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)
The REASONS why the mourner shall be comforted- Continued
Third, the comforts God gives his mourners are SWEET. ‘Truly the light is sweet’ (Ecclesiastes 11:7); so is the light of God’s countenance. How sweet are those comforts which bring the Comforter along with them! (John 14:10). Therefore the love of God shed into the heart, is said to be ‘better than wine’ (Canticles 1:2). Wine pleases the palate—but the love of God cheers the conscience. The lips, of Christ ‘drop sweet-smelling myrrh’ (Canticles 5:13). The comforts which God gives, are a Christian’s music. They are the golden pot of manna, the nectar and ambrosia of a Christian. They are the saints’ festival, their banqueting delicacies.
So sweet are these divine comforts, that the church had her fainting fits, for lack of them. ‘Stay me with flagons’ (Canticles 2:5). By these flagons, are meant the comforts of the Spirit. The Hebrew word signifies ‘all variety of delights’ to show the abundance of delectability and sweetness in these comforts of the Spirit. ‘Comfort me with apples.’ Apples are sweet in taste, fragrant in smell. Just so, sweet and delicious are those apples which grow upon the tree in paradise. These comforts from above are so sweet that they make all other comforts sweet; health, estate, relations. They are like sauce which makes all our earthly possessions and enjoyments come off with a bitter relish. So sweet are these comforts of the Spirit, that they much abate and moderate our joy in worldly things. He who has been drinking choice wine, will not much desire water; and that man who has once ‘tasted how sweet the Lord is’ (Psalm 34:8), and has drunk the cordials of the Spirit, will not thirst immoderately after carnal delights. Those who play with dogs and birds—it is a sign they have no children. Just so, such as are inordinate in their desire and love of the creature, declare plainly that they never had better comforts.
Fourth, these comforts which God gives his mourners are HOLY comforts. They are called ‘the comfort of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 9:31). Everything propagates in its own kind. The Holy Spirit can no more produce impure joys in the soul, than the sun can produce darkness. He who has the comforts of the Spirit looks upon himself as a person engaged to do God more service. Has the Lord looked upon me with a smiling face? I can never pray enough. I can never love God enough. The comforts of the Spirit raise in the heart a holy antipathy against sin. The dove hates every feather from the hawk. Just so, there is a hatred of every motion and temptation to evil. He who has a principle of life in him, opposes everything that would destroy life—he hates poison. So he who has the comforts of the Spirit living in him, sets himself against those sins which would murder his comforts. Divine comforts give the soul more acquaintance with God. ‘Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus.’ (1 John 1:3).
Fifth, the comforts reserved for the mourners are FILLING comforts. ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy . . .’ (Romans 15:13). ‘Ask . . . that your joy may be full’ (John 16:24). When God pours in the joys of heaven, they fill the heart and make it run over. ‘I am exceeding joyful . . .’ (2 Corinthians 7:4). The Greek word is ‘I overflow with joy’, as a cup that is filled with wine until it runs over. Outward comforts can no more fill the heart—than a triangle can fill a circle. Spiritual joys are satisfying. ‘My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow, and I will praise you with joyful lips’ (Psalm 63:5). David’s heart was full, and the joy broke out at his lips. ‘You have put gladness in my heart’ (Psalm 4:7). Worldly joys put gladness into the face: ‘They rejoice in the face’ (2 Corinthians 5:12). But the Spirit of God puts gladness into the heart. Divine joys are heart joys (Zechariah 10:7). ‘Your heart shall rejoice’ (John 16:22). A believer rejoices in God: ‘My Spirit rejoices in God . . .’ (Luke 1:47).
And to show how filling these comforts are which are of a heavenly extraction, the Psalmist says they create greater joy than when ‘their wine and oil increase’ (Psalm 4:7). Wine and oil may delight—but they cannot satisfy; they have their emptiness and indigence. We may say as Zechariah 10:2, ‘They comfort in vain.’ Outward comforts sooner cloy than cheer—and sooner weary than fill. Xerxes offered great rewards to him who could find out a new pleasure—but the comforts of the Spirit are satisfactory. They refresh the heart. ‘Your comforts delight my soul’ (Psalm 94:19). There is as much difference between heavenly comforts and earthly comforts—as between a banquet which is eaten, and one which is painted on the wall.
