The harlot in your bosom!

Taken and adapted from, “The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil”
Written by  Thomas Watson
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“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” –Hebrews 12:1

There is usually one sin that is the favorite…

…It is the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: “I kept myself from my iniquity.” (Psalm 18:23). “I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines.”

“Fight neither with small nor great — but only with the king.” (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.

Question:  How shall we know what our beloved sin is?

Answer 1.  The sin which a man does not love to have reproved…

…That is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin — it shall cost him his head! “Do not touch my Herodias!” Men can be content to have other sins reproved — but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin — their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!

Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most…

…That is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning — that is your predominant sin.

Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive…

…That is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it — but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins — but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.

Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by…

That is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven — he must part with it, to gratify that lust!

Answer 4. The sin which men most defend…

…That is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it — that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.

Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up…

…That is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, “This and that sin I have parted with — but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!” A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished — but when it comes to one sin — that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.

The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson’s strength lay in his hair — so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.

A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye — so that he may see better to go to Heaven.

The Holiness of God

Taken and adapted from, “A Body of Divinity”
Written by Thomas Watson (c.1620 – 1686)

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God is ‘Glorious in Holiness.’

Exodus 15:51.

Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of God’s crown; it is the name by which God is known. Psalms 111:1. ‘Holy and reverend is his name.’ He is ‘the holy One.’ Job 6:60. Seraphim cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.’ Isaiah 6:6. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God’s holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil. ‘Of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.’ Habakkuk 1:13.

I.    God is holy intrinsically. He is holy in his nature; his very being is made up of holiness, as light is of the essence of the sun. He is holy in his Word. The Word bears a stamp of his holiness upon it, as the wax bears an impression of the seal. ‘Thy Word is very pure.’ Psalms 119:940. It is compared to silver refined seven times. Psalms 12:2. Every line in the Word breathes sanctity, it encourages nothing but holiness. God is holy in his operations. All he does is holy; he cannot act but like himself; he can no more do an unrighteous action than the sun can darken. ‘The Lord is holy in all his works.’ Psalms 145:17.

II.    God is holy primarily. He is the original and pattern of holiness. Holiness began with him who is the Ancient of Days.

III. God is holy efficiently. He is the cause of all that is holiness in others. ‘Every good and perfect gift comes from above.’ James 1:17. He made the angels holy. He infused all holiness into Christ’s human nature. All the holiness we have is but a crystal stream from this fountain. We borrow all our holiness from God. As the lights of the sanctuary were lighted from the middle lamp, so all the holiness of others is a lamp lighted from heaven. ‘I am the Lord which sanctify you.’ Leviticus 20:8. God is not only a pattern of holiness, but he is a principle of holiness: his spring feeds all our cisterns, he drops his holy oil of grace upon us.

IV.    God is holy transcendently. ‘There is none holy as the Lord.’ I Sam 2:2. No angel in heaven can take the just dimensions of God’s holiness. The highest seraphim is too low of stature to measure these pyramids; holiness in God is far above holiness in saints or angels.

[1] It is above holiness in saints. It is a pure holiness. The saints, holiness is like gold in the ore, imperfect; their humility is stained with pride; he that has most faith needs pray, ‘Lord, help my unbelief:’ but the holiness of God is pure, like wine from the grape; it has not the least dash or tincture of impurity mixed with it. It is a more unchangeable holiness. Though the saints cannot lose the habit of holiness (for the seed of God remains), yet they may lose some degrees of their holiness. ‘Thou hast left thy first love.’ Revelation 2:2. Grace cannot die, yet the flame of it may go out.

Holiness in the saints is subject to ebbing, but holiness in God is unchangeable; he never lost a drop of his holiness; as he cannot have more holiness, because he is perfectly holy; so he cannot have less holiness, because he is unchangeably holy.

[2] The holiness of God is above the holiness of angels. Holiness in the angels is only a quality, which may be lost, as we see in the fallen angels; but holiness in God is his essence, he is all over holy, and he can as well lose his Godhead as his holiness. But is he not privy to all the sins of men? How can he behold their impurities, and not be defiled? God sees all the sins of men, but is no more defiled with them than the sun is defiled with the vapors that rise from the earth. God sees sin, not as a patron to approve it, but as a judge to punish it.

Use one: Is God so infinitely holy? Then see how unlike to God sin is. Sin is an unclean thing, it is hyperbolically evil. Romans 1:13. It is called an abomination. Deuteronomy 7:75. God has no mixture of evil in him; sin has no mixture of good, it is the spirit and quintessence of evil, it turns good into evil; it has deflowered the virgin soul, made it red with guilt, and black with filth; it is called the accursed thing. Josh 7:71. No wonder, therefore, that God hates sin, being so unlike to him, nay, so contrary to him: it strikes at his holiness; it does all it can to spite God; if sin could help it, God should be God no longer.

