Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXIV

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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 peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (v.9)

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”

Concerning Peaceableness

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh step of the golden ladder which leads to blessedness. The name of peace is sweet, and the work of peace is a blessed work. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.

How shall we attain to peaceableness?

1. Take heed of those things which will hinder peace. There are several impediments of peace which we must beware of, and they are either outward or inward.

Take heed of OUTWARD destroyers to peace. Such as whisperers (Romans 1:29). There are some who will be buzzing things in our ears purposely to exasperate and provoke us. Among these we may rank talebearers (Leviticus 19:16). The talebearer carries reports up and down. The devil sends his letters by this post! The talebearer is an incendiary. He blows the coals of contention. ‘Did you hear’ (says he) ‘what such a one says of you? Will you put up with such a wrong? Will you allow yourself to be so abused?’ Thus does he, by throwing in his fireballs, foment differences and set men against each other. We are commanded indeed to provoke one another to love (Hebrews 10:24)—but nowhere to provoke to anger. We should stop our ears to such people, as are known to come on the devil’s errand.

Take heed of INWARD destroyers to peace. For example:

[1] Self-love. ‘Men shall be lovers of themselves’ (2 Timothy 3:2). And it follows they shall be ‘fierce’ (verse 3). The setting up of this idol of self has caused so many lawsuits, plunders, massacres in the world. ‘All seek their own interests’ (Philippians 2:21). Nay, it were well if they would seek but their own interests. Self-love angles away the estates of others, either by force or fraud. Self-love is a bird of prey which lives upon rapine. Self-love cuts asunder the bond of peace. We Christians must lay aside self! Even some heathen could say ‘We are not born for ourselves alone’.

[2] Pride. ‘He who is of a proud heart, stirs up strife’ (Proverbs 28:25). Pride and contention are twins—born at the same time. A proud man thinks himself better than others, and will contend for superiority. ‘Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence’ (3. John 9). A proud man would have all strike sail to him. Because Mordecai would not bow to Haman—he gets a bloody warrant signed for the death of all the Jews (Esther 3:9). What made all the strife between Pompey and Caesar, but pride? They were too proud to yield one to another. When this wind of pride gets into a man’s heart, it causes sad earthquakes of division. The poets feign that when Pandora’s box was broken open, it filled the world with diseases. When Adam’s pride had broken the box of original righteousness it has ever since filled the world with debates and dissensions! Let us shake off this viper of pride! Humility solders Christians together in peace.

[3] Envy. Envy stirs up strife. The apostle has linked them together. ‘Envy, strife’ (1 Timothy 6:4). Envy cannot endure a superior. An envious man seeing another to have a fuller crop, a better trade, is ready to pick a quarrel with him. ‘Who can stand before envy?’ (Proverbs 27:4). Envy is a vermin which lives on blood. Take heed of it. Peace will not dwell with this vile inmate.

[4] Credulity. ‘The simple believes every word’ (Proverbs 14:15). A credulous man is akin to a fool. He believes all that is told him and this often creates differences. As it is a sin to be a talebearer, so it is a folly to be a tale-believer. A wise man will not take a report at the first hearing—but will sift and examine it before he gives credit to it.

2. Let us labor for those things which will maintain and nourish peace.

[1] Faith. Faith and peace keep house together. Faith believes the Word of God. The Word says, ‘Live in peace’ (2 Corinthians 13:11). And as soon as faith sees the King of heaven’s warrant, it obeys. Faith persuades the soul that God is at peace, and it is impossible to believe this and live in disagreement. Nourish faith. Faith knits us to God in love, and to our brethren in peace.

[2] Christian communion. There should be much familiarity among Christians. The primitive saints had their ‘agape meals’ that is, love-feasts. The apostle exhorting to peace brings this as an expedient: ‘Be kind one to another’ (Ephesians 4:32).

[3] Do not look upon the failings of others—but upon their graces. There is no perfection here on earth. We read of the ‘spots of God’s children’ (Deuteronomy 32:5). The most golden Christians are some grains too light. Oh, let us not so quarrel with the infirmities of others—as to pass by their virtues. If in some things they fail, in other things they excel. It is the manner of the world to look more upon the sun in an eclipse—than when it shines in its full luster.

[4] Pray to God that he will send down the Spirit of peace into our hearts. We should not as vultures, prey upon one another—but pray for one another. Pray that God will quench the fire of contention, and kindle the fire of compassion in our hearts one to another. So much for the first thing in the text implied, that Christians should be peaceable-MINDED.

I proceed to the second thing expressed, that Christians should be peace-MAKERS.

All Christians ought to be peacemakers; they should not only be peaceable themselves—but make others to be at peace. As in the body when a joint is out—we set it again, so it should be in the body of Christ. When a garment is torn—we sew it together again. When others are rent asunder in their affections—we should with a spirit of meekness sew them together again. Had we this excellent skill we might glue and unite dissenting hearts. I confess it is often a thankless office to go about to reconcile differences (Acts 7:27). Handle a briar ever so gently—and it may scratch! He who goes to interpose between two brawlers, many times receives the blow. But this duty, though it may lacks success as from men—yet it shall not lack a blessing from God. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ O how happy were England, if it had more peacemakers! Abraham was a peacemaker (Genesis 13:8). Moses was a peacemaker (Exodus 2:13). Constantine, when he called the bishops together at that first Council of Nicaea to end church controversies, they having prepared bitter invectives and accusations one against another, Constantine took their papers and rent them, gravely exhorting them to peace and unanimity.

