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VIII.

THE INHERITORS OF BLESSING.

“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.”—Matt. V. 6-8.

WE have on a former occasion considered the first three blessings pronounced by the Lord Jesus at the commencement of his Sermon on the mount, --that matchless summary of divine doctrine. We now proceed with some observations on the three next in order; and let us bear in mind that these are the utterances of Him whose blessing maketh rich, and whose words shall outlast the heavens.

“ Blessed,” he continues to say, “ are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."

God has so constituted man, that he is capable of immeasurable happiness. This is a result of his original creation in God's own image; and this is what renders salvation the greatest of all gains, and, at the same time, the loss of the soul the most terrible of all losses. The boundless happiness and misery of which man is susceptible, may be inferred also from this stupendous fact,-that the Prince of life was, by God's appointment, slain in order to redeem him, and the Son of God himself deemed him worth that sacrifice.

But wherein does his happiness consist? Doubtless in that which was his happiness before God's image in his soul was marred. Perfectly conformed to the mind and will of his Creator, perfect in love, perfect in holiness, man reposed in the very bosom of his God, and drank without measure of the clear waters of the fountain of life. Uninterrupted in communion with his Maker, no storm ruffled the serenity of his spirit, no cloud obscured the effulgence of God's countenance. All was joy unspeakable and full of glory. And now that sin has introduced discord where before was harmony, and confusion where before was peace, true happiness can never be attained again, except by the reconstitution of God's defaced similitude. To express the matter in words of inspiration, there must be formed in the soul “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." There must be a reunion of the dislocated fragments occasioned by the fall, and man's moral nature must again be brought into harmony with the mind of Him who created him. Blessed be God that such a thing is possible; that his own Son has undertaken the work, and is daily carrying it on by his Spirit in those who submit themselves to him; that he begins it here by implanting in their souls a desire for this conformity to God, and perfects it above in the land of uprightness, where, beholding the Majesty of the Lord, they are changed into the same image.

Now, this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, implies a real want and desire which seeks to be satisfied, and does not rest without it. None indeed seek righteousness for its own sake, except those who are, in Scripture language, born again, and are alive to God; but the desire for it is as inseparable from that spiritual life which the Holy Spirit imparts, as the craving for food is from the natural life of man. They that are after the Spirit do mind the things of the Spirit; and the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, they think on, and habitually aim at, these things, and strive against the contrary. They are day by day

divesting themselves of their carnal tempers and propensities, putting off the old man with his deeds, and mortifying their members which are upon the earth. They are daily following on to know the Lord, and seeking those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Weak in themselves, and at times ready to faint, this hungering and thirsting after righteousness is what opens their hearts in prayer, by which they receive grace to help in time of need, daily renew their strength, and endure to the end.

This work, however, of sanctification, or renewing of the Holy Ghost, while it prepares the soul for the enjoyment of God, and of the pleasures which are at his right hand, and is so indispensable that without it no man shall see the Lord, is but in progress here, and is only perfected in his presence above. The indwelling corruptions of the children of God, their infirmities and shortcomings, while they excite a desire for the times of restitution of all things, have this further effect, --that they lead them to look beyond themselves for a righteousness wherewith they may with confidence come before the Lord. And where is such a righteousness to be found ? Surely God has showed us what is good, and it is nigh to our

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hearts. When we receive Christ by faith, he brings his righteousness with him. We need not ascend into heaven, or descend into the deep, to seek it. We have only to open our hearts and believe, and we receive "the gift of righteousness.” Here is bread from heaven to satisfy the

' longing soul, and fill the hungry soul with goodness. Here we may buy and eat, without money and without price. Let us only appropriate Christ to our souls by faith, and he is the Lord our Righteousness. He who knew no sin, and with whom God was well pleased, was made sin for us, that we, who knew no righteousness, and were by nature the children of wrath, might be made the righteousness of God in him. The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is that wherein we shall be exalted; it is that

l wherein all the seed of Israel shall be justified and shall glory. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God! that as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Here was the strong confidence and glorying of such men as Abraham and Paul. Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day, and is set forth as the father of all them that believe. It was not

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