Pure in heart - In opposition to the Pharisees, who affected outward purity, while their hearts were full of corruption and defilement. A principal part of the Jewish religion consisted in outward washings and cleansings: on this ground they expected to see God, to enjoy eternal glory: but Christ here shows that a purification of the heart, from all vile affections and desires, is essentially requisite in order to enter into the kingdom of God. He whose soul is not delivered from all sin, through the blood of the covenant, can have no Scriptural hope of ever being with God. There is a remarkable illustration of this passage, quoted by Mr. Wakefield from Origen, Contra Cels. lib. vi. "God has no body, and therefore is invisible: but men of contemplation can discern him with the heart and understanding. But A Defiled Heart Cannot See God: but He Must Be Pure Who Wishes to Enjoy a Proper View of a Pure Being."
Shall see God - This is a Hebraism, which signifies, possess God, enjoy his felicity: as seeing a thing, was used among the Hebrews for possessing it. See Psalms 16:10. Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption, i.e. he shall not be corrupted. So John 3:3 : Except a man be born again, he cannot See the kingdom of God, i.e. he cannot enjoy it. So John 3:16. He that believeth not the Son, shall not See life, i. e shall not be put in possession of eternal glory. The Hindoo idolaters vainly boast of what the genuine followers of Christ actually enjoy - having the Divine favor witnessed to their souls by the Holy Spirit. The Hindoos pretend that some of their sages have been favored with a sight of their guardian deity. - See Ward' s Customs.
Probably our Lord alludes to the advantages those had, who were legally pure, of entering into the sanctuary, into the presence of God, while those who had contracted any legal defilement were excluded from it. This also was obviously typical.
Other Adam Clarke entries containing Matthew 5:8:
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