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was often engaged in prayer, and yet I do love him.—Yes, I do love him; and lamented that on account of pain he that is of more importance to me than could not pray more. On being re- to see my pardon sealed on parchment, minded that the Lord knew his frame, for if I love Christ I cannot be lost!” and remembered that he was dust, he As his end approached, he was perreplied, “Yes, he does, and though I fectly conscious of it. Taking the hand cannot pray much, I feel the spirit of of the beloved companion of his earthly prayer upon me;" and then he added, “I pilgrimage, he said, with a heavenly am a guilty sinner, but the blood and sweetness and composure, “Farewell, righteousness of Christ are my only farewell !” and presently he "slept in foundation. Behold, God is my salva- Jesus." tion."
About a week before his death, hav- | He was buried on the 23rd of ing been left alone for a little while, he September, in a vault beneath the remarked to his niece, on her return to north porch of the chapel, and on the him, “Well, while you have been gone following Lord's day evening, a funeral I have been trying to examine myself, sermon was preached to his mourning and to ascertain whether I love Jesus church and congregation by the writer Christ, and I think I do love him.- of this brief memoir, from Heb. xi. 21.
ON SPIRITUAL POVERTY.
BY THE REV. J. J. DAVIES.
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Sucu are the characters whom our tuously every day.” He was not guilty of Lord, in the first place, pronounces dissipation or intemperance, of infidelity blessed,- the poor in spirit ! Who or irreligion ; but he set his heart on his would have expected this ? How different treasures; he sought satisfaction in the from the language of the world; even of abundance of his possessions; he felt the professedly Christian world! A man that he had enough here, and he had no prospers in business, he spreads himself thought of hereafter. But there is noout like a green bay-tree, he has more thing permanent on earth—he died; and than heart can wish; and though it is “in hell he opened his eyes, being in evident that he has his portion in this torment;” and when he pleaded for life, yet we exclaim, How fortunate! some alleviation of his wretchedness, What a prosperous, what a happy man! he received this reply, “ Remember that But God's thoughts are not as our thou in thy life time receivedst thy good thoughts ; neither are his ways like our things.”—“Woe unto you rich, for you ways. Jesus says, “Woe to you rich, have received your consolation !” There for you have received your consolation;" was at the same time a poor man, not but, “ blessed be ye poor, for yours is only straightened in his circumstances, the kingdom of heaven!” And this he but also afflicted in his person, for want illustrates by a very affecting parable. had induced disease. Covered with There was a certain rich man, clothed in wounds, upmollified, and all exposed, purple and fine linen, and who fared sump- he might be seen daily sitting at the
gate of the rich man, thankful for the 1 of the poor with whom he contrasts the crumbs which fell from his table. Life, rich, saying, “Blessed be ye poor, .... doubtless, sometimes appeared long to woe unto you rich.” In this passage it him, and painful; but the last of his is evident, from the uniform tenor of wearisome days and comfortless nights scripture, as well as from the experience came at length-he, too, died; and of every day, that our Lord does not angels, who are ministering spirits sent and cannot refer to the outward condiforth to minister to the heirs of salva- tion, apart from the state of mind which tion, conveyed his emancipated spirit to is cultivated in it. Not the poor simply, the abodes of the blessed : in life he had but those who, while poor in estate, are received his evil things, but now he is rich in faith, and patience, and piety, are comforted. "Blessed be ye poor, for blessed; not the rich merely, but those yours is the kingdom of heaven.” who trust in uncertain riches, are the
In attempting some illustration of miserable. this first of the beatitudes, we shall But yet it must be confessed that we endeavour, in the first place, to ascertain are much the creatures of circumstances. the character described by our Lord, — These frequently exert a prodigious in“the poor in spirit.” There are two fluence on our characters. Hence it is interpretations of this phrase to which it that riches are so often represented in may be proper briefly to advert before scripture as attended with great moral we notice that which appears to us to be danger. Through the blindness of the correct. Some have interpreted it of human mind they have a powerful poverty literally, and others of voluntary tendency to induce affection for them, poverty. A word or two on each. and confidence in them. When riches
As to the first interpretation, that by increase, men find it hard not to set "the poor in spirit” we are to under their hearts upon them; when they stand the poor literally, it should be abound, it is difficult not to trust in remarked, that poverty is not, in itself, them. a blessing. No man can be pronounced The gospel, too, as it wears a benevoblessed, nor can it be said that he is in lent aspect towards mankind in general, the way to blessedness, simply because does so especially towards the afflicted ; he is poor. Many moral evils are often and poverty is an affliction. Jesus menfound to grow up in connexion with a tions it as one of the evidences of his state of great poverty. It is a soil in Messiahship, that to the poor the gospel which many vices become rank and was preached. And the apostle Paul luxuriant. We often find there, not states the fact in the following striking only a spirit of envy, censoriousness, language :-“Ye see your calling, breand discontent, but also of avarice and thren, how that not many wise men pride. The scriptures, especially those after the flesh, not many mighty, not of the New Testament, attach no im- many noble, are called; but God hath portance to mere outward circumstances chosen the foolish things of the world to as such. Our situation in life is nothing, confound the wise; and God hath chosen and it avails nothing to our best in the weak things of the world to conterests, apart from the state of mind found the things which are mighty; and which we cherish in it. This remark base things of the world, and things should be borne in mind in the inter- which are despised, hath God chosen, pretation of our Lord's words in the yea, and things which are not, to bring sermon on the plain, when he speaks, to nought things that are; that no flesh not of the poor in spirit, but simply should glory in his presence.”
