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" Blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called the children of God." —Matt. v. 9. What a happy world this would be, if peace universally prevailed among its inhabitants ! — if no battle-field ever presented its ghastly spectacles of blood and death ! — if no quarrels ever disturbed our streets ! — if no jealousies and antipathies ever existed among neighbours ! — if in no home, of all the millions of the homes of men, feuds or alienations were ever known ! — if scenes of acrimonious dispute never occurred between husbands and wives ! — if brothers and sisters were never at mutual variance ! — if the hearts of the fathers were never turned from their children, nor the hearts of children from their fathers ! — if no hand were ever raised to smite ! — if the scowl of hate were never witnessed upon a human countenance, the language of angry passion never heard from a human tongue, the thought of malignity or revenge never harboured in a human breast !
10 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOUESES. Shall such a state of things ever be realised ? and if so, by what means ? To the former inquiry we answer — yes ; to the latter — by the diffusion of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Men who have no faith in the Word of God count this an Utopian dream. Their philosophy recognises no cause adequate to the production of so mighty an effect. They can understand how the advance of civilization, and the increase of knowledge among all classes of persons, may improve human character, so as ultimately to abolish such enormities as formal wars between nations, and also greatly to lessen the contention that prevails in private life. But beyond this they are
unable to go. A time when all forms and desfrees of discord shall be unknown, cannot, in their estimation, be soberly expected. But the Christian feels warranted to judge differently. When he represents to himself a state of things in which peace is universally prevalent, this is not to him a mere picture of the imagination ; but he believes that the vision shall be fully and literally realised. The infaUible Word of God has told him so, and has pointed out the instrumentality through which the result shall be accomplished. " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together ; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed ; their young ones also shall lie down together ; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain ; for the earth shall he full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the luaters cover the sea." An era of universal peace, therefore, consequent upon the diffusion of the knowledge of the Lord, shall yet bless our earth ; and he is the peacemaker who uses his endea-
THE PEACEMAKER. 1 1 vours to hasten that era by spreading abroad the knowledge of the Lord within the sphere of his influence. Suppose that a person should spend his days in labouring to compose quarrels among his fellow-men, without, however, doing any thing to bring the parties whom he found in a state of animosity under the influence of Gospel principles, he would deserve the character of a peacemaker only in a very limited and inferior degree. He might meet with apparent success in various instances ; yet, leaving unchanged the hearts of those who were the objects of his persuasions, he would contribute nothing real or perma-
nent to the cause of peace. The sources of discord must be reached, in order to its prevalence among men being materially affected ; and this can only be done by the Gospel. We, therefore, restrict the name of peacemaker to him whose influence is directed towards the advancement of the Gospel. Peacemaker and evangelist are one. In adopting this view we put no strained interpretation upon the text. On the contrary, we conceive that we are bringing out its exact idea. The position which the beatitude under consideration has, in the series to which it belongs, favours this opinion. The immediate object of the beatitudes, with which our Lord commenced his sermon on the mount, was to bring out the distinctive marks of the members of his kingdom, — first, their internal characters; and next, their external relations. A regular progress may be observed in the internal features mentioned, — poverty of spirit, the germ of all vital godliness, — mourning J or godly sorrow on account of sin, — meekness, that readiness to bear injuries without complaint or retaliation, which follows upon a sense of our guilt in the sight of God ; a disposition beautifully exemplified in the case of David, when he said regarding Shimei, " So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him. Curse David," — a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, an earnest
12 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOURSES. longing, that is, for the holiness without which a spiritually enlightened man feels that happiness is impossible, — mercy, because those who have themselves been the objects of the divine compassion must feel compassion for their fellow-men ; and, finally, purity of heart. This is the consummation. Christian character, internally considered, begins with poverty of spirit, and is perfected in purity of heart. Why, then, does our Lord, before proceeding to notice the external relations of the members of his kingdom (" Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake," and so on), interpose the beatitude of our text,
