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pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Our SAVIOUR, even in that short summary of a prayer, which He taught to his disciples, has inserted an expression which forcibly inculcates the necessity of this forgiving spirit. He instructs us to say, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." And it is observable, that, after He had delivered the prayer, He addressed these words to his disciples, "for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."*
This expression remarkably accords with those words in the Sermon on the Mount which we are now considering. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy;" and it might have been added, woe be to the unmerciful, for they shall not obtain mercy: or, as the Old Testament expresses it," he shall have judgment without mercy who hath showed no mercy."
This saying of CHRIST, like many others which preceded it, would undoubtedly seem new to the multitude; for the world was then much less inclined to mercy, than it is at present. On the one hand, the Jews, though taught by their Prophets to show mercy, were become false interpreters of their own Scriptures. They admitted, indeed, that they were taught to love their neighbour; but they deduced from this very precept a right to hate their enemy. On the other hand, the heathen had no idea of the duty of forgiving injuries.
Now, indeed, we all agree, that it is a Christian duty to show mercy. CHRIST has said this so plainly, that it is not possible to deny it. But has the spirit, which is here condemned by CHRIST, been expelled out of the Christian world? Far from it. If this were the case, if this one Christian temper were fully attained, we might fairly hope St. Matt. vi. 14, 15.
that other graces might be possessed in like perfection; for one Christian disposition fails not to accompany another, and thus, according to the expression of this passage, since all were become truly merciful, so all might obtain
It is much to be suspected, that many, who freely admit the excellency of this saying of CHRIST, contrive to evade it. They, for instance, who say that they freely forgive an injury but cannot forget it, break this admonition of CHRIST. They also, who profess both to forget and to forgive, may manifest by some part of their conduct that they are transgressors on this point. And even they who confer some favour on the person who has injured them, may not be clear of the sin in question; since the very pride of superiority may lead a man to confer a favour on him from whom an injury has been experienced. To receive a favour from an enemy is a better proof of a forgiving spirit
than to bestow it.
The chief point for examination is the temper of mind in which we live towards those whom we account our enemies. Do we, then, rejoice to show mercy to others, heartily and freely, and in the same manner in which GOD shows mercy to us, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not? Are we the first to seek to be reconciled when we have had a quarrel against any, or do we expect the other party to make previous submission? Are our reconciliations, also, sincere and complete ? Is there no root of bitterness left within us, even after a seeming agreement has taken place? Do we feel alienated from no one? would our very heart, if it could be seen, exhibit compassion, and tenderness, and benevolence, and lovingkindness to all, not excepting him whom we have accounted to be wanting in proper kindness, and beneficence towards us?
Do we live, in short, under the powerful influence of that great principle of the Gospel,-that we ourselves have sinned against GOD, ten thousand times more than any fellow creature has ever trespassed against us; and that,
hope nevertheless to find mercy, so we must also show mercy, and show it not only by some special acts, but by our whole character and conduct among our fellow-sinners?
ST. MATTHEW, V. 8.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
PURITY of heart is another principal point in the character of the religion of CHRIST. In this respect, Christianity differs from the common systems of the world. Men of the world make morality to consist in the external act, and pay little regard to the motive. They are, also, partial in their morality. Men, for instance, who are occupied in the administration of government, are apt to consider obedience to the laws to be the great test of morality. Only the outward act, indeed, is cognizable by them. They do not concern themselves about purity of heart. Masters, in like manner, are inclined to judge of the character of their servants by what those servants are to them. If the external conduct of the servant be proper, the master is satisfied. He adverts not to the secret sins which the servant may commit; nor does he know whether the servant's motive to obedience to him be religious, or not. Many a servant, therefore, is called a good servant, who in the sight of GoD is a wicked man; for GOD judgeth the heart." Traders estimate the character of their fellow-traders by the honesty of their dealings and all men, indeed, are agreed in esteeming honesty very highly, because they have an obvious interest in maintaining it. The poor judge of the moral character of the rich, by the liberality of their char"acter; and do not inquire whether the beneficence spring from ostentation, or from any other evil principle in the
heart. They do not consider whether an act of bounty to themselves may not be cruelty to others. Even ministers of the Gospel, (through the weakness natural to man,) sometimes perhaps too easily assume that person to be good who attends their ministry, who swells their congregation, and is moral in respect to the outward actions of his life: since ministers see not the heart.
It is, therefore, an easy thing to acquire a good character in the world. In general, you have only to act towards any person in the manner which shall gratify his feelings, agree with his convenience, and promote his interest; and you shall be pronounced by him to be a worthy man. Such is the world's morality. He is moral who serves and pleases us; and he is immoral who contradicts or injures us; we assume his heart to be good if the man have been good to us.
This false mode of judging others tends to false judgment of ourselves; because too many attend more to the character which they have with men, than to what they are in the sight of GOD. It is exceedingly difficult to call men away from the consideration of what others think of them: to make them meditate on their own way, scrutinize their motives, and examine whether amidst all the accomplishments which they receive, they are sincere in the sight of their Omniscient Judge.
Blessed," says our SAVIOUR, are the pure in heart, for they shall see GOD." Purity of heart, indeed, leads to the fulfilment of every part of morality; and not of morality alone, but of religion also. To this purity it is the great end of Christianity to bring us. The Pharisees did all to be seen of men. Their very alms became a sin; because they were not done from a right motive. Their religion also consisted in forms and ceremonies in which the heart had no part. The religion of CHRIST stands opposed to all systems of partiality and hypocrisy. All the doctrines of Christianity have, therefore, a manifest tendency to promote this purity. A principle of purity is connected with its faith, its hope, and its charity. Of its faith, it is observed
in Scripture, that God "purified men's hearts by faith." Every one that hath this hope, is said to purify himself as GOD is pure: and the great Christian grace of love, or charity, is thus spoken of by the Apostle ;-" Now the end of the commandments is charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned."
"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see GOD." The words imply, that they, and they only, shall see Him; for "without holiness, no man shall see the LORD." . GOD is pure; and they who hope to enter into His presence must be pure also. Heaven is a place into which nothing shall enter that defileth. Spotless purity, indeed, is not to be attained here; but it is to be cultivated on earth, in order that it may be perfected in heaven. It is, indeed, for this purpose, that the HOLY SPIRIT is bestowed. To purify our hearts is the great end of His coming. Let us then pray for His divine influence upon us. The death of CHRIST,--the great atonement for sin,-is spoken of in Scripture as tending also to our purification; for "He gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
ST. MATTHEW, V. 9.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
OUR SAVIOUR here names another of those dispositions by which a Christian was to be known: and pronounces the possessor of it to be blessed. The introduction of a more peaceable spirit into this violent and contentious world was one of the great ends to be brought about by the