Seventh Sermon: Matthew 5:9
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5: 9.)
The seventh blessing is on the peacemakers, or on those who are instrumental in making peace between nations, between families, or between individuals who, on account of division, discord, or quarrel, have been at war with one another. And the literal meaning is, that they who cause such discord to cease, and bring together again those who have been divided and hostile, so that harmony, concord, union, take the place of dissension, strife, or open war, perform so distinguished and noble an act that they are said to be blessed in the sight of heaven. Those who so contribute to the welfare and happiness of mankind are indeed worthy of all praise, and entitled to rank among the benefactors of the human race.
Natural peace, however, is not spiritual peace. In every verse and sentence of the Word of God there is a natural idea, and there is at the same time interiorly within it a spiritual idea. Now what is spiritual peace, or peace under a spiritual idea? And what are peacemakers in the spiritual sense, or as that term is understood in heaven? It is important to see as the angels see, and to understand the Word as they understand it; for thus our thought becomes like theirs, and by our affections we are consociated with them.
Spiritual peace corresponds to natural peace; and as natural peace arises when there is a cessation of natural strife, discord and war, so spiritual peace arises when there is a cessation of spiritual strife, spiritual discord, and spiritual war. Natural war is combat against those who attack and attempt to take away natural life, natural property and possessions, and natural liberty; but spiritual war is resistance to spiritual enemies, resistance to hell, to evil spirits from hell or, in the abstract, it is resistance to that which rises up out of hell and assails the spiritual life and spiritual liberty of man. That which rises up out of hell, or is inspired from hell, is evil love, evil lust, evil affection, evil desire, and excites the same in men in the world, thus threatening to destroy spiritual life,— love to God and love to the neighbor—for these are spiritual loves, and make of men spiritual men.
That which rises up out of hell, and is inspired into man with hostile intent and purpose, is not only infernal love, infernal lust, and all evil affection, but also infernal falsity; for wherever there is infernal lust, there is at the same time infernal falsity; the two go together and are inseparable. Infernal falsity which destroys spiritual life is falsity about the Lord, falsity about His Word, falsity about heaven and the way to heaven, falsity about life, and about that which makes the life of heaven. Such infernal lust and such infernal falsity, when they enter the mind, when they take possession and remain in the mind, destroy all spiritual life, take away spiritual peace, introduce dissension, discord, and strife among men, and lead them to hell, never again to see peace and rest; for indeed "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." (Isaiah 57: 21.)
Sometimes, even in the outer world, peace is the result or effect of war; sometimes war is for the sake of peace,—a more genuine, lasting peace than would be possible by any other instrumentality. And so it is in spiritual war, which is the combat of spiritual temptation. Spiritual peace is accomplished by war, by waging a war of resistance to that which opposes and assails spiritual life, against infernal lust and infernal falsity. When such combat ceases, when such evils and falsities are overcome, then there is peace; then there is the peace that is called the peace of heaven.
There is no peace in heaven except that which has been acquired by war, combat, temptation; and heavenly peace is with no one on earth except after combat. No peace is possible to man, no spiritual peace is possible in the natural of man, except that which follows the overcoming and the removal of natural lusts and the dispersion of the falsities of the natural man. Peace cannot possibly be given, cannot possibly be imparted to the natural of man, until this takes place. That is what the Lord meant when He said to His disciples, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I am not come to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34.) By the "sword" is signified war, combat. The result of the Lord's presence in the natural of man is not peace, but combat, temptation, spiritual war. Peace comes in the end, but it is the peace that is the result of war, the result of conquest over those who are the enemies of peace.
The natural man would have peace without war; he prefers peace to the sword; and so he will not fight against his spiritual enemies, that is, he will make no effort to put away evil lust and infernal falsity. He assumes instead a state of natural good, and hence he is at apparent peace with his neighbor, while discord and strife reign within. These are they of whom it is said in Jeremiah, "They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace." (8:11.)
The natural man, following his innate inclination, is more concerned about suppressing temptation than he is about shunning evils. He is unwilling to enter into the combat necessary for the removal of evil, and cries, Peace! By union with others of the same disposition, he obtains what he calls peace—peace in the external sphere, peace in the outward appearance; a peace that covers evils, but does not remove them, a peace that hides the discord within. The peace that is sought by avoiding combat is what is meant by "peace" in the passage we have just quoted from Jeremiah. "They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."
The peace of heaven comes only through the combat of temptation, and there is no other pathway to eternal peace. It is familiar, and shines upon every page of the Heavenly Doctrine, shines in every chapter and verse of the letter of the Word—shines to him who has eyes to see—that there is no heaven without shunning evil as sin against God; and the bright light also appears to the seeing eye that there is no shunning of evil, and thus no obtaining of the peace of heaven, without the combat of temptation, without spiritual war. This warfare, this combat, this temptation, which arises in resisting evil, in removing the falsity of evil, is what is meant by "work" or "labor" in the letter of the Word, and heaven is spoken of as a state of rest from such labors. This is what is meant in the book of Revelation by the words: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow with them." (14:13.)
In the first chapter of Genesis we have given us a description in the literal sense of the creation of the universe in six successive days, and on the seventh day there was rest; hence the seventh day was called the Sabbath, the word meaning rest. But in the spiritual sense the new creation is described, which is the regeneration of man and the formation of heaven from regenerate men—the six days being the life of spiritual labor in the world, the labor of temptation combat, and the seventh day, or the Sabbath, being the rest and peace of heaven, the peace which follows labor, the spiritual labor of temptation combat. The labor is in reality the Lord's labor, though man labors from Him, and thus in cooperation with Him; hence it is said that on the seventh day the Lord rested from His labors—a rest and a peace which He imparts to those who go with Him in the path of regeneration.
So essential is this spiritual labor to the regeneration of men, so essential is it in the acquisition of the peace of heaven, that it appears throughout in Divine Revelation, and it is always involved, or expressed where peace is the subject. The Blessings are no exception to this rule. We find that the idea of combat or temptation appears early in the Blessings, and runs through to the end. This idea comes out openly in the second Blessing, "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." We find in this Blessing that the idea of war and the idea of peace are coupled together, and that the one is the result of the other. They who mourn are comforted because they mourn. Mourning is the grief and distress that attends temptation combat, and the comfort is the consolation of peace which always follows genuine spiritual temptation. Both temptation and consolation, both war and peace, appear also in the latter part of the Blessings; where the war or combat of temptation is signified by persecution, and where the peace that follows temptation is signified by the "reward in heaven," which we are told is "great"—so great that it cannot be described in human language, as we learn from the Heavenly Doctrine.
In the letter of the Word, when an idea once enters the series of the spiritual sense, it continues to the end of the series. This is true in the Blessings in respect to the idea of temptation and consolation, the idea of spiritual war and spiritual peace. This idea enters, as we have seen, with the second Blessing, and it appears again in a striking way in the seventh, which is before us for consideration, "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God."
As has been shown, wherever peace is spoken of in the Word, war is involved in the spiritual sense—war is involved as having taken place, and peace follows as an effect,—the peace that comes by war, the peace that arises as the result of conquest and triumph over evils and the falsities of evil. It is so in the series of the Blessings. The peace that is spoken of is the peace that is made by war, and the peacemakers are warriors on behalf of the truth of the Word. Michael and his angels were peacemakers when they fought the dragon and overcame him by the blood of the Lamb; Joshua was a peacemaker when he overcame the nations in the land of Canaan, the nations who held the heritage of Israel; David was a peacemaker when he drove back the Philistine hosts, so that they came to disturb Israel no more. The Lord Himself came into the world as the Divine Peacemaker; and the chief thing that contributed to the peace which He came to establish was His conquest and subjugation of the hells. Every man, every regenerate man, is a peacemaker when he makes war, as of himself from the Lord, against the lusts of evil in himself, and overcomes them, thereby inheriting the peace of heaven,—the peace of which the Lord spoke when He said to His disciples, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16 :33.)
The special application of the doctrine of the text is to the peace that comes as the result of the conflict between the internal and external man, in which the external man resists the internal, but is finally overcome. Spiritual peace is the outcome and effect.
We have learned that in the sixth Blessing, the one which precedes the text, that the subject is concerning the regeneration of the internal man, the internal of the natural, which at first was nothing but evil, into which spiritual good has descended from heaven, forming a new will and a new understanding in the internal natural. This is the first of regeneration; that is, as the Doctrine teaches us, the internal man is regenerated first, and by it, and after it, the external. The internal man, which is regenerated first,—or he in whom the internal man has been regenerated, in whom a new will and a new understanding have been formed in the internal man, in whom the conjunction of good and truth has taken place in the interior of the natural, —he it is who is meant by the "pure in heart" in the sixth Blessing. These are they, the "pure in heart," that "shall see God." By the "heart" is meant the internal of the natural man, and by purity and cleanness of heart is meant the regeneration of that internal. Those who are such are said to "see God," that is, they are in illustration or spiritual enlightenment. They see God, they see Divine things in the Word, they see Divine things in heavenly light, they have a will to do them, and they carry them out into life, fighting against and overcoming all things in the external man which resist and oppose the life of heaven from the Divine of the Lord in heaven.
All spiritual peace is from the conjunction of good and truth. When there is the conjunction of good and truth in the internal man, or the formation of a new will and a new understanding, a new heart and a new spirit, then there is peace—peace in the internal of the natural, but not as yet in the external. For the external still resists, and so long as there is such resistance, there is no complete and established peace. Hence the new internal must now come forth and conquer a peace in the external also.
In the previous Blessings, the subject is the formation of the new internal man in the natural, but now, and until the end of the series, the subject is the union of the internal and the external, which union is accomplished by subduing the evils which still have their abode in the external. When the internal and the external man are thus brought into union, then follows the peace of heaven, the reward in heaven.
