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pastorfrin
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Joined: 2006/1/19
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 Re: The Beatitudes

THE FIFTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren

‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’—MATT. v. 7.


II. Let me ask you to look at what I have already in part referred to—the place in this series which Mercifulness holds.

Now, of course, I know, and nothing that I say now is to be taken for a moment as questioning or underestimating it, that, altogether apart from religion, there is interwoven into the structure of human nature that sentiment of mercifulness which our Lord here crowns with His benediction. But it is not that natural, instinctive sentiment—which is partially unreliable, and has little power apart from the reinforcement of higher thoughts to carry itself consistently through life—that our Lord is here speaking about; but it is a mercifulness which is more than an instinct, more than a sentiment, more than the natural answer of the human heart to the sight of compassion and distress, which is, in fact, the product of all that has preceded it in this linked chain of characteristics and their blessings.

And so I ask you to recall these. ‘Poor in spirit,’ ‘mourning,’ ‘meek,’ ‘hungering and thirsting after righteousness’—these are the springs that feed the flow of this river; and if it be not fed from them, but from the surface-waters of human sentiment and instinct, it will dry up long before it has availed to refresh barren places, and to cool thirsty lips. And note also the preceding promises, ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven’; ‘they shall be comforted’; ‘they shall inherit the earth; ‘they shall be filled.’ These are experiences which, again, are another collection of the head-waters of this stream.

That is to say, the true, lasting, reliable, conquering mercifulness has a double source. The consciousness of our own weakness, the sadness that creeps over the heart when it makes the discovery of its own sin, the bowed submission primarily to the will of God, and secondarily to the antagonisms which, in subservience to that will, we may meet in life, and the yearning desire for a fuller righteousness and a more lustrous purity in our own lives and characters—these are the experiences which will make a man gentle in his judgment of his brother, and full of melting charity in all his dealings with him. If I know how dark my own nature is, how prone to uncommitted evils, how little I have to thank myself for the virtues that I have practised, which are largely due to my exemption from temptation and to my opportunities, and how little I have in my own self that I can venture to bring to the stern judgment which I am tempted to apply to other people, then the words of censure will falter on my tongue, and the bitter construction of my brother’s conduct and character will be muffled in silence. ‘Except as to open outbreakings,’ said one of the very saintliest of men, ‘I want nothing of what Judas and Cain had.’ If we feel this, we shall ask ourselves, ‘Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?’ and the condemnation of others will stick in our throats when we try to utter it.

And, on the other hand, if I, through these paths of self-knowledge, and lowly estimate of self, and penitent confession of sin, and flexibility of will to God, and yearning, as for my highest food and good, after a righteousness which I feel I do not possess, have come into the position in which my poverty is, by His gift, made rich, and the tears are wiped away from off my face by His gracious hand, and a full possession of large blessings bestowed on my humble will, and the righteousness for which I long imparted to me, shall I not have learned how divine a thing it is to give to the unworthy, and so be impelled to communicate what I have already received? ‘Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us.’ They only are deeply, through and through, universally and always merciful who have received mercy. The light is reflected at the same angle as it falls, and the only way by which there can come from our faces and lives a glory that shall lighten many dark hearts, and make sunshine in many a shady place, is that these hearts shall have turned full to the very fountain itself of heavenly radiance, and so ‘have received of the Lord that which also’ they ‘deliver’ unto men.

And so, brethren, there are two plain, practical exhortations from these thoughts. One is, let us Christian people learn the fruits of God’s mercy, and be sure of this, that our own mercifulness in regard to men is an accurate measure of the amount of the divine mercy which we have received. The other is, let all of us learn the root of man’s mercy to men. There is plenty, of a sort, of philanthropy and beneficent and benevolent work and feeling to-day, entirely apart from all perception of, and all faith in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in so far as the individuals who exercise that beneficence are concerned. I, for my part, am narrow enough to believe that the streams of non-Christian charitableness, which run in our land and in other lands to-day, have been fed from Christ’s fountain, though the supply has come underground, and bursts into light apparently unconnected with its source. If there had been no New Testament there would have been very little of the beneficence which flouts the New Testament to-day. Historically, it is the great truths, which we conveniently summarise as being evangelical Christianity, that have been mother to the new charity that, since Christ, has been breathed over the world. I, for my part, believe that if you strike out the doctrine of universal sinfulness, if you cover over the Cross of Christ, if you do not find in it the manifestation of a God who is endlessly merciful to the most unworthy, you have destroyed the basis on which true and operative benevolence will rest.

