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much as possible, every thing and every occasion, likely to kindle the opposite spirit. The wise man hath observed, “Only by pride cometh contention.” Study your besetting sin. Have you found any particular company, or any certain situations, the unhappy means of rousing improper passions ?-Are there any among those with whom you sometimes associate that feel a dishonourable and wicked gratification in provoking you? - Strive to teach them better by your spirit and advice; and if they will not listen to your counsels, withdraw from their society, lest “the companion of such fools should be destroyed.” Thirdly-consider the examples of meekness recorded in Scripture. It is true, the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, were not entirely spotless, for then they would have been more fit for heaven than earth; yet, in general, their temper was marked by forbearance and moderation. But chiefly “consider him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds.”* And finally, with these, take a fourth direction-namely, fervent prayer. We are commanded to pray for forgiveness, as we forgive others. None but the meek can offer, with full propriety, and from the heart, the beautiful form of prayer which our Lord has given us. And, inasmuch as he has made meekness our duty, we may be fully assured, that he will not suffer us to ask for the blessing in vain. Amen.
* Heb, xii. 3.
MATTHEW v. 6.
" BLESSED ARE THEY WHICH DO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED.”
It is impossible to regard, with any serious attention, the successive dispositions pronounced blessed in this sermon, without observing the perfect acquaintance with the heart of man which this great prophet discovers. He knew the roving of his spirit in quest of happiness, and he would, therefore, direct its attention to some suitable course where it may be obtained. He saw that men were bent on fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind, and that the current of their affections was towards the riches, honours, and shadows, of the present world. He, therefore, pitied their mistake, and their folly. Perfectly aware that this state of mind was vicious, and that the objects which it had been accustomed to seek were as worthless as the pursuit was delusive, he calls its attention from such as are transitory, and directs it to such as are permanent; from the sordid to the spiritual, and from those which are polluted and earthly, to such as are pure and heavenly.“ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Before I enter immediately on the subject of this beatitude, allow me to remark, that the several graces and virtues recommended in the preceding verses are closely connected with this in the text. They conduct us to it as by so many steps of regular proportion,-the first leading to the second, the second springing from the first, and leading to the third, from which proceeds the fourth, now to be considered. If sorrow for sin flows from the humiliation of the soul before God, so also does a spirit of meekness, from the conviction of our insignificance as creatures, and of our unworthiness and wretchedness as sinners. And if a meek and submissive temper be the fruit of holy contrition, so is aversion to the vanities and vices of the world, when it leads to an ardent desire after the substantial blessings of the gospel-the fruit of Christian meekness. Nor is it possible to conceive a series of mental qualities and endowments, more completely at variance with all the notions of felicity, which the carnal heart ever entertained, than those selected by the Saviour in the first ten verses of this divine sermon.
In considering the passage before us, let us notice,
I. THE STATE OF MIND IT DESCRIBES BY THE METAPHORS OF “HUNGERING AND THIRSTING AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS."
II. THE SUITABLE AND SATISFACTORY SUPPLY PROMISED TO SUCH A CONDITION BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST—"IT SHALL BE FILLED.”
I. THE PECULIAR AND INTERESTING STATE OF MIND DESCRIBED BY THE METAPHORS, OF “HUNGERING AND THIRSTING AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Now, in discussing this particular, permit me to request your attention to three things, which it includes. Observe,
First. The object of desire,—"righteousness.” This word is of very extensive signification in the Scriptures; and it will be necessary, in reference to the present lecture, to ascertain its meaning in this passage. In
some places where it occurs, it means nothing more than the act of justice, in rendering to every one his due. So it is used by the Apostle, Acts xvii. 31, “Because he,” that is God,“ hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.” Here there is a reference to that line of rectitude and fair dealing which the moral law requires between man and man. But to confine the desire expressed in the text to a love of equity and justice, commendable and necessary to practical Christianity as these qualities are, would be to reduce its meaning within narrow limits indeed. We must look, therefore, for a more spiritual and extended signification. It is unseemly to speak of the man who “hungers and thirsts after justice,” being filled with justice. The object desired, and the satisfying supply promised, must correspond with each other.
“ Righteousness” sometimes means the imparting to sinful men, through faith, the meritorious obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which they are accounted just before God, and accepted as such. To this the Apostle alludes, when he speaks of “man believing with the heart unto righteousness.” And also in the Epistle to the Philippians,—“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”* In other places, it means that personal righteousness which is wrought in the mind by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Of this St. John makes mention ;“ Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.”+ Now, I think, that it is in this sense we are to understand the term in the text. It comprehends the whole of personal, practical, and experimental religion. A conformity to Christ; a deliverance from “fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul ;” a deadness to the world ; a devotedness to the glory and honour of God, in the extension of his kingdom, and triumph of his truth; and the ardent aspiration of the soul after the knowledge, smile, purity, and salvation of Jesus Christ, are the essential qualities of this "righteousness,” and are included in it.
Secondly. Observe the significant metaphors by which the desire of the mind for these blessings is described.
The soul, clothed in a body of flesh, can conceive of no object, but through the medium of the senses. Spiritual things are, therefore, represented by material ones. It is on this account that divine truths are frequently set forth under the figure of meat and drink; and the desire of the soul to possess them, is compared to the well-known appetites of the body for its necessary food. Thus David expressed his intense desire for the divine favour and blessing,—“O God, my soul thirsteth for thee, in a dry and barren land, where no water is.” Thus the prophet Isaiah ; “Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Thus St. John ;-"The spirit and the bride say, come; and let him that is athirst come, and take of the water of life freely.” Thus the benevolent Redeemer, likewise, “ on the last, the great day of the feast, stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” In all these passages a figure is employed to denote the unequivocal and strong aspiration of the mind, after objects holy and heavenly—“the water of life”- the blessing of “righteousness." And such is the Christian's desire still. While many are saying “who will shew us any good”-any worldly amusement and pleasure, he is praying “Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me.” Whatever was dear to him once, “he now counts it loss for Christ,” if he may but obtain pardon and peace of the Most High. He has left the stream for the fountain ; the pleasures of sin for the