Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. If the foregoing Beatitude were one that turned its face principally to man, and looked as it were fixedly on him, yet with most undoubted aspect Godward, this, on the other hand, the eighth in order, must certainly be held (and all the more so by force of the latter clause of it)to place us face to face with God - how certainly, also, to the subsequent advantage of our fellow-man none can doubt. Simple as are the words of this Beatitude, the central word, that one on which the meaning of all hinges, may be rendered yet a little more expressively and unmistakably by the word "clean," which is the Authorized Version rendering ten times out of the twenty-eight times of its occurrence in the New Testament. Three other times is this "clean heart" spoken of, viz.: "The end of the commandment is charity out of a clean heart" (1 Timothy 1:5); "With them that call on the Lord out of a clean heart" (2 Timothy 2:22); "Love one another with a clean heart fervently" (1 Peter 1:22). And in addition twice is a "clean conscience" spoken of, viz.: "Holding the mystery of the faith in a clean conscience" (1 Timothy 3:9); "God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a clean conscience" (2 Timothy 1:3). It is a ." clean linen cloth" in which the sacred body is wrapped (Matthew 27:59); the "seven angels" are "clothed in clean and white linen" (Revelation 15:6); the "Lamb's wife" is "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white" (Revelation 19:8); and "the armies, which followed the Word of God," were "clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (Revelation 19:14). If it were possible to hesitate as to what "the pure heart" of this Beatitude might mean, few could hesitate as to the chief meaning of a "clean" heart.

I. THE CLEAN IN HEART ARE THOSE WHOSE AFFECTIONS, THOUGHTS, WISHES, ARE CLEAN. David's prayer, "Create in me a clean heart, O God," is ever a most practical commentary on the too solemn, too dangerous subject. And St. Peter's earnest entreaty to those whom he counts even as "dearly beloved," that they "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," is another. This unclean heart is described by the lips of Jesus Christ himself: "Out of it proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:19). And the description is followed on by St. Paul, when he speaks of the "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19). Human affections, pure, clean, innocent (partial and imperfect and temporary though they be), lead on to the Divine and eternal; but human passions and the desires of the flesh are the worst foes to the spirit. Into the heart contaminated by entertaining such guests, higher and purer cannot, will not, come. It cannot be pronounced "blessed;" it cannot be "blessed." It has its own eyes indeed, but they are not eyes with which God can be seen. Purity of heart must mean first of all pure thoughts, pure desires, pure affections. Love of the visible, the near, the present, always takes advantage to hinder the love of God, but impure affections fail not to destroy it absolutely.

II. THE PURE IN HEART ARE THOSE WHOSE HIGHER JUDGMENT, BETTER FEELING, TRUER VISION, ARE NOT DISTURBED BY THAT ILLUSION OF SELF-INTEREST WHICH HAS SO BRITTLE, AND AT THE BEST SO BRIEF, A TENURE OF LIFE. The larger examples of the disastrous interferences of what for a while wears all the semblance of expedience, policy, self-interest, and even justifiable self-regard, speak distinctly for themselves when they occur. But the amazing, the incredible work of mischief, invisibly, sometimes unconsciously, rarely enough confessedly, piled up with the effect of crushing unsuspectedly all that is best in the individual heart, it would seem only the plunge into the eternal world can reveal, whether to others or to the victims themselves, whose name is legion. Souls could not have been gambled away more mercilessly or in more ruinous number than they have by these ways committed suicide. They have melted down like the snow, and vanished like phantom troops. The pure in heart know and abide by the right, though it be dressed in rags, and they have no fellowship with the plausible, though arrayed in purple. The pure in heart have an instinct, which holds them faithful adherents to that higher judgment, that better feeling, that truer vision of which the world thinks so little, and which it sells for a delusive nothing. A pure heart believes in it all, without a sidelong glance and without" looking back;" guides itself by what it knows to be the right, and brushes off sophistry as it would a detected traitor-friend. That heart is training to "see God."