Use two: Is God the Holy One, and is holiness his glory? How impious are they that are haters of holiness! As the vulture hates perfumes, so they hate the sweet perfume of holiness in the saints; their hearts rise against holiness; as a man’s stomach at a dish he has an antipathy against. There is not a greater sign of a person devoted to hell, than to hate one for the thing wherein he is most like God. Others are despisers of holiness. They despise the glory of the Godhead. ‘Glorious in holiness.’ The despising holiness is seen in deriding it; and is it not sad that men should deride that which should save them? Sure that patient will die who derides the physic. Deriding the grace of the Spirit comes near to despising the Spirit of grace. Scoffing Ishmael was cast out of Abraham’s house. Genesis 21:1. Such as scoff at holiness shall be cast out of heaven.

Use three: Is God so infinitely holy? Then let us endeavor to imitate God in holiness. ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.’ I Pet 1:16. There is a twofold holiness; a holiness of equality, and a holiness of similitude. A holiness of equality no man or angel can reach to. Who can be equally holy with God? Who can parallel him in sanctity? But there is a holiness of similitude, and that we must aspire after, to have some analogy and resemblance of God’s holiness in us, to be as like him in holiness as we can. Though a taper does not give so much light as the sun, yet it resembles it. We must imitate God in holiness.

If we must be like God in holiness, wherein does our holiness consist?

In two things. In our suitableness to God’s nature, and in our subjection to his will. Our holiness consists in our suitableness to the nature of God. Hence the saints are said to partake of the divine nature, which is not partaking of his essence, but his image. 2 Peter 1:1. Herein is the saints’ holiness, when they are the lively pictures of God. They bear the image of God’s meekness, mercifulness, heavenliness; they are of the same judgement with God, of the same disposition; they love what he loves, and hate what he hates.

Our holiness consists also in our subjection to the will of God. As God’s nature is the pattern of holiness, so his will is the rule of holiness. It is our holiness when we do his will, Acts 13:32; when we bear his will, Micah 7:7; when what he inflicts wisely we suffer willingly. Our great care should be, to be like God in holiness. Our holiness should be qualified as God’s; as his is a real holiness, so ours should be ‘Righteousness and true holiness.’ Ephesians 4:44.

Our holiness should not be the paint of holiness, but the life; it should not be like the Egyptian temples, beautified without merely, but like Solomon’s temple, gold within, Psalms 45:13. ‘The king’s daughter is all glorious within.’ That I may press you to resemble God in holiness consider,

(I.) How illustrious every holy person is. He is a fair glass in which some of the beams of God’s holiness shine forth. We read that Aaron put on his garments for glory and beauty. Exodus 28:8. When we wear the embroidered garment of holiness, it is for glory and beauty. A good Christian is ruddy, being sprinkled with Christ’s blood; and white, being adorned with holiness. As the diamond to a ring, so is holiness to the soul; that, as Chrysostom says, they that oppose it cannot but admire it.

(2.) It is the great design God carries on in the world, to make a people like himself in holiness. What are all the showers of ordinances for, but to rain down righteousness upon us, and make us holy? What are the promises for, but to encourage holiness? What is the sending of the Spirit into the world for, but to anoint us with the holy unction? I John 2:20. What are all afflictions for, but to make us partakers of God’s holiness? Hebrews 12:20. What are mercies for, but loadstones to draw us to holiness? What is the end of Christ’s dying, but that his blood might wash away our unholiness? ‘Who gave himself for us, to purify unto himself a peculiar people.’ Titus 2:14. So that if we are not holy, we cross God’s great design in the world.

(3.) Our holiness draws God’s heart to us. Holiness is God’s image; and God cannot choose but love his image where he sees it. A king loves to see his effigies upon a piece of coin. ‘Thou lovest righteousness.’ Psalms 45:5. And where does righteousness grow, but in a holy heart? Isaiah 62:2. ‘Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee.’ It was her holiness that drew God’s love to her. ‘They shall call them the holy people.’ Verse 12. God values not any by their high birth, but their holiness.

(4.) Holiness is the only thing that distinguishes us from the reprobate part of the world. God’s people have his seal upon them. ‘The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his. And let all that name the name of Christ depart from iniquity. ‘2 Timothy 2:19. The people of God are sealed with a double seal. Election, ‘The Lord knows who are his:’ and Sanctification, ‘Let everyone depart from iniquity.’ As a nobleman is distinguished from another by his silver star; as a virtuous woman is distinguished from a harlot by her chastity; so holiness distinguishes between the two seeds. All that are of God have Christ for their captain, and holiness is the white color they wear. Hebrews 2:20.

