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more worthy to be called thy son.” They are blessed, with that consolation which David desired and enjoyed, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered." 3 For the Father against whom he has offended, has sent a message of reconciliation: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,* not imputing their trespasses” to those who repent and turn to him. Those, therefore, who mourn with that “godly sorrow which leadeth unto repentance,” are comforted in the assurance, that “ Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring unto God”5 those who were otherwise “ alienated from him by wicked works :" they are cheered when they learn that “God is faithful to forgive their sins, and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness." 6 This is the comfort which the penitent need, and this is the comfort which the gospel brings, and therefore the Lord says, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall
, be comforted.
Justly, however, did our Lord say to his disciples concerning the blessings of the gospel, “ Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” It would seem strange to the lovers of this world, to speak of the poor in spirit or the mourner as blessed. It would seem no less strange to speak of the meek as inheriting the earth : for in a world of which the general character is, that “all seek their own,” it might be thought that meekness is more likely to lose than to gain : to miss its share rather than obtain the inherit
3 Ps. xxxii. 1.
4 2 Cor. v. 19.
Meekness, however, is often found in fact to “ have the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come :” to receive what selfishness, rapacity, or arrogance fail to secure.
But our Lord, in this promise, speaks not of the earth below, but of the heaven above; here signified by the land of Canaan, the inheritance of the chosen people of God on earth, and typical of the heavenly inheritance prepared for them. This the meek shall inherit: for they have learnt of him, who was “meek and lowly in heart :" they have followed his steps, who “ when he was reviled, reviled not again;" they have “the mind that was in Christ Jesus, doing nothing through strife and vain glory;” and knowing their own unworthiness, they “submit themselves one to another in the fear of God,” and “in lowliness of mind reckon others better than themselves.”
These then are the three first characters which the Saviour declares blessed: the HUMBLE, the PENITENT, the MEEK. How does our mind conform to his mind in this judgment? That will depend upon the degree in which we have formed our opinion by the light of Scripture. In proportion as we are imbued with the spirit which is learnt there, we shall perceive that lowliness, self-abasement, and humility are the proper feelings for hearts like ours: and shall pray that with them, as the raiment best becoming our low condition, we may be more and more completely clothed.
BLESSINGS OF THE PURSUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
MATT. v. 6.
1. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.
Who are they on whom this blessing is pronounced? For the word righteousness, in Scripture, has more than one signification. It signifies the state of one who is justified in the sight of God. And it also signifies that holy, just, and sober course of life, which God prescribes.
Our Lord's blessing applies to both these meanings. To be at peace with God, must be the basis of all real happiness ; for surely there can be none without it. And in order to be at peace with God, there must be an endeavour to walk in the way which he commands and approves. .
Therefore, blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness: whose principal desire and aim it is to acquire that state of heart, and maintain that course of life whicli is accepted of God.
Our Lord looks out into the world, and sees that this is not the blessing which men are commonly hungering and thirsting for. It might have been hoped of some who too soon showed the contrary.
It might have been hoped of that rich young man who came to our Lord, asking him, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 1
But he quickly proved that the things of this world had more attraction for him. For when Jesus showed him the way of righteousness, he “ went away sorrowing.” It might have been hoped concerning Herod: for he “often sent for John the Baptist, and heard him gladly.” But he also soon showed that the will of Herodias and the favour of those who sat at meat with him weighed more in his mind than righteous
The same might have been thought concerning many who followed the Lord Jesus, and saw his works and heard his words. But the contrary was seen, when though they “ believed in Jesus, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
The Lord knew how quickly the things which they did hunger and thirst after, would pass away. Nothing would remain to the owner of “many pos
“ sessions :" who can take none of them
when he dieth, neither doth his pomp follow him. Nothing would remain to Herod, but “a fearful looking for of judgment” which shall condemn the ungodly and the sinner. Nothing shall remain to the seekers of this world's favour, who “ love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” “ The world passeth
• away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.”
This is one reason why the lovers of righteousness are blessed: they have chosen that good part which
1 Mark x. 17.
3 John xii. 42.
? Ib. vi. 20.
shall not be taken from them. But there is another. They shall be filled. They, and they alone, have this promise. The lovers of wealth, of honour, of pleasure—the lovers of this world in any of its various forms—are never filled; never so satisfied with what they have as not to covet more, even if they are not disappointed altogether. Of these we might justly pronounce, Unhappy are they; for they shall not be filled. But they whose first desire is righteousness, are not “sent empty away.” The promise is made to them : They shall find the Lord their God, if they seek him with all their heart, and with all their soul.” 5
And the time was now come, when this blessing should be enjoyed. Suppose the case of one in that day, who was eagerly thirsting for the first condition of righteousness, peace with God inquiring, in the words of the prophet Micah, “ Wherewith shall I
appear before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God ?" @ Saying within himself, God indeed “ hath showed me what is good,” and what he “requires of me:” to “ do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him.” But if he were to “enter into judgment with me,” could I “answer him to one of a thousand ?" "For what man is he that liveth, and sinneth not?"
To one thus inquiring, and thus fearing, and thus seeking after a righteousness which he has not, is the invitation given, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour
" and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”? He hears the offer, made by one who cannot disappoint
5 Deut. iv. 29.
6 Micah vi. 6-8.
7 Matt. xi. 28.