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sease as faith is necessary to justification ; for it is not possible for a sinner either to embrace the Saviour, or prize the consolations of the gospel, while insensible to the eyil of sin. There is no grace in the gospel, but upon the supposition that God is in the right, and that sio is exceedingly sinful ; and consequently none to be perceived or prized.
Ver. 5. The pext blessing is on the meek.—The word signifies gentle, humble, lowly. Every grace, however, has its semblance. There is a kind of meekness, as well as of mourning, which is merely natural or constitutional. A lamb-like temper is a blessing, and however it may be despised by the hectoring spirits of this world, it is bighly advantageous to society: but the gentleness of a renewed mind is a different thing, and bas the promise of differ- · ent blessings. Saul of Tarsus was naturally violent; but being apprehended of Jesus, he came to him, took bis yoke, and learned his spirit. This is that spirit which receives the ingrafted word ; which ensures our being guided in judgment; which is an ingredient in the wisdom from above; which submits to God under adverse providences; which stands aloof from noise, contention, and clamour, and renders our religion still and affectionate ; which, in fine, is the ornament of Christians, and causes them to resemble the myrtle-trees that grew in the valley, and bad the Lord among them.—But how is it that such characters should have the promise of inheriting the earth? It seems to be supposed, that in one respect, they have but little of it. But, First: Meekness of
of the awakened sinner to any thing in himself for comfort; but to beat him off from false comfort, by assuring him, that mere distress was no proof of his being, as yet, in a state of salvation. If such a one should ask me, What must I do? I should think of nothing but of pointing him to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. But if he tell me his tale of woe, 09. der an idea that something may be found in it to which the promises of mercy are made, (and such cases are not uncommon,) I should answer, Think nothing of this, my friend; unless your distress lead you to relinquish every false way, and to cast yourself as a perishing sioner on Jesus Christ for salvation, it is of no account. The gospel promises nothing to meze distress. Your concern is not to look into yourself for evidences of grace, (the existence of which, at present, is extremely doubtful, and the discernment of it may be impossible,) but to the atonement of Christ, the hope set before you.
spirit is connected with rest to the mind; and this makes much of a little. The proud and restless do not inherit the earth, though it be in their hand. The bumble Christian has far more enjoy. ment in a cottage than they can have in distressing and dividing the world. A little with the fear of the Lord, is better than great treasure, and trouble therewith. Secondly: The meek ones shall have the rule of the world in God's due time. Dan. vii. 27. Nor need they lay aside their meekness, or engage in revolutionary schemes to accomplish it: God will revolutionize the world, by planting fear in the hearts of princes as well as subjects, and then the work is done ; and Christian principles will govern the nations.
Ver. 6. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, &c.--It is a truth, that the obedience of Jesus onto death, which is the righteousness on account of which believers are jus. tified, is the object of their most intense desire ; but, as this is less introduced prior to its being actually wrought than afterwards, I doubt not but that the term in this place refers to the universal prevalence of righteousness in the mind and in the world. Uobelievers are hungering and thirsting, but it is after carnal and worldly gratifications. Some thirst for gold, and care not much by what means they obtain it; others may be more scrupulous on this head, yet it is chiefly on account of their own honour. Sell, in one shape or other, is the idol in the heart of every sinner. What then is true religion ? An earnest desire to do right, and to see righteousness towards God and toward man prevail in the earth. Hence arise the believer's desires for the spread of Cbrist's kingdom, his sighs for the evil among men, and his secret moans over those of his own heart. It is a source of great joy, that while those who hunger and thirst after the world are disappointed, those who bunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. The way to have our desire, is for the mind to be one with the mind of God.
Ver. 7. Blessed are the merciful, &c.—This character respects our dispositions towards men. It is that kindness and goodness which feels the miseries of others, not only as our fellow-creatures, but as God's creatures, and it may be, the purchase of the Saviour's blood. There is a principle of compassion in that mutual affection which God has planted in all men, and even in animals towards their kind; and where it is cherished by the grace of God, or even by an enlightened conscience, it is productive of great and good effects to society. The true knowledge of God, as taught among the Israelites, had such an influence upon Abab and his predecessors, that, idolaters as they were, its effects were not wholly obliterated; for the kings of the house of Israel were still known and acknowledged among the heathen as merciful kingr. The same effects are seen to this day in countries where the gospel is preached, compared with those where it is not preached. This is certainly to the honour of religion, and affords much cause for thankfulness. It must not, however, be confounded with that spirit of which our Saviour speaks. True religion may cherish natural affection, and false religion quench it; but its proper origin is not religion, but creation. That merciful spirit to which Christ annexes the blessing, is an effect of the grace of God, or of love written upon the fleshly tables of the heart. Christ was full of compassion; and as we learn of him, we feel as he felt. An upmerciful spirit is inconsistent with true religion.--Whatever pretences we may make to orthodoxy, or to devotion, if we show no mercy to the poor and the afflicted, we shall on a future day meet with judgment without mercy. Bụt he who imbibes the merciful spirit of Jesus, and acts upon the principles upon which he acted, shall obtain mercy. He shall seldom want a sympathizing friend in this world; and, what is infinitely more, shall obtain mercy of the Lord another day. ; .
