by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (v.8)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The holy God, who is ‘of purer eyes than to behold iniquity’ calls here for heart-purity, and to such as are adorned with this jewel, he promises a glorious and beatific vision of himself: ‘they shall see God’. Two things are to be explained the nature of purity; the subject of purity.
1. The NATURE of purity. Purity is a sacred refined thing. It stands diametrically opposed to whatever defiles. We must distinguish the various kinds of purity.
First, there is a primitive purity which is in God originally and essentially, as light is in the sun. Holiness is the glory of the Godhead: ‘Glorious in holiness’ (Exodus 15:11). God is the origin, pattern and prototype of all holiness.
Second, there is a created purity. Thus holiness is in the angels, and was once in Adam. Adam’s heart did not have the least spot or tincture of impurity. We call that wine pure which has no mixture; and that gold pure which has no dross mingled with it. Such was Adam’s holiness. It was like the wine which comes from the grape, having no mixture. But this is not to be found on earth. We must go to heaven for it.
Third, there is an evangelical purity; whence grace is mingled with some sin—like gold in the ore; like wine which has a dreg in it; like fine cloth with a blemish; like Nebuchadnezzar’s image, part of silver, and part of clay (Daniel 2:35). This mixture God calls purity in a gospel-sense; as a face may be said to be fair, which has some freckles in it. Where there is a study of purity and a loathing ourselves for our impurity—this is to be ‘pure in heart’.
Some by pure in heart, understand chastity, others sincerity (Psalm 32:2). But I suppose purity here is to be taken in a larger sense for the several kinds and degrees of holiness. They are said to be pure, who are consecrated people, having the oil of grace poured upon them. This purity is much mistaken.
Civility and morality are not purity. A man may be clothed with great moral virtues, such as justice, charity, prudence, temperance—and yet go to hell.
Profession is not purity. A man may have a name to live and yet be dead (Revelation 3:1). He may be swept by civility and garnished by profession—yet the devil may dwell in the house. The blazing comet is no star. The hypocrite’s tongue may be silver—yet his heart stone.
Purity consists in two things; rectitude of mind, a prizing holiness in the judgment (Psalm 119:30); conformity of will, an embracing of holiness in the affections (Psalm 119:97). A pure soul is cast into the mold of holiness. Holiness is a blood that runs in his veins.
2. The SUBJECT of purity. The heart—’pure in heart’. Purity of heart does not exclude purity of life, no more than the pureness of the fountain excludes the pureness of the stream. But it is called purity of heart, because the heart is the main thing in true religion, and there can be no purity of life without it. A Christian’s great care should be to keep the heart pure, as one would especially preserve the spring from being poisoned. In a duel, a man will chiefly guard and fence his heart, so a wise Christian should above all things keep his heart pure. Take heed that the love of sin does not get in there—lest it prove fatal.
Christians should above all things breathe after heart purity: ‘Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience’ (1 Timothy 3:9). Justification causes our happiness, sanctification evidences it.