Sixth, the comforts God gives his mourners in this life are GLORIOUS comforts. ‘Joy full of glory’ (1 Peter 1:8). They are glorious because they are a foretaste of that joy which we shall have in a glorified estate. These comforts are a pledge of glory. They put us in heaven before our time. ‘You were sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is the pledge of the inheritance’ (Ephesians 1:13, 14). So the comforts of the Spirit are the pledge, the ‘cluster of grapes’ at Eshcol (Numbers 13:23), the first-fruits of the heavenly Canaan. The joys of the Spirit are glorious, in opposition to other joys, which compared with these, are inglorious and vile. A carnal man’s joy, as it is airy and flashy, so it is sordid. He sucks nothing but dregs. ‘You rejoice in a thing of nothing’ (Amos 6:13). A carnal spirit rejoices because he can say that this house is his, or that this estate is his. But a gracious spirit rejoices because he can say that this God is his: ‘For this God is our God forever and ever’ (Psalm 48:14). The ground of a Christian’s joy is glorious. He rejoices in that he is an heir of the promise. The joy of a godly man is made up of that which is the angels’ joy. He triumphs in the light of God’s countenance. His joy is that which is Christ’s own joy. He rejoices in the mystical union which is begun here and consummated in heaven. Thus the joy of the saints is a joy ‘full of glory’.
Seventh, the comforts which God gives his mourners are infinitely transporting and RAVISHING. So delightful are they and amazing, that they cause a jubilation which is so great, that it cannot be expressed. Of all things joy is the most hard to be deciphered. It is called ‘joy unspeakable’ (1 Peter 1:8). You cannot tell how sweet honey is, without actually tasting it. The most elevated words can no more set forth the comforts of the Spirit, than the a pencil can draw the life and breath of a man. The angels cannot express the joys they feel. Some men have been so overwhelmed with the sweet raptures of joy, that they have not been able to contain—but as Moses, have died with a kiss from God’s mouth. Thus have we seen the glass oft breaking with the strength of the liquor put into it.
Eighth, these comforts of the Spirit are POWERFUL. They are strong cordials, strong consolation, as the apostle phrases it (Hebrews 6:18). Divine comfort strengthens for duty. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy whets and sharpens industry. A man who is steeled and animated with the comfort of God’s Spirit, goes with vigor and alacrity through the exercises of piety. He believes firmly, he loves fervently, he is carried full sail in duty. ‘The joy of the Lord is his strength’. Divine comfort supports under affliction: ‘Having received the Word in much affliction, with joy’ (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The wine of the Spirit can sweeten ‘the waters of Marah’. Those who are possessed of these heavenly comforts can ‘gather grapes from thorns’, and fetch honey out of the ‘lion’s carcass’. They are ‘strong consolations’ indeed, which can endure the ‘fiery trial’, and turn the flame into a bed of roses. How powerful is that comfort which can make a Christian glory in tribulations (Romans 5:3)! A believer is never so sad, but he can rejoice. The bird of paradise can sing in the winter. ‘As sorrowing—yet always rejoicing’ (2 Corinthians 6:10). Let sickness come, the sense of pardon takes away the sense of pain. ‘The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick’ (Isaiah 33:24). Let death come, the Christian is above it. ‘O death, where is your sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:55). At the end of the rod, a Christian tastes honey. These are ‘strong consolations’.
Ninth, the comforts God’s mourners have are HEART-QUIETING comforts. They cause a sweet acquiescence and rest in the soul. The heart of a Christian is in a state of discomposure, like the needle in the compass; it shakes and trembles—until the Comforter comes. Some creatures cannot live but in the sun. A Christian is discomposed, unless he has the sunlight of God’s countenance. ‘Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit’ (Psalm 143:7). Nothing but the breast will quiet the child. It is only the breast of consolation, which quiets the believer.
Tenth, the comforts of the Spirit are ABIDING comforts. As they abound in us so they abide with us. ‘He shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever’ (John 14:16). Worldly comforts are always upon the wing, ready to fly. They are like a flash of lightning. ‘They will oftentimes pass away and glide from your closest embrace’. All things here are transient—but the comforts with which God feeds his mourners are immortal: ‘Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation’ (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Though a Christian does not always have a full beam of comfort yet he has a dawning of it in his soul. He always has a ground of hope and a root of joy. There is that within him, which bears up his heart, and which he would not on any terms part with.
Behold, then, the mourner’s privilege, ‘He shall be comforted’. David who was the great mourner of Israel, was the ‘sweet singer of Israel’. The weeping dove shall be covered with the golden feathers of comfort. O how rare and superlative are these comforts!
But the question may be asked, ‘May not God’s mourners lack these comforts?’ Spiritual mourners have a title to these comforts—yet they may sometimes lack them. God is a sovereign agent. He will have the timing of our comforts. He has a self-freedom to do what he will. The Holy One of Israel will not be limited. He reserves his prerogative to give or suspend comfort—as he will; and if we are a while without comfort, we must not quarrel with his dispensations, for as the mariner is not to wrangle with providence because the wind blows out of the east when he desires it to blow out of the west; nor is the farmer to murmur when God stops the bottles of heaven in time of drought; so neither is any man to dispute or quarrel with God, when he stops the sweet influence of comfort—but he ought rather to acquiesce in his sacred will.
But though the Lord might by virtue of his sovereignty withhold comfort from the mourner—yet there may be many pregnant causes assigned why mourners lack comfort in regard of God and also in regard of themselves.