by Thomas Watson
“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
Gospel Mourning (continued)
Next to the seasons of mourning, let us consider the DEGREE of mourning. The mourning for sin must be a very great mourning. The Greek word imports a great sorrow, such as is seen at the funeral of a dear friend. ‘They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one that mourns for his only son’ (Zechariah 12:10). The sorrow for an only child is very great. Such must be the sorrow for sin. ‘In that day there shall be great mourning, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon’ (verse 11). In that valley Josiah, that famous and pious prince, was cut off by an untimely death, at whose funeral there was bitter lamentation. Thus bitterly must we bewail, not the death—but the life of our sins. Now then, to set forth the degree of sorrow.
Our mourning for sin must be so great as to exceed all other grief. Eli’s mourning for the ark was such that it swallowed up the loss of his two children. Spiritual grief must preponderate over all other grief. We should mourn more for sin than for the loss of friends or estate.
We should endeavor to have our sorrow rise up to the same height and proportion as our sin does. Manasseh was a great sinner—and a great mourner. ‘He humbled himself greatly’ (2 Chronicles 33:12). Manasseh made the streets run with blood—and he made the prison in Babylon run with tears. Peter wept bitterly. A true mourner labors that his repentance may be as eminent as his sin.
Having shown the nature of mourning, I shall next show what is the OPPOSITE to holy mourning. The opposite to mourning is ‘hardness of heart’, which in Scripture is called ‘a heart of stone’ (Ezekiel 36:26). a heart of stone is far from mourning and repenting. This heart of stone is known by two symptoms:
One symptom is insensibility. A stone is not sensible of anything. Lay weight upon it; or grind it to powder—it does not feel. So it is with a hard heart. It is insensible to both its own sin and God’s wrath. The stone in the kidneys is felt—but not the stone in the heart. ‘Having lost all sensitivity.’ (Ephesians 4:19).
A heart of stone is known by its inflexibility. A stone will not bend. That is hard, which does not yield to the touch. So it is with a hard heart. It will not comply with God’s command. It will not stoop to Christ’s scepter. A heart of stone will sooner break, than bend by repentance. It is so far from yielding to God, that like the anvil—it beats back the hammer. It ‘always resists the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 7:51).
Oh Christians, if you would be spiritual mourners, take heed of this stone of the heart. ‘Harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:7,8). A stony heart is the worst heart. If it were bronze, it might be melted in the furnace; or it might be bent with the hammer. But a stony heart is such, that only the arm of God can break it–and only the blood of Christ can soften it! Oh the misery of a hard heart! A hard heart is void of all grace. While the wax is hard, it will not take the impression of the seal. The heart, while it is hard, will not take the stamp of grace. It must first be made tender and melting. The plough of the Word will not penetrate a hard heart. A hard heart is good for nothing—but to make fuel for hellfire. ‘Because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath’ (Romans 2:5). Hell is full of hard hearts—there is not one soft heart there. There is weeping there—but no softness. We read of ‘vessels of his wrath–prepared for destruction’ (Romans 9:22). Hardness of heart, fits these vessels for hell, and makes them like withered wood, which is fit only to burn.
Hardness of heart makes a man’s condition worse than all his other sins besides. If one is guilty of great sins—yet if he can mourn, there is hope. Repentance unravels sin, and makes sin not to be. But hardness of heart binds guilt fast upon the soul. It seals a man under wrath. It is not heinousness of sin—but hardness of heart which damns. This makes the sin against the Holy Spirit incapable of mercy, because the sinner who has committed it, is incapable of repentance