(5.) Holiness is our honor. Holiness and honor are put together. I Thessalonians 4:4. Dignity goes along with sanctification. ‘He has washed us from our sins in his blood, and has made us kings unto God.’ Revelation 1:1. When we are washed and made holy, then we are kings and priests to God. The saints are called vessels of honor; they are called jewels, for the sparkling of their holiness, because filled with wine of the Spirit. This makes them earthly angels.

(6.) Holiness gives us boldness with God. ‘Thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.’ Job 22:23, 26. Lifting up the face is an emblem of boldness. Nothing can make us so ashamed to go to God as sin. A wicked man in prayer may lift up his hands, but he cannot lift up his face. When Adam had lost his holiness, he lost his confidence; he hid himself. But the holy person goes to God as a child to its father; his conscience does not upbraid him with allowing any sin, therefore he can go boldly to the throne of grace, and have mercy to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.

(7.) Holiness gives peace. Sin raises a storm in the conscience; ubi peccatum ibi procella [where there is sin, there is tumult]. ‘There is no peace to the wicked.’ Isaiah 57:21. Righteousness and peace are put together. Holiness is the root which bears this sweet fruit of peace; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

(8.) Holiness leads to heaven. It is the King of heaven’s highway. ‘An highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness.’ Isaiah 35:5. At Rome there were temples of virtue and honor, and all were to go through the temple of virtue to the temple of honor; so we must go through the temple of holiness to the temple of heaven. Glory begins in virtue. ‘Who has called us to glory and virtue.’ 2 Peter 1:1. Happiness is nothing else but the quintessence of holiness; holiness is glory militant, and happiness holiness triumphant.

What shall we do to resemble God in holiness?

(1.) Have recourse to Christ’s blood by faith. This is lavacrum animae [the washing of the soul]. Legal purifications were types and emblems of it. I John 1:1. The Word is a glass to show us our spots, and Christ’s blood is a fountain to wash them away.

(2.) Pray for a holy heart. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.’ Psalms 51:10. Lay thy heart before the Lord, and say, Lord, my heart is full of leprosy; it defiles all it touches; Lord, I am not fit to live with such a heart, for I cannot honor thee; nor die with such a heart, for I cannot see thee. Oh create in me a clean heart; send thy Spirit into me, to refine and purify me, that I may be a temple fit for thee the holy God to inhabit.

(3.) Walk with them that are holy. ‘He that walketh with the wise shall be wise.’ Proverbs 13:30. Be among the spices and you will smell of them. Association begets assimilation. Nothing has a greater power and energy to effect holiness than the communion of saints.

What is it to glorify God?

Taken and adapted by,  A Body of Divinity”
Written by,  Thomas Watson

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What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things: 1: Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection.

I.    Appreciation. To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of him. Psalms 92:2. ‘Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore.’ Psalms 97:7. ‘Thou art exalted far above all gods.’ There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prima causa, the original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers.’ Psalms 8:8. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

II.    Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psalms 29:9. ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.’ There is a twofold worship

1    A civil reverence which we give to persons of honor. Genesis 23:3. ‘Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth.’ Piety is no enemy to courtesy.

2   A divine worship which we give to God as his royal prerogative. Nehemiah 8:8. ‘They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground.’ This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire. Leviticus 10:0: The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, ‘according to the pattern in the mount.’ Exodus 25:50. He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here everything must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

3     Affection. This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved. Deuteronomy 6:6. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.’ There is a twofold love:

A    Amor concupiscentiae, a love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God.

B   Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. Song of Soloon 8:8. ‘I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.’ If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ must drink of it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was amore perculsa, in fainting fits, ‘sick of love.’ Song of Solomon 2:2. Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

4    Subjection. This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore, they are represented by the cherubim with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh. Matt 2:2: So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we stick at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy, and say to him as David to King Saul, ‘Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’ I Samuel 17:72.

A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God, has not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience.

Why must we glorify God?

1    Because he gives us our being. Psalms 100:3. ‘It is he that made us.’ We think it a great kindness in a man to spare our life, but what kindness is it in God to give us our life! We draw our breath from him; and as life, so all the comforts of life are from him. He gives us health, which is the sauce to sweeten our life; and food, which is the oil that nourishes the lamp of life. If all we receive is from his bounty, is it not reasonable we should glorify him? Should we not live to him, seeing we live by him? Romans 11:16. ‘For of him, and through him, are all things.’ All we have is of his fullness, all we have is through his free grace; and therefore to him should be all. It follows, therefore, ‘To him be glory forever.’ God is not our benefactor only, but our founder, as rivers that come from the sea empty their silver streams into the sea again.

