페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

ceive, the condition of outward poverty as more suiting, and usually more connected with that temper of spirit. In St. Luke it is, Blessed are the poor, opposed to the rich. And he that is poor in spirit, if outwardly poor, is truly rich in the midst of poverty. So, they that mourn shall be comforted, and the meek shall inherit the earth. Not that this is their all, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, also. But this word from the Psalm, carries a fit promise, that meekness, seeming to be that which makes a man a prey to every one, and easily wronged and thrust out by all, yet shall be provided and protected, and he shall enjoy so much even of this earth as is fit for him, with more quiet and sweetness, than the proud and boisterous, who are ever, almost, in contentions.

The pure in heart, abridging themselves of sights and enjoyments that the world seeks after-sensual delights, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,-shall have a better sight, and purer joy, suiting them ; sweetest communion with God here, and ere long full vision : for they shall see God. So in the rest, it is clear.

Blessed are they which are persecuted— Rejoice.] Look off from your sufferings, and each way you will find matter of encouragement and joy. Look back to the prophets that were before you, and look forward to the reward in heaven that is

The firm belief of that kingdom, that glory above, that vision, what will not make easy to forego or undergo, to do or suffer? It is the want of that belief, that keeps the low things of this earth so high in our esteem.

Ver. 13, 14. Ye are the salt of the earth-ye are the light of the world.] This next point particularly concerns the disciples, and after them, the ministers of Christ. In these resemblances lie their dignity and their duty; and the former is used for urging the latter; and that is the best view of it. Let men look as much as they can upon the excellency of this their high calling, so that it raise their spirits to high endeavours of acting suitably to it. What a simple thing, to feed selfconceit by this ! Alas, poor man ! He is light indeed in another

before you.

sense, who

grows vain upon it that he is called light, and does not rather tremble that he is so unlike it in this. Salt- What were all table provisions without this ? Light-What were the world without this ? Christ communicates his own name to them, The light of the world. All the children of God are children of light, but his messengers more eminently so. Men that think ministers a needless commodity in the world, if they give any belief to the Gospel, may see what they are : and if you could live well without salt, and without light, so might ye without ministers.

But, alas ! how much unsavoury salt, how many dark lights are amongst us! And if the salt lose its savour, it can do good to nothing, and nothing can do good to it. The most unprofitable piece of the world, is either a profane, a carnal, or a formal, dead minister ; he is good for nothing,—unsavoury salt, of all things the most unsavoury. And if the light within thee be darkness, (as our Saviour says afterwards,) how great is that darkness ! Oh, that Christ shined more in our labours, in our conversation, and in companies where we come; that we were more savoury and seasoning others; not in jestings, or in sports, (these salts are unsavoury in ministers,) but in words of edification, ministering grace to the hearers ! And this, though it specially applies to ministers, yet extends to all Christians. "Let your light so shine, not to make yourselves somebody, but for the glory of the Father of lights, whence you have that light, your Heavenly Father. Oh, that this were predominant in all! Happy that heart that is filled with constant desires of this, and that aims at the glory of God, minding self in nothing, but God in all !

Ver. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.] He lays hold of this, takes occasion upon clearing a mistake that had arisen respecting him, to pass on to such doctrines as he knew were necessary for the clearing of the Law of God, wronged by false glosses ; and he thus vindicates both himself and that Law whereof he was the lord and author. Some, possibly, tọ obstruct his way, and prejudice him in

men's opinions, spake of him as a teacher of new doctrine, and an enemy of the Law: others, it may be, hearing of a doctrine that sounded new, would willingly have had it so, would have been free, and enjoy libertinism. Now, to dispel both misapprehensions, our Saviour owns his purpose to be nothing such. On the contrary, I come not to destroy, but to fulfil. This did he in all things, in doctrine and in practice; and he declares it a thing impossible for any to annul the Law; that if

any should offer at it, in his actions or doctrine, he should undo himself, but not the least tittle of the Law, Yet further, these men that cry up the Law, and would charge me with the dissolving of it, for all their noise, I declare to you, that except you take heed, and observe that Law better than they do, ye cannot enter into Heaven. How many deceive themselves, as these self-pleasing, vain men did! But be warned. Except your righteousness, your religion, go beyond the civil neighbour, the good church-keeper, the formal, painted professor, ye shall fall short of that which both you and they reckon upon. How many, who think themselves fair for Heaven, shall find themselves wofully mistaken, when it is past help! Oh! examine well in due time, and see whether deed for Heaven or not. It is the saddest mistake ever man fell into, to dream on of Heaven, till he find himself in Hell.

