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convers'd in it. And therefore upon this account alfo the poor in fpirit have a particular intereft and property in the kingdom of heaven.
THUS then it is you fee in the first sense of this kingdom, and fo it is in the fecond, when we take it for the glory and happiness of the world to come. For,
(1.) THE ftate of grace is but the beginning and infancy of the ftate of glory, and that of glory is but the ftate of grace in its full perfection, ftrength and beauty. So that if the poor in fpirit have a particular property in the one, they have it alfo in the other; if they have it in the preaching and practice of the Gofpel, they have it alfo in the rewards. But then,
(2.) CHRIST has that special regard to this excellence, that he rewards it not only in the grofs with others, but particularly and by it felf. To humility is always affign'd throughout the Scriptures the diftinguishing reward of exaltation. *He hath put down the mighty from their feats, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He that bumbleth himfelf fhall be exalted. And bumble your felves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Still exaltation is the peculiar recompence of this grace; and that, as I fuppofe, with an eye to the next life, rather than to this; for though the providence of God does fometimes remarkably bring it about in this present world, that the poor in fpirit are preferred and honoured, yet it is often otherwife; and indeed if it were only here, the recompence would be but little, for the things that are feen are temporal, fhort-lived and tranfitory, but the things that
Luke i. 52. Pfalm clxvii. 6., ↑ Luke xiv. 11. + Pet. v. 6.
are not feen are eternal, a reward well worthy the hopes and enjoyment of a Chriftian. And therefore whether they fee the accomplishment of the promise here or not, they fhall certainly enjoy it in the world to come, where it will be of moft happiness and advantage to them: For God has bleffed them, and they shall be bleffed.
CHA P. II.
MATTH. V. 4.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
N the clofe of the foregoing chapter, difcourfing upon the firft of thefe Bea titudes, it was fhewn, that exaltation is the fpecial recompence affign'd to humility, or poverty in fpirit; now in this fecond, comfort is the peculiar bleffing promis'd to the mourner. We cannot but obferve from hence, that the all-wife and merciful God not only delights to bless his creatures, but contrives, as it were, to do it in the most proper and obliging manto adapt his rewards to the nature of our virtues, and fuit his benefits to our neceffities: for what can be a more acceptable bleffing to the
mourner than comfort? What can be a more fuitable reward to humility than exaltation?
YET that we may not deceive our felves, in applying thofe general words in the text to all forts of grief and forrow, without any difference or restraint; let us,
FIRST, Enquire what our Saviour could be fuppofed to mean by mourning. For if we take it in the full extent of nature, and in the compafs of an human paffion, that is, as it is describ'd in general, a trouble or difturbance of the foul occafion'd by any present evil, it may be fo ill manag'd as to become irregular and finful, and to deferve punishment from God, rather than expect a blessing: and therefore we cannot understand it here in fuch a latitude. But as all the other qualifications or circumstances blefs'd by our Saviour in this fermon are apparently either excellent graces and ornaments of the chriftian religion, or have an immediate reference to it, and have the bleffing annexed to them as fuch, we must confider, the mourning here bleffed, as only taking in what is honourable and useful in it to religion, and bounded within the proper limits which are allowable by the laws of Chrift, and qualify'd every other way as they prescribe.
ACCORDINGLY, the mourners to whom our Lord. has promis'd comfort in this text, are fuch as mourn in a religious manner, or, as St. Paul's expreffion is, *after a godly fort, fo as that it may appear to be more the iffue of regeneration than nature, or at leaft to be under the government and regulation of chriftian principles. And that it may be fo, their mourning must be (1.) fincere and real; (2.) it must be religioufly employ'd, and upon fpiritual objects; or, (3.) if the occafion of it be purely
2 Cor. vii. 11.
temporal, the troubles and fufferings only of this world, it must be moderated and govern'd by the rules of religion.
FIRST then it must be fincere and real, proceeding from the heart, and not from any of those little arts of disguise and affectation, which are fo commonly used to deceive our felves and others, and with which men foolishly imagine (or feem at leaft to do fo) that they can deceive God too. For grief is represented by fuch expreffions in holy Scripture, as do neceffarily fuppofe it has its proper feat and principle within. So the Pfalmift, *My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels. And again, †My heart is wounded within me, my foul is fore vexed. Jeremiah also, that true mourner, My bowels are troubled for Ephraim; I am in diftrefs, my bowels are troubled, and my heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled, &c. If we be not thus in earnest in our grief, 'tis all to no purpose, be the object what it will; all the fad poftures of the body (without this inward forrow) are no more acceptable to God, than the hanging down of a flower upon its ftalk when it is over-preffed with dew. But as indeed when our own worldly croffes give us the affliction, it is not to be doubted but our concern is real, we do not use to be Hypocrites in forrow upon fuch an occafion; the only danger which makes this caution of fincerity needful, is in the case of spiritual grief, and repentance towards God, or the concern we ought to fhew for the fins or the calamities of others. And yet as to this laft, a compaffionate temper is fo natural, fo much more eafy than a penitent forrow for our own fins, or a religious grief of mind for fins committed by other people, that here I muft
‡ Jer. xxxi. 20.
* Pfal. xxii. 16. t Pfal. cix. 22. Lam. i. 20. ii. II.
lay the chief ftrefs of my argument, and prefs fincerity with the greatest earnestness. 'Tis here, in the cafe of repentance, that we are moft apt to impofe upon our felves, and upon those about us, with a remorfe or forrow, which, though it is more than is ufual with us, is not effectually what it fhould be. It was a fad complaint which God made of his own people the Jews, that they drew near to him with their mouths, and honoured him with their lips, bowed down their heads as a bulrush, and spread fackcloth and afbes under them, gave him good words and pretended to be mighty penitent, when nevertheless their HEARTS were far from him. And doubtlefs the complaint may justly be renew'd of too many, who, not being always able to refift their confciences, are ftung fometimes with a remorfe, pretend a forrow for their fins, and a great fenfe and trouble for what they have done amifs, confefs it, and condemn themselves for it; and yet 'tis fuch a kind of forrow as too evidently confifts with the love and liking of the fin, which they again embrace at the return of the next temptation; that is, it is a false and hypocritical forrow: though perhaps themselves may think it inward and real enough in the defign, it proves not fo in the event; for nothing can be fincere repentance but that which not only laments fin paft, but also teaches us a perfect hatred, and a careful avoidance of it for the time to come.. In the trial of our religious forrow therefore, let us enquire how our fouls and confciences are affected. Do we offer to God (not a few faint wishes or diffembled tears, but) the facrifice of a broken fpirit, and a contrite heart? Do we confider our fins when we confess them? and are our fouls affected, our hearts and refolutions bent against them
*Ifa. xxix. 13.
* Ifa. lviii. 5.
Pfl. li. 17.