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Holy, who cannot look
evil. If he had not mercy, he could not rightly understand his own condition, his undeservings, or the goodness which had spared him.
To be merciful, is, first, to be kind, tender-hearted, ready to feel for the wants and distresses of others, and, if possible, to relieve them. And this must be the disposition of every man who has a proper sense of the mercy shown towards himself. Without it, he can be no disciple of the Lord Jesus; who, “when He was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through
" Therefore the merciful shall obtain mercy, because they have this same spirit, “the spirit of Christ.” As He himself said, “ By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one towards another. “ This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'
The mercy, however, required by the Gospel, proceeds farther. It is to be forgiving, "if a man have a quarrel against any :" to cultivate sentiments the most opposite to those then prevailing in Judea : and instead of hating an enemy, whilst a friend was to be loved, to do good to them that hate us; to pray for the persecutor and the slanderer : as expressed by St. Paul, and enforced by the proper sanction;
66 Let all bitterness, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice ; and be
kind to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
It is this thought, that he hopes through Christ to be forgiven, which makes the Christian ready to forgive. If a man be severe towards a fellow-creature on account of a trifling debt which he has against him, how can he expect his heavenly Father to excuse
3 John xiii. 35. 4 Ib. xv. 13, 14. 5 See v. 43.
Eph. iv. 31.
2 Cor. viii. 9.
him the “ ten thousand talents” which he would be found to owe, if God were to reckon with him, and enter into judgment with him ? As our Lord himself explained his precept, “ Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me; shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee ?”?
So that the unmerciful are disqualified for the favour of God: and the merciful obtain mercy, not merely as a reward for self-denial, and restraint of evil passions, but because they have been brought, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to that state of mind which indicates a right reception of the gospel. “Even as Christ forgave them, so also do they.
And if the quality of mercy is essential to show that a man has drunk of the waters of life, so is purity of heart essential to his admission into the kingdom of heaven. The pure in heart shall see God. It follows, the impure shall not see Him; shall be “shut out for ever from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of
"For this is the will of God, even our sanctification.” This is his will in our redemption, in our calling, our baptism, our profession, that his peculiar people should be cleared from all defilement of flesh and spirit, and bring every thought into conformity with the obedience of Christ. In that great and eternal city represented in a vision to St. John,
descending out of heaven from God, and having the glory of God;" there is no inheritance for the impure and sensual. 66 There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth.”! Lord, who shall enter into thy tabernacle, or who shall ascend into thy holy hill ? Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart." Even they “ that crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts,” and “through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body." 7 Ch. xviii. 23-35.
9 Rev. xxi. 10, &c.
8 Col. iji. 13. i Ps. xxiv, 3, 2 Rom. viii. 13.
Those who strive to attain this purity, have a difficult warfare to maintain. They are forced to keep under their body, and bring it into subjection,” that the flesh may be subdued to the spirit, and sin gain no dominion over them. But this they submit to,“ purifying their hearts by faith ;"— faith bringing the future before ther minds with so much clearness as to enable them to look beyond the present world, and live for that which is to come. For the promise is, they shall see God. It is not a promise altogether reserved for another world : for even here God refreshes them with his presence, and encourages them by a consciousness of his favour. But they still look forward to the time, when the promise shall be literally performed: when a new heaven and a new earth shall be opened to them, for “ the first heaven and the first earth shall pass away. And a voice shall be heard from heaven, “ Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”+
MATT. v. 9.
9. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children
of God.” •WHEN our Lord said, “I am not come to send peace upon earth, but a sword,” He spoke not of the purpose of the gospel, but of its abuse : He spoke of its effect by means of men's evil passions. But its purpose is peace : and when it is rightly received and practised, its effect will be peace in the individual heart, and peace among mankind. A blessing is here pronounced on those who promote this ; not only, like the meek, bear injuries with patience, or like the merciful, forgive them, but are active in healing disputes and preventing quarrels. To hinder evil, is to do good. Quarrels generate much evil : anger, malice, hatred, spring from them: so that whoever prevents or reconciles disagreements, does good by restraining evil.
1 See Ch. x. 34.
8 Rev. xxi. 1.
4 Rev. xxi. 3.
To be a peacemaker, a man must be candid and discreet; ready with that “ soft answer which turneth away wrath.” Disputes commonly proceed from the unlicensed, unbridled use of the tongue. “A froward man soweth_strife ; and a whisperer separateth chief friends.” Things are said by one which had better not be said : and repeated by another, which ought not to be repeated. To restrain this license, is to be a peacemaker. “He that covereth a transgression, seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter, separateth very friends.": “ A tale-bearer revealeth secrets ; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. Many stories which disturb peace
have no foundation. Many things that are not untrue, may yet be properly left untold : charity will rather hide than circulate them. The fire which is let alone, will smoulder and be extinguished ; but when stirred, it bursts into a blaze. Many things, too, which appear unwarrantable, may be explained when the circumstances belonging to them are known. The peacemaker keeps this in view, and by that “word in season,” which is good,” restrains those who are brethren, those who ought to preserve that union which springs from a common faith and mutual responsibility, from doing wrong to one another.
2. Further: to be a peacemaker, a man must be a peace-keeper: and for that purpose he must sometimes consent to restrain his own feelings, and disregard his own interests. If there is to be concord, there must
2 Prov. xv. 1.
3 Ib. xvi. 28.
4 Ib. xvii. 9.
5 Ib. xi. 13.
be forbearance : if there is to be good will, there must be gentleness and lovingkindness: if there is to be reconciliation, there must be concession. “A wrathful man stirreth up strife; but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” The axe must be laid to the root of the tree. St. Paul says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.”
Thus he prepares the ground for peace, and sows the seeds of
peace ; but peace can never flourish upon the soil of pride, or grow
from the stock of selfishness; neither can strife be lopped off, like an unprofitable branch, whilst the root remains unsound. The apostle asked of the Lord Jesus, “ Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me,
; and I forgive him ? Until seven times ? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but until seventy times seven. This required of himself restraint and forbearance: obliged him to keep his angry passions in subjection. Abraham was a successful peacemaker, when he put an end to the strife which had arisen between his own herdsmen, and the servants of his nephew Lot. But he would not have avoided contention, if he had not been ready to make a sacrifice : if he had asserted his own rights to the full, and shown no disposition to concede. He left to the younger what the elder might have claimed ; and gave up to Lot the well watered plains of Jordan, content to take for himself the right hand or the left, according as his nephew might be desirous. St. Paul too was a peacemaker between Philemon and the slave who had deserted him. And he also was prepared to make a sacrifice, writing to Philemon,
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I, Paul, have written it with mine own hand, I will
it. And therefore are the peacemakers called the children 6 Prov. xv. 18.
7 Phil. ii. 3. 8 Ch. xviii. 21, &c. 9 Gen. xiii. 1-11. | Philemon xviii. 19.