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without pitching himself into the ditch, or throwing himself into the pit. If you meet temptation as Christians ought, your deliverance will not be far distant. Hlow is it to be met ? Not in your own strength, for that is weakness. If you trust to that, you shall as certainly be overcome, as if you were already down. The Sword of the Spirit is your proper weapon. Its edge is too keen to be withstood. “ Christ," one remarks, “ gave the devil such a thrust with this weapon, that ever since he has stood in awe of it.” Prayer will give you the advantage. It will bring down the strength of God to supply your weakness. Take the promises, and draw largely upon them. They are all yours. Plead them earnestly. God will have his people to put his faithfulness to the test. (Ed.)
i Christ beginneth his sermon on the mount: 3 declaring who are llessed, 13 who are the salt of
the earth, 14 the light of the world, the city on an hill, 15 the candle ; 17 that he came to fulfil the law. 21 What it is to kill, 27 to commit adultery, 33 to swear ; 38 exhorteth to suffer wrong, 44 to love even our enemies, 48 and to labour after perfectness.
a Mark iji. 13, 20.
1. Seeing the multitudes. The great numbers that came to attend on his ministry. The substance of this discourse is recorded in the 6th chapter of Luke. It is commonly called the “ Sermon on the Mount.” It is not improbable that it was repeated, in substance, on different occasions, and to different people. At those times, parts of it might have been omitted, and Luke may have recorded it as it was pronounced on one of those occasions. See Notes, Luke vi. 17-20. I Went up into a mountain. This mountain, or hill, was somewhere in the vicinity of Capernaum, but where precisely is not mentioned. He ascended the hill, doubtless, because it was more convenient to address the multitude from an eminence, than on the same level with them. A hill or mountain is still shown, a short distance to the north-west of the ancient site of Capernaum, which tradition reports to have been the place where this sermon was delivered, and which is called on the maps the Mount of Beatitudes. But there is no positive evidence that this is the place where this discourse was uttered. 4 And when he was set. This was the common mode of teaching among the Jews. Luke iv, 20, v. 3; John viii. 2; Acts xiii. 14, xvi. 13. 9 His disciples came. The word disciples means learners-those who are taught. Here it is put for those who attended on the ministry of Jesus, and does not imply that they were all Christians. See John vi. 66. 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.
b Luke vi. 20. See Ps. li. 17; Prov. xvi. 19, xxix. 23; Isa. lvii. 15, Ixvi. 2. 3. Blessed are the
poor in spirit. “True poverty of spirit consists in a right knowledge of ourselves; and that knowledge can only be obtained from the Word of God—the revelations there made concerning human nature brought home to our souls, and applied by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. When that blessed Agent convinces a man of sin, then does the man perceive that, indeed, he is spiritually poor. The law of God, which he has so outrageously violated, pursues him with its threatenings, and day and night speaks terrible things to him about the wrath to come. He sees that it is to him as its subject, that the law says, “Do this, and live;' that it is against him, as its transgressor, that it denounces its woes, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.' He cannot appease the avenger. He has no satisfaction of his own to give. The law which he finds so rigorous, he also perceives to be just and holy in all its demands; and so extreme is his poverty that, unless he can be supplied from some quarter with that which he himself has not, there is nothing for it, but he must be arrested by justice, and remain to all eternity under the condemnation of the broken law. He perceives the absolute necessity of getting hold of a righteousness such as the law demands--a righteousness pure, perfect, unimpeachable
. Till this be obtained, he cannot have peace with God. And those are blessed whose minds the Holy Spirit thus opens to a true sense of their spiritual destitution; for, forthwith, he proceeds to convince them of righteousness—showing them that what they require has been provided, and is ready, upon their closing with Christ, the author and finisher of it, to be put upon them, and made their own, as certainly as if they in their own persons had wrought it out by a most undeviating and perfect obedience to the law. Being justified by faith, they have peace with God. But in this their justified state they are still conscious of their spiritual poverty, and feel that, in order to a right walk with their heavenly Father, they stand daily in need of being guided by his counsel, and supplied with the graces of his Holy Spirit.” (Ed.) 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
