Saturday, June 7, 2008

Steele In Our Spines: Words Used In Scripture

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.

There are four words especially whereby uprightness is expressed in Scripture which, being considered, will give us some view of this orient jewel.

  • It is called "truth." 1 Samuel 12:24, "serve him in truth." Moral truth is the conformity of the mind and heart to things said and done; when therefore the heart prays with the tongue, when the heart obeys with the hand, when we do the things of God heartily as to the Lord, this is to serve him in truth and uprightly.

This is surely the sense of Hebrews 10:22, "let us draw near with a true heart." It is our sin and folly to keep at distance from God, both in and out of his service, afraid or loathe to come near. It is God's will that we should draw near, and nearer yet, and that with a true heart. A true-hearted man at prayer does the work when many great appearances are but beating the air.

So it is when we come to men. 1 John 3:18, "let us not love in word neither in tongue [only], but it deed and in truth," having a principle of unfeigned love in our hearts to everybody, and thence producing words and deeds of charity. This is an upright man, whose heart within does not give the lie to his word and actions.

Survey his duties to God and men, they are pious, just, and charitable; open his heart, and piety, righteousness, and love are written there. One man professed that if he might have had the opportunity to make himself, light would have been his body and truth would have been his soul.

  • Another word for this is "sincerity," a word taken from pure honey. The Latin is sine cera, without wax or unmingled. The equivalent for us would be when the new man has as little as may be of the old man mingled with him.

This word is used in Philippians 1:10, "that ye may be sincere." The Greek word there signifies that which is sunproof (such as wares that can abide betried between you and the sun). Such is an upright man: bring him to the Scriptures and he is sound; bring him to any solid marks and he can stand before them; put him on the scales and he is the right weight.

He is pure gold, though he may lack some grains of allowance. He is of a right breed; though perhaps young or weak; yet he can look at the sun and not be daunted. A hypocrite can look men in the face, but an upright man can look God in the face. "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness." This none but a righteous upright man can do.

  • There is another word of this import, and that is "singleness of heart." Acts 2:46, "they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart," that is, with a cordial cheerfulness and bounty. To this Luke 11:34 refers, "when thine eye is single [when your heart is singly bent to honor and serve God, then the whole life will relish of that principle], thy whole body also is full of light.

But if the heart doubles with God, the life will in no way be uniform with men. And this is taken to be the meaning of the oneness of heart promised in Ezekiel 11:19. The hypocrite has a heart, a heart, a heart, and a heart, for every lust a heart; a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. He is unresolved in the end he drives at, and so unfixed in his desires and actions that tend thereunto.

Now the upright man's heart is one: he goes all the way; he is what he seems; he has one intention, one delight, one face, and one tongue. In a word, he is a united man. Psalm 103:1, "bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name."

  • And to this purpose is the fourth word that signifies uprightness, and that is "integrity." 1 Kings 9:4, "and if thou wilt walk before me, as David, thy father, walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness." That is, when all the soul in every faculty is resolved and bent for God and his glory.

In a hypocrite, the judgment is against the will, the conscience against the affection, and the reason against the appetite. But in the upright, all the faculties agree and combine within themselves, and the opposition is only outward, against a common enemy. He is a whole man and is for the whole will of God.

So, you see that an upright man is a true-hearted, a sincere-hearted, a single-hearted, and a whole-hearted man.


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