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THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
MATTHEW, c. V., v. 1.-" And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain; and when he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them.
The Heathen nations of Mankind, my Christian Brethren, had been partially prepared, by tradition, for the appearance of some extraordinary, and highly exalted Personage in the world-and the Jews, in an especial manner, through their prophets, for the manifestation of their Messiah in the flesh; at the period of the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ–His appearance, as foretold, had taken place--His birth had been announced to the world, by a chorus of the angelic host-adoration had been paid to his infancy, by the wise men, who came to do the babe Jesus homage, from the far regions of the East, with precious gifts of “gold and frankinsense and myrrh:”—Christ's youth and early manhood, had been passed, in pious filial subjection to his father and mother ;-his public appearance had been announced, by his venerable Fore-runner, John the Baptist; who proclaimed his approach, and superior dignity, in this solemn language :-“There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." “ I indeed baptise you with water; but He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost.”—The Saviour's Baptism in Jordan had been accomplished, and attended, and sanctified, by the opening of the Heavens; and the spirit, like a Dove descending upon him ;” and “ a voice coming from Heaven, saying, thou art my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”—His temptation in the wilderness by the Devil, and triumph over Satan, had taken place—He had made,“ beginning of his miracles” in Cana and Galilee," and manifested forth his glory,” by turning water into wine, and had secured the belief of several disciples; by this act of his divine power and authority.--All these circumstances and events, I repeat, had taken place, in the History of the blessed Jesus; and had afforded sufficient proof to all; and had actually created a firm conviction, in the hearts of many ; of his being the promised Messiah; the Son of God; and the Saviour of mankind. These previous ne. cessary preparations, for the fulfilment of his astonishing office, having been accomplished; the blessed Jesus commenced his more public ministrations, with this awakening announcement: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye and believe the Gospel :" as if he had said, (be it, however, paraphrased in all humility) the time decreed in the eternal counsels of God; predicted by the Prophets; and expected by all believers in these predictions, is now arrived. “He who was to come,” is come. I, that speak unto you am he.” I have opened my commission of mercy, grace, and salvation. I proclaim the last revelation which God will vouchsafe unto mankind. The Religion of Moses, with all its troublesome rites and ceremonies; its sacrifices and Temple service; are, from this time, abolished for ever; and instead of these ineffectual means of justification in the sight of God, I am now about to introduce into the world, a religion of the heart and life. “For the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshiper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the father seeketh such to worship him.” “Repent ye, therefore, and believe the Gospel”— Search out the plagues of your corrupt hearts; call to mind the crimes, sins, and follies, of your past conduct: let shame and confusion of face, follow the accusations of conscience; a godly sorrow, for all your omissions of duty, and commissions of sin;
a repentance not to be repented of;" resolutions, sincere, and firm, (with the assistance of God's grace) to “ go and sin no more”: and a steady, and operative Truth, in me, the only Redeemer; who
come, to seek, and to save, that which was lost."
Our Blessed Lord having thus called his hearers to repentance for sin; and Faith in him, as the
promised Saviour; speedily turned their attention, to another essential part of his holy religion; and another condition of Salvation-the PRACTICE of MORAL RIGHTEOUSNESS—the observance and performance of his precepts : without which, repentance would be a mockery, and faith an empty name. This view of the practical part of Christianity, our blessed Lord unfolded, in that sublime discourse, which is usually called “The Sermon ON THE Mount;" addressed, from an elevated spot, both to his own diciples, (or those who already believed in him) and to the great multitude of his Jewish countrymen, who had been collected together, from all parts, to hear the words of Him,“ who spake, as never man spake;" and to witness those wondrous works, which" no man could do unless God were with him.” The text thus describes the scene and manner of this heavenly address—“On seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth and taught them:" in other words, the disciples were close to his sacred person; and, as St. Luke tells us, the multitudes, were within hearing of his divine instruction: so that his congregation, if I may use the term, consisted of those, (as I have already remarked,) who had become converts to his religion, and were his constant, faithful followers : and a crowd of his Jewish