c Isa. Ixi. 2, 3; Luke vi. 21; John xvi. 20; 2 Cor. i. 7; Rev. xxi. 4. 4. Blessed are they that mourn. “ The mourners to whom this blessing belonys, are those who mourn penitentially over their own sins. Not only are they touched with the conviction that the punishment due to their sins is banislıment from the sight and favour of God, and a portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, but they are melted under a sense of the dishonour which, by their sins, they have put upon God, and the wounds they have inflicted upon Christ. It is not easy to give an idea of the feelings with which a mourner in Zion regards sin. Sin disputes the wisdom, opposes the will, and, if it had the power, would dethrone the Most High, being positive rebellion against his righteous government. It disputes his wisdom : in his holy law, God has forbidden those things only which are prejudicial to the happiness of the creature. But when we seek any thing which has been so forbidden, it is under the notion that it is for our good, and thus a reflection is cast upon the wisdom of Jehovah, as if he had proscribed something which it would be to our advantage that we should have. It opposes his will; for, by the act of sin, we virtually set God at defiance, and say, "We shall carry our point, whether he will or not.' It would dethrone God; for either his will, or that of some other, must be the law of the universe. Whilst the sinner, then, pursues his wicked gratification, in opposition to the Divine commandments, he acts as one who, did he only possess the power, would repeal them, and promulgate another code. Perceiving that his sins have done such outrage, and are loaded with such guilt, and having been brought to a right mind, the spiritual mourner is ready to sink under bitter anguish of soul, and would certainly do so, but for the comfortable assurance that the blood of Christ, by which he has been sprinkled, cleanses from all sin—that that blessed Redeemer, the benefits of whose atoning sacrifice he appropriates to himself in the act of believing, is the author of eternal salvation to all his people. Whilst he looks stedfastly upon Jesus, and, looking upon him, rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory, he also, when he looks in upon his own soul—when he considers its unfruitfulness, and reflects upon his sins—is in sadness. He can bemoan himself, with Hezekiah, “I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward : 0 Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me. Isa. xxxviii. 13, 14. The glory of God, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom, not only in his own heart, but upon earth-being that for which he most earnestly wishes and prays—the spiritual mourner is much afflicted by the sad condition of a world lying in wickedness-myriads of immortal beings in rebellion against Jehovahtheir sins rising to heaven to witness against them, in as dark a cloud as did the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Lord destroyed with fire. Such mourners are blessed; for a gracious promise, nay, many promises, are theirs. By having grace given to them in rich abundance, they shall be comforted; and having done all they can, by their means, their example, and their prayers, to speed forward that cause in which they delight, they shall behold the good of Jerusalem, and be enabled to rejoice even in the midst of sorrow, knowing that the Lord reigneth, and that, at the appointed time, upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions'—that “the whole earth shall be at rest, and be quiet, and break forth into singing."" (Ed.) 5 Blessed are the meek: for othey shall inherit the earth.
d Ps. xxxvii, 11. 5. The meek. Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness, nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice ; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of longharboured vengeance. Christ insisted on his right, when he said, “ If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” John xviii. 23. Paul asserted his right, when he said, “ They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay, verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out.” Acts xvi. 37. And yet Christ was the very model of meekness. It was one of his characteristics, “I am meek.” Matt. xi. 19. So of Paul. No man endured more, and more patiently than he. Christians should not harbour malice. They should not trample down the rights of others to secure
e See Rom. iv, 13.
Meekness is the reception of injuries, with a belief that God will vindicate us. Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Rom. xii. 19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has a right to do, and what he has promised to do.
“ Of Christian meekness we shall form a right idea, when we consider it as a quiet and cheerful submission to the will of God in all things—a recognition of his hand in all the dispensations of his holy providence towards us—a quick appreciation and grateful acknowledgment of all his mercies. One possessed of Christian meekness possesses a gentle, but not a servile spirit
. Whilst he refrains from wrath, he will not abandon principle for the sake of peace. He will not, at the bidding or threats of the world, surrender his spiritual privileges. He dare not do so. They are the gift of God, and the most precious treasure of the believer. They are to be used for God's glory, and religiously handed down to posterity. We need not wonder, then, that meek men wax bold, and are zealous in the defence of their rights as citizens of Christ's kingdom, when the world, which cannot understand these rights, aims at them and would destroy them. To abandon their post, would be to betray their Redeemer's cause. It would exhibit a sad deficiency of principle-want of faith and moral courage—a pitiful servility of spirit, and want of true meekness. It would be to obey man rather than God; whereas, in the matters to which we now allude, true meekness and submission to God's will consist in upholding his cause, however much the world may fret and oppose.” 1 They shall inherit the earth. This might have been translated “ the land.”