" Blessed are the peacemakers '' ? What propriety is there in describing his people by their disposition to promote peace, after Christian character has been already fully developed, and its maturity indicated in the beatitude relating to purity of heart ? The answer is, that peacemaking does not rank in the same class with poverty of spirit, godly sorrow for sin, meekness, and the other component elements of Christian character ; but it rather assumes that an individual's Christian character has been formed, and it supposes him then to go forth and endeavour to leaven the world with those high and hoi}'- principles which have been implanted in his own soul, and the communication of which to others is the best way — in fact, the only true way — to promote peace and goodwill among men. Though purity of heart is the completeness of Christian characters, yet peacemaking is properly placed after it, because it is just in so far as we have become pure in heart that we can do the work of peacemakers, — the work of filling the earth with the influence of the Gospel, — the work of bringing men to live in harmony, by bringing them to receive that divine truth which, were it universally received, would utterly banish variance and contention from human society. In order to the further elucidation of the subject, we
THE PEACEMAKER. 13 shall first make some remarks illustrative of the fact that the discord, which is so extensively prevalent, results from the sinful passions reigning in the hearts of men ; then show that nothing but the Gospel of the grace of God is adequate to subdue men's sinful propensities; from which, in fine, our conclusion will be obvious, that the peacemaker is he who uses his endeavours to promote the spread of the Gospel. I. In the first place, discord is the offspring of sin. It
is because the world is full of sin that it is full of discord. The various lusts of the human heart are the fires that keep the caldron of contention boiling and bubbling up. The wars, for instance, which have, in various ages, desolated the globe, and which exhibit strife in its most siorantic proportions, are mostly traceable to the sinful principle of ambition. An Alexander, a Caesar, or a Bonaparte, is fired with the desire of displaying his military genius, of extending the limits of his empire, or acquiring renown as a conqueror. To gratify this passion wars are undertaken, — the wealth of kingdoms is expended, and their commerce ruined, — the fruits of the earth are destroyed, and cities reduced to ashes, — myriads upon myriads of human beings, in the noontide of their days, full of life and hope, are swept off to a sudden grave, — widows and orphans innumerable are thrown into lamentation, — and the direst miseries overflow, like a flood, scenes where order and prosperity were accustomed to prevail. or is the influence of ambition seen merely in the contests of nations. We every day perceive it working discord between private individuals also. How common is it for the disappointment suffered by an unsuccessful candidate for some trivial post of authority or distinction, to rankle for years in his mind, alienating him from all who have been in any way concerned in his defeat, or who have not been sufficiently
14 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOUESES. active in promoting his elevation ! Covetousness is another pregnant source of contention. o one needs to be told what an amount of unfriendly feeling, and how many acrimonious controversies, originate in the excessive love of money. In his haste to be rich, an individual commits a fraud upon his neighbour, takes some indirect means of injuring his business, or otherwise acts in a mean and unworthy manner towards him. What is the consequence? The injured party resents the wrong he has suffered. Then
come mutual recriminations and abuse; and the quarrel, thus commenced, may be carried to any length. Even the nearest relatives are at times alienated from one another by "the mammon of unrighteousness/' Look again at pride. I form an estimate of myself, which is in all likelihood greatly exaggerated, and I expect others to treat me according to this estimate. In this, however, I am disappointed. I do not receive the honour which I think to be my due. I fancy that I have been slighted, or that sufficient deference has not been shown me. Hereupon I take offence, I quarrel with the parties whom I consider to have been disrespectful. The footing of goodwill on which I previously stood with them is broken; and they are henceforth my enemies. Once more, what streams of contention flow from the poisoned fountain of sensuality! The haunts of intemperance are the very temples of discord. You expect brawls among a company of men who are debasing themselves by drinking to excess. " Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." Drunkenness entering into a house is of itself sufficient, were there no other causes of variance at work, to make that home, however loving and united previously, a perfect pandemonium of strife. And need I do more than refer to the kindred sin of licentious-