So then, dear brethren, let us all seek to get a humbler and a truer conception of what we ourselves are, and a loftier and truer faith of what God in Christ is; and then to remember that if we have these, we are bound to, and we shall, show that we have them, by making that which is the anchor of our hope the pattern of our lives.

Continued:

 2008/5/19 17:23Profile
pastorfrin
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Joined: 2006/1/19
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 Re: The Beatitudes

THE FIFTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren

‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’—MATT. v. 7.

III. Lastly, notice the requital, ‘They shall obtain mercy.’

Now, it is a wretched weakening of that great thought to suppose that it means that if A. is merciful to B., B. will be merciful to A. That is sometimes true, and sometimes it is not. It does not so very much matter whether it is true or not; that is not what Jesus Christ means. All these Beatitudes are God’s gifts, and this is God’s gift too. It is His mercy which the merciful man obtains.

But you say: ‘Have you not just been telling us that this sense and experience of God’s mercy must precede my mercy, and now you say that my mercy must precede God’s?’ No; I do not say that it must precede it; I do say that my mercifulness is, as it were, lodged between the segments of a golden circle, and has on one side the experience of the divine mercy which quickens mine by thankfulness and imitation; on the other side, the larger experience of the divine mercy which follows upon my walking after the example of my Lord.

This is only one case of the broad general principle, ‘to him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.’ Salvation is no such irreversible gift as that once bestowed a man can go on anyhow and it will continue; but it is given in such a fashion as that, for its retention, and still more for its increase, there must be a certain line of feeling and of action.

Our Lord does not mean to say, of course, that this one isolated member of a series carries with it the whole power of bringing down upon a man the blessings which are only due to the combination of the whole series, but that it stands as one of that linked band which shall receive the blessing from on high. And the blessing here is stated in accordance with the particular Grace in question, according to that great law of retaliation which brings life unto life and death unto death.

No man who, having received the mercy of God, lives harsh, hard, self-absorbed, implacable, and uncommunicative, will keep that mercy in any vivid consciousness or to any blessed issue. The servant took his fellow-servant by the throat, and said, ‘Pay me that thou owest,’ and his master said, ‘Deliver him to the tormentors until he pay the uttermost farthing.’ You receive your salvation as a free gift; you keep it by feelings and conduct correspondent to the gift.

Though benevolence which has an eye to self is no benevolence, it is perfectly legitimate, and indeed absolutely necessary, that whilst the motive for mercifulness is mercy received, the encouragement to mercifulness should be mercy still to be given. ‘Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us’; and when you think of your own unworthiness, and of the great gifts which a gracious God has given, let these impel you to move amongst men as copies of God, and be sure that you deepen your spiritual life, not only by meditation and by faith, but by practical work, and by showing towards all men mercy like the mercy which God has bestowed upon you.

Continued:


 2008/5/20 4:59Profile
hmmhmm
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 Re:


Quote:
Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us’; and when you think of your own unworthiness, and of the great gifts which a gracious God has given, let these impel you to move amongst men as copies of God, and be sure that you deepen your spiritual life, not only by meditation and by faith, but by practical work, and by showing towards all men mercy like the mercy which God has bestowed upon you.





Amen


_________________
CHRISTIAN

 2008/5/20 5:03Profile
enid
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Joined: 2006/5/22
Posts: 2667
Nottingham, England

 Re:

Quote: 'If you wish to have Christ for yours, you must begin, where He begins His Beatitudes, with poverty of spirit.'

Poverty of spirit. Humility.

Still we fight against cursed pride. Before we allow it to be our downfall, or to rob us of God, it has to be destroyed.

God bless.

 2008/5/20 5:56Profile
pastorfrin
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Posts: 1406


 Re: The Beatitudes

THE SIXTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren


‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’—MATT. v. 8.

