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before they are satisfied, while there is any spiritual life remaining. We may, thirdly, observe, That hunger and thirst are satisfied with nothing but meat and drink. If you would give to him that is hungry all the world beside, all the elegance of apparel, all the trappings of state, all the treasure upon earth, yea, thousands of gold and silver; if you would pay him ever so much honour ;-he regards it not: all these things are then of no account with him. He would still say, These are not the things I want : give me food, or else I die. The very same is the case with every soul that truly hungers and thirsts after righteous
He can find no comfort in any thing but this : he can be satisfied with nothing else. Whatever you offer besides, it is lightly esteemed: whether it be riches, or honour, or pleasure, he still says, This is not the thing which I want! Give me love, or else I die !
4. And it is as impossible to satisfy such a soul, a soul that is athirst for God, the living God, with what the world accounts religion, as with what they account happiness. The religion of the world implies three things: 1. The doing no harm, the abstaining from outward sin; at least from such as is scandalous, as robbery, theft, common swearing, drunkenness. 2. The doing gocd, the relieving the poor ; the being charitable, as it is called. 3. The using the means of grace; at least the going to church and to the Lord's supper. He, in whom these three marks are found, is termed by the world a religious man. But will this satisfy him who hungers after God ? No: It is not food for his soul. He wants a religion of a nobler kind, a religion higher and deeper than this. He can no more feed on this poor, shallow, formal thing, than he can fill his belly with the east wind." True, he is careful to abstain from the very appearance of evil; he is zealous of good works; he attends all the ordinances of God: but all this is not what he longs for. This is only the outside of that religion, which he insatiably hungers afier. The knowledge of God in Christ Jesus ; “ the life which is hid with Christ in God;" the being “joined unto the Lord in one spirit;" the having " fellowship with the Father and the Son ;' the "walking in the light as God is in the light;" the being
purified even as he is pure;"—this is the religion, the righteousness, he thirsts after : nor can he rest, till he thus rests in God.
5. Blessed are they who [thus] hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled. They shall be filled with the things which they long for; even with righteousness and true holiness. God shall satisfy them with the blessings of his goodness, with the felicity of his chosen. He shall feed them with the bread of heaven, with the manna of his love. He shall give them to drink of his pleasures as out of the river, which he that drinketh of shall never thirst, only for more and more of the water of life. This thirst shall endure for ever.
“ The painful thirst, the fond desire,
Thy joyous presence shall remove :
full soul shall still require
A whole eternity of love." 6. Whosoever then thou art, to whom God hath given to “ hunger and thirst after righteousness," cry unto him that thou mayest never lose that inestimable gist, -that this divine appetite may never cease. If many rebuke thee, and bid thee hold thy peace, regard them not ; yea, cry so much the more, “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!" mercy."
“Let me not live, but to be holy as thou art holy !" No more " spend thy money for that which is not bread, nor thy labour for that which satisfieth not.” Canst thou hope to dig happiness out of the earth, to find it in the things of the world ? O trample under foot all its pleasures, despise its honours, count its riches as dung and dross;yea, and all the things which are beneath the sun," for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," for the entire renewal of thy soul in that image of God wherein it was originally created. Beware of quenching that blessed hunger and thirst, by what the world calls religion ; a religion of form, of outside show, which leaves the heart as earthly and sensual as ever. Let nothing satisfy thee but the power of godliness, but a religion that is spirit and life; thy dwelling in God and God in thee; the being an inhabitant of eternity; the entering in by the blood of sprinkling within the vail,” and sitting“ in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.'
III.. 1. And the more they are filled with the life of God, the more tenderly will they be concerned for those who are still without God in the world, still dead in trespasses and sins. Nor shall this concern for others lose its reward. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
The word used by our Lord more immediately implies the compassionate, the tender hearted; those who, far from despising, earnestly grieve for those that do not hunger after God. This eminent part of brotherly love is here, by a common figure, put for the whole ; so that “the merciful,” in the full sense of the term, are they who love their neighbours as themselves.
2. Because of the vast importance of this love, without which, though we spake with the tongues of men and angels, though we had the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries, and all knowledge, though we had all faith so as to remove mountains; yea, though we gave all our goods to feed the poor, and our very bodies to be burned, it would profit us nothing,”-the wisdom of God has given us, by the apostle Paul, a full and particular account of it; by considering which we shall most clearly discern who are the merciful that shall obtain mercy.