THE PEACEMAKER. 15 ness? Estranged affections, desolated hearths, torn and bleeding families, cruel and inextinguishable feuds, violent and untimely deaths, are its natural fruits. Such examples might be multiplied indefinitely; but enough has been said to confirm the assertion, that discord is the offspring of sin. The truth is clearly expressed by the apostle James, when he says, " From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even
of your lusts that war in your members?'' If this, however, be the case, — if wars and fightings arise from our lusts, — the reign of peace can be effectually established upon the earth only in proportion as these lusts are extinguished. In so far as men are enabled to put away pride, and to be clothed with humility, — in so far as worldlymindedness and grasping avarice are disenchanted from the breast, — in so far as intemperance gives place to sobriety, and licentiousness to purity, — in so far as the envious are brought to rejoice in the good of their neighbours, and the selfish to look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others, — in so far as restless ambition, and an insatiable desire for earthly honour as an ultimate object, die out of the world, — thus far, and no farther, will human society cease to be distracted witli contention. II. This leads us to our second position, that the Gospel of the grace of God is alone adequate to subdue mens sinful propensities. Most of the causes which those who put no faith in the Gospel look to, as having a chief efficacy in ameliorating human society, were in operation in various parts of the heathen world for ages before the coming of Christ ; and what did they effect in the way of practical morality? Absolutely nothing. The character of the heathen, drawn by the apostle Paul, is as follows: — "God gave them over to
16 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOUESES. a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient ; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness ; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity ; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-
breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful : who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." A very dark picture ! And yet it is borne out, in its every line, by history. The description, too, it must be observed, was intended by the sacred writer to apply to nations which had reached, in many respects, a high stage of civilization. There can be no doubt that Paul had principally in view the polished Greeks and Romans, — whose poets and historians are to this day looked upon as models of literary taste, — whose speculative philosophers had prosecuted inquiry, in the different departments of intellectual science, to a point of advancement which has scarcely yet been passed, — and whose moralists had produced treatises on questions of duty, not much inferior to any thing that would probably ever have emanated from unassisted reason. or if we turn from ancient to modern times do we perceive any indications of a material improvement in human character, where the influence of divine truth is not in operation. On the contrary, there is much in recent history, as well as in the records of times antecedent to the introduction of Christianity, which proves too convincingly that man without the Gospel is essentially such as the sentences quoted declare him to be. With all the progress that has been made in various kinds of knowledge, with all the wonderful discoveries in physical science that are bursting upon the world, with all the unprecedented achievements of mechanical genius, we do not find, where the Gospel is rejected,
THE PEACEMAKER 17 that the hearts of men are becoming better. There may be a softening in the features of wickedness; but there is no substantial and decided change. Education is regarded by many as the grand panacea for the moral evils under which the world labours ; and
education, even of a common secular kind, we are far indeed from undervaluing. ext to religion, it is the greatest boon that a people can enjoy. Its advantages are too obvious to need to be specified. But we cannot admit that it is equal to the task of making mankind new creatures. It will do for the many, when they obtain it, no more than it has done for the few who already possess it. But do we observe that the circumstance of a person's having been well educated is any guarantee that he is either wholly, or to a great extent, free from sinful propensities ? Are not persons of the highest education often the slaves of covetousness, or wholly given to sensual indulgence ? Are not jealousy and bitter envy often exhibited among the learned, as much as in the most illiterate circles ? Have individuals a less tendency to pride and worldly ambition, in consequence of being well educated, than they would otherwise have had ? Is it not rather, for the most part, the reverse ? Secular education, therefore, whatever advantages it may have, — and they are many, — is not the philosopher's stone that can transmute an iron age into a golden one. But what nothing else can do, the Gospel of the grace of God effects. It slays the wickedness of the human heart. Sin receives its death- wound from the arrow dipped in the blood of the Lamb. The huge leviathan laughs at other weapons, and it shakes them like mere hay and stubble from its iron scales ; but it is powerless to resist the sanctifying influence of divine truth, brought home to the understanding and the heart through the Holy Spirit. " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature :
