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Moderates [1]

is a name applied to those theologians of the Church of Scotland who favor patronage (prohibited by the Parliament of 1692, and in the Books of Discipline) and a moderate orthodoxy, i.e., a mitigation of the strictness of the old confessions. The first Moderates flourished in the middle of the last century, under the Robertsonian administration (1752-82). As early as 1720, however, the Moderate party had its influence in the Church, as is apparent from the five propositions which were condemned in a council held at that time to suppress Antinomianism, see Marrow Controversy; and the session of 1734 was no doubt provoked by the ascendancy of the Neonomians, afterwards leaders in the party of the Moderates. In many respects the Moderates are the "Latitudinarians" of the Church of Scotland. Many of them adopted the ethical principles of Francis Hutcheson (q.v.). The leading pulpit orator among the Moderates- Dr. Hugh Blairdeficient in evangelical thought and feeling, actually defended Hume against the Assembly; and well he might, for had not his party declared (in 1720) that Holiness Is Not Necessary To Salvation ? There were, however, many Moderates of an evangelical spirit, and these prepared the way for the Free-church movement. (See Church Of Scotland). (J.H.W.)

Moderation imports a proper government of passion and pleasure, preventing extremes of any kind. The presence of moderation is manifest in the exhibition of a calm and temperate frame of mind. "Moderation," says Blair, "ought to take place in our wishes, pursuits, expectations, pleasures, and passions."

(1.) We should be moderate in our Wishes. The active mind of man is seldom or never satisfied with its present condition, how prosperous soever. Originally formed for a wider range of objects, for a higher sphere of enjoyments, it finds itself, in every situation of fortune, straitened and confined. Sensible of deficiency in its state, it is ever sending forth the fond desire, the aspiring wish after something beyond what is enjoyed at present. Assuredly there is nothing unlawful in our wishing to be freed from whatever is disagreeable, and to obtain a fuller enjoyment of the comforts of life. But when these wishes are not tempered by reason they are in danger of precipitating us into extravagance and folly. If we suffer our fancy to create to itself worlds of ideal happiness; if we feed our imagination with plans of opulence and splendor far beyond our rank; if we fix to our wishes certain stages of high advancement, or certain degrees of uncommon reputation or distinction, as the sole stations of felicity, the assured consequence will be that we shall become unhappy in our present state, unfit for acting the part and discharging the duties that belong to it; we shall discompose the peace and order of our minds, and foment many hurtful passions. Here, then, let moderation begin its reign, by bringing within reasonable bounds the wishes that we form. As soon as they become extravagant, let us check them by proper reflections on the fallacious nature of those objects which the world hangs out to allure desire.

(2.) We should be moderate in Our Pursuits. When the active pursuits in which we engage rise beyond moderation, they fill the world with great disorders often with flagrant crimes. Yet all ambition is not to be condemned, nor ought high purposes on every occasion to be checked. Some men are formed by nature for rising into conspicuous stations of life. In following the impulse of their minds, and properly exerting the talents with which God has blessed them, there is room for ambition to act in a laudable sphere, and to become the instrument of much public good. But this may safely be pronounced, that the bulk of men are ready to overrate their own abilities, and to imagine themselves equal to higher things than they were ever designed for by nature. We should therefore be sober in fixing our aims and planning our destined pursuits. We should beware of being led aside from the plain path of sound and moderate conduct by those false lights which self-flattery is always ready to hang out. By aiming at a mark too high we may fall short of what it was in our power to have reached. Instead of attaining to eminence, we may not only expose ourselves to derision, but bring upon our heads, manifold disasters.

(3.) We should be moderate in our Expectations. When our state is flourishing, and the course of events proceeds according to our wish, we ought not to suffer our minds to be vainly lifted up. We ought not to flatter ourselves with high prospects of the increasing favors of the world and the continuing applause of men. By want of moderation in our hopes we not only increase dejection when disappointment comes, but we accelerate disappointment; we bring forward with greater speed disagreeable changes in our state. For the natural consequence of presumptuous expectation is rashness in conduct. He who indulges in confident Security of course neglects due precautions against the dangers that threaten him; and his fall will be foreseen and predicted. He not only exposes himself unguarded to dangers, but he multiplies them against himself. By presumption and vanity he either provokes enmity or incurs contempt. A temperate spirit and moderate expectations are the best safeguard of the mind in this uncertain and. changing state. They enable us to pass through the world with most comfort. When we rise in the world they contribute to our elevation, and if we fall they render our fall the lighter.

(4.) We should be moderate in our Pleasures. It is an invariable law of our present condition that every pleasure which is pursued to excess converts itself into poison. What was intended for the cordial and refreshment of human life, through want of moderation, we turn to its bane. No sooner do we pass the line which temperance has drawn than pernicious effects succeed. Could the monuments of death be laid open to our view, they would read a lecture in favor of moderation much more powerful than any that the most eloquent preacher can give. We should behold the graves peopled with the victims of intemperance; we should behold those chambers of darkness hung round on every side with the trophies of luxury. drunkenness, and sensuality. So numerous should we find those martyrs of iniquity that it may safely be asserted where war or pestilence has slain its thousands intemperate pleasure has slain its ten thousands.

(5.) We should be moderate in all our Passions. This exercise of moderation is the more requisite because every passion in human nature has of itself a tendency to run into excess. All passion implies a violent emotion of mind. Of course it is apt to derange the regular course of our ideas, and to produce confusion within. Of some passions. such as anger and resentment, the excess is so obviously dangerous as loudly to call for moderation. He who gives himself up to the impetuosity of such passions without restraint is universally condemned. Of the insidious growth of passion, therefore, we have great reason to beware. Let us be persuaded that moments of passion are always moments of delusion; that nothing truly is what it then seems to be; that all the opinions which we then form are erroneous; and that all the judgments which we then pass are extravagant. Let moderation accustom us to wait till the fumes of passion are spent till the mist which it has raised begins to be dissipated. On no occasion let us imagine that strength of mind is shown by violence of passion. It is the strength of one who is in the delirium of a fever, or under the disease of madness. True strength of mind is shown in governing and resisting passion, and acting on the most trying occasions according to the dictates of conscience and right reason. See Blair, Sermons, volume 2, sermon 42.