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began his Collection of Divine Hymns; and in like manner does the Son of David usher in his sublime Instructions. And this was very suitable and agreeable, both to the Character of his Person, and to the Genius of his Doctrin. As to his Pere fon, Blessing became the Mouth of him, who was the Reconciler of God and Man, the great Ambassador of Peace, the Author of Salvation and Happiness, and at whose Nativity the Angels sang Peace on Earth, and Good Will towards Men. And as to his Doctrin, The Précepts he was to deliver were of so refined and high-raised a Nature, so little agreeable either to the Maxims of the World, or to the grosser Relishes of the Animal Life, that they would have found but cold Entertainment, had they not come recommended with à Reward, and been guarded on each side with a Beatitude.
'Twas requisite therefore that the Duty and · the Blessing should go hand in hand; and accor
dingly, our Lord, who well understood the *Temper of the Sons of Men, how passionately we pursue any thing that looks like Happiness, and how apt we are to ask that Question, Who will shew us any Good? thought it expedient to join them both together in his Discourse, as they will be in the Event; and to pronounce them Blessed here, whom he intends to pronounce so hereafter, when he shall fay, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the forndition of the world, Mat. 25.
And the better to win us over to the Practice of his Divine Sermon, our Lord, like a wise Master-builder, lays the Foundation of his Dif course where we must lay that of our Obedience, and assigns the first Place among his Beatitudes to Humility, and Poverty of Spirit; for Humility is the Foundation of Obedience: We must be first poor in Spirit, before we can be rich in Good Works; first humble before we can obey; and first obey before we can reign. And therefore with good Reason does our Lord lay down this as the first Principle and Ground-Work of his Institution, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. + In my Discourse upon these Words I shall,
I. RESOLVE what we are to understand by Poor in Spirit.
II. Shew that this Poverty of Spirit is a Christian Duty; and the Reasonableness of it.
III. Shew the Happiness of those who are so disposed.
As to the Resolution of the First, I consider, that this Poverty of Spirit here recommended by our Saviour, is not a State of Life, but a State of Mind; and we may take it either in Opposition to Covetousness, or in Opposition to Pride and High-Mindedness: If in Opposition to Coveto: (nefs, then to be poor in Spirit, is, to have our Souls fo disposed, as, First, Not to be eagerly carried out in cur Desires after any cre
ated Good ; particularly, the good Things of this lower World, whether Honours, Pleasures or Profit; especially, not to be greedy and craving in our Desire of Riches. But Secondly, To be to moderately and indifferently affected towards all these, as to be well contented without them, and also ready to resign and part with them when either God shall think fit to deprive us of them, or when we can no longer retain them with a good Conscience. This is to be poor in Spirit, confidered in Opposition to Covetousness.
But it may also be considered as opposed to Pride or High-mindedness; and then to be poor " in Spirit will denote, First, A just, that is, a low and mean Sense and Apprehension of our own selves, of our Souls, and of our Bodies; of our Intelle£tuals, and of our Morals; of our Acquirements, and of our Performances. And Secondly, As a Consequent of this, a Contentedness whenever any or all of these are difesteemed or disparaged, either tacitly and interpretatively, by Affronts, and dishonourable Treatments; or else directly, by express Undervaluations, 'a Readiness to prefer others before our selves, and a Willingness that the same Preference should be given them by others; an utter Captivation of our Understandings to the Obedience of Faith; and a modest Submission of them, in all doubtful Cases, to the Dictates of our Superiors ; a Declining of Fame and Popularity, and a studious Concealment of our own Praises and Excellencies; but when either the Glory of God,or the
Good of our Brother is concern'd in the Publication. In short (to use the Description of the Pfalmist) he is truly poor in Spirit, who from his Heart can say to the Searcher of Hearts, Lord, I am not high-minded, I have no proud looks ; I do not excercise my self in great Matters, which are too high for me ; but I refrain my soul and keep it low, like as a Child that is weaned from his mother : yea, my soul is even as a weaned Child, Pfal.
131. HAVING thus briefly shewn what it is to be poor in Spirit, both with respect to Covetousness, and with respect to Pride and High-mindedness, I come now, in the second Place, to shew, that this poverty of Spirit is a Christian Duty; and withal, the greater Reasonableness of it. And, First, That Poverty of Spirit, according to the first Acceptation of it, is a Christian Duty, 'twould be Conviction enough to confider how often we are call'd upon in Scripture to withdraw our Affections from the Creature, Colos. 3. 1. To seek those things which are above; to set our affection on things above, not on things of the earth; to mortifie our member's which are upon earth; among which is reckoned inordinate affection, 'evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Again, We are bid to beware of Covetousness, Luk. 12. 15. and to have both our Treasure and our Hearts in Heaven; Luk. 12. 33. to be as indifferent in the very Enjoyment of any Worldly Good, as if we enjoyed it not, J. Cor. 7. 29. and if in the Enjoyment, then certainly much more in
the Desire. Lastly, to add no more, We are cautioned by St. John not to love the World, neither the Things that are in the World. And left we should take this only as a Matter of Advice and Counsel, not express Command, he farther adds, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2. 15.
But that 'tis a Christian Duty to be thus poor in Spirit, will be farther evident from tlie very Nature and Design of the Christian Institution. The grand Thing intended in the Christian Religion was, to reduce straying Man to his true Good and Happiness, to sublimate, refine and spiritualize his Nature, to loose him from the Cords of Vanity, and from his fast Adhesions to created Good; to purge him from all Earthly Concretions and Alloys; to dis-engage and separate him, not only from the World about him, but even from one Part of himself: In one Word, to raise him from Earth to Heaven, not only by a Local, but by a Moral and Mental Elevation."
INDEED, 'twas much otherwise under the Jewisho Dispensation; There was then great Indulgence afforded to the Animal Inclinations and Worldly Affections of Men; and their very Religion was endeared to them by Temporal Promises and Blessings. Not that God inten. ded hereby to express any Liking or Approbation of Covetousness and Earthly-mindednels, but only to comply with the Infirmity of that gross, stupid People, which rendered them in