18 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOUESES. old things are passed away ; behold all things are become new/' " We ourselves also/' writes the inspired apostle, classing himself with the general body of converts, " were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse
lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour/' A perfectly similar change to that here described is experienced wherever " the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man'' are really apprehended. o one can receive the Gospel without being converted from sin to holiness by its instrumentality. It teaches men effectually that, "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." It transforms an avaricious and unjust Zaccheus into a pattern of integrity and benevolence. It makes a hard-hearted and cruel tyrant, like the jailor of Philippi, wash the wounds of his prisoners. It leads dissolute Augustines and Gardiners to devote themselves to lives of temperance and purity. Out of an old African blasphemer, like John ewton, it produces a sweet singer of sacred and devout hymns, which remain to edify the people of God long after the heart, which first glowed with the warm emotions that they express, is cold in the dust. It constrains a Henry Martyn, who has but one object in view, — the attainment of earthly distinction, — to cast his idol to the moles and to the bats, and to give himself up to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ. By thus subduing the sinful lusts of men, the Gospel dries up the streams of contention at the fountain head. It brings about peace by extinguishing the passions that
THE PEACEMAKER. 19 are hostile to peace. While other instrumentality can at best only lop off some branches from the Upas tree of discord, it shrivels and destroys its very roots. It is appro-
priately termed " the Gospel of Peace/' because it reconciles man to God ; but it no less appropriately bears that title because, by carrying with it the seeds of a new character, to be implanted in those who embrace it, it creates harmony between man and man. As yet, indeed, its pacific effects have been apparent only in a very limited degree, for it has been but partially received ; but as it advances, and, through the blessing of the Most High, makes its way among mankind (and we saw, at the outset of the discourse, that Scripture foretells its universal diffusion), it shall give rise to a state of perfect and most blessed harmony among the members of the human family. Comparatively little as may have been the progress of the rehgion of Jesus hitherto, it shall spread its conquests from pole to pole, — regenerating the hearts of men, and, as it marches along, awakening at every step the odours of mutual love, — putting an end to hatred, and violence, and oppression, — loosening the bonds of the slave, — quenching the unhallowed fires of ambition, and causing wars to cease, — abolishing the names of envy, suspicion, sensuality, and grasping avarice, — giving birth to brotherly kindness, and confidence among men one to¦wards another, — softening every thing that is austere, elevating every thing that is low, refining every thing that is gross, destroying every thing that is hateful in human character, — teaching all men, in a word, the golden lesson, to do to others as they would that others should do to them. If such is to be, in point of fact, the result of the dissemination of the doctrines of the cross, who would not pray, with a reference even to the temporal happiness of his species, for the coming of the kingdom of Christ ?
20 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOURSES. " The groans of nature in this nether world, Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end. . . . Six thousand years of sorrow have well-nigh
Fulfilled their tardy and disastrous course Over a sinful world ; and what remains Of this tempestuous state of human things, Is merely as the working of a sea Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest. For He whose car the winds are, and the clouds The dust that waits upon His sultry march, When sin hath moved Him, and His wrath is hot. Shall visit earth in mercy ; shall descend Propitious in- His chariot paved with love; And what His storms have blasted and defaced For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair. .... All things were once Perfect, and all must be at length restored, Haste, then, and wheel away a shattered world, Ye slow -revolving seasons ! we would see (A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet) A world that does not dread and hate God's laws, And sufi'er for its crime ; would learn how fair The creature is that He pronounces good, How pleasant in itself what pleases Him."
