“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew v. 3.
In the midst of numerous and varied thoughts, exercises of mind, and points of experience, the condition presented by this language of the Savior is from time to time forcibly realized by His people. While the Scribes and Pharisees of our day, as in other days, are rich in their own works, and boast of them with pride and without shame, the poor, despondent, tempest-tossed, troubled and afflicted saint is brought to the place where the words of the Savior reach him, to raise him from the dust and sit him with princes.
How often in our temporal travel do we feel the utter barrenness and poverty presented here; incapable in and of ourselves of thinking a single good thought, with no good thing dwelling in our flesh, we are taught to know that we are nothing and less than nothing, and altogether vanity. Yet when the Lord brings one low He will lift him up. He declares “I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.”
One is brought to find that he is altogether vile, unholy and unclean; and yet, “As the hart planteth after the water-brooks, so planteth my soul after Thee, O God.” In traveling among my brethren I meet with many who, while they love to hear their brethren talk, complain that they cannot talk, they are too poor in fluency of speech to talk to the comfort or instruction of their brethren. I have received many letters from brethren which are rich in Christian experience and instruction, who complain of their poverty of mind, and of their (as it appears, to them) inability to write. Indeed, this seems to be the feeling generally among brethren with whom I correspond. I received a letter some time since from a very dear brother in Missouri, in which is the following expression: “My sheet is about full, such as it is, and I will close, hoping you will receive it as a very poor epistle from a very poor one.” Is not here one of the “poor in spirit?” We seem to come so far short of our privilege, the life that we live is so contrary to what we think the life of a Christian should be, it appears to us sp often that there is an utter absence of spiritual good in all that we say, do and think.
One attends meeting; it appears to him that he is in such a cold and barren state, and that the word does him no good, he goes out among his brethren, he is so poor and unprofitable that he cannot talk to them, he takes up his pen to write, and finds that it is so hard for him to express what he thinks that he lays it down in despair. The brethren seem to be so far ahead of him in knowledge, in faith, in love, and in all of the fruit of the Spirit. He does not know how to learn; he turns to the Bible, and it appears that he knows nothing in it as he ought to know, while it is often to him a sealed book. Vile, weak, helpless, ignorant and blind, he is a beggar poor at mercy’s door for every temporal and spiritual good.
The Savior in the text declares this class of people “blessed;” [not will be blessed if; but already blessed,] “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This explains the reason that throughout our acquaintance among them, and in all their writings, we find them to be “poor in spirit.” Have we not here a comfortable hope that from this source flows that feeling of poverty, barrenness of mind, unprofitableness in the service of our God, that is so often and continually experienced by us? If so, it is a blessing thus to feel. Though “poor in spirit,” the kingdom of heaven is theirs. It is a kingdom which is not of this world, and its blessings are eternal; the feast which God has prepared upon His holy mountain for them that love Him, the “fat things full of marrow,” “the wine on the lees well refined,” the joys of everlasting life, the glory of the eternal God. “The poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind,” are brought from “the streets and lanes of the city,” the wanderer “in the highways and hedges” is compelled to come, “even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The bright portals of eternal glory open before them, and the light of heaven shines upon them forever. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe all tears from their eyes.”
Yours in Gospel fellowship,
WM. M. Smoot,
December 19, 1876.