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wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered."* Such was the opinion of the world, as to the relative advantage and happiness of the service of sin and the path of piety, in the days of Malachi; and the same prejudice and mistake generally prevail still. But to the law and the testimony. It is impossible for the transgressor to destroy the connection between sin and sorrow, vice and misery. Whatever men may persuade themselves as to its issue, "it will be bitterness in the latter end." "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful," where this poverty of spirit does not dwell. The wicked, who suppose all pleasure is derivable from the enjoyment of the world, and the indulgence of their appetites, have always adjudged the Christian unhappy; but they err, "not knowing the scriptures or the power of God." Believe it, brethren, for it is the testimony of the oracles of truth, that if you think the ambitious and haughty happy, you are much mistaken in the estimation of their bliss. "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."+ Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."+
Let me, therefore, once more affectionately warn you against seeking happiness from earthly things: for disappointment and distress will be the issue. The world can-' not, and will not, befriend you in trouble, or support you in affliction. O, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. The first step towards unpolluted pleasure, and undissembled peace, is to become "poor in spirit." Without this, there will be
Mal. iii. 13-15.
+ Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.
1 Peter i. 8.
little tranquillity in the present life; nor can you expect everlasting happiness in that which is to come.
Secondly. How desirable is the portion of the righteous! To have so much blessedness here, and the prospect of so much more there, who would not cast in his lot with the saints? May I hope that many of my hearers this morning will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, that all other things may be added unto them? Yes, I indulge the pleasing persuasion, not only that some of you will renounce the pomps and vanities of this evil world, but that some of you have done so already; and that the high thoughts you once entertained of your own goodness, are all brought down into the dust. Blessed change! That "which was once your gain, you now count loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and you count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord."* If such, indeed, be your estimation and desire, you may take comfort in the prospect of eternal life. Ye are rich indeed, "for all things are your's; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."+
It is, however, probable, that some individuals present may be ready to write bitter things against themselves. You have broken so many vows, and violated so many engagements, that you are ready to conclude such rebellious conduct will be visited with the lasting displeasure of an offended God. That such may be its desert, I will not deny. But the question is not, whether you are more or less guilty in his presence, but whether such rebellion be not the burden and grief of your soul. If this be the case, you may take the comfortable promise made to the
"poor in spirit" in the text, for it really belongs to you. It was given to encourage the awakened to flee to the city of refuge, and to cheer the weary and heavy laden amidst the toils and burdens of their Christian pilgrimage. Wherefore, "wait on the Lord: be of good courage: and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."*
Psalm xxvii. 14.
MATTHEW v. 4.
"BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN: FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED."
NOTHING can possibly appear more paradoxical than this beatitude. It contains a maxim wholly at variance with the opinions commonly entertained by the sons of men. The world has been generally accustomed to consider those, and those only, happy, who are thoughtless of a future state, and perfectly absorbed in the present; who abridge themselves of no indulgence which their appetites dictate; who restrain their senses from no gratification they desire; who are altogether unconcerned for the safety of the soul; and who follow the multitude in all its sinful amusements, and intoxicating pleasures, totally reckless of every consequence.
The declaration of the text may therefore naturally excite surprise. When I hear it uttered, I immediately ask, “On what authority does so strange a maxim rest? and by what proof can it be supported?" Is it on the authority of an apostle? That, indeed, is to be obtained. " I reckon," says St. Paul, "that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."* Such a testimony-the testimony of an individual who had been admitted into the third heaven;
* Rom. viii. 18.
who had seen unutterable glories, and felt unutterable joys; who had likewise been a night and a day in the deep; who had been incarcerated at Philippi, and imprisoned at Rome, for the sake of the Lord Jesus-demands implicit belief. But a greater than the apostle of the Gentiles is here. The text is the language of Him, who, above all others, was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs;" who was perfectly familiar with the refreshments of angels, and the felicities of paradise; and who was possessed of the perfections of Deity, while he drank deep of the afflictions of humanity. And this is His solemn testimony, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
We have remarked, in a preceding lecture, that it was the design of our Lord, in the whole of this discourse, to divest the Jews of their false anticipations of the religion of Messiah's kingdom, and to furnish them with a correct notion of its true character. Unless this observation be remembered, we shall be very likely to fall into mistakes on some particulars, which will constantly come under our view in this exposition. In the discussion of the beatitude which forms our text, I propose,
I. TO CONSIDER THE PERSONS WHOM IT PRONOUNCES BLESSED.
II. ILLUSTRATE THE PROMISE ANNEXED; and
III. APPLY THE SUBJECT FOR OUR MUTUAL EDIFICATION..
May He, whose truth we contemplate, mercifully enable us rightly to understand it. Amen.
1. LET US CONSIDER THE PERSONS INTENDED IN THE TEXT:THEY ARE SUCH AS MOURN.
But, as "man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward," and as the class of mourners is the largest class of the human family, it cannot mean every species of