I here present you with a subject full of sweet variety. This Sermon of Christ on the Mount is a piece of spiritual needlework, wrought with divers colors. Here is both usefulness and sweetness. In this portion of Holy Scripture, you have a summary of true religion—the Bible epitomized. Here is a garden of delight, where you may pluck those flowers which will deck the hidden man of your heart. Here is the golden key which will open the gate of Paradise! Here is the conduit of the Gospel, running wine to nourish such as are poor in spirit and pure in heart. Here is the rich cabinet wherein the Pearl of Blessedness is locked up. Here is the golden pot in which is that manna which will feed and revive the soul unto everlasting life. Here is a way chalked out to the Holy of Holies.
Reader, how happy were it if, while others take up their time and thoughts about secular things which perish in the using—you could mind eternity and be guided by this Scripture-clue which leads you to the Beatific Vision. If, after God has set life before you—you indulge your sensual appetite and still court your lusts, how inexcusable will be your neglect, and how inexpressible your misery!
May the Lord grant that while you have an opportunity, and the
wind serves you, you may not lie idle at anchor, and when it is too
late begin to hoist up sails for Heaven. Oh now, Christian, let
your loins be girt, and your lamps burning, that when the Lord
Jesus, your blessed Bridegroom, shall knock, you may be ready to go
in with Him to the marriage-supper, which shall be the prayer of
him who is,
Yours in all true affection and devotion,
"When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them." Matthew 5:1, 2
The blessed evangelist Matthew, the penman of this sacred history, was at first by profession, a tax collector; and Christ, having called him from the custom-house, made him a gatherer of souls. This holy man in the first chapter records Christ's birth and genealogy. In the second chapter, he records Christ's dignity—a star ushers in the wise men to him, and as a king he is presented with gold and frankincense and myrrh (2:9-11). In the third chapter the evangelist records his baptism. In the fourth, his temptations; in the fifth, his preaching, which chapter is like a rich gold mine. Every verse has some gold in it.
There are four things in this chapter which offer themselves to our view:
1. The Preacher
2. The Pulpit
3. The Occasion
4. The Sermon
1. The Preacher. Jesus Christ. The best of preachers. 'He went up.' He in whom there was a combination of all virtues, a constellation of all beauties. He whose lips were not only sweet as the honey-comb, but did drop as the honey-comb. His words—an oracle; his works—a miracle; his life—a pattern; his death—a sacrifice. 'He went up into a mountain and taught.' Jesus Christ was every way ennobled and qualified for the work of the ministry.
 Christ was an INTELLIGENT preacher. He had 'the Spirit without measure' (John 3:34) and knew how to speak a word in due season—when to humble, and when to comfort. We cannot know all the faces of our hearers. Christ knew the hearts of his hearers! He understood what doctrine would best suit them, as the farmer can tell what sort of grain is proper for such-and-such a soil.
 Christ was a POWERFUL preacher. 'He spoke with authority' (Matthew 7:29). He could set men's sins before them and show them their very hearts! 'Come, see a man who told me all things that I ever did!' (John 4:29). That is the best looking-glass, not which is most richly set with pearl—but which shows the truest face! Christ was a preacher to the conscience. He breathed as much zeal as eloquence. He often touched upon the heart-strings. What is said of Luther is more truly applicable to Christ. He spoke 'as if he had been within a man'. He could drive the wedge of his doctrine in the most knotty piece. He was able with his two-edged sword to pierce a heart of stone! 'Never man spoke like this man!' (John 7:46)
 Christ was a SUCCESSFUL preacher. He had the art of converting souls. 'Many believed on him.' (John 10:42), yes, people of rank and quality. 'Among the chief rulers many believed' (John 12:42). He who had 'grace poured into his lips' (Psalm 45:2), could pour grace into his hearers' hearts. He had the key of David in his hand, and when he pleased—he opened the hearts of men, and made way both for himself and his doctrine to enter. If he blew the trumpet, his veryenemies would come under his banner! Upon his summons, none dare but surrender.
 Christ was a LAWFUL preacher. As he had his unction from his Father, so also his mission. 'The Father who sent me, bears witness of me' (John 8:18). Christ, in whom were all perfections concentred—yet he would be solemnly sealed and inaugurated into his ministerial office—as well as his mediatory office.
If Jesus Christ would not enter upon the work of the ministry without a commission, how absurdly impudent are those who without any warrant dare invade this holy function! There must be a lawful admission of men into the ministry. 'No man takes this honor to himself—but he who is called of God, as was Aaron' (Hebrews 5:4). Our Lord Christ gave apostles and prophets—who were extraordinary ministers; so he gives pastors and teachers who were initiated and made in an ordinary way (Ephesians 4:11). He will have a gospel ministry perpetuated; 'Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world' (Matthew 28:20). Surely, there is as much need of ordination now, as in Christ's time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which have now ceased.
But why should not the gospel ministry be open to all people? 'Has the Lord spoken only by Moses?' (Numbers 12:2). Why should not one preach as well as another? I answer—Because God (who is the God of order) has made the work of the ministry a select, distinct office from any other. As in the body natural the members have a distinct office—the eye is to see, the hand to work. You may as well say, 'why should not the hand see—as well as the eye?' Because God has made the distinction. He has put the seeing faculty into the eye—and not the hand. So here, God has made a distinction between the work of the ministry and other work.
Where is this distinction? We find in Scripture a distinction between pastor and people. 'The elders (or ministers) I exhort … Feed the flock of God which is among you' (1 Peter 5:2). If anyone may preach, by the same rule all may, and then what will become of the apostle's distinction? What would the flock of God be—if all were pastors?
God has cut out the minister's work—which is proper for him and does not belong to any other. 'Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine … give yourself wholly to them', or, as it is in the Greek, 'Be wholly in them' (1 Timothy 4:13-15). This charge is peculiar to the minister and does not concern any other. It is not spoken to the tradesman that he should give himself wholly to doctrine and exhortation. No! let him look to his shop. It is not spoken to the ploughmanthat he should give himself wholly to preaching. No! let him give himself to his plough. It is the minister's charge. The apostle speaks to Timothy and, in him, to the rest who had the hands of the elders laid on them. And 'Study to show yourself approved … , a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth' (2 Timothy 2:15). This is spoken peculiarly to the minister. Everyone who can read the word aright cannot divide the word aright. So that the work of the ministry does not lie open to all people; it is a select, peculiar work. As none might touch the ark but the priests—so none may touch this temple-office but such as are called to it.
