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fion of them uncertain things, of which an hundred accidents may deprive us, and therefore we cannot have an abfolute contentment in them. But he who hungers and thirfts after righteousness, as he always obtains, fo he obtains what is well worth bis labour. Every grace he obtains, and every fin'ful inclination he fubdues, is no less than a new conveyance to him of eternal glory, a new affurance of his right and title; and this being what his very foul was made for, muft be entirely agreeable to all his faculties, and throughly fatisfying. The more he advances in the way of righteoufnefs, the more he is refreshed; the farther he travels, he is the lefs weary: The purfuit may be oft difficult, but the reflection is pleafant. God has fo fitted religion to the minds of men, that tho' there be labour in the undertaking, there is always a relish goes along with it. The conquering of an evil habit, or a strong temptation, is like the conquering of a powerful enemy; difficult to perform, but when accomplish'd fills us with mighty joy and triumph. Nor is it lefs delightful to do good, than it is to refift and conquer evil. What a refreshment is it to the charitable man to help the afflicted? His alms is not fo acceptable to the poor creature he relieves, as the religion of it is to himself. But his fatisfaction is then at the higheft, when he fees religion flourishing abroad, the kingdom of Chrift gaining ground, impiety and vice put out of countenance, and the flaves of fatan rescu'd into the glorious liberty of the fons of God: When he difcerns the characters of goodness and virtue in his children, for whom he has fo long pray'd, and on whom he has beftow'd fo much pious pains to inftruct them in the ways of virtue; and when he fees the neighbourhood, or any foul in it, effectually reform'd and taught by his example, friendship, influence, reproofs, or charity, it
gives him fomething of that holy joy on earth, which angels have in heaven, where they are faid to rejoice over the repenting finner..
(3.) AND laftly, to compleat the bleffing; this hunger and thirft after righteousness fhall be filled with an everlasting fulnels in the world to come: for here the appetite of the foul is rather refreshed than filled: the righteousness of the prefent life is but imperfect, and he who loves it beft, and labours most after it, will ftill be fenfible of many defects and failures in it, and these are no little abatement of his fatisfaction. He obferves alfo, befide his own deficiency, fo much unrighteousness abroad; fo great a neglect of the religion of Chrift, even amongst Chriftians; fo many dishonours done to our holy Mafter, by those who profess to follow him, and to be his fervants, that the good man is ftill more uneafy upon a publick account. For as his defires after righteoufnefs are not reftrained to his own private and perfonal cafe, but enlarge themselves to the encrease and propagation of righteousness in the world; fo if he live in an age in which the righteousness of the Gospel is not only neglected, but ridiculed and laughed at, and the religion of Chrift, in the power and practice of it, like himself, condemned and crucified, he cannot but be under great difturbance and concern, notwithstanding the comfort of his own fincerity. But when that happy time fhall come, when he fhall enter into the joy of his Lord, amongst the Spirits of just men made perfect, not only his own righteoufnefs, which here is in its infancy, weak and expos'd, in a state of warfare, furrounded with many enemies, attack'd, and fometimes worsted, by many temptations, fhall be advanced to a full ftrength and perfection, be placed in an entire fecurity, and rewarded with eternal glory; but he fhall fee the righteousness of all good people likewife
perfected; he fhall fee an univerfal righteousness, and that in its full luftre and beauty, in an innumerable company of unfinning angels, triumphant martyrs, and compleated faints. There his fatisfaction fhall not drop upon him in fmall fhowers, which ferve to refresh him only for a time, but he fhall drink out of rivers of pleasure at the right hand of God. There fhall be nothing there to tempt or to offend the righteous, * their victory over fin fhall be abfolute, their triumph everlasting. They fhall indeed be filled with righteousness; for there every man fhall be filled according to his measure; and though there be different proportions, there will be no imperfection. And thus it fhall continue, as long as the Sun of righteousness endures; for they who fhall be thought worthy to meet the Lord Jefus in his kingdom of glory, † fhall remain for ever with him.
* Matth. xiii. 41.
ti Thef. iv. 17.
MATTH. V. 7.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
AVING gone through the four firft Beatitudes, we come now to the fifth, and fhall confider it in the fame method, the text falling into the fame general divifion, viz. The perfons defcribed by their moral character, [the merciful,] and that correfpondent bleffing pronounced upon them as their reward, the affurance of obtaining mercy for themselves.
I. FIRST, For the confideration of the perfons, and thefe are the merciful: and in order to know what is included in that character, we must confider the proper objects of mercy, (which may be reduc'd to three, the miferable or unfortunate, the injurious, and the guilty;) together with those acts of mercy which are fuitable to their respective cafes, and ought to be fhewn towards them.
(1.) To begin with the miferable, or unfortunate; whatever the circumftances are which make them fo, the inftances of mercy towards them are as follows.
1. THE being inwardly affected with pity and commiferation of them. Humanity it felf requires this tenderness, 'tis wrought into the very frame of our natures, and none but favage, ignoble, and difingenuous fpirits can be without it. The fenfe and intereft of the common condition of mankind excites it, expofed (as all of us are) to pain and fickness, and unhappy accidents, to poverty and contempt, to loffes and difappointments, and to whatever else we fee our neighbours fuffer; and though at prefent all is eafy with us, we know not how foon their cafe may be our own; and therefore fhould commiferate them, as we would have others pity us upon a like occafion. "Tis very fitly urged upon us to this purpose, by the author to the Hebrews, Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which fuffer adverfity, as being your felves alfo in the body. And certainly 'tis a very great argument of the goodness of God to us, that though he would not take away the confequence of fin, the calamities and afflictions of this mortal life, left we should forget his juftice, and our own demerits; yet he was pleafed fo far to pity us, as to imprint upon our nature this generous, this divine impreffion of his own, that we might not be without fome comfort one from another, (as well as from his gracious promifes and our eternal hopes) to qualifie and mitigate our forrows. For this experience teaches us, that if the fufferer meet but with a compaffionate ear, that gives attention to his story, it is a mighty cafement to his mind, it takes off half his burden, he is but half unhappy. St. Paul therefore, to ftrengthen the obligations of nature by thofe of religion, requires us to weep with thofe that weep; to be kind to one another, tender-hearted; ‡ and to *Heb. xiii. 3. + Rom. xii. 15. † Eph. iv. 32. ‡ Col. iii. 12.