousness, we may begin with the very lowest by remarking that an inducement to the cultivation of courtesy towards others arises from the pleasure we experience when it is exercised towards ourselves. We cannot help being conciliated by attention when it seems to be sincere. It prepossesses us in favour of a person. It removes prejudices which we entertain.

2. Secondly, the consciousness of the power should lead us to reflect that others may be acutely pained by little omissions and acts of which it is possible we were not aware at the moment, and by which we meant no evil.

3. In the third place, another inducement, equally worthy the attention of persons professing godliness, arises from the effect which a courteous or an opposite behaviour may have upon men of the world. "Let not your good," says the apostle, "be evil spoken of." This want of courtesy often has the effect of destroying the influence of distinguished excellence,

4. Lastly, in looking at a character distinguished by this virtue in its real principle, as well as in its manifestation, we cannot but be impressed with the worth to which it conducts and the dignity it confers. It sup poses — in its higher state and more perfect exercises — it supposes a very great degree of self-government, a noble superiority to little weaknesses, by which many are characterised.

5. In fine, we should discover an inducement to this duty in the charm with which, when sincere, it embellishes existence. If all mankind were perfect in the principle and expression of courtesy, the world would be the scene of perfect and exalted felicity.

(T. Binney.)

I have sometimes seen in the neighbourhood of large towns streets of houses half-built; the foundations have been laid, the walls run up, the roof put on; but the mere shell is there, with no window frames, no flooring laid on the joists, no paper on the walls, etc. It seems to me that there are many men and women whose lives have been built up by religion about as far as these unfinished houses. They have sterling goodness, they are sober, the foundation is there; but oh! for a little paper and furniture to add comfort and softness, some of the graces of life, and especially the grace of Christian courtesy.


1. We must distinguish true Christian courtesy from snobbishness. Many people think that to be courteous means to bow down to a man who has a longer purse, a better coat, or bluer blood than they have.

2. Again, we must not mix up this grace with the mere observance of certain elaborate and artificial rules of etiquette, which men who are occupied all day long with hard work, and who are naturally simple and direct in their way of life, dislike.

3. Courtesy is the natural result of grasping the second great principle of the Christian religion, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Grasp the thought that your neighbour has as much claim to your respectful consideration as you have yourself, and you will become courteous. This consideration will be tempered by a further feeling, produced by the actual position of the person towards whom it is extended. Towards woman the consideration is tempered with tenderness, and becomes chivalry. Towards great leaders in state, religion, literature, art, it is qualified by respect.

II. POINT OUT PLAINLY OUR DEFICIENCIES IN IT. Are husbands always courteous towards their wives? There is a neglect, it is to be feared, of this virtue sometimes among Christian Churches. Nonconformists and Church people are not always courteous to one another. Then there is often discourtesy in politics. But why should we impute wrong motives to political opponents? Lastly, is there not room for more courtesy between class and class? Is there not something of an aggressive tone in the "I-am-as-good-as-you" manner of some of us towards those who are richer than ourselves? Of course, you are as good, if by "good" you mean that your soul and your rights are as precious in God's sight. But why needlessly flaunt this in the face of those who have no desire to question it? Those who are poor need not be servile nor blunt. "Be courteous."

III. HOW SHALL WE ATTAIN TO THIS SPIRIT OF CHRISTIAN COURTESY? The only true way of attaining to it is by living in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

(C. H. Irwin, M. A.)

The precept of the text does not, indeed, belong to the highest order of Christian precepts. It does not rank with self-denial, purity of heart, patience, forgiveness of injuries, love of the brethren, love to Christ Himself, and heavenly mindedness; yet it enjoins a duty of very great importance, and of everyday use. The demands for courtesy are continually occurring. Every person with whom we have intercourse may give an occasion for the observance or neglect of it. It is, moreover a duty which every man has it in his power to perform. It costs nothing.