But if a man has gifts, is not this sufficient? I answer, No! As grace is not sufficient to make a minister, so neither are gifts. The Scripture puts a difference between gifting and sending. 'How shall they preach unless they are sent?' (Romans 10:15). If gifts were enough to constitute a minister, the apostle would have said, 'How shall they preach unless they be gifted? But he says 'unless they are sent?'
We see this in other callings—gifts do not make a magistrate. The attorney who pleads at the bar may have as good gifts as the judge who sits upon the bench—but he must have a commission before he sit as judge. If it be thus in civil matters, much more in sacred matters, which are, as Bucer says, 'things of the highest importance'. Those therefore, who usurp the ministerial work without any special designation and appointment, reveal more pride than zeal. They act out of their sphere and are guilty of theft. They steal upon a people, and, as they come without a call from God, so they stay without a blessing to the people. 'I sent them not, therefore they shall not profit this people at all' (Jeremiah 23:32). And so much for the first, the preacher.
2. The pulpit where Christ preached. 'He went up on the mountain.'
The law was first given on the mount, and here Christ expounds it on the mount. This mount, as is supposed by the learned—was Mount Tabor. It was a convenient place to speak in, being seated above the people, and in regard of the great confluence of hearers.
3. The occasion of Christ's ascending the mount: 'When Jesus saw the crowds.'
The people thronged to hear Christ, and he would not dismiss the congregation without a sermon—but 'seeing the multitude he went up on the mountain'. Jesus Christ came from heaven—to work for souls. Preaching was his business. The people could not be so desirous to hear—as he was to preach. He who treated faint bodies with compassion (Matthew 15:32), much more pitied dead souls. It was his 'food and drink, to do his Father's will (John 4:34). 'When Jesus saw the crowds', he goes up into the mount and preaches. This he did not only for the consolation of his hearers—but for the imitation of his ministers.
From whence observe—that Christ's MINISTERS according to Christ's pattern must embrace every opportunity of doing good to souls. Praying andpreaching and studying must be our work. 'Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season' (2 Timothy 4:2). Peter, seeing the multitude, lets down the net and, at one draught, catches three thousand souls! (Acts 2:41). How zealously industrious have God's champions been in former ages in fulfilling the work of their ministry—as we read of Chrysostom, Augustine, Basil the Great, Calvin, Bucer and others—who for the work of Christ 'were near unto death'. The reasons why the ministers of Christ (according to his pattern) should be ambitiously desirous of all opportunities for soul-service are:
 Their commission: God has entrusted them as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador waits for a day of audience, and as soon as a day is granted, he faithfully and impartially delivers the mind of his prince. Thus Christ's ministers, having a commission delegated to them to negotiate for souls, should be glad when there is a day of audience, that they may impart the mind and will of Christ to his people.
 Their titles: Ministers are called God's sowers (1 Corinthians 9:11). Therefore they must upon all occasions be scattering the blessed seed of the Word. The sower must go forth and sow; yes, though the seed falls upon stones, as usually it does—yet we must disseminate and scatter the seed of the Word upon stony hearts, because 'even from these stones, God is able to raise up children' to himself.
Ministers are called stars. Therefore they must shine by word and doctrine in the firmament of the church. Thus our Lord Christ has set them a pattern in the text: 'When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain.' Here was a light set upon a hill, the bright morning star shining to all who were round about. Christ calls his ministers 'the light of the world' (Matthew 5:14). Therefore they must be always giving forth their luster. Their light must not go out until their last breath—or until violent death as an extinguisher puts it out.
 Christ's ministers must take all occasions of doing good to others, in regard of the work which they are about—which is saving of souls. What a precious thing is a soul! Christ takes, as it were, a pair of scales in his hands and he puts the world in one scale and the soul in the other—and the soul outweighs! (Matthew 16:26). The soul is of a noble origin. It is a flower of eternity; here, in the bud; in heaven, fully ripe. The soul is one of the richest pieces of embroidery which God ever made—the understanding bespangled with light, the will invested with liberty, the affections like musical instruments tuned with the finger of the Holy Spirit. Now if the souls of men are of so noble an extract and made capable of glory, oh how zealously industrious should Christ's ministers be to save these souls! If Christ spent his blood for souls, well may we spend our sweat! It was Augustine's prayer that Christ might find him at his coming—either praying or preaching. What a sad sight is it to see precious souls, as so many pearls and diamonds—cast into the dead sea of hell!
 The ministers of Christ, 'seeing the multitude', must 'ascend the mount'—because there are so many emissaries of Satan who lie in wait to catch and destroy souls! How the old serpent casts out of his mouth floods of water after the woman to drown her! (Revelation 12:15). What floods of heresy have been poured out in city and country, which have overflowed the banks not only of religion—but morality and civility! Ignatius calls error 'the invention of the devil', and Bernard calls it 'a sweet poison'. Men's ears, like sponges, have sucked in this poison! Never were the devil's commodities more vendible in England, than at present. A fine tongue, can sell bad wares. The Jesuit can color over his lies, and dress error in truth's coat! A weak brain is soon intoxicated. When flattery andsubtlety in the speaker, meet with simplicity in the hearer—they easily become an easy prey. The Romish whore entices many to drink down the poison of her idolatry and filthiness, because it is given in 'a golden cup' (Revelation 17:4). If all who have the plague of the head should die, it would much increase the tally of mortality.
Now if there are so many emissaries of Satan abroad, who labor to make proselytes to the church of Rome, how it concerns those whom God has put into the work of the ministry—to bestir themselves and lay hold on all opportunities, that by their spiritual antidotes they may 'convert sinners from the error of their way and save their souls from death!' (James 5:20). Ministers must not only be 'pastors'—but fighters and warriors! In one hand they must hold the bread of life and 'feed the flock of God'; in the other hand, they must hold the sword of the Spirit and fight against those errors which carry damnation in them.
 The ministers of Christ should wait for all opportunities of soul-service, because the preaching of the Word meets so many adverse forces which hinder the progress and success of it. Never did a pilot meet with so many crosswinds in a voyage, as the spiritual pilots of God's church do, when they are transporting souls to heaven.
Some hearers have bad memories (James 1:25). Their memories are like leaking vessels. All the precious wine of holy doctrine that is poured in—runs out immediately. Ministers cannot by study find a truth—as fast as others can lose it. If the food does not stay in the stomach, it can never give nourishment. If a truth delivered does not stay in the memory, we can never be, as the apostle says, 'nourished up in the words of faith' (1 Timothy 4:6). How often does the devil, that fowl of the air, pick up the good seed that is sown! If people suffer at the hands of thieves, they tell everyone and make their complaint they have been robbed; but there is a worse thief they are not aware of! How many sermons has the devil stolen from them! How many truths have they been robbed of, which might have been so many cordials! Now if the Word preached slides so fast out of the memory, ministers had need the oftener to go up the preaching mount, that at last some truth may abide and be as 'a nail fastened'.
