The Power of Gentleness
Proverbs 25:15
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.

In the government of our words, mildness, or meekness, is specially commendable. The right disposition includes meekness, gentleness, courteousness, kindness. These are the virtues of a soft tongue. The opposites are hardness, roughness, sharpness, bitterness, clamour, brawling. By the term "breaking" is meant persuading, pacifying, convincing, appeasing, prevailing with. A meek and gentle way of discourse is the most effectual means to overcome the fiercest passions and most obdurate, cruel dispositions. A calm and gentle way in vindicating ourselves is the most effectual means to work confusion in such as would calumniate and reproach us. This truth may be confirmed by two considerations.

1. The nature of these fierce passions and this obduracy or hardness of temper, which are increased by opposition, and consequently must be abated by gentleness and yielding.

2. From the nature of lenity and gentleness, whose property it is to insinuate itself into the hardest things. It is compared with oil. How does this doctrine consist with the imprecations of Scripture? Explain that some of them, though pronounced optatively, are to be understood declaratively, as descriptive of the true state and condition of such parties. Those who used these imprecations were inspired for a particular purpose. They spoke in their zeal for God. It may be right to wish evil to come to persons for the sake of its disciplinary mission. How does this doctrine consist with the severe imprecations of Scripture? Our Saviour called the Pharisees "vipers," Herod a "fox." The apostle calls some people "dogs." To this it may be said, those who have an extraordinary power of discerning may use such hard terms. And those in public stations may thus severely chide and reprehend. How does this doctrine consist with the duties of zeal and reproving, which sometimes must be done with severity? A man may sometimes sin in not being angry. True "meekness of wisdom" directs a, man how to order his zeal and rebukes. Learn —

1. That if soft words be of such a prevailing efficacy, soft and gentle actions must be so too.

2. The folly and sinfulness of hard speeches, whereby others may be provoked to anger and offence.

3. The lawfulness and fitness of giving men the reverence and honour due to their proper titles.

4. Bitter and provoking words are unmanly, as being against the rules of morality and very un-Christian, as being against the precepts of the gospel.

(Bp. John Wilkins.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.

WEB: By patience a ruler is persuaded. A soft tongue breaks the bone.

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