III. THE STRENGTH WHICH IT ADDS TO CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE. Courtesy, as a Christian duty, is, in fact, nothing more or less than a particular exercise of Christian love. It is one of the outward acts wherein is manifested that disposition of heart which the new commandment of Jesus Christ inculcates. Yet, as courtesy is but the out ward expression of that inward excellence, it may be shown by those in whose hearts the grace of love does not dwell. The very same things to which love would prompt may be done on lower grounds, and from inferior motives. Indeed, the perfection of good breeding is simply this, that it makes a man seem to be what love causes him to be indeed. But then, where the principle of Christian love is wanting, the courtesy which springs from mere good breeding is very partial and very irregular — sometimes it falls short of the mark, at other times it goes beyond it; towards inferiors it is often scanty in its attentions; towards superiors, excessive. "The poor," says Solomon, "useth entreaties, but the rich answereth roughly." This is but too true where the intercourse between these two grand classes of mankind is regulated by no higher law than the law of politeness. But it is the character of Christian love in no case to behave itself unseemly. Shall I answer such a one roughly because he wears a coarser garment or feeds on meaner fare? Politeness may not forbid it; but Christian love surely will. There is another irregularity in the courtesies of politeness which is not found in those of love. It is one main office of courtesy to keep in check those petulant tempers which, wherever they are not checked, create uneasiness and give offence. Now, if there is any place where it is peculiarly important that a man should restrain these tempers, it is at home. Yet good breeding, which leads a man to curb his sullen humours when he is abroad, by a strange contradiction suffers him to let them loose at home. And here I would observe that the good which is done by Christian courtesy is also done by the imitation of it. The counterfeit, when well executed, passes current, and produces the same effect as the sterling coin. It is here just the same as in the case of almsgiving; the alms which are given from ostentation do the same good as those which are given from love. It makes a great difference to the giver, but none at all to the receiver. Take courtesy on the very lowest ground: suppose there to be nothing of Christian love in it, yet think what it prevents that is contrary to love. Many a quarrel has arisen, and many a deadly feud been caused by the mere absence of courtesy. Where courtesy prevails, no affronts are offered, no feelings are wounded; nothing is said or done which can provoke to wrath. And the benefits hence arising are incalculable. But the most important view of courtesy is that which we proceed, in the third place, to consider, viz., the strength which it gives to Christian principle. Here, however, I must premise that it must be a Christian principle itself before such a principle can be strengthened by its exercise. It must proceed from love, or it cannot strengthen love. And in making this inquiry we may observe that where courtesy is not there is reason to suspect that love is wanting also. It is true some minds are cast in a rough mould, and cover much substantial kindness under a rough exterior. It is pity it ever should be so; and when it is so, the reality of Christian love appearing in so questionable a shape is not lightly to be taken for granted. Is the grace of God to do nothing for a man? These are considerations well worth being weighed by those who would excuse their want of courtesy upon the plea of a naturally rugged temper. It behoves such to examine themselves whether they be in the faith. Courtesy alone is not sufficient to prove a man a true Christian.

1. In the first place, then, is your courtesy irrespective of persons, shown to the poor as well as to the rich?

2. Does not your courtesy sometimes go beyond the mark, as well as fall short of it? Does it not sometimes degenerate into flattery or a hypocritical gentleness? If, on fairly considering these questions, you have good reason to conclude that the spirit of Christian love does indeed dwell in you, be thankful for so excellent a gift, and let it exercise itself in truthful courtesy as much as possible. By every such exercise the principle of love itself is strengthened. Such is the very law of our nature. And though this courtesy does not of itself take so high a rank as the other graces which have been mentioned, though it is a very familiar, and may be thought trivial thing, yet it has this advantage, that the opportunities which it affords for the increase of love are far more numerous than those which can be obtained from any other source. They are continually occurring. Rut two things are to be remembered. It has been already shown that love must be formed in the heart before it can be exercised. From what source, then, does love proceed? It springs front faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and from nothing else. But though I say this, I would observe, in the last place, that I do not mean by so speaking to shut out the continued agency of the Holy Spirit in strengthening the principle of love, nor the necessity of prayer for the supply of that Spirit.

(J. Fawcett, M. A.)

1. There is a reciprocal action between an outward deportment and the radical condition of the heart. Religion is real refinement. It is not surface work, but begins within, with the motives of the heart. It acts outward, and then reacts inward, as the root shoots upward into the branch, and then, by pruning the branches, the life of the root in turn is improved. As Demosthenes said of oratory, so may we say of religion — action is of the first and last importance.

2. A great deal of Christian kindness is pent up by solid stiffness of life, and so inoperative. Therefore, manners should be studied. A spring of pure water may be obstructed by leaves and twigs, and so is the stream of inward affection clogged by outward hindrances in its manifestation.

3. Considerateness is an essential element of Christian politeness. "Be pitiful, be courteous." It is because your neighbour is weaker and ready to halt that you "make straight paths," etc. (Hebrews 12:13).

(Hugh S. Carpenter, D. D.)

There has been for many years now in England a depreciation of the courtesies of manners as old-fashioned and out of place. We agree with Locke, "Good manners are the blossoms of good sense, and, it may be added, of good feeling too." Up-right and down-straight people need not diminish these excellent qualities, but they might often remember that politeness is not all French polish.

(W. M. Statham.)

A few years ago, a couple of gentlemen, one of whom was a foreigner, visited the various locomotive workshops of Philadelphia. They called at the most prominent one first, stated their wishes to look through the establishment, and made some inquiries of a specific character. They were shown through the premises in a very indifferent manner; and no special pains were taken to give them any information beyond what their own inquiries drew forth. The same results followed their visits to the several large establishments. By some means they were induced to call at one of a third or fourth-rate character. The owner was himself a workman of limited means; but, on the application of the strangers, his natural urbanity of manner prompted him not only to show all he had, but to enter into detailed explanation of the working of his establishment. The gentleman left him not only favourably impressed towards him, but with a feeling that he thoroughly understood his business. Within a year, he was surprised with an invitation to visit St. Petersburg. The result was, his locomotive establishment was removed there bodily. It was an agent of the Czar who had called on him. He has recently returned, having accumulated a princely fortune, and still receives from his Russian workshops a hundred thousand dollars a year, and has laid the foundation of the largest fortune in this country: and all are the results of civility to a couple of strangers. When Zachariah Fox, the great merchant of Liverpool, was asked by what means he contrived to realise so large a fortune as he possessed, his reply was, "Friend, by one article alone, in which thou mayest deal too, if thou pleasest — civility."

During the American War of Independence an old lady, who had a store in Philadelphia, used to say that the most profitable thing she kept in her shop was politeness, it drew the very children to her even better than sweeties. What was it that gave Miss Nightingale such powerful control over the soldiers and seamen in the hospitals during the Crimean war, so that they would have done any thing for her in their power; and in her presence they would not have uttered a single coarse, vulgar, profane, or improper word. It was, no doubt, largely owing to her refined, cultured, polite manner, dominated by a truly Christian spirit.

It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him, and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. He care fully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absent. He guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate. He has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best.

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

Here is an illustration of true politeness exhibited by both classes of society. One day, in hastily turning the corner of a crooked street in the city of London, a young lady ran with great force against a ragged little beggar boy, and almost knocked him down. Stopping as soon as she could, she turned round and said, very kindly, to the boy, "I beg your pardon, my little fellow; I am very sorry that I ran against you." The poor boy was astonished. He looked at her for a moment in surprise, and then, taking off about three-quarters of a cap, he made a low bow and said, while a broad, pleasant smile spread itself all over his face, "You can have my parding, miss, and welcome; and the next time you run agin me, you may knock me clean down, and I won't say a word." After the lady had passed on he returned to his companion and said, "I say, Jim, it's the first time I ever had anybody ask my parding, and it's kind o' took me off my feet."

(E. J. Hardy, M. A.)

is the oiled key that will open many a rusty lock.

(J. C. Lees, D. D.)

When the Duke of Wellington was ill, the last thing he took was a little tea. On his servant's handing it to him in a saucer, and asking him if he would have it, the Duke replied, "Yes, if you please." These words were his last words. How much kindness and courtesy are expressed by them! He who had commanded the greatest armies in Europe did not despise or overlook the small courtesies of life. How many boys do! What a rude tone of command they often use to their little brothers and sisters, and sometimes to their mothers! This is ill bred, and shows a coarse nature and a hard heart. In all your home talk remember "if you please." Among your playmates don't forget "if you please." To all who wait upon you and serve you, believe that "if you please" will make you better served than all the cross or ordering words in the whole dictionary. Don't forget three little words — "if you please."

Sir Arthur Helps had the happy faculty of putting expressions of wisdom into a few words. It was he who said, "Familiarity should not swallow up courtesy." Probably one half of the rudeness of youths of this day, that later in life will develop into brutality, is due to the failure of parents to enforce in the family circle the rules of courtesy. The son or daughter who is discourteous to members of the family because of familiarity with them is very likely to prove rude and overbearing to others, and very certain to be a tyrant in the household over which he or she may be called on to preside. There is at this day undeniably among the rising generation a lack of courteous demeanour in the family. Of all places in the world, let the boy under stand home is the place where he should speak the gentlest and be the most kindly, and there is the place above all where courteous demeanour should prevail. The lad who is rude to his sister, impertinent to his mother, and vulgar in the house, will prove a sad husband for a suffering wife, and a cruel father to unfortunate children. The place for politeness, as Helps puts it, is where we mostly think it superfluous.

