Looking up at His disciples, Jesus said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
poor in spirit,' etc.; and thus taking it, we conclude -
I. THAT NARROWNESS OF MEANS IS NOT A DESIRABLE THING. Our Lord could not have intended to teach that the poor (in outward circumstances) were necessarily blessed, for poverty itself means privation, inability to command the various bounties and treasures our Creator has provided for our enjoyment and enrichment. Moreover, it by no means constantly or certainly leads to anything which can be called "the kingdom of God;" on the contrary, it frequently conducts to dishonesty, servility, demoralization (see Proverbs 30:8, 9). Neither, therefore, in the present nor in the future can such poverty be pronounced blessed (see, however, homily on Luke 4:18, "to preach the gospel to the poor").
II. THAT POOR-SPIRITEDNESS IS A DECIDEDLY UNWORTHY THING. A "poor-spirited" man, according to the common usage of the term, is a man no one can esteem, and he is a man who cannot respect himself. Christ could not have intended to commend him as the heir of the kingdom of God. He did indeed say much in praise of the meek, the enduring, the merciful, the forgiving; he did say much in deprecation of violence and retaliation. But meekness is a vastly different thing from meanness or cowardice; and a man may be nobly superior to mere violence who fights bravest battles for truth and righteousness. All struggle is not soldiership; and he who has most of what Christ meant when he blessed the poor in spirit may be very valiant and very aggressive at his post as the champion of all that is true and pure.
III. THAT HUMILITY OF HEART IS THE DESIRABLE THING FOR SINFUL MEN. Blessed are the men who have in their hearts a deep sense of their own unworthiness. And they are so because this is:
1. The true and therefore the right thing. Truth is always and under all circumstances to be preferred to error. It would make a man much more comfortable in his mind to persuade him that he is everything that is good, and that he had done everything that was required of him. But what a hollow and rotten thing such a satisfaction would be, if the man were wrong and guilty! How much better for him to know that he was guilty, in need of cleansing and of mercy! How pitiable (not enviable) the Church or the nation that supposes itself to be rich and strong when it is utterly poor and weak! How enviable (not pitiable) the man who has come to understand that he is in urgent need of those resources which he may have if he will seek them, and which - now that he knows his necessity - he will not fail to seek! To have a deep sense of our unworthiness before God is to know ourselves as we are; it is to recognize our lives as they have been. It is to perceive how far we have failed to be that which we should have been to our Divine Father; it is to realize how much there has been in our lives which God's Law condemns, how much there has been absent from them which his Word demands. It is to hold the truth in our hearts; it is, so far, to be in the right. It is a blessed estate as compared with its opposite - that of error and delusion. But it is also:
2. The receptive and therefore the hopeful thing. When a man imagines himself to be safe he admits no Saviour to his heart; when he knows and feels himself to be in danger and in difficulty he opens his door wide to one that will befriend him. The man in whose heart is a true humility, who finds himself to be wrong with God, who sees how far he is from perfect rectitude, is the very man who will welcome Jesus Christ in all his gracious offices.
(1) Conscious ignorance will welcome the Divine Teacher.
(2) Conscious guilt will rejoice in an all-sufficient Saviour.
(3) Conscious weakness will lean on Almighty Power, and be ever seeking the upholding grace of a mighty Spirit.
(4) Conscious error and insufficiency will yield itself to the guidance and direction of a Divine Lord and Leader. And surrendering ourselves to Christ, we enter the kingdom of God. - C.
Blessed be ye poor: for yours Is the kingdom of God.
(E. A. Washburn, D. D.)
