This is the quotation from Thomas Watson’s exposition of the beatitudes which gave me the desire to start a blog. I have resisted blogging until now believing it to be a waste of time, another modern intrusion on that scarce resource. What has changed my mind? I have decided that if I can, by the use of a blog, regularly remind myself of what I have read which points to all the tricks of my sinful heart, such as my inability to grasp the extent of the grace of God in Christ or my lack of true heartfelt mourning for sin then a blog must be a good thing. I will return to this post again and again…
What is not the right gospel-mourning for sin? There is a fivefold mourning which is false and spurious.
A despairing kind of mourning. Such was Judas’ mourning. He saw his sin, he was sorry, he made confession, he justifies Christ, he makes restitution (Matthew 27). Judas, who is in hell, did more than many nowadays. He confessed his sin. He did not plead necessity or good intentions, but he makes an open acknowledgement of his sin. ‘I have sinned’. Judas made restitution. His conscience told him he came wickedly by the money. It was ‘the price of blood’, and he ‘brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests’ (Matthew 27: 3). But how many are there who invade the rights and possessions of others, but not a word of restitution! Judas was more honest than they are. Well, wherein was Judas’ sorrow blameworthy? It was a mourning joined with despair. He thought his wound broader than the plaster. He drowned himself in tears. His was not repentance unto life (Acts 11: 18), but rather unto death.
An hypocritical mourning. The heart is very deceitful. It can betray as well by a tear as by a kiss. Saul looks like a mourner, and as he was sometimes ‘among the prophets’ (1 Samuel 10: 12) So he seemed to be among the penitents. ‘And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 15: 24). Saul played the hypocrite in his mourning, for he did not take shame to him self, but he did rather take honour to himself: ‘honour me before the elders of my people’ (verse 30). He pared and minced his sin that it might appear lesser, he laid his sin upon the people, ‘because I feared the people’ (verse 24). They would have me fly upon the spoil, and I dare do no other. A true mourner labours to draw out sin in its bloody colours, and accent it with all its killing aggravations, that he may be deeply humbled before the Lord. ‘Our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens’ (Ezra 9: 6). The true penitent labours to make the worst of his sin. Saul labours to make the best of sin; like a patient that makes the best of his disease, lest the physician should prescribe him too sharp physic. How easy is it for a man to put a cheat upon his own soul, and by hypocrisy to sweep himself into hell!
A forced mourning. When tears are pumped out by God’s judgements, these are like the tears of a man that has the stone, or that lies upon the rack. Such was Cain’s mourning. ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear’ (Genesis 4: 13). His punishment troubled him more than his sin; to mourn only for fear of hell is like a thief that weeps for the penalty rather than the offence. The tears of the wicked are forced by the fire of affliction.
An extrinsic mourning; when sorrow lies only on the outside. ‘They disfigure their faces’ (Matthew 6: 16). The eye is tender, but the heart is hard. Such was Ahab’s mourning. ‘He rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh, and went softly’ (1 Kings 21: 27). His clothes were rent, but his heart was not rent. He had sackcloth but no sorrow. He hung down his head like a bulrush, but his heart was like an adamant. There are many who may be compared to weeping marbles, they are both watery and flinty.
A vain fruitless mourning. Some will shed a few tears, but are as bad as ever. They will cozen and be unclean. Such a kind of mourning there is in hell. The damned weep but they blaspheme.