« PreviousContinue »
1 Kings xxi, 2. — And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give
me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs,
Psalm xxxiv, 11.- Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I
will teach you the fear of the Lord
ABOUT eighteen hundred years ago, the greatest Preacher, that ever appeared on this earth, went up into a Mountain, in the Holy Land, followed by vast crowds of hearers. There was something awful, and mysterious, and sublime, and affectionate, in the character of this Preacher. His age was about thirty years, and his raiment a garment without a seam. He was never known to laugh, but he sometimes wept. Instead of feasting, he once fasted for forty days. Instead of a palace, he had not where to lay his head. When he looked, a more than human glory spread over his face; and when he spake, he spake as never man spake. Although cruelly reviled, he went about doing good. And although he once called out of his grave a friend, who had been dead four days, he yielded up his own life as a martyr for the souls of his followers. This great Preacher, surrounded by his vast congregation, of saints and sinners, of believers and infidels, of critics and admirers, went up into a Mountain; and there, in a church not made with hands, with the heavens over his head - those heavens, from which he came down, and to which he returned — in a solemn, consolatory manner, he pronounced blessed eight virtues and trials, each of which his followers must possess, or be willing to endure.
FOUR FIRST BEATITUDES.
1. First, said this heavenly Preacher: Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Did the Preacher intend the natural, inborn temper ? No. Mere spontaneous affection can call for neither praise, nor dispraise. But can it be, that this divine Preacher pronounced blessed, a low, servile, abject, grovelling disposition in man? A spirit, too low for emulation, too servile for honour, too abject for enterprise, and too grovelling for virtue? Far from it. Emulation in a good cause is praiseworthy; honour among just men is desirable; enterprise in an honest vocation is a duty; and virtue is the seed of religion. Never does being poor in spirit, require one to be poor-spirited. Oh, no! The terms are not convertible. What then did this Preacher to the hearts mean, when he taught, Blessed are the poor in spirit? He meant, Blessed is that spirit, which lifteth not itself; that spirit which, when afflicted, feels that troubles do not spring from the ground, but are ministering angels sent to wean us from the world; that spirit, which is unrepining, and although our lot be cast in low estate, sends up the morning and evening sacrifice of contentment and thanks; that spirit which is stripped of all self-complacency; which feels the bitterness of its own heart, and that its own strength is weakness, and its own fulness is emptiness.
That such is the poorness of spirit, which is rich before God, we are assured in that Book, which is the record of truth. God saith, If my people shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sins. Better is it to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. A man's pride shall bring him low, but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. God saith, Because thine heart was tender, I have heard thee. And when the Spirit of God was upon Isaiah, it sent him, to bind up the broken hearted. But to be more particular.
The Rich Man, he who is clothed in purple, and fares sumptuously every day; who pulls down his warehouses to build larger, and whose ships bring home gold from Ophir; must come out from among his riches, with raiment for the naked, with food for the hungry, and with succour for the distressed; and clothe himself in depend..