This is the seventh of the beatitudes. There is a mystery always connected with the number seven. It was the number of perfection among the Hebrews, and it seems as if the Saviour had put the peacemaker there, as if he was nearly approaching to the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must labour to attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. The preceding verse speaks of the blessedness of ‘the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’ It is well that we should understand this. We are to be ‘first pure, then peaceable.’ Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or an alliance with that which is evil. That being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness towards men. Not less does the verse that follows my text seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood; and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was ‘despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.’ Thus the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude!
For meditation: Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker (James 3:16–18)? While peacemaking doesn’t depend entirely on the individual Christian (Romans 12:18), we should all make the effort (Romans 14:19).
N.B. This sermon’s subtitle related to the recently commenced American Civil War (1861–5) amongst other conflicts.