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how to begin walking in the path of God's commandments. He knows not how to get one step forward in the way. Encompassed with sin, and sorrow, and fear, and finding no way to escape, he can only cry out, “ Lord, save, or I perish!”.
7. Poverty of Spirit then, as it inplies the first step we take in running the race which is set before us, is a just sense of our inward and outward Sins, and of our Guilt and Helplessness. This some have monstrously styled, “the virtue of humility ;” thus teaching us to be proud of knowing we deserve damnation ! But our Lord's expression is quite of another kind; conveying no idea to the hearer, but that of mere want, of naked sin, of helpless guilt and misery
8. The great Apostle, where he endeavours to bring sinners to God, speaks in a manner just answerable to this. “The wrath of God," saith he, “is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; ” (Rom. i. 18, &c. ;) a charge which he immediately fixes on the heathen world, and thereby proves they were under the wrath of God. He next shows, that the Jews were no better than they, and were therefore under the same condemnation; and all this, not in order to their attaining "the noble virtue of humility,” but" that every month might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.”
He proceeds to show, that they were helpless as well as guilty ; which is the plain purport of all those expressions : “ Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified :"-" But now the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, without the law, is manifested :”-“We conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the decds of the law:"-expressions all tending to the same point, even to “hide pride from man ;” to humble him to the dust, without teaching him to reflect upon his humility as a virtue; to inspire him with that full, piercing conviction of his utter sinfulness, guilt, and helplessness, which casts the sinner, stript of all, lost and undone, on his strong Helper, Jesus Christ the Righteous.
9. One cannot but observe here, that Christianity begins just where Heathen Morality ends ; poverty of spirit, conviction of sin, the renouncing ourselves, the not having our own righteousness, (the very first point in the Religion of Jesus Christ,) leaving all Pagan Religion behind. This was ever hid from the wise men of this world ; insomuch that the whole
promise of Him who cannot lie. It is purchased for thee by the blood of the Lamb. It is very nigh: thou art on the brink of heaven! Another step, and thou enterest into the kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy! Art tbou all sin? “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world !”-All unholy? See thy “ Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous !”-Art thou unable to atone for the least of thy sins ? “ He is the propitiation for all thy) sins." Now believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and all thy sins are blotted out!-Art thou totally unclean in soul and body ? Here is the “ Fountain for sin and uncleanness!” “Arise, and wash away thy sins!” Stagger no more at the promise through unbelief! Give glory to God! Dare to believe! Now cry out from the ground of thy heart,
“Yes, I yield, I yield at last,
Listen to thy speaking blood;
On my atoning God!"
13. Then thou learnest of him to be “ lowly of heart.” And this is the true, genuine, Christian Humility, which flows from a sense of the love of God, reconciled to us in Christ Jesus. Poverty of spirit, in this meaning of the word, begins where a sense of guilt and of the wrath of God ends; and is a continual sense of our total dependence on him, for every good thought, or word, or work,—of our utter inability to all good, unless he “water us every moment,” and an abhorrence of the praise of men, knowing that all praise is due unto God only. With this is joined a loving shame, a tender humiliation before God, even for the sins which we know he hath forgiven us, and for the sin which still remaineth in our hearts, although we know it is not imputed to our condemnation. Nevertheless, the conviction we feel of inbred sin, is deeper and deeper every day. The more we grow in grace, the more do we see of the desperate wickedness of our heart. The more we advance in the knowledge and love of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, (as great a mystery as this may appear to those who know not the power of God unto salvation,) the more do we discern of our alienation from God,—of the enmity that is in our carnal mind, and the necessity of our being entirely renewed in righteousness and true holiness.
II. 1. It is true, he has scarce any conception of this, who now begins to know the inward kingdom of heaven. “In bis prosperity, he saith, I shall never be moved; thou, Lord, hast made my bill so strong.” Sin is utterly bruised beneath his feet, that lie can scarce believe it remaineth in him. Even temptation is silenced and speaks not again : it cannot approach, but stands afar off. He is borne aloft in the chariots of joy and love: he soars “as upon the wings of an eagle.' But our Lord well knew, that this triumphant state does not often continue long: he therefore presently subjoins, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” • 2. Not that we can imagine this promise belongs to those who mourn only on some worldly account; who are in sorrow and heaviness, merely on account of some worldly trouble or disappointinent, such as the loss of their reputation or friends, or the impairing of their fortune. As little title to it hare they who are afflicting themselves, through fear of some temporal evil; or who pine away with anxious care, or that desire of carthly things, which “maketh the heart sick.” Let us not think these “shall receive any thing from the Lord : " He is not in all their thoughts. Therefore it is that they thus “ walk in a vain shadow, and disquiet themselves in vain.” “And this shall ye bave of mine hand,” saith the Lord, “ye shall lie down in sorrow.”
3. The Mourners of whom our Lord here speaks, are those that mourn on quite another account: they thit mourn after God; after Him in whom they did “ rejoice with joy unspeakable," when he gave them to “taste the good,” the pardoning “ word, and the powers of the world to come.” But he now “bides his face, and thcy are troubled: ” they cannot see him through the dark cloud. But they soc temptation and sin, which they fondly supposed were gone never to return, arising again, following after them amain, and holding them in on every side. It is not strange if their soul is now disquieted within them, and trouble and heaviness take hold upon them. Nor will their great enemy fail to improve the occasion; to ask, “Where is now thy God? Where is now the blessedness whereof thou spakest? The beginning of the kingdom of heaven? Yca, hath God said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee?' Surely God hath not said it. It was only a dream, a mere delusion, a creature of thy oign imagination. If thy sins are forgiven, why art thou thus ? Can a pardoned sinner be thus unholy?"-And, if then, instead of immediately crying to
God, they reason with him that is wiser than they, they will be in heaviness indeed, in sorrow of heart; in anguish not to be expressed. Nay, even when God shines again upon the soul, and takes away all doubt of his past mercy, still he that is weak in faith may be tempted and troubled on account of what is to come; especially when inward sin revives, and thrusts sore at him that he may fall. Then may he again cry out; .. ;").
I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun .. . te
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ! lest I should make shipwreck of the faith, and my last state be worse than the first: ... .. .
? ! " so Lest all my bread of life should fair
And I sink down unchang'd to hell !" ! " . 4. Sure it is, that this affliction," for the present, " is not joyous but grievous : nevertheless, afterward it bringeth forth peaceable fruit unto them that are exercised thereby.” Blessed therefore are they that thus mourn, if they “ tarry the Lord's leisure," and suffer not themselves to be turned out of the way, by the miserable comforters of the world ; if they resolutely reject all the comforts of sin, of folly, and vanity; all the idle diversions and amusements of the world; all the pleasures which “ perish in the using,” and which only tend to benumb and stupify the soul, that it may neither be sensible of itself nor God. Blessed are they who“ follow on to know the Lord,” and steadily refuse all other comfort. They shall be comforted by the consolations of his Spirit; by a fresh manifestation of his love ; by such a witness of his accepting them in the Beloved, as shall never more be taken away from them. This “full assurance of faith" swallows up all doubt, as well as all tormenting fear; God now giving them a sure hope of an enduring substance, and “strong consolation through grace.” Without disputing whether it be possible for any of those to “ fali away, who were once enlightened and made partakers of the Holy Ghost," it suffices them to say, by the power now resting upon them, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?-I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor things present, uor things to come; nor height nor deptb, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. viii. 35—39.) 5. This whole process, both of mourning for an absent God,
Vol. I. No. 6.