Beside the Well
Over 400 years ago Jeremiah Burroughs did a lengthy study on the Beatitudes. The expose quarried out precious nuggets of truth that reveal a depth of thought rarely seen by the writers of today. One cannot miss the correlations as Burroughs’ observations are as pertinent to the current reader as they were to the hearers of old.
The division and upheaval caused by Brexit, the US presidential election, the UN and the instability of North Korea have created reactions that are openly revealing man’s sinful state. Burroughs challenges the Christian to not mourn only over his sin but also over the sins of others.
He says we are to mourn for them because it grieves us to see their sin and because in truth they are striking out at our Father. We should mourn because we see how they are hurting themselves and because sin increases evil in the world. We should also mourn because their sin is a visual reminder of the root of sin still in our own hearts. Instead of repelling us, the sins of others should create a spark in our hearts whereby we pray more earnestly and desire to give them the gospel—to pull them out of the fire.
The attitude with which we view the lost reveals what is in our hearts. Mourning for them, praying for them, caring about their eternity reveals our sincerity and belief in God’s longsuffering and willingness to save. We must be praying for them and reaching out with the truth. We need not have a condemning attitude. They are condemned already. Remember? Ours is a call to lift up Christ and draw men to Him.
Burroughs adds two more thoughts about why we should be mourning for the sins of others. It frees us from their guilt, and it makes us tools for healing. Then, he reminds the reader of these two promises: In the time of public calamity, those that mourn will be hidden (Jeremiah 15:11). And, our mourning will cease after their judgment is complete.
I don’t know what political upheaval was happening during the time of Burroughs, but his last eight reasons to mourn for others could have been written today.
We are to mourn for the great injustice in this world. Truth is fallen in the street. (Isaiah 59:11-15)
We are to mourn that Christ is no more embraced among us. Man will not have God to reign over him. (Romans 9:1-3)
We are to mourn because society is divided. A house divided cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)
We are to mourn because of the abuses of liberty. (Romans 1:28-32)
We are to mourn because a spirit of unthankfulness reigns. (2 Timothy 3:2)
We are to mourn for the scandals and stumbling blocks in politics and society that mar truth. (1 Timothy 2:1)
We are to mourn for good men who are guilty of miscarrying justice. (1 Timothy 2:2-4)
We are to mourn for a spirit of revenge and rebellion that is driving society—a spirit that cries out because it cannot have its way. (Judges 21:25)
Instead of just throwing up our hands and giving up, we might take one more thought home with us. Burroughs wrote over 400 years ago. His society survived. Ours may survive as well, but the outcome will most likely be proportionate to the number of prayer warriors who will mourn for sin and keep sinners before the throne.
Burroughs, Jeremiah, Burroughs on the Beatitudes, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 3505 5th Avenue, Beaver Falls, PA 15010, AD 1659, page 60-65.