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the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”*
The second direction I give is, that you carefully avoid whatever might become an obstacle to the success of your endeavours. Pride must be subdued; covetousness renounced; slander contemned; and selfishness mortiñed. In addition to these, there must be the exemplification of all the pacific virtues of the spirit of the Lord. In short, the “peacemaker" requires graces above the common level of Christian attainment. He must shun every evil; he must embody every good. Brethren, if you would exemplify this most lovely character, you must turn away from whispering and talebearing; you must "love your enemies, and do good to them that despitefully use and persecute you;" you must practise self-denial in no ordinary degree; you must “seek peace, and pursue" it, both for your own sake, and the sake of others; you must be patient, long-suffering, watchful of the frame of your heart, and persevering in the face of every discouragement that checks your hope of success; you must be cautious and discreet, avoiding all unnecessary interference in matters with which you have no possible concern; you must be unresentful of injuries, and ready to forgive the aggressor, according to the divine injunction: "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."† Such a spirit was beautifully exemplified in the case of Abraham with respect to Lot: When their servants could not agree, the venerable patriarch said to his nephew, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen for we
be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left."* Prudence, indeed, must direct us in the exercise of this virtue, and when to step forward in particular cases; but thus much we may affirm-that if we are imbued with the spirit of our holy religion, we shall be disposed to make sacrifices in order to promote peace, both in the church and the world.
II. LET US PROCEED TO NOTICE THE PRIVILEGE AWARDED TO SUCH CHRISTIANS AS REACH THIS STANDARD. "THEY SHALL BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF GOD."
The same happiness that distinguishes all the preceding dispositions belongs to this. Peacemakers are "blessed."
It were easy to show, that such persons must be happy, from the possession of those graces of the divine spirit which their character implies to exist in their breasts; but, as I may have to refer to this circumstance under the last head of this discourse, I shall not enlarge on it at present. There are two things included in the privilege here promised them.
First. Their relation to God. They are his children. Now, this is not a mere title of honour, an empty and unmeaning appellation, but it is a spiritual and vital relation to the Most High. It indicates the most noble distinction; and it is the evidence of the most illustrious pedigree. Such are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."+ There is, indeed, a sense in which all mankind are his sons and daughters. They are alike the workmanship of his hands; the creatures of his production; the objects of his pater
nal care. "All wait on thee; all are thy servants: thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." But the privilege mentioned in the text, is that which brings men into peculiar fellowship with God. They who enjoy it belong to the household of faith, by adoption and grace. They have the spirit of Christ, their elder brother, in their heart, "whereby they cry, Abba, Father." In a word, they are conformed to the image of Christ; they bring forth the fruits of righteousness, joy, and peace, in the Holy Ghost; and they are joint heirs with their Lord of the everlasting inheritance of heaven. A treasure, in comparison with which all the honours, might, majesty, and dominion of the universe, are perfect insignificance and vanity.
Secondly. The high estimation in which they shall be held. They shall be called the children of God. This peculiar mode of speech, which we often find in the sacred writings, sometimes denotes nothing more than the simple fact of the person being what he is called. It is an Hebraism, very common to this evangelist, in whose pages this passage is recorded. Thus it is said in the first chapter, and the twenty-third verse, "They shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us." So what is quoted by St. Matthew-"My house shall be called the house of prayer," is by St. Luke interpreted, "My house is the house of prayer." To be called, and to be the children of God, are the same thing. But, in the text, the expression, when taken in connection with other parts of Scripture, intimates, that the "peacemakers" shall be accredited and accounted, by a kind of general consent, "the children of God." The men of the world, in general, are not very ready to acknowledge the existence of any real good in the persons whose holiness of life condemns
their own impurity; nor are they willing to allow them the privilege of any peculiar relation to the divine Being. But there is, notwithstanding this reluctance to admit it, something in the conduct of such Christians which constrains all men to respect them. This is noticed by St. Paul, in direct reference to the work of righteousness and peace;" For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.' It is, indeed, possible that the malignity of the human heart may persecute unto death these very believers whom even the conscience of the persecutor himself admires as the faithful of the earth: but we must regard it as a general truth that such peaceable and peacemaking Christians are, by the very opposite characters, considered the seed of the Lord. "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." †
A question may here be asked, for what reason they shall be thus acknowledged? I reply, that the inestimable relation belongs to all the disciples of the Redeemer; for the Apostle affirms, of all believers, "Ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus." Nevertheless, these followers of the Lamb evince their divine origin and celestial birth, by the peculiar resemblance of their moral image unto their Father who is in heaven. It is natural to expect a likeness between parent and child, and sometimes it has been so striking as to enable, even strangers to the fact, to recognize the intimacy of the relationship. Now there is no one character in which the Almighty is more frequently represented in the New Testament than that of "the God of peace." He is the "God of peace to bruise Satan under our feet;"" the God of peace in all the churches of the saints;" the God of peace who is to give us peace by all means," and "the God of peace who
Rom. xiv. 18,
+ Psalm xxii. 30.
Gal. iii. 26.
brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ, he great shepherd of the sheep." All his dispensations of grace, as we have before remarked, are of this kind. The Redeemer's birth was announced by angels as the era of "peace on earth and good will towards men." His dying legacy was on this wise,-" Peace I leave with you, my ""* His death on the cross peace I give unto you.' 66 made peace." He gave it in commission to the apostles to preach peace and to invite every child of man to a participation of the sacred bequest which he had made in their favour.
They, therefore, went forth publishing the gospel of peace to a guilty world, and, "as ambassadors for Christ, they besought men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." + Are you engaged in this blessed work, my brethren? Do ye tread in their steps and breathe their spirit? Then ye show yourselves to be children of a divine parent, and the descendants of the most honoured and ennobled ancestors. As the Divine Being is particularly revealed unto man in the inspired volume under this delightful and endearing character, so "peacemakers" prove their eminent relation to him before the world, when they are" followers or imitators of God as dear children."
III. IT NOW ONLY REMAINS, THAT I ENFORCE THE CULTIVATION OF THIS GRACE ON YOUR PARTICULAR CONSIDERATION.
I lay it down, my brethren, as a Christian duty of no equivocal necessity, that every man who professes the Christian name, is bound by that profession to "seek peace and pursue it" by all lawful means. This is the first ground I select on which to urge upon you the adoption of this temper. The faith you profess and the religion