Matthew 5:6
We have already looked at three gates to happiness. Let us now proceed to examine the five that still remain to us.

I. HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS.

1. This is a desire for righteousness on its own account, and not for its rewards. It is very different from the merely selfish wish to escape from the penalty of sin. Righteousness is regarded as an end in itself.

2. This is a deep appetite, like hunger and thirst. The most primitive, the most universal, the most imperious appetites are the types of this desire. In our better moments does it not wake up in us with an inexpressible longing? If we could but be like Christ the sinless!

3. It is rewarded by its own satisfaction. These hungry and thirsty ones are to be filled. Nothing but the object of the appetite will appease its craving.

4. Righteousness is attainable in Christ. The Epistle to the Romans shows how this Beatitude is realized in experience.

II. MERCIFULNESS. The previous Beatitude referred to the interior life and the personal desires of individual souls. This Beatitude concerns an attitude towards other people. Perfect happiness is not possible without a right regard to the social relations of life.

1. It is a peculiarly Christian view of those relations to see them in the light of mercy. We are to think especially of kindness

(1) to the helpless,

(2) to the undeserving,

(3) to those who have wronged us. This is just the Christ-spirit.

2. The reward of it is to be treated in a similar manner:

(1) even by men whose gratitude is worn;

(2) especially by God, who cannot pardon the unforgiving, and who makes our forgiveness of others the standard of his forgiveness of us (Matthew 6:12).

III. PURITY OF HEART. We have reached the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary of the Christian life. God regards the state of the heart as of supreme importance. He does not consider that we can have clean hands if we do not possess a pure heart. While foul imaginations are welcomed and gross desires cherished, the whole life is degraded in the sight of God. But the purity of heart has a wonderful reward reserved for it alone - the vision of God. Pure Sir Galahad can see the holy grail which great Sir Launcelot was doomed by his sin to miss. Here, as elsewhere, there is an essential connection between the grace and the reward. Sin blinds the soul; purity is clear-eyed in the spiritual world. Moreover, it is only to the pure in heart that the vision of God can be a reward. The impure would but be scorched by it, and would cry on the rocks and hills to cover them from its awful presence.

IV. PEACEMAKING. We now come to an active grace. The Christian is not to shut himself up in monastic seclusion, indifferent to the evils of the world around him. He is to interfere for its betterment. Peace is the greatest interest of nations, brotherhood the greatest requisite of society. Happy are they who can bring about such things. The process is dangerous and likely to be misunderstood, for the peacemaker is often regarded as an enemy by both sides of the quarrel. His reward, however, is great - to be accounted one of God's sons; like the only begotten Son, who is the Prince of peacemakers. The fitness of the reward springs from the fact that the work is most God-like.

V. PERSECUTION. How far-reaching is the prophetic gaze of Christ to foresee persecution when in the flush of early popularity! How honest is he to foretell it! How serene is his contemplation of it! He knows that there is a great beyond. Already the heavenly treasures are stored up for those who may lose all for Christ's sake. Fidelity till death is rewarded with a crown of life after death (Revelation 2:10). - W.F.A.







They which do hunger and thirst.
I. A few FEATURES OF THE DISPOSITION here commended. The term righteousness is variously used.

1. Sometimes it signifies rectitude.

2. Sometimes imputed righteousness.

3. Sometimes personal righteousness. But here it means —

(1)A death unto sin;

(2)A renunciation of the world;

(3)A deliberate choice of God.

II. Trace this disposition to ITS LEGITIMATE SOURCE.

III. Attend to the GRACIOUS STATEMENT made respecting the possession of this disposition.

1. It implies that their desires shall be satisfied.

2. It implies a plenitude of satisfaction.

3. The text implies the stability of the promise, that this satisfaction is sure.To conclude —

1. Is the disposition possessed by us?

2. Have you an ardent desire for righteousness.

(J. Jordan.)

I. AN OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN DESIRE — righteousness. This is conformity to God's will. God is righteous.

