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
We must be merciful to the NAMES of others. A good name is one of the greatest blessings upon earth. No chain of pearl so adorns, as this. This being so, we ought to be very merciful to the reputations of others. They are to be accounted in a high degree unmerciful, who make no conscience of taking away the good names of their brethren. Their throats are open sepulchers, to bury the fame and renown of men (Romans 3:13). It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. ‘The keepers of the walls took away my veil from me’ (Canticles 5:7). Some expositors interpret it of her honor and fame which covered her, as a beautiful veil. The ground of this unmercifulness to names is:
1. Pride. Pride is such a thing as cannot endure to be out-shined. Pride cannot endure to see itself exceeded in abilities and eminency; therefore it will behead another in his good name—that he may appear something lower. The proud man will be pulling down of others in their reputation, and so by their eclipse—he thinks he shall shine the brighter. The breath of a proud man causes a blast or mildew, upon the reputations of others.
2. Envy (1 Peter 2:1). An envious man maligns the dignity of another, therefore seeks to harm him in his name. Piety teaches us to rejoice in the esteem and fame of others. ‘I thank my God for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world’ (Romans 1:8). Envy, consulting with the devil, fetches fire from hell to blow up the good name of another.
In how many ways may we be unmerciful to the names of others? Diverse ways.
First, by slander, a sin forbidden. ‘You shall not raise a false report’ (Exodus 23:1). Eminency is commonly blasted by slander. ‘They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows’ (Psalm 64:3). The tongue of a slanderer shoots out words to wound the fame of another and make it bleed to death. The saints of God in all ages have met with unmerciful men who have fathered things upon them, which they have not been guilty of. Surius, the Jesuit, reported of Luther that he learned his divinity of the Devil and that he died drunk; but Melanchthon, who wrote his life, affirms that he died in a most pious holy manner and made a most excellent prayer before his death. It was David’s complaint, ‘They laid to my charge things which I knew not’ (Psalm 35:11).
The Greek word for ‘devil’ signifies slanderer (1 Timothy 3:11). ‘Not slanderers’—in the Greek it is ‘not devils’. Some think that it is no great maker to defame and traduce another—but know, this is to act the part of a devil. O how many unmerciful men are there, who indeed pass for Christians—but play the devil in venting their lies and calumnies! Wicked men in Scripture are called ‘dogs’ (Psalm 22:16). Slanderers are not like those dogs which licked Lazarus’ sores to heal them—but like the dogs which ate Jezebel. They rend and tear the precious names of men. Valentinian the Emperor decreed that he who was openly convicted of this crime of slander should die for it.