E. A. Washburn, D. D. .The whole spirit of the gospel of Christ is in these beatitudes. It is at once a religion and a morality. It teaches us the essence of all Christian truth, which is in that real love of God, that is manifest in love of men, and holiness. Yet it is a Divine, a perfect morality. No other faith ever revealed itself in such personal teaching, in such living beauty, not of word, but of character. The Divine humanity of Christ and His religion stands forth here in this code, human yet more than man. If I were to put into language the morality of mankind, I should write the very opposite catalogue of beatitudes: Blessed are the rich. Blessed they who do not mourn. Blessed are the high-minded. Blessed they who hunger and thirst after the selfish gain. Blessed they who need no mercy. Blessed the cunning and cold of heart. Blessed they who win the battle of life. Blessed they who are prudent enough to escape persecution. It is this very excellence which always makes it appear to the mass of selfish men an unreal thing. Take any of those rules, and try for an hour to follow them out in practice, and the end would be that the Christian would be the laughing-stock of the crowd. And what is the inference? Why, the Author and Founder of this kingdom was probably one of the pure-hearted ideal enthusiasts of His time: His religion succeeded doubtless awhile, while it was the faith of a few poor devotees. But in proportion as it entered into the world, it lost of necessity this moral severity; and the Christianity of the Church and the world is little more than a civilized heathenism. We may admire much in the New Testament that is pure and beautiful. But we cannot call its morality a basis in any sense of human conduct, a Divine or authoritative standard for mankind. Such is the argument. And there is much that is plausible in it. It falls in with doubts that sometimes naturally rise in us as we read the gospel. It needs careful thought. For, if it be really so, it is plain that the gospel is no longer a standard of action, and cannot be Divine. Now, I would endeavour so to meet it as to set at rest such doubts, and to convince you that your religion is no gospel of dreamers, but a real, a practical morality for the man and the State.
1. I shall begin by granting freely everything that is fairly said of the Divine, absolute, ideal purity of Christ's morality. Nay, I shall claim it as its noblest character. He sets before us the highest ideal of personal conduct. And I maintain that there is no domain, where the mind and will of man are employed, which does not recognize and demand such an ideal. It is so in science. It is only as the man, who holds up before him always the noblest standard of knowledge, a perfection beyond what any has reached, who never acknowledges a limit to his growth — it is he who reaches a stature above the crowd. It is so in art. A Thorwaldsen works in the clay model, conscious that in his mind there is an ideal which guides his fingers as he slowly sees the clay take shape. It is so in social order. And is it not true, is it not far truer, of the moral law of life? There must be, not for the monk in his cell, not for the dreamy recluse, but for the man in his daily sphere, an ideal above the common standard of the world in which he lives. If I shoot my arrow at the mark, I aim above it; and why? Because the necessary power of gravitation will carry it to a degree below the straight line; only the higher aim can guide it aright. If I will reach the bank, I steer above it, because the tide draws the boat downward, and my course is made of the two forces. But this law of physics is as much verified in morals. There are in the atmosphere of the world, in our own weakness, and the weight of selfish passion around us, forces that always drag down the will, the affections, below even the mark of attainable goodness. If there be no nobler aim than the common law of society, the outward fear of justice, the rule of a selfish prudence, it will make us but an inferior character. And thus the religion of Christ gives us the ideal and perfect standard. It plants it in the motive. It claims the pure desire of an unselfish heart. It proves that its truth is Divine, because it does not compromise with our false passions, with our earthly appetites, with our worldly dissimulations.
2. This ideal morality is not unreal, but more real, from this very character. It has entered into every human calling. It has inspired every class of mankind. It has taught the lowliest labourer honest thrift. It has taught, too, the highest humility. It has purified the vices of trade. It has nourished domestic love. It has no less presided over the councils of State than over the private heart. It alone has inspired the enthusiasm of humanity. Even in its extravagances, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been the source of all that is heroic, beautiful, pure, Divine, in mankind. Yet it is no less real. If its tides thus reach by such high water-marks the superhuman power it may at times attain, it is no less in its ordinary flow we are to reckon the breadth of its channel.
3. And thus I reach its noblest witness, in the life of society. Am I told by the sceptic that it is this powerless ideal, this gospel of the anchorite, this lofty yet fruitless morality of a faded age? Bear witness for me, this miracle, grander than all of the New Testament, of Christendom itself.
(E. A. Washburn, D. D. .)
