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angry debates of heated theologians, from one end of Christendom to another. Look at the state of Christian feeling in our own ill-fated country. Why, between one furious controversy and another, not only is Christian communion and fellowship broken up, or in danger of being 80; not only are the blessed fruits of brotherly kindness and charity withered; but our heats and differences even go the length of interrupting in some measure the ordinary business of life of disturbing the common courtesies of society!
So circumstanced, it is the duty of Christians to inquire what manner of spirit they are of, and to ascertain what course of conduct their holy religion prescribes. With this view I have made choice of the words of Paul to Timothy-" The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach ; patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” I regard them as well suited to the occasion; and I bespeak your attention, whilst I endeavour to dilate on the important lessons they contain, and apply them to the circumstances in which we stand.
In the context, the Apostle cautions Timothy to avoid such questions as had a tendency to gender 'strife. Such questions were bandied about and discussed with harsh and unchristian vehemence then, as well as now. They often led, even in the Apostles' days, to the same sort of unhappy consequences as they have since done, and are doing at the present time. They fomented divisions--they embittered the spirits of menthey“ gendered strife.” The Apostles uniformly discountenanced these angry debates, and dissuaded Christians and Christian ministers from engaging in them.
The Apostle Paul here tells Timothy expressly, that “the servant of the Lord must not strive.” It was absolutely imperative upon him to stand clear of strife, to keep the spirit of contention wholly away from him. How, indeed, should such a spirit as this comport with the blessed spirit of the gospel of peace? What can there be in common between the "strife of tongues” on earth, and the mild voice of mercy descending from heaven? What more unbecoming—what more out of place-out of character, than fierce and fiery contention, in the professed servants of Him, who " would not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets; who would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; who even when reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself unto him who judgeth in righteousness ?”
The servant of this Lord therefore must not strive, but be gentle to all men. He must show, by the gentleness of his habitual deportment, that he is himself subject to the mild and commanding influence of that holy religion which he would recommend. In his intercourse with the world,
and with whomsoever he may come in contact, he must be careful to discover no unbecoming harshness, no unnecessary severity of manner; he must exhibit no trait of character unsuited to that man who professes to copy after the meekness and gentleness of Christ. The servant of this Lord, whilst he is gentle unto all men, must at the same time. be “ apt to teach;" he must possess both a fitness, and a disposition, to impart useful instruction to those around him. This, of course, must be understood as belonging more immediately to the duty of the pastoral office; yet not so exclusively as to preclude from the exercise, or exempt from the obligation thereof, those who may have no claim to perform all the functions of that sacred office. On the contrary, we know that it is the bounden duty of all Christians, to exhort one another, to be ready, in their several spheres, and according to their several talents and opportunities to disseminate all around them a knowledge of Christian truth, and a sense of Christian duty
This aptness to teach, occurring as it does in the enumeration of those gentle and benevolent qualities which the Apostle reckons so valuable in any servant of the Lord, naturally gives us the impression that the Apostle thought those persons the least apt to teach-least fit, and least given to communicate solid and important instruction, who were most deficient in gentleness most apt to strive-most given to the heat, and violence, and bitterness of contention. And this we all know, and feel to be the truth.
And whilst this gentle servant of a gentle Lord must feel the obligation of ministering to the wholesome instruction of others, he will at the same time feel the necessity for exercising “ patience” in the discharge of his important duty. There were gainsayers and opposers of Christian truth from the beginning, and will probably be so to the end. But the servant of Christ must be patient of opposition and contradiction, after the example of his Master :-he must be patient of reproach, misrepresentation, and abuse; for he knows that his Master has set him the example. Christ had more perverseness and prejudice to encounter than any of us. Misrepresentation, reproach, and calumny were heaped upon him on all hands. He was more re. viled, more defamed, than any man; but he was not to be overcome of evil—he overcame evil with good. He patiently and calmly instructed mankind, as they were able to bear it. And the patience, and the meekness, and the humility, and the benevolence of the Son of God, were like oil upon the waves of the ocean; the pride and the prejudice, the bigotry and turbulence of men subsided before them. And let the follower of Christ, who would show himself worthy of the name, humbly copy after the example of his Master's patience. Let him learn to cultivate
that spirit of Christian charity, which“ believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.". Let him not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets. Let him “ be gentle unto all men; apt to teach; patient; in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth."
Those who resolve to act upon different principles ; those who put themselves forward in the attitude of an overbearing championship,—resolved to batter down, by main force, the strongholds of opposition ; those who are determined to anathematize,-to consign to perdition, all who do not conform to their own views ;-all such persons may make a noise in the world—they may fan the prejudices, and inflame the party feelings of men ; but they will not do much for the cause of Christian truth, Christian peace, or Christian charity. No! whatever is to be done for the cause of Christ, let it be done in the spi. rit of Christ. Let it be done in the spirit of meekness, and gentleness, and Christian charity; from a sincere desire to promote the spiritual improvement and salvation of ignorant, sinful, perishing men. This is the only effectual way to overcome human prejudice, and to convey the gospel of peace with light and power to the heart. : A meek and patient instruction in the principles of Christian truth and righteousness, is the scrip