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BY REV. C. SIMEO, M. A.
Ps. ci. 2. I will lehave myself tuisely in a perfect ivay.
when wilt thou come unto me r* I will walk within my
house ivitli a perfect heart.
EXTESIVE influence is a most invaluable
talent, which entails upon us an awful responsibility,
and should therefore be improved with all possible
care and diligence. The higher we are in the scale
of society, the more our obligations to exert our-
selves for God are increased. But, if wisdom direct
not our measures, our most strenuous efforts will be
in vain. David was well convinced of this truth ;
and, having seen in his own experience a wise ad-
mixture of mercy and of judgment in the dealings
of God towards him, he determined, in his limited
sphere of action, to imitate the conduct of the
Governor of the Universe, and so to temper mercy
with justice in the whole of his administration, that
iniquity might be suppressed, and virtue cultivated,
not in his own palace only, but throughout all his
dominions. We might not unprofitably enter into
an investigation of the principles which he laid down
for the regulation of his conduct, and mark the spe-
cific course of action which he determined to pursue
towards his courtiers ; but we shall wave the consi-
deration of those particulars, and notice rather the
general principle which he adopted, and which is
equally applicable to persons in every station of life;
** I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way ; I
will walk within my house with a perfect heart."
403.] A WISE DEPORTMET DELIEATED. 329
A noble resolution this ! We will endeavour to
I. The great importance of it —
The value of religion, generally, is acknowledged
by all ; but few are aware of the vast importance of
a wise, discreet, and prudent deportment : yet on
that essentially depend,
1. The peace and comfort of our own souls —
[An indiscreet conduct, even where the person's intentions
on the whole are good, will involve him in many difficulties, and
rob him of those supports and consolations which under other
circumstances he might enjoy. True it is, that the wisest de-
meanor will not avail to root out prejudice, or to make religion
lovely in the eyes of carnal men : for the children of darkness
cannot but hate the light : and our blessed Lord himself, in whose
conduct not the slightest fault or error could be found, was an
object of universal hatred to the whole Jewish nation. But it is
no less true, that imprudence in religious characters calls forth
against them, and, in appearance, justifies, the malignity of
many, who, if the zeal had been better regulated, would never
have raised their arm against it. Many parents, masters, ma-
gistrates, who would never have interposed their authority to
obstruct a prudent exercise of religion, have been induced to
exert their power in consequence of the indiscretion of those
whom they were constrained to oppose. In such cases their
opposition can scarcely be called persecution ; nor can the cross
which the sufferers are called to bear, be called " the cross of
Christ :" it is tlieir own cross, that they have to bear, and their
oiun folly, that they have to blame. Enthusiasts do indeed per-
suade themselves that they are suffering for righteousness' sake :
but having no satisfactory evidence that such is indeed the true
ground of their trials, they cannot feel that humble acquiescence
in the Divine appointments, which, if they had acted a wiser
part, would have calmed their spirits, and sweetened their
2. The benefit of all around us —
[othing can be more unreasonable '"han that men should
condemn religion for the faults of those who profess it : but they
will do so, and will take occasion from the misconduct of religious
people to defame and decry all vital godliness^.
It is of no consequence in their eyes, that the wise and prudent
condemn the things that are complained of: no; their adver-
saries are not disposed to discriminate between the guilty and the
innocent : they involve all in the same obloquy : and will bring
* 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20. & iv. 15, 1(5. ''2 Pet. ii. 2.
330 PSALMS, cii. 2. [403,
tbe faults of former ages as grounds of accusation against those
who live in the present day''. Even the errors that were acknow-
ledged and lamented by the persons who in early life committed
them, are !?till adduced as characterizing not only the persons who
openly renounced them, but those also who have never in any
degree approximated towards them'^ : and all this is done for the
purpose of discrediting religion, and of justifying their own
aversion to it. On the other hand, great good is done by those
who " walk circumspectly," and " shine forth as lights in the
world^." They " put to silence the ignorance of foolish menV
and " shame those who falsely accuse their good conversation in
Christ^." What St. Peter says of " wives winning by their good
conversation their unbelieving husbands **," we doubt not is often
verified in all other relations of life ; those who behold the light
that is set before them being constrained to acknowledge, that
*' the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour'." A certain
awe is impressed on the minds of the ungodly by the sight of
*' a man of God." " Herod feared John," when he saw what a
just and holy man he was'': and it is particularly said of Saul,
that, " when he saw that David behaved himself very wisely,
he feared him^." And if we will walk " holily, justly, and
unblameably before men," we shall have a testimony in their con-
sciences, " that God is with us of a truth™," and that the prin-
ciples we profess are " worthy of all acceptation"."]
