Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saviour; in the peace that flows from the hope of a better world; there, and there only is comfort, 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18; 1.1. Those who mourn thus shall be comforied. So those who grieve over sin : who sorrow that they have committed it, and that they have offended God, shall find comfort in the gospel. Through the merciful Saviour those sins may be forgiven; and in him the weary and heavy-laden soul shall find peace, Matt. xi. 28–30; and the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, shall sustain us here, John xiv. 26, 27, and all 'tea s shall be wiped away in heaven, Rev. xxi. 4.

*5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

5. “ The meek.' Meekness is the patient reception of injuries with a belief that God will sindicate us. Vengeance is his; he will repay,' Rom. xii. 19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has a right to do, and what he has promised to do. Meekness produces peace. He that is constantly ruffled, that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard, and raise a storm of passion within, is at the m every mortal that chooses to disturb him. He is like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. "They shall inherit the earth. This might have been translated 'the land.' The Jews were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where this promise perpetually occurs, and they used it to denote any great blessing, perhaps as the sum of all blessings, Psa. xxxvii. 22. Isa. Ix. 21. Our Saviour used it in this sense. They also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land' became, therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Saviour promises it here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. The value of meekness, even in regard to worldly property and success in lise, is often exhibited in the scriptures, Prov.xxii. 24, 25; xv. 1; xxv. 8, 15. It is also seen in common lise that a meek, patient, mild man is the most happy. An impatient and quarrelsome man raises up enemies; often loses property in lawsuits; spends his time in disputes, rather than in sober, honest industry; and is harassed, vexed, and unsuccessful in all that he does. See 1 Tim. iv. 8; vi. 3—6.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled.

6. Hunger and thirst, here, are expressive of strong desire. No wants are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as these. They occur daily; ana when long continued, nothing is more distressing. An ardent desire for any thing is often

represented in the scriptures by hunger and thirst, Psa. xl". 1, 2; lxiii. I, 2. A desire for the blessings of pardon and peace; a deep sense of sin, and want, and wretchedness, is also represented by thirsting, Isa. Iv. 1, 2. So those that, in like manner, are perishing for want of righteousness, that feel that they are lost sinners, and strongly desire to be holy, shall be filled. Never was there a desire to be holy, which God was not willing to gratiiy. See Isa. lv. I. John iv. 14; vi. 35; vii. 37, 33. Psa. xvii. 15.

7. Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy.

* Blessed are the merciful.' That is, those who are so affected by the sufferings of others, as to be disposed to alleviate them. This is given as an evidence of piety, and it is said that they who show mercy to others, shall obtain it. The same sentiment is found in Matt. x. 42. See also Matt. xxv. 340. It should be done to-glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, with a desire that he should be honoured; and feeling that we are benefiting one of his creatures. Then he will regard it as done to him, and will reward us, Ps. xviii, 25, 26,

We cannot imitate God more than in showing mercy. He pro. claimed himself gracious and long-suffering. Exod. xxxiv. 6. To us, guilty sinners, exposed to eternal woe, he has shown his mercy by giving his Son to die for us; by expressing his willingness to pardon and sare us; and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify the heart. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy. All the blessings enjoy are proofs of his mercy. If we, also, show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty, it shows that we are like God. We have his spirit, and shall not lose our reward. And we have abundant opportunity to do it. Our world is full of guilt, and of woes, which we may help to reliere; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, to show that we are like God. See note on chap. vi. 14, 15.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see

God.

Those whose minds and principles are pure. Who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart. • They shall see God.' This is spoken of as a peculiar favour. So also in Rev. xxii. 4, To see the face of one, or to be in his presence, were, ainorg the Jews, ternis expressive of great favour, Prov, xxi, 29. 2 Kings xxv. 19. So here, to see God, means to be his friends and favourites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom,

9 Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God.

The peace-makers are those who zealously strive to prevent contention, and strife, and war. Who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits, and hostilities, in families and neighbourhoods. Every man may do something of this kind; and no man is more like God than he who does it. And it should be taken in hand in the beginning. The beginning of strise,' says Solomon, 'is like the letting out of water.' • An ounce of prevention,' says the English proverb, 'is worth a pound of cure, Children of God.' Those who resemble God, or who manifest a spirit like his. He is the Author of peace, i Cor. xiv. 33; and all those who endeavour to promote peace are like him, and are worthy to be called his children.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

• Persecuted.' To persecute means to vex, afflict, or oppress on account of religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions. For righteousness' sake.' Because they are righteous. We are not to seek persecution, We are not to provoke it by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be christians, and to live the life of christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing, 2 Tim, iii. 12. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' They have evidence that they are christians, and shall be brought to heaven.