This conflict between the internal and the external man is called "making peace," and those who are engaged in this conflict,—this war for the sake of peace, —are the peacemakers of the text, who are called the "children of God." The internal and external man have been divided; they have been in hostility to each other; they have been at war with each other, and the conflict has been prolonged. But at last the external has submitted, the evils in the external that caused resistance to the internal have been put away, the internal and external man are now in agreement, harmony is restored where before was discord, division, disunion, strife; now there is concord, union, friendship, love, peace. The peace is yet to be disturbed from time to time till the final triumph is gained; but the external is willing to submit itself, bring itself into order, into harmony and correspondence with the internal man. Jacob is willing to submit to Esau, the external man desires peace,—peace by conjunction with the internal man.
We are not surprised, therefore, to find that the word "peace" in the Greek language, as used in the original of the text, signifies to "connect into one," to "join," to "fasten together." For it is indeed true that war distracts, divides nations, families, individuals, from each other; but peace restores, brings back unity, brings those together who had been separated and hostile to each other.
Men are by nature hostile and at war with God and with each other. Peace comes when this ceases. Peace comes when man ceases to fight against God and His Providence, when he ceases to strive for the mastery over his neighbor. Peace comes when the external man ceases to resist the internal. The external was hostile to the internal, endeavored to overcome and subdue it; but now it is willing to be at peace; now it is willing to bring to an end its resistance to the internal, to cease its assaults, is willing to join itself with the internal to receive its life, react with it, conjoin itself with it.
To be willing to make peace, therefore, is to be willing to cease doing anything that tends to the injury of the neighbor, to the injury of good, to cease doing that which operates against and injures the life of heaven, the life which is from God, the life which is the love of God, which is conjunction with God. For when man is conjoined with God, he is at peace; for then he not only loves God, but he loves the neighbor; and no man wars against that which he loves. He is then at peace with God and at peace with the neighbor; and the Divine sphere of peace, the heavenly sphere of peace, is with him and in him. All who receive this peace are called the children of God, the sons of God; for then God is their Father, and they are born of Him by regeneration. Natural birth is from a natural father, but spiritual birth, the new birth, is from God as the Father. They who make peace through the combat of temptations are thus newly born, and become the sons of God.
But let us now take a view of the text in its more interior spiritual sense, which is abstracted from any idea of persons. We have already shown in this series of discourses that the general subject of the Blessings is the revelation of the doctrine of genuine truth by the Lord, and the reception of it by men in the world who are to form the church. This true doctrine is indicated and expressed by various words and phrases from the beginning to the end of the series. We are now face to face with the fact that doctrine is signified by "peacemakers." We have seen that the Lord is the Peacemaker in the universal sense, and we have now to add that the Divine Doctrine, which is the Lord in the church, is the peacemaker and the only real peacemaker among men. Nothing else brings peace that is enduring and eternal. But Doctrine is composed of parts, which are variously termed doctrines, doctrinals, or truths of doctrine. These doctrines, or truths of doctrine, are what wage war in all spiritual temptation, and are what are meant by peacemakers in the plural. Against these true doctrines, false doctrines are arrayed and assail; and, as has been shown, such false doctrines as attacking the truths of the church, are present, actively present, throughout the progress of regeneration, as described in the Blessings, and cause the most bitter trials of temptation to those who love the truths of the Word.
Doctrine is composed of parts, and the parts or truths must be in harmony with each other; hence the significance of the meaning of the word "peace" in the Greek language—to connect into one, to join or fasten together,—indicating to us that peace is made in the church, the enemies of peace being overcome, when truths of doctrine are brought into agreement, into concord, into harmonious relation with each other, so as to make one body or united whole. There is no spiritual peace in the church until all the parts of doctrine are thus brought into harmonious agreement, each assigned its proper place and value in relation to all the other truths of doctrine. It is thus that we are to understand the signification of peacemakers in the abstract spiritual sense. Hence, when united together in one harmonious body of doctrine, its truths are spoken of as "blessed;" for by "blessing" is signified harmony and union, and the peace and happiness which result therefrom,—both in doctrines, and in those who receive them. For when harmony of doctrine in all its related parts is brought about, then the men of the church are also brought into harmony with each other in charity and good will, and the peace and happiness of heaven is present with the men of the church. Men are then united, not only in doctrine, but in heart and life; they are consociated with the angels and conjoined with God, the Author of all peace.
Now, in order that man might be conjoined with Him, and be at peace, God Himself, the Father of angels and men, came into the world. He came into the world to teach the doctrine of peace, to impart peace, to bless His people with peace, that all men might become the sons of God, and be thus blessed with eternal peace. But the greater part of mankind were not willing, and are not now willing to receive this peace, and hence they spurn the doctrine of peace. They prefer to fight against God, to resist the things which are of God, to shut the door of peace, to shut the door against Him who is the only Author and Maker of peace, the only Giver of peace. This is the reason it was said that "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:10-13.) Amen.
Lessons: I Kings 22:10-37. Revelation