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. Men do not hunger after righteousness, because they never felt any emptiness. They are full of their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). Now ‘the full stomach loathes the honeycomb’. This was Laodicea’s disease. She was full and had no appetite either to Christ’s gold or eye-salve (Revelation 3:17). When men are filled with pride, this swelling distemper hinders holy longings. As when the stomach is bloated with air, it spoils the appetite. None so empty of grace as he who thinks he is full. He has most need of righteousness, who least feels the need of it.
2. Men do not hunger after righteousness, because they think that they can do well enough to be without it. If they have oil in the cruse, and the world coming in—they are well content. Grace is a commodity that is least missed. You shall hear men complain they lack health, they lack trading—but never complain they lack righteousness. If men lose a meal or two they think themselves half undone—but they can stay away from ordinances which are the conduits of grace. Do they hunger after righteousness, who are satisfied without it? Nay, who desire to be excused from feeding upon the gospel banquet (Luke 14:18). Sure he has no appetite, who entreats to be excused from eating.
3. It is a sign they have none of this spiritual hunger, who desire rather sleep than food. They are more drowsy than hungry. Some there are, who come to the Word that they may get a nap, to whom I may say as Christ did to Peter, ‘Could you not watch one hour?’ (Mark 14:37). It is strange to see a man asleep at his dining table. Others there are who have a ‘deep sleep’ fallen upon them. They are asleep in security and they hate a soul-awakening ministry. While they sleep, ‘their damnation slumbers not’ (2 Peter 2:3).
4. It appears that men have no spiritual hunger because they refuse their food. Christ and grace are offered, nay, pressed upon them—but they put away salvation from them as the froward child puts away the breast (Psalm 81:11; Acts 13:46). Such are your fanatics and enthusiasts who put away the blessed ordinances and pretend to revelations. That is a strange revelation that tells a man he may live without food. These prefer husks before manna. They live upon airy notions, being fed by the ‘prince of the air’.
5. It is a sign they have none of this spiritual hunger who delight more in the garnishing of the dish, than in food. These are those who look more after elegance and notion in preaching, than solid matter. It argues either a wanton palate or a surfeited stomach—to feed on sweets, and neglecting wholesome food. ‘If any man consent not to wholesome words, he is proud, knowing nothing . . .’ (1 Timothy 6:3, 4). The plainest truth has its beauty. They have no spiritual hunger, who desire only to feast their fancy. Of such the prophet speaks: ‘You are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument’ (Ezekiel 33:32). If a man were invited to a feast, and there being music at the feast, he should so listen to the music that he did not mind his food, you would say, ‘Surely he is not hungry.’ So when men are for jingling words and gallantry of speech, rather than spirituality of matter—it is a sign they have surfeited stomachs and ‘itching ears’.
6. They evidence little hunger after righteousness who prefer other things before it, namely, their profits and recreations. If a boy when he should be at dinner is playing in the street, it is a sign that he has no appetite for his food. Were he hungry—he would not prefer his play before his food. So when men prefer ‘vain things which cannot profit’ before the blood of Christ and the grace of the Spirit, it is a sign they have no palate or stomach to heavenly things.
7. It is a sign men have no spiritual hunger when they are more for religious disputes—than the practice of piety. Some men feed only on difficult questions and controversies (1 Timothy 6:3, 4). These pick bones—and do not feed on the meat. They have hot brains but cold hearts. Did men hunger and thirst after righteousness, they would propound to themselves such questions as these, ‘How shall we do to be saved? How shall we make our calling and election sure? How shall we mortify our corruptions?’ But such as ravel out their time in frothy and useless theological disputes, I call heaven to witness, they are strangers to this text. They do not ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’.
The Word reproves those who, instead of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, thirst after riches. This is the thirst of covetous men. They desire mammon not manna. ‘They pant after the dust of the earth’ (Amos 2:7). This is the disease most are afflicted with—an immoderate appetite after the world. But these things will no more satisfy, than drink will quench the thirst of a man with the dropsy. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Too many professors set up the idol of gold, in the temple of their hearts. This sin of covetousness is the most hard to root out. Commonly, when other sins leave men, this sin abides. Wantonness is the sin of youth; worldliness the sin of mature age