In the first chapter of Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, he writes about the nature of this trait. (I shared some quotes and thoughts here). Now in this second chapter he moves on to explain the excellency of a meek and quiet spirit.
Here are some wonderful quotes (and some added thoughts):
“It is easier to kill an enemy without, which may be done at a blow, than to chain up and govern an enemy within, which requires a constant, even, steady hand, and a long and regular management.”
Like Owen, Henry understood that the real enemy is within us and the only thing we were supposed to do with it was kill it. Mortification of the flesh and of sins in us were a doctrine that was taught, believed and pursued with much earnest then; and how we need to recover that! Especially now that the world has indoctrinated us to look outside us to find the fault within us (For example, “It was my dad’s fault that now I am this way.”). We must stop blaming the circumstances around us, and start pursuing a meek and quiet spirit who is prone to fight sin with us. Henry continues encouraging us to remember that, “Meekness is a victory over ourselves and the rebellious lusts in our own bosoms.” The meek man will indeed fight and win.
Mathew Henry writes that a person who has learned to be meek and quiet in his spirit will be quiet and in control of himself even when the world around them will be busy and noisy. He writes,
“A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for he enjoys himself, he enjoys his friends, he enjoys his God, and he puts it out of reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.”
I love that! I want to learn this lesson well. To not let anything nor anyone to rob me of the gifts that God has given me. What a blessing that would be!
Henry continues (and this might be my favorite quote of this chapter!),
“The greatest provocations that men can give would not hurt us if we did not, by our own inordinate and foolish concern, come too near them, and within the reach of their cannon; we may therefore thank ourselves if we be damaged. He that has learned, with meekness and quietness to forgive injuries, and pass them by, has found the best and surest way of baffling and defeating them…”
Henry writes about the ways in which a meek and a quiet spirit will profit us. He mentions these specific areas:
1. It is profitable because it is the condition to receive the promise: “The meek shall inherit the earth”
2. Meekness directly affects our own interests like our health, our wealth (being much or little), our safety.
Lastly Matthew Henry incites us to consider what a “preparative this meekness and quietness of spirit is for something further.” As Christians we want to be able to stand strong, unshakable, “well fitted and furnished for every good work, to be made ready, and be a people prepared for the Lord…”
He mentions five ways in which this grace of meekness is “particularly a good preparation for what lies before us in this world:”
1. It makes us fit for any duty. Including our spiritual duties like reading the Word, praying, and keeping the Lord’s Day.
2. It makes us fit for any relation which God and His Providence may call us into.
3. It makes us fit for any condition according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. And on this he writes,
“Those that through grace are enabled to compose and quiet themselves are fit to live in this world, where we meet with so much every day to discompose and disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, whether the world would smile or frown upon us, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise…”
“Meekness and quietness will fortify the soul on each hand, and suit it to several entertainments which the world gives us; like a skillful pilot who, whatever point of the compass the wind blows from, will shift his sails accordingly, and who knows either how to get forward and weather his point with it, or to lie by without damage. It is the continual happiness of a quiet temper to make the best of that which is.”
4. It makes us fit for a day of persecution.
5. It makes us fit for death and eternity.
So now we only have one more chapter left in this book, and if God permits, I will share some more quotes and thoughts about it next week.
What a blessing it is to have many of the books that Puritans wrote available for us today. I hope you may be encouraged to always have one among the books you are currently reading.
Under His sun and by His grace,