1 Peter 3:1-7
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word…
I. To show WHAT THIS MEEKNESS AND QUIETNESS OF SPIRIT IS.
1. There is meekness toward God, and it is the easy and quiet submission of the soul to His whole will, according as He is pleased to make it known, whether by His word or by His providence.
(1) It is the silent submission of the soul to the Word of God: the understanding bowed to every Divine truth, and the will to every Divine precept; and both without murmuring and disputing.
(2) It is the silent submission of the soul to the providence of God, for that also is the will of God concerning us.
(a) When the events of Providence are grievous and afflictive.
(b) When the methods of Providence are dark and intricate, and we are quite at a loss what God is about to do with us.
2. There is meekness toward our brethren, toward all men (Titus 3:2), and so we take it here.
(1) Meekness teaches us prudently to govern our own anger, whenever anything occurs that is provoking.
(a) The work of meekness is to cairn the spirit, so as that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.
(b) Meekness will curb the tongue, and keep the mouth as with a bridle when the heart is hot (Psalm 39:1-3).
(c) Meekness will cool the heat of passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us, when we are angry, to be soon pacified.
(2) Meekness teaches and enables us patiently to bear the anger of others, which property of meekness we have especially occasion for, in reference to our superiors and equals. And here meekness is of use, either to enjoin silence, or indite a soft answer. We must be of a quiet spirit. Quietness is the evenness, the composure, and the rest of the soul, which speaks both the nature and the excellency of the grace of meekness. The greatest comfort and happiness of man is sometimes set forth by quietness (Isaiah 32:17, 18). In a word, quietness of spirit is the soul's stillness, and silence, from intending provocation to, or resenting provocation from, any with whom we have to do. The word has something in it of a metaphor, which we would not choose but fairly prosecute, for the illustration of the grace of meekness.
1. We must be quiet as the air is quiet from winds. Disorderly passions are like stormy winds in the soul; they toss and hurry it, and often overset it (Isaiah 7:2), and is an apt emblem of a man in passion. Now meekness restrains these winds, says to them, "Peace, be still," and so preserves a calm in the soul. It is not well to lie wind bound in dulness and indifferency; but tempests are perilous. What manner of grace is this, that even the winds and the sea obey it? If we will but use the authority God has given us over our own hearts, we may keep the winds of passion under the command of religion and reason, and then the soul is quiet, the sun shines, all is pleasant, serene, and smiling, and the man sleeps sweetly and safely on the lee side. We make our voyage among rocks and quicksands, but if the weather be calm, we can the better steer so as to avoid them:
2. We must be quiet as the sea is quiet from waves. Now meekness is the grace of the Spirit, that moves upon the face of the waters, and quiets them. It casts forth none of the mire and dirt of passion. This calmness and evenness of spirit makes our passage over the sea of this world safe and pleasant, and speedy towards the desired, harbour, and is exemplary in the eyes of others.
3. We must be quiet as the land is quiet from war. It was the observable felicity of Asa's reign, that in his days "the land was quiet" (2 Chronicles 14:15). Such a quietness there should be in the soul, and such a quietness there will be where meekness sways the sceptre. A soul inflamed with wrath and passion upon all occasions, is like a kingdom embroiled in war.
4. We must be quiet as the child is quiet after the weaning. How easy its days! How quiet its nights! If put into a little pet now and then, how soon it is over!
II. THE EXCELLENCY OF MEEKNESS AND QUIETNESS OF SPIRIT.
1. Consider how creditable a meek and quiet spirit is.
(1) There is in it the credit of a victory. Meekness is a victory over ourselves and the rebellious lusts in our own bosoms; it is a quieting of intestine broils, the stilling of an insurrection at home which is oftentimes more hard to do than to resist a foreign invasion. It is an effectual victory over those that injure us.
2. There is in it the credit of beauty. The beauty of a thing consists in the symmetry, harmony, and agreeableness of all the parts: now what is meekness, but the soul's agreement with itself? Exorbitant passion is a discord in the soul; it is like a turnout in the face, which spoils the beauty of it.
3. There is in it the credit of an ornament. The text speaks of it as an adorning much more excellent and valuable than gold or pearls.
4. There is in it the credit of true courage. Meekness is commonly despised and run down by the grandees of the age as a piece of cowardice. tie that can deny the brutal lust of anger and revenge, rather than violate the royal law of love and charity (however contrary the sentiments of the world may be), is truly resolute and courageous; the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Fretting and vexing is the fruit of the weakness of women and children, but much below the strength of a man, especially of the new man, that is born from above.
5. The credit of a conformity to the best patterns. The resemblance of those that are confessedly excellent and glorious, has in it an excellence and glory. To be meek, is to be like the greatest saints. Let the true honour that attends this grace of meekness recommend it to us: it is one of those things that are honest, and pure, and lovely, and of good report; a virtue that has a praise attending it (Philippians 4:8). A praise, not, perhaps, of men, but of God (Romans 2:29). Consider how comfortable a meek and quiet spirit is. Inward comfort is a desirable good, which has more in it of reality. What is true comfort and pleasure but a quietness in our own bosom? Those are most easy to themselves who are so to all about them.A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for —
1. He enjoys himself. Meekness is very nearly allied to that patience which our Lord Jesus prescribes to us as necessary to the keeping possession of our own souls (Luke 21:19). How calm are the thoughts, how serene are the affections, how rational the prospects, and how even and composed are all the resolves of the meek and quiet soul! It is spoken of as the happiness of the meek that they "delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:11). Others may delight themselves in the abundance of wealth.
