John Owen

CHRISTIAN THINKERS FROM previous centuries emphasized different aspects of the Christian life. It is safe, and immeasurably helpful, to go back and occasionally drink from their well.

Our church has been preaching through the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter five. Last week’s sermon discussed verse four, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Here are the thoughts of two important Puritan preachers on the subject of mourning. The first is John Owen (1616-83), graduate of Oxford, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and eventually vice-chancellor of Oxford.

“[God’s] delight is with the humble and contrite ones, those that tremble at his word, the mourners in Zion; and such are we only when we have a due sense of our own vile condition. This will beget reverence of God, a sense of our distance from him, admiration of his grace and condescension, a due valuation of mercy, far above those light, verbal, airy attainments, that some have boasted of.” (The Works of John Owen, Vol. 6, pg 257)

Jeremiah Burroughs

The second quote is from another Christian from Owen’s generation, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646). “They [Christians] look upon sin and tremble and they look upon sin and mourn.”  They “receive the promises that are in God’s Word…with trembling, that is, upon apprehension of the infinite distance that there is between God and it, and its own infinite unworthiness of the mercy that is reached out in the promise…This is the heart that is so precious in God’s eye and that God looks upon.” (Gospel Fear, Soli Deo Gloria, 1996). 

Each of us should ask God for a similar attitude. God promises to comfort it greatly.