Matthew 5:3


Jesus begins his first great sermon with the word "blessed." His whole mission is a benediction. It is his object to encourage and cheer, not to repress and humiliate.

1. But he knows the secret of happiness too well to attempt to shed joy in any other way than through those channels by which, in the very constitution of things, God has appointed it to flow. There is a necessary connection between each Beatitude and the character blessed. The reward is not an extraneous gift, but a natural fruit, although it is by the generosity of God that the fruit is made to grow.

2. Moreover, it is to be noted that, although there is this necessary connection between character and happiness, there is more than one way to the goal. Joy is manifold, and different kinds of people may reach it by different roads. Therefore there is a plurality of Beatitudes.

3. A common tone pervades all the Beatitudes. They all depend on some excellency of character, and all the excellences are unpretentious and gentle. Together they suggest a new type of character, as distinct from the stern Jewish ideal as it is from free and superficial pagan notion of goodness. To a large extent the Beatitudes are facets from the character of Christ himself. He who enjoys all these blessings in his own person will be most like the great Teacher who revealed them. Let us consider the first three Beatitudes -

I. POVERTY OF SPIRIT. In the world wealth is increasingly favoured. But no golden key opens the gates of the kingdom of heaven. Christ's gospel is for the poor (Matthew 11:5), because it is for all. The poor in spirit, however, are not the same as those people whose earthly possessions are meagre. They are the people who are conscious of their own spiritual deficiency. They are the spiritually humble. Thus their disposition is the exact opposite of the pride of Pharisaism. The great, comprehensive blessing of the kingdom of heaven is for such souls. Christ had announced the coming of the kingdom in his earlier preaching. Now he shows who are to receive it. Humility, a sense of emptiness and helplessness, - this is just the condition in which to receive Christ and his kingdom.

II. MOURNING. The second Beatitude had a direct relation to the state of Israel in the days of Christ; that was a condition of moral and national decay. Some were indifferent, others proudly rebellious. For such people Christ had no blessing. But for those who deplored the evil of the times there was comfort in the gospel of Christ.

1. Christ brings consolation to those who mourn for sin by bringing forgiveness.

2. He comforts those who deplore the evils of society by introducing a hope of human brotherhood.

3. He consoles those who weep for the dead by shedding light on the life beyond the tomb.

III. MEEKNESS. This is a peculiarly Christian grace, scorned by the pagan world. It does not mean the lack of energy and courage. The truly meek man is no coward. Strength of self-control is needed in order to bear an affront with patience. Jesus was never so strong as when "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter." Even Pilate was baffled by the calm strength of his meekness. Now our Lord promises a temporal reward to this grace. Heavenly blessings coveted by martyrs might be expected; but Jesus promises even the inheritance of the earth.

1. Ultimately this will come in the reign of Christ which his people are to share.

2. At present it is experienced in a capacity to make the best use of earthly things, by possessing one's soul in patience. - W.F.A.









Poor in spirit.
I. Examine the CHARACTER here spoken of.

1. We should not confound the poor in spirit with the poor in worldly circumstances.

2. We are not to associate the mean-spirited with the poor in spirit.

3. We are not to understand that the poor in spirit are poor in spirituality. Poorness of spirit involves —

(1)Humility;

(2)Contentment;

(3)Submission;

(4)Gratitude.

II. In what their BLESSEDNESS consists.

1. Theirs are the privileges of the Church on earth; reconciliation; illumination; communion; joy.

2. The felicities of the Church in heaven.

(J. Jordan.)

I. By the poor in spirit are meant THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN CONVINCED OF THEIR SPIRITUAL POVERTY. All without Christ are wretched, blind, naked, poor. They are sensible of their wants; the higher their attainments, the deeper their humiliation. Have high thoughts of Christ. We are not to understand the poor in this world; not the poor-spirited or cowardly in the service of Christ; not the excessively timid and poor-spirited.

II. IN WHAT DOES THEIR BLESSEDNESS CONSIST? By whom was this assurance given? By Him who is the source of all blessings. They are heirs of the kingdom of peace, righteousness, and joy.

(D. Rees.)

1. Do not misjudge a Christian's expression of lowliness, for these are genuine expressions of poverty of spirit.

2. So far as you find restfulness and complacency in your own attainments, you may doubt the reality of your growth.

3. Poverty of nature rather than poverty of spirit may be revealed by censoriousness.

4. The Holy Spirit alone can correct self-ignorance; from His illumination will result genuine poverty of spirit.

(J. T. Duryea, D. D.)

it: —

I. Let us think much on the character of God as shown to us in His Holy Word.

II. Let us be careful to separate any good intentions which we may find springing up in our hearts from ourselves, and ascribe them to God's Holy Spirit.

