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these were to be occasionally employed in preaching the Gospel in different parts, and healing all afflicted persons who believed their doctrine.
The Apostles were in general a set of illiterate men, but endued with sufficient understanding to judge of the reality of the miracles with which their divine Master wrought, and of giving a plain account of them to others. Men of superior station would most likely have been impatient to seat their master on the throne of Israel; those of liberal education would have attempted to prove his divine mission by learned arguments, and would have run into curious questions concerning his nature. and office; but these, accustomed to the hardships of a lowly fortune, and unskilled in the wisdom of the world, contented themselves with obeying his precepts, and following his directions with exact punctuality, and were therefore the fittest for his purpose.
OUR SAVIOUR'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
From Matthew, Chap. v.
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, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be com. forted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after. righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see Gon. Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteous, ness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and perse. cute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel; but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
JESUS, seeing a great number of people collected together, went up into a mountain, not only because he could be more conveniently heard, but also, it is likely, on account of the old Law having been delivered on
mount Sinai; and sitting down, as was the custom of the Jewish Rabbies when they preached, he began in a solemn manner that excellent discourse which is called his Sermon on the Mount.
From the solemn preparation he made, the multitude probably imagined that he was going to declare himself the promised King of the Jews, and to demand the allegiance of his subjects. Our LORD, to shew that the Kingdom of Heaven was very different from the kingdom of this world, began with pronouncing blessings on such persons as are of dispositions directly opposite to those who seek for earthly grandeur.
"Our SAVIOUR, like Moses, pronounced blessings on the good, and woes or curses on the wicked. In this discourse he explains morality, condemns several Jewish opinions, commands some things which the law of Moses did not require, and forbids some things which Moses permitted. He shewed what was the chief good of men, namely, eternal happiness in the life to come, and peace of mind, and the advantages flowing from it in the present life. Though our LORD annexed eternal happiness to particular duties, we must understand that he supposes such persons will not be deficient in the rest, but sincerely endeavour to fulfil all righteousness."
The Poor in Spirit are all persons who, convinced of the infinite greatness of GoD, and the imperfections of human nature, have a humble opinion of themselves, and are more desirous of knowing their duty, than of obtaining wealth, dignity and power; who can patiently submit to the lowest condition of life, or fill the highest without pride or arrogance. These are most ready to embrace the Gospel, and will be entitled to its most important blessings, both in this world and the next.
By those that mourn, we are not to understand persons of a melancholy, fretful disposition of mind, who are professed enemies to innocent cheerfulness, but such as have a penitent sense of their sins, and regard whatever misfortunes befall them as chastisements from GOD, and on this account submit with patience, and expect comfort from his mercy, instead of flying to gay scenes of dissipation, with the design of stifling the accusations of conscience, and banishing that sorrow which is necessary to amend the heart. "These will certainly be, comforted with the discoveries of God's forgiving love, and be cheered with the reviving rays of his heavenly glory."
The Meek are those of a pliant and teachable disposi tion, who are gentle under injuries and provocations, and ready to submit to any calamities that God may choose to inflict upon them; cautious of giving offence, and patient in bearing it. Such persons will readily con form to the laws of their country, and pay a willing abedience to the governors that are set over them ; will be dutiful to their parents, respectful to the aged, and to all superiors; condescending to persons in inferior sta tions, and merciful to enemies; in short, will study to live peaceably with all men.
Would all mankind govern themselves by such rules as these, each individual would enjoy constant satisfaction; and even, according to the common course of things, the meek will escape a multitude of evils, and enjoy as much tranquillity as the world can afford. Their minds will possess an inward calm unknown to turbulent dispositions; they will inherit the earth; will dwell among mankind in security and reputation, find friends and protectors, and enjoy their possessions, and
the fruits of their honest industry. Our LORD is supposed to allude to an expression in the Psalms, viz. the meek shall inherit the earth; and also to speak prophetically of the advantages the meek would enjoy, by withdrawing from Jerusalem before the siege, as we shall have occasion to observe.
To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to have an ardent desire after spiritual blessings, since they alone can satisfy and nourish the soul unto everlasting life. Those who thus hunger will undoubtedly obtain what they seek; for God hath repeatedly promised, that he who followeth after righteousness shall obtain both life and honour.
The merciful are those who feel compassion for the miseries of others, and use their utmost endeavours to relieve them. By such a conduct men render themselves pleasing to GoD, and are entitled to divine compassion, as well as to forbearance and kindness from their felow.creatures.
The pure in heart are such as avoid all sensual pleasure, because it draws the mind from religion and virtue. These are particularly disposed to receive the doctrines of Christianity, most capable of understanding what the Scriptures teach of the nature of Gop, to discern him in his works, to acknowledge him in the MESSIAH, and will be rewarded hereafter by beholding him in heaven.
The peace-makers are those who not only avoid quarrels and disputes, but strive to reconcile them where they prevail. These, for their endeavours to imitate the benevolence of GoD, will be acknowledged as his children.
See an excellent Sermon on this subject by Dr. Jortin, Vol. II. also on Matt. v. 5. Vol. III,