E. A. Washburn, D. D. .We are often told that the tendency of religious teaching is to make men indifferent to social improvement; to urge the poor to submit to false distinctions; to flatter the rich into the idea that they can keep their wealth, if they are charitable in alms. This is not the gospel. There is not a sentiment more contradictory to it. Not a cause of justice, of wise reform, not a true channel of social good it does not enforce; not a false barrier of caste it does not frown upon. It tells the wealthy that he is God's steward; it tells the poor he is to labour in every honest calling, yet to remember that his aim is the wealth of a pure conscience and a holy life. It makes all men one in the spirit of unselfish equality. It is our disposition, not our position, which makes the real difference between man and man in the standard of the gospel morality. It is the Christian principle of social union. Who has the Christian intellect? It is he who pursues knowledge in the desire, not of personal reputation, but of a truth that shall make the world wiser and happier for his toil; and in that poverty of spirit, whether it be a Kepler studying the stars, or a Raphael painting his Madonna, or a Hooker expounding the laws of his Church, it is a sacred calling. Who is the great man in Christ's definition? He who, if God hath made him a ruler in the State, rules in His fear, and loves justice and mercy more than his ambition. It is so in every calling. We may pursue our trade or profession for the noble end of a Christian life, or for money-getting and its rivalries. It is here we want our religion.
(E. A. Washburn, D. D. .)Matthew 5.-7, is to be regarded as an ampler account of that which begins with this verse. Many passages occur in both. The general scope and purport is the same. Yet, as St. Matthew says expressly that Jesus spake sitting, on the mountain, and St. Luke that He spake standing, and in the plain, it seems not very unnatural to suppose that the one (that given by St. Matthew) was a discourse delivered, as it were, to the inner circle of His disciples, apart from the crowd of outside hearers; the other (that preserved by St. Luke), a briefer and more popular rehearsal of the chief topics of the former, addressed, immediately afterwards, on descending from the hill-top, to the promiscuous multitude. And the formation of the hill which tradition has marked as the Mount of the Beatitudes lends itself naturally to this supposition. For modern travellers have marked, upon its eastern summit, a little circular plain exactly suited for the gathering of a smaller and more select audience; and again, on the lower ridge, between that eastern and another western horn of the same mountain, a larger space, flattened also to a plain, corresponding, it would seem, with singular exactness to the scene described by St. Luke, and to the presence of that larger concourse to which the second and briefer discourse is thus conceived to have been addressed.
1. As, in the first place, That grace thou hast, it hath need of continual supply. There is no Christian can live upon the grace he hath without new supply. God will not trust thee with the stock of grace; it is not in thy hand, but in the hand of Christ: and this is the condition of the strongest godly man in the world; he must go daily and continually to Christ to fetch new supply, or he cannot subsist. And this is the poor condition that we are in- this spiritual poverty even of the saints.
2. The poverty of the saints consists in this: the graces that they have are but small. Thy grace is like a little spark wrapped up in a heap of embers, so that the maid is raking a good while before she can see it. Surely thou art but poor, then.
3. Even those that are godly, they are very poor, for they are always needy. We use to say of a man or woman that is always in want, and always complaining, Surely they are poor people.
4. Their services are very poor services that they do perform.
5. Again, poor are the very saints, the godly, for little temptations doth overcome them; at least, unsettle them and put them out of frame.
6. Poor they are, further, for they have but little ability to help others.
(J. Burroughs.)1. The great reason why the Lord hath such regard unto such, it is because this disposition doth best serve the great design that God hath of glorifying Himself in the world, namely, the lifting up of His free grace. God would have His glory from the children of men. But what glory? The lifting up of free grace, that is the glory that God would have above all other. God would have the glory of His power, the glory of His wisdom, the glory of His bounty, of His patience; aye, but that is not the glory that God doth look at most; but that He might magnify His free grace in His Son, that is the glory that God doth most delight in. Now, of all dispositions in the world, this disposition of poverty of spirit is that that serves God's end and God's design best; and therefore no marvel though God cloth so much accept of it.
2. Such a disposition makes the soul to be conformable even unto Jesus Christ. Now, when Christ shall see a spirit that hath a conformity to His, Christ looks upon it and saith, "Here is one that is conformable to My Spirit. I was willing to be poor; and so is such a one. I was willing to empty Myself, and to be anything for the furtherance of the glory of My Father; and so do I see here such a poor creature that is willing to empty itself of anything that it hath, and is willing to give up itself for the glory of My Father and Me. Oh, blessed are these poor!"
(J. Burroughs.)1. The first is this, that God loves to honour those that are willing to debase themselves.
