Arthur Pink, 1935
The Beatitudes supply a Divine description of those who are the
subjects and citizens of Christ's spiritual kingdom. They give us a moral
portrait of those who have been born again, and with its several features we
should honestly and diligently compare our hearts and lives. It is on the
second Beatitude, which I feel led to speak tonight. "Blessed are those who
mourn--for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
Now it is obvious that Christ does not here refer to
every species of "mourning." There are thousands of mourners in
the world tonight, who are not included within our text; those mourning over
blighted hopes, over financial reverses, over the loss of loved ones. But,
alas, so far from many of them coming beneath this Divine benediction, that
they are under God's condemnation; nor is there any promise or guarantee
that they shall ever be Divinely "comforted."
There are three kinds of "mourning" referred to in the
1. a natural mourning, such as I have just
2. a sinful mourning, which is disconsolate and
inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a hopeless remorse like that
3. a gracious mourning, a "godly sorrow," of which
the Holy Spirit is the Author.
The "mourning" of our text is a spiritual one. The
previous verse indicates the line of thought here, "Blessed are the poor in
spirit--for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Yes, "blessed are the
poor," not the poor in purse--but the poor in heart--those who
realize themselves to be spiritual bankrupts in themselves, paupers before
God. That felt poverty of spirit is the very opposite of the
Laodiceanism which is so rife today, that self-complacency which says "I am
rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." So it is
spiritual mourning here.
Furthermore, these "mourners" Christ pronounced
"blessed." They are so because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace
in them, and hence they have been awakened to see and feel their lost
condition. They are "blessed" because God does not leave them at that point,
"they shall be comforted."
Now it has to be acknowledged that my text brings before
us an aspect of Truth which is not very popular today. In this age, people
had much rather hear about that which is bright and cheerful, than what is
somber and doleful. The Gospel is far more acceptable than the Law. People
had rather hear about Christ than that which, under the Spirit, is
calculated to reveal to them their deep need of Christ. Nevertheless our
text raises a most important question, which I feel led to press on your
hearts, and on my own--Do I really belong to the class which Christ
here pronounces "Blessed," for observe it is a class, as the plural
pronoun denotes--not "blessed is he," but "those who mourn."
But why raise such a question here? Are not the majority
of us professing Christians? Do we not believe firmly that the
Scriptures are the Word of God? are we not "resting on the finished work of
Christ"? are we not rejoicing in the assurance that our sins are forgiven?
Ah, may I remind you of the Lord's parable of the sower. Of the stony-ground
hearer He declared, "he received the Word," and received it "with joy";
yet, of him Christ solemnly affirmed "yet he has no root in himself" (Matt.
13:21). And it is greatly to be feared, that there are many such today in
orthodox circles of Christendom--the product of a superficial "evangelism,"
which is so eager to secure quick and visible "results"--their conversion
was not preceded by conviction and contrition.
There is a class which come to the great Physician,
though they do not feel themselves to be desperately and deadly sick. They
have a certain kind of "faith"--I dare not call it a saving faith--but it is
not preceded by repentance! They apparently feed on the Lamb--but there are
no "bitter herbs" (Exo. 12:8). There is a "joy," but it is not one which
follows a deep sorrow. There is a "comfort" experienced, yet there is no
previous "mourning." But my dear friends, what is the Divine order?
Is there not a stripping before clothing, a wounding before
healing, an abasing before exalting? Must not the ground of the hard
heart be plowed before the good Seed can enter and take root? Those
who are whole--in their own estimation and feelings--need not a
physician--but those who are sick. How was it with Israel in Egypt--the
greatest of the Old Testament types of salvation.
Were not the Hebrews sorely afflicted, groaning and
crying out in deep distress, before God sent them a deliverer? Turn
with me now to the following Scriptures, and note carefully the order of
Truth presented in them. "Weeping may endure for a night--but joy
comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). "They that sow in tears--shall
reap in joy" (Psalm 126:5). "The heart knows his own bitterness; and a
stranger does not intermeddle with his joy" (Proverbs 14:10). "To appoint
unto those who mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the
oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness"
The same order is also observable in the New Testament,
"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor. 6:10). "Having received
the Word in much affliction (did you so "receive" it?), with
joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6). "Is any among you afflicted? let him
pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms" (James 5:13). So it is in our
text--the "mourning" precedes the "comfort." Therefore I press upon
you, and upon myself--am I among this class of spiritual "mourners"? The
pressing importance of this question appears when we thoughtfully observe
that Christ pronounces those in this class "blessed"--the Divine benediction
rests upon them.
Do you know what it is which rests upon those who
do not belong to this class? The Divine condemnation! There is
no middle ground, no third class--it is one or the other. You may remember
that after Israel crossed the Jordan and entered the land of Canaan, certain
ones were required to stand upon mount Gerizim and pronounce upon the
obedient the blessings of God; while others were to stand upon mount
Ebal and pronounce upon the disobedient the curses of God (Deut.
27:12, 13). So again in Matthew 25, unto the sheep Christ says, "Come you
who are blessed of My Father" (v. 34); whereas to the goats He says,
"Depart from Me you who are cursed" (v. 41). If, then, we really
value our souls, if we are truly concerned as to where we shall spend
eternity, it behooves us to seriously examine our hearts and make sure of
which class we belong to.
