by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
We are now come to the fourth step of blessedness: ‘Blessed are those who hunger’. The words fall into two parts: a duty implied; a promise annexed.
A duty implied: ‘Blessed are those who hunger’. Spiritual hunger is a blessed hunger.
What is meant by hunger? Hunger is put for desire (Isaiah 26:9). Spiritual hunger is the rational appetite whereby the soul pants after that which it apprehends most suitable and proportional to itself.
Whence is this hunger? Hunger is from the sense of lack. He who spiritually hungers, has a real sense of his own indigence. He lacks righteousness.
What is meant by righteousness? There is a twofold righteousness: of imputation; of implantation.
A righteousness of IMPUTATION, namely, Christ’s righteousness. ‘He shall be called the Lord our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 23:6). This is as truly ours to justify us, as it is Christ’s to bestow upon us. By virtue of this righteousness God looks upon us as if we had never sinned (Numbers 23:21). This is a perfect righteousness. ‘You are complete in him’ (Colossians 2:10). This does not only cover, but adorn. He who has this righteousness is equal to the most illustrious saints. The weakest believer is justified as much as the strongest. This is a Christian’s triumph. When he is defiled in himself, he is undefiled in his Head. In this blessed righteousness we shine brighter than the angels. This righteousness is worth hungering after.
A righteousness of IMPLANTATION: that is, inherent righteousness, namely, the graces of the Spirit, holiness of heart and life, which Cajetan calls ‘universal righteousness’. This a pious soul hungers after. This is a blessed hunger. Bodily hunger cannot make a man so miserable, as spiritual hunger makes him blessed. This evidences life. A dead man cannot hunger. Hunger proceeds from life. The first thing the child does when it is born, is to hunger after the breast. Spiritual hunger follows upon the new birth (1 Peter 2:2). Bernard comforts himself with this—that surely he had the truth of grace in him, because he had in his heart a strong desire after God. It is happy when, though we have not what we should, we desire what we have not. The appetite is as well from God, as the food.