On the Eight Beatitudes : St. Matthew V.
Consider first, how the Son of God, the eternal wisdom of the father, being come down from heaven to be our father, our light, and our guide, in order to reclaim us from all our errors, to dispel our darkness, to redress all our evils, and to conduct us into the way of truth and everlasting happiness, opened his heavenly school for these purposes by his divine sermon upon the mount; in the beginning of which he has laid down in a few words the principal maxims of true wisdom and all the fundamentals of Christian morality comprised in what we commonly call the eight beatitudes. Christians, we all desire to be happy for ever; and behold here the wisdom of God, which can neither deceive nor be deceived, declares to us in clear and distinct terms what it is that is to make us happy here and to conduct us safe to a happiness that shall never end. O let us embrace, then, these blessed lessons! Who would not study them well since the learning of them is to make us wise indeed, and to bring us infallibly to the very source of all wisdom and happiness - even to an eternal union with God himself? O heavenly master, who would not frequent thy divine school since, in the very first entrance into it, thou thus directest us into a plain and easy way to eternal bliss?
Consider 2ndly, that the ancient philosophers, with all their pretensions to wisdom, were strangely in the dark with regard to man's true happiness, his last end, and his sovereign good, about which they ran into many errors; and not one of them all ever came near the truth. And, as they knew not the end, so were they also strangers to the true means that were to bring us to this end. They never once imagined that to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to morn, to suffer persecution, & c., was the way to happiness, much less did they suspect that such as these alone were actually happy. This was a doctrine never heard of in their schools. This was a lesson that was to be taught by the Son of God. This truth he brought down with him from heaven, and delivered to his disciples in his first divine sermon. O my soul, let us embrace with all our affections these divine truths, taught us by so great a master; let us be practically convinced of them, and conform ourselves to them in the whole conduct of our lives.
Consider 3rdly, how miserable are all the children of Babylon, that is, all poor deluded worldlings, who under the name of Christians, whilst they profess themselves followers and disciples of this divine master, take no notice of these lessons which he came from heaven to teach, but live on in an affected ignorance of them; so as to apprehend all those to be miserable whom he pronounces blessed, and those alone to be happy, who wallow in riches and sensual pleasures, whom he declares to be miserable, and against whom he pronounces his woe. And do such people as these believe the gospel indeed? whilst they pretend to seek for happiness in the very way which (if the gospel be true) must needs betray them into many errors, labours, and sorrows here, and shortly conduct them into endless misery. O let us at least be more wise! Let us open our eyes to this great light, which is come down from heaven, to shine upon them that before sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. Let us believe and adhere to this great teacher, who has the words of eternal life. Let us follow him and we shall not fail, under his conduct, to find the true way to solid happiness and eternal life.
Conclude to be ever thankful to the Son of God for all these great gospel truths which he has brought us down from heaven, in order to set loose our souls from the earth, and so to carry us up to heaven. O! if we desire to fly up to this happy region of pure and immortal joys, it must be with the wings of these virtues that are recommended to us in these eight beatitudes.