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II. HAVING thus defcribed who are the poor in fpirit, let us next enquire into the kingdom of heaven, which is the bleffing entail'd upon them. And this enquiry will divide it felf into two branches.
1. WHAT we are to understand by the kingdom of heaven.
2. WHY that portion is affign'd to the poor in Spirit.
1. WHAT we are to understand by the kingdom of heaven. And for fatisfaction to this point we are to confider,
(1.) THAT in the writings of the Evangelifts it is plainly and frequently us'd for the coming of Chrift into the world, for the state of grace, and the preaching of the Gospel, as you may obferve from that of the Baptift, * Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And in the 13th chapter of St. Matthew, our Saviour delivers many parables, which muft of neceffity refer to this fenfe of the kingdom of heaven; as that of the grain of mustard-feed thrown into the earth, which, tho' it be a fmall feed of itfelf, does yield a very furprifing and plentiful encreafe; of leaven, which ギ was put into three measures of meal, and it leaven'd the whole lump; of a net caft into the fea, which brought up in it every kind of fish, &c. All which do properly relate to the great progrefs of the Gospel from poor and mean beginnings, and ferv'd then to animate his difciples in the purfuit of their duty, in that preaching of the christian faith which fhould be crowned with fuch wonderful fuccefs. But then,
(2.) By the kingdom of heaven is alfo undertood the fate of glory and happiness in the world
Ibid. ver. 33.
* Matth. iii. 2. ↑ Matth. xiii 31. Ibid. ver. 47.
to come, the rewards and manfions prepared by Christ for fuch as believe in him and obey him. And thus it is ufually expounded in that faying of his, *Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteoufness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye shall in no cafe enter into the kingdom of heaven. And more plainly in this other, † Not every one that faith unto me, Lord, Lord, fhall enter into the kingdom of beaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
HAVING thus briefly ftated the question, what we are to understand by the kingdom of heaven; we must enquire in the next place,
2. WHY this belongs fo properly and peculiarly to the poor in fpirit. Bleffed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Theirs it is in both fenfes, both the state of grace, and the ftate of glory, to them belongs the preaching of the Gofpel, and the rewards of it.
THAT they have a special intereft and property in the state and revelation of the Gofpel, will appear upon these two accounts.
(1.) BECAUSE the disposition of their minds is fuch, that they are immediately capable of receiving and entertaining all the precepts of the christian doctrine; their hearts are their hearts are as it were plow'd up, and ready for the feed, the greatest obftacle, viz. the world and their affections to it, being already conquered. The rule and riches of the world did, at our Saviour's coming, and do till produce in men, a backwardness to the felfdenying principles and difcipline of his religion, and therefore fays he, 'Tis easier for a camel to $ go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. By the kingdom of God is understood there the state of the
Matth. v. 20.
Matth. vii. 21.
Matth. xix. 24.
Gofpel, according to the former fenfe; and by a rich man, one with all the ufual pride and appetites, the prejudices and corrupt affections of rich men, who in fuch a ftate are by no means capable of be ing members of this kingdom. But the poor in fpirit, who are come to a better temper, have broke through these impediments; abundance to them is in a manner the fame thing as want, they use the world as if they used it not; and therefore the paffions and interefts of this world have loft their force upon them, can neither blind their minds, nor bend their wills against the law of Chrift, by fetting up themselves in competition with it. The poor in fpirit, let his condition and fubftance be what it will, has no uncomplying prejudices to byafs him, but receives the Gofpel heartily and freely, without defign or hypocrify, and is prepared to embrace all the commands of his Saviour, and to run through all the methods of a fpiritual life. Confider him in the firft great line of this description, as an humble and lowly man, fetting little value upon himself: does not this particularly qualify him for a chriftian modesty in all his converfation, a chriftian obedience to his governors, a chriftian meeknefs towards all men, a chriftian condefcenfion to the infirmities of his neighbours, and to any charitable and friendly offices for their good, a christian pity towards the afflicted, juftice and equity in all his dealings, patience under all reproaches, averfeness to all faction and tumult, and readiness to forgive all injuries; to love his enemies, and return good for evil, which are the diftinguishing characters of the religion of Chrift? Confider him under the fecond head, as one who is neither covetous in the defire of more, nor penurious in the use of what he has; and does not this peculiarly difpofe him to that abfolute contentment with his condition, whatever it is,
which Christianity requires of him? and make him peculiarly averfe to all the vile arts of violence and oppreffion, fraud and cheating, diffimulation, flattery and lying for advantage, which the fame Chriftianity forbids him; does it not prepare. him for that generous open-handed liberality to the poor, and that good-natur'd hofpitality to his neigh bours, enjoin'd him by the christian Gospel? And if we confider him in the third branch of his character, as thankfully owning his dependance upon God, for all he enjoys, does it not prepare his mind for thofe exalted acts of piety and devotion, love and gratitude to the great God who made him, the bleffed Saviour who redeem'd him, and the holy Spirit who fanctifies him, which our holy religion calls upon him for? and is not fuch à gratitude the best, the strongest and most natural principle of that fincere and univerfal obedience which is requir'd of every Chriftian? Look upon him under the fourth qualification, as one who is ready to part with all he enjoys whenever God. fhall call for it by his providence; and particularly to fuffer the lofs of all things to promote the glory of God, and to preferve the integrity of a good confcience: and does not all this anfwer to that truft and faith in God, that firm reliance upon him, that dutiful and meek fubmiffion to him, that heavenly-mindednefs and indifference to the things: of this world, that fervent zeal for God's honour, and close adherence to the religion of Chrift, which our Christianity fo much infifts upon? And does it not efpecially fortify us for that felf-denial which is the life and fpirit of a Chriftian, and for all those hardships and fufferings from a wicked world, which Chrift and his Apoftles teftify to be the lot of all who will in earnest cleave to him? And thus I think it is evident, that fuch a poverty of fpirit as has been defcribed, directly and neceffarily qua
lifies men for embracing the chriftian religion, and therefore the kingdom of heaven may be properly faid to be theirs in the first fenfe. But,
(2.) Ir is fo again in the fame fenfe of the phrafe, as this poverty in fpirit not only difpofes for all other parts of our religion, but is it felf one of the fpecial and peculiar virtues of the Gofpel. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, because they are gone a great way in it, and poffefs one of the brightest ornaments and beauties of it. Upon which account it is that our Saviour fo frequently and importunately recommends this virtue to his followers; and therefore at one time fetting a child before them, affirms, that if ever they enter into the kingdom of God, they must be like fuch a one; which is as much as to fay, that the kingdom of God confifts chiefly in the exercise of this grace; for the main lines and features of it are very lively represented in infants, who are fo happy in their ignorance of, and little interefts in the world, that they may be truly faid to be poor in Spirit. And at another time he preffes them to it by his own example, I am among you, fays he, as one that ferveth. And again, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find reft to your fouls. By thefe and feveral other paffages he difcovers the high esteem and importance of this virtue, and the great ornament and beauty of it. Of fuch, fays he, is the kingdom of heaven: the ftate of the Gofpel is made up chiefly of the poor in fpirit, they are more eminently his difciples, they bear his own badge and cognizance, the very fpirit with which he came into the world, and all along
Matth. xi. 29.
* Matth. xviiií. 3, 4. † Luke xxii. 27. Matth. xix. 14.