Poverty of Spirit.
Blessed are the Poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
THis is Jesus Christs own positi∣on, therefore it needs no proof, but cals for belief. Christ in these words be∣queathes the Kingdom of Hea∣ven, not 〈…〉 only, but by deed of gift (if I may so 〈◊〉 to the Poore in Spirit, Blessed are the Poor in spirit, for theirs (is) the Kingdome of Heaven, &c.
By the Kingdom of Heaven in Scripture, is sometimes meant, the Kingdom of Grace, and sometimes the Kingdom of Glory; Both these, as Christ here affirms, belong to them that are poor in Spirit; Blessed are the Poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, &c.
The Poor in spirit,] are a generation, mean and base in their own eyes, and in the eyes of the world too, but a generation very precious in the eye of Jesus Christ, a generati∣on very blessed, and highly honoured by Christ himself; a Kingdom of Grace, and a Kingdom of Glory is here by Christ assigned to them; Blessed are the Poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Page 80For the better understanding of these words, note, That a man may be two wayes poor in spirit; He may be gracelesly poor, or graci∣ously poore in spirit; gracelesly poor are all the posterity of Adam, as they come into the world; but this is not a blessed, but a cursed po∣verty of spirit.
Graciously poor in spirit, are all those, in some measure, in which Christ is formed; graceless poverty of spirit, is natural; but gra∣cious poverty of spirit is supernatural, Evange∣lical and Divine; Natural poverty, or grace∣less poverty of spirit, is cursed, but gracious and Divin poverty of spirit is blessed, Blessed are the poor in spirit, fortheirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is a gracious poverty of spirit, and not graceless poverty of spirit, to which Christ assigns the Kingdom of Heaven.
The frame of his spirit, which is gracelesly poor, is lively pictured, Iob 11.12. Man is born like a wild asses-colt. Job. 39.7, 8. He scarneth the multitude of the City, He regardeth not the crying of his driver, the range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing. A proud, impudent, silly, vain Creature. These words declare man grace∣lesly poore in spirit to be. Thou sayest thou art rich, and hast need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, Rev. 3.17. This is Gods description of man graciously poor in spirit, but this is not that poverty of spirit, which I am seeking after, not that on which Christ pronounces▪ [Blessed,] not that on which the Kingdom of Heaven is intailed, therefore I pass by it.
Page 81Quest. But what is that poverty of spirit, which Christ pronounceth blessed, and on which he entailes the kingdome of Heaven? How may it be described?
Answ. It is a speciall work of the sanctifying Spirit in the soul, whereby a man is brought to see and feel his own emptiness of grace, and Christs fulness; and is truly humbled, in regard of the one, and in some measure comforted, in regard of the other, as one that hopes to receive of his fullness, grace for grace.
This is that gracious poverty of spirit, which Christ pronounces blessed, and on which he intailes the kingdome of Heaven; and the ap∣pearances of it are these which follow.
1. A man graciously poor in spirit, abhors himself, and loaths himself, because of all his abominations; he is worse in his own eies, than he can be in any mans else; he sees a fullness of sinne in his nature, and a fullness of sinne in his conversation, and yet not such a fullness as he would see, Iob 13.23. He is in his own account, the chief of sinners. 1 Tim. 1.15.
2. A man graciously poor in spirit, sees in himself a great emptiness of grace; he sees that he is not sufficient of himself to think a good thought; He is in his own account,* the poorest man, in the best things of all, that look after them, Less than the le•st of all Saints; he dis∣claimes all his own righteousnesses, and accounts them as rotten raggs, and abominable things, in reference to Justification before God; He for∣gets all that is behind; if he cast up his parts, his gifts, and his graces, he concludes, Cir∣cumcision is nothing, nor Vncircumcision is Page 82 nothing; his faith, his love, his repentance, his obedience, all put together, nothing; he brings in the totall summe in meer ciphers; I am nothing, yea worse then nothing, saith this soul; Can a man be profitable unto his Ma∣ker? I am unprofitable to God and man: When saw I thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and cloathed thee? &c. Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool? saith this soul.
