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“Blessed are ye that hunger now.”—Luke vi. 21.

THAT is one of the constant and full-sounding notes of the New Testament, the healthiness of a certain sort of hunger, the blessedness of a certain type of want. We hear its clarion in the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” For who are the poor in spirit but those who recognise their present poverty in comparison with their possible achievement? Every new possession in the inheritance of grace only increases their hunger for what remains to be claimed. Beyond the inch they hunger for the mile, beyond the mile they hunger for the league. They are never satisfied. In their hearts there is always the holy sense of want. The good unfolds to them the better. The better unveils the best. And beyond the inconceivable 103best there is the world of the inconceivable, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which the wing of the strongest imagination is altogether unable to reach. And so these folk are hungry, and gloriously dissatisfied, “moving about in worlds not realised.”

I suppose it is just here that we come upon the deadly lack in the soul of the Pharisee. The Pharisee had no hunger, no healthy, disturbing sense of want. He knew no consciousness of poverty. He regarded himself as rich. He was satisfied. He had attained. His life had no regions beyond. There stretched beyond him no entrancing prospect of territory yet to be traversed and won. He had no aching aspiration, no tense muscle of endeavour, striving in ever more wonderful crusades. He had arrived. “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up: take thine ease!” That was the spirit of pharisaism. And it was to the Pharisees that the Master gave this awful and startling warning: “Woe unto you that are full!”

Now it is the dissatisfied who are the world’s benefactors; I mean not only those who are dissatisfied with their own attainments, 104but with the attainments of the race. They are possessed by a great sense of want. They cry with the prophet, “Woe is me, for I am unclean, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips!” They are hungering for something both for themselves and for the race. They see the crooked and they yearn to make it straight; they see the rough places and they are eager to make them plain. They are nobly dissatisfied, and at the heart of their dissatisfaction there is a driving ambition for a richer and fuller life. We owe everything to these hungry souls. They cannot be at rest, and in their restlessness is the promise of our richer peace.

It is evident that this noble hunger is associated with a larger vision. Nay, the hunger is the offspring of the vision. They have seen the New Jerusalem, “adorned as a bride prepared for her husband,” and they are profoundly dissatisfied with the Jerusalem that is, and they labour to remove her meanness and her sordidness, and to clothe her in the strength and beauty of heaven’s glory. Yes, it is the great vision which stirs the great yearning. It is when they have seen the Lord that the sluggish dwellers in Lotus-land 105become keen and daring knights who go forth to build and establish the Kingdom of God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

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