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“ And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain : and when he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” &c. Mat. v.'1, 2.
Our Lord seeing the multitudes, for the advancing his Father's glory, his own kingdom, and the good of souls, went up into the mountain, and sat in the power of the Father; and when so sat down, his disciples came unto him: which shews the necessity of coming to Christ, to hear his word, and that christians ought to assemble themselves before him, that he may speak to them either immediately; or if he pleases to enlarge the heart of any of his ministers to declare his word, and as his disciples then personally came unto him, so now we ought to come to him in spirit; and then, when but two or three are so come to him, he is as really present spiritually, as he was personally in the mount.
And as this meeting in the mount was powerful and glorious, so will all those be, in measure, where Jesus is really present in spirit. “ And he opened his mouth, and taught them.” Thus when true believers meet before Christ, he teaches them, and opens the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and speaks truly to the state of the people, even now spiritually, as he did then vocally ; and his word is with power and great glory. Oh! may all his servants and ministers, who are sensible of his divine call, minister according to their several gifts and capacities, in his power, and by his holy and divine author. ity. This must reform the world, and change the hearts of poor mortals, and forward the work of reformation, which (with godly sorrow it may be truly said) goes but too slowly on in this world. Christ being thus set in the power of his Father, opened his mouth and let fall a shower of blessings on those hearts who were prepared to receive them. For his great love and tender compassion are generally manifested to poor souls when they, with love and zeal to him, and for the honour of his great name, meet and assemble before him. He begins and says,
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the king. dom of heaven."
Verse 3. It is a safe and blessed state, to be truly and spiritually poor, and to be rightly sensible of it before the Most High. For then we are nothing, and have nothing, but from the Lord : and without him man sees himself undone : his soul must starve, he must go naked, if the Almighty do not feed him, and clothe him. And when they see themselves poor and wretched, miserable, blind, and naked, without Christ, notwithstanding all the fine things they may enjoy in this world, which is of a fading nature ; Oh! then how the soul cries, how it begs for mercy
and grace. A dry form of words will not satisfy it then; but it begs with tears, Lord, help me, or I perish! Save me, or I am undone forever! Here the soul humbly approaches the throne of grace by prayer; and if an answer is not quickly received (for such a soul is apt to think the time long) it waits patiently with that servant of God who said, “ Though he slay me, yet wili I trust in him :* for I know there is no help for me but from thee, Oh! my God, and my Saviour! saith the truly poor soul. The food which must keep life in me, is thy word : and the raiment which I want, is thy righteousness, as thou wroughtest it for me, and workest it in me also. The Lord looks with a compassionate eye on such souls, and doth not use to turn thein away empty : but as they abide in the patience, waiting for his appearance in hope, he assures them of the kingdom ; and a great turn and
change is witnessed; for the blessing of Christ makes them rich, which adds no sorrow with it; for the greatest sorrow was, and is, for want of it; now their treas. ure and heart is in heaven, and heavenly things are their chiefest delight; now they are clothed with Christ's righteousness, he hath put it upon them, and they shew it in the sight of men, a thorough change being wrought both within and without also ; " The holy scripture bearing witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God; (and Christ says) theirs is the kingdom of heav
“ Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Verse 4.
The mourning here spoken of, is that of a godly sort, which may sometimes appear outwardly : Ist. For the soul may mourn for its own sins and iniquities : 2d. For want of a Saviour: and, 3d. For the iniquities of others. " For (first) all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and since we have all sinned, we have all need to mourn before the Lord, and bow ourselves before the Most High; and when he sees that we are humbled before him, he then will comfort us. Christ will send the comforter, the spirit of truth in his name, who will come unto us; and when he is come, we may plainly know and understand it is he, by what he doth, according to Christ's own rule, which is infallible and certain; says hc, “ When he is come, he will reprove (or convince) the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more: and of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged.” Thus, according to Christ, that which shews us our sins, which convinces us of them, is the spirit of truth, the comforter ; that after we have mourned for our sins, which he convinces us of, then he comforts us with inward comfort and consolation. 2d. This comforter also convinceth us of our formal righteousness, when it is only formal, without the power of Christ : and then the soul mourns after the life and power of godliness, which indeed is great gain,
with true contentment; and hath the promise of the things of this life, and that also which is to come. And so here we are comforted by the spirit in the promise, in which we have faith to believe in Christ, and that he will verily do as he hath promised. 3d. It also convinceth us of judgement, when we judge with a wrong judgement; and when we mourn for our mistake, he makes us sensible of this righteous judgement,
which judges the prince of this world, who is judged by Christ
; and then instead of mourning, we are ready to sing with the saints of old, “ Salvation, and glory, and honour
, and power, unto the Lord our God, for true and righ. teous are his judgements, for he hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornications, and hath revenged the blood of his servants at her hands."
2d. The soul being truly in love with Christ, and he being absent from the soul in some sense ; or if he seem to stay a great while from it, although to try and prove the soul; this makes us mourn greatly, like the spouse in the Canticles, who sets forth the beauty, and excel
. lent parts, and comeliness, of her beloved, and all her sorrow is, he had withdrawn himself; and well may a soul be sorrowful, when Christ spiritually withdraws himself. “ The children of the bride chamber mourn in the bridegroom's absence, but rejoice in his presence, says Christ, who is the very perfection of beauty and holiness. But the soul abiding in his love, and seeking of him, and waiting for him, in his own due time he will certainly come to that soul; for he is the truth who said, “ Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”
3d. Again, pious souls cannot but mourn for the sins and abominations of the times, which is a great exercise to them, and affects them with sorrow and mourning; but they are comforted with blessed promises, which the Holy Ghost, at times and seasons, immediately applies to their souls, as recorded in the holy scripture; and let it be remembered, that all our good times and seasons are in the hands of the Lord. It is recorded in
the holy scripture, that God would have his people spoken comfortably to; Isa. xl. 1.' And that he would
give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heavi. ness; that they might be called trees of righteousness the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.' Isa. Ixi. 3.
“ Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Verse 5.
Be not high-minded, saith one of his servants; and another saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Again, “The meek will he teach his way, and the meek will he guide in judgement ;” as the holy scripture witnesseth. So that well said our Holy Saviour, that the meek should be blessed: grace is given to them, and God is their teacher, and their guide in judgement; a most blessed gift, teacher, and guide: a great blessing indeed, to receive grace from Almighty God, to be taught his ways by him, and to have the Holy One to be our guide in judgement. And he who has all power in heaven, and in earth, committed into his hand, says as above, that the meek “ shall inherit the earth :" they have the rightest and truest enjoyment of all the things of this life; whereas the proud and scornful are a burthen to themselves and others, and hardly any thing pleases them, or any thing good enough for them; when, on the other hand, the meek and contented mind hath (according to a good general maxim). a continual feast.
“ Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousnes; for they shall be filled.” Verse 6,
Let it be remembered, that as our mortal bodies cannot enjoy health long, without a natural appetite to meat and drink,, so our souls cannot live unto holiness without a spiritual hunger, and an inward thirst after the righteousness which Christ puts upon his saints : not by imputation only, but actually also. Such souls he will fill, as holy Mary witnessed, and bore her testimo. ny to the truth thereof, viz. “ He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away."