The ears of many of our hearers are stopped up with earth! I mean the cares of the world, that the Word preached will not enter, according to that in the parable, 'Hearing, they hear not' (Matthew 13:13). We read of Saul, his eyes were open—yet 'he saw no man' (Acts 9:8). A strange paradox! And is it not as strange that men's ears should be open—yet 'in hearing hear not?' They mind not what is said: 'They sit before you as my people—but their heart goes after their covetousness' (Ezekiel 33:31). Many sit and stare the minister in the face—yet scarcely understand a word he says. They are thinking of their wares and are often casting up accounts in the church. If a man is in a grinding-mill, though you speak ever so loud to him—he does not hear you for the noise of the mill. We preach to men about matters of salvation—but the grinding-mill of worldly business makes such a noise that they cannot hear! 'In hearing, they hear not'. It being thus, ministers who are called 'sons of thunder' had need often ascend the mount and 'lift up their voice like a trumpet' (Isaiah 58:1) that the deaf ear may be cleaned and unstopped, and may hear 'what the Spirit says unto the churches' (Revelation 2:7).
As some have earth in their ears—so others have a stone in their hearts! They make 'their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear' (Zechariah 7:12). The ministers of Christ therefore must be frequently brandishing the sword of the Spirit and striking at men's sins, that, if possible, they may at last pierce the heart of stone! When the earth is scorched with the sun, it is so hard and crusted, that one shower of rain will not soften it. There must be shower after shower before it will be either moist or fertile. Such a hardened piece, is the heart of man naturally. It is so stiffened with the scorchings of lust, that there must be 'precept upon precept' (Isaiah 28:10). Our doctrine must 'distill as the dew, as the small rain on the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass' (Deuteronomy 32:2).
 Christ's ministers, according to the example of their Lord and Master, should take all occasions of doing good, not only in regard of God's glory—but their own comfort. What triumph is it, and cause for gladness, when a minister can say on his deathbed, 'Lord, I have done the work which you gave me to do'—I have been laboring for souls! When a minister comes to the mount of glory, the heavenly mount, it will be a great comfort to him that he has been so often upon the preaching mount. Certainly if the angels in heaven rejoice at the conversion of a sinner (Luke 15:7,10), how shall that minister rejoice in heaven over every soul that he has been instrumental to convert! As it shall add a member to Christ's body, so a jewel to a minister's crown. 'Those who are wise', or as the original carries it, 'those who are teachers shall shine (not as lamps or candles, but) as stars (Daniel 12:3); not as planets—but as fixed stars in the firmament of glory forever!
And though 'Israel is not gathered'—yet shall God's ministers 'be glorious in the eyes of the Lord' (Isaiah 49:5). God will reward them not according to theirsuccess—but their diligence. When they are a 'savor of death' to men—yet they are a 'sweet savor' to God. In an orchard the laborer who plants a tree is rewarded, as well as he who fells a tree. The doctor's bill is paid, even though the patient dies.
First, let me crave liberty to speak a word to the Elishas—my honored brethren in the ministry. You are engaged in a glorious service. God has put great renown upon you. He has entrusted you with two most precious jewels—his truths and the souls of his people. Never was this honor conferred upon any angel—to convert souls! What princely dignity can parallel this? The pulpit is higher than the throne, for a true minister represents no less than God himself. 'As though God did beseech you by us, we beg you in Christ's stead—be reconciled to God' (2 Corinthians 5:20). Give me permission to say as the apostle, 'I magnify my office' (Romans 11:13). Whatever our persons are—the office is sacred. The Christian ministry is the most honorable employment in the world. Jesus Christ has graced this calling by his entering into it. Other men work in their trade; but ministers work with God. 'We are laborers together with God' (1 Corinthians 3:9). O high honor! God and his ministers have one and the same work. They both negotiate about souls. Let the sons of the prophets wear this as their crown and diadem!
But while I tell you of your dignity—do not forget your duty. Imitate this blessed pattern in the text, 'When Jesus saw the crowds—He opened His mouth and began to teach them'. He took all occasions of preaching. Sometimes he taught in the temple (Mark 14:49); sometimes in a ship (Mark 4:1), and here, upon themount. His lips were a tree of life which fed many. How often did he neglect his food—that he might feast others with his doctrine! Let all the ministers of Christ tread in his steps! Make Christ not only your Savior—but your example. Allow no opportunities to slip away, wherein you may be helpful to the souls of others. Be not content to go to heaven yourselves—but be such shining lamps, that you may light others to heaven with you. I will conclude with that of the apostle: 'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord' (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Secondly, let me turn myself to the FLOCK of God. If ministers must take all opportunities to preach—you must take all opportunities to hear. If there were twice or thrice a week a certain sum of money to be distributed to all comers, then people would resort there. Now think thus with yourselves— when the Word of God is preached, the bread of life is distributed, which is more precious than 'thousands of gold and silver' (Psalm 119:72). In the Word preached, heaven and salvation is offered to you. In this field, the pearl of great price is hidden. How should you 'flock like doves' to the windows of the sanctuary (Isaiah 60:8)! We read the gate of the temple was called 'beautiful' (Acts 3:2). The gate of God's house is the beautiful gate. Lie at 'these posts of wisdom's doors' (Proverbs 8 34).
Not only hear the Word preached—but ENCOURAGE those ministers who do preach, by liberal maintaining of them. Though I hope all who have God's Urim and Thummim written upon them, can say, as the apostle, 'I seek not what is yours—but you' (2 Corinthians 12:14)—yet that scripture is still canonical, 'So has the Lord ordained, that those who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel' (1 Corinthians 9:14). Are not laborers in a vineyard, maintained by their labors? The apostle puts the question, 'Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? (1 Corinthians 9:7). Hypocrites love a cheap religion. They like a gospel which will cost them nothing. They are content—so long as they may have golden bags, to have wooden priests. How many by saving their purses—have lost their souls! Is it not pity, that the fire on God's altar should go out for lack of pouring in a little golden oil? David would not offer that to God, which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).
