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
Theme: a duty implied; a promise annexed.
1. See here at what a low price God sets heavenly things. It is but hungering and thirsting. ‘Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, buy without money’ (Isaiah 55:1). We are not bid to bring any merits as the Papists would do, nor to bring a sum of money to purchase righteousness. All that is required is to bring an appetite. Christ ‘has fulfilled all righteousness’. We are only to ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’. This is equal and reasonable. God does not require rivers of oil—but sighs and tears. The invitation of the gospel is free. If a friend invites guests to his table, he does not expect they should bring money to pay for their dinner—only come with an appetite. So, says God, It is not penance, pilgrimage, self-righteousness which I require. Only bring an appetite: ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’. God might have set Christ and salvation at a higher price—but he has much beaten down the price. Now as this shows the sweetness of God’s nature—he is not a hard master; so it shows us the inexcusableness of those who perish under the gospel. What apology can any man make at the day of judgement, when God shall ask that question, ‘Friend, why did you not embrace Christ? I set Christ and grace at a low rate. If you had but hungered after righteousness, you might have had it—but you slighted Christ. You had such low thoughts of righteousness that you would not hunger after it.’ How do you think to escape, who have neglected ‘so great salvation’? The easier the terms of the gospel are—the sorer punishment shall they be thought worthy of who unworthy refuse such an offer!
2. It shows us a true character of a godly man. He hungers and thirsts after spiritual things (Isaiah 26:9; Psalm 73:25). A true saint is carried upon the wing of desire. It is the very temper and constitution of a gracious soul to thirst after God (Psalm 42:2). In the word preached, how he is big with desire! These are some of the pantings of his soul: ‘Lord, you have led me into your courts. O that I may have your sweet presence, that your glory may fill the temple! Will you draw some sacred lineaments of grace upon my soul that I may be more assimilated and changed into the likeness of my dear Savior?’ In prayer, how is the soul filled with passionate longings after Christ! Prayer is expressed by ‘unutterable groans’ (Romans 8:26). The heart sends up whole volleys of sighs to heaven, ‘Lord, one beam of your love! Lord, one drop of your blood!’
It reproves such as have none of this spiritual hunger. They have no winged desires. The edge of their affections is blunted. Honey is not sweet to those who are sick with a fever and have their tongues embittered with cholera.’ So those who are soul-sick and ‘in the gall of bitterness’, find no sweetness in God or religion. Sin tastes sweeter to them; they have no spiritual hunger. That men do not have this ‘hunger after righteousness’ appears by these seven demonstrations: