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than obtain the inheritance. Meekness, however, is often found in fact to “have the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come :” to receive what selfishness, rapacity, or arrogance fails to secure.
But our Lord, in this promise, speaks not of the earth below, but of the heaven above ; here signified by the land of Canaan, the inheritance of the chosen people of God on earth, and typical of the heavenly inheritance prepared for them. This the meek shall inherit : for they have learnt of Him, who was “meek and lowly in heart:" they have followed his steps, who “ when He was reviled, reviled not again;" they have “the mind that was in Christ Jesus, doing nothing through strife and vain glory :” and knowing their own unworthiness, they “ submit themselves one to another in the fear of God,” and “in lowliness of mind reckon others better than themselves.”
These then are the three first characters which the Saviour declares blessed—the HUMBLE, the PENITENT, the MEEK. How does our mind conform to his mind in this judgment? That will depend upon the degree in which we have formed our opinion by the light of Scripture. In proportion as we are imbued with the spirit which is learnt there, we shall perceive that lowliness, self-abasement, and humility are the proper feelings for hearts like ours : and shall pray that with them, as the raiment best becoming our low condition,
be more and more completely clothed.
BLESSINGS OF THE PURSUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
MATT. V. 6. 1. “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for
they shall be filled.” Who are they on whom this blessing is pronounced ? For the word righteousness, in Scripture, has more than
one signification. It signifies the state of one who is justified in the sight of God. And it also signifies that holy, just, and sober course of life, which God prescribes.
Our Lord's blessing applies to both these meanings. To be at peace with God, must be the basis of all real happiness ; for surely there can be none without it. And in order to be at peace with God, there must be an endeavour to walk in the way which He commands and approves. Therefore, blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness : whose principal desire and aim it is to acquire that state of heart, and maintain that course of life, which is accepted of God.
Our Lord looks out into the world, and sees that this is not the blessing which men are commonly hungering and thirsting for. It might have been hoped of some who too soon showed the contrary. It might have been hoped of that rich young man who came to our Lord, asking him, “ Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" But he quickly proved that the things of this world had more attraction for him. For when Jesus showed him the way of righteousness, he“ went away sorrowing.” It might have been hoped concerning Herod : for he “often sent for John the Baptist, and heard him gladly." But he also soon showed that the will of Herodias and the favour of those who sat at meat with him weighed more in his mind than righteousness. The same might have been thought concerning many who followed the Lord Jesus, and saw his works
and heard his words. But the contrary was seen, when, though they “believed in Jesus, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
The Lord knew how quickly the things which they did hunger and thirst after, would pass away. Nothing would remain to the owner of “many possessions : who can take none of them away when he dieth, neither i Mark x. 17.
8 John xii. 42.
2 Ib. vi. 20.
doth his pomp follow him. Nothing would remain to Herod, but “a fearful looking for of judgment " which shall condemn the ungodly and the sinner. Nothing shall remain to the seekers of this world's favour, who “ love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” “ The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.”4
This is one reason why the lovers of righteousness are blessed : they have chosen that good part which shall not be taken from them. But there is another. They shall be filled. They, and they alone, have this promise. The lovers of wealth, of honour, of pleasurethe lovers of this world in any of its various forms—are never filled ; never so satisfied with what they have as not to covet more, even if they are not disappointed altogether. Of these we might justly pronounce, Unhappy are they; for they shall not be filled. But they whose first desire is righteousness, are not sent empty away.” The promise is made to them :
“ They shall" find the Lord their God, if they seek him with all their heart, and with all their soul.'
And the time was now come, when this blessing should be enjoyed. Suppose the case of one in that day, who was eagerly thirsting for the first condition of righteousness, peace with God:-inquiring, in the words of the prophet Micah, “Wherewith shall I appear before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God ?” Saying within himself, God indeed “hath showed me what is good,” and what He “ requires of me :” to “do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.
But if He were to
enter into judgment with me," could I “answer Him to one of a thousand ?”. “ For what man is he that liveth, and sinneth not ?"
To one thus inquiring, and thus fearing, and thus seeking after a righteousness which he has not, is the invitation given, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour
5 Deut. iv. 29.
4 1 John ii. 17.
6 Micah vi. 6-8.
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He hears the offer, made by one who cannot disappoint or fail; an offer confirmed by the gracious assurance that “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all ;" * an offer grounded upon that “full, and perfect, and sufficient sacrifice” inade for the sins of all men :' and thus his desire is filled, his need is satisfied ; and he experiences a “joy and peace ” which nothing else can give to sinful man, when conscious of his sinfulness.
It is easy to suppose the case of another, hungering after that “ righteousness and true holiness” which he knows must belong to all God's children, yet finding “a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, so that when he would do good, evil is present with him.”! Suppose him to exclaim in the spirit of the apostle Paul, “ Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” The same invitation meets and comforts him : “ Come unto me, all
that are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest unto your souls :" rest, not merely from the guilt and condemnation, but from the power and dominion of sin. For “ for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil :"2 and that they who are contending against the malice of that adversary, may have one through whom they may be “ more than conquerors :" made able to “ do all things through his Spirit which dwelleth in them.
Therefore the Lord declares, Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness. “ The kingdom of heaven is at hand :” and they shall be filled with all that they desire.
But it is not for the present world that the desire of righteousness is excited ; neither is it in the present world that it can be completely satisfied. Here there is much to disturb it both within and without the man. The corruption that is in the world, makes our life on
7 Matt. xi. 28. 8 Is. liii. 6.
1 Rom. vii. 21-25,
9 See Heb. xy. 12-14, 2 John iii. 8.
earth a warfare, even to the end : a warfare, indeed, of which the success is secure, as long as the exertion is sincere and earnest : but warfare is not rest, nor can imperfection satisfy one who is striving after perfection. Therefore our Lord pronounces the lovers of righteousness blessed, because their affections are directed towards a state in which their desire shall have its perfect consummation : are preparing them for a world in which “dwelleth righteousness : not, as here, for a season, or in a few favoured spots, but where there shall be no more sin. Then shall the lovers of righteousness “ shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father ;"* and the day-spring which enlightens them shall be never overspread with clouds, never overcome by night, but know no going down.
THE BLESSING OF THE MERCIFUL AND THE PURE IN HEART.
7. “Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy.
WHEN the mother of two of the apostles asked of our Lord in their behalf that they might sit, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom ; He replied, that such a place could only belong to those " for whom it was prepared of the Father.”. The lowest place in his kingdom, much less the highest, could not be given even to an apostle, if he had not the proper features of the Christian character; if, for instance, he had not mercy, and if he had not purity. If he had not purity, he could be little fitted for the presence of Him whose name is
I See Ch. xx. 23, &c.
3 2 Pet. iii. 13.
4 Ch. xiii. 43.