2   Because God has made all things for his own glory. Proverbs 16:6. ‘The Lord has made all things for himself:’ that is, ‘for his glory.’ As a king has excise out of commodities, so God will have glory out of everything. He will have glory out of the wicked. If they will not give him glory, he will get glory upon them. Exodus 14:17. ‘I will get me honor upon Pharaoh.’ But especially has he made the godly for his glory; they are the lively organs of his praise. Isaiah 43: 21. ‘This people have I formed for myself, and they shall shew forth my praise.’ It is true, they cannot add to his glory, but they may exalt it; they cannot raise him in heaven, but they may raise him in the esteem of others here. God has adopted the saints into his family, and made them a royal priesthood, that they should show forth the praise of him who has called them. I Peter 2:2.

3    Because the glory of God has intrinsic value and excellence; it transcends the thoughts of men, and the tongues of angels. His glory is his treasure, all his riches lie here; as Micah said. Judges 18:84. ‘What have I more?’ So, what has God more? God’s glory is more worth than heaven, and more worth than the salvation of all men’s souls. Better kingdoms be thrown down, better men and angels be annihilated, than God should lose one jewel of his crown, one beam of his glory.

4    Creatures below us, and above us, bring glory to God; and do we think to sit rent free? Shall everything glorify God but man? It is a pity then that man was ever made.

A   Creatures below us glorify God, the inanimate creatures and the heavens glorify God. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God.’ Psalms 19:9: The curious workmanship of heaven sets forth the glory of its Maker; the firmament is beautified and penciled out in blue and azure colors, where the power and wisdom of God may be clearly seen. ‘The heavens declare his glory, we may see the glory of God blazing in the sun, and twinkling in the stars. Look into the air, the birds, with their chirping music, sing hymns of praise to God. Every beast in its kind glorifies God. Isaiah 43:30. ‘The beast of the field shall honor me.’

B    Creatures above us glorify God: ‘the angels are ministering spirits.’ Hebrews 1:14. They are still waiting on God’s throne, and bring some revenues of glory into the exchequer of heaven. Surely man should be much more studious of God’s glory than the angels; for God has honored him more than the angels, in that Christ took man’s nature upon him, and not the angels, Though, in regard of creation, God made man ‘a little lower than the angels,’ Hebrews 2:2, yet in regard of redemption, God has set him higher than the angels. He has married mankind to himself; the angels are Christ’s friends, not his spouse. He has covered us with the purple robe of righteousness, which is a better righteousness than the angels have. 2 Corinthians 5:5. If then the angels bring glory to God, much more should we, being dignified with honor above angelic spirits.

5     We must bring glory to God, because all our hopes hang upon him. Psalms 39:9. ‘My hope is in thee.’ And Psalms 62:2. ‘My expectation is from him;’ I expect a kingdom from him. A child that is good-natured will honor his parent, by expecting all he needs from him. Psalms 87:7. ‘All my springs are in thee.’ The silver springs of grace, and the golden springs of glory are in him.

In how many ways may we glorify God?

1    It is glorifying God when we aim purely at his glory. It is one thing to advance God’s glory, another thing to aim at it. God must be the Terminus ad quem, the ultimate end of all actions. Thus Christ, John 8:80, ’I seek not mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me.’ A hypocrite has a squint eye, for he looks more to his own glory than God’s. Our Savior deciphers such, and gives a caveat against them in Matthew 6: 2, ‘When thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet.’ A stranger would ask, ‘What means the noise of this trumpet?’ It was answered, ‘They are going to give to the poor.’ And so they did not give alms, but sell them for honor and applause, that they might have glory of men; the breath of men was the wind that blew the sails of their charity; ‘verily they have their reward.’ The hypocrite may make his acquittance [letter of receipt] and write, ‘received in full payment.’

Chrysostom calls vain-glory one of the devil’s great nets to catch men. And Cyprian says, ‘Whom Satan cannot prevail against by intemperance, those he prevails against by pride and vainglory.’ Oh let us take heed of self-worshipping! Aim purely at God’s glory. We do this,

2    When we prefer God’s glory above all other things; above credit, estate, relations; when the glory of God coming in competition with them, we prefer his glory before them. If relations lie in our way to heaven, we must either leap over them, or tread upon them. A child must un-child himself, and forget he is a child; he must know neither father nor mother in God’s cause. Deuteronomy 33:3. ‘Who said unto his father and mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren.’

