Meditations on the Beatitudes: The Second Beatitude

Matthew 5:1‑16  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Matthew 5:1-161And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 13Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:1‑16)
Part 3
The Second Beatitude
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Verse 4.
In the different beatitudes, we have placed before us in the most interesting way the beautiful varieties and characteristics of grace. This is also most instructive, and ought to go far in forming our own character after this heavenly model.
The second beatitude is perfectly distinct from the first, though both features may be found in the same person. The form in which the divine life expresses itself in the second class, is of a broader and more active character than the first. To be poor in spirit is more a condition between the soul and God alone, and might be possessed in perfection though there were none to mourn over.
But to be a “mourner” in the sense of our text, is to be deeply and tenderly affected by the condition—especially the moral and spiritual condition—of others around us. For example: the worldliness of true Christians; the manifest delusion of mere professors; the godless ways of those who may be our near neighbors, accompanied with a deep sense of inability to witness for God in such a scene, fills the heart with holy sorrow.
At the same time, this holy sorrow, which is so good and wholesome, and which leads to much prayer and dependence on God, must not be mistaken for a low, complaining, unhappy, discontented, mournful spirit in ourselves, which we may think answers to this beatitude. Not so; such would be little likely to enter into the sorrows of others, or mourn over the dishonor done to God and His truth in this world. They are too much occupied with their own state of mind, and that which immediately concerns themselves.
We may, and ought—if we are poor in spirit and true mourners—to be bright and happy in the divine presence, where all is peace and joy, and yet have fellowship with the deep sympathies of Him who was “a Man of Sorrows,” in our journey through this world. And the more we know of His Spirit, the deeper will be our sense of what is due to Him, and the keener will be our sorrow when we see so many who set themselves against His authority, and use His goodness for the display of their own pride and glory.
But, wonderful grace, the Lord submits to be despised and rejected still: and as a tinge of sorrow colored His path and characterized His sayings in this world, so it must ever be with the godly while the world continues as it is. The Lord patiently waits until His kingdom come in power and glory.
Now we have the kingdom in mystery (Matt. 13). Then it will be in full manifestation. Now demons rule, though God overrules; then Christ and His saints will reign.
Could we at any moment, by night or day, unveil the world, what should we see? From the den of poverty to the palace of luxury—one vast scene of human sorrow. This makes the Christian’s heart, however bright and cheerful in the Lord’s presence, somber and sad in the presence of such universal misery, knowing as he does its real source.
But pray, my soul, speakest thou thus of thyself, of thine own experience, of what thou hast seen and felt in thy Christian course? Could there be this character of feeling without entering, in the Spirit of Christ, into the condition of things around us? It is well never to speak or write beyond our measure: all should be done in the divine presence. Still, it is well to have our hearts challenged.
But poor indeed would it be, were it possible to speak of such things unless it be from the depths of the heart’s communion with the rejected Lord; and more, from long and varied experience and observation. It can only be tasted when the heart has a true sense of the moral condition of the church and the world. Then we must “mourn” over the fearful effects of sin and apostasy which meet us at every step.
We walk in the midst of ruins. Wrecks of every kind lie strewed around us. Blighted hopes, unexpected calamities, with a multitude of little secret sorrows, characterize the land in which we are strangers and pilgrims, so that like captive Israel of old, “by the waters of Babylon,” we may “sit down and weep,” though we need not hang our harps on the willows; we are privileged to rejoice daily in the blessed hope of the Lord’s coming, when we shall be fully and forever comforted.
But to explain. How many hast thou seen floating down the stream of time as on a calm summer day, dreaming only of worldly ease and prosperity, when, suddenly, the wind of adversity rises, and all is changed in a moment. Death enters—the messenger little thought of, little expected, enters—the head of the family is suddenly struck down; all is desolate; nothing now is heard but the wail of the widow and fatherless. But, come these things within the sphere of the Christian’s sympathies? Most surely they do, and must so long as we have human hearts. But they are looked at in connection with the groaning creation, and lead us to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” Surely the Lord’s heart is touched with such a scene as this, and may not ours? Something like what is occurring daily around us must have been in His mind when He described the rich worldling and his fearful end.
“Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then, whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” Luke 12:2020But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (Luke 12:20).
Singularly enough, while writing these lines, a messenger with heavy tidings arrives; a rich man, well known for many years, has died suddenly. The effect on the mind for the moment is overwhelming. The thoughts run rapidly back over those years; the different times a word was said about the Lord, and the value of the soul, are recalled: the confession of their importance, and the promise to think more about them. But who at such a moment can feel satisfied with the measure of his own faithfulness? Did I speak plainly enough, often enough, earnestly enough? conscience will be ready to ask, and it may be to accuse. But all is now of no avail; the scene is closed: the curtain fallen: and we cross not the dark line which separates the two states of being.
Still we may heave a sigh and utter a groan over the sad effects of sin, as the Lord Himself did at the grave of Lazarus; yet no uncertainty was there as to the welfare of the precious, immortal soul. Every believer knows something of the value of the soul and salvation, and if both are lost, who would not mourn? Nevertheless, the sphere of thy meditations lies more within the limits of the kingdom, and here thou mayest pause for a little.
Nothing is more fitted to fill the heart with real sorrow than the immense number of mere professors. And surely a responsibility beyond that which attaches to the mere worldling, rests with those who take the name and profess to be the followers of Christ. They will be judged by a different standard. Many foolish virgins now mingle with the wise, and their lack of oil seems not to be discovered until it is too late to buy. The door shut and the lamps out will leave them in hopeless darkness and despair. This, alas! will be the portion of many who now hold a high place in the professing church. But how difficult it is to reach that class, how difficult to speak to them; how difficult to know which is which! All have lamps, but all have not oil. They are self-deceived, and may never be undeceived until, with awful surprise, they open their eyes in hell, being in torment. Still, the spiritual eye can see, that while much is made of mere externals, very little is made of Christ, and of that which is due to Him.
Again the agony of mind peculiar to the sight of such a state of things, with the painful sense that you can render no help, and can only testify against it by complete separation from it all, seeks relief in sighs and groans before the Lord; you must be a mourner with Him, in such a scene.
And what may draw forth a yet deeper sigh, you see those there who really belong to the Lord, but who refuse to see separation, either from the natural or the religious world. Thus loneliness in spirit is the inevitable path of a true mourner, his only friends are outside, like himself. They mourn together.
“Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.” And what was it that drew forth the deep sigh from the “Man of Sorrows” when here, but the sign-seeking unbelief of His people?
“And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily, I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”
It is still the same: something like a sign that appeals to the senses is believed in and eagerly run after, while the blessed Lord in rejection, outside the camp, has as little attraction for the sign-seeking multitude now as then.
True, Christ and His cross are not left out, that would be equally unpopular; but gather around His name the glory of the world, and multitudes will cry, “Hosannah to the Son of David;” but when the cross with its shame and rejection is presented, and the pilgrim staff, it is
“Away with Him, away with Him.”
The mourner must now retire into his secret chamber and breathe out His sorrow into the bosom of his Lord. He must stand aloof from all this sad mixture of the church and the world, well knowing that he will be judged as wanting in brotherly love, and uncharitably affected towards other Christians. He will not have his sorrows to seek; but the Lord knows it all, and he shall be comforted. The time is coming when he will enter into the joy of his Lord, and reap the fruit of his testimony for Him throughout eternity.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Every tear that has been shed, every sigh that has gone up to God, every groan that has been uttered in sympathy with a rejected Christ, are all treasured by Him as the memorials of His own grace working in us, and will surely be held in everlasting remembrance.
The Lord grant unto my dear reader, the true knowledge of Jesus, not only as Saviour and Lord, but as the Man of Sorrows, who went about doing good, though with the deep abiding sense of rejection in His tender, loving heart. May we enter with our whole heart into the sympathies and hopes of our blessed Lord as to this widespread scene of sin and sorrow, until He return to fill it with joy and gladness. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Thy sympathies and hopes are ours;
Blest Lord; we wait to see
Creation, all—below, above,
Redeemed and blessed by Thee.
Our longing eyes would fain behold
That bright and blessed brow,
Once wrung with bitterest anguish, wear
Its crown of glory now.
(Continued from Page 158).
(To be continued).