It is probable that there is a reference to the manner in which the Jews commonly expressed themselves when speaking of any great blessing. It was promised to them that they should inherit the land of Ca
For a long time the patriarchs looked forward to this. Gen. xv. 7, 8; Exod. xxxii. 13. They regarded it as a great blessing. It was so spoken of in the journey in the wilderness ; and their hopes were crowned when they took possession of the promised land. Deut. i. 38, xvi. 20. In the time of our Saviour, they were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where this promise so frequently occurs; and they used it as a proverbial expression, to denote any great blessing. Our Saviour used it in this sense ; and his meaning is, not that the meek should possess great property, or have many lands, but that they should possess peculiar blessings. The Jews also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land became, therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Saviour promises it here, he teaches that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. The value of meekness, even in regard to worldly property and success in life, is often exhibited in the Scriptures. Prov. xv. 1, xxv. 2, 15. “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Tim. iv. 8, vi. 3–6. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: 'for they shall be filled.
s Isa. 1v. 1, Ixv. 13. 6. Blessed are they that hunger, &c. Hunger and thirst, here, are expressive of strong desire. Nothing can better express the strong desire which we ought to feel for the obtaining of righteousness, than hunger and thirst. No wants are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as those of hunger and thirst. They occur daily; and when long continued, as in the case of those who have been shipwrecked, and are doomed to wander for months or years over burning sands, with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. An ardent desire for any thing is often represented in the Scriptures by hunger and thirst. Ps. xlii. 1, 2; Ixiii. 1, 2. A desire for the blessings of pardon and peace; a deep sense of sin, and want, and wretchedness, is also represented by thirsting. Isa. lv. 1, 2. Those who feel that, by nature, they are lost and perishing sinners, who are hungering and thirsting after salvation, who accept of the overtures of God's mercy, and take Christ as their only and all-sufficient Saviour—shall be filled and satisfied—abundant provision is made for them in the Gospel—they shall not be sent empty away. 7 Blessed are the merciful: sfor they shall obtain mercy.
& Ps. xli. l; Chap. vi. 14; Mark xi. 25; 2 Tim. i. 16; Heb. vi. 10; Jaines ii. 13. 7. Blessed are the merciful. That is, those who are so affected by the sufferings of others, as to be disposed to alleviate them. This is given as an evidence of piety; and we are taught that they
to others, shall obtain it. The same truth is found in Matt. x. 42. " Whosoever
of cold water only unto one of these little ones, in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward.” See also Matt. xxv. 34-40. It should be done to glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, with a desire that he should be honoured, and a feeling that we are
who show shall give a cup
benefiting one of his creatures. Our Saviour regards the acts of meres which we exercise towards his people as exercised towards himself, and has promised to meet them with signal blessings. See the doctrine of this verse, that the merciful shall obtain mercy, also expressed in 2 Sam. xxii. 26, 27, and in Ps. xviii. 25, 26.
In nothing do we imitate God more than in showing mercy. In nothing does God more delight than in the exercise of mercy. Exod. xxxiv. 6; Ezek. xxxiji. 11; 1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Pet. ii. 9. To us, guilty sinners ; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe, he has shown his mercy, by giving his Son to die for us, by expressing his willingness to pardon and save us, and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify the heart. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy. All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of his mercy. If we, also, in obedience to our Saviour's commandment, in imitation of his example, and with a view to the glory of God, are merciful to the poor and wretched and those who are out of the way, we walk, in this respect, conformably to the divine precept. And we have abundant opportunity to do it. Our world is full of misery and woe, which we may help to relieve; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, and by urging men to come to Christ, of carrying into active operation, the feelings by which our hearts must be animated if we are indeed believers.
8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for 'they shall see God.
8. Blessed are the pure in heart. That is, whose minds, motives, and principles are pure; who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are
Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart. 9 They shall see God. There is a sense in which all shall see God. Rev. i. 7. That is, they shall behold him as their Judge. In this place, it is spoken of as a peculiar favour. So also, in Rev. xxii. 4, “ And they shall see his face.” To see the face of one, or to be in his presence, were, among the Jews, terms expressive of great favour. It was regarded as a high honour to be in the presence of kings and princes, and to be permitted to see them. Prov. xxii. 29, “ Ile shall stand before kings," &c. See also 2 Kings xxv. 19, “ Those that stood in the king's presence;" in the llebrew, those that saw the face of the king; that is, who were his favourites and friends. So here, to see God, means to be bis friends and favourites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called the children of God.
9. Blessed are the peacemakers. Those who strive to prevent contention, and strife, and war; who use
eir influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities families and neighbourhoods. Every inan may do something in this way. There ought not to be unlawful and officious interference in that which is none of our business ; but, without any danger of acquiring this character, every man has many opportunities of reconciling opposing parties. Friends, neighoburs, men of influence, lawyers, physicians, may do much to promote peace. And it should be taken in hand in the beginning. " The beginning of strife,” says Solomon, “ is like the letting out of water.” “ An ounce of prevention,” says the English proverb, “is worth a pound of cure.” Long and most deadly quarrels might be prevented by a little kind interference in the be ginning. I Children of God. See Matt. i. 1. Those who resemble God, or who manifest a spirit like his. He is the Author of peace (1 Cor. xiv. 33); and all those who endeavour to promote peace, from a desire to be like him, may be truly called his children. 10 kBlessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.
k 2 Cor. iy. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 12; 1 Pet. iii. 14. 10. Persecuted. To persecute, means literally to pursue, follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex or oppress one, on account of his being a disciple of Jesus. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or endanger or take their life, because of their following Christ. 1 For righteousness' sake. Because of the Truth. We are not to seek persecution. 'We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct, or by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, because of our professing the truths of the Gospel, and living under their power, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will
! Luke vi. 22.
m 1 Pet. iv. 14.
defend us. And all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Tim. iii. 12. q Their's is the kingdom of heaven. They are assured that He, for whose sake they endure these sufferings, will bring them at last into His Father's kingdom. 11 'Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of "evil against you || falsely, for my sake.
| Greek, lying. 11. Revile you. Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are Christians. Thus they said of Jesus, that he was a Samaritan and had a devil; that he was mad; and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross. But being reviled, he reviled not again (1 Pet. ii. 23); when we are reviled, we should bless (1 Cor. iv. 12). Though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake. Phil. i. 27. q All manner of evil—falsely. An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear. 1 Pet. iii. 13-18. 1 For my sake. Because you are attached to me; because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, with a design to disgust or offend. But if we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry—not reviling again—but endeavouring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers. 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. In this way, many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the Gospel of Jesus. Long since, it became a proverb, “ That the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” 12 "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for oso persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
o Neh. ix. 26; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16; Chap. xxiii. 34. 37 :
n Luke vi. 23; Acts v. 41; Rom. v. 3; James i. 2: 1 Pet. iv. 13.
Acts vii. 52; 1 Thess. ii. 15.
12. Rejoice, &c. The reward of such suffering is great. To those who suffer most, God imparts the greatest blessings. Not that their suffering is in any way meritorious, but because it has pleased their heavenly Father so to ordain. Hence tlie crown of martyrdom has been thought to be the brightest that any of the redeemed shall wear. Many of the early Christians literally rejoiced, and leaped for joy, at the prospect of death for the sake of Jesus. Though God does not require us to seek persecution, yet all this shows that there is a power in religion to sustain the soul, which the world does not possess. Nothing but the consciousness of the presence of God, and of his support, could have borne them up in the midst of these trials; and the flame, therefore, kindled to consume the martyr, has also been a bright light, showing the truth and power of the Gospel of Jesus. 9 The prophets, &c. The holy men who came to predict future events, and who were the religious teachers of the Jews. For an account of their persecutions, see the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. 13 9 Ye are the salt of the earth : Pbut if the salt bave lost its savour,
wherewith shall it be salted ? it is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
p Mark ix. 50; Luke xiv. 34, 35.
13. Ye are the salt of the earth. Salt renders food pleasant and palatable, and preserves it from putrefaction. So Christians, by their lives and instructions, are instrumental in keeping the world from entire moral corruption. They protect the earth from the universal prevalence of vice and crime. 1 Salt have lost its savour. That is, if it has become insipid, tasteless, or have lost its preserving properties. The salt used in this country is a chemical compound—muriate of soda-and if the saltness were lost, or it were to lose its savour, there would be nothing remaining. It enters into the very nature of the substance. In Eastern countries, however, the salt used was impure, mingled with vegetable and earthy substances; so that it might lose the whole of its saltness, and a considerable quantity of earthy matter remain. It is found in the earth in veins or layers, and when