Notes of a Sermon by John Kennedy
Matthew 5:4. “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”
1. The description here given of the true Christian. He is a mourner.
2. The privilege connected with his mourning. He is blessed, for he shall be comforted.
3. The connection between the character and the privilege.
1. The true Christian is a mourner. Some think that, if a man mourns, he must be unblessed. The world does not think a true Christian can be happy, because what it sees most about him is that he mourns. What is most present to the men of the world about a Christian is that he mourns and, knowing only “the pleasures of sin” which are for a season, they keep aloof from the mourning Christian and think in doing so they have the advantage. Others think mourning is inconsistent with the state of believers. Are they not told to rejoice evermore, and can they mourn? Some think mourning inconsistent with Bible descriptions, Bible statements and Bible injunctions. “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.” “Rejoice in the Lord.” As to their state, they have joy in the Holy Ghost, “joy unspeakable, and full of glory”. And can such people mourn? Yes. Christ says, “Blessed are they that mourn”. They mourn for three reasons: (1) because they live; (2) because they love; and (3) because they have a good hope through grace.
(1) They mourn because they live. They live spiritually. A dead soul cannot mourn. If one lie unconscious while under a sore disease, he will feel no pain, his breath will not even express itself into a sigh. No groan will escape from his lips, no cry come from his heart. But when he revives, life returns, and with life the power to feel pain. Then he will sigh and cry and groan as he feels the pain. The nearer he approaches to health the more acutely will he feel pain, and so with the soul. In the measure in which the soul lives will it mourn and groan until, like Paul, with one foot planted on the threshold of the Fathers house, it cries, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
(2) They mourn because they love. The hand that works because the soul loves is ill-pleased with its service. Loveless souls are easily puffed up with service that is vile, as vile as the corruption of an unrenewed heart can make it. Because they love, they desire to hold communion with the object of their love, and they mourn when that communion is disturbed and broken up. How few mourn because communion with God is disturbed! How many think communion with God endurable only when lost in the crowd of a congregation. But communion with Him in secret, alone with God how few are mourners because of short communion thus held! The true mourners, because they love Christ, long to be conformed to the image of the loved One, and they mourn because they feel how far away in heart and life they are from being thus conformed.
(3) They mourn because they have a good hope through grace. Mourning because hoping, surely that is strange! Hope in the opinion of some shuts out mourning. Not so with the good hope through grace. If they have hope, they have faith, and having faith, some argue, they cannot be mourners. Ah, faith and joy go together, and unbelief and mourning do they? No. Faith they have in Christ crucified, and in the name of God as seen in the face of Jesus Christ. They have been at the cross of Christ, and being there they cannot but mourn. They see the glory of God there displayed in the death of His Son, and they mourn for all they did to bring that Son to death, all they have done against the Son of God. True faith thus makes mourners of the people of God. The hope they have is in Christ, through His death and by His life and, having this hope, they purify themselves. They long to have their hope fulfilled and they mourn what far-off pilgrims they are from the Fathers house.
2. The privilege. Only on the earth could the Lord have mourners, and He must have them to show forth His glory as the God of all comfort. In no other way could the tenderness of God be seen than as the God of all comfort. Ah, then, I may be content to be a mourner here, when I have God to comfort me. No fear of these mourners, the Holy Ghost is the comforter, and the word of truth the comfort. “This word of Thine my comfort is in mine affliction”. But no comfort can we find in the word of consolation without the Comforter. Sweetness, such as angels cannot know, do these mourners taste in the grace of God. If it be to show forth Gods glory, surely we may be content to be mourners here. The “light affliction which is but for a moment”: the light affliction, balance that against the weight of glory; for a moment, count that against eternity.
A word or two in conclusion. Some of you are taking time to laugh now, but remember God has appointed you a time to mourn. Your time is like yourself, small; but Gods time is like Himself, eternal, infinite.
A word to those who mourn, but go not to God to comfort them. Poor souls, no comfort, but in Christ. Out of Him there is no comfort for you. Blessed are the true mourners. Yes! They shall be comforted, so that they shall be beyond the need of comfort for ever. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes as they enter into the Fathers house, there to abide.