Taken from, “A Discourse on Meekness and Quietness of Spirit”
Written by, Matthew Henry
Quietness is the evenness…
…the composure and the rest of the soul, which speaks both the nature and the excellency of the grace of meekness. The greatest comfort and happiness of man is sometimes set forth by quietness. That peace of conscience which Christ has left for a legacy to his disciples, that present sabbatism of the soul which is an earnest of the rest that remains for the people of God, is called “quietness and assurance forever,” and is promised as the effect of righteousness. So graciously has God been pleased to entwine interests with us, as to enjoin the same thing as a duty which He proposes and promises as a privilege. Justly may we say that we serve a good Master, whose “Yoke is easy:” it is not only easy, but sweet and gracious, so the word signifies; not only tolerable, but amiable and acceptable. Wisdom’s ways are not only pleasant, but pleasantness itself, and all her paths are peace. It is the character of the Lord’s people, both in respect to holiness and happiness, that, however they are branded as the troublers of Israel, they are “the quiet in the land.”
If every saint is made a spiritual prince, Rev. 1:6, having a dignity above others and a dominion over himself, surely he is like Seraiah, “a quiet prince.” It is a reign with Christ, the transcendent Solomon, under the influence of whose golden scepter there is “abundance of peace as long as the moon endures,” yes, and longer, for “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” Quietness is recommended as a grace which we should be endued with, and a duty which we should practice. In the midst of all the affronts and injuries that are or can be offered us, we must keep our spirits sedate and undisturbed, and evidence by a calm and even and regular behavior that they are so. This is quietness. Our Savior has pronounced the blessing of adoption upon the peacemakers, Matt. 5:9; those that are for peace, as David professes himself to be, in opposition to those that delight in war. Psalm 120:7. Now, if charity is for peace-making, surely this “charity begins at home,” and is for making peace there in the first place. Peace in our own souls is some conformity to the example of the God of peace, who, though He does not always give peace on this earth, yet evermore “makes peace in his own high places.” This some think is the primary intention of that peace-making on which Christ commands the blessing: it is to have strong and hearty affections to peace, to be peaceably-minded. In a word, quietness of spirit is the soul’s stillness and silence from intending provocation to any, or resenting provocation from any with whom we have to do.
The word has something in it of metaphor, which admirably illustrates the grace of meekness.
1. We must be quiet as the air is quiet from winds. Disorderly passions are like stormy winds in the soul, they toss and hurry it, and often strand or overset it; they move it “as the trees of the forest are moved with the wind;” it is the prophet’s comparison, and is an apt emblem of a man in passion. Now meekness restrains these winds, says to them, Peace, be still, and so preserves a calm in the soul, and makes it conformable to Him who has the winds in his hands, and is herein to be praised that even the stormy winds fulfill his word. A brisk gale is often useful, especially to the ship of desire, as the Hebrew phrase is in Job 9:26; so there should be in the soul such a warmth and vigor as will help to speed us to the desired harbor. It is not well to lie wind-bound in dullness and indifference; but tempests are perilous, yes, though the wind is in the right point. So are strong passions, even in good men; they both hinder the voyage and hazard the ship. Such a quickness as consists with quietness is what we should all labor after, and meekness will contribute very much towards it; it will silence the noise, control the force, moderate the impetus, and correct undue and disorderly transports. What manner of grace is this, that even the winds and the sea obey it! If we will but use the authority God has given us over our own hearts, we may keep the winds of passion under the command of religion and reason; and then the soul is quiet, the sun shines, all is pleasant, serene, and smiling, and the man sleeps sweetly and safely on the lee-side. We make our voyage among rocks and quicksands, but if the weather is calm, we can the better steer so as to avoid them, and by a due care and temper strike the mean between extremes; whereas he that allows these winds of passion to get head, and spreads a large sail before them, while he shuns one rock, splits upon another, and is in danger of being drowned in destruction and perdition by many foolish and hurtful lusts, especially those whence wars and fightings come.