AT first hearing one scarcely knows whether the character described in this great saying, or the promise held out, is the more inaccessible to men. ‘The pure in heart’: who may they be? Is there one of us that can imagine himself possessed of a character fitting him for the vision of God, or such as to make him bear with delight that dazzling blaze? ‘They shall see God,’ whom ‘no man hath seen at any time, nor can see.’ Surely the requirement is impossible, and the promise not less so. But does Jesus Christ mock us with demands that cannot be satisfied, and dangle before us hopes that can never be realised? There have been many moralists and would-be teachers who have done that. What would be the use of saying to a man lying on a battlefield sore wounded, and with both legs shot off, ‘If you will only get up and run, you will be safe’? What would be the use of telling men how blessed they would be if they were the opposite of what they are? But that is not Christ’s way.

These words, lofty and remote as they seem, are in truth amongst the most hopeful and radiant that ever came from even His lips. For they offer the realization of an apparently impossible character, they promise the possession of an apparently impossible vision; and they soothe fears, and tell us that the sight from which, were it possible, we should sometimes fain shrink, is the source of our purest gladness. So there are three things, it seems to me, worth our notice in these great words—How hearts can be made pure; how the pure heart can see God; and how the sight can be simple blessedness.

I. How hearts can be made pure.

Now, the key which has unlocked for us, in previous sermons, the treasures of meaning in these Beatitudes, is especially necessary here. For, as I have said, if you take this to be a mere isolated saying, it becomes a mockery and a pain. But if you connect it, as our Lord would have us connect it, with all the preceding links of this wreathed chain describing the characteristics of a devout soul, then it assumes an altogether different appearance. ‘The pure in heart’ are they who have exercised and received the previous qualifications and bestowments from God. That is to say, there must precede all such purity as is capable of the divine vision, the poverty of spirit which recognises its true condition, the mourning which rightly feels the gravity and awfulness of that condition, the desire for its opposite, which will never be the ‘hunger and thirst’ of a soul, except it is preceded by a profound sense of sin and the penitence that ensues thereupon.

But when these things have gone before, and when they have been accompanied, as they surely will be, with the results that flow from them without an interval of time—viz. enrichment with possession of the kingdom, the comforting and drying of the tears of penitence, and the possession of a righteousness bestowed because it is desired, and not won because it is worked for—then, and only then, will the heart be purged and defecated from its evils and its self-regard, and its eyes opened and couched and strengthened to behold undazzled the eternal light of God. The word of my text, standing alone, ministers despair. Regarded where Christ set it, as one of the series of characteristics which He has been describing, it kindles the brightest and surest hope.

‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?’ No; but God can change them; and the implication of my text, regarded in its due relation to these other Beatitudes, is just that the requisite purity is not of man’s working, but is God’s gift. The same truth which here results from the study of the place of our text in this series is condensed into a briefer, but substantially equivalent, form in the saying of another part of the New Testament, about ‘purifying their hearts by faith.’

Dear brethren, we come back to the old truth—all a man’s hope of, and effort after, reformation and self-improvement must begin with the consciousness of sin, the lament over it, the longing for divine goodness, the opening of the heart for the reception thereof; and only then can we rise to these serene heights of purity of heart. This, and this alone, is the way by which ‘a clean thing’ can be brought ‘out of an unclean one.’ and men stained and foul with evil, and bound under the chains of that which is the mother of all evil, the undue making themselves the centres of their lives, can be washed and cleansed and emancipated, and God be made the end and the aim, the motive and the goal, the power and the reward, of all their work. Righteousness is a gift to begin with, and it is a gift bestowed on condition of ‘repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ We all have longings after purity, suppressed, dashed, contradicted a thousand times in our lives day by day, but there they are; and the only way by which they can be fully satisfied is when we go with our foul hands, empty as well as foul, and lift them up to God, and say, ‘Give what Thou commandest, even the clean heart, and we shall be clean.’

But then, do not let us forget, either, that this gift bestowed not once and for ever, but continuously if there be continuous desire, is to be utilised, appropriated, worked into our characters, and worked out in our lives, by our own efforts, as well as by our own faith. ‘Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiniess of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.’ ‘Every man that hath this’ gift bestowed, ‘purifieth himself even as He is pure.’ He that brings to us the gift of regeneration, by which we receive the new nature which is free from sin, calls to each of us as He presents to us the basin with the cleansing water, ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings; . . . cease to do evil, learn to do well.’ ‘What God hath joined together let not man put asunder,’ viz. the act of faith by which we receive, the act of diligence by which we use, the purifying power.