It is of importance, however, to re-hast, and give unto the poor, and thou mark once more, that wealth is a talent; shalt have treasure in heaven.” Respectit is a talent with which some are ing this interpretation, I would remark especially entrusted; and it would prove that voluntary poverty is in itself no a great blessing to themselves, as well as virtue; that it is laudable only in prothe means of extensive good to others, portion to the purity of the motive in if they felt the responsibility connected which it originates, and the excellence with it, and laboured, as wise and faithful of the end which it is designed to stewards, to employ it for His honour promote. If men voluntarily submit to who had committed it to their trust. poverty and want from a spirit of pride And on the other hand, poverty, though and vain glory, if they do it under the in itself an affliction, is no real evil to influence of disappointment and vexamen if while poor they are content with tion, or if they do it in a Pharisaic spirit, such things as they have; if they are to be seen of their fellow men, to estapatient, submissive, resigned to their blish their own righteousness, and to lot as that which supreme wisdom and merit the kingdom of God, it is a vain goodness have assigned them ; if they are oblation, a worthless sacrifice ; no true neither ambitious of great things them- enjoyment can be connected with it, no selves, nor envious of those who possess real blessedness can flow from it. But them; if, through their afflictive lot on if it be done to dry up some of the most earth, they are the more assiduous in prolific sources of pride, ostentation, and laying up for themselves treasures in vanity, to cut off the occasion of luxury heaven; and if the abundance of their and conformity to the world, and joy and their deep poverty abound unto solemnly to devote all to the service the riches of Christian liberality, so that of God and to the good of men, it is to their power, and beyond it, they are a sacrifice acceptable to God through willing of themselves to do what they Jesus Christ. Circumstances may occur can for God and for man, and frequently to render this desirable, and even do more than the best of their richer necessary; but to do it uncalled would brethren-giving even all they have. indicate a state of moral unsoundness.
But there is a second interpretation to We are required to cultivate and imbe noticed; it is, that by the poor in prove our talents (and wealth is a talent), spirit we are to understand those who as well as to consecrate them to the are poor, not of necessity, but volun- service of God. We should use them tarily; those who choose to be poor for as stewards, not as proprietors, and the kingdom of heaven's sake; as many render them subservient to the divine of the primitive Christians did, who not glory and the best interests of our only took joyfully the spoiling of their fellow creatures. It is when we act goods when the ruthless hand of perse- thus that we act nobly; it is then that cution confiscated and destroyed them, our life is a continual sacrifice, sending but who also, having possessions of up clouds of sweetest fragrance which houses or lands, sold them and brought ascend even to our Father's throne. the prices of the things which were sold These interpretations are frequently and laid them down at the apostles' feet, adopted by certain classes of religionists ; so that distribution was made to every but they are evidently not correct. one according as he had need; and as What, then, is the true interpretation ? the young ruler would have done, had Our Lord, I conceive, is speaking of a be obeyed the Lord's command when he state of mind, not of any outward consaid to him, “Go and sell all that thou dition; and that state of mind appears
to me to be a consciousness of spiritual | tution of wisdom of the wisdom which destitution. The poor in spirit are those is profitable to direct; and he who is who are sensible of their inward spiritual poor in spirit is sensible, not only of his poverty; not those simply who are ignorance, but also of his folly. He spiritually poor, but those who are con cannot glory in his wisdom, nor trust to scious of their spiritual poverty, who are his own heart. He feels that he lacks truly and deeply sensible of their in- wisdom, and that he knows not what is ward destitution and wretchedness. The best for him. He feels his entire destate of mind described in this passage pendence on God for guidance in the is the opposite of that attributed to the path of life and peace. He acknow. church in Laodicea,—“Thou sayest I ledges him in all his ways, and trusts to am rich, and increased in goods, and him to direct his steps. He seeks espehave need of nothing; and knowest not cially to be made wise unto salvation, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and rejoices in the assurance that Christ and poor, and blind, and naked.” is made unto us wisdom from God, as
