Matthew 5:3-9 - Homilies By R. Tuck
The benediction of good character.
The word "blessed" is taken from beati , which is used in the Vulgate. By it our Lord indicates what will be especially esteemed, and receive special honour, in his new kingdom. To see our Lord's point we should observe what the Pharisaic teachers of his day were proclaiming. According to them, God's blessing rested upon minute acts of obedience; upon precision in keeping every detail of a series of elaborate, man-made rules. The teaching of the day was surface-teaching. God's blessing rested on good conduct, but it was not moral conduct; it was conduct regarded ecclesiastically, reckoned by wearisome amplification of Mosaic rites and rules.
I. GOD 'S BLESSING RESTS ON CHARACTER . This is the revelation brought by Christ. This is the point of his teaching. This is the essence of his mission. According to the Pharisees a man need not be a good man to be an accepted man with God. They were not themselves "good men," and yet they never for a moment doubted their own acceptance. Now, in this our Lord did but revive the work of the prophets, who were sent to teach men that God gave his blessing to moral righteousness, and not to mere ritualistic obedience (see Isaiah 1:1-31 .).. It is usual to contrast the subjects of the Beatitudes with the strong, active virtues that were prized by paganism, which meant "valour' when it spoke of "virtue." But that can hardly be our Lord's contrast. We must seek for the prevailing ideas of the people to whom he spake; and then we find the contrast is between goodness as conduct , and goodness as character inspiring conduct,
II. CHARACTER DEPENDS ON STATES OF MIND . It will be noticed that our Lord deals with character in its fountains rather than in its expressions. He commends the "poor in spirit. " Five states of mind are presented as the bases of character on which God's benedictions can rest.
1 . Humility.
2 . Penitence.
3 . Meekness.
4 . Mercifulness.
5 . Purity.
Let these be the rootages of character in a man, we can be quite sure what its flowerings, in all the relations of life, will be. Test the Pharisee by these five tests, and his goodness of mere conduct is exposed.
III. CHARACTERS WILL BE SURE TO DECIDE CONDUCT . This was our Lord's constant teaching. "Make the tree good, and the fruit will come right." Character is to conduct as the life is to the body. There is health in the body when there is purity and vigour in the life.—R.T.
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