1. Personal purity.

2. It also takes the form of doing right.

II. THIS OBJECT IS A MATTER OF DESIRE.

1. The desire for righteousness is present more or less in most men.

2. The attention is not drawn to its possession, but to the desire for it.

III. THE ATTAINMENT OF THIS OBJECT. They shall have righteousness.

1. The desire for righteousness is met by the actual presence of sin. Jesus died that sin might be removed.

2. The desire for righteousness is met and apparently hindered by the moral feebleness of our moral nature. The Holy Ghost is given to him.

IV. THE POSSESSION OF THIS OBJECT IS HAPPINESS.

(W. Butcher.)

I. The VASTNESS AND INTENSTY of the religious life. Hunger and thirst are primitive appetites; they cover life.

II. The GLORY Of the religious life. We assimilate the strength of what we feed on.

III. The PROGRESSIVENESS of the religious life.

IV. The SATISFACTION of the religious life.

(T. T. Sherlock, B. A.)

1. Man may be measured by his desires.

2. Righteousness a supreme object of desire.

3. The desire is the measure of the supply.

4. A real desire culminates in action, hunger drives to work.

(G. Elliot.)

Am. Hem. Monthly.
1. Desire is a condition and prophecy of religious attainments.

2. This law of desire explains our spiritual poverty.

3. This want of appetite for righteousness is the curse of mankind.

(Am. Hem. Monthly.)

I. He who would have the blessing promised in the text, must WANT righteousness — as a hungry man wants food. This tests the value of our superficial professions. In order to this longing he must perceive the intrinsic worth of the thing desired.

II. WHAT IS HERE MEANT by righteousness.

1. It is not the single virtue of justice or rectitude. It implies the essence of the thing, a state of mind and heart; a soil out of which all single virtues grow.

2. It is not merely a desire to see righteous-mess prevailing in the world at large.

3. It is a desire not merely for doing righteously, but for being righteous.

III. THE RESULT. I fear some are not hungering for righteousness, but for the rewards of righteousness. Worldly good cannot fill man. Intellectual attainment cannot. Goodness will satisfy. There is no condition where we cannot be satisfied in the enjoyment of righteousness. Goodness does not forsake a man.

(E. H. Chaplin.)

I. THE STATE OR CONDITION described.

1. What righteousness is it? God's justifying righteousness. The necessity for it is deeply felt. This hungering is a special condition of mind, an indication of healthy, spiritual life.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS of this state of mind. Satisfied because it quenches the desire of sin. A mark of the Divine favour. Security and permanency of the blessing. Identical with that of the glorified in heaven.

(W. Barker.)

I. WHAT IS THIS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

II. WHAT IS IT THAT LEADS PERSONS THUS TO HUNGER AND THIRST? A sense of insufficiency and dissatisfaction in all created things; a sense of guilt; a perception of the utter inefficacy of all human prescriptions to remove sin or supply righteousness; a discovery of that righteousness which is " unto all and upon all that believe."

III. Those who thus hunger and thirst ARE PRONOUNCED BLESSED. Because it is the evidence of a new nature — acceptance with God. They are drawn off from the disappointing and perplexing pursuits of the things of this world; they are "filled" — satisfied — with righteousness, happiness, and finally with the likeness of God, etc. We learn that real religion is a matter of personal experience.

(Dr. J. Cramming.)See here at what a low price God sets heavenly things; it is but hungering and thirsting.

I. Do but HUNGER and you shall have righteousness.

(1)Hunger less after the world and

(2)more after righteousness.

(3)Say concerning spiritual things: "Lord, evermore give me this bread."

(4)Hunger after that righteousness which delivereth from death.

II. If we do not THIRST here, we shall thirst when it is too late.

(1)If we do not thirst as David did (Psalm 42:2),

(2)we shall thirst as Dives did, for a drop of water.

(3)Oh, is it not better to thirst for righteousness while it is to be had, than to thirst for mercy when there is none to be had?

