THE GE TLE ESS OF CHRIST. Rev. C. D. . CAMPBELL, D. D.

"I Paul myself beseech 70a bj the meekness and gentleness of Christ."— 2 Ck>B.x.l. Thbbe were malcontents in the Corintliian Church. It was broken into parties and torn with dissensions. The question was one of discipline. Should the law be enforced ? should the guilty be punished ? should the proud be humbled ? There were not wanting men to oppose this. Some, heady and insubordinate, feared lest the discipline might fall upon themselves, and did not scruple to resent the interference and malign the character of St. Paul himself. Others, through a lax administration, were disagreeably startled by the announcement that such a power inhered in the ministry, and might be exercised at need. Others were timid, and dreaded more the disturbances which would ensue from the violtot resistance of the disaflEected, than the evils under which the Church was slowly dying. Altogether, they were indisposed to the work of discipline. And in all this, if we except the perverse and wicked among them, they were not much, if at all, to blame.. Their feelings were natural, if erroneous. They had not fully weighed and considered

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THE "GE TLE ESS" OF CHRIST. 289 the question. They knew not why the hurt might not be slightly healed, and all still go on as usual. They did not comprehend that discipline was essential to the prosperity of the Church — the last test of her spiritual vitality ; failing under which, she was already dead. They knew and thought of none of these things, and therefore they naturally shrank from the disturbance and turmoil of a battle for the right. They feared its issue. They were not certain that it would end in the triumph of the right. The opposers and contemners of law were strong, bold, and popular. By the arts of the demagogue, combined with the advantages of fortune, they had made themselves a party in the Church; and these would stand around, support, and fence them from the shafts of discipline. So that, after aU, the Church might be disturbed by a vain and fruitless effort, and no good be accomplished. They deprecated, therefore, the administration -of the law, and the cutting off of offenders. To meet the difficulties of this embarrassing case, and still assert the majesty and preserve the integrity of law and order in the Church, St. Paul, holding in expressed reserve his power to command their obedience, proceeds, first, to beseech them to meet the issue and dare the discipline, '* by the gentleness of Christ." " The gentleness of Christ ! " We say of a lamb, it is gentle, and Christ was the Lamb of God ; we say of a little child, it is gentle ; and Christ was a little Child ; we say of an amiable and affectionate

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TOB «6B 'nJ£ ISS»^ OF GHS1»T. ^omaiH die^ia goxuble; and Clurist had all th^ t^idengnei^ softn^, and fljmpaihy o| tl^ female h^art.; md we soaaetimes say ot a noble, genQKOUSi brave^ qjoaelfiah, and highnBonled man, he is gemtile — Si gentle maijL — a gentleman ; and ClmBt T^as thQ 9mV>dunent and pereonifipation of manly

qw the gentii^ness. ot the lamh and the little phil^ is a. thing apart and different in kind from tl^ othor forms of this qtiality which we have instanced. Its chief constitu^ts are harmlessness a^d helplessness, its s^jects ai'e incapable, alike of wiXKng and of violence. Only wolves, seeing a pretence to doYOor, complain of the encroadi-> n^ents of the lamb ; only wdfish men, wanting a pretence to destroy, like Herod and Richard III., a;re. apprehensive of harm from childhood; And this. modificatibCH^ o£ gentleness was a prime element ii^ the character of C^irist. He was " holy, harmless, imdefiled, and separate from sinners.'' And He was helpless, too, as a lamb, or a little child, or a^y other helpless thing ; alike for offense and defym^ From, his bizth to Ids death, He was gpgg^ andj bound ; not with the coarse iron im-

pl^n^ents which men consecrate, to that torture, but with the strcmgec curb, and chain of his Father's wiU. This restraining influence we cannot always see ; because it is spiritual, and our eyes are Ska f pr such sights ; and because He does not often dii^lay its Occasionally, indeed, it breaks in a human moan from his dumb lips and writhing limbs ; as. when tiie twelve^year boy made answ^

