THANK GOD there is a "blessed life" within the reach of the weakest and most sinful of God's creatures. There would be no blessedness if it were not for Jesus! The Cross of Jesus gives to the most guilty soul on earth who wishes to leave behind him the life of sin and misery, the right to enter into the holiest. The suffering of Jesus and His self-sacrifice teach us of the nature of blessedness. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Pentecost brings the ability to leave the life of wretchedness behind, and opens to us the new thought of Jesus as an indwelling power for our lives. The historic life of Jesus shows us how we must live day by day when we have received this power, for His life is blessedness incarnate, throbbing in flesh and blood. And finally the words of Jesus guard us from seeking after any imitation of the true life of blessedness.
Many seek the life of blessedness in a land of death. Augustine well asks how we can find a life of blessedness where life itself is not. How can we find it in the creature which is the abode of misery? It must be sought in God alone, and there it can most surely be found.
In what then does true blessedness consist. We can but give the most meager outline-the veriest sketch.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit." In other words, blessed are they who know their emptiness, and who recognisc their dependence on God. Humility is the fundamental condition of blessedness.
Blessed are they that mourn." Blessed are the dissatisfied! But dissatisfied at what? With themselves. In other words, blessed are they who have found out that the self-life is vain and empty, and who mourn over it. They must seek their all from God or perish.
Blessed are the meek. " Blessed are those who give in to others, and who have renounced their own rights. The meek have buried the self-life in the grave with Jesus.
Then in rapid succession we get so many instantaneous photographs, as Rendal Harris calls them, of true blessedness. Blessed are the hungry souls who long for righteousness. This longing is not a mockery to be left unsatisfied. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they and they only see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, or those who go out of their way, and incur personal risks, from their desire to brighten other lives. Here is self-sacrifice, or altruism, seen in its workshop. Blessed are they who rise so markedly above the low level of this world's sordid maxims that they meet with its scorn and hatred. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness.
Is this the blessed life thou art seeking? If not, hearken to God's message of old, "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. "Woe, not blessedness, is their portion.
Humility, dependence, lowliness, thirst after God, purity, self-sacrifice, and unworldliness—these are the seven colours ever to be seen in the bow of hope that spans our horizon, heralding the glad tidings that the curse is removed, and that the life of blessedness is inaugurated in this world.
The blessed life can only be entered by a blessed birth. Therefore, the nature of things demands that we "must be born again," if we are to live the life of blessedness. Nothing makes a greater mark in our life than the manner of our birth. There was a prize offered some years ago, in one of the lighter magazines, for the best essay on "the circumstance that made the greatest effect on my life. The prize was awarded to a person who described at length what the life might have been, Then followed a picture of a life of ease and luxury, in which every one pandered to the whims and wishes. Life was to have been a perfect earthly paradise.
The article closed abruptly by describing how all this fair dream was negatived by an unpleasant fact. In the words of the writer: “I was born a boy and not a girl.” So he had to work hard for a living.
Our birth into this world leaves a lasting mark on us. Imagine yourself born in a duke's cradle, and picture the life that would follow, Then picture yourself being born in a drunkard's home, in some east-end slum! What a difference this would make. Your birth, my birth, into this world has made a great mark on our lives. But there is something that has made a greater effect on my life than my birth. When a boy. I used to dream of a scientific career, and imagined how I would dazzle the world with my discoveries. But I was shunted auto the main track of life in a moment, for I happened to get born again! The death knell was then rung on all my dreams of greatness: for if a man is born to be great, he is born again to be small. It was a blessed birth to me.
Now, the natural birth does but start us all on a pathway of sorrow and of curse. Man is not born to blessedness, he is born to sorrow as the sparks fly upwards. The flesh life is under the curse, and Ichabod is written large over all the product of earth's joys. Briars and thorns sprout up from the earth now, when it is left alone. It used not to be so, but the glory has departed, Men may
dig up gold and diamonds from the bowels of the earth, but I have never yet heard that they have discovered a rich vein of blessedness; nor do I hear that they are even prospecting for it. We teach our children at the mother's knee, “There is a happy land, far, far away"; yes, very far away from most people-so far away that they doubt if such a place exists or not. We also sing
“I hear thee speak of the better land,
Thou calmest its children a happy band;
Mother, where is that radiant shore?
Shall we not seek it and weep no more?”
Some tell us that all chart and compass, for guiding us there, was forever lost in the Garden of Eden. Others tell us that it is “far beyond the tomb.” Nay, verily, it lies close at hand, and Jesus pointed out the reason so few even see it: “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” You need not wander for a long lifetime in search for blessedness. You need not wander in imagination o’er regions old, where rivers wander o’er sands of gold. You need not cross the desert in search of the mines where the ruby flashes its blood-red light. You need not cross the cold waters of death in order to reach the better land; You must be born from above, for blessedness has its headquarters in heaven. Blessedness cannot be manufactured in this sordid and sin-stained world. Only by a blessed birth can you get the blessed life, for it is not your surroundings that are the cause of your sorrow, but the cause of the curse lies in your heart.