3. A man graciously poor, or blessedly poor in spirit,* is a man of a contrite spirit, a man that trembleth at the Word of the Lord; To him will I look, saith the Lord, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word, Isa. 66.2▪ In this Text, poverty of spi∣rit, contrition, and the effect of it, tr•mbling at the Word of the Lord, are joyned together as linkes of a Chain; so as he that hath one of them, hath all of them, in some measure. As for contrition, it hath been already spoken of from (Pag. 56. to Pag. 64.) to which I refer the Reader.
4. A man graciously poor in spirit, as he sees a fullness of sinne, and an emptiness of grace in himself, and bewailes it; so he sees a full∣ness of grace in Christ, a fullness of mercy with God in Christ to pardon him, and heal him, to justifie him, and sanctifie him, and fill him with all grace; and this is attended with some hopes, to be made a partaker of it; The truth of this is evident in the poor Publi∣can, He saw a fullness of sinne in himself, and an emptiness of grace; and he saw a full∣ness of mercy in God; and merit in Christ, to take away his sinne and garnish his soul with all grace, and had some hopes to attain Page 83 this, otherwise he would never have gone to God for mercy. A man graciously or e∣vangelically poor in spirit, hath some hope of obtaining mercy.
5. And this makes him very industriously to seek after the Lord, in a conscionable use of all those means, which he hath appointed; I will arise, and go to my Father, &c. saith the poor Prodigal. When once this poverty of Spirit had seized on his spirit, he thought no labour too much to attain what he sought; Draw me, we will runne after thee, saith the Spouse, graciously poor in spirit, Cant. 1.4.
6. A man graciously poor in spirit, esteems spirituall riches the best riches; and for them, he will with the Merchant-man, give the best price; for th•m he will part with all carnall things, and count them but dung; he doth hunger and thirst after righteousness, more than after riches; after the riches of grace, more than after the riches of the world.
7. A man graciously poor in spirit, is a man of a humble spirit; if God dispense his gifts liberally unto him, or make greater dis∣coveries of himself, his mind, and will unto him, than he doth to others, he will humbly, and thankfully, and really ascribe all the glory thereof unto the Lord, and his free grace, and say as Daniel, As for me,*this is not conferred upon me, for any Wisdome, or goodness, that I have more than other, but of free grace, for Christs sake, bestowed upon me, therefore to him be all the glory: Who am I, or what is there in me, that God should shew such fa∣vour unto me, above what he doth unto o∣ther This is vigor fit, and ••t fit, to give the Page 84 denomination of a man graciously poor in spi∣rit.
8. A man graciously poor in spirit, is the contentedst man with his condition of all o∣thers;*I went out full, but the Lord brought me home empty, saith a soul gratiously poor in spirit, and yet she was contented with her condition. Shall we receive good at the hand of God? and shall we not receive evill? Shall the thing formed, say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? It is the Lord, let him do with we, as seemeth good to him. This is the lan•uage of soules graciously poor in spirit: Such a soul lookes upon every thing, as a mer∣cy, that is on this side Hell, and how bad so∣ev•r his condition be, thinks it too good for him.
9. A man graciously poor in spirit, justi∣f•es God in all his deali•gs, even under his sad∣est providences, and dispensations of Justice; The Lord is righteous in all his Wayes,* (saith this soul,) I am justly under this condemna∣tion,* for I receive the due reward of my deeds, for I have rebelled against his Command∣men•s, &c.
10. The soul gracio•sly poor in spirit, gr•anes under that privy pride, which he finds in himself, as that which is the great bur∣d•n on his spirit, and that which he longs to be delivered from; Oh wretched man that I •m, who shall deliver me? and when shall I be delive•ed •rom▪ this corrupt nature of mine, which exalts it s•lf against God, and hinders the influence of his gr•ce in me?
These Appearances of gratious poverty of spirit, may serve to dis•ry a soul graciously Page 85 and blessedly poor in spirit; Try thy spirit by them, and if by what hath been said, thou findest this Qualification in thy self, in any measure, bless God for it, labour to grow in it, and remember the words of our Lord Jesu Christ, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdome of Heaven.