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THB "GE TLEBHESS^'^ OT €HBim. 291 ta his mother's reproof,. ^^ Wist ye not that I moat be about my Fathered buamess ? " os whai, in the ga^en^ kneelSng on the bloody threriaoM of his grest agony, the aitrong mazi groaned, ^ Father, Thy will be done." Bu^ the gentleness of Chidst, which lay in his helplessness, was of » h%her sort than that of the lamb and the child — it was a conscious helplessnessv Unconscious impotence rests in a happy quiet; conscious impotence writiies and groans* The lamb and the child know nothing of tiieb helplessness, and are happy ; the manacled man feels the iron restraint, and is miserable. And the suffering is always* proportionate to the* intensity of the energies repressed. A strong, healthy, hardy, a4QtiTe,.and afchletic man wiU pine to deathi, under bonda whidi; a feeble,, diseased cripple will sustain without comparatiye injury. ow the helpless-

ness of Christ was the manacle of the- man, and the consoious^ sufBering of the strong man^ whose energies ace held in fcom their natui^l! flbw to ae*tion. His was the second perfect physical organisuL of this earth; Physically, He^ was mightiei:> than, the sons of men. Strengthi uhequaled^ skill unmatohedv and E^irit soaring over all, were held in a foor^eful andi unquiet rest,, by his yoluntory submission to his Father's will;. OA He was gen* tie as the Lamb ol God, led,, by the card of an infinite: destiny,, through, all the weary ways* of his earthly years — led' consdously to his own daughter !. 01 He' wa». gentle^ as the Child of all the agfis^lost iuitJie: wild^nessi* o£ this world^.oaiE^ upmi

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292 THE "GE TLE ESS" OF CHRIST. the pirate cruelties of reckless and wicked men,mute at the bidding of his iron nurse, and patient of the blows that rent away his innocent life ! And those cruel, reckless robbers are you and I ; for our sins did nail Him to the tree ! The gentleness of the refined and educated woman is another modification of this quality. Its foundation is a temper affectionate, unselfish, and kind. UpcHi this is reared a superstructure of generous and lofty mental culture. And over all there is thrown, like the last finish of a beautiful temple, the adorning refinements of cultivated society.

These three elements compose the gentlewoman ; that is, s6 far as she is distinguished from the ungentle woman. But there is, in her gentleness, a peculiar and subtile element, which eludes the common analysis, but which yet we always have in mind when we speak of the gentleness of woman. And this element resides, essentially, in her sex. It is in the female soul, spirit, and mind that we look for a certain refined and touching gentleness, that is softer, purer, sweeter, and more beautiful, like her person, than the corresponding sentiment in man. It is more delicate and ethereal, more yielding, more intuitive, quicker to perceivie the needs of others, defter to minister, and, at the same time more easily shocked and wounded. ow, this peculiar modification of gentleness, we may and must attribute, in aU its ideal spiritual and sensitive perfection, to Christ. He was gentle as a woman — gentler than the gentlest woman. He aggregated in his heart all the purest, tender-

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THE "GE TLE ESS" OF CHKIST. 293 est, and deepest susceptibilities of womanly nature ; from the timid, tender woman-child to the aged and almost sainted mother. There is not, has not been, wiU not be, one single gentle impulse in a female heart, whose coimterpart and feUow is not foimd in the heart of Christ. And this is true,

from two considerations; first, his humanity was womanity ; He was not man of man, but man of woman. All his manhood came through womanhood ; passed through the sea of her soul, and was baptized with its tearful tenderness. Hence, his boundless sympathy for every form of suJBEering; a sympathy so vast and tender that it transferred every human pain to 'his own bosom. And secondly. He must needs have had this nature to be the Saviour of woman. Otherwise, He could not have been touched with the feeling of her infirmities, nor tempted, in all points, like unto her* Hence, the gentleness of Christ is the gentleness of woman. It is beautiful, and tender, and touching, and appealing. It is eloquent with the sensibility of love, and the sensibility of beneficence. It weeps alike at the grave of personal friendship, and over the apprehended calamities of a nation. " The gentleness of Christ I " " We beseech you by the gentleness of Christ I" The words have all the touching and appealing power of woman's tears, and tenderness, and trust. But the gentleness of Christ was also the gentleness of a perfect man ; and herein his character took on its latest and most powerful finish. " The grand old name of gentleman " has been

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291 THE ^ GESTTLE ESS '' OF CHBIST.