III. Let us be watchful against occasions of pride.:IV. Another great step to the attainment of humility, is to forget those things which are behind, and press onward to those before.

V. We must be ever looking at the Cross.

(H. Alford, M. A.)

1. The promises of the gospel belong to them.

2. They enjoy the means of grace.

3. In the Christian conflict the humble man has all the advantage.

(H. Alford, M. A.)

I. SOME THINGS WHICH MUST BE REJECTED as not intended by Christ. It is not a mere peculiarity of temperament — not the obsequiousness and meanness often associated with poverty — not the simple fact of being poor-not voluntary religious poverty.

II. THE FEATURES of spiritual poverty.

1. The conditions: In a spiritual sense all are poor.

2. The state of mind — poor in spirit, implying great humbling — difficult of attainment, so repugnant to the flesh, so opposed to our fancied excellence.

III. THE BLESSING PROMISED. It is the spirit in which the kingdom is to be received (Matthew 18:1-5). Is the spirit of the Master (Philippians 2:1-12). Blessed with all the titles and riches of the kingdom (James 2:5). Is the essence of a filial spirit.

(W. Barker.)Blessedness is the perfection of a rational creature; it is the whetstone of a Christian's industry; the height of his ambition; the flower of his joy; the desire of all men.

I. Let us so deport ourselves that we may express to others that we do believe a blessedness to come, by seeking after an interest in God, and that our union with God and the chief good makes us blessed.

II. Let us proclaim to the world that we believe in blessedness to come, by living blessed lives; walk as become the heirs of blessedness. Let us lead blessed lives, and so declare plainly that we seek a country (Hebrews 11:14).

(Thomas Watson.)You may as well expect fruit to grow without a root, as the other graces without this; till a man be poor in spirit he cannot mourn.

I. Till we are poor in spirit we are not capable of receiving grace.

1. God doth first empty a man of himself, before He pours in the precious wine of His grace.

2. None but the poor in spirit are within Christ's commission.

II. Till we are poor in spirit, Christ is never precious.(1) Before we see our own wants we never see(2) Christ's worth.(3) He that wants bread, and is ready to starve, will have it, whatever it cost; bread he must have, or he is undone;(4) So to him that is poor in spirit, that sees his want of Christ, how precious is the Saviour

III. Till we are poor in spirit we cannot go to heaven.(1) The great cable cannot go through the eye of the needle, but let it be untwisted and made into small threads, then it may.(2) Poverty of spirit untwists the great cable;(3) Makes a man little in his own eyes, and now an entrance shall be made unto him.

(Thomas Watson.)

I. He that is poor in spirit is weaned from himself.

1. The vine catcheth hold of everything that is near, to stay itself upon. There is some bough or other, a man would be catching hold of to rest upon; how hard it is to be brought quite off himself.

II. He that is poor in spirit is a Christ-admirer.

1. He sees himself wounded, and, as the wounded deer runs to the water, so he thirsts for the water of life.

2. "Lord," saith he, "give me Christ, or I die."

III. He that is poor in spirit is ever complaining of his spiritual estate.

1. He ever complains, "I want a broken heart, a thankful heart."

2. He mourns he hath on more grace.

IV. He that is poor in spirit is lowly in heart.

1. Submissive.

2. He blusheth more at the defects of his graces, than others do at the excess of their sins.

V. He that is poor in spirit is much in prayer.

1. Ever begging for spiritual alms.

2. Will not away from the gate, till he have his dole.

VI. The poor in spirit is content to take Christ upon His own terms.

1. Sees himself lost without Christ.

2. Willing to have Him upon His own terms.

VII. He that is poor in spirit is an exalter of free grace.

1. He blesses God for the least crumb that falls from the table of free grace.

2. He magnifies mercy, and is thankful.

(Thomas Watson.)

Christ begins with this, and we must begin here if ever we be saved. Poverty of spirit is the foundation stone on which God lays the superstructure of glory. There are four things may persuade Christians to be poor in spirit: —

I. This poverty is your RICHES.

1. You may have the world's riches, and yet be poor.

2. You cannot have this poverty, but you must be rich.

3. Poverty of spirit entitles you to all Christ's riches.

II. This poverty is your NOBILITY.

1. God looks upon you as persons of honour.

2. He that is wile in his own eyes, is precious in God's eyes.

3. The way to rise is to fall.

4. God esteems the valley highest.

III. Poverty of spirit doth sweetly QUIET THE SOUL.

(1)When a man is brought of himself to rest on Christ, what a

(2)blessed calm is in the heart!

