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ingratitude? Not in wrath! You are living witnesses that " the Lord is merciful and gracious ; slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Restrain anger, therefore, against your fellow-men; and find a more becoming employ in contemplating the patience, and adoring the longsuffering of God.
Besides, what are men but instruments in the hand of Jehovah? And what are events but means of accomplishing his righteous pleasure? Leam a lesson from the venerable Patriarch of the East. The lightning consumed his substance, and smote his servants; the tempest destroyed his children ;—but had he been angry against these, would it not have been anger against Him at whose command are " fire and hail, snow and vapour, stormy wind fulfilling his word?" The Sabeans and Chaldeans were his enemies : they seized his property, and greatly augmented his affliction; but, had his anger risen against them, it would ultimately have been against God, for they did only what God permitted and ordained. He acted a wiser part, he discovered a better temper, when he looked beyond means and instruments; when he viewed the hand of the Almighty in all his adversity, and said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord."
In closing this subject, allow me to remind you of the words of our blessed Lord; "In your patience possess ye your souls."—Self-possession is a great and most desirable attainment; for "he that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." But in order to this, we have " need of patience:" and never do we need it more than when we suffer correction from God, and receive provocations from men. In patience, therefore, possess your souls,- and in meekness rule your spirits. That you may attain this, look unto Jesus. Look to him as your great Exemplar, and as the Source of all sacred, sanctifying influence. None had ever such sufferings and such insults to endure, as the blessed Jesus; yet when did anger disturb his breast? Reviled, when did he revile again? When did he threaten? In all circumstances, He was meek and gentle as a lamb: He was innocent and harmless as a dove.
But you study his example to little purpose, unless you imbibe the same spirit. Seek diligently to do this, by earnest, importunate prayer. It is thus you bring down the Spirit of Christ into your hearts; and this Spirit forms in you the mind which was also in Him. Beside, converse with God has the most happy influence on the temper of man. Live near the Fountain of purity and peace, and you cannot fail of important benefit. Close communion with Heaven softens and sweetens the disposition of the heart: it humbles, elevates? and purifies the whole soul. May we know this iri our larger experience, till every thought is subdued to the obedience of Christ; and anger, with every baneful passion, is lost in the unrivalled dominion of Love!
KNOWLEDGE AND OBEDIENCE.
John xiii. 17, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
J ESUS CHRIST frequently spoke to his disciples of happiness. He taught them what it is, wherein it consists, and how it is attained. He had always their happiness at heart. He lived and he died to make them happy. We cannot do better than learn of Him, whose words are just as applicable to us, as they were to his first disciples: " If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
In the former verses we are informed of Jesus washing his disciples' feet: it was a humble but significant act. He meant something wise, and worthy of himself, in every part of his conduct. We read, verse the twelfth, " So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garment and was set down again; he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?" As if he had asked, Do you discern the meaning of the action, and the lessons you are to learn from it? He proceeds to teach them; "Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." We have no ground in Scripture for understanding this injunction literally, nor any trace of its being observed as a religious ordinance among the primitive Christians. Our Lord instituted the ordinance of baptism; that he meant literally what he said when he did this, is plain from the practice of his Apostles and others— they went forth and baptised. He instituted also the ordinance of the Supper: in this he meant literally what he said—the Lord's Supper was administered and received, as a religibus ordinance, which is abundantly evident from many parts of the New Testament. But nothing of this kind applies to the washing of each other's feet. There is certainly no moral evil in the thing itself; but to regard it as an ordinance of the Christian church, is directly wrong: and in most countries it would be a real inconvenience, rather than an act of charity or service. It is the spirit of the precept which we are to attend to, not the mere letter of it; and its spirit is this—humility, kindness, condescension, in all our deportment towards one anotuer; that we be always ready to assist and serve each other, in any way, whatever stoop or selfdenial it may require. And what is here taught is enforced by the statement of a plain fact: "Verily verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him." And this we may apply to ourselves. If Jesus, who is our Lord and Master in the highest sense, stooped thus to his disciples, much more ought we to condescend to one another; seeking each other's benefit, by all means in our power; and not withholding the most humble and self-denying service.
The text follows as a practical improvement of all that he had said and done; " If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." It is a sentiment of universal importance, from which we may observe three things: Knowledge is good—ObeDience is better—Happiness results from the union and influence of both.
I. Knowledge Is Good. Hence the'sentiment of the Wise Man; "that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good."—Ignorance must ever be an evil, and a very serious disadvantage; ignorance particularly of those things which, as immortal and accountable creatures, it most concerns us to be acquainted with. We may instance—the true knowledge of God; in the matchless perfections of his nature, and in the interesting relations in which he stands to us; as our Maker, Preserver, Benefactor, Governor, and Judge: it cannot be good to be without this knowledge, and its possession is highly desirable. — The right knowledge of ourselves is also good; as the creatures of God, dependent on him, and accountable to him; as the subjects of his government, and destined for immortality. Especially to know ourselves as fallen creatures is of the first importance; that we have revolted from him who made us, have lost his moral likeness, rebelled against his authority, and subjected ourselves to his severest displeasure.—Hence, the necessity, the supreme excellency, of the knowledge of Jesus Christ; the dignity of his person, the fitness of his offices, the perfection of his work, the completeness of his whole character, the inexhaustible fulness of his grace and truth and love. What is this but the knowledge of the Gospel; these glad tidings of good things! And its requisi