(Thomas Watson.)What an encouragement is this to hunger after righteousness! Such shall be filled. God chargeth us to fill the hungry (Isaiah 58:10). He blames those who do not fill the hungry (Isaiah 32:6). And do we think He will be slack in that which He blames us for not doing? God is a fountain. If we bring the vessels of our desires to this fountain, He is able to fill them. The fulness in God is: —

I. An INFINITE fulness.

(1)Though He fill us, yet He hath never the less Himself.

(2)As it hath its resplendency, so

(3)its redundancy. It is inexhaustible and fathomless,

II. It is a CONSTANT fulness.

1. The fulness of the creature is mutable. It ebbs and changeth.

2. God's fulness is overflowing and everflowing.

3. It is a never-failing goodness.

III. God fills the hungry soul with —

1. Grace. Grace is filling because suitable to the soul.

2. Peace. Israel had honey out of the rock; this honey of peace comes out of the rock Christ.

3. Bliss. Glory is a filling thing. When a Christian awakes out of the sleep of death, then he shall be satisfied. Then shall the soul be filled brimful.

(Thomas Watson.)

I. WHAT IS HERE MEANT BY RIGHTEOUSNESS.

1. Actual and inherent righteousness; living a life in sincere and perfect obedience to all the laws of God.

2. Imputed righteousness.

II. WHAT IS IT TO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS?

1. TO contend fiercely and fight manfully against our spiritual adversaries.

2. To desire ardently and intensely for spiritual sustenance.

3. To discharge our duty in every point to the best of our skill and power.

4. To willingly suffer hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, and the want of anything necessary for the support and comfort of life, rather than knowingly transgress any point of duty.

(Bishop Ofspring Blackall, D. D.)

The utter starving of the soul, if we could see it as we see other things, would strike us as one of the saddest of things. When the shepherd, over in New York, had a house for the reception of orphan children, and on inspection it was found that the soup was very thin, that there was but little of it, that the food was most stingily dealt out, and that these children were gradually coming to be skin and bones by starvation charity, the whole city flamed with indignation. They threw open the door of the cell, and seized him by the throat, and pitched him in ignominiously. But look into your own soul and see how the things that are nearest to God are shut up in you. While your awakened appetites and passions are fully clothed, and are walking up and down the palace of your soul, having their own way, I hear a faint cry in some remote chamber thereof. It is conscience moaning and pleading for food; and. I hear the thundering rap of passions on the door as they say, "Hush! Be still! Are you never going to sleep? Will you never die?" In another quarter I hear the soul crying for food. "What ails you?" is the response; and a bone is thrown in for it to gnaw on.

(Beecher.)

It is not merely the single virtue of justice or rectitude — in fact, no virtue is absolutely single, if we look at it closely. A man cannot really have one virtue, and but one, genuine and complete. He cannot have one without having all virtues and all graces, for no one virtue or grace is complete without the intermingling of the life and reciprocal action of all the rest. We make a great mistake if we suppose otherwise. There have been men who could play delightful music on one string of the violin, but there never was a man who could produce the harmonies of heaven in his soul by one-stringed virtue. Can a man be thoroughly and strictly honest, and at the same time be a selfish man? Can he be temperate. Suppose a man, for instance, pursuing a course of virtue, a course of temperance, or of rectitude, has the promise that he shall be wealthy, and that he shall have long life — shall make a fortune, and shall be respected. This is all very good; but what is the essence of all this'? It is in being righteous; that is the great blessing. So that if you have a long life, it is a righteous life; and if you have wealth, it is righteous wealth, as you make a righteous use and disposition of it. With this, any condition is blessed; without it, no condition is blessed. So the essence of all promises is in the possession of this intrinsic righteousness.

(E. H. Chaplin.)

Now, the same law prevails in the mind. That is to say, outward activity grows from some sort of inward uneasiness or impulse. Hunger existing in the body works outwardly, first, into that industry which supplies it, and then enlarges gradually, and inspires a more complex industry. And so almost; all of life in its upper sphere proceeds from a kind of hunger which exists in the soul. Some yearning, or longing, or action, or some faculty developing itself and working to produce its appropriate gratification — this is the analogue; and the character, as formed by the faculties, answers to the industrial creations produced by sensations of hunger and thirst in the body.

(Beecher.)

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