"Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest."
"Blessed are those who mourn--for they shall be
comforted." Matt. 5:4
This is a comprehensive Evangel in itself--good news for
the weary, a true Hospice for every heavy-laden pilgrim. The one word
"mourn" takes in the twofold burden of sin and sorrow--the double load
common to the children of humanity.
The beatitude is spoken by Him whose specially foretold
mission was to "comfort all that mourn" (Isa. 61:2). No wonder, therefore,
it has an early place in His teaching; that it is one of the first Hospices
whose gate He flings open with a "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
Is it sin--that burden which an old pilgrim
says is "too heavy for me"--the consciousness of shortcoming--sins of
omission, sins of commission; the treason of the will, the truant
affections, the memories of a blurred and blotted past? Cast this burden on
your Savior-God. His precious blood besprinkles the lintels and door-posts
of the Hospice. That covenant-token gives Him the right to bid you welcome.
The forgiveness of God in Christ is surely the most soothing of divine
gospel opiates. Owen tells us that when he was brought back from the gates
of death, the first text he preached from was this--"But there is
forgiveness with You that You may be feared."
Is it sorrow--the burden of affliction? Is
the word spoken to those enduring in its thousand shapes poverty, sickness,
bereavement? None so needing shelter and rest as these. But God's comforts,
like the stars of heaven, are brightest in a dark sky. As the sun requires
to set before the stellar glories of the skies are visible, so with the
soul. How many can testify, I never saw the surpassing comfort of the divine
promises until death, in the removal of brother, or sister, or child, left
my world without a sun!
"O joy that do you seek me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be."
It is doubtless this latter class--the afflicted--of whom
the words of our verse today are mainly spoken. And how often in strange
ways, in the case of such, do we find this beatitude of Christ realized and
exemplified--blessedness surrounding the weary and heavy-laden pilgrim, and
making him calm, restful, happy! It is one of the great compensations in the
Christian life, that the mourner and sufferer are most conscious of the
sweet drops that mingle in the bitter cup which their Father has prepared.
Call to remembrance, in the circle of your acquaintance, some child of
affliction--say of sickness and pain. Were not these the lips most lavish in
acknowledgment of God's goodness and love? You would naturally expect
otherwise--that the man who is seated luxuriously at life's banquet, and has
nothing apparently to break the trance of outward happiness--material
enjoyment--would be most profuse in his gratitude. How often is it the
reverse! How often he takes the gifts with thankless, it may be peevish
While, on the other hand, it is frequently they who
gather the scattered crumbs, and must be content with the cup of cold water,
who enjoy God's commonest mercies--a glimpse from their secluded couch of
the blue of summer sky, and breath of summer fragrance and gush of summer
song--these accepted as pledges and parables of diviner realities.
Thus does the gracious Rest-Giver fulfill the old
promises spoken of Himself by the evangelical prophet--"I will restore
comforts to him and to his mourners" (Isa. 57:18). "The Lord has
anointed Me to bind up the brokenhearted…to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit
of heaviness" (Isa. 61:1, 3). The valleys of Baca and the tents of Kedar are
thus often made musical with the songs of Paradise; the bed of languishing
becomes as the house of God and as the gate of heaven. One of Samuel
Rutherford's sayings, rendered into metre, beautiful alike for its imagery
and simplicity, is on many such lips–
"With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the depths of sorrow
Were lustered with his love."
"Blessed are those who mourn!"
Then remember, He who utters this balm-word is Himself
the King of sorrows, the Mourner of mourners. He knows, by the experience of
His own suffering humanity, every pang that rends the heart. He was
announced in the same great prophecy, hundreds of years before his
incarnation, as "the Burden-Bearer." It sounds more like a gospel statement
than a long antecedent prediction--"Surely he has borne our griefs and
carried our sorrows." Seeing that "He has suffered being
tempted," there is an elevating speciality surely for our sorrowing seasons
in the words emanating from His lips--"Come unto Me, and be comforted."
Lord Jesus, impart to me a true mourning for sin, a true
submission in trial. The storm-clouds may be gathering--they may have
gathered, as I am holding on my darksome way; but with this Hospice in
sight, I shall listen to Your own gracious invitation--"Come, my people,
enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you--hide yourself as it
were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast" (Isa. 26:20).
"Come unto Me, and rest,
You weary heart, distrest
With wasting toil, and strivings vain and endless;
Mourning from day to day
For blessings passed away;
Come unto Me; I will not leave you friendless.
"I watched your cisterns fail,
I saw you spent and pale,
With parched lips, and heart with anguish bursting,
When from the desert sod,
Your cry went up to God.
Come unto Me; I will not leave you thirsting."
"The days of your mourning shall be ended."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12