2. That blessedness doth not consist in any worldly thing — " Blessed are the poor." There in nothing in this world can make them blessed; it is the kingdom of heaven that must make them blessed. If you would be happy, you must look beyond the world.
3. In that it is said in the present tense, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. From whence the note is this, that the saints of God live not only upon comforts that they shall have hereafter, upon the assurance of what they shall have, but upon present comforts. They have enough for the present to uphold their hearts, in all their poor and mean condition in which they are in respect of the world.
4. That heaven is now to the saints. There is comfort indeed! There is certainly no man or woman upon the earth shall ever go to heaven but such as hath heaven come down to them. First: To open to you what is the meaning of this; what doth Christ mean by the kingdom of heaven? And then, secondly, to apply the kingdom of heaven to such as are poor in spirit.
I. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. There is the kingdom of God's power whereby He rules over the world; and then there is the kingdom that He hath given to His Son the Mediator. It is the second kingdom that is here meant. When God had made this world, He Himself reigned over it, and was the King of it. But the world that He made was spoiled with sin, and so God could not have that glory from the world that He made it for. Therefore, the Lord He was pleased to erect a new world, another spiritual, heavenly world, to glorify Himself in in another manner, more spiritual and heavenly than in the former world; and He makes His Son to be the King of that spiritual world — that new world which the Scripture speaks of when it saith, " All old things are done away, and all things are become new" — which new world is begun in the work of grace in the hearts of the saints, and so carried on till it comes to eternal glory. Jesus Christ, He is the King of that world. Why is it called the kingdom of heaven?
1. It is called the kingdom of heaven because Christ is from heaven, who is the King thereof.
2. In distinction and opposition from or unto the kingdoms of the world.
3. Because that Christ His seat is now at the present in heaven.
4. Because that the way of His government it is spiritual and heavenly, not in an outward way.
5. Because it will certainly bring both soul and body to heaven at last.There is infinite blessedness in this kingdom of heaven.
1. For it is Christ the Mediator that gives the laws. But in this kingdom of heaven, that is a blessedness that thou hast a law from Him that loves thee more than His life; He was willing to lay down His life for thee that gives thee thy law.
2. The second thing in the blessedness of this kingdom of heaven is this, that Jesus Christ He now rules in the hearts of His saints, by His word and Spirit, a great deal more fully than He did in the times of the law, or in any way can be conceived.
3. All transactions between God and them are in this kingdom, and not to go out of this kingdom. So now, wert thou in the kingdom of God's power, as He is Creator of heaven and earth, and so rules the world, certainly any offence of thine would be eternal death to thee; and it is so with all those men and women that are, I say, only under the kingdom of God's power — that is, they are God's creatures, and God is their Creator, and so they have to deal with God as under the kingdom of His power; if they offend as creatures, God in that kingdom deals in a way of exact justice, so as to punish with death upon every offence. But now a believer brought into another kingdom, the kingdom of the Messiah, there he comes to have other privileges; so that when a believer offends he doth not go to answer in that court of His — to wit, the kingdom of His power — but he is to answer before the court of Jesus Christ, and Christ is to be the judge, and Christ He is to deal with them in that administration of His that He hath received from the loather, and so comes a believer to stand with comfort before God, notwithstanding all his offences and weaknesses, for the transaction is between God and Him within this kingdom, and not without it.
4. And then, further, from hence thou hast protection. Though thou beest poor and mean in thyself, thou hast Jesus Christ the Son of God that undertakes to protect thee, to deliver thee from evil, and to supply thee in all thy wants; that is the work of a king.
5. In this kingdom Christ undertakes to subdue all the enemies that are against thy spiritual and eternal good.
6. He, as a king, gives ordinances and gifts and administrations. All the ordinances, gifts, and administrations of the Church, they are given by Jesus Christ as the King of it, and thou that art poor in spirit, thou has right to them.
7. All the world is brought into subjection to this kingdom.
8. For this will bring thee at length to reign with Christ.
(J. Burroughs.)1. Consider He that is the King of this kingdom of heaven, He was poor Himself; your King was poor.
2. Consider this, Christ's poverty it was to sanctify your poverty.
3. This kingdom of heaven, it is so ordered out for the most part, that the poor in the world are the subjects of this kingdom.
