Friday, June 6, 2008

Steele In Our Spines: The Text Opened

The meditations under this listing [Steele In Our Spines] are from Richard Steele's The Properties And Privileges Of An Upright Man, first published in 1670.

So we arrive at the text itself, which is an entire proposition concerning a subject (an upright man), a predicate or what is spoken of him, to, or with him (God will show himself upright), and an explication (with, before, or unto him).

"Upright." The same word is often translated "perfect." An upright man is good throughout, though not thoroughly good; he is not one who personifies religion, but one who is a religious person. He is perfect because he wishes to be so. So Noah is termed in Genesis 6:9, "Noah was a just man, and perfect (i.e. upright) in his generations, and Noah walked with God."

He was a good man in a bad age. He was like a glowing spark of fire in a sea of water, which is perfect goodness; and therefore the Holy Ghost so hangs upon his name as if he could not stop saying it. Verse 10, "And Noah begat three sons." It is as if God were saying, "Noah, Noah, Noah. I love the sound of your name." And so all our names are precious to God, though hated by men, if the name of God is dear and sweet to us.

The word is also sometimes translated "plain." In Genesis 25:27, Jacob was a plain man, that is, an upright man, dwelling in tents. Esau was a cunning hunter, but Jacob was a plain man. You might know his heart by his tongue, save once when Rebekah put a cunning trick into his head; otherwise he was a most upright, downright man. And the plain meaning of it is a simple, cordial, unfeigned, and exact man -- this is the man we are looking for.

"Man." This substantive in the Hebrew is a choice word, signifying a strong and valiant man. The same word is used in Psalm 45:3, "O mighty [man]!" It is meant of the Lord Christ, who was a most strong and valiant man, who could meet the wrath of God, the malice of the devil, and the sin of man in the face and still come off with the triumph. The Dutch translate the parallel clause in 2 Samuel 22:26 this way, "With the right, valiant person, thou behavest thyself upright."

"Thou wilt shew thyself upright." or, "Thou wilt be upright with him." One word in the Hebrew makes all these six English words. "Thou wilt upright it with him." If men deal plainly with God, he will deal plainly with them. He who is upright in performing his duty shall find God upright in performing his promises.

It is God's way to carry with men as they carry with him. If you have a design to please him, he will have a design to please you; if you will echo to him when he calls, then he will echo to you when you call. On the other hand, if a man will wrestle with God, he will wrestle with him; if you will be fast and loose with him and walk frowardly towards him, you shall have it as good as you bring it. If you provoke him with never-ending sins, he will pursue you with never-ending torments. If you will sin for eternity, you must suffer for eternity. Every man shall find like for like.


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