III. THE PURE IN HEART ARE THOSE WHOSE HEART ANSWERS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE TO PURE MOTIVE ONLY. Motives are those hidden impulses and inducements of individual actions which so soon usurp the authority of habitual guides of our conduct. Perhaps, to aid our feeble conception of a subject little within our grasp, we might imagine that our heart in its first form was just the scene and domain of feeling - feeling blessedly gentle like infants' breathing; blessedly innocent, that knew no evil; exquisitely sensitive, and - grateful, it knew not why nor to whom. In the midst of that calm scene the plant of thought grew up, inevitably coloured with colour's every tint by feeling. It was no clear thought of reason or of the intellect alone. It was warm with the warmth of human life, and with all its mystery of individual hope, wish, and inclinings. This peculiar domain of feeling and thought, the human soul, became the main place of the originating of action - the fruitful, too prolific seed-bed of all those deeds of the body for which, when we "all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, we must receive... according to that done, whether good or bad." Now, that is a motive which determines feeling and thought to shape itself into action, and which decides its form. Whence those motives come (so multitudinous, so various, so mixed in their character), often enough the heart itself has lost the stern simplicity to know, and no earthly judge can safely pronounce. The complication has become what human skill cannot disentangle. Even the uncharitable and censorious world has, to a proverb, professed at any rate to renounce the judging of men's motives. None the less realities, yet are they fearful ghostly realities to summon before our bar, indeed I Grant all this, yet every one of us knows, if he will say it, whether those inducements of his actions within him are or are not honest, kind, useful, right, unpoisoned by absolute selfishness, fit to be brought to the light, good, holy - in a word, whether they are "pure," or prejudiced by every degree of the taintedness of impurity, from the least to the greatest. To set this house in order is indeed a task. To suffer, to harbour in it no ill motive, to encourage each better and higher motive, to keep a "clean conscience," the fairest flower and fruit of which is "charity" toward the motives of others, stern strictness toward our own, or humbly, earnestly to try and pray to do this, as far as it is not" impossible with man," is to have, or to approach toward having, the "pure heart," which begins even now to "see God."

CONCLUSION. Dwell upon the very encouraging light thrown on human nature, and on its future - that the vision of God is suggested as granted even here to a growing moral likeness to him, and a nearing moral sympathy with him; while every present and necessarily partial vision of him here is an earnest of the vision of full fruition to came. Partial though the clearest, brightest, best vision here confessedly is, yet is it not the deepest and purest bliss to be had? To this said the reputed Chrysosom of old, "So far as any one has rescued himself from evil, and works things that are good, so far does he see God, either hardly, or fully, or sometimes, or always, according to the capabilities of human nature." - B.

The pure in heart.

1. It implies a change of heart.

2. It implies that the faculties of the soul are purified.

3. It implies the purity of the affections. 4, It implies the purity of the thoughts and desires.

5. It leads to purity of worship.

6. It leads to purity of life.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS PROMISED to the pure in heart.

1. What is denoted by seeing God.

2. This vision will constitute the blessedness of the pure in heart.

(J. Jordan.)


1. The words carry us into the inner regions of man's being. At first sight they only suggest the absence of the impure. But, there is no purity apart from the absolute authority of God in the affections. Man is not made by negatives.

II. PURITY OF HEART GIVES THE VISION OF GOD. The phrase "see God" does not refer to any manifestation of His glory visible to the eye of sense. It is to the far deeper sight of the soul that Christ refers. Your best friend is not seen by the eye of the body; you see him spiritually, his qualities of mind and heart.

1. None but the pure in heart can see Him. It is useless to tell the selfish about the beauty of unselfishness; you might as well tell the blind about the glory of colour.

2. That to the pure in heart the full glory of the Divine nature reveals itself. God is light and love. These are seen by the pure soul.