nroeh abased and sadly prostitizted in this modem age. Its accidents have been mistaken for its essenoe. To instance, in iiia earli^ days of ourcirilization, it ^was generally found associated with wealth, leisure, and the polished courtesies of the best society. Successive generations of wealth and culture were thooght necessary to the production of the character. Peiltaps this was true ; for class distinctions were arbitrary, and broad, and deep. It might very well be that those lofty barriers, and vast distances, and deep gal&, of social separation could only be surmoonted, passed, and bridged by tiie powerful accessories which we have named. But, in the progress of the centuries, all tiiis was dbianged. The barriers were removed, the sepa* rating distances overcome, the gorges filled up and forgott^i. Gentle blood flowed wide from the acres of tilie ancestral park, and was drunk by the common earth of poverty and toil. The whole social soil was enriched ; and here and there, the world over, unaccountably to most minds, there sprang up the gentleman. His sudden appearance in strange places, untutored by the nursing ages, has effected a confusion in the conceptions of almost all men. They have forgotten what makes a gentleman, or tiiey never knew. With some, it is wealtii; with others, education; with others, eoirect principles ; and with others, an i^reeable and fashionable address : as if we did not daily see wealth, witii the ignorance of the clown ; education, with the manners of the boor; honesty, as often in servants as their employers ; and fashion-

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THE "<1E TLEOT3S»» OF CHEIST* 295 able and pleasant manners covering the i%erhe^ of the villam* ay, tiielk^ ar6 bdl; ihe ^^identi^ ol gentle blood; of late^ perhiaps, no more tiian its occasional incidents. He Hb t gentl^knanr, ^o is onf^ inwardly; and that is {gentleness, wlndi is of the heart, and whose Gospel nam^ is Lore. Everything eke whidi the world calls gentleman, or gentlewoman, ba a baise and spurioUs counterteit; stuffed witii learning, stamped with power, gilt with riches^ and polished witik sfeeming courtesy, it is still hotMng but base ihetal; ikid th6 Angel teller will reject it at the heavaily counter, and cast it into the giilf of hell, And suffer it to cheat the world no more f orevar. Another very feuocessfAl imitator of the ^pMitte nature^ is a certain easiness of disposition, Which is ^^ all things to all men," iliat it may stand well with all — that it may be popular ; but this is a combination of dullness and cowA,rdicev which ii^ easily recc^tuz^d and always contemned, however It may be tolerated. It ii made up in thb various forms of toady, trimmer, man of policy ; still, it id not uncommoii to hiear it Said oi siibh ian one, '^ he is a perfect gentleman!" Gentlemah, indeed! He is the loathing of a gentleman's soul. There is not enough of original man in him on which to grslfl gentleness. The very highest form of the manly-gentle character is one whose soul is first cast in the largest and finest mould of manliness, and then baptized with the spirit of Love. He is in sympathy with all that is pure, noble, and high ; and will die in their

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296 THE "GE TLE ESS" OP CHRIST. defense, if need be, as easily and naturallj as he will live in their light. He hates all wrong, meanness, and cowardice, with a perfect hatred ; and, if possible would banish them from the earth. The essence of this character, in its perfection, is, the very highest appetites, propensities, passions, and powers of the human soul, tempered and restrained by love. And such, preeminently, was the gentleness of Christ. It was no mawkish, maudlin, sentimental goodness ; it was fiery, earnest, and strong. It could wield the scourge, utter the denunciation, and thunder the judgment against impenitent wickedness; while it could receive and embrace penitent wickedness, in its lowest and most abandoned forms. The gentleness of Christ is the incarnate expression of the chivalry of Heaven ; it is mounted upon infinite perfections, and armed with the lightnings of infinite Power, against the dragon Evil, in all his foul transformations ; while, at the same time, it stops, in mid-course, to listen to the wail of the helpless and minister to the wants of the needy. Behold Him, in that last charge against Death and Hell, which he made on Calvary, reeking with the blood of his own wounds, with the sword of his enemies rioting in his heart, stop to look down on a mother's tears, and comfort her aching heart with the words, " Wonian, behold thy son 1 " Such is the gentleness of Christ.

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