Spiritual poverty includes destitution well as righteousness, and sanctification of knowledge; and he who is poor in and redemption. spirit is conscious of his ignorance ; he Spiritual poverty includes, further, is sensible how little he knows as he destitution of righteousness and inward ought to know. He may have thought strength; and he who is poor in spirit is far more highly of himself than he conscious of his guilt and depravity. He ought to have done; he may have feels that he has nothing to recommend leaned to his own understanding ; he may him to the favour of his God; his very have been spoiled, and well nigh ruined, righteousness is polluted, his best by philosophy and vain deceit; he may obedience is defective and defiled; he is have been far too knowing to receive conscious that he has no worthiness of the simple verities of the gospel, “the his own to plead before God, but that, truth as it is in Jesus.” But it is other- on the contrary, his demerits are infinite. wise now; he is poor in spirit; he is He feels also his proneness to err; his conscious of his inward destitution; he tendencies to depart from God. He is sensible of his ignorance, especially of often realizes the truth of the apostle's the things which belong to his peace. declaration,“ To will is present with me, Hence he has become, in spirit, in but how to perform that which is good docility, a little child. As a little child, I find not.” He feels that he is not he receives the kingdom of God. As a sufficient of himself even to think anychild he sits at the feet of the great thing as of himself; that there is no Teacher; he listens with delight to health, no strength in him. He feels the gracious words which proceed out that in him,-that is, in his flesh,of his lips, and feeds upon them; he there dwelleth no good thing. He feels yields his understanding, his conscience, that if he has righteousness wherein to and his heart to the government of stand before God, it is that of another, Jesus Christ, and feels himself safe and not his own ; that if he has inward happy under his guidance. He still strength and grace it is communifrequently laments his ignorance; and cated by Him whose grace is sufficient while anxious to learn, he deplores the for his people, and whose strength is little progress which he makes in the made perfect in their weakness; that if knowledge of his Lord and Saviour he has peace and joy it is in believing Jesus Christ.
the testimony of God who has proSpiritual poverty includes, also, desti- mised that he will never leave or
fortake those who put their trust in him. unto them. They also esteem others
Such are the characters whom our better than themselves; while they look Lord first pronounces blessed the poor upon themselves as the chief of sinners, in spirit; they are those who are sensi- , they feel that they are less than the least ble of their spiritual poverty, who are of all saints. conscious of their destitution of the This state of mind does not depend highest knowledge, of the best wisdom, on outward circumstances; it is comof righteousness, and of inward strength; patible with affluence and ease on the and who, sensible of their own wretched- one hand, and with poverty and want on ness and unworthiness, are glad to avail the other ; but it is incompatible either themselves of His grace in whom all with a spirit of complacency in wealth, fulness dwells.
or of discontent in poverty. In Job we These characters are exceedingly hum- have a beautiful instance of genuine ble before God; they feel that they are poverty of spirit, in the midst of the not worthy of the least of all the mercies, greatest abundance and of the deepest and of all the truth, which he has shown distress.
BY THE REV. ISAAC DAVIES.
ABOUT two years ago, the pastor of a education, nor money, nor influence, village congregation, lamenting the and the people were ignorant, rude, and spiritual destitution of several populous wicked. He deliberated. He thought districts in the vicinity, said, in the that if they knew what he did, little as course of his address one Lord's day that was, their condition would be immorning, “ Young men ! the villagers proved and their life more happy. He around are perishing; go and preach to therefore resolved to tell them what he them the gospel.” A young man who knew of Jesus Christ and what he felt had not long become a member of the of religion, and to labour in every way church was present and heard the appeal, possible for their spiritual well-being. and, under the blessing of God, it was He saw several cottages untenanted; he enough. In the afternoon of the same therefore applied at once for the use of day he went forth and came to a hamlet one of them, free of rent, for a school about three miles distant, whose in- and preaching room, until such time as habitants lived in total darkness and it would be required for a dwellingwithout any means of religious instruc- house. The application was successful. tion. Old and young, they were alike He announced his intention in the ignorant of the way of life. They were neighbourhood, and fixed the time when addicted to the lowest vices and most he would commence his operations. ridiculous sports. The sabbath day, as Meanwhile, however, much had to be is usual under such circumstances, was done; the house must be cleaned and aired, spent, with here and there an exception, benches, rails, pulpit, books, &c., must in folly and sin. But what could he do ? be provided. And he stood alone. He His knowledge was scanty, his experience was not sure of the sanction of any one. of spiritual life was recent, and his re. He mentioned the project to some who sources were limited. He had neither were ready for every good work, and they
VOL. X.-FOURTHI SERIES.