Encourage God's ministers by your fruitfulness under their labors. When ministers are upon the 'mount', let them not sow upon the rocks. What cost has God laid out upon this city! Never, I believe, since the apostles' times, was there a more learned, orthodox, powerful ministry than now. God's ministers are called stars (Revelation 1:20). In this city every morning a star appears, besides the bright constellation on the Lord's Day. Oh you that feed in the green pastures of ordinances—be fat and fertile. You who are planted in the courts of God, flourish in the courts of God (Psalm 92:13). How sad will it be with a people, who shall go laden to hell with Gospel blessings! The best way to encourage your ministers is to let them see the travail of their souls in your new birth. It is a great comfort when a minister not only woos souls—but wins souls! 'He who wins souls is wise' (Proverbs 11:30). This is a minister's glory. 'For what is our joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not you our crown?' (1 Thessalonians 2:19). A successful preacher wears two crowns, a crown of righteousness in heaven, and a crown of rejoicing here upon earth. 'Are not you our crown?'
Encourage your ministers by praying for them. Their work is great. It is a work which will take up their head and heart. It is a work fitter for angels—than men.'Who is sufficient for these things?' (2 Corinthians 2:16). Oh pray for them! Christ indeed, when he ascended the mount and was to preach, needed none of the people's prayers for him. He had a sufficient stock—the divine nature to supply him. But all his under-officers in the ministry need prayer. If Paul, who abounded in the graces of the Spirit and supernatural revelations, begged prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:25), then surely those ministers need prayer, who do not have such revelations.
And pray for your ministers that God will direct them what to preach, that he will cut out their work for them. 'Go preach … the preaching that I bid you' (Jonah 3:2). It is a great matter to preach suitable truths; there are 'acceptable words' (Ecclesiastes 12:10).
Pray that God will go forth with their labors—or else 'they toil and catch nothing'. God's Spirit must fill the sails of our ministry. It is not the hand which scatters the seed, which makes it spring up—but the dews and influences of heaven. So it is not our preaching—but the divine influence of the Spirit, which makes grace grow in men's hearts. We are but pipes and organs. It is God's Spirit blowing through us, which makes the preaching of the Word by a divine enchantment—allure souls to Christ. Ministers are but candles—to light you to Christ. The Spirit is the loadstone—to draw you. All the good done by our ministry is 'due to the Lord's excellent and effectual working' (Bucer).
Oh then pray for us, that God will make his work prosper in our hands. This may be one reason why the Word preached does not profit more—because people do not pray more. Perhaps you complain the tool is dull—the minister is dead and cold. You should have whetted and sharpened him by your prayer! If you would have the door of a blessing opened to you through our ministry, you must unlock it by the key of prayer!
Having done with the occasion of the sermon—I come now to the sermon itself. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit'. Christ does not begin his Sermon on the Mount, as the Law was delivered on the mount—with commands and threatenings, the trumpet sounding, the fire flaming, the earth quaking, and the hearts of the Israelites shaking for fear! But our Savior (whose lips 'dropped as the honeycomb') begins with promises and blessings. So sweet and ravishing was the doctrine of this heavenly Orator, that, like music, it was able to charm the most savage natures, yes, to draw hearts of stone to him!
To begin then with this first word, 'Blessed'—or 'Happy'. If there be any blessedness in knowledge, it must needs be in the knowledge of blessedness. For the illustration of this, I shall lay down two principles:
The fullness of blessedness, lies in the future.
That the godly are in some sense already blessed.
A. The fullness of blessedness, lies in the future! The people of God meet with many knotty difficulties and sinking discouragements in the way of religion. Their march is not only tedious, but dangerous, and their hearts are ready to despond. It will not be amiss therefore to set the crown of blessedness before them—to animate their courage and to inflame their zeal. How many scriptures bring this olive-branch in their mouth—the tidings of eternal blessedness to believers! 'Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he comes, shall find so doing' (Matthew 24:46). 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father' (Matthew 25:34).Blessedness is the perfection of a rational creature. It is the whetstone of a Christian's industry, the height of his ambition, the flower of his joy. Blessedness is the desire of all men. Aquinas calls it the 'ultimate end'. This is the 'bulls-eye' which every man aims to hit; to this center all the lines are drawn.
In what does blessedness (happiness) consist? Millions of men mistake both the nature of blessedness, and the way there. Some of the learned have set down two hundred and eighty eight different opinions about blessedness, and all have shot wide of the mark. I shall show wherein it does not consist, and then wherein it does consist.
(1) Wherein blessedness does NOT consist.
It does not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Happiness cannot by any art or chemistry, be extracted from the world. Christ does not say, 'Blessed are the rich', or 'Blessed are the noble.' Yet too many idolize these things. Man, by the fall, has not only lost his crown—but his wisdom. How ready is he to terminate his happiness in external worldly things! Which makes me call to mind that definition which some of the heathen philosophers give of blessedness, that it was to have a sufficiency of subsistence and to thrive well in the world. And are there not many who pass for Christians, who seem to be of this philosophical opinion? If they have but worldly accommodations, they are ready to sing a requiem to their souls and say with that brutish fool in the gospel, 'Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years, take your ease … ' (Luke 12:19).
'What is more shameful', says Seneca, 'than to equate the rational soul's good with that which is irrational.' Alas, the tree of blessedness does not grow in an earthly paradise. Has not God 'cursed the ground' because of sin? (Genesis 3:17). Yet many are digging for happiness here—as if they would fetch a blessing out of a curse! A man may as well think to extract oil out of a flint, or fire out of water—as blessedness out of earthly things.
King Solomon had more worldly things, than any man. He was the most magnificent prince who ever held the scepter. For his parentage: he sprang from the royal line, not only that line from which many kings came—but of which Christ himself came. Jesus Christ descended from Solomon's line and race, so that for heraldry and nobility none could show a fairer coat of arms. For the situation of his palace: it was in Jerusalem, the princess and paragon of the earth. Jerusalem, for its renown, was called 'the city of God'. It was the most famous metropolis in the world. For wealth: his crown was hung full of jewels. He had treasures of gold and of pearl and 'made silver to be as common as stones' (1 Kings 10:27). For worldly joy: he had the flower and quintessence of all delights—sumptuous fare, stately edifices, vineyards, farms, all sorts of music to enchant and ravish the senses with joy. If there were any rarity—it was present in king Solomon's court. Thus did he bathe himself in the perfumed waters of pleasure.