Ver. 8. Blessed are the pure in heart, &c.—The import of this phrase, I take it, is much the same as what we mean by pure intention, or godly simplicity. It is the opposite of subtilty and duplicity. Genuine Christianity lays aside, not only malice, but guile and hypocrisy. It is not enough to be pure in words, nor in outward deportment, and still less to be pure in our own eyes; for all this may consist with inward wickedness. True religion bas its seat in the heart, from whence are the issues of life.Purity is a quality bụt little esteemed in the world. Men bless the subile, rather than the simple-hearted; but Christ judges
otherwise : the one may succeed in his measures, and rise bigla in things of this life ; but the other shall see God, and stand accepted in bis presence.
Ver. 9. Blessed are the peace-makers, &c. -As one of the ways in which lust operates, is by breeding divisions, contentions, strifes, wars, and the like, and thus diffusing death through every vein of society; so one of the ways in which true religion operates, is by preventing, or allaying them. The desire of such persons is not merely to avoid giving or taking offence, aud to stand aloof from the quarrels of the neighbourhood; but if possible, by a wise, temperate, and friendly interference, to heal them at an early stage. It is a great blessing to a church, a neighbourhood, or a nation, to have such characters among them. There is no calculating the mischiefs which have raged in these different departments of society, and which might have been prevented by listening to a few words from a pacific friend. The blessedness pronounced on these characters, is the honour of being called the children of God; and this no doubt because they resemble him. He that seeks peace on pure and honourable principles, is of God's mind, acting on the same principles as God acts ia reconciling the world to himself through Jesus Christ.
Ver. 10.–12. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, &c.-It is a strong proof of human depravity, that men's curses and Christ's blessings should meet on the same persons. Who would have thought that a man could be persecuted and reviled, and have all manner of evil said of him, for righteousness' sake? And do wicked men really hate justice, and love those who defraud and wrong their neighbour? No ; they do not dislike righteousness as it respects themselves: it is only that species of it which respects God and religion, that excites their hatred. If Christians were content with doing justly, and loving mercy, and would cease from walking humbly with God, they might go through the world, not only in peace, but with applause : but he that will live godLY IN Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Such a life reproves the ungodlinees of men, and provokes their resentment. Persecution is not confined to those acts of violence which are sanctioned by law, and affect liberty, VOL. VIII.
property, or life; but extends to slanderous and reproachful language, and every other way in which enmity is expressed. Through the goodness of God we have been long protected from legal persecution ; but the enmity of the serpent will find ways of expressing itself. If from the most disinterested compassion you warn your wicked neighbours of their danger, you will be called disturbers of the peace; crimes will be imputed to you of which you are innocent; and even your best actions ascribed to the worst motives. If you model your religion by the word of God, and pay no regard to human establishments, any further than as they agree with it, you may expect to be represented as enemies to government, a discontented sort of people, turning the world upside down. A view of such a state of things, to one that is weak in faith, may appear discouraging; but there is no just cause for being cast down. Only see to it that whatever you suffer, be for righteousness' sake, and that all the evil which is said of you be false, and for Christ's sake, and instead of being discouraged, you will have reason to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Unbe. lievers may tell you that this is extravagant and impossible, and that no man can be happy in such circumstances ; but it is not so. The primitive Christians entered into the spirit of their Lord's doctrine, ‘rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for bis name's sake.” When to this is added the promised kingdom, the reward in heaven, which awaits those that overcome, miserable as your lot may be accounted by the world, it will be found to be not only preferable to that of your persecutors, but even to that of such Christians, as by yielding in a measure to the world, escape a few of its censures. You have more satisfaction, and consequently more happiness in this life; and your reward in heaven will be greatly augmented : for if afflictions in general • work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,' much more those which we have suffered for righteousness' sake. Every wound received in this warfare will then be a scar of honour : a seed, productive of a harvest beyond all our present conceptions.