11 Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Revile you.' Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are christians. Thus they said of Jesus, that he was a Samaritan and had a devil; that he was mad. But, being reviled, he reviled not again, 1 Pet. ix. 23; and thus being reviled, we should bless, 1 Cor. iv. 12; and thiis, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Phil. i. 29. 'All man. ner of evil-falsely. An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity, 1 Pet. iii, 13–18. "For my sake.' BH

e you are attached to me; because you are christians. If, in the faithful endeavour to be christians, we are reviled, as ou

n this

Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remem. ber that thousands before us have been treated in like manner.When thus reviled, or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again ; but endeavouring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

'Rejoice,' &c. The reward of such suffering is great; hence many of the early christians literally rejoiced, and leaped for joy, at the prospect of death for the sake of Jesus. Nothing but the consciousness of innocence, and the presence of God, could have borne them up in the midst of these trials. The prophets,' &c. The holy men who came to predict future events, and who were the religious teachers of the Jews. For an account of their persecutions, see the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

13 | Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

“Ye are the salt of the earth.' Salt renders food pleasant and palatable, and preserves from putrefaction. So christians, by their lives and instructions, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption. By bringing down, by their prayers, the blessing of God, they save the world from universal vice and crime. 'Salt have lost his savour.' That is, if it have become insipid, tasteless, or have lost its preserving properties. In eastern countries the salt used was impure, mingled with vegetable and earthy substances, so that it might lose the whole of its saltness, and a considerable quantity remain. This was good for nothing except that it was used, as it is said, to place in paths, or walks, as we use gravel.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

"The light of the world. The term light is often applied to religious teachers. See Matt. iv, 16. Luke ii. 32. John i. 4; viii. 12. Isa. xlix. 6. It is pre-eminently applied to Jesus, because he is in the moral world, what the sun is in the natural world. The apostles, and christian ministers, and all christians, are lights of the world, because they, by their instructions and examples, show what God requires, what is the condition of man, what is the way of duty, peace, and happiness—the way ihat

leads to heaven. 'A city that is set on a hill,' &c. Many of the cities of Judea were placed on the summits or sides of mountains, and could be seen from afar. Perhaps Jesus pointed to such a city, and told his disciples that they were like it. They were seen from afar. Their actions could not be hid. The eyes of the world were upon them. They must be seen; and as this was the case, they ought to be holy, harmless, and undefiled.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

"Neither do men light a candle, &c. When men light a candle, they do not conceal the light, but place it where it may be of use. So it is with religion. It is given that we may benefit others. It is not to be concealed, but suffered to show itself, and to shed light on a surrounding wicked world. “A bushel. A measure, containing about a peck. Here it denotes any thing that might conceal the light.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

‘Let your light so shine,' &c. Let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your faithful instruction, be every where seen and known. “That they may see your good works.' It is not right to do a thing merely to be seen by others, for this is pride and ostentation ; but we are to do it, that, being seen, God may be honoured. Glorify your Father Praise or honour God, be led to worship him. That seeing in your lives the excellence of religion, the power and purity of the gospel, they may be won to be christians also, and give praise and glory to God for his mercy to a lost world.

We learn here, 1. That religion, if it exist, cannot be concealed. 2. That where it is not manifest in the life, it does not exist. 3. That professors of religion, who live like other men, give evidence that they have never been renewed. 4. That to attempt to conceal or hide our christian knowledge or experience is to betray our trust, and injure the cause of piety, and render our lives useless. And, 5. That good actions will be seen, and will lead men to honour God. If we have no other way of doing good, if we are poor and unlearned, and unknown, yet we may do good by our lives. No sincere and humble christian lives in vain.

17 T Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Think not that I am come,' &c. Our Saviour was just entering on his work. It was important for him to state what he came to do. By his setting up to be a teacher in opposition to the

« PreviousContinue »