3. The honour of God and his Gospel —
[The argument which St. Paul uses to enforce on servants
the maintenance of a dutiful behaviour towards their unbelieving
masters, is, " that the name of God and his doctrine be not
blasphemed"." How terrible is the thought that our indiscretions
should ever produce such an effect as this ! On the other hand,
our blessed Lord bids us to " make our light shine before men,
that they who behold our good works may be stirred up to glorify
our heavenly Father p." What a stimulus is here ! what a motive
to circumspection ! what an incentive to every ihing that is great
and holy ! Behever, can you reflect one moment on the thought,
that God may be glorified in you, and not determine, like David,
' The errors of the Puritans are imputed to those who profess reli-
gion in the present day,
*• This is particularly to be noticed in reference to the early jour-
nals of Messrs. Whitfield and Wesley ; which, though afterwards
condemned by the authors themselves, are to this hour made the sole
grounds of estimaiing tlifir character; and no' their character only,
but the characters of thousands who were never guilty of any of their
' See Piiil. ii. 15, 16. ^ 1 Pet. ii. 15. ^ 1 Pet. iii. l6.
•" 1 Pet. iii. 1. ' Prov, xii, 26. ^ Mark vi. 20.
' 1 Sam. xviii. 15. "' 1 Cor. xiv. 25. " 1 Tim. i. 15.
" 1 Tim.vi. 1. «' Malt. v. 16.
403.] A WISE DEPORTMET DELIEATED. 331
to " walk wisely Ixfoie Iiiin in a perfect way ?" If nothing but
your own welfare and the welfare of your fellow-creatures were at
stake, you would watch over your every action, your every dispo-
sition : but, wlien you consider, that the honour of God himself
is in a measure dependent upon you, methinks, yon should be
utterly purposed, that, if it be possible, " God himself shall
not find any thing" amiss with you*) ; and that, at all events,
your conduct shall be so blameless, " that they who are of the
contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of
Having shewn the importance of this resolution,
we will distinctly mark,'
II. The way in which it must be carried into effect —
It is scarcely needful to say, that we must have
respect to every commandment of God, without
partiality or reserve ; for where there is partiality,
there is hypocrisy'; and where there is hypocrisy,
there is neither " a perfect heart," nor ** a perfect
way," nor indeed one spark of true " wisdom."
This then must be ever borne in mind, that without
an unreserved endeavour to fulfil the whole M'ill of
God, the forming of such a resolution must be alto-
gether nugatory and delusive. But supposing the
resolution to be sincerely formed, then the question
will arise, How must a person demean himself so as
really to effect his wish ? We answer, he must con-
1. With meekness and modesty —
[othing is more disgusting than forwardness in a religious
character. It is offensive in any ; but most of all in one who
professes to feel himself a poor, blind, ignorant, guilty creature,
*' less than the least of all saints," yea, rather, " the very chief
of sinners." How unseemly is it to see such an one full of con-
ceit, obtrusive, talkative, loving pre-eminence, and " thinking
himself to be something, when he is nothing' !" Yet how many
such professors are there, wherever the Gospel is preached ! On
the other hand, how lovely is the character of one that is gentle,
modest, unassuming, arrogating nothing to himself, and willing
on all occasions to " take the lowest place!" !Suih a person,
whilst he himself " is beautified with salvation "," reflects an
honour on the Gospel, and " adorns the doctrine of God our
1 Ps. xvii. 3. 'Tit ii. 8. ' Jam. iii. 17.
' Gal. vi. 3. " Ps. cxlix. 4.
