I have been known to be a bit contentious when it comes to my theological views. At times I know that I can be overly dogmatic when dealing with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord has really confronted me with this over the past year or so, and one of the catalysts for churning my mind on this issue has been Word’s of Peace, or, Manton’s Last Sayings that we recently published in Eusebeia (Spring 2006). Many of his words of advice have stayed with me and I wanted to share those that I have found most convicting.
2. Restrain and bridle your passions in religious matters, and never contend about Punctilio’s.
4. He who countenances a fault, is more guilty than he that commits it; for there may be frailty in the one, but you cannot excuse the other from malice.
5. Be ever more tender of your conscience then of your reputation.
7. Pride is nothing but a pompous excrescency of folly.
8. Provided that people agree in religious principles, let them never be like the bulls of Bashan, goring and wounding each other.
14. Ill affections do as often divide us as ill opinions, and distempered spirits occasion distracted times, wars come from our lusts, Jam. 4.1.
17. A man should as carefully avoid an error in judgement, as a vice in conversation; for God hateth filthiness of the Spirit, as well as filthiness of the flesh.
21. ‘Tis fatal to religion, when once we cry up names, and those names beget parties, for then men look onely to accommodate their own faction, though it be to the hazard of religion, and publique peace.
23. Rebukes in private dealings of friendship should come from us as afflicting as if the fault were our own, and wear rather mourning than scourn.
24. He onely reproves another with faithfulness, that can suffer himself to be reproved with thankfulness.
25. Self-interest twines itself so far into all our actions, that it infects our very charity; men will be bountiful sometimes, because they are ambitious, and purchase the shaddow of one vertue with the real loss of another; if at all we fling our bread upon the waters, we chuse not currents that run all one way from us, but tideing waters, we do good only to such as may return it.
27. Never divulge slaunders against any, nor incourage them, but entertain all lessoning disparagings of others with tingling ears, slow belief, blushes for the defamer as well as the defamed, a dejected countenance, and excusing tongue or a distasteful silence.
28. To smite with the hand is beneath a man, to smite with a tongue beneath a Christian, and yet how often are Christian guilty of both biting and devouring one another, as the apostle most aptly phrases, Gal. 5.15.
31. Admonitions are not to be counted accusations.
34. Arrows of bitter words are no weapons of our spiritual warfare.
35. The small rain does most good on the tender grass, he that speaks to dissenters, should do it with all meekness and kindness, let your arguments be as strong as you can, but be sure let your words be soft.
37. ‘Tis good to preserve truth, but small distempers need not violent cures, he a mad man that fires his house to destroy the mice in it.
38. Paul is every where most zealous against erors, yet none more earnest than he to bring circumsion and uncircumsion, to a profession of brotherhood.
47. The more low and useless we are [in] our own eyes, the fitter we are to be imployed by God, who poureth the oyl of his grace into broken vessels.
These words of Manton’s are golden. How often Christians shoot their wounded, yet if we took Manton’s words to heart, even more so the Lord Jesus’ words, would we not all glorify God the better? Of these that I have posted, numbers 5, 17, 23, 24, 27 and 28 have been particularly helpful to me.