For wisdom: he was the oracle of his time. When the queen of Sheba came to pose him with hard questions, he gave a solution to all her queries (1 Kings 10:3). He had a key of knowledge to unlock nature's dark cabinet, so that if wisdom had been lost, it might have been found here, and the whole world might have lighted their understanding at Solomon's lamp! He was an earthly angel, so that a carnal eye surveying his glory would have been ready to imagine that Solomon had entered into that paradise out of which Adam was once driven, or that he had found another as good. Never did the world cast a more smiling aspect upon any man. Yet when he comes to give his impartial verdict, he tells us that the world has 'vanity' written upon its frontispiece, and all those golden delights he enjoyed, were but a painted felicity—a glorious misery! 'Behold! All was vanity!' (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Happiness is too noble and delicate a plant, to grow in this world's soil.
That blessedness does not lie in external worldly things—I shall prove by these five demonstrations:
 Those things which are not commensurate to the desires of the soul, can never make a man blessed. Transitory worldly things, are not commensurate to the desires of the soul—therefore they cannot render him blessed. Nothing on earth can satisfy the soul's desires!
'He who loves silver, shall not be satisfied with silver' (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Riches are unsatisfying:
Because they are not real. The world is called a 'fashion' (1 Corinthians 7:31). The word in the Greek signifies an apparition. Riches are but painted over. They are like paint, which glitters a little in our eyes—but at death all this paint will be worn off. Riches are but sugared lies, pleasant deceits, like a gilded cover which has not one leaf of true happiness bound up in it.
Because they are not suitable. The soul is a spiritual thing; riches are of an earthly extract—how can these fill a spiritual substance? A man may as well fill his treasure chest with sunshine, as his heart with gold. If a man were crowned with all the delights of the world, nay, if God should build a house for him among the stars—yet the restless eye of his unsatisfied mind would be looking still higher. He would be prying beyond the heavens for some hidden rarities which he thinks he has not yet attained to! So unquenchable is the thirst of the soul—until it comes to bathes in the river of life and to center upon true blessedness.
 That which cannot quiet the heart in a storm—cannot entitle a man to blessedness. A great accumulation of earthly things, cannot rock the troubled heart quiet. Therefore they cannot make one blessed or truly happy. If the heart is wounded—can we pour wine and oil into this wound? If God sets conscience to work, and it flies in a man's face, can worldly comforts take off this angry fury? Is there any harp to drive away the 'evil spirit'? Outward things can no more cure the agony of conscience than a silken stocking can cure a gouty foot. When Saul was 'greatly distressed' (1 Samuel 28:15), could all the jewels of his crown comfort him? If God is angry, whose 'fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him' (Nahum 1:6), can a wedge of gold be a screen to keep off this fire? 'They shall cast their silver in the streets; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord' (Ezekiel 7:19). King Belshazzar was carousing and partying. 'He drank wine in the golden vessels of the temple' (Daniel 5:3)—but when the fingers of a man's hand appeared, 'his countenance was changed' (verse 6), his wine grew sour, his feast was spoiled with that dish, which was served in upon the wall. The things of the world will no more keep out trouble of spirit—than a paper shirt will keep out a bullet!
 That which is but 'temporary' cannot make one blessed. All things under the sun are but 'temporary', therefore they cannot enrich with blessedness.Worldly delights are like those foods which are fresh at first—and then presently grow stale or rot. 'The world passes away' (1 John 2:17). Worldly delights are winged. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden—which stay a little while—but when you come near to them—they take their flight and are gone! So 'riches make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven' (Proverbs 23:5). They are like a meteor which blazes—but soons burns out. They are like a castle made of snow, lying under the fiery beams of the sun. Augustine says of himself, that when any preferment smiled upon him, he was afraid to accept of it lest it should on a sudden give him the slip. Outward comforts are like tennis balls which are bandied up and down from one to another. Had we the longest lease of worldly comforts, it would soon be run out. Riches and honor are constantly in flight; they pass away like a swift stream, or like a ship that is going full sail. While they are with us—they are going away from us. They are like a bouquet of flowers—which withers while you are smelling it. They are like ice—which melts away while it is in your hand. The world takes its salute and farewell together.
 Those things which do more vex than comfort—cannot make a man blessed. Such are all things under the sun, therefore they cannot have blessedness affixed to them. As riches are compared to wind—to show their vanity (Hosea 12:1); so they are compared to thorns—to show their vexation (Matthew 13:17). Thorns are not more apt to tear our garments, than riches to tear our hearts. They are thorns in the gathering—and they prick with anxious care. They pierce the head with care of getting, so they wound the heart with fear of losing. God will have our sweetest wine run into dregs; yes, and taste of a musty cask too—that we may not think that earthly things are the wine of paradise.
 Those things which (if we have nothing else) will make us cursed, cannot make us blessed. The sole enjoyment of worldly things will make us cursed, therefore it is far from making us blessed. 'Riches are kept for the hurt of the owner' (Ecclesiastes 5:13). Riches to the wicked are fuel for pride: 'Your heart is lifted up because of your riches' (Ezekiel 28:5). Riches to the wicked are fuel for lust: 'when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery' (Jeremiah 5:7). Riches are a snare: 'But those who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition' (1 Timothy 6:9). How many have pulled down their souls—to build up an estate! A ship may be so laden with gold that it sinks. Just so, many a man's gold has sunk him to hell. The rich sinner seals up money in his bag—and God seals up a curse with it! 'Woe to him who ladens himself with thick clay' (Habakkuk 2:6). Augustine says that Judas for money sold his salvation—and with that same money, the Pharisees bought their damnation. So we see that happiness is not to be fetched out of the earth. Those who go to the creature for blessedness go to the wrong box.
If blessedness does not consist in externals—then let us not place our blessedness here. This is to seek the living among the dead. As the angel told Mary concerning Christ, 'He is not here, he is risen' (Matthew 28:6), so I may say of blessedness, 'It is not here, it is risen; it is in a higher region!' How do men thirst after the world, as if the pearl of blessedness hung upon an earthly crown! 'O,' says one, 'if I had but such an estate—then I would be happy! Had I but such a comfort, then I would sit down satisfied!' Well, God gives him that comfort and lets him suck out the very juice of it—but, alas, it falls short of his expectation. It cannot fill the emptiness and longing of his soul which still cries 'Give, give' (Proverbs 30:15).
This is like a sick man, who says, 'If I had but such a food, I could eat it.' But when he has it, his stomach is nauseated, and he can hardly endure to smell it. God has put not only an emptiness—but bitterness into the creature, and it is good for us that there is no perfection here, that we may raise our thoughts higher to more noble and generous delights. Could we distill and draw out the quintessence of the creature, we would say as once the emperor Severus said, who grew from a low estate to be head of the greatest empire in the world: 'I have run through all conditions—yet could never find full contentment.'