"Blessed are those who mourn." The first reference
is to that initial "mourning" which ever precedes a genuine conversion. Do
not misunderstand me--I am not arguing for any stereotyped experience, for
any definitely defined depth of sorrow or any protracted
season of grief. But I do insist (as Scripture does) that repentance
precedes forgiveness; that there must be a real sense of sin before
the Remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge they are
sinners, who have never mourned over the fact.
Take the woman of Luke 7, who washed the Savior's feet
with her tears--have you ever shed any over your sins? Take the
prodigal in Luke 15--before he left the far country he said, "I will
arise and go to my Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned
against heaven, and before You, and am no more worthy to be called Your son"
(vv. 18, 19)--ah, where shall we find those today with this sense of their
sinnership? Take the publican of Luke 18--why did he "smite upon his
breast" and say "God be merciful to me, a sinner"? (v. 13). Because he
felt the plague of his own heart. So of the three thousand converted on the
day of Pentecost--they were "pricked in the heart, and cried out"!
This "mourning" springs from a sense of sin, from a
tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion
against God and hostility to His will. In some cases it is a grief over the
very morality in which the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness
which has caused such delight. This "mourning" is the agonizing realization
that it was my sins which nailed the Lord of Glory to the cross. When
Israel shall see Christ "they shall mourn for Him" (Zech. 12:10). So
it is now when, by the power of the Spirit, the contrite sinner sees Christ
by faith. And it is such tears and groans which prepare the heart to
truly welcome and receive the "balm of Gilead," the comfort of the Gospel.
But our text is by no means to be confined unto the
initial experience of conviction and contrition, for observe the tense of
the verb--it is not "have mourned," but "mourn"--a present and
continual experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn
over. The sins which he now commits--both of omission and commission are a
cause of daily grief to him, or should be so, and will be if his
conscience is tender. An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his
nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of corruption within, ever
polluting all that he does, deeply grieves him. Consciousness of the
surgings of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and
his paucity of fruit, make him cry "O wretched man that I am!" A humbling
recollection of past offences, "All of us also lived among them at one time,
gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and
thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath" (Ephesians
Yes, "Ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves" (Romans 8:23). Does
not the Christian groan when under the disciplining rod of the Father, "No
chastening for the present seems to be joyous--but grievous" (Heb.
12:11). And is he not deeply pained by the awful dishonor now done to the
Lord Jesus on every side. But blessed be God it is written, "Go through the
midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the
foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations
that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezek. 9:4). So too there is a
sympathetic mourning over the sorrows of others, "Weep with those who weep"
And these holy mourners Christ pronounced "Blessed." This
is at complete variance with the world's ideas. In all ages and climates,
men have deemed the prosperous and the light-hearted the happy ones--but He
who spoke as never man spoke, declared "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .
Blessed are those who mourn." And why are these mourners "blessed"?
First, because such mourning proves they are indwelt by
the Holy Spirit, who makes intercession for them "with groanings
which cannot be uttered."
Second, because this holy mourning brings them into
fellowship with the sufferings of Christ--when here, He was "a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief."
Third, because they shall be Divinely "comforted."
Learn, then, from what has been before us, the folly
of measuring the helpfulness of the books we read or the
preaching we hear--by the degree of peace and joy which it imparts to our
hearts. Ah, the truth is, dear friends, that sometimes the address which is
of most help and blessing, is the one which causes us to get alone with God
and weep before Him! Our souls are by no means always in a fit condition to
be regaled by the sweets of the Gospel. When we have flirted with the world,
or indulged the lusts of the flesh--the Holy Spirit gives us a rebuke
"For they shall be comforted." There is a
threefold reference here.
First, to the initial "comfort" which immediately
follows a sound conversion (one that is preceded by conviction and
contrition), namely, the removal of that conscious guilt which lies as an
intolerable load on the conscience. Then it is Christ says, "Come unto Me,
all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
Note that there again we have presupposed one who feels sin to be a "burden"
before he comes to Christ--that is what propels him to Christ for
relief. Then it is Christ gives rest to the sin-weary heart.
Then it is the Holy Spirit applies the comfort of the
Gospel to the stricken soul--it is the realization of free and full
forgiveness by the blood of Christ.
Second, there is continual "comforting" of the
"mourning" saint by the Holy spirit, who is the Comforter. The one who
mourns over his departures from Christ is comforted by the assurance that
"if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The one who mourns
under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise, "afterward it
yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised
thereby" (Heb. 12:11). The one who mourns over the awful dishonor done to
his Lord in the religious world, is comforted by the fact that Satan's time
is now short, and soon Christ will bruise him beneath His feet.
Third, the final "comfort" is when we leave this
world and are done with sin forever.
Then shall "sorrow and sighing flee away." To the rich
man in Hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at the gate, "Now he is
comforted" (Luke 16:25). The best wine is reserved for the last. The
"comfort" of Heaven will more than compensate for all the "mourning" of
The second text is