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7. Sundry sharp reproofs
This doctrine draws up a charge against several sorts:
1 Those that think themselves good Christians, yet have not learned this art of holy mourning. Luther calls mourning ‘a rare herb’. Men have tears to shed for other things, but have none to spare for their sins. There are many murmurers, but few mourners. Most are like the stony ground which ‘lacked moisture’ (Luke 8:6).
We have many cry out of hard times, but they are not sensible of hard hearts. Hot and dry is the worst temper of the body. Sure I am that to be hot in sin, and to be so dry as to have no tears, is the worst temper of the soul. How many are like Gideon’s dry fleece, and like the mountains of Gilboa! There is no dew upon them. Did Christ bleed for sin, and can you not weep? If God’s bottle be not filled with tears, his vial will be filled with wrath. We have many sinners in Sion, but few mourners in Sion. It is with most people as with a man on the top of a mast; the winds blow and the waves beat, and the ship is in danger of ship wreck, and he is fast asleep. So when the waves of sin have even covered men and the stormy wind of God’s wrath blows, and is ready to blow them into hell, yet they are asleep in security.
2 This doctrine reproves them who instead of weeping for sin, spend their days in mirth and jollity. Instead of mourners we have ranters. ‘They take the timbrel and harp, they spend their days in wealth’ (Job 21:12, 13). ‘They pursue the Sybarite life’, says Luther. ‘They do not give themselves to mourning, but follow after their enjoyments’. They live epicures and die atheists. St James bids us ‘turn our laughter to mourning’ (James 4:9). But they turn their mourning to laughter. Samson was brought forth to make the Philistines sport (Judges 16:25). The jovial sinner makes the devil sport. It is a saying of Theophylact, ‘It is one of the worst sights to see a sinner go laughing to hell.’ How unseasonable is it to take the harp and viol when God is taking the sword! ‘A sword, a sword is sharpened and also furbished; should we then make mirth?’ (Ezekiel 21:9, 10). This is a sin that enrages God. ‘In that day did the Lord of hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine; and it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts. Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts’ (Isaiah 22:12, 14). That is, this your sin shall not be done away by any expiatory sacrifice, but vengeance shall pursue you for ever.
3 This doctrine reproves those who, instead of mourning for sin, rejoice in sin (Proverbs 2:14); ‘Who take pleasure in iniquity’ (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Wicked men in this sense are worse than the damned in hell, for I dare say they take little pleasure in their sins. There are some so impudently profane, that they will make themselves and others merry with their sins. Sin is a soul sickness (Luke 5:31). Will a man make merry with his disease? Ah wretch, did Christ bleed for sin, and do you laugh at sin? Is that your mirth which grieves the Spirit? Is it a time for a man to break jests when he is upon the scaffold, and his head is to be stricken off?’ You who laugh at sin now, the time is coming when God will ‘laugh at your calamity’ (Proverbs 1:26).
4 This doctrine reproves those that cry down mourning for sin. They are like the Philistines who stopped the wells (Genesis 26:15). These would stop the wells of godly sorrow. Antinomians say this is a legal doctrine, but Christ here preaches it: ‘Blessed are they that mourn.’ And the apostles preached it, ‘And they went out and preached that men should repent’ (Mark 6:12). Holy ingenuity will put us upon mourning for sin. He that has the heart of a child cannot but weep for his unkindness against God. Mourning for sin is the very fruit and product of the Spirit of grace (Zechariah 12:10). Such as cry down repentance, cry down the Spirit of grace. Mourning for sin is the only way to keep off wrath from us. Such as with Samson would break this pillar, go about to pull down the vengeance of God upon the land. To all such I say, as Peter to Simon Magus, ‘Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee’, O sinner (Acts 8:22). Repent that you have cried down repentance.
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