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Very opposite in every way are earth's kingdoms, even if the heart of the king is under the power of the truth of God. Nimrod, the first monarch of earth, was in God's. view, or “ before the Lord,” only a "mighty hunter”. making prey of men, that is to say, as the hunter does of animals ; yet was he necessary when men by sin had become as beasts for violence. When the great Gentile empires were presented in vision to Daniel, it was under the figure of four beasts-see chapter vii. And even the God-given kingdom of Israel had debased itself more and worse than the Gentile kingdoms, and had so abused the law which had been given to teach them the blessed “fear of the Lord,” that it was employed for worldly and hypocritical purposes.

It was after this manifestation of earth’s kings and kingdoms that our Lord gave His divine announcement of the “ kingdom of the heavens," and set forth, through its laws and statutes, the highest spirituality, in utmost possible contrast with the vain religious worldliness of His own nation,

The “ Sermon on the Mount is full of such contrasts ; and it also shows that all the spirituality it inculcates was hidden in the law given by God at Sinai, though only a measure of this had ever been pressed on the people (see Matt. xix. 7,8); and even that small measure had been rejected.

Having briefly glanced at the “Sermon on the Mount," as a whole, we may look a little at its internal structure, and for this purpose may divide it into three parts.

1.--The introduction. 2.—The excellence of a God-wrought holiness, and

its vast superiority over mere national Jewish

religion 3.-Concluding exhortations and warnings.

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Space will only allow of a few remarks under each of these heads.

(1) The introduction consists of what are called the Beatitudes.” With them we have only to compare the promises under the law in Deut. xxviii. to see the vast superiority of these spiritual blessings compared with Israel's temporal ones. Earthly blessings and prosperity in this life are God's prerogative to give, and His only; and it pleased Him under the Old Testament to connect them, as a rule, with faith and obedience. But in the “ kingdom of the heavens” it is quite otherwise. In the blessings uttered by our Lord there is a marked absence of earthly advantage. Both the internal and external characteristics of the subjects of the heavenly kingdom are those of the Spirit, not those of the flesh.

It is instructive to notice that in these chapters the blessings precede any mention of precepts or duties. The word used, makarios, means “happy" as well as “blessed," and points to the joys of Christ's disciples rather than to the gain or profit of His service. Indeed, the same word is used by Paul in the expressions "the blessed God," and “the blessed and only Potentate," in 1 Tim. i. 11 ; vi. 15. God rejoices in all His works, and declares that this characteristic happiness belongs to His children who are serving Him here below. This bright and joyful introduction to all the subsequent precepts reminds us of Neh. viii. 10, * The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

(2) The excellence of a divine holiness as in wrought in the believer is the theme of the second and larger part of our Lord's discourse; from chap. v. 13 to vii. 12. The divisions under this head are in beautiful order.

The practical character, amongst men, of the “ blessed ” ones is given in chap. v. 13-20. So distinct from the world are they, that they are described as "the salt of the

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earth” and “the light of the world ”; they preserve it from corruption, and are as luminaries from above by their good works. Only thus are they fit to be teachers of the law and will of God; they first to, and next teach, and are the very opposite of the “Scribes and Pharisees” of a mere outward religion, who “say, and do not.”

The lofty spirituality of the laws of the kingdom of the heavens is unfolded in chap. v. 21-48, and our Lord most fittingly illustrates this before a Jewish audience by showing how far the utmost requirements commanded by Moses are to be exceeded now. By His “but I say unto you,” the sixth and seventh commandments of the Decalogue are made to apply to sins of the heart; simplicity and truthfulness of speech take the place of caths ; good is to be returned for evil, instead of retaliation for wrong; and love is to extend far beyond the neighbour, even to the enemy. As we listen to His teaching we are constrained to say, " Thy word is very pure: therefore Thy servant loveth it;” and also, “I have seen an end of all perfection; but Thy commandment is exceeding broad.”

In the light of such a holy, acceptable, and perfect will of God we cry out, like Isaiah, “Unclean, unclean," and as to living it out and teaching it to others, we say with Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things ?” Indeed we instinctively feel that in such an exposition of the law, just as in the parable of the Good Samaritan, our Lord was involuntarily giving a portrait of Himself.

In chap. vi. 1-18 we see the practical result of the heart's reception of this searching and spiritual law, in the matters of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. They will be for God's eye or ear, and not for man’s.

Who is not reminded here, first, of the widow's mites, and next, of Him who had continued all night in prayer before He uttered this discourse ? (See Luke vi. 12.)

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The next section (chap. vi. 19-34) lifts from us the cares of life as to food and raiment. As the previous one put living sincerity into our offerings and our prayers, so this one bids us carry the truth that we have a “Father in the heavens” into the household, the workshop, the office, or the warehouse.

The last section, in chap. vii. 1-12, warns against a censorious and judging spirit towards other fellow-disciples. This is very suitably placed, for is it not just when we have honestly and devotedly sought to follow out the previous precepts, that Satan can most tempt us to judge others, whom we do not think to be as whole-hearted or obedient as we are ? From Luke ix. 49, we see that it was when John was himself closely following the Master, that he forbad another, who, nevertheless, was casting out demons, in his Master's name, even as John was.

Verse 12, as to doing to others what we would they should do unto us, may be regarded as a divine summary of the previous part of the chapter; the word "therefore” with which it begins, implies this.

(3) How solemn is the last brief portion of the “Sermon on the Mount." Chap. vii. 13-28 contains final encourage

. ments to the saints, and warns against false teachers who would, by their carnality, weaken the commands and lower the holiness which had been set forth by the Lord. Compare Paul's words in Acts xx. 29–35, on leaving the elders of the church at Ephesus. The “strait gate and “ narrow way

seem also to have reference to our Lord’s whole discourse, and tell of purity and heavenly-mindedness, even as the “wide gate” and “ broad way” tell of the easy entrance and course of Pharisee or Sadducee religion. The contrast between "grapes" and "figs” on the one

“ ” hand, and thorns" and "thistles" on the other, and be

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tween the good and bad trees and their respective fruits, belongs to all the present age, and affords a test for all who claim the privileges of the "kingdom of the heavens.” That our Lord intended this prolonged application is seen by His reference to the day of His judicial action at the close of this age. It is here that He first uses the expression “that day.” Many will say to Me in that day.

The “Sermon" ends in solemn harmony with its contents. Side by side does the Lord put the precious rockbuilt life and life-work of His true disciples and sent ones, with the fair-show work of the mere plausible professor who has built on the sand, and who makes the awful discovery of the vanity of his life when the storm of wrath sweeps himself and everything else away.

Solomon's proverb, “A divine sentence is in the lips of the king : his mouth transgresses not in judgment," was never more true than in our Kingly Master's utterance in these chapters.

H. D.

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A GOLDEN CHAIN;
OR, GOD'S PURPOSE OF GRACE IN CHRIST.
“Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate

whom He did predestinate, them He also called ; and whom He called, them He also justified : and whom He justified, them He also glorified._ Rom. viii. 29, 30. We know that the Pauline epistles are not placed in the order in which they were written. The Epistle to the Romans, first in order, was not the first church-letter written by the apostle. But the order observed in the New Testament commends itself to the thoughtful, renewed mind as divinely fixed; that is to say, fixed by men who acknowledged God in the arrangement of the Scriptures, and who were guided by Him.

The object of the Holy Spirit in this epistle evidently

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