Page images

was unknown to the heathen; and which was never suspected to be a virtue, before the Gospel of Truth revealed it so to be. It is a virtue, which is opposed to the carnal heart, and must be sought for with prayer. This meekness of spirit is able to subdue the native outbreakings of the irascible, and the implacable. This spirit itself is happiness. Blessed are the meek, said the blessed Jesus, who was himself meek, and lowly in heart.

What a lesson to Ambition! What a lesson to human Pride! He, who could say to the noisy seas, Peace, be still! and they were still; He, who could command ten legions of angels to minister unto him; He was himself of a meek and quiet spirit. Blessed are his followers in this virtue, for they shall inherit the earth. Yes, even in this life, this virtue shall bring its own reward. It is this temper, which avoids strife among neighbours; which shuns the fierce litigations of law; and which conquers by forbearance; which, by rendering good for evil, heaps coals of fire upon the head of the adversary. Such a temper does not imply any pusillanimity of spirit, which will not assert its rights with firmness, and maintain them with manliness; but only such as goeth out of the way of contention, and dareth not to vent its heart in murmurs of revenge. Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works, with meekness of wisdom. Put on the ornament

of a meek and quiet spirit. The Lord lifteth up the meek. He will beautify the meek with salvation; his soul shall dwell at ease, and his seed shall inherit the earth.

A person of this gospel virtue, when he looks abroad, and sees the comforts that the Lord has spread before him; a good home, daily food, agreeable friends; and above all, the free and easy offers of pardon of sin, upon his humbling himself before the cross; and then looks back into his own breast, and finds there so little contrition for sin, so little faith in God, so little trust in a Saviour, he feels meek; he feels as if he could get low in the dust of humiliation; he feels that he desires no revenge then, but against sin; no ambition, but to sit at the feet of

Jesus; no cravings, but to inherit, after his earthly pilgrimage is over, a portion in the holy land of promise above.

In this world, meekness is but an unfashionable virtue; and those humble Christians, who possess it, are too often despised. But there is another world, in which those, who were meek on earth, shall be exalted. Then will the poor man, with this virtue, who sits all day long by the river-side, and toils, but catches nothing, rise above the man without it, who sits over his coffers, counting his untold thousands. Then will the poor woman with this virtue, who with feeble hands gathers a few faggots by the wayside, be seated above the matron without it, who parades up and down the hanging gardens of her palace. Then will the devout pilgrim, who has vanquished his own heart by this virtue, be a greater conqueror in heaven, than he, who on earth conquered one world, and whose proud heart then wept, that he had not another to conquer. And then the poor publican, who stood afar off, and smote upon his breast, and cried, God, be merciful to me a sinner, will be justified, rather than the proud Pharisee, who stood in the corner of the street, and boasted, Lord, I thank thee, that I am not like other men.

4. Again said this godlike Preacher: Blessed are they, who do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.

How different this, from the common hunger and thirst of the world. Look around in our towns, and see what most people are hungering and thirsting after; and see, whether they are filled.

One man wishes to heap together a great estate; that he may live in independence, and leave a fortune to his children. Let him be rich as Croesus Is he filled?

[ocr errors]

Another man burns to be elected to some official eminence; that his head may reach high above his equals. Let him be high as Cæsar Is he filled?

Another strives to fill the chambers of his brain with all the learning of the East; that Ignorance may say, Surely, wisdom shall die with him. Let him be sage as Socrates Is he filled?

[ocr errors]

Wealth is good, if used with moderation and benefi


Fame is good, if honestly acquired, and it puffeth not up. And Learning is good, if usefully applied, and the heart be not left uncultured. But neither of these, nor all of these, can fill the soul.

No! Before the soul can be filled, it must hunger and thirst after righteousness. So said the blessed Jesus, and he alone knew what would satisfy it. The soul must long, as did praying David's: As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Thou hast put gladness into my heart, more than in the time, that the corn and the wine increased. And said he, whose meat and whose drink it was to do the will of his heavenly Father, Blessed are ye, that hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Wo unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger. Wherefore do ye spend money for that, which is not bread, and your labour for that, which satisfieth not? I am the bread of life; he that eateth of this bread, shall live forever. Whoso drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.

