“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:8-12).
It our duty to steadily look into the “perfect law of liberty” and to continue in it (James 1:25). In this law we have described three further aspects of the “blessed” life of the believer. In these verses the Lord Jesus Christ reveals something more about what Biblical Christianity really is. By avoiding or neglecting these teachings, a Christian does great disservice to his soul, and truly dishonours God. In this sermon we promote the pure religion of Jesus Christ.
Blessed are the Pure in Heart
Christian love is the “fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10) and “the end of the commandment” (1 Timothy 1:5). This love for God and our neighbour proceeds from purity of heart.
The “Pure in Heart” are those whose hearts have been purified through faith in the blood of Christ Jesus. They are purified from unholy affections and filthiness of the flesh and spirit by “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). They have the spirit of gentleness and meekness, and hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
The “Pure in Heart” shall see God. What a blessing this will be! God will bless them with the clearest communication of His Spirit as they proceed through this present life, the most intimate of “fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). He will cause His glory and countenance to shine upon them. The “Pure in Heart” do see God dealing with every aspect of their lives, and they see His hand over them for good. More especially they see Christ in the breaking of bread and in the time of prayer.
Blessed are the Peacemakers
Inward purity always produces outward holiness, thus peacemakers reveal themselves to be the true children of God. The word “peacemakers” can only refer to believers who love God and hate strife and contention, but desire God’s mercy and grace to be poured out upon their brethren in Christ.
The peacemaker seeks to reconcile those who have allowed bitterness to divide them. Peacemakers are those who do “good unto all men” at every opportunity (Galatians 6:10), and endeavour to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). They rejoice when he has been offered the privilege to bless others with material things, and to assist them in their needs. The peacemaker is an instrument in God’s hand as he sows the seed of His Kingdom.
Peacemakers are truly the children of God, and are blessed because they have received “the Spirit of adoption” and they been made “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:15; 8:17).
Blessed are the Persecuted
The Lord was well acquainted with human nature. He reveals that the “Pure in Heart” and the “Peacemakers” would be hated by the world. Paul teaches in Galatians 4:29 that those “born after the flesh” will persecute those who are “born after the Spirit.” In fact “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). The apostle John adds, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). This persecution and hatred is a result of the world rejecting Christ and Biblical Christianity … “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:18-21).
This persecution comes for righteousness sake, that is, because the believer lives according to God’s righteousness rather than by the standards of the world. The spirit of the world is continually in direct opposition to the Spirit which is of God. The leopard and the kid cannot lie down together in peace. The scandal of the cross has not ceased.
The believer is blessed despite the fact that the world reviles him for Christ’s sake. He is blessed because he does not retaliate, but rather overcomes evil with good. He rejoices because he is allowed to suffer for Christ, knowing that such “light afflictions, which are but for a moment, worketh for [them] a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The persecuted are in good company since the prophets were also abused and mistreated by the world and false religion.
These virtues describe Christianity in its native form as it was delivered by its Great Author. We may call the Genuine Religion of Jesus Christ. Those who oppose the “Pure in Heart”, the “Peacemakers”, and the persecuted, are found fighting against God Himself. These things are the foundations of Christianity, so let us avoid being hearers of the word only, but let us not rest until every line is transcribed in our hearts, until we be found holy and perfect as our “Heavenly Father is perfect” (James 1:22; 2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 5:48).
26 August 1739.