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 NEEDS of others. This the text chiefly intends. A good man does not, like the snake, twist within himself. His motion is direct, not circular. He is ever merciful and lends (Psalm 37:26). This merciful charity to the needs of others stands in three things.
1. A JUDICIOUS consideration. ‘Blessed is he who considers the poor’ (Psalm 41:1); and you must consider these things.
It might have been your own case. You yourselves might have stood in need of another’s charity—and then how welcome and refreshing would those streams have been to you!
Consider how sad a condition poverty is. Though Chrysostom calls poverty the highway to heaven—yet he who walks this road will go weeping there. Consider the poor; behold their tears, their sighs, their dying groans. Look upon the deep furrows made in their faces, and consider if there is not reason why you should scatter your seed of mercy in these furrows. ‘For a cloak he has a tattered vesture, for a couch a stone.’ ‘You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful’ (Psalm 80:5). Like Jacob, in a windy night he has the clouds for his canopy and a stone for his pillow.
Nay further, consider that oftentimes poverty becomes not only a cross—but a snare. It exposes to much evil, which made Agur pray, ‘Give me not poverty’ (Proverbs 30:8). Need puts men upon sinful courses. The poor will venture their souls for money, which is like throwing diamonds into the sea. If the rich would wisely consider this, their alms might prevent much sin.
Consider why the wise God has allowed an inequality in the world. It is for this very reason—because he would have mercy exercised. If all were rich, there were no need of alms, nor could the merciful man have been so well known. If he who traveled to Jericho had not been wounded and left half dead, the good Samaritan who poured oil and wine into his wounds had not been known.
Consider how quickly the balance of providence may turn. We ourselves may be brought to poverty and then it will be no small comfort to us, that we relieved others while we were in a capacity to do it. ‘Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth’ (Ecclesiastes 11:2). We cannot promise ourselves always halcyon days. God alone knows how soon many of us may change our pasture. The cup which now runs over with wine—may soon be filled with the waters of Marah. ‘I went out full—and the Lord has brought me home again empty’ (Ruth 1:21). How many have we seen invested with great possessions, who have suddenly brought their manor to a morsel?
So that it is wisdom to consider the needs of others. Remember how soon the scene may alter. We may be put in the poor’s dress and, if adversity comes, it will be no trouble of mind to us, to think that while we had an estate we laid it out upon Christ’s indigent members. This is the first thing in mercifulness, a judicious consideration
2. A TENDER commiseration. ‘If you draw out your soul to the hungry’ (Isaiah 58:10). Bounty begins in pity. Christ first ‘had compassion on the multitude’. Then he wrought a miracle to feed them (Matthew 15:32). Charity which lacks compassion, is brutish. The brute creatures can relieve us in many ways—but cannot pity us. It is a kind of cruelty (says Quintilian) to feed one in need—and not to sympathize with him. True religion begets tenderness. As it melts the heart in tears of contrition towards God, so in affections of compassion towards others. ‘My heart shall sound as a harp’ (Isaiah 16:11). Likewise, when our hearts of pity sound, then our alms make sweet music in the ears of God.