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they think of the joy that is in heaven, in the presence of the angels of God, they may look upward in hope that in a little time this unspeakable blessedness shall be their everlasting portion, through Divine grace. For when Christ who is their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with Him in glory. May it be our happiness to partake of this blessedness hereafter; and also now to anticipate it; and therefore to rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulation, and to continue instant in prayer.
24 Colossians iii. 4.
25 Romans xii. 12.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE CHRISTIAN PATTERN.
Luke vi. 36.
BE YE THEREFORE MERCIFUL, AS YOUR FATHER ALSO IS MERCIFUL.
IN the discourse of our Lord Jesus Christ, recorded by St. Matthew, which is usually called the Sermon on the Mount, and to which this discourse, related by St. Luke, though not delivered on the same occasion, is very similar, the parallel passage is expressed in very different words. It is, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. We are not to suppose that such an exhortation implies that a fallen creature can attain to absolute perfection; that he can be perfect in degree, as God is. But as the exhortation is an inference from what had preceded it, we are to learn from it that
all who profess to be the children of God are to imitate His perfections, whom they call their Father in heaven; that they are to be conformed to His holy will as it is revealed in His word ; and are particularly bound to manifest in their conduct a likeness to their heavenly Parent, by the exercise of universal philanthropy; that they are to love their enemies, to return blessing for cursing, good for hatred, prayer for ill usage and persecution. This is very opposite to the natural inclination of fallen man; and it is what Divine grace alone can enable those who are under the influence of human corruption to carry into effect. But it is by this conduct alone that we can manifest ourselves truly to be the children of our Father which is in heaven, who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 26 What a blessed religion is that which inculcates such excellent principles for the regulation of the conduct of those who profess to be governed by its laws. It is said of the first Christians, that the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.27 The beloved disciple states the great commandment of God to be this, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.28 And St. Paul exhorts, As we have opportunity, let us do
26 Matthew v. 45. 27 Acts iv. 32. 28 1 John iii. 23.
good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.29 Our text is an inference similar to that which has been mentioned as its parallel. Our blessed Saviour had said in the preceding verse, Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. He then adds the exhortation in the text, Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Our church, on the two preceding Sundays, has led us to consider the gracious invitations addressed by the gospel of Christ to sinners, encouraging them to come to Him for the blessings of His great salvation; and the joy with which the conversion of every penitent sinner from the error of his ways is hailed in the realms of bliss. The Gospel for this day inculcates the temper and conduct which become those who profess to be penitent sinners, and to have been admitted into the number of the children of God on earth. The words which follow the text may therefore be considered as an enlargement upon it. Let us then
First, Take a cursory view of the doctrine taught by our Saviour when upon earth, for regulating the character and practice of His disciples, as it is contained in the Gospel for this day. And
29 Galatians vi. 10.
Secondly, Consider more particularly the text itself.
And let it be our prayer that the blessing of the Holy Spirit, "without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy," may accompany our consideration of this portion of the word of Christ, that we may not only bear His name, but may be doers as well as hearers of the word, that the power of Christ may rest upon us,31 and constrain us to every good word and work.
This discourse of our Saviour was addressed to His disciples in particular; and shows the line of conduct which it becomes those persons to adopt, who call the God of heaven their Father; or, that which is required of all His children, and which manifests them to be such. They are to imitate the perfections of their heavenly Father; to conduct themselves towards all around them according to the example of the Father of all, as He acts towards the children of men; to be merciful and compassionate towards those who need the exercise of their kindness; to sympathise with the afflicted and distressed.
But our Saviour was pleased to descend to particulars, in order to explain the manner in which the feelings of the mind, to which He referred, were to be put in practice. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye
30 James i. 22.
31 2 Corinthians xii. 9.