Blessed Are The Clean Of Heart: For They Shall See GOD
Pure in heart.–Here, as with the poor in spirit, the noun determines the region in which the purity is to be found–the “heart” as representing desires and affections, as the “spirit” represents the will and higher personality. The purity so described is not that which was the ideal of the Pharisee, outward and ceremonial, nor, again, was it limited, as the common language of Christians too often limits it, to the absence of one special form of sensual sin; but it excluded every element of baseness–the impurity of hate or greed of gain, no less than that of lust. Not without cause, however, has the evil of the latter sin so overshadowed the others that it has almost monopolised the name. No single form of evil spreads its taint more deeply than that which “lets in contagion to the inward parts.”
Shall see God.–Does the promise find its fulfilment only in the beatific vision of the saints in glory, seeing God as He is (1John 3:2), knowing even as also we are known (1Corinthians 13:12)? Doubtless there, and there only, will be the full fruition which now we wait for; but “purity of heart,” so far as it exists, brings with it the power of seeing more than others see in all through which God reveals Himself–the beauty of nature, the inward light, the moral order of the world, the written word, the life and teaching of Christ. Though we see as yet “through a glass,” as in a mirror that reflects imperfectly, yet in that glass we behold “the glory of the Lord” (1Corinthians 13:12; 2Corinthians 3:18).
Verse 8. – The pure in heart. Our Lord naturally passes in thought from the sixth to the seventh commandment (cf. vers. 21, 27), finding the basis of his phraseology in Psalm 24:3, 4, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?… He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart (LXX. ἀθῶος χερσὶν καὶ καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ) (cf. also Psalm 72:1). Καθαρός (besides speaking of mere physical cleanness, ch. 27:59) specially refers to freedom from pollution, judged by God’s standard of what pollution is, whether it be a matter of ceremonial enactment (meats, Romans 14:20; cf. Mark 7:19; cf. leprosy, Mark 8:2, 3; 10:8, et al.) or of ethical relation (John 13:10, 11; John 15:3); cf. Origen.’Hem. in Joh.,’ 73:2 (Meyer), “Every sin soils the soul (Πᾶσα ἁμαρτία ῤύπον ἐντίθησι τῇ ψυχῇ)” (cf. also Bishop Westcott, ‘Hebrews,’ p. 346). In heart. The seat of the affections (Matthew 6:21; Matthew 22:37) and the understanding (Matthew 13:15), also the central spring of all human words and actions (Matthew 15:19); cf. καθαρὰ καρδία (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22), which implies something deeper than καθαρὰ συνείδησις (1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3). Shall see God. Not in his courts (Psalm 24.) on Mount Moriah, but above; and in one complete vision fully grasped (ὄψονται). The thought of present spiritual sight of God, though, perhaps, hardly to be excluded (contrast Weiss, ‘Matthausev.’), is at least swallowed up in the thought of the full and final revelation. Those who are pure in heart, and care not for such sights as lead men into sin, are unconsciously preparing themselves for the great spiritual sight – the beatific vision (Revelation 22:4; cf. 1 John 3:2). In Hebrews 12:14 holiness (ἁγιασμός) is an indispensable quality for such a vision of “the Lord.”