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THE Sermon on the Mount may be resolv
ed into nine distinct sections, according to the following division: 1. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, who are
happy or blessed: namely, those persons whose hearts and lives are under the influence of true
religion. V. 3–12. II.
He reminds those who are favoured with the light of revelation, that it is their duty, whether individually or nationally, to hold forth that light to others; thus intimating that the Jews were ultimately designed to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth, by diffusing
among them the knowledge of God. V. 13-16. III. After declaring that he came not to destroy or
set aside, but to fulfil the law and the prophets, a declaration, which, considering the prejudices of the Jews, it was the more necessary to make after the intimation which he had just given of God's entertaining thoughts of mercy to the Gentiles, he proceeds to explain the law accord
ing to its real and spiritual signification; and cautions his disciples not to be imposed upon and seduced by those false professors and teachers of religion, who, by their hypocritical conduct and corrupt doctrine, were guilty of mak
ing void the commandments of God. V: 17—48. IV. In opposition to the Scribes and Pharisees, he
maintains, that the only religion which is acceptable in the sight of God is that which is seated in the heart; and that all outward works, even alms-giving, prayer, and fasting, are of no value, unless they spring from a pure and holy intention:-hence he takes occasion to declare, that whosoever does these things with a desire of obtaining the praise of men, and not with the desire of pleasing and glorifying God, though he may gain the end at which he aims on earth, will have reward of his father which is in
heaven. VI. 1-18. V. Our Lord, after having cautioned his disciples
against entertaining the desire of human applause in the performance of what are commonly called religious actions, proceeds to dissuade them from an undue regard to the things of the world. He would have them without carefulness, following their earthly employments with a heavenly mind:--and hence he exhorts and encourages them to set their attections upon the things which are above, and confidently to trust in the good providence of God for the supply of all
their necessary wants. VI. 19--34. VI. He warns his disciples against the two fol
lowing evils. First, the sin of passing wanton and uncharitable judgment upon others Se condly, the danger of calling forth the earthly, sensual, and devilish passions of the ungodly, and so exposing themselves unnecessarily to contempt and persecution, by pressing the truths and blessings of the Gospel on such as are standing in the
way of sinners or sitting in the seat of the scornful. VII. 1-6. VII. He adds a remarkable encouragement to
prayer. VII. 7-12. VIII. He lays down the distinguishing marks of the
way to heaven, and the way to hell, together with a rule whereby we may know every false teacher who would lead men in the latter.
VII. 13-20. IX. He concludes with a general and forcible
declaration, that every one who would make his calling and election sure, must be a doer, and not merely a hearer, professor, or teacher, of this religion; for that all knowledge and gifts are of no avail, unless they be accompanied with à conscientious obedience to the will of God, as it is plainly revealed to us in this divine discourse. VII. 21–27.
May every one who reads these solemn sayings of Jesus Christ consider, how widely different is the spirit and conduct of professing Christians in general from that holiness of heart and life which He whom they call their Lord and Master does here indispensably require of them, that so they may no longer be deceived by the supposition that it is sufficient for them to be conformed to
the example of merely nominal Christians, but may take the word of Christ himself as the only unerring standard of religious practice, remembering that whatever name men may assume, or whatever profession they may make, it is certain that the blessed Jesus does not acknowledge them as his friends, unless they do whatsoever he commands them.
THESE R M O N.
St. MATTHEW, CHAP. V.
4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be 5. comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they 6. shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they 7. shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for 8. they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure 9. in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are
the peacemakers : for they shall be called the 10. children of God. Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is 11. the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when
men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall
say all manner of evil against you falsely for my 12. sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great
is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to