Continued:

 2008/5/20 21:25Profile
pastorfrin
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Joined: 2006/1/19
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 Re: The Beatitudes

THE SIXTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren


‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’—MATT. v. 8.

II. Note how the pure heart sees God.

One is tempted to plunge into mystical depths when speaking upon such a text as this, but I wish to resist the temptation now, and to deal with it in a plain, practical fashion. Of course I need not remind you, or do more than simply remind you, that the matter in question here is no perception by sense of Him who is invisible, nor is it, either, an adequate and direct knowledge and comprehension of Him who is infinite, and whom a man can no more comprehend than he can stretch his short arms round the flaming orb of the central sun. But still, there is a relation to God possible for sinful men when they have been purified through the faith that is in Jesus Christ, which is so direct, so immediate, that it deserves the name of vision; and which, as I believe, is the ground of a firmer certitude, and of a no less clear apprehension, than is the sense from which the name is borrowed. For the illusions of sense have no place in the sight which the pure heart has of its Father, God.

Only, remember that here, and in the interpretation of all such Scriptural words, we have ever to be guided and governed by the great principle which our Lord laid down, under very solemn circumstances, when He said: ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ Jesus Christ, whose name from eternity is the Word, is, from eternity to eternity, that which the name indicates—viz. the revealing activity of the eternal God. And, as I believe, wherever there have been kindled in men’s hearts, either by the contemplation of nature and providence, or by the intuitions of their own spirits, any glints or glimpses of a God, there has been the operation of ‘the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ And far beyond the limits of historical Revelation within Israel, as recorded in Scripture, that Eternal Word has been unveiling, as men’s dim eyes were capable of perceiving it, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. But for us who stand in the full blaze of that historical manifestation in the character and work of Jesus Christ our Saviour, our vision of God is neither more nor less than the apprehension and the realisation of Christ as ‘God manifest in the flesh.’

Whether you call it the vision of God, or whether you call it communion with God in Jesus Christ, or whether you fall back upon the other metaphor of God dwelling in us and we dwelling in God, it all comes to the same thing, the consciousness of His presence, the realisation of His character, the blessed assurance of loving relations with Him, and the communion in mind, heart, will, and conduct, with God who has come near to us all in Jesus Christ.

Now, I need not remind you, I suppose, that for such a realisation and active, real communion, purity of heart is indispensable. That is no arbitrary requirement, but inherent, as we all know, in the very nature of the case. If we think of what He is, we shall feel that only the pure in heart can really pass into loving fellowship with Him. ‘How can two walk together except they be agreed?’ And if we reflect upon the history of our own feelings and realisation of God’s presence with us, we shall see that impurity always drew a membrane over the eye of our souls, or cast a mist of invisibility over the heavens. The smallest sin hides God from us. A very, very little grain of dye stuff will darken miles of a river, and make it incapable of reflecting the blue sky and the sparkling stars. The least evil done and loved blurs and blots, if it does not eclipse, for us the doers the very Sun of Righteousness Himself. No sinful men can walk in the midst of that fiery furnace and not be consumed. ‘The pure in heart’—and only they—‘shall see God.’

Nor need I remind you, I suppose, that in this, as in all these Beatitudes, the germinal fulfilment in the present life is not to be parted off by a great gap from the perfect fulfilment in the life which is to come. And so I do not dwell so much on the differences, great and wonderful as these must necessarily be, between the manner of apprehension and communion with God which it is reserved for heaven to bestow upon us, and the manner of those which we may enjoy here; but I rather would point to the blessed thought that in essence they are one, however in degree they may be different. No doubt, changed circumstances, new capacities, the withdrawal of time and sense, the dropping away of the veil of flesh, which is the barrier between us and the unseen order of things in which ‘we live and move and have our being,’ will induce changes and progresses in the manner and in the degree of that vision about which it would be folly for us to speak. If there were anything here with which we could compare the state of the blessed in heaven, in so far as it differs from their state on earth, we could form some conception of these differences; but if there were anything here with which we could compare it, it would be less glorious than it is.

