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and sagacity, and authority, and malignity united, if they had not been carried through it by the irresistible force of truth, and of that divine power which nothing could resist.

5. The miracles of our Lord were not merely transient acts, beheld at the moment with astonishment, but forgot as soon as over, and productive of no important consequences. They gave birth to a new religion, to a new mode of worship, to several new and singular institutions, such as the rite of baptism, the sacrament of the Lord's supper, the appropriation of the first day of the week to sacred purposes, the establishment of a distinct order of men for the celebration of divine offices, and other things of the same nature. Now this religion and these institutions subsist to this day. And as the books of the New Testament affirm that this religion and these institutions were first established, and afterwards made their way by the power of miracles, they are standing testimonies to the truth and the reality of those miracles, without which they could never have taken such firm and deep root at the first, and continued unshaken through so many ages to the present time. The magnitude and permanency of the superstructure prove that it could not have had a less solid, a less substantial foundation.

6. And lastly, when we consider the great sacrifices made by the first converts to Christianity, particularly by the apostles and primitive teachers of it; how many deep-rooted prejudices and favorite opinions they gave up to it; what a total change it produced in their disposition, their temper, their manners, their principles, their habits, and the whole complexion of their lives; what infinite pains they took to propagate it; how cheerfully they relinquished for this purpose all the ease, the comfort, the conveniences, the pleasures, and the advantages of life; and instead of them embraced labours, hardships, sufferings, persecutions, torments, and death itself; we cannot rationally suppose that such patience, resignation, fortitude, magnanimity, and perseverance, could possibly be produced by

any less powerful cause than those evidences of divine power exhibited in the miracles of Christ; which demonstrably proved that he and his religion had a divine original, and that therefore the sufferings they underwent for his sake in the present life would be amply repaid by the glorious rewards reserved for them hereafter.

When, therefore, we put together all these considerations, they can leave no doubt on any unprejudiced mind, that the account given in this chapter of the first commencement of our Saviour's ministry, and the reasons of his astonishing success, are perfectly accurate and true; namely, "that he went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel. of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people." And our conclusion from this must necessarily be the same with that of the great Jewish rulers, who, with a laudable anxiety to know the truth, came to Jesus by night, and addressed him in these words: "Rabbi, we know. that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."*

* John iii. 2.



OUR blessed Lord baving by his miracles estabdished his divine authority, and acquired of course a right to the attention of his hearers, and a powerful influence over their minds, proceeds in the next place to explain to them in some degree the nature of his religion, the duties it enjoins, and the dispositions it requires. This he does in what is commonly called his

sermon on the mount; which is a discourse of conside rable length, being extended through this and the two following chapters; and we may venture to say it contains a greater variety of new, important, and excellent moral precepts, than is any where to be found in the same compass. At the same time it does not pretend to give a regular, complete, and perfect system of ethics, or to lay down rules for the regulation of our conduct in every possible instance that can arise. This would have been an endless task, and would have multiplied precepts to a degree that would in a great measure have defeated their utility and destroyed their effect.* Our Lord took the wiser and more impressive method of tracing out to us only the great outlines of our duty, of giving us general principles and comprehensive rules, which we may ourselves apply to particular cases, and the various situations in which we may be placed.

He begins with describing those dispositions and virtues which mark the Christian character, in which the Gospel peculiarly delights, but which the world despises and rejects.

"Blessed, says he, are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you

Vide John xxi. 25.

falsely for my sake: rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”*

It is evident that our Lord here meant at the very out. set of his public instructions, to mark at once in the strongest and most decided terms the peculiar temper, spirit, and character of his religion; and to shew to his disciples how completely opposite they were to all those splendid and popular qualities which were the great objects of admiration and applause to the heather world; and are still too much so even to the Christian world. "There are (as a very able advocate for Christianity well observest) two opposite characters under which mankind may generally be classed. The one possesses vigour, firmness, resolution, is daring and active, quick in its sensibilities, jealous of its fame, cager in its attachments, inflexible in its purposes, violent in its resentments.

The other, meek, yielding, complying, forgiving; not prompt to act, but willing to suffer; silent and gentle under rudeness and insult; suing for reconciliation where others would demand satisfaction; giving way to the pushes of impudence; conceding and indulgent to the prejudices, the wrongheadedness, the intractability of those with whom he has to deal."

The former of these characters is and ever has been the favourite of the world; and though it is too stern to conciliate affection, yet it has an appearance of dignity in it which too commonly commands respect.

The latter is, as our Lord describes it, humble, meek, lowly, devout, merciful, pare, peaceable, patient, and unresisting. The world calls it mean-spirited, tame, and abject; yet, notwithstanding all this, with the divine Author of our religion this is the favourite character; this is the constant topic of his commendation; this is the subject that runs through all the beatitudes. To this he assigns, under all its various forms, peculiar blessings. To those who possess it, he promises that they shall inherit the earth; that they shall obtain mer

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cy; that theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven; that they shall see God, and shall be called the children of God.

The recommendation of this character recurs frequently in different shapes throughout the whole of the sermon on the mount, and a great part of that discourse is nothing more than a comment on the text of the beatitudes. On these and a few other passages which have any thing particularly novel and important in them, I shall offer some observations.

But before I quit this noble and consolatory exordium of our Lord's discourse, I shall request your attention to one particular part of it, which seems to require a little explanation.

The part I allude to is this: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

The blessing here promised to the meek, seems at first sight somewhat singular, and not very appropriate to the virtue recommended.

That the meek of all others should be destined to inherit the earth, is what one should not naturally have expected. If we may judge from what passes in the world, it is those of a quite opposite character, the bold, the forward, the active, the enterprising, the rapacious, the ambitious, that are best calculated to secure to themselves that inheritance. And undoubtedly, if by inheriting the earth is meant acquiring the wealth, the grandeur, the power, the property of the earth, these are the persons who generally seize on a large proportion of those good things, and leave the meek, and the gentle far behind them in this unequal contest for such advantages. But it was far other things than these our Lord had in view. By inheriting the earth, he meant inheriting those things which are, without question, the greatest blessings upon earth, calmness and composure of spirit, tranquility, cheerfulness, peace and comfort of mind. Now these, I apprehend, are the peculiar portion and recompence of the meek. Unassuming, gentle, and humble in their deportment, they give no offence, they create no enemies, they pro

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