"Blessed are the peacemakers." Matt 5:9
The gospel dwells and operates in a hostile world. A world full of warfare of its own. All these wars and fightings come from the sinful lusts and passions of men. They are the evidences and the results of the fallen nature of man. But the gospel makes also a warfare of its own. In resisting the wickedness of men, it provokes that wickedness to resist. It thus often sends a sword, before it sends peace among men. If the Christian will be faithful, he must endure hostility. He must bear persecution. In such a world my apportionment is placed. In all its hostilities, my own character is to be proved and tried. I cannot go out of the world. I am to receive and to fulfill the apportionment which is committed to me here. But what is to be my influence here? This I am to decide. The present title indicates it. I am to be a peacemaker. The disciples of Christ are peacemakers.
1. Then I must make no quarrels. This is a most important step. If all men would take it, wars and fightings would cease. But this is the Christian's stand. I must contend for the faith. I must be set for the defense of the gospel. I must endure in this whatever the Lord shall appoint. But I must make no quarrels. I must give no voluntary offence, that my ministry may not be blamed. But what a host of evils would this cut off! What control of my tongue will it require! What government of my temper and mind! What careful, forbearing, and benevolent walking among men! In my family--in my neighborhood--in my relationships to society--in the church--no division or warfare must be traced to me. To do good to all--evil to none--must be the rule and purpose of my life.
"A whisperer separates chief friends." I may hear much that I must not tell. I may know much that I must conceal. I must not allow evil tempers or jealousies towards any to dwell within me. Then I shall be sure not to excite the spirit of discord around me. Ah, how many painful quarrels have I seen arising from silly repetitions of a useless story--from some vain and empty desire to communicate some piece of news! Swift to hear that which is good, I ought to be. But slow to speak that which is evil.
2. Then I must not continue or perpetuate quarrels made by others. I may have had no part in the original warfare; and yet I may continue it by my own resentment. It requires two to make a quarrel. If I am passive to insult--deaf to reproach--slow to get angry--refusing to resent, or vindicate myself--the fire must soon go out. I see many Christians who will not begin, but they will not end a quarrel. How can they be peacemakers? It is impossible but that offences will come. Woe only to the man by whom they come--not to the man who patiently and quietly bears them. But can I receive to confidence one who has injured me? I am not bound to receive or to justify a character which I disapprove. I must not give countenance to that which I know to be wrong. But my reason must be there--not in my own endurance of personal wrong. This I cannot, must not resist. I shall withdraw myself from every brother that walks disorderly. But neither in word or deed must I prolong the strife. I must bless when they curse--I must pray when they persecute. Thus, where is no fuel, the fire goes out. Blessed will be the recollection, that when I was reviled, I reviled not again.
3. But I must actively endeavor to heal all quarrels within my reach. In my private relationships, I would thus be an active peacemaker. Trying to unite, and never to separate others. I shall have frequent opportunities to do this. If the love of Christ dwells in my heart, I shall wish to do it, whenever I have opportunity. What a blessing to society is one peace-loving and peace-making spirit! What a blessing is it in a household! How great a blessing to the one who retains it! In the religious relationships of men, I must seek for peace. I will have no part in religious controversy. I will strive to be at unity with all the real people of God. I will give all my influence to encourage and promote that unity among others. There is no question among real Christians that is worth a single hour's bitterness. I may do something towards allaying the bitterness which I see. At any rate, I will do nothing to promote it. Thus, by my example, my influence, my exhortations, and my efforts, I shall help to make the Lord's people one--and shall have the comfort of having been a peacemaker in the body of Christ.
4. Then I must labor for the dominion of the gospel among men. This is the great peacemaker. When the hearts of men are truly converted, they will seek the things which make for peace. I cannot promote peace on earth more surely, than by promoting the influence and dominion of the gospel. What can I do to promote this? Can I teach any one? Can I circulate God's holy Bible among them? Can I faithfully attend and maintain a ministry of the pure gospel? Can I help to send the gospel abroad to others? I may do all these. But surely I can always maintain the truth of the gospel. I can stand upon its side. I can exemplify its commands. I can pray for its prosperity. I can ask for divine blessings upon its ministry.
I know not what I can do. The actual influence of all that I do, it is impossible for me to know. God may do much more with me, and by me, than I imagine. At any rate, I will do all I can. All that I can do shall be to promote and establish my Savior's gospel. Thus shall I be really a peacemaker among men, far more extensively than any personal labors of mine can reach them. Thus shall I carry out the influence which this title describes.
5. If I am one of the Lord's peacemakers, I shall thus be distinguished and occupied--originating no quarrels--prolonging none--striving actively to heal all--laboring to extend the gospel, which is to give peace to all. It is a most happy and useful mission. I can in no way more truly honor God; in no way more really gain abiding blessings to myself. Oh, let me constantly thus live and act. This was the example of my gracious Master.
Oh how benevolent and kind,
How mild, how ready to forgive!
Be this the temper of my mind,
And these the rules by which I live.
Dispensing good wherever he came,
The labors of his life were love.
Then, if I bear a Savior's name,
By his example let me move.