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loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burthens, and to let the oppressed go free; is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor, that are cast out, to thy house; then the Lord shall satisfy thy soul. Again, Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another. And again, Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great.
Now if any one have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eye of the widow to fail ; or have eaten his meat himself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; if he have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering ; let him ponder on what follows: But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, how dwelleth the love of God in him ? And let him reflect, that he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.
But let the merciful rejoice, that God is not unrighteous, to forget his labours of love ; for, says David, I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. And that, with the merciful, God will show himself
merciful. And now,
I would ask, can it be, that among men, who need so much mercy themselves ; there should be found any, who are not willing to show mercy unto others ?
6. Again said this holy Preacher : Blessed are the pure in heart ; for they shall see God.
It is one thing to be pure in life, and another thing to be pure in heart ; one thing to be pure before men, and quite another thing to be pure before God. A man may keep all the exterior commands of the Moral Law ; he may worship no graven image ; he may not outwardly take the name of the Lord in vain ; he may not forget to go up to the courts of the Lord on the Sabbath day ; he may honour his father and his mother ; he may not kill, nor be unchaste, nor steal, nor bear false witness against his neighbour ; he may do none of these things, and may be accounted among men as a very good Christian : And
may not love God; he may bow down his heart before an earthly idol ; he may profane the Lord's day
with lip-service ; he may look after unholy objects; and may secretly covet his neighbour's prosperity. He may have no truth in the inward parts. His mind and conscience may be defiled. He may profess to know God, but in works of the heart may deny him, being disobedient. Such an one was likened by Him, who looked through the lips into the naked breast, to a whited sepulchre ; which indeed appears beautiful without, but is within full of all uncleanness. A man may pass before men for a saint, and yet pass before God as an hypocrite.
Blessed are the pure in heart — how simple ! how reasonable ! God requireth of us, no lamb to smoke upon the altar ; no incense to steam from the censer ; no weary pilgrimage to a prophet's shrine ; no bloody penance upon our bodies ; no long prayers in the market places ; no almsgivings for priestly absolution. No. Bring no more vain oblations. God desireth mercy, and not sacrifice. He saith, My son, give me thine heart. One tear of repentance for sin ; one sigh of regret over the desolations of the fall ; one aspiration after holiness; these alone are the offerings, which the Saviour will bear to his Father in heaven, as coming from the pure in heart.
Hear what holy David says. David, that eminent sinner, and that eminent saint. That man, who was led away, by his human passions, to fall into great sins ; but who was led back again, by his humbled heart, to bemoan kimself in dust and ashes. He says, I know, O God, that thou triest the heart. And his prayer for Solomon was, that God would give him a perfect heart to keep his commandments. In another place, he says, With the pure, thou wilt show thyself pure ; and with the froward, thou wilt show thyself froward. For truly, God is good to such as are of a clean heart. Again, he asks, Who shall stand in thine holy place ? he that hath clean hands,
pure heart ; who hath not lift up his soul into vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. And at last, with a holy zeal, and with a feeling sense of the treachery and desperate wickedness of the carnal heart, he cries, Create in me a new heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Unto those, whose souls are sustained by faith, and whose evil natures are corrected by a conformity to divine
truth, Christ hath said, Blessed are ye, for ye shall see God.
7. Again said this sacred Preacher : Blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, said the great Peacemaker of Souls. The kingdom of Heaven is all peace.
Blessed is the man, who is willing to go out to meet his neighbour, who has offended him
with royal David, If ye be come peaceably unto me, my heart shall be knit unto you. Who considers, that to render good for evil is Godlike.
Blessed is the man, who endeavours to promote peace in his own family. Behold, how good, and how pleasant a thing it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity. And where envying, and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work.
Blessed are the men, who seek for peace in their own towns. Who as much as in them lieth, without becoming busy bodies in other men’s matters, strive to prevent, or curtail, all feuds and lawsuits. Who by soft words do away wrath. Now, says St Paul, there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another. Let nothing be done through strife, or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves. And again, Forgiving one another ; endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers in churches. Those who seek not to gender vain disputations ; and who are ready to deny themselves in those things, which make a weak brother to offend. Those who put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness; knowing that love is the fulfilling of the law ; and that the fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Brethren, be of one mind, live in peace ; and the God of peace shall be with you. When we are disposed to censure another, let us consider ourselves well, and we shall be silent. When Christians gainsay one another, then do infidels triumph. When Christians live together in harmony, then do even blasphemers exclaim in wonder, Behold, how they love one another,
Blessed are the peacemakers among nations. Blessed is that monarch, who delights not in the sound of battle, and in garments rolled in blood; whose ambition is not to count his thousands weltering in their gore, and his tens of thousands taken captive ; but whose labour is, to beat his swords into ploughshares, and his spears into pruning hooks; and whose ambition is, that his subjects may sit under their own vines, and their own fruit trees, having none to molest, or to make them afraid. How humbling to the haughty crest of the Hero, that He, who could command the Armies of Heaven, hath said, Blessed are the peacemakers. That to Him, the extended hand of friendship should be more glorious, than the triumphing sword in the grasp of the conqueror.
But above all, Blessed, yea, thrice-blessed, are those, who are peacemakers with their own souls. Who for this end are slow to wrath, knowing that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Who overcome evil with good. Who avenge not themselves. What man is he, that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good ? Keep then thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile ; depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Is there not need enough, that we should make overtures of peace with our own souls ? Doth not conscience accuse us of an evil heart of unbelief? Of hatred, or indifference, towards God ? Of opening afresh the wounds of our Saviour ? Of resisting the motions of the Holy Spirit ? How awful the thought, that if we do not make peace with our souls in time, the Adversary will be at war with them through all eternity.
Let us therefore, among neighbours, in our families, in our towns, in our churches, in the councils of the nation, and above all with our own souls; let us follow the things, which make for peace, that we may be called the children of God.
8. Lastly, said this divine Preacher: Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It must be a very evil world, in which men are perse
cuted for being good. But it is too true, that the wicked hate the Law, and the book which holds it; they hate the Gospel, and those who defend it.
The wicked envy Christians, and their malice accuses them of fanaticism, or bigotry; of weakness, or hypocrisy; of spiritual pride, and misanthropy. But this passing world is a world of probation ; this tempting world, but a trial of our faith. Therefore, says James, my brethren, count it all joy, when
ye fall into divers temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And
And again, If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but commit his soul unto God in well doing. And says Paul, Be willing, not only to believe, but also to suffer, for Christ's sake. The wicked, says David, plotteth against the just; but the Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming. And says Christ, Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and shall cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake ; for your reward is great in heaven. Ye shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, and in the world to come eternal life. And in the Vision of John the Divine, in the Islet of Patmos, when the Angel asked, What be these arrayed in white robes? and John answered, Sir, thou knowest ; the Angel said unto him, These be they, which came out of eat tribulation.
In every age, good men have been liable to be persecuted for righteousness' sake. Look back among the patriarchs, and hear the blood of righteous Abel cry
from the ground; and see youthful Joseph sold by his own brethren as a bond-slave. Look among the prophets, and hear faithful Daniel in the grim lions' den ; and behold the Three Worshippers of the true God in the burning fiery furnace. Then come down, and review the perils by day, and the perils by night, of that champion of the truth, Saint Paul; and the banishment, to an Island in the Sea, of the beloved disciple John. Then read of hundreds of others of the noble army of martyrs, of whom the world was not worthy ; against whom did false witnesses rise up, and laid things to their charge that they knew not; and who were taken away from the evil to