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ture, which our Lord has given of the day of judgment, in which the final destinies of men are stated to depend on the practice or omisfion of mercy or charity to others. All those, who have neglected their brethren in distress, he will regard in the same light, as if they had neglected him; and as they shewed no mercy to their fellow-Christians, in like manner he will shew no mercy to them. But those on the other hand, who have relieved the several wants, and alleviated the several miseries of their brethren, who have administered food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, who have clothed the naked, and visited the sick, and comforted the imprisoned, he will receive with the highest marks of approbation and regard, will accept what they have done to the least of his brethren as done immediately to him, will call them the Blessed of his Father, and will invite them to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world k.
k Mat. xxv. 31–46.
MATTHEW v. 8.
Blessed are the Pure in beart: for they shall see God.
In the series of Beatitudes pronounced by our Lord, with the Merciful are associated the Pure in heart, as forming an essential character in his Followers, and being entitled to a correspondent reward. The Disposition here commended engages no cultivation, the Blessing here assigned induces no attraction, among the children of this world. Perverted by their carnal passions they have no estimation of internal purity, they have no desire of feeing God. Such in general has been the case ever since the first disobedience of Man. While Man remained in innocence, he was blessed in the presence, he had complacence in the sight of God. But when by transgresfion he had lost the purity of his nature, he was no longer worthy of that blessed privi. lege, he was no longer competent to enjoy it. And seeing he was now become alienated
from the love of God and the desire of his countenance, God withdrew his face from him, and left him to the vain pursuit of his own imaginations. The consequence was evident in the Heathen world. Having lost all perception of the divine presence, they also lost the apprehension of his providence and government ; they fell into most extravagant idolatries ; they changed the truth of God into a lie; and they worshipped the creature rather than the Creator. This perversion of their understandings had its neceffary effect in the corruption of their hearts and the depravity of their lives. Because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, he gave them up to a reprobate mind; and they surrendered themselves without restraint or remorse to the vileft affections and the groffest impurities a.
When God revealed himself to the Children of Israel, he restored in some degree that knowledge of himself which had been lost in the world. But in order that they might continue under the vital sense of his more immediate presence and protection, he required a conformity of character in purity and holiness. Being set apart from the na
a Rom. i. 25, &c.
tions of the earth for the service of a pure and holy God, they were pronounced a holy Nation, a peculiar People ; they were taught to separate themselves from every thing unclean. For this intent was published the Moral Law, which not only prescribed the general rule of duty both to God and Man, but also regulated their personal deportment, being designed to control and moderate their carnal paffions, and to restrain them from gross and impure gratifications. It guarded, though not indeed with rigid penalties, against the flagrant and irreparable injury of seduction; it pronounced a sentence of excision for the violation of the marriage vow ; it smoked with vengeance against all inordinate affections. Still however some allowances were made, and some indulgences were granted, to the people of Israel, because of the hardness of their hearts. Though the Law of Moses could not countenance, it seems to have connived at concubinage and polygamy; and it admitted of divorce on very slight and even imaginary grounds. Together with the Moral a Ritual Law was also appointed, which appears among other reasons to have been ordained in compliance with the rude conceptions of a carnal people, who are more advantageously controlled by external form