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)
MOTIVES to holy mourning (continued)
5. A mourner for sin not only does good to himself but to others. He helps to keep off wrath from a land. As when Abraham was going to strike the blow, the angel stayed his hand (Genesis 22:12), so when God is going to destroy a nation, the mourner stays his hand. Tears in the child’s eye sometimes move the angry father to spare the child. Penitential tears melt God’s heart and bind his hand. Jeremiah, who was a weeping prophet, was a great intercessor. God says to him, ‘Pray not for this people’ (Jeremiah 7:16), as if the Lord had said, ‘Jeremiah, so powerful are your prayers and tears, that if you pray I cannot deny you.’ Tears have a mighty influence upon God. Surely God has some mourners in the land, or he would have destroyed us before now.
6. Holy mourning is preventing remedy. Our mourning for sin here—will prevent mourning in hell. Hell is a place of weeping (Matthew 8:12). The damned mingle their drink with weeping. God is said to hold his bottle for our tears (Psalm 56:8). Those who will not shed a bottle-full of tears shall hereafter shed rivers of tears. ‘Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep’ (Luke 6:25). You have sometimes seen sugar lying in a damp place dissolve to water. All the sugared joys of the wicked dissolve at last to the water of tears. Now, tears will do us good. Now, it is seasonable weeping. It is like a shower in the spring. If we do not weep now, it will be too late in hell. Could we hear the language of the damned, they are now cursing themselves that they did not weep soon enough. Oh is it not better to have our hell here, than hereafter? Is it not better to shed repenting tears, than despairing tears? He who weeps here is a blessed mourner. He who weeps in hell is a cursed mourner. The physician by bleeding the patient prevents death. By the opening a vein of godly sorrow, we prevent the death of our souls.
7. There is no other way the Gospel prescribes to blessedness, but mourning. ‘Blessed are those who mourn’. This is the road that leads to the new Jerusalem. There may be several ways leading to a city; some go one way, some another; but there is but one way to heaven, and that is by the house of weeping (Acts 26:20). Perhaps a man may think thus, ‘If I cannot mourn for sin, I will get to heaven some other way. I will go to church; I will give alms; I will lead a civil life.’ Nay—but I tell you there is but one way to blessedness, and that is, through the valley of tears. If you do not go this way, you will miss of Paradise. ‘I tell you, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish’ (Luke 13:3). There are many lines leading to the center—but the heavenly center has but one line leading to it, and that is a tear dropping from the eye of faith. A man may have a disease in his body that twenty medicines will heal. Sin is a disease of the soul which makes it sick unto death. Now there is but one medicine will heal, and that is the medicine of repentance.
8. Consider what need every Christian has to be conversant in holy mourning. A man may take physic when he has no need of it. Many go to London when they have no need. It is rather out of curiosity than necessity. But O what need is there for everyone to go into the weeping bath! Think what a sinner you have been. You have filled God’s book with your debts, and what need you have to fill his bottle with your tears! You have lived in secret sin. God enjoins you this penance, ‘Mourn for sin’. But perhaps some may say, I have no need of mourning, for I have lived a very civil life. Go home and mourn because you are only civil. Many a man’s civility, being rested upon—has damned him! It is sad for men to be without repentance—but it is worse to have no need for repentance (Luke 15:7).
9. Tears are but finite. It is but a while that we shall weep. After a few showers that fall from our eyes, we shall have a perpetual sunshine. In heaven the bottle of tears is stopped. ‘God shall wipe away all tears . . .’ (Revelation 7:17). When sin shall cease, tears shall cease. ‘Weeping may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5). In the morning of the ascension, then shall all tears be wiped away.
10. The benefit of holy mourning. The best of our commodities come by water. Mourning makes the soul fruitful in grace. When a shower falls, the herbs and plants grow. ‘I will water you with my tears, O Heshbon!’ (Isaiah 16:9). I may allude to it; tears water our graces and make them flourish. ‘He sends his springs into the valleys’ (Psalm 104:10). That is the reason the valleys flourish with corn, because the springs run there. Where the springs of sorrow run, there the heart bears a fruitful crop. Leah was tender-eyed; she had a watery eye—and was fruitful. The tender-eyed Christian usually brings forth more of the fruits of the Spirit. A weeping eye is the water-pot to water our graces!
Again, mourning fences us against the devil’s temptations. Temptations are called ‘fiery darts’ (Ephesians 6:16), because indeed they set the soul on fire. Temptations enrage anger, inflame lust. Now the waters of holy mourning quench these fiery darts. Wet gunpowder will not easily take fire. When the heart is wetted and moistened with sorrow, it will not so easily take the fire of temptation. Tears are the best engines and waterworks to quench the devil’s fire; and if there is so much profit and benefit in gospel-sorrow, then let every Christian wash his face every morning in the laver of tears.
11. And lastly, to have a melting frame of spirit is a great sign of God’s presence with us in an ordinance. It is a sign that the Sun of Righteousness has risen upon us, when our frozen hearts thaw and melt for sin. It is a saying of Bernard, ‘By this you may know whether you have met with God in a duty—when you find yourselves in a melting and mourning frame’. We are apt to measure everything, by comfort. We think we never have God’s presence in an ordinance, unless we have joy. Herein we are like Thomas. ‘Unless (says he) I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, I will not believe’ (John 20:25). So are we apt to say that, unless we have incomes of comfort, we will not believe that we have found God in a duty; but if our hearts can melt kindly in tears of love, this is a real sign that God has been with us. As Jacob said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not’ (Genesis 28:16). So, Christian, when your heart breaks for sin and dissolves into holy tears, God is in this duty, though you do not know it.
Methinks all that has been said should make us spiritual mourners. Perhaps we have tried to mourn and cannot. But as a man who has dug so many fathoms deep for water and can find none, at last digs until he finds a spring; so though we have been digging for the water of tears and can find none—yet let us weigh all that has been said and set our hearts again to work, and perhaps at last we may say, as Isaac’s servants said, ‘We have found water!’ (Genesis 26:32). When the herbs are pressed, the watery juice comes out. These eleven serious motives may press out tears from the eye!
But some may say, My constitution is such that I cannot weep. I may as well go to squeeze a rock as think to get a tear.
I answer—but if you cannot weep for sin—can you not grieve? Heart mourning is best. There may be godly sorrow—where there are no tears. The vessel may be full though it lacks vent. It is not so much the weeping eye which God respects—as the broken heart. Yet I would be reluctant to stop their tears of those who can weep. God stood looking on Hezekiah’s tears: ‘I have seen your tears’ (Isaiah 38:5). David’s tears made music in God’s ears. ‘The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping’ (Psalm 6:8). It is a sight fit for angels to behold—tears as pearls dropping from a penitent eye!
What shall we do to get our heart into this mourning frame? Do two things. Take heed of those things which will stop these channels of mourning; put yourselves upon the use of all means that will help forward holy mourning. Take heed of those things which will stop the current of tears.