Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Perhaps there never was a time since the world began in which so much was done for the cause of God and of truth, as at the present. Yet it becomes us to rejoice with trembling, and to act with care. In proportion to our zeal, is the enemy's malignity; while we act, the world watches, and connects the cause with the demeanour and temper of those who have espoused it. Sacred duties may be discharged in such a way as that they may be evil spoken of, and neutralised completely in their influence and effect. Take the case of —
I. SOCIAL PRAYER. Our good may be evil spoken of —
1. When the prayer-meeting is left without some wise and judicious leader.
2. When they are converted into anything but what they profess to be — meetings for prayer — when the time is much occupied in exhortation, or discussion.
3. When the language employed in prayer is pompous and inflated.
4. When undue familiarity with God is used in prayer.
5. When prayers are spun out to an unreasonable and wearisome length. Whitfield once said to a good man who had fallen into this error, "Sir, you first prayed me into a good frame, and then you prayed me out of it."
6. When much time is occupied in prayer with such petitions as are only applicable to the case of the leader.
II. THE VISITATION OF THE SICK. This duty is improperly discharged.
1. When the conversation is confined entirely, or chiefly, to the disease under which the patient labours.
2. When an indiscriminate offer is made of the consolations of the gospel, which belong to believers only.
3. When special reference is not had to the peculiar circumstances of the case in prayer.
4. When there is harshness or severity in the manner of address.
III. DOMESTIC RELIGION AND INSTRUCTION.
1. Where there are no stated periods for the observance of family religion and instruction, but it is left to convenience, or caprice — to inclination, or to chance.
2. When the reading and explanation of the Scriptures do not form a great part of domestic instruction.
3. When the duty is hurried over with carelessness and haste.
4. When there are no inquiries made, as to their increase in the knowledge and understanding of Divine things.
IV. ACTIVE EMPLOYMENT IN RELIGIOUS AND BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS. Such as Bible associations and Sunday Schools. Conclusion: Observe some general principles, the observance of which are of importance in efforts to do good.
1. Look well to your motives. If they are wrong, your conduct cannot be acceptable to God, nor is it likely to do your Christian profession credit before men.
2. See that your spirit and temper are always suitable to the character you sustain, and the objects which you have in view.
3. Do as much good as you possibly can in private.
4. Never talk much in what you do, or of what you do. Let your works, and not your words, praise you in the gate — and rather imitate the deep and silent river, that pursues its noiseless way, and is only known by the fertility and luxuriance it diffuses in its course — than the impetuous brook, that attracts the eye by its clamour, only to behold its shallowness.
5. Persevere in all you undertake, and then your activity will not be attributed to the mere impulse of the moment, but look more like the result of conviction and principle.
6. Let there be a cheerful alacrity in all you do, that it may appear to spring from a willing mind, and be esteemed rather your relaxation than your work.
7. Avoid the introduction of your own particular religious tenets.
8. Never do evil that good may come.
9. Seek to do good, abstracted from all the evil which may be connected with it.
10. Never refrain from doing good, for fear of its being evil spoken of.
11. Refer all that is good in what you do to God, and all that is evil to yourselves.
12. Cherish an abiding sense of your own helplessness, and ever rely on the power of God for strength, the Spirit of God for direction, and the work of Christ for acceptance.
13. Keep your great account in view — and the Lord grant you may find mercy of the Lord in that day.
(T. Raffles, LL.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not then your good be evil spoken of: