Jesus never spake one unnecessarily harsh or severe word. He had a Divine sympathy for the frailties and infirmities of a tried, and suffering, and tempted nature in others. He was forbearing to the ignorant, encouraging to the weak, tender to the penitent, loving to all, -- yet how faithful was He as "the Reprover of sin!" Silent under His own wrongs, with what burning invectives did He lay bare the Pharisees' masked corruption and hypocrisy! When His Father's name and temple were profaned, how did He sweep, with an avenging hand, the mammon-crowd away, replacing the superscription, "Holiness to the Lord," over the defiled altars!
Nor was it different with His own disciples. With what fidelity, when rebuke was needed, did He administer it: the withering reprimand conveyed sometimes by an impressive word (Matt. xvi.23); sometimes by a silent look (Luke, xxii.61). "Faithful always were the wounds of this Friend."
Reader! art thou equally faithful with thy Lord in rebuking evil; not with "the wrath of man, which worketh not the righteousness of God," but with a holy jealousy of His glory, feeling, with the sensitive honor of "the good soldier of Jesus Christ," that an affront offered to Him is offered to thyself? The giving of a wise reproof requires much Christian prudence and delicate discretion. It is not by a rash and inconsiderate exposure of failings that we must attempt to reclaim an erring brother. But neither, for the sake of a false peace, must we compromise fidelity; even friendship is too dearly purchased by winking at sin. Perhaps, when Peter was led to call the Apostle who honestly reproved him, "Our beloved brother Paul," in nothing did he love his rebuker more, than for the honest boldness of his Christian reproof. If Paul had, in that crisis of the Church, with a timidity unworthy of him, evaded the ungracious task, what, humanly speaking, might have been the result?
How often does a seasonable reprimand, a faithful caution, save a lifetime of sin and sorrow! How many a death-bed has made the disclosure, "That kind warning of my friend put an arrest on my career of guilt; it altered my whole being; it brought me to the cross, touched my heart, and, by God's grace, saved my soul!" On the other hand, how many have felt, when death has put his impressive seal on some close earthly intimacy, "This friend, or that friend, -- I might have spoken a solemn word to him; but now he is no more; the opportunity is lost, never to be recalled!"
Reader! see that you act not the spiritual coward. When tempted to sit silent when the name of God is slighted or dishonored, think, would Jesus have done so? -- would He have allowed the oath to go unrebuked -- the lie to be uttered unchallenged -- the Sabbath with impunity to be profaned? Where there is a natural diffidence which makes you shrink from a more bold and open reproof, remember much may be done to discountenance sin, by the silent holiness of demeanor which refuses to smile at the unholy allusion or ribald jest. "A word spoken in due season, how good is it!" "Speak gently," yet speak faithfully: "be pitiful -- be courteous:" yet "quit you like men; be strong!"
"ARM YOURSELVES LIKEWISE WITH THE SAME MIND."