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and their nay, nay; they resist not evil by force; they contend not by law in temporal concerns, but much rather manifest love towards those who inflict injuries upon them, by doing them good, and even praying for them; they impart freely to persons in need and distress; they walk forward within the pale of godliness, nor ever stop till they arrive at the boundary of perfection; in the contest they divest themselves of every encumbrance, lest, being overcome, they should lose the crown of life.
This must be the tenor of our life on this side the grave, if we think of inheriting with Christ, in the regions of bliss, the never fading crown of everlasting life, as may be seen in the connection of Christ's sermon on the mount.
But this is the cost which we are to count, and the great and momentous undertaking, concerning which it is incumbent upon us to sit down and consider fully and dispassionately, whether we shall ever be able to accomplish it. Christ and his doctrine must serve for the foundation upon which the whole building is to be laid and the superstructure erected; and for this purpose (inasmuch as we are too poor of ourselves, either to commence this edifice, or bring it to a state of completion) we are necessitated to secure the kind assistance of God, and obtain the right and privilege of entering his treasury and taking out such funds as may be found requisite for the carrying on and completion of this vast and important design. That is to say, the way to the compassionate heart of Jesus must be opened unto us by faith towards God, that we may receive from the heart of Jesus, out of the rich treasury and fulness of
God, grace for grace, by which we are enabled to complete the whole in the most firm and substantial manner; so that neither the tempests of the devil, nor the rains and floods of temptation, which beat upon this edifice, shall be able to prevail against it.
But if we are desirous of finding the way to the heart of Jesus, it is necessary for us, in the first place, to discover our poverty, our inability, and our incompetency either to begin of ourselves or superintend this spiritual building, which Christ in the introduction of his sermon plainly presupposes, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This humility and deep self-abasement must be firmly grounded in us, so that we may place no reliance upon ourselves, which Paul, the wise, deeply skilled and highly enlightened architect, was well acquainted with from experience; for he says, our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but of God. He was able to do all things only through him that strengthened him, namely Christ, by whose word and spirit he was rendered wise, skilful, and competent for the erection of this spiritual edifice, and has become a shining example for our imitation. So that we should take heed how we build upon this foundation, having Paul and the other apostles for examples, by which we can see how we ought to build; for as they followed Christ, so ought we, having their example, to follow him also, that we may have part with him, and he become our all, so that he may work all things in us, both to do, to speak, and to urge on according to his good pleasure. O how glorious and godlike is that soul who remains quite nothing and insigni
ficant in her outward nature, so that Christ, residing in her inward part, may direct and influence all her movements. What a sweet and heavenly rest does she not find in her Saviour, who has chosen her as the place of his abode, Here the sensuality of the outward man vanishes entirely away, for now the soul esteems entirely as folly all carnal and philosophie wisdom, and goes on increasing by continued accessions of glory in the presence of the Lord Jesus; in consequence of which she is enabled, according to the doctrine of Christ, to try the spirits, whether they are of God, or whether they make a glorious display, in semblance of the light, by means of signs and lying wonders and a deceptive exhibition of power. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor. 1, 25.
Therefore, friends and fellow travellers to eternity, I come unto you in this little book, not with high sounding words or profoundness of wisdom, by which to make known to you the gospel of God; but I have endeavored, according to the pleasure of God, by the foolishness of preaching, to be instrumental in promoting the happiness of them that believe. For, God knows, I seek in this no honor from men, nor any earthly gain; but I desire from my heart, through much prayer and supplication to God, that many of those who are yet shut up and imprisoned in Babylon, may be enabled to embrace the doctrine of Christ and become heirs of eternal salvation.
Now, I give heartfelt thanks to the everlasting mercy of God for his grace, in permitting the light of his Spirit to shine abroad in the hearts, and
the word of life to take root in the souls of many, so that the true faith begins to flourish, and the truth of the gospel to beam forth and be received and embraced by many. Oh, may the bountiful and allwise God bless his word and render it fruitful, not only here in our own land, but in all regions and countries, to his everlasting praise and the glory of his great name here in time, through Jesus Christ, to all eternity, Amen.
THE FIRST CHAPTER
Contains an elucidation or exposition of the eight blessings,