On Poverty of Spirit


On Poverty of Spirit

Consider first, that the first of the eight beatitudes is expressed in these words: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,' Matt. v. 2. This beatitude or happiness, which brings with it a title to the kingdom of heaven, belongs in the first place to them that are poor by condition and in effect, Luke vi. 20, provided they be contented with their poverty, and cordially embrace it as the beloved companion and favourite of Christ and his saints. The Son of God came down from heaven to seek poverty upon earth: he was born in poverty, he lived in poverty, and he died in poverty, and shall we, my soul, disdain, shall we fly and abhor what the wisdom of God made choice of for him and his? especially since he has declared, that to be poor here is the true way to be rich hereafter, and that the men of riches, who have their consolation here, after they have slept out their short sleep, shall find their hands empty; whilst the poor, after their short sufferings, shall be admitted to the immense treasures of a happy eternity.

Consider 2ndly, that this beatitude belongs in the second place to them that are poor in affection; that is, who set not their heart on their worldly wealth, but are in readiness of mind to part with their riches, whenever God shall call for all, or any part of them; and in effect, willingly resign them up, when he by any occasion is pleased to take them away: as also to all such as are poor by choice, for the love of Christ, who, when they understand such to be the will of God, actually relinquish all they have to follow him. In fine, to all such as have their affections disengaged from all perishable things; from all worldly honours, possessions and pleasures; from all that is earthly and temporal; in a word, form all that is not God; for such as these, and only such as these, are in a proper disposition to fly up to the kingdom of heaven. There is no flying thither as long as we are tied down by affection to any thing upon earth. O who will give me the wings of a dove, that is, of simplicity and purity in all my intentions and affections, that being let loose from this wretched earth by this true poverty of spirit, I may fly up freely to my God, and eternally repose in him!

Consider 3rdly, that this beatitude belongs in a particular manner to the humble; for such as they are truly poor in spirit; for such as they have not their spirit puffed up with windy pride, nor with any conceit of any ability of their own; like him to whom it is said, Apoc. iii. 17. 'Thou sayest, I am rich and made wealthy, and I have need of nothing, and thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked:' nor are they high-spirited or high-minded - which is being rich in spirit - but are poor, mean, little in their own eyes, and therefore exalted by God: who to such little ones as these gives his grace in this world, and his heavenly kingdom in the next. O teach us, dear Lord, to be thus poor in spirit; teach us to be little and humble.

Conclude to begin thy study of true wisdom by applying thyself to learn well this first lesson of poverty of spirit; especially since thy great master expects, and requires of all his disciples that they should enter into his school with a disengagement of their heart and affection at least from every thing else - that they should leave all to follow him.