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written for his sake alone, that righteousness was imputed to him by faith, but for us also, to whom it is imputed if we believe as he did. Among those that are born of women, none perhaps ever attained a greater degree of faith and holiness than he who was once caught up into the third heaven. But all the knowledge Paul had gained of God and of himself, tended but to enhance in his soul the value of Christ, and of that righteousness through the faith of Christ, in which he desired to be found.
Brethren, do you know anything of this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which is blessed because it can be satisfied ?—satisfied to the full in that presence where alone they hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; where alone there is fulness of joy, and beholding God's face in righteousness, they are satisfied with his likeness; where they themselves are like him, for they see him as he is. Do you so desire these things that you will not rest without them? Do you so long for this blessedness, that you will not let the Lord go unless you obtain it? If you do not hunger and thirst for such things as these, sooner or later your bread will fail, and a drought will be upon your waters; you will perish with hunger, and your tongue will fail for thirst. Many are the things men long for and crave after in the world, but all such hungering is for that which is not bread to the immortal soul, and can never feed it. All such thirsting is for the water of broken cisterns, and they that drink of it shall thirst again. Man was made for God,—to eat of the tree of life, and to drink of the fountain of living waters; and never can he know true and lasting joy till he has returned from the far country whither he has wandered, back to his Heavenly Father's house. You may, it is true, during your season of grace, seek your happiness in the portion of goods which God bestows upon you here. You may abuse this world by making it your god. But all things under the sun are perishable, and you must at any rate leave them. A mighty famine will arise, and you will one day be in want. Woe to those who now are full, for they shall hunger. God's servants shall eat, but they shall be hungry; God's servants shall drink, but they shall be thirsty ; God's servants shall sing for joy of heart, but they shall cry for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit.
Seek then first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. Make this the supreme object of your desire, as it is the one thing absolutely needful. Use this world as not abusing it. Be not careful and troubled about many things. Have your treasure in heaven, where no thief breaks through, nor moth corrupts. Your heart will be where your treasure is; and you will experience to your everlasting joy, that God is the strength of your heart, and your portion for
The next blessing is pronounced upon “the merciful; for they,” says Jesus, “shall obtain mercy.”
No wonder that such a disposition should be in high esteem with God, who himself “delighteth in mercy.” No wonder that he should seek in those who are renewed after his image, something of this, their Heavenly Father's, character. No wonder that “mercy” is one of the “ weightier matters of the law.” Mercy indeed is that attribute of God to which we owe no less than this,-that even when we were enemies by wicked works, he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; and that he who, before all worlds, was rich in the glory of the Father, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. If the mercy of the Lord is so great towards them that fear him as the heaven is high above the earth, and the earth itself is full of it,
shall not they also love mercy who are "gathered with great mercies ?”
The disease of selfishness is so firmly and deeply rooted in our nature, that nothing can effectually eradicate it but a heartfelt sense of the loving -kindness which knows no limit. When we understand even a little of the measure of this mercy, of its freeness, its fulness, its active beneficence, of the wonders it has done, and is ever doing, for the children of men, there is in such a view alone, a power to expand the contracted heart, and a tendency to infuse something of the quality itself. This is the only real and permanent remedy for our selfishness. Too often in doing good our motives will not bear analysis. We can trace them ourselves to a tainted source. Too often we are seeking our own gratification from the praise of man, or some return of good-will at least from those we benefit. How then do these things appear to Him, whose all-seeing eye penetrates the depths of the human heart? To show mercy for its own sake, even to our enemies; to do good, as God does, even to the unthankful and the evil, and when we can hope for nothing again,—this is a lesson to be learned nowhere but at the feet of Jesus. It is the love of Christ which, being realized, constrains us to live not to ourselves, but to Him, and to extend our sympathies with His, so that we look not on our own things, but also on the things of others.
Now, those who copy the example of God in exercising mercy, show mercy with cheerfulness, without reserve, liberally, and not upbraiding. They do not limit their acts of benevolence to those of whom they hope to receive. They are ready not only to do good to those who do good to them, for
but if occasion should arise, like the good Samaritan, they do good even to their enemies, hoping for no recompence from them. This is no doubt a difficult lesson, and it requires a man to have made considerable progress in the school of Christ before he can master it thoroughly; but his Spirit is a Teacher who not only sets the task, but can also impart ability to learn it. To love their enemies, to do good to those who hate them, if they hunger to feed them, if they thirst to give them drink, even this can be done by those who can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth them.
In fact, a readiness actually to return good for evil is the only real evidence of that hearty forgiveness of injuries on which the Gospel lays such stress. There is nothing more utterly at variance