Ver. 21. Ye have heard, &c.] Now he clears the Law, and teaches the true spiritual sense of it, in divers points of it, wherein it was grossly abused ; shews that it binds not only the hand and the tongue, but even the heart. Men aiming at self-righteousness by the Law, and desirous of that as cheap as might be, with the least pains, not being willing or able to rise to its perfection, drew it down and shaped it to their imperfection; cut it to the measure of external obedience, and that of the easiest size. Thus men readily do; they rather fancy the word and rules of Christianity to their humours, than purge and correct those humours by the word. This exposition of the sixth commandment, condemns not only gross murder, but rash anger and reviling speech, as a breach of it,

you are in

and condemnable : which is expressed in allusion to the civil judicatures among the Jews, and thence, in case of any such thing, he presses speedy and undelayed reconcilement, as a thing most acceptable to God, and without which no other homages or religious performances would be acceptable to him. Now it is not only anger without cause that is condemned, but vain, undue anger, exceeding cause and measure. Were there the consciousness and constant regard of this; were every reproachful or disdainful word, every harsh look, every rising angry thought against thy brother looked on as murder, Oh, in what order would it put thy tongue, eye, and heart, in this respect! This we hear, and think it should be thus, but we have not resolved that it must be thus, do not watch and pray that it may be so, after an unchaste look and touch of impure desire, though not breaking out to act, yea, though not ripening within to full consent.

And by occasion of this, a man being ready to think, Oh, how strait, how hard is this ! he adds in verse 29, a useful advice, and a powerful cncouragement with it. If thine eye offend thee-any thing that proves a snare, how dear soever, as a right eye, or right hand. Men are loath to pare off or abridge occasions of sin, where some strong interest binds them. But thus to go whole and sound to hell !-Oh! better limp to heaven.

Ver. 31, Then follows, of divorce, which, upon any difference, was worn into common use, and opinion of lawfulness. Afterwards, he speaks of usual vain swearing, a sin which men have always affected, even they who, by profession, are God's own people: at which a man might wonder, did not we find it so lamentably true. But yet, Swear not at all, not after the liberty you take by swearing either by heaven or earth, thinking thus you spare God's name; but swearing by them must have relation to God, and so his name is interested. But Oh! a little reverence for the great God would make thee tremble at it. Nothing is a stronger evidence of a graceless heart, than oaths and profane swearing.

Lastly, at ver. 43, we have that sweet doctrine of not revenging, but patiently bearing, and readily forgiving of injuries, and loving enemies, and doing good to all. This does not bar any calm way of self-righting, to which there is sometimes an obligation; but men over-stretch it, and passion and self-love domineer, under this pretext. Therefore, the words sound a little extreme, as a counter-bowing of our crooked hearts, but it is to bring them straight. Let Julian and other atheists laugh at it, but it is the glory of Christians. No doctrine or religion in the world, presses so much clemency and innocency, and bounty as theirs, even to sworn enemies. This, we say, is its glory. And whereas it seems to render men sheepish, to make them less than men, it makes them indeed more than men, even like God. Benignity and mercy are Divine and Godlike, chief traits of God's image in his children. His sun rises, and his rain descends on the just and the unjust. So, a diffusive, sweet, bountiful soul, is still desiring to do good, by hand, by counsel, by any comfort within its reach towards all, rewarding good for evil. These things, deeply thought on and really practised, would make Christians indeed, children like their Heavenly Father.

CHAPTER VI.

Christ's business upon earth was, to bring man to Heaven. He came down, and became man, for that purpose ; came forth from God, to bring us back to God. 1. Pet. iïi. 18. As his life and death, so, his Divine doctrine tends to that, to enlighten the minds of men with the right knowledge, and inflame their hearts with the real love of God. We are drowned in sense and the love of earthly things; and in spiritual things, our hearts are sensual and earthly. Now you perceive the doctrine of this chapter, clearly aiming at the raising of men's

« 이전계속 »