On Cleanness of Heart

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7th September
On Cleanness of Heart

Consider first, the words of the sixth beatitude, 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.' God is not to be seen by the eyes of the body, but only by the eyes of the heart, that is, by the interior eyes of the soul. Now, as the bodily eyes, in order to contemplate their proper objects must be clean, (for if any speck interpose itself and cover the sight, the object cannot be seen,) so the interior eye of the soul, in order to see God, must be clean; the sight must not be covered with any speck of earthly dirt, that is, with any disorderly affection to any thing in this world. This cleanness of the inward eye requires two things, viz., simplicity in the intention, purity in the affection: with these two wings, a man is lifted up above the things of the earth: simplicity aims at God alone; purity takes hold of him, embraces him and adheres to him. 'Seek God,' says the wise man, 'in simplicity of heart,' Wisd. i. 1: that is in the uprightness and sincerity of a single heart, of a heart free from all double-dealing, and all the guile of an artful selfseeking, instead of seeking God. Let the eye of the intention be simple, that is single and sincere, and truly directed to God; and then the whole body of the actions shall be lightsome, - Matt. vi. 22. Let God be the great object of thy love, so as to admit of no affection that takes off thy heart from him: and thy heart will be truly pure and clean, and qualified to contemplate and embrace God.

Consider 2ndly, the degrees by which we are to ascend to this perfect purity and cleanness of heart. The first, and most necessary purgation, is from all mortal sin, and from the affections to it. For the heart that voluntarily admits of the affection to mortal sin, (whether it be the sin of impurity or any other vice,) is absolutely unclean, and is possessed by an unclean spirit, and therefore can have no share in God. The second purgation goes farther, and not only settles the soul in a fixed determination never to consent upon any account, not even in thought, to any one mortal sin, but also cleanses the heart from all wilful affections to venial sin, and fixes her in a resolution, never with a full deliberation to commit a known venial sin; much less, to indulge any habit or custom of any such sin. All these sins, when fully deliberate, are so many spots and stains, which strangely disfigure the beauty of the soul, make her unworthy of the embraces of her heavenly spouse, and darken the eye of the heart, so as to disqualify it for the seeing of God. And therefore such spots and stains as these must be purged away if we would be truly clean of heart.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to be perfectly clean of heart, the heart must also be purged from all affection to worldly honours, riches, and pleasures; from all disorderly love of the creature, to the prejudice of the love of the creator; and from every affection that takes off any part of the heart from God: which indeed is always the case when we love any person or thing which we don't love for God's sake, or with a due subordination to the love of God. Whatsoever love cannot stand this test is more or less an unclean love; it divides the heart; it makes the heart unclean; it sullies its purity; and disqualifies it for the seeing of God. O see then, my soul what an evil it is to suffer any irregular affection to possess thy heart; since it hinders thee from so great a good, even the sight of God, the only true and sovereign good!

Conclude to be ever jealous of the purity of thy heart; labour daily to purge it more and more, not only from all wilful sin, but also from every earthly affection that can any way sully it, or overcloud its inward sight, with the exhalations that are aways arising from sensual and worldly love.
 
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