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10. Some helps to mourning

Having removed the obstructions, let me in the last place propound some helps to holy mourning.

1 Set David’s prospect continually before you. ‘My sin is ever before me’ (Psalm 51:3). David, that he might be a mourner, kept his eye full upon sin. See what sin is, and then tell me if there be not enough in it to draw forth tears. I know not what name to give it bad enough. One calls it the devil’s excrement. Sin is a complication of all evils. It is the spirits of mischief distilled. Sin dishonours God, it denies God’s omniscience, it derides his patience, it distrusts his faithfulness. Sin tramples upon God’s law, slights his love, grieves his Spirit. Sin wrongs us; sin shames us. ‘Sin is a reproach to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34). Sin has made us naked. It has plucked off our robe and taken our crown from us. It has spoiled us of our glory. Nay, it has not only made us naked, but impure. ‘I saw thee polluted in thy blood’ (Ezekiel 16:6). Sin has not only taken off our cloth of gold, but it has put upon us ‘filthy garments’ (Zechariah 3:3). God made us ‘after his likeness’ (Genesis 1:26), but sin has made us ‘like the beasts that perish’ (Psalm 49:20). We are all become brutish in our affections. Nor has sin made us only like the beasts, but like the devil (John 8:44). Sin has drawn the devil’s picture upon man’s heart. Sin stabs us. The sinner, like the gaoler, draws a sword to kill himself (Acts 16:27). He is bereaved of his judgement and, like the man in the gospel, possessed with the devils, ‘he cuts himself with stones’ (Mark 5:5), though he has such a stone in his heart that he does not feel it. Every sin is a stroke at the soul. So many sins, so many wounds! Every blow given to the tree helps forward the felling of the tree. Every sin is an hewing and chopping down the soul for hellfire. If then there be all this evil in sin, if this forbidden fruit has such a bitter core, it may make us mourn. Our hearts should be the spring, and our eyes the rivers.

2 If we would be mourners, let us be orators. Beg a spirit of contrition. Pray to God that he will put us in mourning, that he will give us a melting frame of heart. Let us beg Achsah’s blessing, even ’springs of water’ (Joshua 15:19). Let us pray that our hearts may be spiritual limbecs, dropping tears into God’s bottle. Let us pray that we who have the poison of the serpent may have the tears of the dove. The Spirit of God is a spirit of mourning. Let us pray that God would pour out that Spirit of grace on us, whereby we may ‘look on him whom we have pierced and mourn for him’ (Zechariah 12:10). God must breathe in his Spirit before we can breathe out our sorrows. The Spirit of God is like the fire in a still, that sends up the dews of grace in the heart and causes them to drop from the eyes. It is this blessed Spirit whose gentle breath causes our spices to smell and our waters to flow; and if the spring of mourning be once set open in the heart, there can want no joy. As tears flow out, comfort flows in; which leads to the second part of the text, ‘They shall be comforted’.

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