The Excellency of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit

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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,

Becky Pliego

PC: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit -Ch. 1-

N0Y8fkAXQGWq5hpoX4tgNwWith a desire to expose my dear daughter to the writings of the Puritans, I decided to pull out Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. I remembered I loved this book, but I had forgotten how much I loved it. I am so glad my daughter and I are reading it together this time, because I can tell she is loving it too. (And who doesn’t want their children to love the Puritans?)

In the next weeks, God willing,  I will be sharing with you some quotes from this book, along with some comments. I am sure that you will find them encouraging , but honestly, I do hope that I can get you to buy yourself a copy and start reading it. There is so much goodness in it! And maybe, who knows, at the end of these series of posts we will be reading it together.

In the first chapter of his book Mathew Henry writes about the nature of meekness towards God and towards men, and the nature of quietness of spirit.

In relation to our meekness toward God, he says that keeping a meek and quiet spirit helps us to submit (come under) to the will of God and to His Providence. Henry helps us see how many times, when the “events  of Providence are grievous and afflictive, displeasing to sense,”  or  “dark and intricate and we are quite at loss what God is about to do with us..” we can learn to quiet our soul under these hard Providences remembering “the law of meekness that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us.” And so we embrace His perfect will for us and do not fret about what is now disclosed to us.

Mathew Henry writes,

“Meekness is the silent submission of the soul to the Word of God: the understanding bowed to every divine truth, and the will to every divine precept; and both without murmuring or disputing.”

This is important to consider because the only way to be able to submit ourselves to the Word of God is to be in the Word of God. If we never open our Bibles, if we never read them, and never meditate on the whole counsel of God, how are we to know what are precepts, His promises? How will we ever know God’s thoughts for us? Only when we know God’s character -as revealed in Holy Word- can we learn to come under His Providence without murmuring or disputing.

When Mathew Henry writes about meekness toward our brothers and sisters, he says that having this frame of mind is of great help to fight anger within us. The author helps us see, through the use of biblical arguments, that the Holy Spirit uses meekness to help us learn to “prudently govern our own anger.”

How is this? Well, he argues that the work of meekness does four things in reference to our anger:

1. It helps us “to consider the circumstances of that which we apprehend to be a provocation, so as at no time to express our displeasure, but upon due and mature deliberation.”  He continues, “The office of meekness is to keep reason upon the throne in the soul as it ought to be, to preserve the understanding clear and unclouded, the judgement untainted and unbiased in the midst of great provocations..”

Henry encourages us to cultivate a meek heart so that we may be able to keep silence before God when the tumult of our passions may want to drown His voice. He writes, “Hear reason, keep passion silent, and then you will find it difficult to bear provocation.”

How wonderful is this? To remain calm and unshaken when provoked, because meekness is our backbone.

2. “The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.”

The author reminds us that as much as we need “patience in case of sorrow, so we need meekness in case of anger..” because “meekness keeps possession of the soul…” To not be at loss because of our ill tempter!

Another great quote:

“Meekness preserves the mind from being ruffled and discomposed, and the spirit from being unhinged by the vanities and vexations of this lower world. It stills the noise of sea, the noise of her waves, and the tumult of the soul; it permits not the passions to crowd out in a disorderly manner, like a confused, ungoverned rabble, but draws them out like a the train bands, rank and file, every one in his own order, ready to march, to charge, to fire, to retreat, as wisdom and grace give word of command.”

3. Meekness will also help us, Henry writes,  to keep our mouth bridled, especially “when the heart is hot.” Matthew Henry continues, “meekness will ‘lay the hand upon the mouth’ (as the wise man’s advice is Prov. 30:32), to keep that evil thought from venting itself in any  evil word, reflecting upon God or our brother.”

4. “Meekness will cool the heat of passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us, when we are angry, to be soon pacified, The anger of a meek man is like fire struck out of steel, hard to be got out, but when it is out, soon gone.”

And what are we to do when provoked? We all would agree with Mathew Henry when he says that “angry thoughts, as other vain thoughts, may crowd into the heart upon a sudden surprise,” but he doesn’t excuse an angry response from us just because of the sudden appearance of these in our hearts and mind. He continues saying, “but meekness will not suffer them to lodge there, nor let the sun go down upon the wrath, for if it do, there is danger lest it rise bloody the next morning.” How we need to consider this. We should never lodge in our heart anger -it never comes alone (we know!) but always  brings along bitterness and malice, and evil thoughts.

But that is not all, there are more good news. Meekness does not only helps us learn how to deal with our own passions and anger, but it also teaches us and enables us to “patiently bear the anger of others.”

Look at these quotes under this same point:

“A needful truth, spoken in a heat, amy do more hurt than good, and offend rather than satisfy.”

“It is indeed a great piece of self-denial to be silent when we have enough to say, and provocation to say it; but if we do thus control our tongues, out of a pure regard for peace and love, it will turn to a good account and will be an evidence for us that we are Christ’s disciples, having learned to deny ourselves.”

Another advice that is gold:

“When any speak angrily to us, we must pause a while, and study an answer, which both, for the matter and manner of it, may be mild and gentle.”

And meekness will help us to not only to refrain our anger, to be patient when others are angry at us, but also to move toward repentance when necessary. Henry writes, “Meekness teaches us, as often as we trespass against our brother, to turn again and say, “I repent” (Luke 17:4)”

In my next post I will be sharing what Mathew Henry has to say about the nature of a quiet spirit, which is his second main point in chapter 1.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego