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plain, and yet how high and excellent, delighting the soul as a bright day, clear light all along! We need not strain for the clearness of it upon that word, He opened his mouth; for every word here spoken, speaks for itself; carries, as light does, its own evidence. He begins with that great point which all are concerned in, and all naturally someway desirous to know, the doctrine of blessedness, in short aphorisms; and the rest of his discourse follows out the same argument, directing the way to happiness in those graces, purity, meekness, mercy, &c. For although all grace is radically one, and he that hath one, hath all, yet, they are thus specified ; 1st. For the weakness of our apprehensions, which take not full views so easily, they are spelled out to us, but is only so, that taking them the easier severally, as letters of one word, we may set them together again, as all being one blessedness. Andly. Though every true Christian hath all graces, yet all are not alike eminent in all. We may confidently say, that there is no one who equally excels in every grace, but in several
persons, several particular graces do most act and evidence themselves, shooting up above the rest ; yea, in one and the same person, one grace will, at some times, be more evident and sensible than at others. 3dly. They are thus parcelled out to us, that we may apply ourselves the more particularly sometimes to the study of one, sometimes to the study of another, the negleet whereof is a great cause of our great deficiency in them all. We hear them and like them, may be, and think, these are good, but we do not set to the attainment of them: we applaud, and leave them there ; approve all, and neglect all. If at any time we have any desires after them, they are general and confused: we grasp at all, and catch nothing.
This I would recommend, to be more particular in our purposes ; sometimes to set ourselves to some one grace, not secluding nor turning away the rest, for that cannot be, but yet, more particularly plying that one, were it humility, poverty of spirit, meekness, or any other; and for some time to make that one our main task, were it for some weeks or months together, and examine every day's practice in that particularly. But like unsettled students among many books, we rove and reel, and make offers at every grace, and still lag behind, and make no considerable purchase nor progression in any.
Now, for blessedness, what is the common voice, at least, of men's minds and practices, though they speak it not out ? Blessed are the rich, the honourable, the well-landed or wellbefriended, and they that can grow great enough in the world. But if we believe this Teacher, it is not these; no such matter. But if blessedness be in things spiritual and inward, then men would imagine readily of those things which sound highest, that have some grandeur, and somewhat heroic in them,-in great knowledge of faculty, and zeal for high services, or in raptures, and ecstasies, and singular divine experiences. But here is nothing of these neither, but the meanest, most despised things; yea, those that (some of them) seem to sound as miserable and sad : The poor in spirit they that mourn- —the meek, &c. Oh! sweet, lowly graces, poverty of spirit, meekness, that grow low, and are of dark hue, as the violets, but of a fragrant smell ; as one says, chief in garlands : these are prime in the garlands of a Christian. Oh! study these; seek to have them growing within you. Suffering remarkable martyrdom may seem to have some lustre in it; but how take you it, to be reviled, and scoffed at, and hated, and taunted, by Christians in name, because thou desirest to be one indeed ?
Each of these beatitudes, for all the low sound at first, ends high, and makes good the title. Blessed are the poor in spirit ; ay, they are the only rich, heirs to a kingdom, and such a kingdom : theirs is the kingdom of God. Lofty, vain minds are truly base. By poverty in spirit, is meant, I conceive, not only a sense of spiritual want, (though commonly it is so taken,) but, more comprehensively, a lowly frame of heart, not swelled either with desires, or delight, or conceit, of any worldly advantage, or self-excellency, either outward or inward. Thus may a man be, amidst very many such advantages and riches, poor, and that is, his blessing. Yet here is connoted, I conceive, the condition of outward poverty as more suiting, and usually more connected with that temper of spirit. In St. Luke it is, Blessed are the poor, opposed to the rich. And he that is poor in spirit, if outwardly poor, is truly rich in the midst of poverty. So, they that mourn shall be comforted, and the meek shall inherit the earth. . Not that this is their all, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, also. But this word from the Psalm, carries a fit promise, that meekness, seeming to be that which makes a man a prey to every one, and easily wronged and thrust out by all, yet shall be provided and protected, and he shall enjoy so much even of this earth as is fit for him, with more quiet and sweetness, than the proud and boisterous, who are ever, almost, in contentions.
The pure in heart, abridging themselves of sights and enjoyments that the world seeks after-sensual delights, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,--shall have a better sight, and purer joy, suiting them ; sweetest communion with God here, and ere long full vision : for they shall see God. So in the rest, it is clear.
Blessed are they which are persecuted Rejoice.] Look off from your sufferings, and each way you will find matter of encouragement and joy. Look back to the prophets that were before you, and look forward to the reward in heaven that is
The firm belief of that kingdom, that glory above, that vision, what will not make easy to forego or undergo, to do or suffer? It is the want of that belief, that keeps the low things of this earth so high in our esteem.
Ver. 13, 14. Ye are the salt of the earth-ye are the light of the world.] This next point particularly concerns the dis_ ciples, and after them, the ministers of Christ. In these resemblances lie their dignity and their duty; and the former is used for urging the latter; and that is the best view of it. Let men look as much as they can upon the excellency of this their high calling, so that it raise their spirits to high endeavours of acting suitably to it. What a simple thing, to feed selfconceit by this! Alas, poor man! He is light indeed in another
sense, who grows vain upon it that he is called light, and does not rather tremble that he is so unlike it in this. Salt-What were all table provisions without this ? Light-What were the world without this ? Christ communicates his own name to them, The light of the world. All the children of God are children of light, but his messengers more eminently so. Men that think ministers a needless commodity in the world, if they give any belief to the Gospel, may see what they are: and if you could live well without salt, and without light, so might ye without ministers.
But, alas ! how much unsavoury salt, how many dark lights are amongst us! And if the salt lose its savour, it can do good to nothing, and nothing can do good to it. The most unprofitable piece of the world, is either a profane, a carnal, or a formal, dead minister; he is good for nothing, -unsavoury salt, of all things the most unsavoury. And if the light within thee be darkness, (as our Saviour says afterwards,) how great is that darkness ! Oh, that Christ shined more in our labours, in our conversation, and in companies where we come; that we were more savoury and seasoning others; not in jestings, or in sports, (these salts are unsavoury in ministers,) but in words of edification, ministering grace to the hearers ! And this, though it specially applies to ministers, yet extends to all Christians. Let your light so shine, not to make yourselves somebody, but for the glory of the Father of lights, whence you have that light, your Heavenly Father. Oh, that this were predominant in all! Happy that heart that is filled with constant desires of this, and that aims at the glory of God, minding self in nothing, but God in all !
Ver. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.] He lays hold of this, takes occasion upon clearing a mistake that had arisen respecting him, to pass on to such doctrines as he knew were necessary for the clearing of the Law of God, wronged by false glosses; and he thus vindicates both himself and that Law whereof he was the lord and author. Some, possibly, to obstruct his way, and prejudice him in men's opinions, spake of him as a teacher of new doctrine, and an enemy of the Law: others, it may be, hearing of a doctrine that sounded new, would willingly have had it so, would have been free, and enjoy libertinism. Now, to dispel both misapprehensions, our Saviour owns his purpose to be nothing such. On the contrary, I come not to destroy, but to fulfil. This did he in all things, in doctrine and in practice; and he declares it a thing impossible for any to annul the Law; that if any should offer at it, in his actions or doctrine, he should undo himself, but not the least tittle of the Law. Yet further, these men that cry up the Law, and would charge me with the dissolving of it, for all their noise, I declare to you, that except you
take heed, and observe that Law better than they do, ye. cannot enter into Heaven. How many deceive themselves, as these self-pleasing, vain men did ! But be warned. Except your righteousness, your religion, go beyond the civil neighbour, the good church-keeper, the formal, painted professor, ye shall fall short of that which both you and they reckon upon. How many, who think themselves fair for Heaven, shall find themselves wofully mistaken, when it is past help! Oh! examine well in due time, and see whether you are indeed for Heaven or not. It is the saddest mistake ever man fell into, to dream on of Heaven, till he find himself in Hell.
Ver. 21. Ye have heard, &c.] Now he clears the Law, and teaches the true spiritual sense of it, in divers points of it, wherein it was grossly abused; shews that it binds not only the hand and the tongue, but even the heart. Men aiming at self-righteousness by the Law, and desirous of that as cheap as might be, with the least pains, not being willing or able to rise to its perfection, drew it down and shaped it to their imperfection ; cut it to the measure of external obedience, and that of the easiest size. Thus men readily do; they rather fancy the word and rules of Christianity to their humours, than
purge and correct those humours by the word. position of the sixth commandment, condemns not only gross murder, but rash anger and reviling speech, as a breach of it,