It is a sign they have none of this spiritual hunger, who desire rather sleep than food. They are more drowsy than hungry. Some there are who come to the Word that they may get a nap, to whom I may say as Christ did to Peter, ‘Couldest thou not watch one hour?’ (Mark 14:37). It is strange to see a man asleep at his meat. Others there are who have a ‘deep sleep’ fallen upon them. They are asleep in security and they hate a soul-awakening ministry. While they sleep, ‘their damnation slumbereth not’ (2 Peter 2:3).
Adapted from The Beatitudes, 125.
That men do not hunger after righteousness appears because they can make a shift well enough to be without it. If they have oil in the cruse, the world coming in, they are well content. Grace is a commodity that is least missed. You shall hear men complain they lack health, they lack trading, but never complain they lack righteousness. If men lose a meal or two they think themselves half undone, but they can stay away from ordinances which are the conduits of grace. Do they hunger after righteousness who are satisfied without it? Nay, who desire to be excused from feeding upon the gospel banquet (Luke 14:18). Sure he has no appetite, who entreats to be excused from eating.
The Beatitudes, 124–125.
That some hunger and thirst after God reproves such as have no spiritual hunger. Such as have no spiritual hunger have no winged desires. The edge of their affections is blunted. Honey is not sweet to them that are sick of a fever and have their tongues embittered with choler [bile]. So those who are soul-sick and “in the gall of bitterness,” find no sweetness in God or religion. Sin tastes sweeter to them; they have no spiritual hunger. That men do not have this “hunger after righteousness” appears by several demonstrations.
First, they never felt any emptiness. They are full of their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). Now “the full stomach loathes the honeycomb.” This was Laodicea’s disease. She was full and had no stomach either to Christ’s gold or eye-salve (Revelation 3:17). When men are filled with pride, this flatulent distemper hinders holy longings. As when the stomach is full of wind it spoils the appetite. None so empty of grace as he that thinks he is full. He has most need of righteousness that least wants it.
Adapted from The Beatitudes, 124.
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
The knowledge of Christ, and of his love, is deservedly, in this place, set down among the desiderata Christianorum, the most desirable enjoyments of believers in this world. This love of Christ had entered the apostle’s heart; he was swallowed up in the meditation and admiration of it, and would have all hearts inflamed and affected with it, as his was.
Some think the apostle speaks extatically in this place, and knows not how to make the parts of his discourse consistent with each other, when he puts them upon endeavours to know that love of Christ, which himself confesses to pass knowledge.
But though his heart was ravished with the love of Christ, yet there is no contradiction or inconsistency in his discourse. He doth earnestly desire for the Ephesians, that they may know the love of Christ; i.e. that they may experimentally know his love, which passeth knowledge: That is, as some expound it, all other kinds of knowledge; yea, and all knowledge of Christ, which is not practical and experimental. Or thus: Labour to get the clearest and fullest apprehensive knowledge of Christ and his love, that is attainable in this world, though you cannot arrive to a perfect comprehensive knowledge of either.
There was a citizen of Gaunt who had never been outside the city walls. For some reason or other the magistrate passed an order that he should not go outside. Strange to tell, up to the moment that the command had passed, the man had been perfectly easy, and never thought of passing the line, but as soon as ever he was forbidden to do it, he pined, and sickened, and even died moaning over the restriction.
If a man sees a thing to be law, he wants to break that law. Our nature is so evil, that forbid us to do a thing, and at once we want to do the thing that is forbidden, and in many minds the principle of law instead of leading to purity has even offered opportunities for greater impurity. Although you may point out the way of uprightness to a man, and tell him what is right and what is wrong, with all the wisdom and force of counsel and caution, unless you can give him a heart to choose the right, and a heart to love the true, you have not done much for him.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Gospel Extracts (Passmore and Alabaster, 1899).