by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (v.7)
“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”
A Discourse of Mercifulness
1. What is meant by mercifulness? I answer, it is a melting disposition whereby we lay to heart the miseries of others and are ready on all occasions to be instrumental for their good.
How do mercy and love differ? In some things they agree, in some things they differ, like waters that may have two different spring-heads—but meet in the stream. Love and mercy differ thus: love is more extensive. The diocese that love walks and visits in, is larger. Mercy properly respects those who are miserable. Love is of a larger consideration. Love is like a friend who visits those who are well. Mercy is like a physician who visits only those who are sick. Again, love acts more out of affection. Mercy acts out of a principle of conscience. Mercy lends its hand to another. Love gives its heart to another. Thus they differ—but love and mercy agree in this, they are both ready to do good offices. Both of them have healing under their wings.
Whence does mercy spring? Its spring-head rises higher than nature. Mercy taken in its full latitude, proceeds from a work of grace in the heart. Naturally we are far from being merciful. The sinner is a bramble, not a fig tree yielding sweet fruit. It is the character and sign of a natural man to be ‘unmerciful’ (Romans 1:31). ‘They made their hearts as hard as stone’ (Zechariah 7:12). Their heart does not melt in mercy. Before conversion the sinner is compared to a wolf for his savageness (Matthew 7:15), to a lion for his fierceness (Isaiah 11:6), to a bee for his sting (Psalm 118:12), to an adder for his poison (Psalm 140:3). By nature we do not send forth oil—but poison; not the oil of mercifulness—but the poison of maliciousness.
Besides that inbred unmercifulness which is in us, there is something infused too by Satan. ‘The prince of the air works in men’ (Ephesians 2:2). He is a fierce spirit, therefore called ‘the Red Dragon’ (Revelation 12:3). And if he possesses men, then it is no wonder if they are implacable and without mercy. What mercy can be expected from hell? So that, if the heart is tuned into mercifulness, it is from the change that grace has made (Colossians 3:12). When the sun shines the ice melts. When the Sun of righteousness once shines with beams of grace upon the soul, then it melts in mercy and tenderness. You must first be a new man, before you can be a merciful man. You cannot help a member of Christ, until you yourself are a member of Christ