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this promise, and that in the text, must be viewed in connection with the people of God, and may include the following things:
First. It is to be considered as referring, in part, to the present world. We pretend not to deny, that the Christian is sometimes defamed by the tongue of slander, and oppressed by the overbearing of the wicked. Detraction is an evil which no one wholly escapes. Injustice has frequently deprived the meek of his right, and persecution has sometimes taken from him both his liberty and his life. But then, we know his inheritance consisteth not in the abundance of worldly prosperity, or in the smile of the potentates of the earth. “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." The believer, who, through grace, has attained to a large portion of this divine virtue, has the truest enjoyment of the life that now is. It is easy to see how such a sanctified disposition exempts him from the bitter sorrows, the incessant anxieties, the restless and mortifying disappointments which constantly agitate the breast, and consume the peace of the vindictive and resentful. He escapes many a storm, and avoids many a torment, which the irritable bring upon themselves. The moral elements and divine principles on which his mind is constructed, afford him a continual feast, and in this respect he has all things given him richly to enjoy. We see this fully illustrated in the case of St. Paul, who, when in prison, declared, I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."* Such a frame of heart as this, is the very essence and
Phil. iv. 11-13.
life of true happiness. The possessor of a continent, were such a man to be found, might envy the larger possessions of the Christian who realizes this satisfaction. Despised as he may be, and often is, by the man of sensual appetite and sinful gratifications, he, notwithstanding, "inherits all things:" but without this blessing, were he able to claim half the globe as his own, he would really inherit nothing. He would have it by sufferance, and not by right; as a curse, and not a blessing.
Secondly. All this, however, is the smallest portion of the Christian's inheritance. We are authorized to look into the Scriptures for a more extended and spiritual signification of this promise. The earthly Canaan, which the Jews inherited, was but a type of that celestial land and heavenly rest, which “remain to the people of God.” In like manner, our present mercies are but so many supplies for present exigencies, to help us on to that better country, where alone we can enjoy the fulness of the inheritance, and to which we must regard the promise as ultimately referring. Heaven is the Christian's eternal home, and his treasures there are called "the inheritance of the saints in light." It is "the purchased possession," for which he must be content to wait awhile, but to which he is "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise." It is the legacy of his Lord, which was bequeathed at his death, and who, having risen from the dead, ascended on high to take possession of the same, in the name of his disciples, and now ever lives to bestow it upon them as they follow him home to glory. It is the reward of grace, which we often find appended to patient endurance. Thus the Saviour speaks to all his faithful followers for their encouragement: "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and
the gospel's, shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life."*
And here, permit me to remark, that some eminent expositors consider the promise in the text to refer to the final renovation of all things by the power of Omnipotence, and they apply the phrase "inherit the earth," to the personal reign of Christ, for the space of one thousand years, in this lower world, when the saints alone shall enjoy the blessings of a munificent and gracious Providence. The thought is ingenious, and perhaps not altogether unworthy of notice. Thus much we know from divine testimony, that there will be" new heavens and a new earth, wherein shall dwell righteousness," and that this sinful world, purified of all its pollutions, and divested of all its deformity, will become the habitation of the redeemed: also, that the tabernacle of God will be with men, and "they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." Then shall come to pass the blissful period, when "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."+ O, happy state, like which nothing yet has been ever witnessed by the followers of the lamb in the church below. Obscure, as prophecy generally is, and indistinct as our perceptions commonly are, as to times and seasons, we still cling to the belief, that such a blissful day of peace will come. The expectation is both rational and scriptural. Then shall" the meek indeed inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace," for the Lord their God is become their "everlasting light, and the days of their mourning are ended."+
And now, my brethren, it remains that we make an application of this important subject, to ourselves. It is
• Matt.xix. 29.
+ Rev. xxi. 3, 4.
Isa. lx. 20.
It claims the at
of no private interpretation whatever.
tention of all men in general, but of the disciples of Christ in particular.
The first point of instruction which it yields, regards the nature of true religion. It is evident, from the whole bearing of what has been advanced in explanation of the character of "the meek," that the design of the gospel is to recover the creature from all the disorders of his mind, and mould him into the moral image of the God of love. Yes, its benevolent intention is to rescue fallen man from every malady that oppresses him, and restore him to more abundant life and glory than he lost by the fall. It is to make him happy, by first making him holy; and to save him from "the bitter pains of eternal death," by the combined blessing of the perfect righteousness of the Saviour, with the sanctification of the Spirit, the comforter. In a word, the Christian scheme finds us the sport of passion, and the slave of appetite; but it subdues our lusts; controls our affections; tranquillizes the storm within; and brings us to the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in our right mind." Hence, the Prophet, foretelling the universal diffussion of truth, describes, among the effects which will follow the event, the existence of perfect harmony and love. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."*
Isaiah xi. 6-9.
Secondly. Let us institute an inquiry into the prevailing temper of our own minds. It was reproachful to the disciples of old, not to know "what manner of spirit they were of," and it is equally reproachful to ourselves. Have you, my hearers, any "good hope, through grace," that you the meek" who are blessed? Are you authorised, from your experience of the operation of the grace of God in your heart, to conclude that this plant of the heavenly paradise is inserted there? Be not deceived, my brethren. Bring your conscience to the bar of truth, and allow it to speak. Meekness is not a disposition on which we may speculate; it is a substantial and necessary temper of mind, and must be our's if we would be saved. Is it then mine? Is it your's? I press its acquisition on your undivided attention; and, by the comfort of your spirit, by the command of your Lord, by the honour of the Christian religion, and by the salvation of your souls, I beseech you, as the elect of God, to put on bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind, meekness;"*"for if this grace be in you, and abound, it will make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."+
Thirdly. Do you ask how you may be best able to acquire and promote Christian meekness in your bosom? Take these four directions. First-be watchful over your temper. Guard against the risings of anger and resentment: it is much easier to extinguish a spark than a flame. A vigilant attention is necessary in every branch of science, and every department of trade. Diligence must be shown by the student, if he would become wise; and industry must be practised by the husbandman, if he would culture and cleanse his field. Shall not the Christian, then, keep his heart with all diligence, lest hatred, and envy, and wrath, should enter it? Secondly-avoid, as