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“an eneny to
ful abuse, which you are as deeply concerned to prevent as I am. I myself frequently use the expression in question, imputed righteous ness; and often put this and the like expressions into the mouth of a whole congregation. But allow me liberty of conscience herein : allow me the right of private judgment. Allow me to use it just as often as I judge it preferable to any other expression ; and be not angry with
if I cannot judge it proper to use any one expression every two minutes. You may, if you please; but do not condemn mc because I do not.
Do not, for this, represent me as a Papist, or the righteousness of Christ.' Bear with me, as I do with you; else how shall we “ fulfil the law of Christ ?". Do not make tragical outcries, as though I were "subverting the very foundations of Christianity. Whoever does this, does me much wrong: the Lord lay it not to his charge ! I lay, and have done for many years, the very same foundation
And indeed " Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ.' I build inward and outward holiness thereon, as you do, even by faith. Do not, therefore, suffer any distaste, or unkindness, no, nor any shyness or coldness of your
heart. If there were a difference of opinion, where is our religion, if we cannot think and let think? What hinders but you may forgive me as easily as I may forgive you ? How much more, when there is only a difference of expression ? Nay, hardly so much as that ? All the dispute being only, whether a particular mode of expression shall be used more or less frequently ? Surely we must earnestly desire to contend with one another, before we can make this a bone of contention! Oh let us not any more, for such very trifles as theme, give our common enemies room to blaspheme! Rather let us at length cut off occasion from them that seek occasion! Let us at length, (oh why was it not done before ?) join hearts and hands in the service of our great Master. As we have
one Lord, one faith, one hope of our calling," let us all strengthen each other's hands in God, and with one heart and one mouth declare to all mankind, “ The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
SERMON XXI. - Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount.
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain ; and when he was set, mis disciples came unto him ;
5 And he opened his mouth, and taught thein, saying,
Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comfortod,” Matt. v, 1-4.
1. Our Lord had now " gone about all Galilee,” Matt. iv, 23, begin ning at the time " when John was cast itto prison,” ver. 12, not only “ teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” but likewise “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” It was a natural consequence of this, that “ there followed him great multitudes from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and froin Judea, and from the region beyond Jordan," ver. 25. “And seeing the multitudes," whom no synagogue could contain, even had there been any at hand,"he went up into a mountain,' where there was room for all that came unto him from every quartor. VOL. I.
“And when he was set,” as the manner of the Jews was, “his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth,” [an expression denotin the beginning of a solemn discourse,] "and taught tliem saying."
2. Let us observe, who it is that is here speaking, that we may take heed how we hear. It is the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all; who, as such has a right to dispose of all his creatures; the Lord our Governor, whose kingdom is from everlasting and ruleth over all ; the great lawgiver, who can well enforce all his laws, being “able to save and to destroy,” yea, to punish with “everlasting destruction from his presence and from the glory of his power.” It is the eternal wisdom of the Father, who knoweth whereof we are made, and understands our inmost frame; who knows how we stand related to God, to one another, to every creature which God hath made, and, consequently, how to adapt every law he prescribes, to all the circumstances wherein he hath placed
It is he who is " loving unto every man, whose mercy is over all his works;" the God of love, who, having emptied himself of his eternal glory, is come forth from his Father to declare his will to the children of men, and then goeth again to the Father ; who is sent of God" to open
eyes of the blind, and to give light to them that sit in darkness." It is the great prophet of the Lord, concerning whom God had solemnly declared long ago,
" Whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him," Deut. xviii, 19 or, as the apostle expresses it, “Every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people," Acts ii, 23.
3. And what is it which he is teaching ? The Son of God who came from heaven, is here showing us the way to heaven; to the place which he hath prepared for us; the glory he had before the world began. He is teaching us the true way to life everlasting : the royal way which leads to the kingdom; and the only true way,--for there is none besides; all other paths lead to destruction. From the character of the Speaker, we are well assured that he hath declared the full and perfect will of God. He hath uttered not one tittle too much,-nothing more than he had received of the Father; nor too little,- he hath not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God ;- much less hath he uttered any thing wrong, any thing contrary to the will of him that sent him. All his words are true and right concerning all things, and shall stand fast for ever and ever.
