Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss…
I. Apart from the religious view of the subject, no thoughtful person can fail to admire the wisdom and the goodness of Almighty God IN GRANTING TO US HIS CREATURES CONSTITUTIONS AND CHARACTERS SO DIVERSIFIED. By means of that wonderful variety human intercourse has received an interest which could not otherwise have attached to it; human thought has been deepened and diversified, so as to include manifold views of every subject which it contemplates, and the work of the world generally is done in a far more perfect manner.
II. We pass from the kingdom of nature to THE KINGDOM OF GRACE. These various temperaments with which God has endowed us, His rational creatures, were given for much higher ends than those which are merely natural.
1. Are you of the choleric temperament? God has need of you and of those gifts which He has bestowed upon you. He requires the earnestness of nature to be consecrated to the service of His grace, and He can raise the lofty aims of this temperament to a height to which nature never could aspire.
2. If we turn to the sanguine, we shall perceive that this has, no less, its own proper work for God. St. Peter was no unimportant element in the body of the apostles. Are not the great mass of men far too slow in receiving impressions of heavenly things?
3. So also the phlegmatic serves an important purpose in the Church of Christ. If we are called upon to a ready obedience to God's holy will, there is another attribute of a faithful service which He no less requires and approves, a steady consistency and stability.
4. And assuredly if all these temperaments are intended by God to be sanctified in the individual and made thereby serviceable also to the Christian community, the same may be said of that which still remains — the melancholic. The temperament of tenderness and of depth could not be removed from the body of Christ without serious loss to every member of it.
III. I want you to believe that THERE IS FULL PROVISION IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, AND IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD, FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF ALL THESE VARIOUS TEMPERAMENTS AND DISPOSITIONS.
1. We have referred to the example of our Lord as a means of sanctification and a proof of the possibility of every temperament being made holy and acceptable for the work of God. And this first view of the subject is not devoid of importance. Jesus Christ is the model man. He is much more; but He is this as well. He shows us in His life what man should be. Now in that life we behold all the four temperaments of which we have been speaking, and we behold them all perfectly sanctified.
(1) In Jesus we behold the melancholic temperament — He was "a Man of sorrow and acquainted with grief"; but we behold it sanctified and free from every stain of sin, calm and uncomplaining in the peace and the love of God.
(2) If we pass to the phlegmatic, we shall perceive that this was not lacking in the human constitution or in the earthly life of Christ. He had all its calmness, its peace, its silence.
(3) In Him, too, we see the excellences of the sanguine temperament; specially we may note its readiness and its trustfulness.
(4) And so, moreover, in Him we see the choleric temperament present and sanctified. The hypocritical misleaders of the people are called "whited sepulchres." He calls the scribes and Pharisees "hypocrites," &c. His life displays all the firmness, energy, and decision of this temper.
2. But, again, there is provision for the sanctification of this temperament in the redeeming work of Jesus. On the Cross He offered a fall, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He there tasted death not for one temperament, for one class, for one nation; but for every man. And as He died for all, so He ever liveth to make intercession for all who come unto Him.
3. There is all provision for the daily sanctification of the life of nature in the words of Jesus. To the choleric He prescribes, by His example and in His words, the spirit of love. To the sanguine He says, that if it would build a tower, it must sit down first and count the cost, etc. To the phlegmatic He says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself," &c. To the melancholy, longing for sympathy, He says, "Lo, I am with you always"; dreading the difficulties and dangers of an earthly life, He says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer," dec.
4. Nor would it be right to overlook another important means which God has provided for correcting our natural faults, and disciplining our powers and faculties; I mean His providential dealings with us. They are far more; they are instruments of a Divine discipline, parts of that training which the good providence of God affords, in conjunction with those other means which are set forth in the gospel, and provided in the ministry and ordinances of the Church.
5. But once more let it be observed that the great agent in the sanctification of the human temperaments and of the human heart is the Holy Spirit of God. It is He who makes every other means efficacious — flowing in every channel as a stream of life.
(W. R. Clark, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.