It is well that we should have to say, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared.’ So let us be thankful that ‘it doth not yet appear what we shall be’; and let us never allow our ignorance of the manner to make us doubt or neglect the fact, seeing that we know ‘that when He shall appear . . . we shall see Him as He is.’

Continued:

 2008/5/21 19:41Profile
LoveHim
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 Re:

thank you brother pastorfrin for the commentary on the beatitudes.

very good stuff to read slow and meditate on.

love ya bro,
phil

 2008/5/22 16:22Profile
pastorfrin
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Joined: 2006/1/19
Posts: 1406


 Re:The BEATITUDES

Hi Brother Phil,

You are most welcome, and yes it is not a fast read, much to absorb.

Thank You for your love Brother, I as well send my love to you. If we all could see it is the greatest gift we can give to one another.

1 Cor. 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Here is pt.iii of:

THE SIXTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren


‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’—MATT. v. 8.

III. Lastly, notice how this sight brings blessedness.

There is nothing else that will ‘satisfy the eye with seeing.’ The vision of God, even in that incipient and imperfect form which is possible upon earth, is the one thing that will calm our distractions, that will supply our needs, that will lift our lives to a level of serene power and blessedness, unattainable by any other way. Such a sight will dim all the dazzling illusions of earth, as, when the sun leaps into the heavens, the stars hide their faces and faint into invisibility. It will make us lords of ourselves, masters of the world, kings over time and sense and the universe. Everything will be different when ‘earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.’ That is what is possible for a Christian holding fast by Jesus Christ, and in Him having communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Brethren, I venture to say no word about the blessedness of that future. Heaven’s golden gates keep their secret well. Even the purest joys of earth, about which poets have sung for untold centuries, after all singing need to be tasted before they are conceived of; and all our imaginings about the blessedness yonder is but like what a chrysalis might dream in its tomb as to the life of the radiant winged creature which it would one day become. Let us be content to be ignorant, and believe with confidence that we shall find that the vision of God is the heaven of heavens.

We shall owe that eternal vision to the eternal Revealer; for, as I believe, Scripture teaches us that it is only in Him that the glorified saints see the Father, as it is only in Him that here on earth we have the vision of God. That sight is not, like the bodily sense to which it is compared, a far-off perception of an ungrasped brightness, but it is the actual possession of what we behold. We see God when we have God. When we have God we have enough.

But I dare not close without one other word. There is a vision of God possible to an impure heart, in which there is no blessedness. There comes a day in which ‘they shall call upon the rocks to fall and cover them from the face of Him that sits upon the throne.’ The alternative is before each of us, dear friends—either ‘every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him’; or, ‘I shall behold Thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.’ If we cry, ‘Create a clean heart in me, O God!’ He will answer, ‘I will give you a new heart, and take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will pour clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.’

Continued:


 2008/5/22 17:34Profile
pastorfrin
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 Re: The BEATITUDES

THE SEVENTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren

‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’—MATT. v. 9.

This is the last Beatitude descriptive of the character of the Christian. There follows one more, which describes his reception by the world. But this one sets the top stone, the shining apex, upon the whole temple-structure which the previous Beatitudes had been gradually building up. You may remember that I have pointed out in previous sermons how all these various traits of the Christian life are deduced from the root of poverty of spirit. You may also remember how I have had occasion to show that if we consider that first Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ as the root and mother of all the rest, the remainder are so arranged as that we have alternately a grace which regards mainly the man himself and his relations to God, and one which also includes his relations to man.

Now there are three of these which look out into the world, and these three are consummated by this one of my text. These are ‘the meek,’ which describes a man’s attitude to opposition and hatred; ‘the merciful,’ which describes his indulgence in judgment and his pitifulness in action; and ‘the peacemakers.’ For Christian people are not merely to bear injuries and to recompense them with pity and with love, but they are actively to try to bring about a wholesomer and purer state of humanity, and to breathe the peace of God, which passes understanding, over all the janglings and struggles of this world.

So, I think, if we give a due depth of significance to that name ‘peacemaker,’ we shall find that this grace worthily completes the whole linked series, and is the very jewel which clasps the whole chain of Christian and Christ-like characteristics.

