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the world. God has redeemed you out of the world, and therefore do not live as though you had your portion in this life. Live as pilgrims and strangers; as those that are not at home; as fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. How dishonourable will it be to you that God had so advanced and entitled you to such glory, to set your heart upon the dust of the earth; how you dishonour the grace of God in giving you such blessedness; and how will you dishonour the blessedness that God has given, no more to set your heart on it, and to set it so much on the world!
3. Consider what a vast difference has God made between you and other men, how vastly different is your relative state from theirs, how much more has God done for you than for them. Seek therefore those things which are above, where God is. Will it not be a shame if one that is entitled to such glory conducts no better than a child of the devil? Consider it seriously; and let it not be asked with reference to you, Matth. v. 47, What do ye more than others? Other men love those that love them; other men do good to those that do good to them: walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; and let it appear that you are of a spirit more excellent than your neighbour; manifest more love, and more meekness, and more humility, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, strengthened with all might according to his glorious power unto all patience and long suffering. Put ye on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, gentleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another; and let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven. Seeing God has given you so much, God and men may well expect of you, that you should be greatly distinguished in your life from other men.
MATTHEW v. 8.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
GOD formerly delivered his law from mount Sinai, by an audible voice, with the sound of a trumpet, with the appearance of devouring fire, with thunders, and lightnings, and earthquakes. But the principal discoveries of God's word and will to mankind were reserved to be given by Jesus Christ, his own Son, and the Redeemer of men, who is the light of the world.
In this sermon of Christ, of which the text is a part, we hear him delivering the mind of God also from a mountain. Here is God speaking, as well as from mount Sinai, and as immediately, but after a very different manner. There God spake by a preternatural formation of sounds in the air; here he becomes incarnate, takes on him our nature, and speaks, and converses with us, not in a preternatural, awful, and terrible manner, but familiarly as one of us. His face was beheld freely by all that were about him; his voice was human without those terrors which made the children of Israel desire that God might speak to them immediately no more; and the revelation which he makes of God's word is more clear and perfect, and fuller of the discoveries of spiritual duties, of the spiritual nature of the command of God, of our spiritual and true happiness, and of mercy and grace to mankind. John i. 17. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
This discourse of Christ on the mount seems principally levelled against the false notions, and carnal prejudices that were at that day embraced by the nation of the Jews; and those benedictions, which we have in the beginning of his sermon, were sayings that were mere parodoxes to them, wholly contrary to the notions which they had received. That he, who was poor in spirit, was blessed, was a doctrine contrary to the received opinion of the world, and especially of that nation, who were exceedingly ambitious of the praise of men, and highly conceited of their own righteousness. And that he was a blessed and happy man, who mourned for sin, and live mortified to the pleasures and vanities of the world, was contrary to their notions, who placed their highest happiness in
worldly and carnal things. So also that they who were meek, were blessed, was another doctrine very contrary to their notions, who were a very haughty, proud nation, and very revengeful, and maintained the lawfulness of private revenge, as may be seen in the 38th verse. Equally strange to them was the declaration that they who hungered and thirsted after righteousness were happy; for they placed their happiness, not in possessing a high degree of righteousness, but in having a great share of worldly good. They were wont to labour for the meat that perisheth, they had no notion of any such thing as spiritual riches, or of happiness in satisfying a spiritual appetite. The Jews were dreadfully in the dark at that day about spiritual things. The happiness which they expected by the Messiah was a temporal and carnal, and not a spiritual happiness. Christ also tells them that they were blessed who were merciful, and who were peace-makers; which was also a doctrine that the Jews especially stood in need of at that day, for they were generally of a cruel, unmerciful, persecuting spirit.
The truth which Christ teaches them in the text, that they were blessed who were pure in heart, was a thing wholly beyond their conceptions. The Jews at this time placed almost the whole of religion in external things, in a conformity to the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses. They laid great stress on tithing mint, and anise, and cumin, and on their traditions, as in washing hands before meat, and the like; but they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and especially such as respected holiness of heart. They took much more care to have clean hands, and a clean outside, than a clean heart, as Christ tells them, Matth. xxiii. 25, 27. "Wo unto you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within ye are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee! cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."
