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
 Treasure up suffering promises. The promises are faith’s bladders to keep it from sinking. They are the breast-milk a Christian lives on, in time of sufferings. They are honey at the end of the rod. Hoard up the promises!
God has made promises of direction—that he will give us a spirit of wisdom in that hour, teaching us what to say. ‘Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’ (Luke 21:14-15). You shall not need to study. God will put an answer into your mouth. This many of God’s sufferers can set their seal to. The Lord has suddenly darted such words into their mouths—as their enemies could easier censure than contradict.
God has made promises of PROTECTION. ‘No man shall set on you to hurt you’ (Acts 18:10). How safe was Paul when he had omnipotence itself to screen off danger! ‘Not a hair of your head shall perish’ (Luke 21:18). Persecutors are lions—but chained lions.
God has made promises of his special PRESENCE with his saints in suffering. ‘I will be with him in trouble’ (Psalm 91:15). If we have such a friend to visit us in prison, we shall do well enough. Though we change our place—we shall not change our keeper. ‘I will be with him.’ God will uphold our head and heart, when we are fainting! What if we have more afflictions than others—if we have more of God’s company! God’s honor is dear to him. It would not be for his honor to bring his children into sufferings, and leave them there. He will be with them to invigorate and support them. Yes, when new troubles arise; ‘He shall deliver you in six troubles’ (Job 5:19).
The Lord has made promises of DELIVERANCE. ‘I will deliver him and honor him’ (Psalm 91:15). God will open a back door for his people to escape out of sufferings. ‘He will with the temptation, make a way to escape’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Thus he did to Peter (Acts 12:7-10). Peter’s prayers had opened heaven—and God’s angel opens the prison! God can either prevent a snare or break it. ‘Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death’ (Psalm 68:20). He who can strengthen our faith—can break our fetters. The Lord sometimes makes enemies the instruments of breaking those snares which themselves have laid (Esther 8:8).
In the case of martyrdom God has made promises of CONSOLATION. ‘Your sorrow shall be turned into joy’ (John 16:20). There is the water—turned into wine. ‘Be of good cheer, Paul’ (Acts 23:11). In time of persecution, God broaches the wine of consolation. Cordials are kept for fainting. Stephen ‘saw the heavens opened’ (Acts 7:56). Glover, that blessed martyr, cried out at the stake in a holy rapture, ‘He is come! He is come!’ meaning the Comforter. ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’ (Isaiah 43:1-3).
The Lord has made promises of COMPENSATION. God will abundantly recompense all our sufferings, ‘Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life’ (Matthew 19:29). Augustine calls this the best and greatest interest. Our losses for Christ are gainful. ‘He who loses his life for my sake, shall find it’ (Matthew 10:39).
 Set before your eyes suffering examples. Look upon others as patterns to imitate. ‘Take my brethren the prophets for an example of suffering affliction’ (James 5:10). Examples have more influence upon us than precepts. Precepts instruct us—but examples animate us. As they show elephants the blood of grapes and mulberries to make them fight the better, so the Holy Spirit shows us the blood of saints and martyrs to infuse a spirit of zeal and courage into us. Micaiah was in the prison; Jeremiah in the dungeon; Isaiah was sawn asunder. The primitive Christians, though they were boiled, roasted, and dismembered—yet like the adamant they remained invincible. Such was their zeal and patience in suffering, that their persecutors stood amazed and were more weary in tormenting—than they were in enduring!
When John Huss was brought to be burned, they put upon his head a triple crown of paper printed with red devils, which when he saw, he said, ‘My Lord Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns for me, why then shall I not wear this paper crown, however ignominious?’ Polycarp, when he came before the court, was bidden to deny Christ and swear by the Emperor; he replied: ‘I have served Christ these eighty-six years and he has not once hurt me—and shall I deny him now?’ Saunders that blessed martyr, said, ‘Welcome the cross of Christ; my Savior drank the bitter cup for me—shall not I suffer for him? I feel no more pain in the fire than if I were in a bed of down!’
Another of the martyrs said, ‘The ringing of my chain has been sweet music in my ears. O what a comforter is a good conscience!’ Another martyr, kissing the stake, said, ‘I shall not lose my life—but change it for a better one! Instead of coals—I shall have pearls!’ Another, when the chain was fastening to him, said, ‘Blessed be God for this wedding belt!’ These suffering examples we should lay up. God is still the same God. He has as much love in his heart to pity us—and as much strength in his arm to help us!
Let us think what courage the very heathens have shown in their sufferings. Julius Caesar was a man of a heroic spirit. When he was foretold of a conspiracy against him in the senate-house, he answered he had rather die than fear. Mutius Scaevola held his hand over the fire until the flesh fried and his sinews began to shrink—yet he bore it with an undaunted spirit. Lysimachus, a brave captain, being adjudged to be cast to a lion, when the lion came roaring upon him, Lysimachus thrust his hand into the lion’s mouth and taking hold of his tongue, killed the lion. Did nature infuse such a spirit of courage and gallantry into heathens! How should grace much more into Christians! Let us be of Paul’s mind: ‘I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’ (Acts 20:24).