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of God, because they have this spirit, this disposition of love and forbearance which He implants in his children, and in which they bear the likeness of their heavenly Father. For He himself is the great peacemaker. When all mankind were at enmity with Him, alienated from Him in their minds and practices, He found a way of reconciliation; and the first announcement of the gospel was “ peace on earth, good will towards men. And when “ He spared not his own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” He showed an example of the spirit of the true peacemaker: He showed what those must be, who desire to be “ followers of God, as dear children.” And blessed are the peacemakers, because they are his children; born “after his image;" and therefore are not children only, “but heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ :"3 a place is prepared for them in that everlasting kingdom, where all is peace, and all is love; and where the wonder will be, that the trifles which now agitate the heart, and are thought sufficient to disturb the quiet of a neighbourhood, or the comfort of a family, could possess the power of distracting souls which are born for eternity. Moses said to his countrymen, as they strove together, “Sirs, ye are brethren ; why do ye wrong one towards another ?”4
And so we might say to all angry and contentious spirits : “Sirs, ye are immortal beings; why dispute ye about the perishing concerns of this transitory world ?” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and all lesser things will vanish before that great object, as the mists of night disappear at the rising of the sun.
2 Luke ii. 14.
3 Rom. viii. 17.
4 Acts vii, 26.
PERSECUTION FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE.
MATT. y. 10–12.
10. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake : for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When the patriarch Joseph was falsely accused and cast into prison, because he refused to be “ partaker of another's sin," he was persecuted for righteousness' sake.' So was Micaiah, at the court of king Ahab, when he refused to “declare good unto the king, but what the Lord said unto him, that would he speak.” the king said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's
say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come again in peace. There are other persecutions for righteousness' sake which the people of God have always been called to bear, and arising out of the same causes ;--the reproach, the scorn, the enmity of those who live on different principles. For as “ the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and these are contrary one to the other ;" so they who “ live after the flesh,” are contrary to those who are “led by the Spirit, and they do not agree together." Our Lord has shown the reason, when he said to his brethren, at that time not believing in Him: “ The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil." +
So Joseph testified, when he revolted from wickedness : so Micaiah testified, when he foretold Ahab's ruin: so the just man testifies, when he shuns dishonesty and fraud : so the godly man testifies,
2 1 Kings xxii. 13—28. 3 See Gal. iv. 29.
1 Gen. xxxix, 20.
4 John vii. 7.
when he walks in the fear of the Lord : so the temperate man testifies, when he restrains his appetites, and “keeps his body in subjection."
And against such witnesses for righteousness, a feeling often rises from those of a contrary part like that which Ahab avowed against Micaiah, “I hate him, because he prophesies not good concerning me, but evil.”
Whatever the sentiments of men towards such may be, they are assured of the favour of God. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. For the sake of this, they resign what is gratifying to our nature, the good word and the good
will of others : they show a proof of faith which God will not leave unnoticed or unrecompensed, and they love the praise of God more than the praise of men : and his praise will be theirs, when the favour of all the world besides will be of no avail.
This consolation the Lord has bequeathed to his disciples of every age: for it will be needed in every age. They who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," will always find much in the world to discourage and oppose them.
But his apostles and followers in that day, required a still fuller assurance and a brighter hope ; for they would have much more to encounter, and much more to undergo. And to them He says, 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. 12. “ Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
It was thus that in former days the servants of God had been treated. As the parable represents it,' 6. The husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.” And so he himself was dealt with ; and warned them, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have
5 Ch. xxi. 35.
| 8 Rev. vii. 13. 9 Acts v. 40, 41.
called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household ?” By all this they were not to be deterred. “ Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”
But farther, instead of fearing, or being deterred, they were to rejoice, and be exceeding glad for as their trial, so would be their reward. They should belong to that company described in the book of Revelation; concerning whom it was asked, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation; and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple ; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."8
Having this encouragement, the apostles went forth as lambs amongst wolves,” and pursued their course with joy, maintaining the faith required of them. When brought before the chief priests and elders, and beaten, and forbidden to “speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus,” they "departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. When Paul and Silas had been cruelly scourged by order of the magistrates at Philippi, and thrust into the inner prison, instead of lamenting their hard fate, or complaining of the cause which had brought them to such trials, “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them.” They “ thought it not strange” that they were tried with this fiery trial ; “but rejoiced, inasmuch as they were partakers of Christ's sufferings ; that when his glory should be revealed, they might be glad also with exceeding joy." 6 Ch. x. 24, 25.
2 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13.
7 Ib. 28.
This it is, to be guided by the Christian's motto, and to “walk by faith, and not by sight :”” to look on all events which come upon us in the way not as they are profitable or unprofitable now, not as they are agreeable or disagreeable to flesh and blood, not as they affect our present interests or comforts, but as they bear upon eternity : as they will appear in the light of that day, when whosoever has confessed the Son of God “ before men, him will He confess also before his Father which is in heaven.”4 “ What shall it profit a man,” to have possessed all the happiness which this world can give him, if in the end it leads to everlasting misery? What shall it disturb a man, though he lose all which in this world is gratifying, if the end is “fulness of joy, and pleasures for ever
The Lord saw this clearly, which we see only through a glass, darkly:" and therefore He said to those who for his sake were about to suffer reproach, persecution, a life of hardships, and often a death of torment ;-Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. The “light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST AN EXAMPLE TO THE WORLD.
MATT. v. 13-16.
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.” THOSE who on this occasion were immediately around the Lord, were his disciples. The multitude who 8 2 Cor. v. 7
4 Ch. x. 32. 5 2 Cor. iv. 17.