332 PSALMS, cii. 2. [403.
Saviour *." Such a disposition is lovely even in the sight of God
himself, and is esteemed by him as " an ornament of great
priced." It should seem that this was a distinguishing feature in
our Lord's character, since the Apostle particularly beseeches us
'' by the meekness and gentleness of Christ^ :" and the more we
have of the mind of Christ in this respect, the more " wisely
shall we walk both towards them that are without^" the pale of
the Church, and those that are within. The want of this dispo-
sition renders our way far more difficult, whilst it incapa-
citates us for encountering the difficulties which it puts in our
way. This then we conceive to be our first object, to obtain a
humble and subdued spirit, which, whilst it offends none who
differ from us, qualifies us to bear with patience, and to turn to
good account, whatever evils the unreasonableness of wicked
men may inflict upon us. By means of it we shall " out of the
eater bring forth meat, and out of the strong bring forth sweet ;"
or, in other words, we shall make " all things work together for
2. With kindness and charity —
[There is really in many religious professors almost the
same acrimony against the ungodly world, as there is in the un-
godly world against them. But how unbecoming is this ! for, if
there be a difference between"; us and others, who is it that has
made us to differ **? And, if we see others yet lying in their na-
tural enmity against God, what does their state call for, but pity
and compassion ? Besides, love is the very end, yea the sum and
substance, of all religion*. If we have not love, we may give all
our goods to feed the poor, and our body to be burned, and yet
be no better than "sounding brass, and tinkling cymbals'^." If
this principle preside not in our hearts, we shall do nothing well*.
This will lead us to consult the best interests of all around us : to
study how we may most influence them for their good ; and to
bend to circumstances, in order to abate their prejudice, and
gain the easier access to their minds. It was from this principle
that St. Paul " became all things to all men^" If he might but
'* gain the more," he was ready to deny himself the most inno-
cent enjovments, and to comply with any requisitions, which
would consist with fidelity to his God. How conciliatory will be
the conduct of one who acts under this principle ! With what
^' meekness will he give to an inquirer a reason of the hope that
is in him ^ ; and convey instruction to a blind and obstinate
opposer^! How cautiously will he *^ cut off occasion from those
who seek occasion against him'!" How watchfully will he
*Tit. ii. 10. MPet. iii. 4. *2Cor. x. 1.
° Col. iv, 5, •" 1 Cor. iv. /. " 1 Tim. i. 5.
•" 1 Cor. xiii. 1. « 1 Cor. xvi. 14, '1 Cor. ix. 19—22.
» J Pet. ill. 13. " 2 Tim. ii. 25. ' 2 Cor. xi. 12.
403.] A WrSE DEPORTMET DELIEATED. 333
"abstain even from the appearance of evil''," and prevent, if
possible, his good from being evil spoken of^ In a word, where
love is in the heart, and " the law of kindness is in the lips," the
enemies of religion will be '' put to silence, and the mouths of
gainsayers be stopped."]
3. With prudence and foresight —
[Solomon observes, " I Wisdom dwell with Prudence™."
But many seem to think that they have nothing to do with pru-
dence : they have only to follow their own notions of duty, and
to leave all conse(|uences to God. Hence they go forward in
their own way, and in their own spirit ; never once considering,
what may be the effect of their conduct on the minds of others :
and, though they may do some good, they do more injury than
they can well conceive. But if we would behave ourselves wisely
in a perfect way, we must consider the probable consequences of
our actions", and endeavour to accomplish our ends by the most
inoffensive means. When Paul went to Jerusalem, where God's
design of calling the Gentiles into his Church, and of abrogating
the Mosaic ritual, was but imperfectly understood, he took the
precaution of conferring privately with the leading members of
that Church in the first instance °, in order to explain his views
to them, and through them to remove the prejudices of the
people at large. This was wise; and the wisdom of it appeared
in the effects which followed. Similar precautions should be
used by us in all our commerce with the world at large, or with
the Church in particular : we should " give no unnecessary
offence either to the Jew, or to the Greek, or to the Church of
God." We should consider what every one can bear ; and
should suit ourselves to his capacity or condition. Our blessed
Lord himself set us this example, speaking every thing in a way
of parables, according as his auditors were able to receive it?,
St. Paul also administered *^milk or strong meat" to his con-
verts, according as the measure of their proficiency required''.
And we also are taught to act under the influence of the same
principle, towards all whom we may have occasion to address 3
'^ not casting our pearls before swine," " nor pouring new wine
into old bottles," but accommodating our instructions to the
necessities and dispositions of all who hear us. In a word, " I
would," as St.Paul says, "have you wise concerning that which is
good, and simple concerning evil '^."]
