Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part XIX

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Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

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)
The REASONS why the mourner shall be comforted- Continued

How does the Spirit comfort? Either mediately or immediately.

[1] The Spirit comforts mediately, by helping us to apply the promises to ourselves and draw water out of those ‘wells of salvation’. We lie as dead children at the breast—until the Spirit helps us to suck the breast of a promise; and when the Spirit has taught faith this art, now comfort flows in. O how sweet is the breast-milk of a promise!

[2] The Spirit comforts immediately. The Spirit by a more direct act presents God to the soul as reconciled. He ‘sheds his love abroad in the heart’, from whence flows infinite joy (Romans 5:5). The Spirit secretly whispers pardon for sin—and the sight of a pardon dilates the heart with joy. ‘Be of good cheer—your sins are forgiven’ (Matthew 9:2).

That I may speak more fully to this point, I shall show you the nature and excellencies of these comforts which God gives his mourners. These comforts are real comforts. The Spirit of God cannot witness to that which is untrue. There are many in this age who pretend to comfort—but their comforts are mere impostures. A man may as well be swelled with false, as true comforts. The comforts of the saints are certain. They have the seal of the Spirit set to them (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). A seal is for confirmation. When a deed is sealed, it is firm and unquestionable. When a Christian has the seal of the Spirit stamped upon his heart—now he is confirmed in the love of God.

Wherein do these comforts of the Spirit which are unquestionably sure, differ from those which are false and pretended? Three ways:

First, the comforts of God’s Spirit are laid in deep conviction: ‘And when he (that is, the Comforter) has come, he shall convict the world of sin’ (John 16:7, 8). Why does conviction go before consolation? Conviction of sin, fits for comfort. By conviction of sin, the Spirit sweetly disposes the heart to seek after Christ and then to receive Christ. Once the soul is convinced of sin and of the hell which follows sin—a Savior is precious. When the Spirit has shot in the arrow of conviction, ‘now,’ says a poor soul, ‘Where may I meet with Christ? How may I come to enjoy Christ?’ ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves? All the world for one glimpse of my Savior!’

Again, the Spirit by conviction makes the heart willing to receive Christ upon his own terms. Man, by nature, would bargain with Christ. He would take half Christ. He would take him for a Savior to save him from his sin—but not as a King to rule over him. He would accept of Christ as he has ‘a head of gold’ (Canticles 5:11)—but not as he has ‘the government upon his shoulder’ (Isaiah 9:6). But when God lets loose the spirit of bondage and convinces a sinner of his lost, undone condition—now he is content to have Christ upon any terms. When Paul was struck down to the ground by a spirit of conviction, he cries out, ‘Lord, what will you have me to do?’ (Acts 9:6). Let God propound whatever articles he will—the soul will subscribe to them. Now, when a man is brought to Christ’s terms, to believe and obey, then he is fit for mercy. When the Spirit of God has been a spirit of conviction of sin, then He becomes a spirit of consolation. When the plough of the law has gone upon the heart and broken up the fallow ground—then God sows the seed of comfort. Those who brag of comfort—but were never truly convicted, nor broken, for sin—have cause to suspect their comfort to be a delusion of Satan. It is like a madman’s joy, who thinks himself to be a king—but it may be said of ‘his laughter, it is mad’ (Ecclesiastes 2:2). The seed which lacked ‘depth of earth’ withered (Matthew 13:5). That comfort which lacks ‘depth of earth’, deep humiliation and conviction, will soon wither and come to nothing.

The Spirit of God is a sanctifying, before a comforting Spirit. As God’s Spirit is called the ‘Comforter’, so he is called ‘a Spirit of grace’ (Zechariah 12:10). Grace is the work of the Spirit. Comfort is the seal of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit goes before the seal. The graces of the Spirit are compared to water (Isaiah 44:3) and to oil (Isaiah 61:3). First, God pours in the water of the Spirit and then comes the oil of gladness. The oil (in this sense) runs above the water. Hereby we shall know whether our comforts are true and genuine. Some talk of the comforting Spirit, who never had the sanctifying Spirit. They boast of assurance—but never had grace. These are spurious joys. These comforts will leave men at death. They will end in horror and despair. God’s Spirit will never set seal to a blank. First, the heart must be an epistle written with the finger of the Holy Spirit—and then it is ‘sealed with the Spirit of promise’.

First, the comforts of the Spirit are HUMBLING.Lord,’ says the soul, ‘what am I that I should have a smile from heaven, and that you should give me a privy seal of your love?’ The more water is poured into a bucket—the lower it descends. The fuller the ship is laden with sweet spices—the lower it sails. The more a Christian is filled with the sweet comforts of the Spirit—the lower he sails in humility. The fuller a tree is of fruit—the lower the bough hangs. The more full we are of ‘the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy and peace’ (Galatians 5:22), the more we bend in humility. Paul, a ‘chosen vessel’ (Acts 9:15), filled with the wine of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:5), did not more abound in joy, than in lowliness of mind. ‘Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given . . ‘, (Ephesians 3:8). He who was the chief of the apostles calls himself the least of the saints.

Those who say they have comfort—but are proud; who have learned to despise others—their comforts are delusions. The devil is able, not only to ‘transform himself into an angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14)—but he can transform himself into the comforter. It is easy to counterfeit money, to silver over brass and put the king’s image upon it. The devil can silver over false comforts and make them look as if they had the stamp of the King of heaven upon them. The comforts of God are humbling. Though they lift the heart up in thankfulness—yet they do not puff it up in pride.

Second, the comforts God gives his mourners are UNMIXED. They are not tempered with any bitter ingredients. Worldly comforts are like wine that is mixed with dregs. ‘In the midst of laughter the heart is sad’ (Proverbs 14:13). If the breast of a sinner were anatomized and opened—you would find a worm gnawing at his heart. Guilt is a wolf which feeds in the breast of his comfort. A sinner may have a smiling countenance but a chiding conscience. His mirth is like the mirth of a man in debt, who is every hour in fear of arrest. The comforts of wicked men are spiced with bitterness. They are worm-wood wine.

‘These are the men who tremble, and grow pale at every lightning flash, and when it thunders are half-dead with terror at the very first rumbling of the heavens.’
But spiritual comforts are pure. They are not muddied with guilt, nor mixed with fear. They are the pure wine of the Spirit. What the mourner feels is joy, and nothing but joy.

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