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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, suve, or I perish!"
7. Poverty of Spirit then, as it implies 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 mouth 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 deeds 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 arc blotted out!—Art thou totally unclean in soul and body? Here is the " Fountain for sin and uncleanness I" "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;
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 remaincth 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 his prosperity, he saith, I shall never be moved; thou, Lord, hast made my hill 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 disappointment,—such as the loss of their reputation or friends, or the impairing of their fortune. As little title to it have they who arc afflicting themselves, through fear of some temporal evil; or who pine away with anxious care, or that desire of earthly things, which "makcth 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 have 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 thut 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 "hides his face, and they are troubled: " they cannot see him through the dark cloud. But they sec 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? Yea, 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 own 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