Charity,” or love, (as it were to be wished it had been rendered throughout, being a far plainer and less ambiguous word,) the love of our neighbour as Christ hath loved us, " suffereth long;” is patient towards all men : it suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, infirmities, all the frowardness and littleness of faith, of the children of God; all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world. And it suffers all this, not only for a time, for a short season, but to the end; still feeding our enemy when he hungers; if he thirst, still giving him drink; thus continually“ heaping coals of fire,” of melting love,
upon his head.” 4. And in every step towards this desirable end, the “overcoming evil with good,” “Love is kind :" (x8SEVETA. : a word not easily translated :) it is soft, mild, benign. It stands at the utmost distance from moroseness, from all harshness or sourness of spirit; and inspires the sufferer at once with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection.
5. Consequently, “ Love envieth not:" it is impossible it should ; it is directly opposite to that baneful temper. It cannot be, that he who VOL. I.
has this tender affection to all, who earnestly wishes all temporal and spiritual blessings, all good things in this world and the world to come, to every soul that God hath made, should be pained at his bestowing any good gift on any child of man. If he has himself received the same, he does not grieve, but rejoice, that another partakes of the common benefit. If he has not, he blesses God that his brother at least has, and is herein happier than himself. And the greater his love, the more does he rejoice in the blessings of all mankind; the farther is he removed from every kind and degree of envy towards any creature. 6. Love 8 The
περπερευεσαι•-not vaunteth not itself;" which coincides with the very next words; but rather (as the word likewise properly imports)—is not rash or hasty in judging; it will not hastily condemn any one.
It does not pass a severe sentence, on a slight or sudden view of things: it first weighs all the evidence, particularly that which is brought in favour of the accused. A true lover of his neighbour is not like the generality of men, who, even in cases of the nicest nature,
see a little, presume a great deal, and so jump to the conclusion." No: he proceeds with wariness and circumspection, taking heed to every step; willingly subscribing to that rule of the ancient heathen, (Oh where will the modern Christian appear!) “I am so far from lightly believing what one man says against another, that I will not easily believe what a man says against himself. I will always allow him second thoughts, and many times counsel too."
7. It follows, love “is not puffed up:" it does not incline or suffer any man “ to think more highly of himself than he ought to think;" but rather to think soberly: yea, it humbles the soul unto the dust. It destroys all high conceits, engendering pride; and makes us rejoice to be as nothing, to be little and vile, the lowest of all, the servant of all. They who are “ kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love," cannot but“ in honour prefer one another.” Those who, having the samne love, are of one accord, do in lowliness of mind “each esteem other better than themselves.”
8. “ It doth not behave itself unseemly:" it is not rude, or willingly offensive to any
It "renders to all their due ; fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour;" courtesy, civility, humanity to all the world ; in their several degrees “honouring all men." A late writer defines good breeding, nay, the highest degree of it, politeness, “a continual desire to please, appearing in all the behaviour :" but if so, there is none so well bred as a Christian, a lover of all mankind. For he cannot but desire to "please all men for their good to edification :" and this desire cannot be hid ; it will necessarily appear in all his intercourse with men. For his “ love is without dissimulation :" 'it will appear in all his actions and conversation ; yea, and will constrain him, though without guile, to " become all things to all men, if by any means he may save some."
9. And in becoming all things to all men, "love seeketh not her own.” In striving to please all men, the lover of mankind has no eye at all to his own temporal advantage. He covets no man's silver, or gold, or apparel : he desires nothing but the salvation of their souls : yea, in some sense, he may be said, not to seek his own spiritual, any more thar: temporal advantage; for while he is on the full stretch to save their souls from death, he, as it were, forgets himself. He does not think of himself, so long as that zeal for the glory of God swallows him up. Nay, at some times he may almost seem, through an exces's of love, to give up himself, both his soul and his body; while he cries out, with Moses, “Oh! this people have sinned a great' sin ; yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin ;-and if not, blot me out of the book which thou hast written !" Exod. xxxii, 32, 33:-or with St. Paul, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh !” Rom. ix, 3.
10. No marvel that such " love is not provoked :” Taloğuvatai. Let it be observed, the word easily, strangely inserted in the translation, is not in the original. St. Paul's words are absolute. “ Love is not provoked :" it is not provoked to unkindness towards any one. Occasions indeed will frequently occur; outward provocations of various kinds ; but love does not yield to provocation ; it triumphs over all. In all trials it looketh unto Jesnis, and is more than conqueror in his love.