2. We must be quiet as the sea is quiet from waves. The wicked, whose sin and punishment both lie in the unruliness of their own souls, and the violence and disorder of their own passions, which perhaps will not be the least of their eternal torments, are compared to “the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt;” that is, they are uneasy to themselves and to all about them, “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;” their hard speeches which they speak against God and dignities and things which they know not, their great swelling words and mockings, Jude 13, 18, these are the shame they foam out.
Now meekness is a grace of the Spirit, that moves upon the face of the waters and quiets them, smooths the ruffled sea and stills the noise of it; it casts forth none of the mire and dirt of passion. The waves mount not up to heaven in proud and vainglorious boasting; they go not down to the depths to scrape up vile and scurrilous language: there is no reeling to and fro, as men overcome with drink or with their own passion; there is none of that transport which brings them to their wits’ end; but “they are glad because they are quiet; so He brings them to their desired haven.” This calmness and evenness of spirit makes our passage over the sea of this world safe and pleasant, quick and speedy towards the desired harbor, and is amiable and exemplary in the eyes of others.
3. We must be quiet as the land is quiet from war. It was the observable happiness of Asa’s reign, that “in his days the land was quiet.” In the preceding reigns there was no peace to him that went out, or to him that came in; but now the rumors and alarms of war were stilled, and the people delivered from the noise of archers at the place of drawing waters, as when the land had rest in Deborah’s time. Such a quietness there should be in the soul, and such a quietness there will be where meekness sways the scepter. A soul inflamed with wrath and passion upon all occasions, is like a kingdom embroiled in war, in a civil war, subject to continual frights and losses and perils; deaths and terrors in their most horrid shapes walk triumphantly, sleep is disturbed, families broken, friends suspected, enemies feared, laws silenced, commerce ruined, business neglected, cities wasted: such heaps upon heaps does ungoverned anger lay, when it is let loose in the soul.
But meekness makes these wars to cease, breaks the bow, cuts the spear, sheathes the sword, and in the midst of a contentious world preserves the soul from being the seat of war, and makes peace in her borders. The rest of the soul is not disturbed, its comforts not plundered, its government not disordered; the laws of religion and reason rule, and not the sword; neither its communion with God nor with the saints interrupted; no breaking in of temptation, no going out of corruption, no complaining in the streets; no occasion given, no occasion taken, to complain. Happy is the soul that is in such a case. The words of such wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that rules among fools, and this “wisdom is better than weapons of war.” This is the quietness we should every one of us labor after; and it is what we might attain to, if we would but more support and exercise the authority of our graces, and guide and control the power of our passions.
4. We must be quiet as the child is quiet after weaning. It is the Psalmist’s comparison: “I have behaved,” or rather, I have composed, “and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child.” A child, while it is in the weaning, perhaps is a little cross and froward and troublesome for a time; but when it is perfectly weaned, how quickly does it accommodate itself to its new way of feeding. Thus a quiet soul, if provoked by the denial or loss of some earthly comfort or delight, quiets itself, and does not fret at it, nor perplex itself with anxious cares how to live without it, but composes itself to make the best of that which is. And this holy indifference to the delights of sense is, like the weaning of a child, a good step taken towards the perfect man, “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” A child newly weaned is free from all the uneasiness and disquietude of care and fear and anger and revenge: how undisturbed are its sleeps, and even in its dreams it looks pleasant and smiling. How easy its days; how quiet its nights. If put into a little sulk now and then, how soon it is over, the provocation forgiven, the sense of it forgotten, and both buried in an innocent kiss. Thus, if ever we would enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must be converted from pride, envy, ambition, and strife for precedence, and must become like little children. So our Savior has told us, who, even after His resurrection, is called “the holy child Jesus.” And even when we have put away other childish things, yet still “in malice” we must be children.
And as for the quarrels of others, a meek and quiet Christian endeavors to be as unselfish and as little engaged as a weaned child in the mother’s arms, that is not capable of such angry resentments.