things. Whatever the injustice, the malice, the cruelty of men can inflict, he is able to suffer. He calls nothing intolerable; he never says of any thing, "This is not to be borne." No: he can not only do but suffer all things through Christ which strengtheneth him. And all he suffers does not destroy his love, nor impair it in the least. It is proof against all. It is a flame that burns even in the midst of the great deep. Many waters cannot quench" his "love, neither can the floods drown it." It triumphs over all. It "never faileth,” either in time or in eternity.

[ocr errors]

"Thus, in obedience to what Heaven decrees,

Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease;
But lasting Charity's more ample sway,

Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,

In happy triumph shall for ever live,

And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive."

the merciful obtain mercy;'

So shall not only by the blessing of God upon all their ways, by his now repaying the love they bear to their brethren a thousand fold into their own bosom; but likewise by" an exceeding and eternal weight of glory," in the "kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world."

18. For a little while you may say, "Woe is me that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar!" You may pour out your soul, and bemoan the loss of true, genuine love in the earth: Lost indeed! You may well say, (but not in the ancient sense,) "See how these Christians love one another!" These Christian kingdoms, that are tearing out each other's bowels, desolating one another with fire and sword! These Christian armies, that are sending each other by thousands, by ten thousands, quick into hell! These Christian nations, that are all on fire with intestine broils, party against party, faction against faction! These Christian cities, where deceit and fraud, oppression and wrong, yea, robbery and murder, go not out of their streets! These Christian families, torn asunder with envy, jealousy, anger, domestic jars, without number, without end! Yea, what is most dreadful, most to be lamented of all, these Christian Churches!-Churches ("tell it not in Gath,"―but, alas! how can we hide it, either from Jews, Turks, or Pagans?) that bear the name of Christ the Prince of Peace, and wage continual war with each other! that convert sinners

by burning them alive! that are "drunk with the blood of the saints!"-Does this praise belong only to "Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth ?" Nay, verily; but Reformed Churches (so called) have fairly learned to tread in her steps. Protestant Churches too know to persecute, when they have power in their hands, even unto blood. And meanwhile, how do they also anathematize cach other! Devote each other to the nethermost hell! What wrath, what contention, what malice, what bitterness, is every where found among them, even where they agree in essentials, and only differ in opinions, or in the circumstantials of religion! Who follows after only the "things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another?" O God! how long? Shall thy promise fail? Fear it not, ye little flock! Against hope, believe in hope! It is your Father's good pleasure yet to renew the face of the earth. Surely all these things shall come to an end, and the inhabitants of the earth shall learn righteousness. "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they know war any more.' "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains ;" and "all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our God." "They shall not [then] hurt or destroy in all his holy mountain;" but they shall call [their] "walls salvation, and [their] gates praise." They shall all be without spot or blemish, loving one another, even as Christ hath loved us.Be thou part of the first-fruits, if the harvest is not yet. Do thou love thy neighbour as thyself. The Lord God fill thy heart with such a love to every soul, that thou mayest be ready to lay down thy life for his sake! May thy soul continually overflow with love, swallowing up every unkind and unholy temper, till he calleth thee up into the region of love, there to reign with him for ever and ever!






"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

[ocr errors]

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Matt. v. 8-12.

I. 1. How excellent things are spoken of the Love of our Neighbour! It is "the fulfilling of the law," "the end of the commandment." Without this, all we have, all we do, all we suffer, is of no value in the sight of God. But it is that Love of our Neighbour which springs from the Love of God: otherwise itself is nothing worth. It behoves us, therefore, to examine well upon what foundation our Love of our Neighbour stands; whether it is really built upon the Love of God; whether we do "love him because he first loved us; whether we are pure in heart: for this is the foundation which shall never be moved. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

2. "The Pure in Heart," are they whose hearts God hath "purified even as He is pure;" who are purified, through faith in the blood of Jesus, from every unholy affection; who, being "cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfect

holiness in the [loving] fear of God." They are, through the, power of his grace, purified from pride, by the deepest poverty of spirit; from anger, from every unkind or turbulent passion, by meekness and gentleness; from every desire but to please and enjoy God, to know and love him more and more, by that hunger and thirst after righteousness, which now engrosses their whole soul: so that now they love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and mind, and strength.

3. But how little has this purity of heart been regarded by the false teachers of all ages! They have taught men barely to abstain from such outward impurities as God hath forbidden by name; but they did not strike at the heart; and by not guarding against, they in effect countenanced inward corruptions.

A remarkable instance of this, our Lord has given us in the following words: "Ye have heard, that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery;" (ver. 27 ;) and, in explaining this, those blind leaders of the blind only insisted on men's abstaining from the outward act. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart; (ver. 28;) for God requireth truth in the inward parts; He searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins; and if thou incline unto iniquity with thy heart, the Lord will not hear thee.

[ocr errors]

4. And God admits no excuse for retaining any thing which is an occasion of impurity. Therefore "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell:" (ver. 29:) If persons, as dear to thee as thy right eye, be an occasion of thy thus offending God, a means of exciting unholy desire in thy soul, delay not, forcibly separate from them. "And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell:" (ver. 30:) If any, who seem as necessary to thee as thy right hand, be an occasion of sin, of impure desire; even though it were never to go beyond the heart, never to break out in word or action; constrain thyself to an entire and final parting them off at a stroke: give them up to God. Any loss, whether


of pleasure, or substance, or friends, is preferable to the loss of thy soul.

Two steps only it may not be improper to take, before such an absolute and final separation. First, Try whether the unclean spirit may not be driven out by fasting and prayer, and by carefully abstaining from every action, and word, and look, which thou hast found to be an occasion of evil. Secondly, If thou art not by this means delivered, ask counsel of him that watcheth over thy soul, or, at least, of some who have experience in the ways of God, touching the time and manner of that separation; but confer not with flesh and blood, lest thou be "given up to a strong delusion to believe a lie."

5. Nor may marriage itself, holy and honourable as it is, be used as a pretence for giving a loose to our desires. Indeed, "It hath been said, whosoever will put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:" and then all was well; though he alleged no cause, but that he did not like her, or liked another better. "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication," (that is, adultery; the word zoaz signifying unchastity in general, cither in the married or unmarried state,) "causeth her to commit adultery," if she marry again: "and whosoever shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery." (Ver. 31, 32.)

All polygamy is clearly forbidden in these words, wherein our Lord expressly declares, that for any woman, who has a husband alive, to marry again is adultery. By parity of reason, it is adultery for any man to marry again, so long as he has a wife alive, yea, although they were divorced; unless that divorce had been for the cause of adultery: in that only case there is no scripture which forbids the innocent person to marry again.

Such is the purity of heart which God requires, and works in those who believe on the Son of his Love. And "blessed are" they who are thus "pure in heart, for they shall see God." He will "manifest himself unto them," not only "as he doth not unto the world," but as he doth not always to his own children. He will bless them with the clearest communications of his Spirit, the most intimate "fellowship with the Father and with the Son." He will cause his presence to go continually before them, and the light of his countenance to

« VorigeDoorgaan »