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mind, and so conduct yourselves, that ye be ready to suffer all things, and yield in every thing as much as possible, without transgressing the commands of God.
We must endeavour to please all men in that which is good; we must interpret aright the sayings of others, and accept the part which is good ; that men may see that we are of those who would not disagree with any man for any cause whatever; who are rich with the rich, and poor with the
poor; rejoicing with those that rejoice, and weeping with those that weep: in short, that we are all things to all men, that they may acknowledge that we are grievous to none; but agreeable, of a patient mind, and obedient in all things. We must endeavour to order and apply ourselves unto all, according to their capacity and ability: we must be ready to permit, to take in good part, to obey, to give place, to do, to omit, to suffer all things, for the benefit of our neighbour ; even though we suffer hinderance, loss of substance, name, and body, thereby.
In order to make these things more plain, we will introduce an example. Paul, speaking of himself, saith, 1 Cor. ix. “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law ; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.? We here see the patient and pliant mind, rightly observing those things which are here commanded. The apostle did sometimes eat and drink, and do all things as a Jew; sometimes he did eat and drink with the Gentiles, and did all things as free from the law; for only faith in God, and love toward our
neighbour, are necessarily required ; all other things are free ; and we may freely observe them for one man's sake, and omit them for the sake of another.
It is contrary to this moderation or meekness, when one, having an impatient mind, trusteth to his own knowledge, and contendeth that one thing among the rest is absolutely necessary or unnecessary, applying himself to none, but endeavouring to have all others apply themselves unto him : in this
he perverteth the softness and meekness here taught; • yea, and the liberty of faith also. We read in Mat
thew and Mark, that Christ suffered his disciples to break the sabbath ; and he himself did also break it, when the case so required : when it was otherwise, be kept it, for which he gave this reason ; The Son of man is lord also of the sabbath. Which is as much as to say, the sabbath is free, that thou mayst break it for one man's sake and convenience, and for the sake and convenience of another, thou mayst keep it.
Paul caused Timothy to be circumcised, because of the Jews ; for they thought it of importance toward their salvation : again, he would not have Titus circumcised, because certain Jews urged it unjustly; so that the circumcision of Titus would have been a confirmation of errour unto them, rather than profit. Paul, therefore, would keep circumcision free ; that he might sometimes use it, and at other times omit it, as he should perceive it to be commodious and profitable to others.
Every one ought to behave himself toward all men according to this doctrine, and the examples before mentioned; not to be selfish and stubborn, but to regard those things that will be acceptable to his neighbour. When it doth not hinder thy faith, and will profit thy neighbour to yield somewhat of thy own right, if thou do it not, thou art without chari. ty, and neglectest that christian patience spoken of
by St. Paul. We can scarce find a better example of this subject, than the case of two unfeigned friends ; for as they behave themselves toward each other, so ought a christian to behave himself toward every one. Either of them endeavoureth to gratify the other, either giveth place to the other, suffereth, doeth, and omitteth whatsoever he seeth to be for the profit and convenience of the other, and that freely, without constraint. Each of them diligently applieth himself to the will of the other; neither of them compelleth the other to follow his mind, and if one should use the goods of the other he would not be offended, but take it in good part, and instead of grudging, would rather offer him more. In short, between such there is no exaction of law, no grudging, no constraint, no necessity ; but liberty, favour, and good will.
On the contrary, such as are impatient and obstinate, who take nothing in good part of any man, but endeavour to make all things subject to their own will, and order all things according to their own judgement, such I say, trouble the world, and are the cause of all the discord, contention, wars, and evil that existeth. They say that they do those things for the love of justice ; and for that, they endeavour to defend what is right. Thus we see verified the saying of a Heathen, that “extreme rigour is extreme injury.” And Solomon saith, Eccl. vii. “Be not righteous overmuch ; neither make thyself over wise. For, as extreme rigour is
" extreme injury, so too much wisdom is extreme folly : that is, when wise men boast, they boast beyond measure.
It is proper that we observe a measure of our judgement, wisdom, and prudence; but in all things
; we must apply ourselves to the promotion of the happiness of others. Let your moderation, or patient mind, be known unto all men. He doth not command
thee to be made known unto all men, or to tell of thy moderation before all men ; he doth not say, tell if forth, but, let it be known; that is, endeavour to practise it toward men. So that if any are disposed to speak evil of you, his mouth may be stopped by the testimony of all others, who have witnessed your moderation and meekness. Christ saith, Mat. v. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Again it is said, i Peter ii. 12. “ Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
By the words, all men, it is not meant all the men in the world, but rather all sorts of men : that is, we must let our moderation be known toward enemies as well as friends ; as well toward servants as masters, small as great, poor as rich, strangers as those at home; toward them that we know not, as toward those with whom we are familiar. Some behave themselves in a very gentle and patient manner toward strangers, but are obstinate and froward toward those with whom they associate.
There are many who take all things in good part from the great and rich, and interpret every thing in the most favourable manner; but toward the poor and abject they show no gentleness or meekness, neither take any thing of them in good part.
We are all ready to do for our children, parents, friends and kinsmen, and favourably interpret, and willingly bear whatsoever they do. How often do we even praise the manifest vices of our friends, or at least wink at them! but toward our enemies or adversaries we show none of these favours ; in them we can find nothing that is good, nothing that is to be borne, pothing that can be spoken well of, but we dispraise every thing they do. To such,
Paul here speaketh, saying, let your moderation (07 patient mind) be known to all men. He would have our moderation and christian meekness to be perfect and entire toward all, whether they be enemies or friends ; he would have us suffer and take in good part all things of all men, without respect to persons or deserts.
Such undoubtedly will our moderation be, if it be not counterfeit; even as gold remaineth gold, whether possessed by the godly or ungodly. The silver that Judas received, when he betrayed the Lord, was not turned into ashes, but remained the same : so a patient mind that is sincere, continueth like itself, whether exercised toward rich or poor, friends or foes. Our nature being corrupt and deceitful, we are apt to be patient and pliant toward rich men, great personages, strangers, and friends, and not toward others; wherefore it is false, vain, vile, hypocritical, and nothing but deceit and mockery before God.
In these few words, is comprehended the life which a christian ought to lead toward his neighbour. For he that is of a patient and meek mind, studieth to deserve well of all men ; as well of the body as soul, as well in deed as in word. When a mind is só patient, as to bear the offences and malice of others, there is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and whatsoever is the fruit of the spirit : Gal. v. But here the flesh murmureth: it is said, if we should endeavour to take all things in good part from all meri, the unjust would abuse our meekness, and take from us all things ; yea, they would not suffer us to live: but the apostle abundantly satisfieth this distrust and foolish cogitation; even from this place to the end of the text : The ord is at hand. He will not therefore forsake thee,
will nourish and protect thee. It is said, Psalm lv. “ Cast thy burden upon the ord, and he shall sustain thee." And 1 Peter x,