Wrath is cruel and anger is like a flood, but who can withstand jealousy?
I. THE DUTY OF PRAISING OTHERS. "Let another man praise thee" can hardly be said to be imperative so far as he is concerned. But it suggests the propriety of another man speaking in words of commendation. And the duty of praising those who have done well is a much-forgotten and neglected virtue. I. It is the correlative of blame, and if we blame freely (as we do), why should we not freely praise the scholar, the servant, the son or daughter, the workman, etc.?
2. With many hearts, perhaps with moat, a little praise would prove a far more powerful incentive than a large quantity of blame.
3. To praise for doing well is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and of his apostles; it is to act as the most gracious and the most useful men and women have always acted.
4. It is to do to others as we would they should do to us. We thirst for a measure of approval when we have done our best, and what we crave from others we should give to others.
II. THE WISDOM OF ABSTAINING FROM SELF-PRAISE. The injunction of Solomon appeals to our common sense. Yet is it by no means unrequired. Many men are guilty of the unseemliness and the folly of praising themselves - their ingenuity, their shrewdness, their persuasiveness, their generosity, etc. Probably if they knew how very little they commend themselves by so doing, how very soon they weary their audience, how often their language becomes positively nauseous, they would abstain. Self-vindication under a false charge is a duty and even a virtue; a very minute modicum of self-commendation may be occasionally allowable; anything beyond this is, at least, a mistake.
III. THE NECESSITY OF TESTING PRAISE. "The ordinary interpretation makes the praise try the man, but the words... in the original make the man try the praise (Wardlaw). What the fining pot is to silver, that a man should be to his praise - he should carefully and thoroughly test it. For praise is often offered some part of which should be rejected as dross. The simple minded and the unscrupulous will praise us beyond the bounds of our desert, and to drink too much of this intoxicating cup is dangerous and demoralizing to us.
IV. THE PRACTICAL PROOF OF PRAISE. The duties and the difficulties that are before us will be the best possible proof of the sincerity and of the truthfulness of the praise we receive. We shall either be approved as the wise men we are said to be, or we shall be convicted of being less worthy than we are represented to be. Therefore let us be
(1) judicious as well as generous in our praise of others, remembering that they will be thus tested; and let us
(2) be contented with a modest measure of honour, realizing that we have to live up to the esteem in which we are held. But we may learn a valuable lesson from the common (if not the correct) interpretation, and consider -
V. THE TEST WHICH PRAISE AFFORDS. We stand blame better than praise; though it is right to recollect that we cannot stand more than a certain measure of blame, and few people are more objectionable or more mischievous than the scold. But much praise is a great peril. It elates and exalts; it puffs up." It too often undermines that humility of spirit and dependence on God which are the very root of a strong and beautiful Christian character.
1. Discourage all excess in this direction; it is dangerous.
2. Care more for the approval of an instructed and well-trained conscience.
3. Care most for the commendation of Christ. - C.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?I. THE EVIL PRINCIPLES INDICATED IN THE TEXT ARE EXTENSIVELY AND DANGEROUSLY PREVALENT. To be irritated and out of temper is one of the common tendencies of our nature, manifested even in childhood. The root is wrath, anger. This pernicious root grows differently in different natures, and with more or less vigour. This vicious principle is generally regarded too complacently, as though it were a necessary part of our nature. Wrath is dangerous. Its tendency is to increase. The spark will rise into a flame. The intensity of anger depends upon external circumstances, and also upon the condition of our health. The external exciting causes are continually changing. The foolish vice of irritating the temper of others is too common. Some like to torment the susceptible. Others are perpetually fault-finding and sneering. Envy is the condition of one who looks upon the happiness of another and longs to possess it. Envy generally seeks to conceal itself, and to work in secret and in darkness. Passion would strike down its victim in the public market-place, whilst envy would carefully weigh out and mix the poison for its victim to consume unconsciously in his food. This dangerous and deadly principle has extensive existence. Envy is the development of germs which are universally diffused. Then search into the very depths of your nature after the most minute germs of this evil.
II. WHEREIN LIES OUR SAFETY AGAINST THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THESE PRINCIPLES? There may be lurking in our nature forces which need to be held in check by a stronger power than mere intellectual culture. Our higher civilisation too often only gilds crime, and throws its mantle over it. A formal profession of religion may cover the vilest lusts of humanity. There is a higher power. Christianity offers a Divine power by which the evil nature may be purified and every evil passion brought into subjection. Our safety, our only safety, lies in the renewal and sanctification of our nature by the Holy Ghost. Separated from the conscious presence of Christ, and destitute of His renewing grace and protecting providence, who can tell into what mischief we may fall!
(George Lawson, D.D.)
1. There is no man's innocency, no man's virtue, that can secure him from the direful strokes of envy. Sometimes a man's goodness actually inflames the hearts of the envious. See case of Cain and Abel; of Esau; of the brethren of Joseph; of Saul, etc. The greatest instance of all is the envy of Scribes and Pharisees against our Saviour.
2. There is no man so great and powerful, or of so secure an estate or fortune, but the violence of envy hath been capable of overthrowing him. Illustrate case of Abner.
I. A JUST DESCRIPTION OF ENVY. It is a displeasure or trouble arising in a man's mind from the sight or knowledge of another man's prosperity, and causing a man to hate such person, and try to ruin him. It commonly arises on the sight of the prosperity of inferiors or equals. Men envy that to others which they think themselves as well or better to deserve. They seldom envy things or persons that are much above them. Distinguish envy from emulation. Illustrate by these two qualities in Saul and Jonathan, on the occasion of David's killing Goliath. Emulation is a great and noble virtue, envy a poor and sneaking vice. It is always hiding itself. No man will own himself to be envious. He disguises it under a mighty pretended zeal for the truth; or a great love for the public welfare; or a charitable concern for the credit of his neighbour. How few men are wholly free from this vice.
II. THE MISCHIEVOUS EFFECTS PRODUCED BY ENVY. See these, that we may be more set against it; that we may avoid it ourselves; that we may beware of it in others; that we may use our utmost endeavours to quench this flame. Disturbances in the state, schism in the Church, and trouble in a neighbourhood, or in a private family, are generally traceable to envy. To what end is all this evil done by envious men? What do they get by it? Envy is its own punishment. No man can find a greater torment for an envious man than he inflicts upon himself. Even if it succeeds in pulling down a man, it very rarely gets into his place. How is it that God endures, and seems to leave alone, these mischief-making, envious men? They are agents in doing His disciplinary work in His people. It makes men self-watchful. The envious quickly light upon and show up faults that we might have passed over. The envious calumniate failings, not virtues. Remedies are —
1. A right apprehension of the things of this world.
2. A due submission to the will of God.
3. A true humility.
4. A Christian charity.This last plucks it up by the very roots; and plants in our hearts what is most contrary thereto.
(Jonathan Blagrave, D.D.)
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