Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,…
Conversing the other day with a friend on some point of domestic difficulty, it was replied by the latter, "Should I give up in that way, and be as meek as a lamb, I should be good for just nothing at all." "No," I answered, "there is nothing mightier than meekness." This sentiment, which, at the time, flashed upon my mind like a gleam of new truth, I have found, by subsequent reflection, to rest on a broad basis.
I. In the first place, meekness INVOLVES THE LARGEST SELF-CONTROL.
1. Meekness is not mental indolence. A person may be too lazy to resent a wrong, too intellectually lazy — like some big house dog in the farmer's kitchen, submitting with marvellous resignation to be kicked or pulled by the ears, if only he may be left in his snug, warm corner, and meeting it all with a most humble and beseeching whine. If this were meekness, we would not hesitate to pronounce it the weakest thing on earth.
2. It is not impassibility. Some are natural stoics. In some respects they are fortunate beings; utter strangers to that red-hot sense of injustice which sometimes bursts forth in words of heaven-lit prophecy — sometimes in words set on fire of hell. They escape that terrible knowledge the soul's capacity to suffer. And yet, doubtless; they are not to be envied; for the words of the poet are equally true when reversed: —
"Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure
Thrill the deepest notes of woe."
3. Nor is it dulness of perception. Some seem not to know when they are ill-treated. They are ignorant of the proprieties of life, of what is due to position; there is an entire lack of native dignity of character. True meekness, on the contrary, achieves its highest triumphs where the perceptions are most quick-sighted, the sensibilities keenest, and the mind most active and vigorous in all its operations. It is just here that we can best discern its true nature, its inherent might, the hiding of its power. So far from being a mere passivity, it is activity in its highest form. It is self-control in its broadest sway when girding itself in its full strength. It is victory over all that is mightiest in pride and passion, attained by the full and conjoint action of all the nobler powers of the soul. It is man in his sovereignty, ruling within the realm of his spirit, as the prince-subject of Jehovah. Its highest embodiment was Jesus of Nazareth.
II. Again, MEEKNESS IS MIGHTY IN GOD'S MIGHT. He loves the meek. They are the most like His Son — resembling Him in just that quality which was His most prominent characteristic. Still again, the might of meekness is seen in its power to secure happiness. Life is a perpetual wild chase after happiness. Who are winners? Pride? Passion? Ambition? Wealth? "Nay, nay, not yet," they each exclaim as they rush by, dripping with sweat; and catching breath, they add, "but the goal is just ahead, and then the prize is ours." The result is "even as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty." Yet, far off, away from the bustling and anxious crowd, I behold the meek man already inheriting the earth, in sweet fruition of the world that now is, and in joyous expectancy of that which is to come. The reign of passion is over. He has learned to recognise, in all events that affect him, not accidents, but Providence; not a stern and blind fate, but a kind and wise Father; not the present means and instruments merely, but the aim of final result. The peace of God that passeth understanding keeps his heart. The whole world has become a Beulah; and while meekly performing its duties, its eye catches sweet glimpses of the far-off land; his heart leaps betimes at snatches of the distant music, and his temples are fanned, ever and anon, by the refreshing breezes that are wafted thitherward. He has an antepast of heaven; a joyous earnest of his inheritance. Here, then, I say, is might. He gains what worldlings of every class toil and tug for, but always lose; or, as Cicero says, respecting another point, "They desire it, he has it." Once more: there is nothing like meekness to overcome the resistance of passion and pride in others. And yet it is just here that the worldly wise despise it most. I am assailed. I erect myself in proud might. I bid defiance to wrath. I mock at the deadliest threats of my enemy. I dare him to do his worst. Like Achilles before Agamemnon, I fling at his feet the oath pledge of battle. By all that is most fearful I swear to stand him foot to foot to the death. And what is the result of all this? Why, Greek meets Greek. Words fly back to words, wrath flashes to wrath, threats are hurled to threats, and pride towers aloft to pride. But what boots it all? You turn from the encounter, leaving your enemy never stouter in his resistance, while the tiger passions tear your own bosom, or react in paroxysms of futile tears. Now, what has meekness accomplished in just such cases? Silenced the proud words of the enemy; extinguished his raging wrath; roused up the elements of his better nature, and turned them against himself. It has completely subdued him; and the proud Greek has sat at the feet of his foe a weeping child. I say, then, let passion exhaust all its resources — let it tower to very sublimity, let it be a fit subject for an epic, let a Homer immortalise its deeds. Meekness is mightier; it will accomplish what passion shall labour for in vain. Meekness: — Meekness is the quality which heathenism everywhere has scouted as meanspiritedness, but which the gospel of Christ has canonised. It is that one condition of soul which, springing out of genuine penitence for sin, a profound sense of personal unworthiness, and a profound appreciation of the Divine mercy, predisposes a man to forbearance under provocation and forgiveness for injury. It has nothing in common with pusillanimity, but it has its origin in the religious experience which we call conversion; for it is when the sap root of human pride is broken by a thorough crushing down of the soul under the discovery of its sinfulness before God; it is when the strong man, reduced to cry for mercy at the hands of Infinite Justice, is fain to receive forgiveness, and hope, and peace with God as unmerited gifts from the very grace of his Redeemer; it is then, and through that religions change, that the heart grows susceptible of true meekness. Then humbleness eaters — humbleness, the child of penitence, and mild charity too, for all men, and a tender feeling — a feeling that one who has himself done so much evil in his day ought to bear with the evil doing of other men, that one who owes everything to mercy should be, above all things, merciful.
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,