To such as are cut short in their allowance, whose cup does not overflow, remember that these outward comforts cannot make you blessed. You might live rich and die cursed. You might treasure up an estate, and God might treasure up wrath. Do not be perplexed about those things the lack of which cannot make you miserable, nor the enjoyment make you blessed.
(2) Having shown wherein blessedness does not consist, I shall next show wherein it DOES consist. Blessedness consists in the fruition of the chief good.
True blessedness consists in fruition; there must not be only possession—but fruition. A man may possess an estate—yet not enjoy it. He may have the dominion of it—but not the comfort, as when he is in a sickness, or under the predominance of melancholy. But in true blessedness there must be a sensible enjoyment of that which the soul possesses.
True blessedness lies in the fruition of the chief good. It is not every good which makes a man blessed—but it must be the supreme good—and that is God. 'Happy is that people whose God is the Lord' (Psalm 144:15). God is the soul's rest (Psalm 116:7). Now, that only in which the soul acquiesces and rests—can make it blessed. The circle, as is observed in mathematics, is of all others the most perfect figure, because the last point of the figure ends in that first point where it began. So, when the soul meets in God, whence it sprang as its first original, then it is completely blessed. That which makes a man blessed must have fixed qualifications or ingredients in it—and these are found nowhere but in God—the chief good.
In true blessedness there must be something better. That which fills with blessedness, must be such a good as is better than a man's self. If you would ennoble a piece of gold, it must be by putting something to it which is better than silver, as by adding a diamond to it. So that which ennobles the soul and enriches it with blessedness, must be by adding something to it which is more excellent than the soul, and that alone is God. The world is below the soul; it is but the soul's footstool; therefore it cannot crown it with happiness.
Another ingredient of true blessedness, is delectability. That which brings blessedness must have a delicious taste in it, such as the soul is instantly ravished with. Delight and quintessence of joy must be in it. And where can the soul suck those pure comforts which amaze it with wonder, and crown it with delight—but in God? 'In God', says Augustine, 'the soul is delighted with such sweetness as enraptures it!' The love of God is a honeycomb which drops such infinite sweetness and satisfaction into the soul as is 'unspeakable and full of glory.' (1 Peter 1:8). A kiss from God's mouth puts the soul into a divine ecstasy, so that now it cries out, 'It is good to be here!'
Another ingredient in blessedness is plenty. That which makes a man blessed—must not be scanty. It is a full draught which quenches the soul's thirst; and where shall we find plenty but in Deity? 'You shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures' (Psalm 36:8); not drops but rivers! The soul bathes itself and is laid, as it were, steeping in the water of life! The river of paradise overflows and empties its silver streams into the souls of the blessed!
In true blessedness there must be variety. Plenty without variety—is apt to nauseate. In God there is 'all fullness'. (Colossians 1:19). What can the soul desire—but it may be had in the chief good? God is 'the good in all good things'. He is a sun, a shield, a portion, a fountain, a rock of strength, a horn of salvation. In God there is a convergence of all excellencies. There are every moment—fresh beauties and delights springing from God.
To make up blessedness there must be perfection; the joy must be perfect, the glory perfect. 'Spirits of just men made perfect' (Hebrews 12:23). Blessedness must run through the whole. If there is the least defect, it destroys the nature of blessedness; as the least symptom of a disease takes away the well-being and right temperature of the body.
True blessedness must have eternity stamped on it. Blessedness is a fixed thing; it admits of no change or alteration. God says of every child of his, 'I have blessed him—and he shall be blessed!' As the sunshine of blessedness is 'without clouds', so it never sets. 'I give unto them eternal life' (John 10:28). 'And so shall weever be with the Lord' (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Eternity is the highest link of blessedness! Thus we have seen that this diamond of blessedness is only to be found in the Rock of Ages. 'Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.' 'There remains a rest for the people of God' (Hebrews 4:9).
Revolve this truth often in your mind. There are many truths which swim in the brain, which do not sink into the heart—and those do us no good. Chew the cud!Let a Christian think seriously with himself, 'there is a blessedness feasible and I am capable of enjoying it—if I do not lay bars in the way and block up my own happiness. Though within I see nothing but guilt, and without nothing but curses—yet there is a blessedness to be had, and to be had for me too in the use of means.'
The serious meditation on this, will be a forcible argument to make the sinner break off his sins by repentance, and sweat hard until he finds the golden mine of blessedness. I say—it would be the break-neck of sin! How would a man offer violence to himself by mortification, and to heaven by supplication, that at last he may arrive at this state of blessedness! What! is there a crown of blessedness to be set upon my head! A crown hung with the jewels of honor, delight, magnificence! A crown reached out by God himself! And shall I hazard all this—by sin! Can the pleasure of sin countervail the loss of all this blessedness! What more powerful motive to repentance than this—Sin will rob me of the blessing!
If a man knew certainly that a king would settle all his crown revenues on him after a term of years, would he offend that regal Majesty and cause him to reverse or alter his will? There is a blessedness promised to all who live godly. 'This is the promise he has promised us—even eternal life' (1 John 2:25). We are not excluded—but may come in for a child's part. Now shall we, by living in sin—provoke God and forfeit this blessedness? O what madness is this! Well may the apostle call them 'foolish and hurtful lusts' (1 Timothy 6:9), because every lust does what it can—to cut off the mercy and block up the way to happiness. Every sin may be compared to the 'flaming sword', which shuts the heavenly paradise—so that the sinner cannot enter.
Let us so conduct ourselves—that we may express to others that we do believe a blessedness to come—and that is by seeking an interest in God. For the beams of blessedness shine only from his face. It is our union with God, the chief good—which makes us blessed. Oh, let us never rest until we can say, 'This God is ourGod forever and ever' (Psalm 48:14). Most men think because God has blessed them with an estate, therefore they are blessed. Alas, God often gives these worldly things in anger. 'God grants a thing when he is angry—which he does not will to give when he is tranquil.' God often loads his enemies with gold and silver—the weight whereof sinks them into hell. Oh, let us pant after heavenly things! Let us get our eyes fixed, and our hearts united to God, the supreme good.
