36. ON THE CHRISTIAN
The beatitudes with which our Lord begins his sermon on the mount most
strikingly show what is the inward state and outward conduct of true
believers, as well as the general reception which such characters meet with
from the world.
Their inward state is described by poverty of spirit, mourning for sin,
hungering and thirsting after righteousness and purity of heart. Their
outward conduct, by meekness, mercifulness, and peaceableness. Their general
reception from an unbelieving world is declared to be persecution, reviling,
and slander. The promises made to the various branches of the Christian
character are most encouraging.
The poor in spirit, who are humble on account of sin, who are emptied of all
self-righteousness, and who feel their constant need of Jesus, are made the
happy partakers of every Gospel blessing. Receiving Christ into their hearts
by faith, they daily grow in grace, and in a fitness for the heavenly
The Savior comforts these mourners in Zion, binds up their broken hearts,
and gives them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the
garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. While hungering and thirsting
after righteousness, the good Shepherd leads them into green pastures, and
nourishes their souls unto eternal life. They receive the desire of their
hearts, even the presence and image of God in their souls.
Being justified by faith, they are accepted in the beloved; and, being made
the temples of the Holy Spirit, they become vessels unto honor; sanctified
for the master's use.
Sincerity and uprightness mark their character. Purity of intention, a
hatred of sin, and a love of holiness, flowing from that faith which
purifies the heart, prepare them for present manifestations of God in
Christ, as revealed in the Gospel, and for brighter visions of his glory in
the world to come.
With these internal principles and affections, they show forth, by their
daily walk and conversation, the praises of him who has called them out of
darkness into marvelous light. They are meek in their words and actions. The
law of kindness dwells upon their tongue. They are patient; bearing with one
another in love. Thus they avoid many troubles which those endure whose
spirits are violent, and whose actions are unkind.
They glide along the stream of life upon the still waters of meekness and
gentleness, while the contentious and petulant are ever struggling with the
rough surges of their own creating. Being firm in purpose, as well as mild
in spirit, they cannot always escape the storm; but while they "earnestly
contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," when duty calls them so
to do, they labor to "possess their souls in patience," and strive "in
meekness to instruct those who oppose themselves." When they are reviled,
they revile not again; when they suffer, they threaten not: but, committing
themselves unto him who judges righteously, and who will one day vindicate
the cause of his people, they are kept "in perfect peace," and, in the
truest sense of the promise, "inherit the earth."
They are merciful, when opportunities offer for the exercise of mercy,
whether it be in acts of forgiveness or benevolence, Like their heavenly
Father, they delight in mercy. Having been much forgiven, they are ready to
forgive much; considering that the greatest possible injury done to
themselves, when compared with their offenses against God, is but like the
hundred pence to the ten thousand talents. They pray for grace to resemble
their beneficent Creator, who makes his sun to arise on the evil and on the
good, and who causes his rain to descend on the just and on the unjust.
They love to do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the
household of faith; remembering that Gospel precept, "Do not be overcome of
evil, but overcome evil with good." They love peace; and study, as far as is
consistent with the truth of the Gospel and a good conscience, to live
peaceably with all men. They delight in pouring the balm of consolation into
the troubled breast, and in smoothing the rigors of angry feeling, wherever
their influence extends.
These are the lineaments of that beautiful character which is formed by the
Holy Spirit, and called by our blessed Savior "the salt of the earth," and
"the light of the world;" preserving it from universal corruption and total
This character is the great preparative for the enjoyment of heavenly glory;
and yet, though beloved of God, this is the character which is despised,
persecuted, reviled, and slandered by an unbelieving world. No real
Christian, bearing this exalted character, need droop or despond; for he is
assured by eternal truth itself that great shall be his reward in heaven.
But is this the character of all the Lord's people, without exception? It
is. All do not, indeed, attain to the same degree of holy conformity to
Jesus, but all must and do bear this divine image; since it is expressly
said, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." All
true believers possess these inward principles of holiness—all have these
outward marks of true discipleship—all have to encounter the world's
derision; though, like the good seed in the parable, there may be in some
thirty, in some sixty, and in some a hundred fold.
Let none of the children of God, then, startle at the sight of the cross;
for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Rather let them rejoice, since it is recorded by the pen of inspiration, "if
we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall
also reign with him."
Happy, indeed, are they who most resemble the Savior, and suffer the most
cheerfully for his sake. I learn from these beatitudes, that all the graces
which our divine Redeemer pronounces blessed, meet, like the radii of a
circle, in one common center—the heart of the true believer. These graces do
not form so many distinct characters, but unitedly they form one
character—the child of God. Some of God's children have shone brighter in
one grace, and some in another; but each possesses the whole.
Abraham is exhibited to us as a pattern for faith; Job, for patience;
Joseph, for purity; Moses, for meekness; Samuel, for integrity; David, for
contrition and spiritual-mindedness; Daniel, for devotion; Peter, for zeal;
John, for tenderness; Paul, for contempt of the world, and delight in the
cross: yet all were filled with love; all were clothed with humility; for
humility and love are the characteristic features of genuine excellence.
The angels are humble; as standing before the throne of God, they veil their
faces with their wings. The glorified saints are humble; when high in bliss,
they cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus, exclaiming, "Worthy is the
But, Oh amazing thought! even the great Jehovah, who humbles himself to
behold the things that are in heaven and earth, condescended to empty
himself of all but love, and, in infinite compassion, to take upon him the
nature of man, and to bleed upon the accursed tree! And for whom did he die?
For his rebellious creatures, whom he could in a moment have annihilated,
and whose place he could have supplied by myriads of holy beings.
This almighty Savior, who inhabits eternity, even now condescends to dwell
in the humble and contrite heart, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to
revive the heart of the contrite ones. Oh for faith to contemplate this
great sight! Oh for a heart to feel the power of this grace, and to taste
the sweetness of this redeeming love! Lord! come with all your full
salvation to my soul, that all my powers may be wholly consecrated unto you.
Here I behold humility exhibited in its divinest form. Shall we, then, boast
of our humility, and extol the lowly bendings of a sinful worm? Ah! how
little do our most abased feelings deserve the name of humility, when
contrasted with the inconceivable abasement of the Eternal Word, when he was
made flesh and dwelt among us!
Look and gaze, Oh my soul, on your condescending Savior, until you are laid
prostrate in the dust of humiliation at the foot of the cross; and there
drink deep into that spirit which will assimilate you to the Friend of
sinners, and prepare you for the bliss of heaven. Oh how should I loathe
myself! He, so humble; and I, so proud: He, so pure; and I, so polluted!
The thirsty traveler sees a cistern at a distance, and labors hard to reach
it; but when he comes with longing desire to quench his thirst, he finds it
broken. Thus earth disappoints all who trust in its supplies. It is a broken
cistern. I look for its refreshing streams, but find none. Where, then, must
I turn? To the Fountain of living waters. Jesus is this fountain of life and
glory. To him I would now hasten. In him I shall ever find a never-failing
stream of grace and comfort. He can delight and refresh my soul; and, coming
unto him by faith, I shall never be disappointed.
From these considerations I learn, that to seek first the kingdom of God and
his righteousness is the highest wisdom of man; for, while so doing, all
other needful things shall be added unto me. I also learn, that Jesus has
made an inseparable connection between the precepts and promises of the
Gospel, between the character and the privileges of his people.
If I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and thus made humble, contrite,
meek, spiritually-minded, pure, and peaceable, I shall enjoy his presence
and love while journeying through this valley of tears, and his everlasting
glory in the world above.
Then why should the souls of the faithful be "discouraged because of the
hardness of the way," seeing that the way of the cross is the way to the
crown? The world may light up its fires; friends may betray us to death;
Satan may roar like a lion; the flesh may cry out for indulgence, and tempt
us to yield to our foes: yet, if Jesus be the God of our hearts, he will
raise us above every temptation; he will strengthen us for every assault;
and, at length, make us more than conquerors, to the praise and glory of his
Oh! love without compare,
Oh! love beyond degree;
That he, whom cherubim adore,
Should bleed and die for me!
For me, a wretch so vile,
For me, a rebel worm,
His love its sacred power displayed,
In its divinest form.
It is Jesus died to save,
It is Jesus lives to bless;
On high he dwells—the sinner's friend,
The Lord, our righteousness.
Then, Oh my soul, rejoice,
Extol your Savior's name;
Make mention of his dying love,
And celebrate his fame.
He claims your heart, your love;
He claims you for his own;
Oh cast yourself in willing bonds
Before his heavenly throne.