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 next suffering grace is LOVE. Get hearts fired with love to the Lord Jesus. Love is a grace both active and passive.
(1) Love is ACTIVE. It lays a law of constraint upon the soul. ‘The love of Christ constrains us’ (2 Corinthians 5:14). Love is the wing of the soul, which sets it flying. Love is also the weight of the soul, which sets it going. Love never thinks it can do enough for Christ—as he who loves the world never thinks he can take enough pains for it. Love is never weary. It is not tired unless with its own slowness.
(2) Love is PASSIVE. It enables to suffer. A man who loves his friend will suffer anything for him, rather than he shall be wronged. Love made our dear Lord suffer for us. The pelican out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again. Just so, when we had been bitten by the old serpent, that Christ might recover us—he fed us with his own blood. Jacob’s love to Rachel made him almost hazard his life for her. ‘Many waters cannot quench love’ (Canticles 8:7). No! not the waters of persecution. ‘Love is as strong as death’ (Canticles 8:6). Death makes its way through the greatest oppositions. So love will make its way to Christ—through the prison and the furnace.
But all pretend love to Christ. How shall we know that we have such a love to him, as will make us suffer for him? I answer:
True love is a love of friendship, which is genuine and sincere—when we love Christ for himself. There is a mercenary and spurious love, when we love divine objects for something else. A man may love the queen of truth for the jewel at her ear—because she brings preferment. A man may love Christ for his ‘head of gold’ (Canticles 5:11), because he enriches with glory. But true love is when we love Christ for his loveliness, namely, that infinite and superlative beauty which shines in him, as Augustine says, ‘We love Jesus on account of Jesus’; that is, as a man loves sweet wine for itself.
True love is a love of desire—when we desire to be united to Christ as the fountain of happiness. Love desires union. The one who sincerely loves Christ, desires death because death ushers into full union and communion with Christ. ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!’ (Philippians 1:23). Death slips one knot and ties another.
True love is a love of benevolence—when so far as we are able, we endeavor to lift up Christ’s name in the world. As the wise men brought him ‘gold and frankincense’ (Matthew 2:11), so we bring him our tribute of service and are willing that he should rise—though it is by our fall. In short, that love which is kindled from heaven makes us give Christ the pre-eminence of our affection. ‘I would give you spiced wine to drink—my sweet pomegranate wine’ (Canticles 8:2). If the spouse has a cup which is more juicy and spiced—Christ shall drink of that! Indeed we can never love Christ too much. We may love gold in excess—but not Christ. The angels do not love Christ comparable to his worth. Now when love is boiled up to this height, it will enable us to suffer. ‘Love is as strong as death’. The martyrs first burned in love—and then in fire!
The third suffering grace is PATIENCE. Patience is a grace made and cut out for suffering. Patience is the sweet submission to the will of God, whereby we are content to bear anything which he is pleased to lay upon us. Patience makes a Christian invincible. It is like the anvil which bears all strokes. We cannot be men without patience. Impatience unmans a man. It puts him beside the use of reason. We cannot be martyrs without patience. Patience makes us endure (James 5:10).
We read of a beast ‘like unto a leopard and his feet were as the feet of a bear and the dragon gave him his power . . .’ (Revelation 13:2). This beast is to be understood of the anti-christian power. Antichrist may be compared to a leopard for subtlety and fierceness, and on his head was the name of blasphemy (verse 1), which agrees with that description of the man of sin, ‘He sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God’ (2 Thessalonians 2:4); and the ‘dragon gave him power’ (verse 2), that is the devil, and ‘it was given to him to make war with the saints’ (Revelation 13:7). Well, how do the saints bear the heat of this fiery trial? (verse 10): ‘Here is the patience of the saints.’ Patience overcomes by suffering.
A Christian without patience is like a soldier without arms. Faith keeps the heart up from sinking. Patience keeps the heart from murmuring. Patience is not provoked by injuries. It is sensible—but not peevish. Patience looks to the end of sufferings. This is the motto: ‘God will guarantee the end also.’ As the watchman waits for the dawning of the morning, so the patient Christian suffers and waits until the day of glory begins to dawn upon him. Faith says, ‘God will come,’ and patience says, ‘I will wait for his perfect time.’ These are those suffering graces which are a Christian’s armor of proof.