It sharply reproves those who are so far from being peacemakers that they are peace-breakers. If ‘blessed are the peacemakers’, then cursed are the peace-breakers. If peacemakers are the children of God, then peace-breakers are the children of the devil. Heretics destroy the truth of the church by error, and schismatics destroy the peace of it by division. The apostle sets a brand upon such. ‘Mark those who cause divisions—and avoid them’ (Romans 16:17). Have no more to do with them than with witches or murderers. The devil was the first peace-breaker. He divided man from God. There are too many in England whose sweetest music is in discord, who never unite but to divide. How many in our days may be compared to Samson’s foxtails, which were tied together only to set the Philistines’ grain on fire! (Judges 15:4, 5). Sectaries unite to set the church’s peace on fire. These are the people God’s soul hates—’Sowers of discord among brethren’ (Proverbs 6:19). These are the children of a curse: ‘Cursed be he who smites his neighbor secretly’ (Deuteronomy 27:24), that is, who backbites and so sets one friend against another. If there be a devil in man’s shape, it is the incendiary schismatic.

The text exhorts to two things:

1. Let us take up a bitter lamentation for the divisions of England. The wild beast has broken down the hedge of our peace. We are like a house falling to ruin, if the Lord does not mercifully under-prop and shore us up. Will not a sincere child grieve to see his mother rent and torn in pieces? It is reported of Cato that from the time the civil wars began in Rome, that he was never seen to laugh. That our hearts may be sadly affected with these our church and state divisions let us consider the great harm of divisions.

[1] They are a prognostic of much evil to a nation. Here that rule in philosophy holds true, ‘All division tends to destruction’. When the veil of the temple was rent in pieces, it was a sad omen and forerunner of the destruction of the temple. The rending the veil of the church’s peace betokens the ruin of it. Josephus observes that the city of Jerusalem when it was besieged by Titus Vespasian had three great factions in it, which destroyed more than the enemy and was the occasion of the taking it. How fatal internal divisions have been to this land! How is the bond of peace broken! We have so many schisms and are run into so many different churches, that God may justly un-church us, as he did Asia.

[2] It may afflict us to see the garment of the church’s peace rent, because divisions bring infamy and scandal upon religion. These make the ways of God to be evil spoken of—as if religion itself, were the fomenter of strife and sedition. Julian, in his invective against the Christians, said that they lived together as tigers rending and devouring one an other. And shall we make good Julian’s words? It is unfitting to see Christ’s doves fighting; to see his lily become a bramble. Alexander Severus, seeing two Christians contending, commanded them that they should not take the name of Christians any longer upon them, for (says he) you dishonor your Master Christ. Let men either lay down their contentions, or lay off the coat of their profession.

[3] Divisions obstruct the progress of piety. The gospel seldom thrives where the weed of strife grows. The building of God’s spiritual temple is hindered by the confusion of tongues. Division eats as a worm and destroys the ‘peaceable fruits of righteousness’ (Hebrews 12:11). In the Church of Corinth, when they began to divide into parties, one was for Paul, another for Apollos; there were but few for Christ. Confident I am, that England’s divisions have made many turn atheists.

2. Let us labor to heal differences, and be repairers of breaches. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Jesus Christ was a great peacemaker. He took a long journey from heaven to earth to make peace. Peace and unity are a great means for the corroborating and strengthening the church of God. The saints are compared to living stones, built up for a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). You know the stones help to preserve and bear up one another. If the stones become loosened and drop out, all the house falls in pieces. When the Christians in the primitive church were of one heart (Acts 4:32) what a supporting was this! How did they counsel, comfort, build up one another in their holy faith! We see while the members of the body are united, so long they do administer help and nourishment one to another; but if they are divided and broken off, they are in no way useful—but the body languishes. Therefore let us endeavor to be peacemakers.

The church’s unity tends much to her stability. Peace makes the church of God on earth, in some measure like the church in heaven. The cherubim (representing the angels) are set out with their faces ‘looking one upon another’ to show their peace and unity. There are no jarrings or discords among the heavenly spirits. One angel is not of an opinion differing from another. Though they have different orders, they are not of different spirits. They are seraphim, therefore burn, not in heat of contention—but in love. The angels serve God not only with pure hearts—but united hearts. By a harmonious peace, we would resemble the church triumphant.

He who sows peace shall reap peace. ‘To the counselors of peace is joy’ (Proverbs 12:20). The peacemaker shall have peace with God, peace in his own bosom, and that is the sweetest music which is made in a man’s own breast. He shall have peace with others. The hearts of all shall be united to him. All shall honor him. He shall be called ‘the repairer of the breach’ (Isaiah 58:12). To conclude, the peacemaker shall die in peace. He shall carry a good conscience with him and leave a good name behind him. So I have done with the first part of the text ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’. I proceed to the next part

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