I. How are Christ’s peacemakers made?

Now there are certain people whose natural disposition has in it a fine element, which diffuses soothing and concord all around them. I dare say we all have known such—perhaps some good woman, without any very shining gifts of intellect, who yet dwelt in such peace of heart herself that conflict and jangling were rebuked in her presence. And there are other people who love peace, and seek after it in the cowardly fashion of letting things alone; whose ‘peacemaking’ has no nobler source than hatred of trouble, and a wish to let sleeping dogs lie. These, instead of being peacemakers, are war-makers, for they are laying up materials for a tremendous explosion some day.

But it is a very different temper that Jesus Christ has in view here, and I need only ask you to do again what we have had occasion to do in the previous sermons of this series—to link this characteristic with those that go before it, of which it is regarded as being the bright and consummate flower and final outcome.

No man can bring to others that which he does not possess. Vainly will he whose own heart is torn by contending passions, whose own life is full of animosities and unreconciled outstanding causes of alienation and divergence between him and God, between him and duty, between him and himself, ever seek to shed any deep or real peace amongst men. He may superficially solder some external quarrels, but that is not all that Jesus Christ means.

His peacemakers are created by having passed through all the previous experiences which the preceding verses bring out.
They have learned the poverty of their own spirits.
They have wept tears, if not real and literal, yet those which are far more agonising—tears of spirit and conscience—when they have thought of their own demerits and foulnesses.
They have bowed in humble submission to the will of God, and even to that will as expressed by the antagonisms of man.
They have yearned after the possession of a fuller and nobler righteousness than they have attained.
They have learned to judge others with a gentle judgment because they know how much they themselves need it, and to extend to others a helping hand because they are aware of their own impotence and need of succour.
They have been led through all these, often painful, experiences into a purity of heart which has been blessed by some measure of vision of God; and, having thus been equipped and prepared, they are fit to go out into the world and say, in the presence of all its tempests, ‘Peace! be still.’ Something of the miracle-working energy of the Master whom they serve will be shed upon those who serve Him.

Brethren, the peacemaker who is worthy of the name must have gone through these deep spiritual experiences. I do not say that they are to come in regular stages, separable from each other. That is not the way in which a character mounts towards God. It does so not by a flight of steps, at distinctly different elevations, but rather by an ascending slope. And, although these various Christian graces which precede that of my text are separable in thought, and are linked in the fashion that our Lord sets forth in experience, they may be, and often are, contemporaneous.

But whether separated from one another in time or not, whether this life-preparation, of which the previous verses give us the outline, has been realised drop by drop, or whether it has been all flooded on to the soul at once, as it quite possibly has, in some fashion or other it must precede our being the sort of peacemakers that Christ desires and blesses.

There is only one more point that I would make here before I go on, and that is, that it is well to notice that the climax of Christian character, according to Jesus Christ Himself, is found in our relations to men, and not in our relation to God. Worship of heart and spirit, devout emotions of the sacredest, sweetest, most hallowed and hallowing sort, are absolutely indispensable, as I have tried to show you. But equally, if not more, important is it for us to remember that the purest communion with God, and the selectest emotional experiences of the Christian life, are meant to be the bases of active service; and that, if such service does not follow these, there is good reason for supposing that these are spurious, and worth very little.

The service of man is the outcome of the love of God. He who begins with poverty of spirit is perfected when, forgetting himself, and coming down from the mountain-top, where the Shekinah cloud of the Glory and the audible voice are, he plunges into the struggles of the multitude below, and frees the devil-ridden boy from the demon that possesses him. Begin by all means with poverty of spirit, or you will never get to this—‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ But see to it that poverty of spirit leads to the meekness, the mercifulness, the peace-bringing influence which Christ has pronounced blessed.

Continued:

 2008/5/23 19:21Profile
pastorfrin
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Joined: 2006/1/19
Posts: 1406


 Re: The BEATITUDES

THE SEVENTH BEATITUDE

Alexander Maclaren

‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’—MATT. v. 9.