4. The Lord hath so ordered things that the great transactions of this kingdom of heaven — that hath been opened unto you — hath been carried on by those that are mean and poor, not by the great ones of the world.
5. Hence follows, therefore, in the fifth place, that poverty it is no hindrance to the highest degree in this kingdom of heaven. Indeed, poverty it is a hindrance to degrees in the honours of a worldly kingdom.
6. Even those that are outwardly poor, if godly, they have right to all things in this world so far as may be good for them. It is said of Abraham (Romans 4:13) that he was " the heir of the world."
7. In this kingdom are spiritual riches that may countervail to the full, and are infinitely good beyond all outward riches.
8. And then from all these follows, that hence the great temptations that those that are poor people are troubled withal may from the consideration of the blessing of the kingdom be taken away.What are they?
1. As, first, I am afraid that God goes out against me, and doth not bless me in anything that I go about; and so they are afraid, and under great bondage.
2. The second is, I am in a poor condition, and therefore despised.
3. And then a third temptation is, they are useless in the world. Nay, this text will answer this temptation, Thine is the kingdom.
(J. Burroughs.)— A fitting text for Christ's first sermon, for He came to this earth to bless. His life was a life of blessing; His one thought how He might bless others, make others happy. He died to bless, and His arms outstretched on the cross, His hands wide open, told how He yearned to bless to the last. He rose to bless, and with words of blessing He greeted those who mourned Him as dead. And when He ascended, He was still true to the work of His life, for the last His disciples saw of Him as He disappeared, were His hands outstretched in blessing. And still He lives to bless; on high He ever liveth to make intercession for souls; here on earth He draws nigh to bless in every Sacrament, in every act of worship, in each meditation, in each sermon, in each hour of prayer, always present by His Spirit to bless.
I. HAPPINESS WAS THE END FOR WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. God's intention for man was a life of beatitude. From God there came to him nothing but blessing. That the curse took the place of the blessing, misery of happiness, was not God's work, but man's, in abusing the power of freewill. But God would not leave man in his self-wrought misery. And so Jesus came to take away the curse of sin, and to bless mankind.
II. THIS BLESSEDNESS CAN ONLY BE OURS ON CERTAIN CONDITIONS,
1. It is a blessedness to be found in God alone. To reach it, we must climb. Above the city of Edinburgh there is a great rock, overhanging it like a crouching lion. It is a dim, misty, foggy day, such as sometimes envelopes even the modern Athens of the North. We leave the busy streets, go out of the town, and find ourselves on the path which leads up the side of Arthur's seat. We have hardly taken a few steps ere we feel the mist is thinner, and we breathe more easily. Still we climb on, for the top is far above us; we can see it through the fog above us standing out sharp and clear against the sky. Still we climb, and the air becomes at every step more keen and bracing, and our lungs drink it in more freely, until at last we stand on the summit in the brightness of God's sunshine, while at our feet lies the city buried in the mist. Cannot you read the parable? We are always seeking for happiness; we cannot help it. It is a craving of our being as irresistible as that of hunger or thirst. It will not be crushed out or destroyed. And there are times when we think we have attained to it, and we laugh and sing as we stand in the sunshine. But it is short-lived. The mist creeps over us again, we shiver as we feel its cold dampness, and we murmur and complain in our disappointment. What is wrong? Ah! we have forgotten to climb. We have thought to find what we want on earth, apart from God, and we have failed, as thousands of souls have failed before us.
2. Jesus tells us this blessedness may be ours now. He speaks of the beatitudes in the present tense. Some people will tell us that the innocent joys of earth, the pure affections of home, the pleasures of the intellect, the beauties of nature or art, are only as the fading tints of the sunset, or the falling golden autumn leaves. Ah! but they forget that there is a Power which will fix these fleeting colours, permanize these passing joys. Use them as God intends, as guide-posts to Himself.
3. But Jesus tells us this blessedness is hereafter too. If He speaks in the present tense, He speaks still more in the future. Yes, it must be so, for true blessedness is in God, in God known and realized; and here we see through a glass darkly, here we know only in part; it is yonder that in a fuller knowledge of God we shall find a fuller blessedness.
