by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.10)
“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”
We are now come to the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted
Let us prepare for persecution. A wise pilot in a calm, will prepare for a storm. God knows how soon persecution may come. There seems to be a cloud of blood hanging over the nation.
3. Promote those things which will help to suffer. Continued
 Get suffering graces; these three in particular:
Faith; Love; Patience.
The first suffering grace is FAITH. ‘In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16). The pretense of faith is one thing, the use of faith another. The hypocrite makes faith a cloak, the martyr makes it a shield. A shield is useful in time of danger; it defends the head; it guards the vitals. Such a shield is faith.
Faith is a furnace grace. ‘Though it is tried with fire, it is found unto praise and honor’ (1 Peter 1:7). Faith, like Hercules’ club, beats down all oppositions. By faith we resist the devil (1 Peter 5:9). By faith we resist unto blood (Hebrews 11:34).
Faith is a victorious grace. The believer will make Christ’s crown flourish, though it is in his own ashes. An unbeliever is like Reuben: ‘Unstable as water he shall not excel’ (Genesis 49:4). A believer is like Joseph, who, though the archers shot at him, ‘his bow abode in strength.’ Cast a believer upon the waters of affliction—he can follow Christ upon the water, and not sink. Cast him into the fire, his zeal burns hotter than the flame. Cast him into prison, he is enlarged in spirit. Paul and Silas had their prison songs. ‘You shall tread upon the lion and adder’ (Psalm 91:13). A Christian, armed with faith as a coat of armor, can tread upon those persecutions which are fierce as the lion, and sting as the adder! Get faith.
But how does faith come to be such strong armor? I answer—in six ways.
(1) Faith unites the soul to Christ, and that blessed Head sends forth grace into the members. ‘I can do all things through Christ, who give me strength.’ (Philippians 4:13). Faith is a grace which lives upon borrowed strength. As when we need water, we go to the well and fetch it; when we need gold, we go to the mine; so faith goes to Christ and fetches his strength into the soul, whereby it is enabled both to do and suffer. Hence it is that faith is such a wonderworking grace.
(2) Faith works in the heart, a contempt of the world. Faith gives a true map of the world, ‘When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun!’ (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Faith shows the world in its night-dress, having all its jewels pulled off. Faith makes the world appear in its true state. Faith shows the soul better things than the world. It gives a sight of Christ and eternal glory. It gives a prospect of heaven. As the mariner in a dark night climbs up to the top of the mast and cries out, ‘I see a star’, so faith climbs up above sense and reason into heaven and sees Christ, that bright and morning star; and the soul, having once viewed his superlative excellencies, becomes crucified to the world. Oh, says the Christian, shall not I suffer the loss of all these things that I may enjoy Jesus Christ! ‘Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ!’ Philippians 3:8
(3) Faith gets strength from God’s promises. Faith lives upon the promises. Take the fish out of the water—and it dies. Take faith out of a promise—and it cannot live. The promises are breasts of consolation. The child by sucking the breast gets strength. Faith gets strength by sucking the breast of a promise. When a garrison is besieged and is ready almost to yield to the enemy, auxiliary forces are sent in to relieve it. So when faith begins to be weak and is ready to faint in the day of battle, then the promises muster their forces together, and all come in for faith’s relief and now it is able to hold out in the fiery trial.
(4) Faith gives the soul a right notion of suffering. Faith draws the true picture of sufferings. What is suffering? Faith says, it is but the suffering of the body—which must shortly by the course of nature drop into the dust. Persecution can but take away my life. An ague or fever may do as much. Now faith giving the soul a right notion of sufferings and taking (as it were) a just measure of them, enables a Christian to prostrate his life at the feet of Christ.
(5) Faith reconciles God’s providences with His promises. As it was on Paul’s voyage, providence seemed to be against him. There was a “northeaster” which arose (Acts 27:14)—but God had given him a promise that he would save his life, and the lives of all who sailed with him in the ship (verse 24). Therefore when the wind blew ever so contrary, Paul believed it would at last blow him to the haven. So when sense says, ‘Here is a cross providence. Great sufferings are coming—and I shall be undone!’ Then faith says ‘we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). This providence, though bloody, shall fulfill the promise. Affliction shall work for my good. It shall heal my corruption, and save my soul. Thus faith, making the wind and tide go together, the wind of a providence with the tide of the promise, enables a Christian to suffer persecution.
(6) Faith picks sweetness out of suffering. Faith shows God reconciled and sin pardoned; and then how sweet is every suffering! The bee gathers the sweetest honey from the bitterest herb. ‘A bitter medicine often gives strength to the weary’. So faith gathers the sweetest comforts—from the sharpest trials. Faith looks upon suffering as God’s love-token. ‘Afflictions are sharp arrows—but they are shot from the hand of a loving Father!’ Faith can taste honey at the end of the afflicting rod. Faith fetches joy out of suffering, ‘your sorrow will turn to joy!’ (John 16:20). Faith gets honey from the belly of the lion. Faith finds a jewel under the cross!
Thus you see how faith comes to be such a wonder-working grace. ‘Above all, taking the shield of faith’. A believer having cast his anchor in heaven cannot sink in the waters of persecution.