Let us proclaim to the world that we do believe a blessedness to come—by living blessed lives; walk as befits the heirs of blessedness. A blessed crown, and acursed life—will never agree. Many tell us they are bound for heaven—but they steer their course a quite contrary way. The Devil is their pilot, and they sail hell-ward, as if a man should say he were going a voyage to the east—but sails quite westward. The drunkard will tell you he hopes for blessedness—but he sails another way. You must go weeping to heaven, not reeling. The unclean person talks of blessedness—but he is fallen into that 'deep ditch' (Proverbs 23:27), where he is like sooner to find hell than heaven. A beast may as well be made an angel—as an unclean person in his leprosy, can enter into the paradise of God. The covetous person (of whom it may be said, 'he is a worm and no man', for he is ever creeping in the earth) yet would lay a claim to blessedness; but can earthascend? Shall a lump of clay be made a bright star in the firmament of glory? Be assured they shall never be blessed—who bless themselves in their sins. 'If,' says God, 'the sinner blesses himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst' —the Lord will not spare him—but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and the Lord shall blot out his name under heaven' (Deuteronomy 29:19). A man can no more extract blessedness out of sin—than he can suck health out of poison! O let us lead blessed lives, and so 'declare plainly that we seek a heavenly country' (Hebrews 11:14).
To you who have any good hope through grace, that you have a title to blessedness, let me say as the Levites did to the people, 'Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever' (Nehemiah 9:5). What infinite cause have you to be thankful that the lot of free grace has fallen upon you! Though you had forfeited all—yet God has provided a haven of happiness, and he is carrying you there upon the sea of Christ's blood, with the gale of his Spirit blowing your sails! You are in a better condition through Christ, than when you had the robes of innocence upon you. God has raised you a step higher—by your fall. How many has God passed by—and looked upon you! There are millions who shall lie under the bitter vials of God's curses; whereas he will bring you into his banqueting-house, and pour out the flagons of wine, and feast you eternally with the delicacies of heaven! O adore free grace! Rejoice in this love of God towards you. Spend and be spent for the Lord. Dedicate yourselves to him in a way of resignation, and lay out yourselves for him in a way of thanksgiving. Never think you can do enough—for that God who will shortly set you ashore in the land of heavenly promise!
B. The godly are in some sense already blessed
I proceed now to the second premise—that the godly are in some sense already blessed. The saints are blessed not only when they arrive in heaven—but also while they are travelers to glory. They are blessed before they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood. What, reproached and maligned—yet blessed! A man who looks upon the children of God with a carnal eye and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the gospel which was 'covered with waves' (Matthew 8:24), would think they were far from blessedness. Paul brings a catalogue of his sufferings: 'Thrice was I beaten with rods; once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck … ' (2 Corinthians 11:24-26). And those Christians of the first magnitude, of whom the world was not worthy, 'had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; they were sawn asunder; they were slain with the sword' (Hebrews 11:36, 37). What! Were all these during the time of their sufferings, blessed? A carnal man would think, 'If this is to be blessed—God deliver me from it!'
But, however sense and reason give their vote, our Savior Christ pronounces the godly man to be blessed. Though he is a mourner, though he is a martyr—yet he is blessed. Job on the dunghill—was blessed Job. The saints are blessed when they are cursed. Shimei cursed David. 'He came forth and cursed him' (2 Samuel 16:5). Yet when he was cursed David, he was blessed David. The saints, though they are bruised—yet they are blessed. Not only shall they be blessed, they arenow blessed. 'Blessed are the undefiled' (Psalm 19:1). 'Your blessing is upon your people' (Psalm 3:8).
How are the saints already blessed?
(1) In that they are enriched with heavenly blessings (Ephesians 1:3). They are 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4), not by an incorporation into the divine essence—but by transformation into the divine likeness. This is blessedness begun. The new-born babe is said to have life in it—as well as he who is fully grown. Just so, the saints, who are partakers of the divine nature, have an incipient blessedness, though they have not arrived yet at perfection. Believers have the seed of God abiding in them (1 John 3:9). And this is a seed of blessedness. The flower of glory grows out of the seed of grace! Grace and glory differ not inkind—but degree. Grace is the root—glory is the fruit. Grace is glory in the dawning; glory is grace in the full meridian. Grace is the first link in the chain of blessedness. Now he who has the first link of the chain in his hand, has the whole chain. The saints have the Spirit of God in them, 'The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us' (2 Timothy 1:14). How can the blessed Spirit be in a man—and he not blessed? A godly man's heart is a paradise, planted with the choicest fruit—and God himself walks in the midst of this paradise—so the man must be blessed!
(2) The saints are already blessed—because their sins are not imputed to them. 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity' (Psalm 32:2). God's not imputing iniquity, signifies God's making of sin not to be. It is as if the man had never sinned. The debt book is crossed out in Christ's blood, and if the debtor owes ever so much—yet if the creditor crosses out the book, it is as if he had never owed anything. God's not imputing sin signifies that God will never call for the debt; or, if it should be called for, it shall be hidden out of sight. 'In those days the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found' (Jeremiah 50:20). Now such a man who has not sin imputed to him, is blessed, and the reason is, because if sin is not imputed to a man, then the curse is taken away; and if the curse be taken away, then he must needs be blessed!
(3) The saints are already blessed—because they are in covenant with God. This is clear by comparing two scriptures: 'I will be their God', (Jeremiah 31:33), and 'Happy is that people whose God is the Lord' (Psalm 144:15). This is the crowning blessing, to have the Lord for our God. Impossible it is to imagine that God should be our God—and we not be blessed.
This sweet word, 'I will be your God', implies propriety—that all that is in God, shall be ours! His love is ours, his Spirit ours, his mercy ours. It implies allrelations. It implies the relation of a father, 'I will be a father unto you' (2 Corinthians 6:18). The sons of a prince are happy. How blessed are the saints who are of true royal blood? It implies the relation of a husband, 'Your Maker is your husband' (Isaiah 54:5). The spouse, being contracted to her husband, is happy by having an interest in all that he has. The saints being contracted by faith are blessed, though the marriage supper is kept for heaven. It implies terms of friendship. Those who are in covenant with God are favorites of heaven. 'Abraham my friend' (Isaiah 41:8). It is counted a subject's happiness to be in favor with his prince, though he may live a ways from court. How happy must he needs be—who is God's favorite!
(4) The saints are already blessed because they have a guarantee of heaven; as, on the contrary, the unbeliever has a guarantee of hell, and is said to be already condemned. 'He who believes not, is condemned already' (John 3:18). He is as sure to be condemned, as if he were condemned already. So he who has heaven laid up for him, may be said to be already blessed. A man that has the guarantee of a house, after a short lease is run out—he looks upon that house—as his already. 'This house,' says he, 'is mine.' So a believer has a guarantee of heaven after the lease of life has run out, and he can say at present, 'Christ is mine and glory is mine!' He has a title to heaven, and he is a blessed man who has a title to show; more—faith turns the promise, into a possession!