4. Blessedness can never be selfish. No one can be happy save as he seeks to share his happiness with others.
5. There are degrees of blessedness. It is a mountain which we have to climb.
(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)
I. MAN WAS MADE EXPRESSLY FOR THIS PERFECT BEATITUDE. It is because he was created for it, that his whole life is spent in the pursuit of it. The human soul must strain after happiness, it cannot help doing so, for happiness is its necessary object. It seeks it with the energy with which the stone detached from the mountain rolls to its foot, drawn by gravitation. Not only so, but the sinner himself, in all his errors, seeks happiness. He is mistaken in the place where he seeks, but it is happiness which he seeks; and when he find out that he has not obtained that which he desired, he falls back into disgust, and gropes for it elsewhere. The traveller in the desert rushes forward when he sees the mirage, thinking it water, and plunges among sand-hills; he is mistaken in looking for water there, but it is a true thirst which has impelled him towards the spot.
II. EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL, IN THIS WORLD IS GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE IT DERIVES ITS GOOD AND BEAUTY FROM GOD. Riches, pleasure, gaiety, &c., arc not evil in themselves, but only when sought as final ends, without thought of God. When they are sought as sources of happiness, and not as reflections of the perfections which are in God, then they are evil. The creatures which God made arc good, but if we content ourselves with loving and devoting ourselves to the creatures, we are falling away from the Creator. A great bishop and doctor of the Church (Bellarmine) wrote a very lovely book, called "The Ascent of the Mind by the Ladder of the Creature to God." The creatures of God are guide-posts to God, not goals to which we are to run, and at which we are to lie down to rest.
III. PERFECT HAPPINESS OR BEATITUDE IS ONLY TO BE FOUND IN GOD. All secondary good things are imperfect because they are created, and for the same reason they are not imperishable. The soul must have that which is perfect and enduring. What is perfect and enduring is in God alone.
(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)success!" it is the fortunate circumstances of a man's lot of which society is thinking. It is the blessedness of having a great deal of money, of being always comfortable, of being environed with what may minister to pleasure, and able always to command what one desires — it is this blessedness of condition which society crowns with its beatitudes, and to which men pay the tribute of enjoying it. Alas for this blessedness, which is outside the man; the blessedness of circumstance, and accident, and transient condition; the blessedness which Time's scythe mows down like grass to be cast into the oven! Not condition does Jesus bless, but character. The happy man is the good man. Not what a man has, but what he is, is the ground of his blessedness.
(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)
J. Oswald Dykes, D. D. .The ground of blessedness is not made by our Lord to rest in the possession of character itself, but in that promised grace of God of which character is the condition. Some of the qualities here (Matthew 5.) called blessed might seem even to us to be their own reward. We can understand how it should be a blessed thing to be merciful, or pure, or pacific, though no promise were attached to these states of heart at all. With others it is not so. It is not in itself a good thing to be poor, or to mourn, or to hunger; but for us it becomes good, because otherwise we cannot be enriched, or comforted, or filled. Here the blessing is plainly not in the state of heart, but in that appropriate Divine gift which meets and answers such a state of heart. In every case, therefore, there is a deeper Divine reason for the blessedness, which Christ's eye sees, where man's sees none. The sum of all the blessings which are here dropped along the course of a Christian's life, or rather, that comprehensive blessing which opens out as a man needs it into many forms: which becomes to the mourner comfort, to the meek inheritance, food to the hungry, and mercy to the merciful; which gives to the pure-hearted the vision of God, and adoption to the peace-makers: this inclusive formula of beatitude is "the kingdom of heaven.
(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D. .)
1. They are the foundations on which alone the superstructure of the active virtues can be built.
2. They are out of sight, and therefore are easily overlooked, their importance forgotten.
3. They were little thought of in the days when Jesus lived on this earth.
(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)
1. That our Lord did not mean to pronounce the poor, hungry, and weeping "blessed," simply in virtue of their poverty, hunger, and tears.