2. He enjoys his friends: and that is a thing in which lies much of the comfort of human life. Man was intended to be a sociable creature, and a Christian much more so. But the angry man is unfit to be so that takes fire at every provocation.
3. He enjoys his God; and that is most comfortable of all. It is the quintessence of all happiness.
4. It is not in the power of his enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these enjoyments. His peace is not only sweet, but safe; as far as he acts under the law of meekness, it is above the assaults of those that wish ill to it.Consider how profitable a meek and quiet spirit is. Meekness is gainful and profitable.
1. As it is the condition of the promise. The meek are therefore blessed, "for they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:11).
2. As it has in its own nature a direct tendency to our present benefit and advantage. He that is thus wise is wise for himself, even in this world, and effectually consults his own interest.
(1) Meekness has a good influence upon our health. If envy be the "rottenness of the bones" (Proverbs 14:30), meekness is the preservation of them.
(2) It has a good influence upon our wealth, the preservation and increase of it. As in kingdoms, so in families and neighbourhoods, war begets poverty.
(3) It has a good influence upon our safety. Consider what a preparative it is for something further.
1. It makes us fit for duty. It puts the soul in frame, and keeps it so, for all religious exercises.
2. It makes us fit for any relation which God in His providence may call us into. Those who are quiet themselves cannot but be easy to all that are about them; and the nearer any are to us in relation and converse, the more desirable it is that we should be easy to them.
3. It makes us fit for any condition, according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. Those that through grace are enabled to quiet themselves are fit to live in this world where we meet with so much every day to disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise; in prosperity humble, the estate rising but the mind not rising with it; in adversity encouraged and cheered up; in both even, like a dye, throw in which way you will, it lights on a square side.
4. It makes us fit for a day of persecution.
5. It makes us fit for death and eternity. The meek and quiet soul is at death let into that rest which it has been so much labouring after; and how welcome must that needs be!
III. THE APPLICATION.
I. And now, have we not reason to lament the want of the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit among those that profess religion, and especially in our own bosoms? It is the manifest design of our holy religion to soften and sweeten our tempers, and to work off the ruggedness of them.
1. Superiors are commonly very apt to chide, and that is for want of meekness.
2. Inferiors are commonly very apt to complain. If everything be not just to their mind, they are fretting and vexing.
3. Equals are commonly very apt to clash and contend. It is for want of meekness that there are in the Church so many pulpit and paper quarrels.
II. Have we not reason to endeavour, since there is such a virtue, to attain these things? For your direction in this endeavour I shall briefly lay before you —
1. Some Scripture precepts concerning meekness.
(1) That we must seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).
(2) We must put on meekness (Colossians 3:12).
(3) We must follow after meekness (1 Timothy 6:11).
(4) We must show all meekness unto all men (Titus 3:2).
2. Some Scripture patterns of meekness and quietness of spirit.
(1) Abraham was a pattern of meekness, and he was "the father of the faithful" (Genesis 13:8).
(2) Moses was a pattern of meek ness (Numbers 12:3).
(3) David was a pattern of meekness, and it is promised (Zechariah 12:8). When his enemies reproached him, he was not at all disturbed at it (Psalm 38:13).
(4) St. Paul was a pattern of meekness. "He became all things to all men."(5) Our Lord Jesus was the great pattern of meekness and quietness of spirit: all the rest had their spots, the fairest marbles had their flaws, but here is a copy without a blot.
(a) He was very meek towards God His Father, cheerfully submitting to His whole will, and standing complete in it.
(b) He was very meek towards His friends that loved and followed Him. First, in His bearing with their weaknesses and infirmities. Secondly, in His forgiving and passing by their unkindnesses and disrespects to Himself.
(c) He was very meek toward His enemies that hated and persecuted Him.
3. Some particular instances wherein the exercise of meekness is in a special manner required. The rule is general; we must show all meekness: it will be of use to observe some special cases to which the Scripture applies this general rule.
(1) We must give reproofs with meekness. It is the apostle's direction (Galatians 6:1).
(2) We must receive reproofs with meekness.
(3) We must instruct gainsayers with meekness (2 Timothy 2:24, 25).
(4) We must make profession of the hope that is in us with meekness (1 Peter 3:15).
(5) We must bear reproaches with meekness.
4. Some good principles or considerations which tend to make us meek and quiet.
(1) That he has the sweetest and surest peace who is the most master of his own passions.
(2) That in many things we all offend.
(3) That there is no provocation given us at any time but, if it be skilfully and graciously improved, there is good to be gotten by it.
(4) That what is said and done in haste is likely to be a matter for deliberate repentance.
(5) That that is truly best for us which is most pleasing and acceptable to God, and that a meek and quiet spirit is so.
5. Some rules of direction.
(1) Sit loose to the world, and to everything in it. The more the world is crucified to us, the more our corrupt passions will be crucified in us.
(2) Be often repenting of your sinful passion, and renewing your covenants against it.
(3) Keep out of the way of provocation, and stand upon your guard against it.
(4) Learn to pause. It is a good rule, as in our communion with God, so in our converse with men (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
(5) Pray to God by His Spirit to work in you this excellent grace of meekness and quietness of spirit. It is a part of that comeliness which He puts upon the soul, and He must be sought unto for it.
(6) Be often examining your growth and proficiency in this grace. Inquire what ground you have got of your passion, and what improvements you have made in meekness.
(7) Delight in the company of meek and quiet persons (Proverbs 22:24, 25).
(8) Study the Cross of our Lord Jesus.
(9) Converse much in your thoughts with the dark and silent grave.
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;