Goodness with rude manners is in fact like a coquette; or a beautiful river that dives into dark coves and reappears; or a star with two faces; or an instrument that plays sweet and angry tunes by turns.

(Good Words.)

Not rendering evil for evil
The old law of an eye for an eye is repealed, in favour of that nobler legislation which bids us do good to those that hate us, and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute us. Let us be like the rock on the wilderness march, which when smitten yielded water to the thirsty hosts.

(F. B. Meyer.)

To render railing for railing is to think to wash off dirt with dirt.

(J. Trapp.)

Fire is not extinguished with fire, but with water; likewise wrong and hatred, not with retaliation, but with gentleness, humility, and kindness.

( Chrysostom.)

While George Wishart in 1512 was descending the steps of Cowgate, Dundee, from preaching to the plague-stricken people, one of the priests, who determined to get rid of him, stood ready to strike him. George knew he meant no good. "Friend, what would you?" and quick as thought wrested the dagger from the would be murderer's hand, and flung it on the ground. The bystanders now cried with indignation, "Kill him, kill him, the murderer, the assassin!" and, drawing their dirks, they rushed on the priest. "Stay, friends, harm him not." And George Wishart bravely stood between the angry men and the scowling priest, who slunk against the wall, saved by the one he had sought to kill, whilst the reluctant citizens allowed him to get away unhurt.

Called, that ye should inherit a blessing

1. The first thing to be noted with regard to this blessing as the calling of the Christian is that it is conceived of not as a mere matter of words and form, but as something real and effective. In order to bless we must not only have goodwill, but we must also have sufficient power and suitable means at our command. Whom the Lord blesses he is blessed. And the manner of our blessing must be as His. Whom we bless must receive from us the blessing, and to do this we must bless him from the house of the Lord, with the Lord's blessing.

2. Again, to bless is to do something more than to bestow a gift. The multitude which pressed around Jesus and received from Him abundant food out of the five loaves and two fishes had obtained a precious gift, but it was a blessing in the true sense only to those who afterwards confessed before Jesus: Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God. The gift may be merely material; the blessing must be spiritual. The Lord blesses that man in whose soul He reveals His Son. These, then, are the leading characteristics of the blessings of the Lord — it is real and effective, and it is spiritual. Our Lord's life on earth from first to last was one continuous act of blessing as thus understood. And now as He is, so are we in this world. As Christ was called to bless, and has, in the fulfilment of His calling, blessed us, so we are called to follow in His steps, and bring to others the blessing which we ourselves enjoy. To continue Christ's work in the world, to be Christ's representatives upon the earth, this is at once the highest and the most comprehensive description of the Christian's rank and position. Seeing, then, that this is our heavenly calling, we ought to consider it, so that we may accomplish our calling, and by word and deed bless as we have been blessed. "Our calling" — the phrase is well understood in the affairs of everyday life. Whatsoever a man's calling may be, upon that he is expected to concentrate his attention. The slave of Satan is diligent in doing his master's will, he yields his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. Surely we must show a like diligence in our heavenly calling by yielding ourselves to God and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Our calling is to bless, and this calling we realise just in the measure in which we surrender ourselves to God, and put all our powers at His disposal, to be used by Him as instruments in His work of grace and salvation.

II. We are called to bless, and WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO LABOUR ON IN OUR CALLING BY THE ASSURANCE THAT WE SHALL NOT MISS THE INHERITANCE, We are called to bless that we may inherit a blessing. In the keeping of God's commandments there is a great reward. Simply to be called of God is to receive a blessing. But for the encouragement of the worker in the presence of those who render him evil and rail upon him, so that in his mission of blessing he may not become weary in well doing, the apostle assures him that even over and above the blessedness of being called to bless, there is blessing in store for him — an inheritance of blessing of which he shall have certain foretastes here and full experience in the bliss of heaven's rest. What is the blessing which those who bless inherit here and now?

1. There is, first of all, the joy that comes from the assurance that we are obeying the command of Christ and realising His expressed desire.

2. Then, again, there is the joyful experience of a growing likeness to Christ. It is the truest joy of the disciple's heart to know that he is being conformed unto the image of the Saviour who is so dear to him.

3. And now, finally: What is the blessing which those who bless hope yet to enjoy amid the bliss of heaven? The fulness of the inheritance is entered upon only when all differences between us and the Heir have ceased. And in order that this consummation may be attained unto, we must go on prosecuting our calling, which is to bless as He blessed, who went about doing good, yearning over the unthankful and the evil whom He had come to seek and to save.

(John Macpherson, M. A.)

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