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laughter of the ungodly is as the crackling of thorns which is soon over; but the affliction of the righteous, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous, afterwards bringeth forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
ST. MATTHEW, V. 5.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
OUR SAVIOUR here delivers another important truth, and he borrows his language from the 37th Psalm. The Psalmist, after speaking of the wicked, who seem for a while to prosper in the world, exhorts the righteous not to fret on that account; for "evil doers shall be cut off: but those that wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth;" and he adds in another verse, "But the meek shall inherit the earth." We may discover, partly from these words, and partly from other passages in the same Psalm, what was the precise meaning of our SAVIOUR. By the meek, those persons are intended, who, laying aside that ambition which is common in the world, resort to no violent or unjust means of advancing their fortune; but commit themselves quietly and patiently to GoD, wait His time, trust His providence, are content to let others gain an advantage over them, and even bear the injustice of a neighbour, a rival, and an enemy, without being ruffled by it. The meek, says David, shall inherit the earth. The promises of the Old Testament were generally temporal; life and immortality having been brought clearly to light, only by the Gospel. Nevertheless under the veil of these temporal promises, spiritual blessings were shadowed forth. The term used in the Old Testament, "shall inherit the earth," might
therefore, under the New Tament dispensation, be properly rendered "shall be blessed." We may, then, deduce from this saying of CHRIST, that to the meek were the promises made under the Old Testament, by modes of expression suited to that dispensation; and that to the meek also, were the promises made under the New; the Old and the New Testament being in this respect perfectly agreed.
Perhaps it would not be difficult to show that the promise of a blessing to the meek is often fulfilled even in this life, under our dispensation; for though the turbulent frequently seize the possession of the earth, the meek more truly enjoy it. To occupy peaceably a small estate, is better than to gain by violence a large domain; of which the right is disputed; and the possession, continually interrupted. It is more truly to "inherit the earth.”
Let us then value the advantages of meekness, above all the precarious power and riches which may be acquired by turbulence of spirit. Let us also remember that we are specially called by CHRIST to the exercise of this grace. Christians must be the quiet persons of the land; they must not be forward, and assuming, and ambitious ;—eager, factious, and dissatisfied. They must be content with such things as they have: they must not envy the prosperous :they must, in their very religion, avoid noise and disputation, "for the servant of the Lord must not strive, but must be gentle unto all men :—in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." That violence, which is so common among other men, should have no place among believers. In women, particularly, meekness is a most becoming grace. Their chief ornament should, as the Apostle says, be that "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of GoD of great price." But it is a virtue which is excellent in all, and is required of all. To be meek, is to follow CHRIST; it is to follow both His precepts and His example. 'Come, take my yoke upon you," said our SAVIOUR, "and earn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye hall find rest unto your souls."
ST. MATTHEW, V. 6.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousress: for they shall be filled.
THE word "righteousness," when it occurs in the Old Testament, commonly stands for the whole of religion. It there includes duty to GoD as well as to man,—faith as well as practice and the word is here to be understood in a no less general sense; for CHRIST, who was by birth a Jew, and who for the most part spoke to Jews, addressed them in those expressions which were common in the Old Testament; usually intending, however, to give His words that more exalted meaning which was required by the spirituality of the new dispensation.
The term "righteousness," when here used by Christ, may, therefore, be understood to imply every thing which characterizes His religion. As the expression, when used by David, stood for the whole of the religion of the Old Testament; so here in the mouth of CHRIST, it stands for the whole Gospel: for things to be done, as well as truths to be believed; for doctrine, and for practice; for duties, and for privileges also. Blessed, then, are they who, thus, hunger and thirst after righteousness."
Now the generality of mankind hunger and thirst after far other things. Wealth is the chief good of some. If they were asked what is the great object at which they aim, they would admit that it is to make their fortunes; and perhaps would be surprised to hear an insinuation, that there could be any harm in allowing this to be the chief desire of the heart. Others desire not wealth so much as the things which wealth can purchase. They wish for ease and enjoyment; and, because they seek these in no very scandalous or forbidden way, they are unconscious of
their falling short of the Christian character. Others desire honour-they wish above all things to be in repute among their neighbours. Credit at home, or honour abroad, are the things which they hunger and thirst after; and these, especially if they pursue reputation by means which are not ordinarily deemed dishonourable, are no less confident of the sufficiency of their virtue. Thus, all seek some worldly good; and all imagine, that they shall be supremely blest. if they can but attain their object.
But "blessed," says our SAVIOUR: (who here again is opposing the common maxims of mankind) "blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness." "Blessed is the man who no longer hungers and thirsts after the things of this life, of which the attainment is uncertain, and which will be found unsatisfying, if they should be attained; but blessed is he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness; —that is, blessed is he who longs, like one who is hungry and athirst, to obtain possession of every thing which is included in my Gospel. Blessed is he who desires pardon of his iniquities, and peace with GOD, a share in the atonement which I am to offer up for man; and the aid of all the influences of my Spirit. Blessed is he who longs to have the victory over his sins, and to have all holy affections excited in him. Blessed is he who wishes to have his understanding enlightened, that he may know all the doctrines of my religion; to have his conscience made tender and afraid of sinning; and to have his heart purified by faith. Blessed is he who accounts his chief joy to be joy in GoD; and his chief consolations, the consolations of my Spirit. Blessed is the man whose hungering and thirsting is of this description; for he shall be filled: he shall obtain the things which he desires; his very longing for them is a pledge that he shall possess them. Worldly things disappoint him who pursues them: but it is the maxim of my kingdom, that he who has the true desire after righteousness,—he who hungers and thirsts, not after a part only, but after the whole of my Gospel, shall assuredly be filled; and such is
the gracious and encouraging promise which I now promulgate to my disciples; he shall possess all the privileges of the children of God; he shall be a member of my kingdom here; and, in the world to come, he shall have life everlasting."
Such is plainly the mearing of this saying of CHRIST. Let us then be fearful of fixing our hearts on earthly things ; and let us remember that the promise extends to all gen"BLESSED ARE THEY WHICH DO HUNGER AND AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS: FOR THEY SHALL BE
ST. MATTHEW, V. 7.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
No temper of mind has been more absolutely required by Christianity than a disposition to show mercy; and the reason is plain. The Gospel teaches that man is himself an offender against his Creator; and that he owes to the grace of God all his own hope of salvation. If, then, we expect to have the benefit of the Divine Mercy, we ought to be ever ready to show mercy to our fellow-creatures. CHRIST, in many modes, and on various occasions, urged this duty on his disciples. At one time, He related to them the story (or parable) of a servant, who, having had the great sum of ten thousand talents freely forgiven, cast his fellow-servant into prison, on account of a debt of only one hundred pence. "Oh thou wicked servant," said his lord, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me. shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow. servant, even as I had pity on thee? and his lord was wroth; and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should