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.
But some may object: ‘My hunger after righteousness is so weak, that I fear it is not true.’
I answer: Though the pulse beats but weak—it shows there is life. And that weak desires should not be discouraged, there is a promise made to them. ‘A bruised reed he will not break’ (Matthew 12:20). A reed is a weak thing—but especially when it is bruised—yet this ‘bruised reed’ shall not be broken—but like Aaron’s dry rod, ‘bud and blossom’. In case of weakness—look to Christ your High Priest. He is merciful, therefore will bear with your infirmities; he is mighty, therefore will help them.
Further, if your desires after righteousness seem to be weak and languid—yet a Christian may sometimes take a measure of his spiritual estate as well by the judgment as by the affections. What is that you esteem most in your judgment? Is it Christ and grace? This is good evidence for heaven. It was a sign that Paul bore entire love to Christ because he esteemed this Pearl above all. He counted other things ‘but dung, that he might win Christ’ (Philippians 3:8).
‘But,’ says a child of God, ‘that which much eclipses my comfort is, I have not that hunger which I once had. Time was when I hungered after a Sabbath because then the manna fell. ‘I called the Sabbath a delight’. I remember the time when I hungered after the body and blood of the Lord. I came to a sacrament as a hungry man to a feast—but now it is otherwise with me. I do not have those hungerings as formerly.’
I answer: It is indeed an ill sign for a man to lose his appetite—but, though it is a sign of the decay of grace to lose the spiritual appetite—yet it is a sign of the truth of grace to bewail the loss. It is sad to lose our first love—but it is happy when we mourn for the loss of our first love.
If you do not have that appetite after heavenly things as formerly—yet do not be discouraged, for in the use of means you may recover your appetite. The ordinances are for the recovering of the appetite when it is lost. In other cases feeding takes away the appetite—but here, feeding on an ordinance begets an appetite.
The text exhorts us all to labor after this spiritual hunger. Hunger less after the world—and more after righteousness. Say concerning spiritual things, ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread! Feed me with this angels’ food!’ That manna is most to be hungered after, which will not only preserve life, but prevent death (John 6:50). That is most desirable which is most durable. Riches are not forever (Proverbs 27:24) but righteousness is forever (Proverbs 8:18). ‘The beauty of holiness’ never fades (Psalm 110:3). ‘The robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10) never waxes old! Oh hunger after that righteousness which ‘delivers from death’ (Proverbs 10:12). This is the righteousness which God himself is in love with. ‘He loves him who follows after righteousness’ (Proverbs 15:9). All men are ambitious of the king’s favor. Alas, what is a prince’s smile but a transient glance? This sunshine of his royal countenance soon masks itself with a cloud of displeasure—but those who are endued with righteousness are God’s favorites, and how sweet is his smile! ‘Your loving-kindness is better than life’ (Psalm 63:3).