And we may easily remark, that in explaining and confirming these faithful and true sayings, he takes care to refute not only the mistakes of the scribes and Pharisees, which then were the false comments whereby the Jewish teachers of that age had perverted the word of God, but all the practical mistakes that are inconsistent with salvation, which should ever arise in the Christian church; all the comments wherevy the Christian teachers (so called) of any age or nation should pervert the word of God, and teach unwary souls to seek death in the error of their life.
4. And hence we are naturally led to observe, whom it is that he is here teaching ? Not the apostles alone; if so, he had no need to have gone up into the mountain. A room in the house of Matthew, or any of his disciples, would have contained the twelve. Nor does it in any wise appear, that the disciples who came unto himn were the twelve only. Oi Maangas aurou, without any force put upon the expression, may be
understood of all who desired to learn of him. But o put this out of all question, to make it undeniably plain that where it is said " He opened his mouth and taught them," the word them includes all the multitudes, who went up with him into the mountain, we need only observe the concluding verses of the seventh chapter: “ And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the multitudes, os oxhos, were astonished at his doctrine;" [or teaching ;] “for he taught them” (the multitudes] as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
Nor was it only those multitudes who were with him on the mount, to whom he now taught the way of salvation; but all the children of men ; the whole race of mankind; the children that were yet unborn ; all the generations to come, even to the end of the world, who should ever hear the words of this life.
5. And this all men allow, with regard to some parts of the ensuing. discourse. No man, for instance, denies that what is said of poverty of spirit relates to all mankind. But many have supposed, that other parts concerned only the apostles, or the first Christians, or the ministers of Christ; and were never designed for the generality of men, who conse' quently have nothing at all to do with them.
But may we not justly inquire, who told them this, that some parts of this discourse concerned only the apostles, or the Christians of the apostolic age, or the ministers of Christ? Bare assertions are not a sufficient proof to establish a point of so great importance. Has then our Lord himself taught us, that some parts of his discourse do not concern all inankind ? Without doubt had it been so he would have told us; he could not have omitted so necessary an information. But has he told us so? Where ? In the discourse itself? No: here is not the last intimation of it. Has he said so elsewhere? In any other of his discourses ? Not one word so much as glancing this way, can we find in any thing he ever spoke, either to the multitudes, or to his disciples. Has any one of the apostles, or other inspired writers, left such an instruction upon record ? No such thing. No assertion of this kind is to be found in all the oracles of God. Who then are the men who are so much wiser than God ?-wise so far above that is written ?
6. Perhaps they will say, “ That the reason of the thing requires such a restriction to be made.” If it does, it must be on one of these two accounts ; Because, without such a restriction, the discourse would either be apparently absurd, or would contradict some other scripture. But this is not the case. It will plainly appear, when we come to examine the several particulars, that there is no absurdity at all in applying all which our Lord hath here delivered to all mankind. Neither will it infer any contradiction to any thing else he has delivered, nor to any other scripture whatever. Nay, it will farther appear, that either all the parts of this discourse are to be applied to men in general, or no part; seeing they are all connected together, all joined as the stones in an arch, of which you cannot take one away without destroying the whole fabric.
7. We may, lastly, observe, how our Lord teaches here. And surely, as at all times, so particularly at this, he speaks as never man spake. Not as the holy men of old; although they also spoke
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Not as Peter, or James, or John, or Pauls they were indeed wise master builders in his church; but still in this
in the degrees of heavenly wisdom, the servant is not as his Lord. No, nor even as himself at any other time, or on any other occasion. It does not appear, that it was ever his design at any other time or place, to lay down at once the whole plan of his religion; to give us a full prospect of Christianity; to describe at large the nature of that holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Particular branches of this he has indeed described, on a thousand different occasions ; but never, besides here, did he give, of set purpose, a general view of the whole. Nay, we have nothing else of this kind in all the Bible ; unless one should except that short sketch of holiness, delivered by God in those ten words or commandments to Moses, on mount-Sinai. But even here how wide a difference is there between one and the other ? “ Even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth," 2 Cor. iii, 10.