Instead of the Wealth of this poor fading world, the soul must crave, and toil, and pray for, that treasure in the heavens, which neither time, nor death, can corrupt.

Instead of Eminence on earth, the soul of man must aspire, with abasement of heart, and humiliation of mind, after a seat at Christ's right hand, in his heavenly kingdom.

Instead of human Learning, the mind must covet that wisdom, which is from above, and which will rectify the heart of its errors.

Instead of turning aside to disport with the Graces and Loves, on the rosebeds of Pleasure, in the groves of Dissipation; the immortal soul should reach after the fruits of the Tree of Life, which stands in the midst of the celestial Eden.

Whoever hath this hunger and thirst shall be filled. However poor, or sick, or dejected, in this world of wo; the loaves and fishes of comfort shall be multiplied; and

the cruise of the oil of consolation shall not fail; and even the poor widow may buy this food with her two mites. Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to this fountain of righteousness. God hath prepared it. Jesus Christ hath opened it. It will cool your parched tongues, and refresh Come ye, in faith, for ye shall be filled.

your souls.



Furthermore, said the divine Preacher on the Mount: Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.

By the virtue of mercy is meant kindness, compassion; a propensity to remove, or alleviate the miseries of mankind; an unwillingness to increase our own gratifications by making others unhappy; and a readiness to yield up a part of our own comforts, to render others more easy. It implies an aversion to any thing, in word or deed, which is unfeeling or oppressive. This virtue must not be merely an instinctive impulse to kindness, an amiable trait in our natural dispositions; but it must have respect to the law of God, to a sense of duty, and of our own daily dependance. It must be prompted by righteous motives, and directed to proper ends. It must be uniform in its exercise, and extended not only to our equals, but to our dependants; not only to our friends, but to our enemies. What say the maxims of wisdom? Do yourselves a kindness, by charity. Forgive every man's fault, except your own. Better suffer a great evil, than do a little one. Living well is the best revenge we can take on our enemies. It is a mark of great proficiency, to bear easily the failings of other men. He that would have a good revenge, let him leave it to God. But to illustrate the virtue of mercy by example.

If we have a servant, who has been guilty of some fault, and he cometh, and it repenteth him of his error, and he seeketh reconciliation, we must say unto him, Go in peace, for this time, and sin no more. For, said Jesus to the hard master, Shouldest not thou have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?

[blocks in formation]

If we have a neighbour in distress for food, for raiment, for money, for a home, or in sickness; we should remember that it is written, He that despiseth the poor sinneth, but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. And, he that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again.

If we have a poor debtor, whose heart is willing, but whose hands are weak; who says, have patience with me, I pray thee, and I will pay thee all; we must, if we are not able to forgive him the debt, wait patiently until his change come. Else, how can we pray, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

If, in our travels, we meet with a man wounded by the way-side, we must not, like the Priest and Levite, come and look on, and pass by on the other side, but, like the good Samaritan, we must bind up his wounds; and if he be far from his kindred, set him upon our own beast, and remove him to a place, where they will minister unto him.

If we have in our possession the noble spirited and willing horse, to bear us upon our journies; or the patient and laborious ox, to turn up the furrow on our farms; we should remember, that the same Bible, that says, man was made lord over the beast of the field, says also, that the merciful man is merciful to his beast. As the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth, how unjust is it, to deprive him of some comfort in this, his only short life. We should reflect, how more faithful is the beast to his earthly master, than is man to his heavenly Master; and that when he does wrong, it is from ignorance; but when we do wrong, it is against great knowledge.

Thus I have defined, and exemplified to you, the virtue of mercy. But my voice is weak, without the sanction of divine truth. Such sanction beams from every page of that Holy Book, which is all Judgment and Mercy. In one place, it says, Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble; he shall be blessed upon the earth; the Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, and will make all his bed in his sickness. In another place, The merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh. In another, Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to

« PreviousContinue »