ON HUNGERING AND THIRSTING AFTER JUSTICE
Consider first, the words of the fourth beatitude: ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.’ O happy hunger and thirst, which brings the soul to the possession of all true justice, virtue, and perfection, and to a blessed union with the very fountain of justice, which is God himself! Reflect, my soul, how the desire to be good is indeed the beginning of all good; the desire of wisdom, according to the Scripture, is the beginning of wisdom; the desire of the love of God, is the beginning of the love of God; and so of all other virtues. But then this desire must not be a half desire, like that of the sluggard, or whom the wise man says, that ‘he willeth and he willeth not,’ Prov. xiii. 4; but a full and earnest desire. And when this desire is strong and perseverant, when it grows to vehement hunger and thirst after divine love and after all true justice and Christian perfection, it then sets the soul upon seeking diligently, praying heartily, knocking earnestly, at the gate of divine mercy, and employing all possible means to procure the satisfying of this hunger and thirst; and thus it easily overcomes all obstacles, and never leaves off its pursuit till it has obtained what it so earnestly seeks and desires. O happy souls that hunger and thirst in this manner!
Consider 2ndly, more in particular, what it is we are to hunger and thirst after, in order to be entitled to this beatitude. The justice of God in ourselves; the justice of God in our neighbours; the justice of God in himself. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God in ourselves when we earnestly seek and desire that we may, by the grace of God, fulfil all justice; that we may acquit ourselves of every branch of our duty; and that the love of God may take full possession of our souls, both for time and eternity. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God in our neighbours when we earnestly desire, and, as much as lies in us, seek and procure that all others may know, love, and serve God, and be eternally his. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God, in himself, when we are in love with his own infinite goodness, as it is in itself; with the beauty of his divine attributes, with his greater glory in all things; and with the perfect accomplishment of his holy will. Such was the hunger and thirst after justice that our Lord himself had here upon earth, who says of himself, St. John iv. 34, ‘My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.’ My soul, have we any share in this blessed hunger and thirst? Or do we not rather loathe this heavenly food, and only hunger after the fleshpots of Egypt, and thirst for muddy waters, drawn out of broken cisterns. which can never satisfy us?
Consider 3rdly, the reward here promised to them that hunger and thirst after justice: ‘they shall have their fill,’ saith the Lord; their fill here of divine grace, of true devotion, of heavenly charity, of all Christian virtues, of a store of good works, and the fruits of the Holy Ghost; in a word, of that justice which they hunger and thirst after: and hereafter they shall be still more happily filled with the beatific vision and the eternal enjoyment of God himself, the only true and sovereign good, which alone can satisfy the heart of man – according to that of the psalmist, Ps. xvi. 15, ‘I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.’ Here they shall be filled with the grace of God, raining down upon them from the great ocean above: hereafter they shall be drowned in that immense ocean of the deity, where they shall be brimful of God for all eternity.
Conclude to direct thy appetite towards ‘the good things of the Lord, in the land of the living;’ and in the mean time towards the fulfilling of all his justice. But O! take care not to be depraved with the false sweet of worldly, sensual, and carnal pleasures! These will take away from thee all relish for the things of God; they will never fill thee or satisfy thee themselves; nor suffer thee to taste, either in time or eternity, how sweet is the Lord.