our Savior Christ had now preached two years among the people, and thereby had won many to become His disciples, and among the rest, His twelve apostles, to all whom He promised happiness and life everlasting, if they would continue in the faith and obedience of His Word. Now though they believed in Him, yet they still remained in the same state for outward things, and became more subject to outward miseries than before, so as if they judged of happiness by their present outward estate, they might easily suspect the truth of Christ’s doctrine, and think He had deceived them, because He promised them happiness, and yet for outward things their case was far worse than before they knew Him. This our Savior Christ considering does here go about to remove this false conceit out of their minds.

And for this purpose He delivers this doctrine unto them, in the first general head of His sermon: that true happiness before God is ever joined, yea covered many times, with the cross in this world. Whereby He strikes at the root of their carnal conceit, who placed true happiness in outward things, and looked for outward peace and prosperity upon the receiving of the gospel.

William Perkins (1558–1602), one of the early English Puritans is the author of this month's Article of the Month. The text from which he writes, yes a biblical text vs. pontificating his own personal opinion as is the manner of some, is Matthew 5:3-12 and specifically focusing upon the words of Christ in verse 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Providentially, this article is a marvelous companion and complement to the discussion we are having on the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 2 concerning the believer's comfort. Mr. Perkins first distinguishes between the materially poor and the spiritually poor, although there is sometimes a correlation between the two. He defines what it is to be "poor in spirit", again not from his own opinion but by referencing what Scripture says:

What is meant by “poor in spirit” is plainly expounded in Isaiah 66:2 where the Lord says, “I will look to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words.” Christ’s meaning then is this: that those poor are blessed, who by means of their distress, through want of outward comforts, are brought to see their sins and their miseries thereby, so as finding no goodness in their hearts, they despair in themselves, and fly wholly to the mercy of God in Christ for grace and comfort, as Lazarus did to Dives’ gates for outward release.

After explaining what it is to be poor and who they are who are poor, he expounds on what it is to be blessed. In this part of his whole writing on the Sermon on the Mount, he looks at "blessed" from the perspective of it being "happiness". I think it is no less true and important to see the other perspective of how "blessed" is to be understood and that being "under God's favor"; the dispensation of God's infinite love and grace from which all blessings flow.

Perkins writes from a pastoral heart to be sure and thus his writings are and should be much enjoyed by many. If this is your first exposure to William Perkins then I do hope it will motivate you to seek out more of his writings which are plentiful.

You can read this month's article now by clicking here: The Matter of Christ's Sermon.

And, for later reading along with all past Article of the Month articles, you can visit the Article of the Month Archive.

Comments and/or questions about this article can and should be made in either the Theology forum or Open forum, whichever is more appropriate. grin

In His service and grace,

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simul iustus et peccator

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