1. It is blessed because to see God satisfies the longings of the heart.

2. Because it clothes life in glory.

3. Because it is the dawning of immortal hope.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

I. Let us try to ascertain WHAT THIS PURITY Is which is here so extolled. It was in Adam by nature — it is in us by grace, etc. In us it is as seed cast into the soil, etc. It is a living principle, ever powerful, ever resisted, yet never beaten, growing daily in aspirations and likeness, until it is made perfect by seeing Christ as He is, when we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. Constantly enjoined. Is true beauty. The qualification for heaven. The Holy Spirit its author. The heart its seat. Manifest in the outer life. Will ever be ready to disclose itself to God in prayer.

II. Such persons are BLESSED. In having this characteristic. Evidence of being amongst the people of God. To them all things are pure. "Shall see God" — in life's trials, life's prosperity, providential dealings, in all creation, in the sacred page, in ordinances, and, above all, in glory — transforming, satisfying, joyful. "Create in me," etc.

(Dr. J. Caroming.)By the "heart" we are to understand the inward part of man, comprehending the mind and soul with all their faculties and affections, purposes and inclinations, the secret recesses into which mortal eye cannot penetrate.

I. The foliage and branches are of the same kind with the stock that bears them.

1. Before we can bring forth good fruit we must be renovated.

2. There may be the semblance of purity in the life when there is no real principle of holiness in the heart.

II. Purity is

(1)the mind renewed, the

(2)disordered spirit restored, and

(3)conformed to the " image of God," in righteousness and true holiness.

III. From the definition of the principle there are three things which it. includes.

1. Frank and genuine sincerity in opposition to dissimulation and deceit.

2. Spiritual worship in opposition to that which is formal.

3. A holy and heavenly mind, in opposition to one that is polluted and sensual.

(J. E. Good.)

I. A great privilege proposed by our Saviour to His followers. "They shall see God" — in this life and in heaven.

II. The qualification required for this enjoyment — parity of heart. Nature and necessity of heart-purity.

1. Try your hopes of heaven by this rule.

2. Follow after purity — heart and life.

(Henry Grove.)See here what is the beauty that sets off a soul in God's eye: purity of heart.

I. Thou who art never so beautiful, art but a spiritual leper, till thou art pure in heart,

1. Therein God sees His own picture drawn.

2. Holiness is a beam of God.

II. Thou who art pure in heart hast the angel's glory in thee, and the embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Ghost upon thee.

III. The pure heart is God's paradise, where He delights to walk; it is His lesser heaven. The dove delights in the purest air; the Holy Ghost, who descended in the likeness of a dove, delights in the purest soul. How may this raise the esteem of purity! This is a beauty that, never fades!

(Thomas Watson.)

I. Purity of heart stands in direct opposition. to that external affectation of purity which is the offspring of hypocrisy.

1. Actions are the outward symbols or expressions of virtue and vice, not virtue and vice themselves.

2. Actions when separated from their motives are indifferent, but it is the disposition of benevolence by which the mind is actuated in which the virtue lies.

3. Words, like actions, when separated from their motives, are indifferent; but it is the inward malignity of soul from which the words proceed, in which the vice consists.

4. The form of purity, like that o! godliness without its power, is only a delusive counterfeit.

5. All external services and sacrifices are of no value without this internal purity.

II. Purity implies the absence of moral grossness. Whatever is defiled is essentially repugnant to the spirit of purity.(1) By the law of nature clouds darken the face of the sky, fogs and vapours stagnate and corrupt the air.(2) By the law of conscience and religion, moral blots and corruptions stain the beauty of the soul, and cast a shade upon its brightness.

III. Purity is an active and vigorous disposition, which incessantly prompts the soul in which it resides, to(1) admire what is amiable;(2) To approve what is excellent;(3) To relish what is delicate;(4) To pursue what is refined. Purity is the only way to blessedness-purity is blessedness itself.

(David Lament, D. D.)

So came these peaceful words of Jesus: Blessed, not the man of force, but the man of heart.

(E. J. Haynes.)

