1. Be careful to cultivate a spirit of love.—There is nothing more conducive to peace than this. Provoke not one another to anger, but “to love and good works.” Be examples of love, striving who shall excel in acts of kindness and sympathy. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
2. Beware of sin.—There is nothing more opposed to Christian peace than this. Where this is nourished, peace will be banished; for though it be private, it will work, and work mischief. It will be a wedge, gradually widening the breach between God and your souls, and between one another.
3. Beware of a disputatious temper.—Debates may be productive of good.… But they too often originate in captiousness and pride. Think of the account of them in God’s word. “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.”—“If any man consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words; whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth. From such withdraw thyself.”
4. Avoid a spirit of groundless jealousy.—Godly jealousy is necessary, when we consider what we all are, and by what influences we are surrounded. But an ill opinion of others is the source of much mischief. From this suspicious disposition, words are misconstrued, and actions imputed to wrong motives. If we indulge in this, we shall be unable to believe one another, or to place confidence in the most explicit declarations. “Jealousy is cruel as the grave!” It devours the happiness of those who cherish it. How opposed to true charity! Charity suspecteth no evil, hopeth the best, believeth the most favourable representations.… In general, a spirit of jealousy would seem to indicate a dishonest heart. Its possessors seem to know themselves to be bad, and therefore think none others can be good. Probably this made Satan so suspicious of Job’s sincerity. Beware lest you imitate him!—and lest your suspicions should originate in the same cause!
5. Beware of a spirit of envy.—The members of a church are like the stars. One excelleth another. Then beware of envy. Saul envied David for his superiority, when David “behaved himself wisely.” Some excel in gifts and graces, and consequently obtain a greater degree of esteem. Beware of envy. Some exceed others in worldly property, and consequently, though not always deservedly, receive greater respect. But beware of envy. Do not imagine that religion cancels the obligation to treat men according to their rank and station in society. Let not envy lead you to think much of every instance of respect shown to a superior, and to reflect, If I had been rich, he would have visited me! Certainly, a minister should visit all his flock; but there may be reasons, apart from outward circumstances, why one shall be visited more than another. “Charity envieth not.”
6. Do not intermeddle with each other’s temporal affairs.—What I just now said respecting your conduct towards your pastor, I would repeat concerning your conduct towards one another. Different people have different ways of managing their domestic affairs; and if your brethren do but act so as to be honourable in the world, what right have you to interfere? If indeed their deportment be inconsistent with their character as professed Christians, and in any sense involve the honour of God; if, for example, they be indolent, and disgrace the cause—or extravagant, and therefore become unable to pay their just debts—then, indeed, it will be right to interfere; but even then it is neither friendly nor wise to make their faults the topic of common conversation.
7. Guard against a touchy temper.—Charity is not soon angry.
“For every trifle scorn to take offence;
It either shows great pride or little sense.”
8. Repeat no grievances, especially when acknowledged.—“He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”
9. Strive to heal differences.—It is a great honour to be a peace-maker. True, it is often very difficult; for “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” But by how much the more difficulty there is, by so much the more honour will there be. Do not abandon the attempt for a few hard sayings. Those who interfere in an affray commonly receive a few blows from both sides. But do not be discouraged. Pray, and try again. And let the saying of our Lord, “Blessed are the peace-makers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” weigh more with you than a little temporary difficulty and discouragement.
10. Encourage no talebearers.—Persons that make it their business, and feel it their delight, to go about telling secrets to the disadvantage of their neighbours, deserve the deepest marks of censure. Are you at variance with a brother? Mark the man who by his insinuations and innuendoes would make the breach wider, and shun him. There are cases indeed, in which, in our own vindication, we are compelled to speak to the disadvantage of others; but to blacken the character of another unnecessarily, and intentionally to widen a breach existing between friends or neighbours, is infernal! If blessed are the peace-makers, cursed are these peace-breakers, and peace-preventers! One cannot always shut one’s doors against such characters, but we can and ought to shut our ears against them; and if we do this, we shall deprive them of their excitement and their highest gratification. “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” … And if you would not encourage talebearing in others, be sure you are not guilty of it yourselves. If you hear one speak ill of another, don’t go and tell him, unless indeed it affect his moral character, and the cause of religion; and never assist in propagating evil reports.
11. Be ready to forgive.—Without this heavenly temper we cannot expect to live long in peace. There is a very mistaken notion of honour existing among men, as if it lay in not yielding, but in resenting an injury; whereas it is very plain that true honour consists in the very opposite. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” Our own interest should lead us to this; for in some things we shall need the forgiveness of our brethren; and, what is of greater consequence still, we all need the Divine forgiveness. But Christ assured his disciples, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.”
These, my brethren, are some of the dispositions, the cultivation of which will make for peace. Some of them may appear to you little; but great rivers flow from little springs. “How great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
Excerpt from: “A Peaceful Disposition,” Sermon LXXXIII, in Sermons and Sketches.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 535–537). Sprinkle Publications.