But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
The production of a strawberry-wine, or of an orange-tree, is pleasant and palatable, while the fruit of a crab-tree is sour and disagreeable. One might fasten the most delicious, rosy-checked peaches or apricots, by strings or bits of wire, to the limbs of a poplar, but these would not be the fruit of it. The whole thing would be a sham. In the text, goodness is described as the fruit of something. Of what? Why, of the Holy Spirit of God. The Blessed Spirit is God, and He can do all things. He is spoken of in the Creed, as "The Lord and Giver of Life." A skilful gardener can take a most unsightly, stony waste, and by bestowing much care and culture on it, he can change it into a spot covered with luxuriance and beauty. So the Holy Spirit accomplishes His wonderful work in our hard and stony hearts. During the autumn of 1799, the retreating French army left three hundred wounded men at Bobbio, the capital of Piedmont. Although the soldiers were enemies both to the religion and the country of the Waldenses, yet they received the kindest treatment at their hands. The people of Piedmont were extremely poor, but they cheerfully shared their scanty provisions with the strangers, bound up their wounds, and nursed them as carefully as if they had been near friends. At length provisions became still more scarce, and finding that if they kept the French soldiers during the winter all must starve together, the good Waldenses performed the wonderful and dangerous feat of carrying them across one of the most difficult of the Alpine ranges, then covered with ice and snow, and leaving them safe within the borders of their own land. The meaning of God is the Good One, and they who are like Him abound in acts of goodness. That you may the better understand this, I shall go on to tell you some things which goodness prompts people to do.
I. GOODNESS MAKES THEM WILLING TO FORGIVE WRONGS, A gentleman once came to Sir Eardley Wilmot in great anger at an injury which he had suffered from a person of high rank, and on whom he wished to be avenged. "Would it be manly to resent it?" "Yes," answered Sir Eardley, "but God-like to forgive it."
II. GOODNESS TEACHES PEOPLE TO BE CONSIDERATE AND GENEROUS. Joseph William Turner, one of the greatest of English landscape painters, was one of the committee whose business it was to arrange about hanging the pictures sent for exhibition to the Royal Academy. The walls were already crowded, when his attention was attracted by one which had been painted by an unknown artist from some distant town, and who had no friend to advance his interest. "A good picture," exclaimed Turner, as soon as his critical eye rested on it: "it must be hung up, and exhibited." "Impossible!" replied the other members of the committee, with one voice. "The arrangement cannot be disturbed. Quite impossible!" "A good picture," persisted the generous Turner; "it must be hung up;" and, so saying, he took down one of his own pictures, and put the unknown Mr. Bird's in its place.
III. GOODNESS PROMPTS PEOPLE TO BE CONSCIENTIOUS AND ENDURING. There lived in a Scotch village a very little boy, Jamie by name, who set his heart on being a sailor. His mother loved him very dearly, and the thought of giving him up grieved her exceedingly, but he showed such an anxiety to go and see the distant countries which he had read about, that she finally consented. As the boy left home, the good woman said to him, "Wherever you are, Jamie, whether on sea or land, never forget to acknowledge your God. Promise me that you will kneel down, every night and morning, and say your prayers, no matter whether the sailors laugh at you or not." "Mother, I promise you I will," said Jamie; and soon he was on shipboard bound for India. They had a good captain, and as several of the sailors were religious men, no one laughed at the boy when he kneeled down to pray. On the return voyage things were not quite so pleasant. Some of the sailors having run away, their places were supplied by others, and one of these proved to be a very bad fellow. When he saw little Jamie kneeling down to say his prayers, this wicked sailor went up to him, and giving him a sound box on the ear, said in a very decided tone, "None of that here, sir." Another seaman who saw this, although he swore sometimes, was indignant that the child should be so cruelly treated, and told the bully to come up on deck, and he would give him a thrashing. The challenge was accepted, and the well-deserved beating was duly bestowed. Both then returned to the cabin, and the swearing man said, "Now, Jamie, say your prayers, and if he dares to touch you, I will give him another dressing." The next night the devil tempted Jamie to do a very foolish thing. He does not like to have any one say his prayers, or do right in any way, and so he put it into the little boy's mind that it was quite unnecessary for him to be creating such a disturbance in the ship, when it could easily be avoided, if he would only say his prayers very quietly in his hammock, so that nobody would observe it. Now, see how little he gained by this cowardly proceeding. The moment that the friendly sailor saw Jamie get into the hammock, without first kneeling down to pray, he hurried to the spot, and dragging him out by the neck, he said, "Kneel down at once, sir! do you think I am going to fight for you, and you not say your prayers, you young rascal?" During the whole voyage back to London, this reckless, profane sailor watched over the boy as if he had been his father, and every night saw that he knelt down and said his prayers. Jamie soon began to be industrious, and during his spare time studied his books. He learned all about ropes and rigging, and when he became old enough, about taking latitude and longitude. Several years afterwards, the largest steamer ever built — the Great Eastern — was launched on the ocean, and carried the famous cable across the Atlantic. A very reliable, experienced captain was required for this important undertaking, and who should be chosen but the little Jamie of whom I have been telling you! When the Great Eastern returned to England, after this successful voyage, Queen Victoria bestowed on him the honour of knighthood, and the world now knows him as Sir James Anderson.
IV. GOODNESS MAKES PEOPLE HEROIC. Two houses were once wrapped in flames, at Auch, in France, and from one of them was heard the piteous cry, "Save my child!" The archbishop came hurrying to the place, and worked as long as his strength would allow, in helping to put out the fire, when he said, "I will give twenty-five louis d'or to the man who will save this woman and her child." At this appeal several of the crowd came a few steps nearer to the burning building, but the heat was so great that they as quickly retreated from the danger. "Fifty louis d'or to the man who will save the mother and the child!" shouted the archbishop, still louder than before, but no one moved. Now, by the lurid light of the fire, the archbishop himself was seen to take a cloth, and having flipped it in a bucket of water, to wrap it round his body, and then to mount the ladder which had been placed against the shaking wall. Soon he reached a window, which he bravely entered, and, in a few moments more, a group was seen at this window — the archbishop, the mother, and the little child. The good man had scarcely reached the ground, before he sank on his knees, to bless God for His protecting care, and then, rising, he said to the poor mother, who had lost everything by the fire except her precious child — "My good woman, I offered fifty louis d'ors to the man who would save you. I have won the sum, and now I present it to you." See that English clergyman, Mr. Ancient, venturing out in his little cockle-shell boat, to rescue those who are holding fast to the shattered remnant of the proud steamer Atlantic, wrecked on the treacherous coast of Nova Scotia! He has been living for years in that little hamlet with a few fishermen and wreckers as parishioners — ruling and civilizing them by love; and now, in this awful moment, when so many lives are in peril, he is proving himself a hero.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,