III. The positions above illustrated lead at once to the conclusion that he is the true peacemaker who labours to promote the spread of the purifying principles of the Gospel. Fancy to yourselves a vessel leaving a Christian land for some distant country, where the glad tidings of great joy have never yet been proclaimed, and where even the name of the Redeemer is unknown, — a country, it may be, where nature wears her fairest aspects, where every scene presented to the eye is beautiful, and fragrant odours are wafted on every breeze ; but where, at the same time, sin reigns in its most detested forms, — a country whose homes, because unvisited by the Gospel, are the habitations of strife and horrid cruelty. The vessel carries one who has
forsaken his native land, his kindred, and all that men commonly hold dear, in order that he may publish the
THE PEACEMAKER. 21 everlasting Gospel to the people of that heathen and degraded realm. It reaches its destination ; and, taking his life in his hand, the missionary enters upon the work to which he has devoted himself. He makes known to the blinded idolaters, among whom he has come, the true character of God ; he tells them of the way of acceptance through a crucified Redeemer ; he speaks of that change of nature which all must undergo before they can " see the kingdom of God ;'" and, sowing the precious seed in tears, and watering it with many prayers, he waits for the blessing. This is a peacemaker. The tendency of his labours is to change the dark places of the earth into abodes of purity and love. Such peacemakers were the Moravians in the icy wastes of Greenland ; Brainerd among the savage aboriginal tribes of orth America ; Williams ir the islands of the Southern Ocean ; Vanderkemp and Campbell and Philip on the burning plains of Africa ; Morrison in China ; Thomas and Carey (and, in the present day, our own Duff and his coadjutors) in India. " Blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called the children of God.'' We have an example of a peacemaker of the highest order in the great apostle of the Gentiles. " I have therefore," he writes to the Romans, " whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God ; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation : but as it is written, To whom he was
not spoken of, they shall see : and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now hav-
22 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOUKSES. ing no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you ; whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you : for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled w^ith your company/' This striking passage sets before us, not one of the world's heroes, who has scattered his enemies on the blood-stained field of battle, and brought kingdoms under forced subjection to his rule, and who, in the intoxication of success, is contemplating further conquests of a like deadly and destructive kind, — but a hero crowned with victories won in the propagation of the Gospel, and looking forward, with a grand and sanctified ambition, (how different from the earthly principle which bears that name !) to additional and still higher achievements in the same cause. In Damascus, in Arabia, in Judea, in Antioch, in most of the provinces of Asia Minor, in Macedonia up to the very borders of Illyricum, in Athens, in Corinth, he has successfully fought the battles of the cross. But far from being satisfied with what he has accomplished (or rather, to use his own mode of expression, with what Christ has done by him), he is revolving schemes of wider reach, enterprises of vaster magnitude, than any he has yet undertaken. He eyes afar the capitol of the world, imperial Rome. or do his views stop even there. Rome shall be but a stage in his evangelistic progress. Spain, the western limit of the then-discovered globe, must hear the message of divine love ! Search now the roll of those warriors, " demi-gods of fame,'' with whose deeds the page of history is full, and say to which of the number, — considering only the question of greatness of soul, — will you assign a higher place than to Paul the peacemaker ?
But our attention need not be confined to extraordinary cases of ministerial talent or devotedness. When a common preacher of the Gospel labours faithfully among the
THE PEACEMAKER. 23 people over whom he has been set, — striving to l)ring unconverted men to Christ, — and urging upon those who have received the Gospel the duty of walking worthy of God, he, in his sphere, is a peacemaker. Should his ministrations be blessed for the conversion of a single sinner, or the edification of one believer, he will have contributed so far to abate contention, and to advance the reign of peace among mankind. Of course, it is not necessary, in order to be a peacemaker, that one should occupy an official position in the church of Christ. Ministers are formally commissioned to preach the Gospel. They are expressly separated to the work. But every individual should, to the utmost of his ability, act the part of a peacemaker within the sphere of his influence. Philip was a peacemaker, when he sought out his friend athanael, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of azareth, the son of Joseph.'' The woman of Samaria was a peacemaker, when, after her soul-awakening interview with Jesus, she " went her way into the city, and said to the men. Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did : is not this the Christ?'' There are few private Christians who cannot do something, and all should feel themselves under obligation to do what they can for diffusing the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Parents in particular, I may observe, should watch for the souls of their children, " as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief." They will thus be peacemakers, in the best sense, within their several domestic circles. A
mother carefully trains up the babe whom God has given her, — bearing it often on her spirit at a throne of grace, — seeking, as affection and gratitude and a sense of responsibility unite in calling her to do, to incline it from its earliest years to the service of its Maker. She seizes every
24 MISCELLA EOUS DISCOURSES. opportunity, as its mind develops, to make it acquainted with the things that concern its eternal welfare, and to win it to Christ, adding the example of a pious life to her prayers and instructions. God blesses her efforts : and the son, over whom she has watched, and wept, and prayed, grows up to be an ornament to society, an honoured and consistent member of the church, perhaps an instrument of saving benefit to thousands of his fellow-men. Is not such a mother a peacemaker? But for her, the history of that child's life might have been a tale of strife, and confusion, and every evil work. Owing to her, it is a record of the exemplification of all that is sweet and amiable. Blessed is the peacemaker ; for she shall be CALLED A CHILD OF GOD.
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