4. With disinterestedness and simplicity —
There is a carnal wisdom, which operates in a way of craft
and cunning : but this is directly opposed to " the wisdom that
is from above," which consists in simplicity and godly sincerity.
" 1 Thess. V. 22. ' Rom. xiv. iS. '" Prov. viii. 12.
° Eccl. viii. 5. " Gal. ii. 2. ^ Mark iv. 33.
•i 1 Cor. ill. 2, ' Rom. xvi. 19.
334 PSALMS, cii. 2. [403.
''It is thisj and this alone, that proceeds from the grace of God,
and under the influence of which we are to have our conversa-
tion in the world ^" If there be any selfish objects proposed,
any sinister motives indulged, any artifices practised by us, we
are far from true wisdom : true wisdom disclaims every thing
that is disingenuous. Its eye is single, its object pure, its ope-
ration lucid, uniform, irreprehensible. It will bear the light : it
will shine the brightest, where it is brought most to view. If it
make us " wise as serpents, it will keep us harmless as doves*."
Every measure of deceit must be banished ; all falsehood, either in
word or deed, abhorred; and truth and ecjuity must stand con-
fessed in the whole of our dealings. This is true \visdom ; and,
*' whosoever walks according to this rule, peace shall be upon
him, and mercy, even upon all the Israel of God"."]
We conclude with one or two directions for the
attainment and increase of this wisdom :
1 . Let a conformity to its dictates be your con-
stant aim —
[" The wisdom of the prudent is, to understand his way"".'*
If we walk at random, and without a due consideration of our
ways, we never shall attain any true wisdom. We must be
aware that folly is bound up in our hearts, and that we are con-
stantly liable to err. We must take our rule of action from the
unerring words of truth. We must measure our sentiments and
actions by that rule. We must in particular set the Lord Jesus
Christ before us, and endeavour to drink into his spirit, and to
walk in his steps. This must be our constant habit. Whether
our actions be more or less important, thev must all be referred
to this standard, and be regulated by this principle. Then we
shall gradually have our minds enlightened : we shall see with
increasing evidence our former deviations from the right path.
We shall see, how erroneously we judged on many occasions ;
and how unwisely we acted, whils«t vet we thought that we were
acting right. Thus our judgment will be matured ; our con-
sciences be preserved tender; and our wavs be conformed to the
perfect will of God. " Who then is wise and endued with know-
ledge amongst you ? let him shew out of a good conversation his
works with meekness of wisdom''."]
2. Pray earnestly to God to inspire you with it —
[It is " the Lord alone that giveth wisdom"" :" and to him
David directed his supplications, in the wordsof our test," O when
wilt thou come unto me?" David felt his insufficiency for that
great work which lay before him, and he panted after an increase
of grace to fit him for it. Thus should we pant after the influ-
' 2 Cor. i. )2.
* Matt. X.
" Gal. vi. 16,
''" Prov. xiv. 8.
* Jam. iii.
"" Prov. ii. 6.
404.1 RESTORATIO OF THE JEWS. 335
ences of the Holy Spirit, to " open the eyes of our understand-
ing," and to " guide us into all truth." Without the aid of the
Holy Spirit we cannot hope to fill up our several stations in life
with true wisdom. David, as a monarch, felt his need of Divine
aid to execute the resolution he had formed. Solomon desired
this aid beyond either riches or honour : and God, in answer to
his prayer, " gave him a wise and understanding heart," above
all the children of men. As Ministers of God's word, we need
the same : for St. Paul says, in reference to the Ministry, " who
is sufficient for these things?" 'Ihe same must be said by us in
evpry station and relation of life. We all have our own peculiar
duties to perform ; and wisdom con^ists in executing ikem
aright. Let this never be forgotten, that our chief wisdom con-
sists in ascertaining with precision, and performing with punctu-
ality, the duties of our own particular situation. It is not by
going out of our own proper line, but by filling our own parti-
cular station well, that we shall approve ourselves truly wise.
Let parents and children, masters and servants, magistrates and
subjects, bear this in mind : let none learn to their own under-
standing y," but all with one heart address to God this necessary
petition, " O give me understanding in the way of godliness^ 1"]
y Prov. iii. 5. ^ See the text in the Prayer-book Translation.
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