We stood, the day we left home to begin life for ourselves, amid all the "creatures" of God, as stands the druggist's clerk on the first morning of his apprenticing, not knowing which is sweet, or sour, or would kill, or would make alive; aye, and with a perverted impulse for the wrong use of all. Behold that tree which nods at the church window. Sometimes there is too much moisture in the air; sometimes too much heat; poisons are at its root, its leaf, its stock. Yet so "pure" is the tree, so does it follow just God's law, that it chooses and uses, not abuses, but fructifies by all. So amid all nature will be the really pure in heart; not that pure heart is all-wise, but it is so in harmony with God's law, so far as it is instructed, that it uses all things according to the Creator's intention. How? For beauty, purity, peace, and joy.

(E. J. Haynes.)

He says, "I am not conscious of any desire within which shall go half-way to meet the allurements of sin; no little rivulets of half-indulgence which have eaten the sand from under my walls." Oh, how weak is guilt, how strong is purity! I have seen the hawk flap out of the top of tall hemlocks at my coming in the pasture. "Why, hawk, I'll not shoot you; it is but a walking-stick I carry in my hand." "All! yes, but I think it may have a ball in it." And he sails high above the village steeple. "Nay, hawk," says the steeple, "I'll not hurt. I'm but the finger pointing to your Maker." "Ah! but I think you are a trap." He even parts company with the harmless sparrow, for the sparrow " may be a snare." Not so the dove. It lives in the cornice of men's dwellings, and nods good morning to the children in the chamber crib; it touches the foot of the housemaid as she shakes her cloth of crumbs; it rests up in the steeples of old churches, and the Sabbath bell, far from being a fright, is but the signal for the cooing chorus to begin. The man of pure heart is blessed with peaceful self-respect. He is not happy who cannot respect himself. And no man can respect himself who is living in more or less constant communion with bad thoughts and evil pictures of imaginatian. Suppose we grunt that we are not altogether responsible for our thoughts, but, by the complications of daily life, before we know it we have planned a sin; or, by Satan's foes beleaguered, we are thrust upon by pictures of iniquity. Still my proposition is true, that no such life could be a happy one. Could the master of a strong house be at peace, even if bolts and bars and granite strength kept all his foes at bay; if, ever and anon, the mob thrust the death's head at his windows? Aye, more, could he respect-himself if, now and then, as impure hearts do, he showed a face for parley, or cautiously, yet surely, invited one of the red-shifted horde within, to see how ha looked near by? The sunflower might say of wasps, and hornets, and bees: "Why do they pester me, and so hang about? " and the wasps would reply: "You enter-rain us, sir; you have what we love." And so the judge within man, true to his heaven-given instinct, makes reply to him pestered by bad thoughts: "There's something, sir, about you that these buzzards love!" I saw by Lake Leman the old castle of Chillon. Up above, the royal, tapestry-hung apartments of the Duke of Savoy and his gay bride; down below, the dungeon where Bonnivard was chained; where creeping things crawl forth to ogle at the visitors, and instruments of torture are; and I wondered if never, in some scene of revelry above, the groans of martyrs rose to stir the arras on gorgeous walls. There are those we meet in social life, the rooms of whose souls which are open to friends are fair as a palace. But alas! who shall tell us of the secret kept unseen? Not so pure heart. I do not pretend to say that ever on this earth we are freed from all solicitations of evil; but there is many a soul so " blessed" that, when winged thoughts of sin come flying to the windows, God's angel rises up, and draws the shutters to; when disturbing thoughts of hate, revenge, avarice, and pride draw near, God's angel meets them at the outer gate, and bids them all begone.