8. Above all, with what amazing love does the Son of God here reveal his Father's will to man! He does not bring us again
to the mount that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest.” He does not speak as when he "thundered out of heaven;" when the Highest "gave his thunder, hail stones, and coals of fire.” He now addresses us with his still, small voice, –“Blessed," or happy
are the poor in spirit.” Happy are the mourners; the meek; those that hunger after righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart : happy in the end and in the way; happy in this life, and in life ever lasting! As if he had said, Who is he that lusteth to live, and would fain see good days ? Behold, I show you the thing which your soul longeth for! See the way you have so long sought in vain; the way of pleasantness; the path to calm, joyous peace, to heaven below and heaven above !
9. At the same time with what authority does he teach! Well might they say, "Not as the scribes.” Observe the manner, (but it cannot be expressed in words, the air, with which he speaks! Not as Moses, the servant of God; not as Abraham, his friend; not as any of the prophets; nor as any of the sons of men. It is something more than human ; more than can agree to any created being! It speaks the Creator of all ! A God, a God appears! Yea, o N, the Being of beings, JEHOVAH, the Self-existent, the Supreme, the God who is over all, blessed for ever!
10. This divine discourse, delivered in the most excellent method, every subsequent part illustrating those that precede, is commonly, and not improperly, divided into three principal branches: the first, contained in the fifth,-the second in the sixth,—and the third, in the seventh chapter. In the first, the sum of all true religion is laid down in eight particulars, which are explained and guarded against the false glosses of man, in the following parts of the fifth chapter. In the second are rules for that right intention, which we are to preserve in all our outward actions ; unmixed with worldly desires, or anxious cares for even the necessaries of life. In the third, are cautions against the main hinderances of religion, closed with an application of the whole.
I. 1. Our Lord, first, lays down the sum of all true religion in eight particulars, which he explains, and guards against the false glosses of men, to the end of the fifth chapter.
Some have supposed that he designed, in these, to point out the several stages of the Christian course; the steps which a Christian successively takes in his journey to the promised land ;-others, that all the particulars here set down, belong at all times to every Christian. And why may we not allow both the one and the other? What inconsistency is there between them ? It is undoubtedly true, that both poverty of spirit, and every other temper which is here mentioned, are at all times found, in a greater or less degree, in every real Christian. And it is equally true, that real Christianity always begins in poverty of spirit, and goes on in the order here set down, till the “man of God is made perfect.” We begin at the lowest of these gifts of God; yet so as not to relinquish this, when we are called of God to come up higher : but" whereunto we have already attained, we hold fast,” while we press on to what is yet before, to the highest blessings of God in Christ Jesus.
2. The foundation of all is poverty of spirit: here, therefore, our Lord begins : “ Blessed,” saith he,
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It may not improbably be supposed, that our Lord looked on those who were round about him, and, observing that not many rich were there, but rather the poor of the world, took occasion from thence to make a transition from temporal to spiritual things. "Blessed,” saith he, (or happy, so the word should be rendered, both in this and the following verses,) " are the poor in spirit.” He does not say, they that are poor, as to outward circumstances,--it being not impossible, that some of these may be as far from happiness as a monarch upon his throne; but " the poor in spirit;" they who, whatever their outward circumstances are, have that disposition of heart, which is the first step to all real, substantial happiness, either in this world, or that which is to come.
3. Some have judged, that by the poor in spirit here are meant those who love poverty; those who are free from covetousness, from the love of money ; who fear, rather than desire riches. Perhaps they have been induced so to judge, by wholly confining their thoughts to the very term; or by considering that weighty observation of St. Paul, that "the love of money is the root of all evil.” And hence many have wholly divested themselves, not only of riches, but of all worldly goods. Hence also the yows of voluntary poverty seem to have arisen in the Romish church; it being supposed, that so eminent a degree of this fundamental grace must be a large step towards “the kingdom of heaven.”
But these do not seem to have observed, first, that the expression of St. Paul must be understood with some restriction ; otherwise it is not true; for the love of money is not the root, the sole root, of all evil. There are a thousand other roots of evil in the world, as sad experience daily shows. His meaning can only be, it is the root of very many evils; perhaps of more than any single vice besides.—Secondly, that this sense of the expression, “poor in spirit,” will by no means suit our Lord's present design, which is to lay a general foundation whereon the whole fabric of Christianity may be built ; a design which would in no wise be answered by guarding against one particular vice : so that, if even this were supposed to be one part of his meaning, it could not possibly be the whole.-Thirdly, that it cannot be supposed to be any part of his meaning, unless we charge him with manifest tautology: seeing, if