We may observe concerning the words of the text,
1. That Christ pronounces the pure in heart, blessed. Christ here accommodates his instructions to the human nature. He knew that all mankind were in the pursuit of happiness, he has directed them in the true way to it, and he tells them what they must become in order to be blessed and happy.
2. He gives the reason why such are blessed, or wherein the blessedness of such consists; that they shall see God. It is probable the Jews supposed that it was a great privilege to see God, from those passages in the law, where there is an account of Moses' earnestly desiring to see God's glory; and from the account that is given of the seventy elders, Exod. xxiv. 9, 10, 11, "Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and they saw the God of Israel; and there was
under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink."
It is also probable that they had very imperfect notions of what the vision of God was, and of the happiness that consisted in it, and that their notion of this matter, agreeably to the rest of their carnal, childish notions, was of some outwardly splendid and glorious sight, to please the eye and to entertain the fancy. From these words I shall derive two propositions.
I. It is a truly blessed thing to the soul of man to see God.
II. To be pure in heart, is the certain and only way to attain to this blessedness.
I. It is a truly blessed thing to the soul of man to see God. Here I shall attempt to show,
1. What is meant by seeing God.
First. It is not any sight with the bodily eyes: the bless edness of the soul does not enter in at that door. This would make the blessedness of the soul dependent on the body, or the happiness of man's superior part dependent on the inferior; and this would have confirmed the carnal and childish notions of the Jews. God is a spirit, and is not to be seen with the bodily eyes. We find it attributed to God, that he is invisible. Heb. xi. 27. "As seeing him, who is invisible." Col. i. 15. "Who is the image of the invisible God." It is mentioned as a part of God's glory, 1 Tim. i. 17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." That it is not any sight with the bodily eyes, is evident, because the unembodied souls of the saints see God, and the angels also, who are spirits and were never united to bodies. Matth. xviii. 10. "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
It is not any form nor visible representation, nor shape, nor colour, nor shining light, that is seen, wherein this great happiness of the soul consists. Indeed God was wont to manifest himself of old in outward glorious appearances. There was a shining light that was called the glory of the Lord. Thus the glory of the Lord was said to descend on mount Sinai, and in the tabernacle of the congregation. There was an outward visible token of God's presence, and the seventy elders, when they saw God in the mount, saw a visible shape. It seems also that when Moses desired to see God's glory, and when God passed by and covered him with his hand in the cleft of the rock, that Moses saw some visible glory. Exod. xxxiii. 18-23. "And he said, I beseech thee show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness to pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name
of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live." But it seems that God then condescended to the infant state of the church, and to the childish notions that were entertained in those days of lesser light; and Moses' request seems to have been answered, by God making his goodness to pass before him, and proclaiming his name and giving him a strong apprehension of the things contained in that name, rather than by showing him any outward glory.
The saints in heaven will behold an outward glory as they are in the human nature of Christ, which is united to the godhead, as it is the body of that person who is God; and there will doubtless be appearances of a divine, and inimitable glory and beauty in Christ's glorified body, which it will indeed be a refreshing and blessed sight to see.
But the beauty of Christ's body as seen by the bodily eyes, will be ravishing and delightful, chiefly as it will express his spiritual glory. The majesty that will appear in Christ's body, will express and show forth the spiritual greatness and majesty of the divine nature; the pureness, and beauty of that light and glory will express the perfection of the divine holiness; the sweetness and ravishing mildness of his countenance, will express his divine and spiritual love and grace.
Thus it was when the three disciples beheld Christ at his transfiguration upon the mount. They beheld a wonderful outward glory in Christ's body, an inexpressible beauty in his countenance; but that outward glory and beauty delighted them principally as an expression of the divine excellencies of his mind, as we may see from their manner of speaking of it. It was the sweet mixture of majesty and grace in his countenance, by which they were ravished. 2 Peter i. 16, 17, 18. "We were eye witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." But especially from the account which John gives of it. John i. 14. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth;" where John very probably had in his mind what he had seen in the mount at the transfiguration. Grace and truth are not outward, but spiritual, glories.
Secondly. It is an intellectual view by which God is seen. God is a spiritual being, and he is beheld with the understanding. The soul has in itself those powers which are capable of appre