(5) The saints are already blessed because they have the first-fruits of blessedness here. We read of the pledge of the Spirit, and the seal of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22), and the first-fruits of the Spirit (Romans 8:23). Heaven is already begun in a believer. 'The kingdom of God is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Romans 14:17). This kingdom is in a believer's heart (Luke 17:21). The people of God have a foretaste of blessedness here. As Israel tasted of the grapes before they actually possessed Canaan, so the children of God have those secret incomes of the Spirit, those smiles of Christ's face, those kisses of his lips, those love-tokens—and they think themselves sometimes in heaven. Oftentimes the Comforter is let down to the soul in an ordinance, and now the soul is in the suburbs of Jerusalem above. A Christian sees heaven by faith, end tastes it by joy; end what is this, but blessedness?
(6) The saints may be said in this life to be blessed, because all things tend to make them blessed. 'All things work together for good to them that love God' (Romans 8:28). We say to him that has everything falling out for the best, You are a happy man. The saints are very happy, for all things have a tendency to their good. Prosperity does them good; adversity does them good. Nay, sin turns to their good. Every trip makes them more watchful. Their maladies are their medicines. Are not they happy people that have every wind blowing them to the right port?
(7) A saint may be said to be blessed, because part of him is already blessed. He is blessed in his head; Christ, his head, is in glory; Christ and believers make one mystical body; their head is gotten into heaven.
See the difference between a wicked man and a godly. Let a wicked man have ever so many comforts—still he is cursed. Let a godly man have ever so many crosses—still he is blessed. Let a wicked man have the 'candle of God shining' on him (Job 29:3), let his way be so smooth that he meets with no rubs; let him have success—yet still there is a curse upon him. You may read the sinner's inventory (Deuteronomy 28:16, 17, 18). He is not more full of sin—than he is of acurse. Though perhaps he blesses himself in his wickedness—yet he is heir to God's curse. All the curses of the Bible are his portion, and at the day of death this portion is sure to be paid. But a godly man in the midst of all his miseries is blessed. He may be under the cross—but not under a curse!
It shows the privilege of a believer. He not only shall be blessed—but he is blessed! Blessedness has begun in him. 'You are blessed of the Lord' (Psalm 115:15). Let the condition of the righteous be ever so sad—yet it is blessed. He is blessed in affliction, 'Blessed is he whom you chasten' (Psalm 94:12). He is blessed in poverty, 'poor in the world, rich in faith' (James 2:5). He is blessed in disgrace, 'The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you' (1 Peter 4:14). This may be a cordial to the fainting Christian; he is blessed both in life and death! Satan cannot supplant him of the blessing.
How may this take away murmuring and melancholy from a child of God! Will you repine and be sad—when you are blessed? Esau wept because he lost the blessing. 'Bless me, even me also, O my father, and Esau lifted up his voice and wept' (Genesis 27:38). But shall a child of God be immoderately cast down when he has the blessing? How evil it is to be blessed, and yet murmur!
What an encouragement is this to godliness! We are all ambitious of a blessing, then let us espouse true religion. 'Blessed is the man who fears the Lord' (Psalm 112:1). But you will say, "This way is everywhere spoken against." It does not matter, seeing this is the way to get a blessing. Suppose a rich man should adopt another for his heir, and others should reproach him—he does not care as long as he is heir to the grand estate. So, what though others may reproach you for your piety—as long as it entails a blessing on you; the same day you become godly, you become blessed.
Having spoken of the general notion of blessedness, I come next to consider the subjects of this blessedness, and these our Savior has described to be the poor in spirit, the mourners, etc. But before I touch upon these, I shall attempt a little preface upon this sermon of the beatitudes.
1. Observe the divinity in this sermon, which goes beyond all philosophy. The philosophers say that one contrary expels another; but here one contrary begets another. Poverty is accustomed to expel riches—but here poverty begets riches, for how rich are those who have a kingdom! Mourning is accustomed to expel joy—but here mourning begets joy—'they shall be comforted'. Water is accustomed to quench the flame—but the water of tears kindles the flame of joy. Persecution is accustomed to expel happiness—but here it makes happy—'Blessed are those who are persecuted'. These are the sacred paradoxes in our Savior's sermon.
2. Observe how Christ's doctrine and the opinion of carnal men differ. They think, 'Blessed are the rich.' The world would count him blessed who could have Midas' wish—that all that he touched might be turned into gold. But Christ says, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit'. The world thinks, 'Blessed are they on the pinnacle!' But Christ pronounces them blessed, who are in the valley. Christ's reckonings and the world's reckonings—do not agree.
3. Observe the nature of true religion. Poverty leads the van, and persecution brings up the rear. Every true saint is heir to the cross! Some there are, who would be thought religious, displaying Christ's colors by a glorious profession—but to be 'poor in spirit' and 'persecuted'—they cannot take down this bitter pill. They would wear Christ's jewels—but waive his cross! These are strangers to true religion.
4. Observe the certain connection between grace and its reward. Those who are 'poor in spirit' shall have the 'kingdom of God'. They are as sure to go to heaven, as if they were in heaven already. Our Savior would encourage men to piety—by sweetening commands with promises. He ties duty and rewardtogether. As Apelles painted Helena richly drawn in costly and glorious apparel, hung all over with orient pearl, and precious stones; so our Lord Christ, having set down several qualifications of a Christian, 'poor in spirit', 'pure in heart', etc.' draws these heavenly virtues in their fair colors of blessedness, and sets the magnificent crown of reward upon them—that by this brilliance, he might the more set forth their unparalleled beauty, and entice holy love.
5. Observe hence the chain of the graces: poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc. Where there is one grace—there is all. We may say of the graces of the spirit—they are linked and chained together. He that has poverty of spirit—is a mourner. He who is a mourner—is meek. He who is meek—is merciful, etc. The Spirit of God plants in the heart a habit of all the graces. The graces of the Spirit are like a row of pearls which hang together upon the string of piety, and serve to adorn Christ's bride. This I note, to show you a difference between a hypocrite and a true child of God. The hypocrite flatters himself with a pretense of grace—but in the meantime he does not have a habit of all the graces. He does not have poverty of spirit, nor purity of heart; whereas a child of God has the habit of all the graces in his heart. These things being premised, I come in particular to those heavenly dispositions of soul to which Christ has affixed blessedness. And the first is Poverty of Spirit: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit'.