Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LVI

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Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

“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”

Heart Purity

Let us put ourselves on TRIAL whether we are pure-hearted or not. Here I shall show the signs of an impure heart; and then, signs of a pure heart.

II. I shall next show you the signs of a PURE heart. Continued

4. A pure heart avoids the appearance of evil. ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:22). A pure heart avoids that which may be interpreted as evil. He who is loyal to his prince, not only forbears to have his hand in treason—but he takes heed of that which has an appearance of treason. A gracious heart is shy of that which looks like sin. When Joseph’s mistress took hold of him and said, ‘Lie with me!’—he left his garment in her hand and fled from her (Genesis 39:12). He avoided the appearance of evil. He would not be seen in her company. Thus a pure heart avoids whatever may have the suspicion of sin:

[1] A pure heart avoids the suspicion of sin—in regard of HIMSELF, and that two ways.
First, because the appearance of evil is oftentimes an occasion of evil. Dalliance is an appearance of evil, and many times occasions evil. Had Joseph been familiar with his mistress in a wanton sporting manner, he might in time have been drawn to commit immorality with her. Some out of novelty and curiosity have gone to hear mass, and afterwards have lent the idol not only their ear—but their knee! There are many who have gone with itching ears to hear false teachers, and have come home with the plague in their head! When Dinah would be gadding about, she lost her chastity (Genesis 34:2). A pure heart foreseeing the danger avoids the appearance of evil. It is dangerous to go near a hornet’s nest. The men who went near the furnace were burned (Daniel 3:22).

Second, because the appearance of evil may eclipse his good name. A good name is a precious ointment. It is better than ‘fine gold’ (Proverbs 22:1). It commends us to God and angels, which riches cannot do. Now a godly man avoids the appearance of evil—lest he wounds his good name. What comfort can there be of life, when the name lies buried?

[2] A pure heart avoids the suspicion of sin—out of reverence and respect to the holiness of GOD. God hates the very appearance of evil. God abhors hypocrites because they have no more than the appearance of good—and he is angry with his children if they have so much as the appearance of evil. A gracious heart knows God is a jealous God and cannot endure that his people should border upon sin. Therefore he keeps aloof from sin, and will not come near the smell of infection.

[3] A pure heart avoids the very appearance of sin—in regard of the GODLY. The appearance of evil may scandalize a weak brother. A gracious heart is not only fearful lest he should defile his own conscience—but lest he should offend his brother’s conscience. Were it only an indifferent thing—yet if it is an appearance of evil and may grieve another—we are to forbear (1 Corinthians 10:25-28). For ‘when we sin against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, we sin against Christ’ (1 Corinthians 8:12). The weak Christian is a member of Christ. Therefore the sinning against a member—is a sinning against Christ.

[4] A pure heart avoids the very appearance of evil—in regard of the WICKED. The apostle would have us walk wisely towards unbelievers. (1 Thessalonians 4:12). The wicked watch for our halting. How glad would they be of anything to reproach religion! Professors are placed as stars in the highest orb of the church, and if there is but the appearance of any eccentric, or irregular motion, the wicked would presently open their mouths with a fresh cry against piety. Now to a godly heart the fame and honor of the gospel is so dear that he had rather die than incriminate or eclipse it.

By this then let us try ourselves whether we are pure in heart—do we avoid the least appearance of sin? Alas, how many run themselves into the occasions of sin! They tempt the devil to tempt them! Some go to plays and comedies—the very fuel and temptation to lust! Others frequent heretical meetings, and truly God often in just judgment leaves them to the acts of sin, who do not avoid the appearance of sin. ‘They were mingled among the heathen and learned their works’ (Psalm 106:35). Pure hearts flee the occasion of sin! John would not endure the company of the heretic Cerinthus. Polycarp would have no conference with Marcion the heretic—but called him ‘the devil’s firstborn’. Basil says that the Christians in his time avoided the meetings of heretics as the ‘very schools of error’. Oh, avoid the appearance of evil. The apostle bids us to follow those things which are ‘of good report’ (Philippians 4:8).

5. A pure heart performs holy duties in a holy manner. This holy manner, or due order, consists in three things:

[1] Preparing the heart before a duty. An unholy heart does not care how it rushes upon an ordinance. It comes without preparation and goes away without profit. The pure heart is a prepared heart. It dresses itself, before it comes to a duty—by examination and prayer. When the earth is prepared—then it is fit to receive the seed. When the instrument is prepared and tuned—then it is fit for music.