(E. J. Haynes.)Pure heart is "blest" in his relations with his fellow-man. Pure Heart is blest because he knows no envy of another's success jealousy at another's praise. Dear, simple old heart, it never occurs to him that there is any less of summer's sun for him because a million others bask in its beams. O King Great Heart! thyself no man's enemy, thou thinkest no man thine, but dost beam upon the world like the October sunset upon the harvest fields. "He shall see God." How? Thus. Mozart and his friend, the royal huntsman, went forth arm-in-arm to the fields. The wind came up heavily through the copse of trees. "Look!" says the hunter, "it will startle a hare!" "Listen!" says Mozart, "what a diapason from God's great organ!" A ]ark rose on soaring wing, with its own sweet song. "Look!" says the gamester. "what a shot!" "Ah!" says Mozart, "what would I give could I catch that thrill!" There be dull souls who cannot see nor hear. Are they sick? "Oh! what misfortune!" Are they bereaved? "Some enemy hath done this!" Are they well and prosperous? "Good luck!" Not so Pure Heart. He can see God's hand in every sorrow chastening for good; God's face in every blessing; God's smile in the morning light, the blossoming harvest, and the evening shade; His heart is attuned.

(E. J. Haynes.)

I. God is a pure Spirit, and invisible. It cannot be with our bodily eyes that we shall see Him.

II. They shall see Him. This word expresses immediate intuition of what is plainly offered review. Now we see through a glass, darkly. Wilt thou see God's wisdom, power, love, holiness, glory?

1. This is an appropriating vision.

2. It is an assimilating vision.

3. It is a satisfying vision.

III. How excellent the soul of man which is capable of such felicity!

IV. If such be the nature of the future blessedness, then a change of heart is requisite to enable us to enjoy it.

V. What gratitude do we owe to that God who has provided such a felicity for His children.

VI. What a source of consolation under the afflictions of life.

VII. This subject calls us to mourn for the folly of the children of men, who for toys barter away glory and immortality.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

1. In the work of creation.

2. In the ordinances of the gospel.

3. In the dispensation of Providence.

4. In the day of judgment.

5. In heaven for ever.

(J. C. Edwards, M. A.)

A thing is pure when there is nothing in it out of harmony with its nature. Water is pure, air is pure, when they contain only their constituent elements, and in the right proportion. Gold is pure when it has been separated by fire from all foreign matter. The diamond is pure, the crystal is pure, when there is nothing in them which binders the refraction and reflection of light. It is thus with the heart, which is the emotional part of the soul. It is pure, when it loves only that which it ought to love.

(The Abbe Beutain.)

1. It may be easily understood that impurity of heart hinders the soul from seeing God. Under the power of perverse affections the mind sees nothing aright — nothing in its just relations and proportions. Least of all can the mind thus blinded in its highest faculties see God aright; it gets no inspiring and attractive perception of His glory. As earthly vapours, condensed into clouds and darkening the world with storms, hide from the outward sense the beauty and glory of the visible heaven, so sensual passions, grovelling affections, and the dominion of sin in the soul, all the habits of an impure and unbelieving mind, intervene as with impenetrable clouds, to shut off from the view and reach of the spiritual faculties the grand realities of that upper sphere, where the eternal relations of duty are and where God is.

2. This is further illustrated by remembering distinctly that the normal or right state of the mind — the state in which its faculties and susceptibilities are properly adjusted in relation to each other and in relation to their objects — is just what our Saviour means by purity in heart. As the normal condition of the eye is not when the optic nerve is paralysed or otherwise diseased, nor when the surface is covered by a film, nor when inflammation or a mote under the eyelids makes the light painful, but only when all obstruction or disease is absent, so the normal condition of the mind, as made for the knowledge of things invisible and eternal, is not when its sensibilities are perverted by selfishness, not when sin reigns within, but only when the heart is pure.We may now inquire, What is the blessedness of thus seeing God?

1. To see God is to see the central light which reveals the order and beauty of the universe. The unity of all created things is found only in their relation to God's power, to His love and wisdom, to His plan and government.

2. To see God is to see the fountain of all blessedness. Such intuition of God's glory is identical with the peace of God that passeth all understanding

3. Such an intuition of God as this promise assures to the pure in heart is that for which the soul was created. It is the soul's chief end, and therefore it is the highest blessedness of which the soul is capable.

(L. Bacon.)

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