2. The connection between these classes and the kingdom of heaven and its blessings is not quite so immediate. Yet Christ was not mocking His hearers with idle words. He spoke gravely, sincerely, having weighty truths in His mind, every one of which much concerned the children of want and sorrow to know. One of these, the most immediately obvious, was that the classes addressed were in His heart, that He cared for them, sympathized with them, desired their well-being; in a word, that He was the poor man's Friend. This at least is implied in the opening sentence of the sermon, "Blessed are ye poor." The mere fact that this was the opening sentence was most significant.
3. But Jesus meant to say more than this to the poor and sorrowful; more than, "I feel for you"; or," The bliss of the kingdom is possible for you." He meant to say this further; "Just because ye are poor, and hungry, and sad, the kingdom of heaven is nearer to you than to others."
(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)Revelation 4:11).
(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)
(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)
(J. Thomson, D. D.)
I. His EXAMPLE. No one of us has chosen the circumstances of his birth. One is born in a poor hut, another in a magnificent palace. Our Saviour, being God as well as man, could have surrounded His human nature with a splendour surpassing human powers of conception. He who so clothes the lilies of the field that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed as one of them, could have clad His human body in a beauty far transcending that of all the lilies and flowers upon earth. He who created the precious stones and the glittering gold in the veins of the earth, and who gives the sun and the stars their splendour, could have built for Himself a palace, compared with which all palaces of men were mere hovels. But more than the beauty of flowers, more than the gorgeous glitter of diamonds and gold, more than the magnificence of palaces, more than the splendour of the sun, He loved poverty. He would be born as the bride of poverty, and the brother of the poor in spirit. In poverty came the Expected of nations into the world; in poverty He lived all His lifetime; in poverty He died on the cross. His whole life teaches us His love of poverty.
II. His WORD. As Jesus commenced His earthly life with poverty, so His first doctrine preached in His Sermon on the Mount was, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," thus intimating that, unless we be poor m spirit, we are not even able to understand His doctrine. He also pointed out to His disciples in the strongest terms the danger of worldly wealth.
III. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN POVERTY. Now the question arises, Wherein does the poverty, without which we cannot be saved, properly consist?We distinguish four classes of men.
1. The first class comprises those who hart both riches and the love of them. These men are, in most cases, avaricious also. Men of this description are the farthest from Jesus Christ.
2. The second class comprises those who are enamoured with worldly goods, which, nevertheless, they do not possess; those who live in want, but vehemently, and with disquietude, long for the riches of which they are destitute. These men are in a worse condition than those who belong to the former class, for they have only the torment of an ungratified desire.
3. The third class comprises those who, although endowed with worldly wealth, preserve, nevertheless, poverty of spirit; who abound in temporal goods, but make good use of them, and are free from a lasting, vehement, and disquieting attachment to their possessions.
4. The fourth class comprises those who to temporal poverty unite poverty in spirit. Oh! that the poor would recognize how priceless a treasure is hidden in their poverty, if they be content with their condition, and joyfully embrace poverty for the sake of Christ. The world having neither joys nor consolations for those who are poor, doubly unhappy are they who forfeit the blessing belonging to poverty, by discontent and injustice. Christ repudiates them for their wickedness; the world for their poverty.
(Bishop Ketteler.)— It is a curious fact that nearly all the great music of the world has been produced in humble life, and has been developed amid the environments of poverty and in the stern struggle for existence. The aristocracy has contributed very little to music, and that little can be spared without detriment. The enduring music has been the child of poverty, the outcome of sorrow, the apotheosis of suffering. Sebastian Bach was the son of a hireling musician. Beethoven's father was a dissipated singer. Cherubini came from the lowest and poorest ranks of life. Gluck was a forester's son. Lulli, in his childhood, was a page, and slept in palace kitchens. Haydn's father was a wheelwright, and his mother, previous to marriage, was a cook in the kitchen of Count Harrach. Mozart's father was a musician in humble circumstances, and his grandfather a bookbinder. Handel was the son of a barber and surgeon. Meluel was the son of a cook. Rossini's father was a miserable strolling horn-player. Schubert was the son of a poor schoolmaster. Cimarosa's father was a mason, and his mother a washerwoman. Schumann was a bookseller's son, and Verdi the son of a Lombardian peasant. Weber's father was a strolling actor and musician. Among all the prominent composers, but three were born in affluence — Auber, Meyerbeer, and Mendelssohn.
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