IV. Poverty of spirit paves a causeway for blessedness.

1. Are you poor in spirit? You are blessed.

(Thomas Watson.)

Here is comfort to the people of God.

I. God hath provided them with a kingdom.

1. A child of God is oft so low in the world that he hath not a foot of laud to inherit; he is poor in purse, as well as poor in spirit.

2. Here is a fountain of consolation opened.

3. The poorest saint who hath lost all his golden fleece is heir to a kingdom.

II. This kingdom excels all the kingdoms and principalities of the world.

III. The hope of this kingdom, saith Basil, should carry a Christian with courage and cheerfulness through all his afflictions; and it is a saying of Luther's "The sea of God's mercy, overflowing in spiritual blessings, should drown all the sufferings of this life."

IV. What though thou goest now in rags! Thou shalt have thy white robes. What though thou art fed like Daniel, with pulse, and hast coarser fare! Thou shalt feast when thou comest to the kingdom. Here thou drinkest the water of tears; shortly thou shalt drink the wine of paradise. Be comforted with the thoughts of a kingdom.

(Thomas Watson.)

I. WHO ARE MEANT by the poor in spirit? To the poor in spirit, or those that possess a spirit of poverty, the text annexes a blessedness, and promises a reward.

II. What are THE PROPER VIRTUES of a poor and low estate, such as every man, whether high or low, rich or poor, is bound to endeavour after?

(1)Humility;

(2)Patience;

(3)Contentment;

(4)Trust and hope in God.

(Bishop Ofspring Blackall, D. D.)

(1)Industry. They that want nothing think it needless to labour;

(2)Temperance;

(3)Frugality;

(4)Contempt of the world.

(Sir William Davies, Ban. , D. D.)Neither indigence nor wealth in itself has the least connection with real religion.

I. Poverty of spirit consists in A DEEP CONVICTION OF GUILT and depravity, before a pure and holy Being.

(1)By the entrance of God's Word into the mind, and the

(2)triumph of His grace in the soul, we become "poor in spirit."

(3)When conviction flashes in the conscience of a sinner, when he sees the

(4)number of his sins,

(5)strength of his corruptions, and

(6)weakness of his resolutions, then this disposition is implanted in him. Already he hath a beginning of blessedness in his breast,

II. Poverty of spirit consists in HUMILITY through every stage of the Christian's pilgrimage.

1. It commences with a deep sense of sin, guilt, and desert of punishment.

2. It is the vital principle of the believer's spiritual constitution.

3. It grows with his grace.

4. Increases with the increase of his knowledge in God.

5. As he becomes a father in Christ, he will become a little child in his own estimation.

6. The most eminent Christian is the most humble.

7. His humility exalts him, and makes him great.

III. Poverty of spirit includes CONTENTMENT with the allotments of Providence.

1. It is opposed to the restlessness of ambition, and the haughtiness of pride.

2. It turns away from that "covetousness which is idolatry."

3. It does not eagerly and improperly desire the honours and riches of this world.

4. "Having food and raiment," it has learned to be contented therewith.Such an elevation of soul should be acquired, and such a spirit of cheerful contentment should be cultivated by all who have taken on them the Christian name.

(J. E. Good.)

There was a story in old times told of a severe, cynical philosopher, visiting the house of one who was far his superior in genius as in modesty. He found the good philosopher living in a comfortable house, with easy-chairs and pleasant pictures round him, and he came in with his feet stained with dust and mud, and said, as he walked upon the beautiful carpets, "Thus I trample on the pride of Plato." The good philosopher paid no attention at first, but returned the visit, and when he saw the ragged furniture and the scanty covering of the floor of the house in which the other ,ostentatiously lived, he said, "I see the pride of Diogenes through the holes in his carpet." Many a one there is whose pride is thus seen by his affecting to be without it; many a one whose poverty, whose modesty in spirit, can best be appreciated by seeing how the outward comforts and splendour of life can be used by him without paying any attention to them.

(Dean Stanley.)

Never pauper pleaded more at your gate for some gift of charity than he does. And because he has nothing but what he receives, therefore he is always asking.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

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