Men often complain of the hardness of their lot,—they were born without their consent being asked; they were born handicapped in the struggle for life; their rivals had better brains, better digestive organs, better physique. Some—I think a great many of those who complain—were born tired; others were born with a silver spoon, or with no silver Spoon, in their mouth. It does not matter much which it was, for when one is hunting for excuses for one’s sin, the devil will supply you with plenty of them. Some were born of parents who were too rich, and others of parents too poor, and others would have done better if their parents had not been of the middle class.
Doubtless there is more or less—probably less—truth in all of this. But this I know, that the new birth is God's great leveling process. The inequalities of life are thus removed. A poor helpless babe opens its eyes on scenes of vice in a dirty squalid slum; curses and oaths meet its young ears; its mother gives run instead of milk; its drunken father makes its life a long nightmare. This luckless child drops into a mission service and gives its heart to God, and becomes a pure minded man or woman, and finally spends its life in unselfish service for its fellows.
Contrast with this the spoiled child of wealthy parents. This child is shielded from every rude wind that might mar the life; morning by morning it opens its blue eyes to the kiss of its saintly mother. The child grows up self-willed, and soon rushes down the road to ruin. Gambling, vice, profligacy! plenty of money and a good constitution, all combine to make the path a gay one; but soon the constitution is undermined, and all ends (does it end there?) in a drunkards grave. It has spurned the Mission service, and driven the thought of God far away, and now he reaps the harvest of his own sowing. This blasted life is an ugly shadow, which throws into relief the vastness of the blessed life.
What then is the new birth? It is not your work, It is not the cultivation of your powers of endurance. It is not the strengthening of your resolutions. It is not the development of your good qualities. It is rendered necessary by the helplessness of these qualities. It is a power from
without which performs miracles in your character. Well might Archimedes ask for a fulcrum outside the world on which to rest his I ever that was to move the world, That is precisely what he could not find. The new birth is the spiritual analogue of this fulcrum. God comes into the region of your life through the new birth. It is God’s supreme chance of taking hold of man. It is the fulfilment of the dream of the Pantheist. It is God’s way of coming to the heart. He always comes in a lowly way. Not only is this true of the incarnation in Bethlehem, but it is always true of His coming to make His abode with and in us.
And here comes in your part. You say truly that you were not consulted about your being born into the world, but your are consulted about your being born into the kingdom of heaven. You can prevent this new birth ever taking place in your being if you wish.
Here is the fresh start in life that many sigh for. "Oh that I could start life afresh and not be so terribly handicapped by my past record," says a young man, Here is your chance. The new birth is a fresh start in life. You start with the old debts cleared; you start unhandicapped; you start afresh with a clean page. It is a re-creation that you need, and here you have the desire of your heart. You cannot create a fly or a worm, how much less can you recreate yourself. God who created you, reserves to Himself the right of recreating. Only a Creator can re-create. And when you are re-created, you are a new creature, and all old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new. Thus, blessedness is not the straining of your faculties and capacities to their highest pitch; it is not the stimulation of your resolutions, but it is a miracle performed in the region of your consciousness. Conversion may be the work you do in turning from sin to God; but turning a thing does not re-create it. Creation is the work of God, and so is the new birth.
Do you ask whether Jesus is able to do this? Well, He used to be able to do it. He did it for me.—Salvitur ambulando.
You will never understand the full meaning of such passages as "partakers of the Divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust,” till you experience the new birth. The only way you or I can get a nature is by getting a birth; natures are born with us, they do not grow. You received your human nature by being born of human parents; you get a divine nature by being born or begotten of God. You thus obtain qualities that were totally foreign to you before.
How can there be a blessed life without a blessed birth? It is a birth that we leave behind us all the old methods of living. The chick in the egg gets its nourishment in a certain way, and has a certain mode of life. When it is born it leaves the egg-life behind, and gets nourishment in a new way, and enters on a new mode of life. It has a new environment; and so do we when we are born again. The old associations are for ever left behind, and we reach out to perfectly new possibilities. Old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new.
Give God time to produce in you this blessed birth, and then you will find that all the worrying and complaining, and fretting, and unbelief, and disobedience will vanish. The pride, and the envy and jealousy that ruined your life, will go too. Christ will be formed in you.
The blessed birth! Let us wait before God for it; let us trust Him to produce it in us. It will prove to be the path into the blessed life. If you would be blessed, you must be born again.
This came from the South African Pioneer magazine. No author is listed but it may have been Andrew Murray since he frequently included articles in the publication.