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
Be merciful to the ESTATES of others. If a man is your debtor and providence has frowned upon him, so that he has not the means to pay, do not crush him when he is sinking—but remit something of the rigor of the law. ‘Blessed are the merciful’. The wicked are compared to beasts of prey, which live upon rapine and robbery. They do not care what harm they do. ‘Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats. Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues. They lurk in dark alleys, murdering the innocent who pass by. They are always searching for some helpless victim. Like lions they crouch silently, waiting to pounce on the helpless. Like hunters they capture their victims and drag them away in nets.’ (Psalm 10:7-9).
It is not justice but cruelty, when others lie at our mercy, to be like that hardhearted creditor in the gospel who took his debtor by the throat saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ (Matthew 18:28). God made a law, ‘No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone, for the owner uses it to make a living’ (Deuteronomy 24:6). If a man had lent another money, he must not take both his millstones for a pawn. He must show mercy and leave the man something to get a livelihood with. We should in this imitate God who in the midst of anger remembers mercy. God does not take the extremity of the law upon us—but when we have nothing to pay, if we confess the debt, he freely forgives (Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 18:27).
Not but that we may justly seek what is our own—but if others are brought low and plead for mercy, we ought in conscience to remit something of the debt. ‘Blessed are the merciful.’
We must be merciful to the OFFENCES of others. Be ready to show mercy to those who have injured you. Thus Stephen the proto-martyr, ‘He kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge’ (Acts 7:60). When he prayed for himself he stood—but when he came to pray for his enemies, he kneeled down, to show, says Bernard, his earnestness in prayer and how greatly he desired that God would forgive them. This is a rare kind of mercy. ‘It is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression’ (Proverbs 19:11). Mercy in forgiving injuries, as it is the touchstone, so the crown of Christianity. Cranmer was of a merciful disposition. If any who had wronged him came to ask a favor from him, he would do all that lay in his power for him, insomuch that it grew to a proverb: ‘Do Cranmer an injury and he will be your friend as long as he lives.’ To ‘overcome evil with good’, and answer malice with mercy is truly heroic, and renders piety glorious in the eyes of all. But I leave this and proceed