It is not improbable that our translators inserted that word, as it were, to excuse the apostle; who, as they supposed, might otherwise appear to be wanting in the very love which he so beautifully describes. They seem to have supposed this from a phrase in the Acts of the Apostles ; which is likewise very inaccurately translated. When Paul and Barnabas disagreed concerning John, the translation runs thus, " And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder," Acts xv, 39. This naturally induces the reader to suppose, that they were equally sharp therein : that St. Paul, who was undoubtedly right, with regard to the point in question, (it being quite improper to take John with them again, who had deserted them before,) was as much provoked as Barnabas, who gave such a proof of his anger, as to leave the work for which he had been set apart by the Holy Ghost. But the original imports no such thing; nor does it affirm that St. Paul was provoked at all. It simply says, sYEVETO QUV Fagoguduos, -" And there was a sharpness," a paroxysm of anger; in consequence of which Barnabas left St. Paul, took John, and went his own way. Paul then“chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren to the grace of God;" (which is not said concerning Barnabas ;)" and he went through Syria and Cilicia," as he had proposed, "confirming the churches." But to return.
11. Love prevents a thousand provocations which would otherwise arise, because it " thinketh no evil.” Indeed the merciful man cannot avoid knowing many things that are evil; he cannot but see them with his own eyes, and hear them with his own ears : for love does not put out his eyes, so that it is impossible for him not to see that such things are done; neither does it take away his understanding, any more than his senses, so that he cannot but know that they are evil. For instance: when he sees a man strike his neighbour, or hears bim blaspheme God he cannot either question the thing done, or the words spoken, or doubt of their being evil. Yet, 8 2071SETAL TO xaxov.
The word λογιζεσαι, , (thinketh) does not refer either to our seeing and hearing, or to the first and involuntary acts of our understanding; but to our willingly thinking what we need not; our inferring evil, where it does not appear; to our reasoning concerning things which we do not see; our supposing what we have neither seen nor heard. This is what true love absolutely
destroys. It tears up, root and branch, all imagining what we have not known. It casts out all jealousies, all evil surmisings, all readiness to believe evil. It is frank, open, unsuspicious; and, as it cannot design, so neither does it fear evil.
12. It“ rejoiceth not in iniquity;". common as this is, even among those who bear the name of Christ, who scruple not to rejoice over their enemy, when he falleth either into affliction, or erroi, or sin. Indeed how hardly can they avoid this, who are zealously attached to any party ? How difficult is it for them not to be pleased with any fault which they discover in those of the opposite party,—with any real or supposed blemish, either in their principles or practice? What warm defender of any cause is clear of these ? Yea, who is so calm, as to be altogether free? Who does not rejoice when his adversary makes a false step, which he thinks will advantage his own cause ? Only a man of love. He alone weeps over either the sin or folly of his enemy,
takes no pleasure in hearing or in repeating it, but rather desires that it may be forgotten for ever.
13. But herejoiceth in the aruth,” wheresoever it is found; in " the truth which is after godliness;" bringing forth its proper fruit, holiness of heart, and holiness of conversation. He rejoices to find, that even those who oppose him, whether with regard to opinions, or some points of practice, are nevertheless lovers of God, and in other respects unreprovable. He is glad to hear good of them, and to speak all he can consistently with truth and justice. Indeed, good in general is his glory and joy, wherever diffused throughout the race of mankind. As a citizen of the world, he claims a share in the happiness of all the inhabitants of it. Because he is a man, he is not unconcerned in the welfare of any man; but enjoys whatsoever brings glory to God, and promotes peace and good will among men.
14. This " love covereth all things:" (so, without all doubt, tauta Oreyes should be translated; for otherwise it would be the very same with mavta UTOLLÉVEt, endureth all things :) because the merciful man rejoiceth not in iniquity, neither does he willingly make mention of it. Whatever evil he sees, hears, or knows, he nevertheless conceals, so far as he can, without making himself“ partaker of other men's sins." Wheresoever or with whomsoever he is, if he sees any thing which he approves not, it goes not out of his lips, unless to the person concerned, if haply he may gain his brother. So far is he from making the faults or failings of others the matter of his conversation, that of the absent he never does speak at all, unless he can speak well
. A tale bearer, a backbiter, a whisperer, an evil speaker, is to him all one as a murderer. He would just as soon cut his neighbour's throat, as thus murder his reputation. Just as soon would he think of diverting himself by setting fire to his neighbour's house, as of thus "scattering abroad arrows, fire brands, and death," and saying, “ Am I not in sport ?”
He makes one only exception. Sometimes he is convinced, that it is for the glory of God, or (which comes to the same) the good of his neighbour, that an evil should not be covered. In this case, for the benefit of the innocent, he is constrained to declare the guilty. But even here, 1. He will not speak at all, till love, superior love, constrains kim. 2. He cannot do it from a general confused view of doing good, or promoting the glory of God, but from a clear sight of some particulas