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)
Nine HINDRANCES of mourning.
1. The love of sin. The love of sin is like a stone in the pipe, which stops up the current of water. The love of sin makes sin taste sweet, and this sweetness in sin bewitches the heart. It is worse to love sin than to commit it. A man may be overtaken with sin (Galatians 6:1). He who has stumbled upon sin unawares will weep—but the love of sin hardens the heart and keeps the devil in possession. In true mourning there must be a grieving for sin. But how can a man grieve for that sin which his heart is in love with? Oh, take heed of this sweet poison! The love of sin freezes the soul in impenitence.
2. Despair. Despair affronts God, undervalues Christ’s blood and damns the soul! ‘But they will say—It’s hopeless. We will continue to follow our plans, and each of us will continue to act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart’ (Jeremiah 18:12). This is the language of despair. I had as good follow my sins still—and be damned for something. Despair presents God to the soul as a judge clad in the garments of vengeance (Isaiah 59:17). The despair of Judas was in some sense worse than his treason. Despair destroys repentance, for the proper ground of repentance is mercy. ‘The goodness of God leads you to repentance’ (Romans 2:4)—but despair hides mercy out of sight—as the cloud covered the Ark. Oh, take heed of this. Despair is an irrational sin; there is no ground for it. The Lord shows mercy to thousands. Why may you not be one of a thousand? The wings of God’s mercy, like the wings of the Cherubim, are stretched out to every humble penitent. Though you have been a great sinner—yet if you are a weeping sinner—there is a golden scepter of mercy held forth (Psalm 103:11). Despair locks up the soul in impenitence!
3. A conceit that this mourning will make us melancholy. ‘We shall drown all our joy in our tears!’ But this is a mistake. Lose our joy? Tell me, what joy can there be in a condemned condition? What joy does sin afford? Is not sin compared to a wound and bruise? (Isaiah 1:6). David had his broken bones (Psalm 51:8). Is there any comfort in having the bones out of joint? Does not sin breed a palpitation and trembling of heart? (Deuteronomy 28:65, 66). Is it any joy for a man to be a ‘terror to himself’? (Jeremiah 20:4). Surely of the sinner’s laughter it may be said, ‘It is mad!’ (Ecclesiastes 2:2), whereas holy mourning is the breeder of joy. It does not eclipse joy—but refines our joy and makes it better. The prodigal dated his joy from the time of his repentance. ‘Then they began to be merry’ (Luke 15:24).
4. Checking the motions of the Spirit. The Spirit sets us a-mourning. He causes all our spring-tides. ‘All my springs are in you’ (Psalm 87:7). Oft we meet with gracious motions to prayer and repentance. Now when we stifle these motions, which is called a quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), then we do, as it were, hinder the tide from coming in. When the dew falls, then the ground is wet. When the Spirit of God falls as dew in his influences upon the soul, then it is moistened with sorrow. But if the Spirit withdraws, the soul is like Gideon’s dry fleece. A ship can as well sail without the wind, a bird can as well fly without wings—as we can mourn without the Spirit! Take heed of grieving the Spirit. Do not drive away this sweet Dove from the ark of your soul. The Spirit is ‘gentle and tender’. If he is grieved, he may say, ‘I will come no more’—and if he once withdraws, we cannot mourn.
5. Presumption of mercy. Who will take pains with his heart or mourn for sin—who thinks he may be saved at a cheaper rate? How many, spider-like, suck damnation out of the sweet flower of God’s mercy? Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, is the occasion of many a man’s perishing. ‘Oh,’ says one, ‘Christ died for me. He has done all. What need I pray or mourn?’ Many a bold sinner plucks death from the tree of life, and through presumption, goes to hell by that ladder of Christ’s blood, by which others go to heaven. It is sad when the goodness of God, which should ‘lead to repentance’ (Romans 2:4), leads to presumption. O sinner, do not hope yourself into hell. Take heed of being damned upon a mistake. You say God is merciful, and therefore you go on securely in sin. But whom is mercy for? The presuming sinner or the mourning sinner? ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him’ (Isaiah 55:7). No mercy without forsaking sin, and no forsaking sin without mourning!
If a king should say to a company of rebels, ‘Whoever comes in and submits shall have mercy’, such as stood out in rebellion could not claim the benefit of the pardon. God makes a proclamation of mercy to the mourner—but such as are not mourners have nothing to do with mercy. The mercy of God is like the ark, which none but the priests were to meddle with. None may touch this golden ark of mercy but such as are ‘priests unto God’ (Revelation 1:6), and have offered up the sacrifice of tears.
6. A conceit of the smallness of sin. ‘Is it not a little one?’ (Genesis 19:20). The devil holds the small end of the telescope to sinners. To imagine that sin less than it is, is very dangerous. An opinion of the littleness of sin keeps us from the use of means. Who will be earnest for a physician, who thinks it is but a trivial disease? And who will seek to God with a penitent heart for mercy, who thinks sin is but a slight thing? But to take off this wrong conceit about sin, and that we may look upon it with watery eyes—consider that sin cannot be little, because it is against the Majesty of heaven. There is no small treason, it being against the king’s person. Every sin is sinful, therefore damnable. A penknife or stiletto makes but a little wound—but either of them may kill as well as a large sword. There is death and hell in every sin. “The wages of sin is death!” (Romans 6:23). What was it for Adam to pluck an apple? But that lost him his crown! It is not with sin as it is with diseases—some are mortal, some not mortal. The least sin without repentance, will be a lock and bolt to shut men out of heaven.
View sin in the red glass of Christ’s sufferings. The least sin cost his blood. Would you take a true view of sin? Go to Golgotha. Jesus Christ was fain to veil his glory and lose his joy, and pour out his soul an offering for the least sin. Read the greatness of your sin in the deepness of Christ’s wounds. Let not Satan cast such a mist before your eyes that you cannot see sin in its right colors. Remember, not only do great rivers fall into the sea—but little brooks. Not only do great sins carry men to hell—but lesser sins as well.