Imatges de pàgina
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mended by the deformity of the other: the heart which hath never groaned under calamity, will not so truly enjoy the transports of felicity; past slavery gives a double zest to prefent freedom. Thus a fine taste of happiness can only be acquired by affliction, and he alone is to be pitied, who hath never known what it is to be miserable. But for the truth of this we have, in the words of my text, the testimony of divine wisdom, and the sanction of divine authority. Our Saviour hath here expressly declared, that those who mourn, so far from being unhappy, are truly blessed.

We are not to understand by the words before us, that all those who mourn, generally and indiscriminately considered, must therefore be happy; that because they have been oppressed by grievous sufferings, they are entitled to reward; that because they have been miserable, they must be blessed: that would be to confound good and evil, merit and demerit; to set the wise, virtuous, and religious, on a level with the foolish, the vicious, and the irreligious. He who mourns for the loss of what he neither wants nor deserves, who weeps when he should rejoice, and complains when he should be thankful; he who mourns from fordid envy, or unreasonable disappointment, because he cannot prejudice another, to promote his own interest and advantage; such men, be their afflictions ever so sharp and . poignant, can never hope to be blessed, or expect to be comforted.

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The blessedness spoken of by our Saviour will be the reward only of virtuous and godly forrow; of those, and those alone, who mourn, either,

First, For a heavy and more than ordinary weight of human afflictions, which, unmerited by them, God hath in his wisdom thought fit to inflict upon them: or,

Secondly, Those who fincerely mourn for, and lament the burthen of their iniquities, the fins and offences which they have commit

ted: or,

Thirdly, Those who charitably feel for, and sympathise with, the sorrows and calamities of others, who weep with them that weep.

These will undoubtedly inherit that blessed happiness which our Saviour hath here predicted; these will be relieved, blessed, and comforted, both here and hereafter.

Man, as the Psalmist saith, is born unto forrow, even as the sparks fly upwards, it is the common lot, the appointed portion of human nature.

A heavy yoke is upon the fons of Adam, from him that fitteth on a throne of glory, to him that is humbled in earth and ashes. To what a variety of diseases is the body of man contirually subject? by what an infinity of pangs is his mind perpetually oppressed ? Want, pain, disappointment, fickness, and adversity, like so many powerful tyrants, subdue and reign by turns over us; scarce a day passes but we feel something to remind us of mortality, and the hard condition of it.

Some,

Some, moreover, are visited in a peculiar man. ner, and groan with unremitted anguish under the iron hand of calamity. Some there are who perpetually feed on the bread of affliction, and drink the bitter cup of sorrow.

He, doubtless, who inflicted these evils, never intended, never wished or desired to find us insensible of them: to mourn therefore is the indisputed privilege of our nature; grief therefore is innocent, and only when immoderate, excessive, or ill-placed, can partake either of guilt or folly. Our Redeemer himself, with the form of man, took upon him his infirmities, his griefs and calamities, and lamented them also; even he, we know, groaned in the fpirit, and was troubled. It is no fin therefore to mourn: our foul may be vexed, and our spirit disquieted, without offending that divine Being who created then. It is our duty, notwithstanding, to submit with patience and refignation, to rely with confidence on our Re. deemer, and to rest assured that his word must be fulfilled, who hath said, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Whilft our afflictions bid us remember that we are men, we must not at the same time forget that there is a God, but in the midst of our calamities bear in mind this his flattering declaration, and this his gracious promise: let us continually bear this little amulet about our necks to charm away the evil spirit of discontent, to exercise moreover the malicious dæmon of defpair. If aifliction is (as our Saviour hath himfelf assured us it is) a real blessing, let us con

sider it as such, and in all our forrows, milfortunes and calamities remember, that forrow is but a prelude to joy, and affliction the harbinger of felicity.

But, Secondly, Another species of virtuous sorrow is that which ariseth from a consciousness of our own unworthiness, that remorse and contrition which every sincere penitent feels for the commission of fin, and which is the parent of repentance and reformation: he who heartily grieves for, and laments his past offences, will most probably guard against them for the future. This forrow is doubtless of a most sharp and poignant nature, it inflicts the most deep and painful wounds on the foul of man; the sting of life as well as of death is sin, and a wounded fpirit who can bear?

As this is doubtless a great and galling affliction, wearying and oppressive to the foul, the goodness of God hath to the weight of the evil proportioned its confolation and reward: Blefjed, therefore, are they who thus mourn, for iley Mall be comforted. Those who mourn for their fins will always find comfort in the please ing reflection, that the debt which they are paying, how heavy and burthensome ioever it may be, is a debt which they owe to conscience, and which must be punctually discharged; that the sorrow which they feel is a religious forrow; that the tears which they shed are the tears oi virtue; they will be dried up by him who wipeth the tears from every eye: in all their asilictions therefore they will comfort themselves with the fure and certain hope,

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that though they mourn they shall rejoice, and are only miserable here, that they may be happy hereafter.

But, Thirdly, Those shall be blessed who charitably feel for, and sympathise with the afflicted, and lament the calamities of others, who weep

with them that weep. Compassion is a debt which we all owe to the unhappy: though like other debts it is not always punctually discharged, it will, notwithftanding, be required of us. The benevolent, the generous and humane, cannot behold the diftreffes of his fellow.creatures with coldness and insensibility; he feels for the sorrows, laments the misfortunes, and sympathises with the calamities of his neighbour: and in a world like this, abounding with evils of every kind, the good and benevolent man must frequently be unhappy; those arrows of aifliction which never reach the callous heart, pierce deep into his; he fighs with the wretched, fickens with the distempered, shivers with the naked, starves with the poor and destitute: but he who thus kindly mourns for others, shall himself be bleffed; he who thus pitied others, shall himself meet with pity; and he who comforted others, shall be comforted.

The Almighty hath of his infinite goodness graciously ordained, that the perforınance of every moral duty shall carry with it some

portion of its own reward: every act of friend. ship, tenderness, and humanity towards those around us, is attended with a sweet complacency and satisfaction of mind, that in a great measure compensates for every difficulty and

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