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ferable object which came in his way, and his readinefs to relicve them: His kind provifion (made at the expence of a miracle) for the multitudes, ready to faint with long attending upon him; his quitting the care of his own fupport and ne ceffary refreshment, to heal those who had need of healing; his practising charity* to the poor, and recommending it to others as a kindness fhewn to himself. His mercy to his enemies, in forgiving and doing good to them, we have taken notice of above. The purity of his heart appears in the innocence of his life: For a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil. Not the worst of his enemies could charge him with an impure word or action, even those who were conscious of their own impurity. His peaceable difpofition appears in feveral particulars abovementioned in the account of his meekness; and that he was indeed a peacemaker, we need only confider that he spared not bis own life, but gave it up upon the cross, to reconcile us to our offended God, and put an end to that fatal quarrel which fin had caused betwixt him and us. And lastly, that he was perfecuted for righteousness fake, the whole four Gofpels fuffici ently evidence, and I fuppofe no Chriftian will dif pute it.

No doubt therefore, the poor in fpirit, the religious mourner, the meek, thofe that hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace-makers, and thofe that are perfecu ted for righteoufnefs fake, are indeed the bleffed and happy men; fince he who has pronounc'd them fo, had a moft perfect knowledge of what true happi

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nefs is, and having alfo the power of being as blef+ fed and happy as he would, thought fit to place his own felicity in thefe qualities, and to recommend them to us by his own example. This one would think should be enough to fix our opinion, and to infpire our practice; yet left our dull apprehenfions, or corrupt and prejudiced nature fhould be ftill wavering, decline the practice, and not fee or not believe the bleffedness of it, he has condefcended to a more exprefs encouragement, explain'd the particular way whereby each of thofe qualifications fhall render those who have them bleffed, and annexed particular rewards to every one of them. So that now we have no excufe; we are called to holiness and virtue, and thereby to happiness; and not only called by way of precept and command, but invited and encourag'd too by all the Arguments (even from felf-intereft) which can be fuppofed to work upon any reasonable people. But if we will ftill be fo obftinate and foolish, like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, that we will not bearken to the voice of the charmer charming never fo wifely If neither the love of virtue, nor the rewards of it will move us, we muft thank our felves if we be uneafy and miferable in this world, lofe fight of heaven and happiness for ever, and fpend a fad eternity in regret and torment.

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MATTH. V. 3.

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

T will be neceffary upon this head to confider,

I. THE character of the perfons, the poor in fpirit; or what qualifications are implied in that expreffion.



II. THE bleffing affign'd and affured to perfons fo qualify'd, the kingdom of heaven.

FIRST, The character of the perfons here spoken of, and who they are whom we may fuppofe our Saviour to have intended by the poor in fpirit. Some interpreters understand this of poverty of eftate, as if he had pronounced the bleffing merely upon those who are miferable and neceffitous in their condition as to the common things in this world: and hereupon the Romish Church has principally founded the monaftick life, and voluntary poverty profefs'd by vow and promife, with fuch a folemn fhew of feverity amongst them. But this bleffing cannot reasonably be taken in fuch an extent: for tho' Chrift our Saviour is the great fountain of pity and compaffion, delights to cafe and gratify the neceffities of human nature, and the poor as fuch have a particular title to his providence, when piety and faith have taught them to depend upon it, and there are other promises in the holy Scriptures which may encourage their expectations in this kind; yet as to the bleffing promifed in the text, the poor are no farther concern'd in it than as their poverty may dispose them (if well and piously improved) to receive more readily that humble and felf-denying doctrine which our Saviour opened to the world; and, like the preaching of the Baptift, prepare the minds of men for the belief and practice of true Chriftianity. "Tis not to be thought that therefore men have larger communications of the grace of Chrift here, and more just affurances of eternal glory hereafter, because they are poor and low in their outward circumftances: for in difpenfing the bleffings of his Gofpel, he regards neither poor nor rich, any farther than by repentance from dead works, and the

belief of him, they render themselves capable objects of his grace and favour; and we fee, in fact, how many indigent people there are in the world, whofe poverty, inftead of qualifying them for faints on earth, and heirs of heaven, is the very occafion of their greater wickedness, by drawing them into diftruft and murmuring, and unbelief towards God, and dishonesty, violence, and other injuries to their neighbour. These therefore cannot be the men to whom the kingdom of heaven (in any fenfe) peculi arly belongs. But thofe upon whom that bleffing is here entail'd, are the poor in fpirit; and who they are that may be properly accounted poor in fpirit, will be perhaps fufficiently described in these four following heads.

1. SUCH as are humble and lowly in fpirit, not lifted up with pride and vanity in the poffeffion of worldly things. And I fuppofe the addition of thofe words [in fpirit] which is the diftinguishing cha racter in the text, is principally for this purpose, that fo the rich may be capable of the bleffing and the kingdom too, as well as others. For Chrift is the * Saviour of all men, and has not to altered the government of things, as that to become his difciples men fhould neceffarily quit their former ftate and pofture in the world. For he who is poor in fpirit, tho' his condition be honourable and rich, has nevertheless that temper and qualification which a poor man is fuppofed to have. His honour and riches do not fwell him to a contempt of others. He does not facrifice to his own nets; afcribe all to his own induftry and merit, nor look upon himfelf as really and fubftantially the better for all that wealth and power which he enjoys; but he reflects upon the no defert and title he can make before Almighty God. He confiders the clay out of which

+ Job xxxii. 6.


1 Tim. iv. 10. † Hab. i: 16.

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