II. What is the peace which Christ’s peacemakers bring?
This is a very favourite text with people that know very little of the depths of Christianity. They fancy that it appeals to common sense and men’s natural consciences, apart altogether from minutenesses of doctrine or of Christian experience. They are very much mistaken. No doubt there is a surface of truth, but only a surface, in the application that is generally given to these words of our text, as if it meant nothing more than ‘he is a good man that goes about and tries to make contending people give up their quarrels, and produces a healing atmosphere of tranquillity wherever he goes.’
That is perfectly true, but there is a great deal more in the text than that.
If we consider the Scriptural usage of this great word ‘peace,’ and all the ground that it covers in human experience; if we remember that it enters as an element into Christ’s own name, the ‘Peace-Bringer,’ the ‘Prince of Peace’; and if we notice, as I have already done, the place which this Beatitude occupies in the series, we shall be obliged to look for some far deeper meaning before we can understand the sweep of our Lord’s intention here.

I do not think that I am going one inch too far, or forcing meanings into His words which they are not intended to bear, when I say that the first characteristic of the peace, which His disciples have been passed through their apprenticeship in order to fit them to bring, is the peace of reconciliation with God.
The cause of all the other fightings in the world is that men’s relation to the Father in heaven is disturbed, and that, whilst there flow out from Him only amity and love, these are met by us with antagonism often, with opposition of will often, with alienation of heart often, and with indifference and forgetfulness almost uniformly. So the first thing to be done to make men at peace with one another and with themselves is to rectify their relation to God, and bring peace there.

We often hear in these days complaints of Christian Churches and Christian people because they do not fling themselves, with sufficient energy to please the censors, into movements which are intended to bring about happier relations in society.

The longest way round is sometimes the shortest way home.

It does not belong to all of us Christians, and I doubt whether it belongs to the Christian Church as such at all, to fling itself into the movements to which I have referred.
But if a man go and carry to men the great message of a reconciled and a reconciling God manifest in Jesus Christ, and bringing peace between men and God, he will have done more to sweeten society and put an end to hostility than I think he will be likely to do by any other method. Christian men and women, whatever else you and I are here for, we are here mainly that we may preach, by lip and life, the great message that in Christ is our peace, and that God ‘was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’

We are not to leave out, of course, that which is so often taken as being the sole meaning of the great word of my text. There is much that we are all bound to do to carry the tranquillising and soothing influences of Gospel principles and of Christ’s example into the littlenesses of daily life. Any fool can stick a lucifer match into a haystack and make a blaze. It is easy to promote strife. There is a malicious love of it in us all; and ill-natured gossip has a great deal to do in bringing it about. But it takes something more to put the fire out than it did to light it, and there is no nobler office for Christians than to seek to damp down all these devil’s flames of envy and jealousy and mutual animosity. We have to do it, first, by making very sure that we do not answer scorn with scorn, gibes with gibes, hate with hate, but ‘seek to overcome evil with good.’ It takes two to make a quarrel, and your most hostile antagonist cannot break the peace unless you help him. If you are resolved to keep it, kept it will be.

May I say another word? I think that our text, though it goes a good deal deeper, does also very plainly tell us Christian folk what is our duty in relation to literal warfare. There is no need for me to discuss here the question as to whether actual fighting with armies and swords is ever legitimate or not. It is a curious kind of Christian duty certainly, if it ever gets to be one. And when one thinks of the militarism that is crushing Europe and driving her ignorant classes to wild schemes of revolution; and when one thinks of the hell of battlefields, of the miseries of the wounded, of mourning widows, of ruined peaceful peasants, of the devil’s passions that war sets loose, some of us find it extremely hard to believe that all that is ever in accordance with the mind of Christ.

But whether you agree with me in that or no, surely my text points to the duty of the Christian Church to take up a very much more decisive position in reference to the military spirit than, alas! it ever has done. Certainly it does seem to be not very obviously in accordance with Christ’s teachings that men-of-war should be launched with a religious service, or that Te Deums should be sung because thousands have been killed. It certainly does seem to be something like a satire on European Christianity that one of the chief lessons we have taught the East is that we have instructed the Japanese how to use Western weapons to fight their enemies.

Surely, surely, if Christian churches laid to heart as they ought these plain words of the Master, they would bring their united influence to bear against that demon of war, and that pinchbeck, spurious glory which is connected with it. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’: let us try to earn the benediction.

Continued:

 2008/5/24 9:06Profile





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