Imatges de pàgina
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true sense of this phrase, was poor in spirit, it was undoubtedly our bleiřed Redeemer himself, who suffered with patience every indignity, and submitted with humility and resignation to every insult and oppreflion that could be inflicted on human nature. Him therefore, and hiin alone, be it our business, as it is our duty, to imitate with all possible care and attention; and this, if we do, we shall undoubtedly, as he has graciously promised, be truly bleffed.

Here, however, it may not be improper to observe, that our Saviour doth not fay, nor could he indeed possibly mean, that the poor in spirit should always be blessed in this life; fo far from it, that the quality here recommended will, in the common course of things, be more likely to render him frequently tho' undeservedly miserable; he who is lowly in his own eyes, will too often appear mean and contemptible in those of others. Modesty is a veil, which, however it may heighten the charms of virtue to a discerning judgment, doth notwithstanding for the most part totally conceal them from the vulgar; and though humility may

become the object of private ad. miration, she is but too generally the mark of public contempt and derifion.

Such false ideas do men sometimes entertain of fortitude and spirit, that the bold violator of every law human and divine, who kills his best friends in a duel, shall be deemed a man of honour and courage, whilst the poor in spirit, who from conscience and humanity refuses to

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shed the blood of his fellow-creature, shall be branded with the opprobious name of a coward.

To this it must be added, that the meek and lowly lay themselves open to a thousand injuries which the haughty and revengeful are not liable to. The world is indeed generally so good.natured as to give us room and oppor, tunity for the exercise of every moral and Christian virtue: if we are blessed with a superior portion of meekness, they will favour us with frequent occasions of exerting it; and if we are endowed with a more than ordinary share of patience, they will supply us with sufficient trials of it: the humble spirit will often be provoked, the quiet and forbearing spirit will often be scoffed at and insulted.

Very confonant therefore must it be to our idea of the divine justice, to suppose that what in this life must ever subject us to so many misfortunes, forrows, and calamities, should meet with some recompense in another. The extraordinary and transcendent merit indeed of this virtue may be inferred from the greatness of its reward. Blessed, says our Saviour, are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Those who have suffered in this world, shall enjoy in the next; those who have patiently submitted to injuries in one state, shall be totally exempted from them in another; he who, for a series of years, hath eaten the bread of affliction, and drank the cup of sorrow, shall taste the manna of God, and be refreshed with the waters of comfort; he who hath been meek and lowly in his own eyes, shall be ac

ceptable

ceptable in those of his Creator; and he who hath been despised and rejected of men,

shall be the chosen and beloved of God.

Blefjed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Not the splendid dazzling object of ambia tion here below, not an earthly but an heavenly crown, a kingdom not to be loit, a crown that fadeth not away: the kingdoms of this world are indeed obtained, and preserved also but too often, by means very opposite, and spirits very different from these; and the kingdom of God is the only kingdom which the meek and humble, which the poor in spirit wish to enjoy. How grateful will it be, after all the storms and dangers of a tempestuous life, to put into this delightful harbour; after travelling through the dreary desert of this world, where scarce any thing is to be met with but thorns and briars, to arrive at last at a wilderness of sweets, and be crowned with the olive branches of perpetual peace: it will not be the least of those blessings, which the poor in fpirit shall hereafter enjoy, that in the kingdom of God he will not meet with those who have persecuted and oppressed him, with the proud, the haughty, and the cruel; those turbulent and unruly fpirits shall then be chained down in darkness, condemned by an all-righteous judge to figh for ever after that rest and tranquillity which they had so long disturbed, and to envy that humility and poverty of spirit which they had so long despised.

Let

Let us remember, then, my brethren, that in virtue of this promise from our Redeemer, we are noble and aspiring candidates for empire; let it animate our zeal, and fire our ambition to call to mind that we are in pursuit of a kingdom, and that a glorious and an eternal one, not to be acquired by arms or violence, but by meekness, gentleness, and truth: a crown which we are not called to by inheritance, but hy election; a kingdom, where the joys of dominion will not be leffened but heightened by participation. Lastly, and above all, let us remember, that to possess it, the spirit must not be raised but fubdued; that we must stoop to rise; that by poverty alone we can be made rich, by humility alone' we can be exalted.

BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN.

S E R M O'N X.

MATTHEW V. 4.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be

comforted. AS

S the blessed Saviour and Redeemer of

mankind, came down upon earth to confute the wisdom of the wise, and to pụt to filence the ignorance of foolish men, we shall find many of his doctrines, and more especially

those

It

those which he delivered in his sermon on the mount, in direct opposition to those opinions which were generally received and established; and amongit these, there is not perhaps one more apparently paradoxical and uncommon than that which is expressed in the words of my text: Blefjed, says he, are they that mourn. feemeth indeed to contradict the voice of nature, to oppose our reason, and to give the lye to our sense and feeling. It is impossible, one would imagine, that pain and sorrow, which render us miserable, can ever make us blessed; or that what we have so long considered as the object of fear and aversion, can ever become pleasing and desirable. But he who made and constituted all things, can change the nature, essence, and disposition of them. There is nothing so bitter and calamitous which the power and goodness of God cannot render productive of joy and happiness. Our Saviour therefore doth with great truth aflert, (which the more we consider the more we shall be convinced of) that the forrows, pains, and afflictions of this world, which we too often fo grievously complain of, are attended by confequences which we do not foresee, and followed by advantages which we never hoped for, or expected.

In a former discourse on the advantages of affliction, I observed to you, that a mixture of good and evil in this life is (abstracted from all other considerations) absolutely and indifpensably necessary. Sorrow is to joy what vice is to virtue, the best foil to its beauties; the comeliness of the one, is set off and recom

mended

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