[2] Watching the heart in a duty. A holy heart labors to be affected and wrought upon by the Spirit. His heart burns within him. There was no sacrifice without fire. A pure saint labors to have his heart broken in a duty (Psalm 51:17). The incense, when it was broken, cast the sweetest savor. Impure souls care not in what a dead or perfunctory manner they serve God (Ezekiel 33:31). They pray more out of fashion, than out of faith. They are no more affected with an ordinance, than the dead in the church graveyard. God complains of offering up the blind (Malachi 1:8). And is it not as bad to offer up the dead? O Christian, say to yourself, How can this deadness of heart, stand with pureness of heart? Do not dead things putrefy?

[3] Outward reverence. Purity of heart will express itself by the reverend posture of the body—the lifting up of the eye and hand, the bending the knee. When God gave the law, ‘the mount was on fire and trembled’ (Exodus 19:18). The reason was that the people might prostrate themselves more reverently before the Lord. The ark wherein the law was put, was carried upon poles, so that the Levites might not touch it—to show what reverence God would have about holy things (Exodus 25:11, 14). We must not only offer up our souls—but our bodies (Romans 12:1). The Lord takes notice what posture and gesture we use in his worship. If a man were to deliver a petition to the king, would he deliver it with a foolish jest? The careless irreverence of some would make us think they did not much regard whether God heard them or not. We are run from one extreme to another, from superstition to irreverence. Let Christians think of the dreadful majesty of God who is present. ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven!’ (Genesis 28:17). The blessed angels ‘cover their faces crying, Holy, holy holy’ (Isaiah 6:3). A holy heart will have a holy posture.

6. A pure heart will have a pure LIFE. ‘Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’. (2 Corinthians 7:1). Where there is a holy heart, there will be a holy life. Some bless God they have good hearts—but their lives are evil. ‘There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness’ (Proverbs 30:12). If the stream is corrupt—we may suspect the spring-head to be impure. Aaron was called the saint of the Lord (Psalm 106:16). He had not only a holy heart—but there was a golden plate on his forehead on which was written ‘Holiness to the Lord’. Purity must not only be woven into the heart—but engraved upon the life! Grace is most beautiful when it shines abroad with its golden beams. The clock has not only its motion within—but the hand moves outside upon the dial. Just so, pureness of heart, shows itself upon the dial of the life.

[1] A pure soul TALKS of God (Psalm 37:30). His heart is seen in his tongue. He who is pure in heart—his mouth is full of heaven.

[2] A pure soul WALKS with God (Genesis 6:9). He is still doing angel’s work, praising God, serving God. He lives as Christ did upon earth. Holy duties are the Jacob’s ladder by which he is still ascending to heaven. Purity of heart and life, are in Scripture made twins. ‘I will put my Spirit within you’—there is purity of heart. ‘And cause you to walk in my statutes’—there is purity of life (Ezekiel 36:27). Shall we account them pure, whose life is not in heaven (Philippians 3:20)—but rather in hell? ‘Shall I count them pure—who have wicked balances and a bag of deceitful weights?’ (Micah 6:11). How justly may others reproach religion when they see it kicked down with our unholy feet! A pure heart has a golden frontispiece. Grace, like new wine, will have vent; it can be no more concealed than lost. The saints are called ‘jewels’ (Malachi 3:17), because of that shining luster which they cast in the eyes of others!

7. A pure heart is so in love with purity that nothing can draw him off from it.

[1] Let others reproach purity, he loves it. As David, when he danced before the ark, and Michal scoffed. David replied, ‘if this is to be vile—I will yet be more vile!’ (2 Samuel 6:22). So says a pure heart: ‘If to follow after holiness is to be vile—I will yet be more vile!’ The more others deride holiness, the more a gracious soul burns in love and zeal to it. If a man had an inheritance befallen him, would he be laughed out of it? What is a Christian the worse for another’s reproach? A blind man’s disparaging a diamond does not make it sparkle the less!

[2] Let others persecute holiness, a pure heart will pursue it. Holiness is the queen every gracious soul is espoused to—and he will rather die than be divorced. Paul would be holy, ‘though bonds and persecutions awaited him’ (Acts 20:23). The way of religion is often thorny and bloody—but a gracious heart prefers inward purity before outward peace. I have heard of one who, having a jewel he much prized, the king sent for his jewel. ‘Tell the king’ (says he) ‘I honor his Majesty—but I will rather lose my life than part with my jewel.’ He who is enriched with the jewel of holiness, will rather die than part with this jewel. When his honor and riches will do him no good—his holiness will end in bliss, ‘You have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life

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