This is to aim at God’s glory.

3    We aim at God’s glory, when we are content that God’s will should take place, though it may cross ours. Lord, I am content to be a loser, if thou be a gainer; to have less health, if I have more grace, and thou more glory. Let it be food or bitter physic if thou givest it me. Lord, I desire that which may be most for thy glory. Our blessed Savior said, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ Matthew 26:69. If God might have more glory by his sufferings, he was content to suffer. John 12:28.

‘Father, glorify thy name.’

4   We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased. A man that has God in his heart, and God’s glory in his eye, desires that God should be exalted; and if this be effected, let who will be the instrument, he rejoices. Philippians 1:15. ‘Some preach Christ of envy: notwithstanding, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice’; they preached Christ of envy, they envied Paul that concourse of people, and they preached that they might outshine him in gifts, and get away some of his hearers: well, says Paul, Christ is preached, and God is like to have the glory, therefore I rejoice; let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may but shine.

5     We glorify God by an ingenuous confession of sin. The thief on the cross had dishonored God in his life, but at his death he brought glory to God by confession of sin. Luke 23:3I. ‘We indeed suffer justly.’ He acknowledged he deserved not only crucifixion, but damnation. Joshua 7:19. ‘My son, give, I pray thee, glory to God, and make confession unto him.’ A humble confession exalts God. How is God’s free grace magnified in crowning those who deserve to be condemned!

The excusing and mincing of sin casts a reproach upon God.

Adam denied not that he tasted the forbidden fruit, but, instead of a full confession, he taxed God. Genesis 3:32. ‘The woman whom thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat;’ if thou hadst not given me the woman to be a tempter, I had not sinned. Confession glorifies God, because it clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does. Nehemiah vindicates God’s righteousness; chap 9:93. ‘Thou art just in all that is brought upon us.’ A confession is ingenuous when it is free, not forced. Luke 15:58. ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee.’ The prodigal charged himself with sin before his father charged him with it.

1     We glorify God by believing. Romans 4:40. ‘Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God.’  Unbelief affronts God, it gives him the lie; ‘he that believes not, makes God a liar.’ I John 5:50. But faith brings glory to God; it sets to its seal that God is true. John 3:33. He that believes flies to God’s mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge; he engarrisons himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God. Psalms 31:1. ‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit.’ This is a great way of bringing glory to God, and God honors faith, because faith honors him. It is a great honor we do to a man when we trust him with all we have, when we put our lives and estates into his hand; it is a sign we have a good opinion of him. The three children glorified God by believing. ‘The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and will deliver us.’ Daniel 3:17. Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot trace him.

2    We glorify God, by being tender of his glory. God’s glory is dear to him as the apple of his eye. An ingenuous child weeps to see a disgrace done to his father. Psalms 69:9. ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.’ When we hear God reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God’s glory suffers, it is as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God’s glory.

3    We glorify God by fruitfulness. John 15:5. ‘Hereby is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.’ As it is dishonoring God to be barren, so fruitfulness honors him. Philippians 1:1: ‘Filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise of his glory.’ We must not be like the fig tree in the gospel, which had nothing but leaves, but like the pomecitron [A citron apple], that is continually either mellowing or blossoming, and is never without fruit. It is not profession, but fruit that glorifies God. God expects to have his glory from us in this way. I Corinthians 9: 7. ‘Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it?’ Trees in the forest may be barren, but trees in the garden are fruitful. We must bring forth the fruits of love and good works. Matt 5:16. ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ Faith sanctifies our works, and works testify our faith; to be doing good to others, to be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, much glorifies God. Thus Christ glorified his Father; ‘he went about doing good.’ Acts 10:08.

By being fruitful, we are fair in God’s eyes. Jeremiah 11:16. ‘The Lord called thy name a green olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit.’ And we must bear much fruit; it is muchness of fruit that glorifies God: ‘if ye bear much fruit.’ The spouse’s breasts are compared to clusters of grapes, to show how fertile she was. Song of Solomon 7:7. Though the lowest degree of grace may bring salvation to you, yet it will not bring much glory to God. It was not a spark of love Christ commended in Mary, but much love; ‘she loved much.’ Luke 7:77.

4    We glorify God, by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out to us. Thus Paul glorified God. The Lord cast him into as great variety of conditions as any man, ‘in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft,’ 2 Corinthians 11:13, yet he had learned to be content. Paul could sail either in a storm or a calm; he could be anything that God would have him; he could either want or abound. Phil 4:13. A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore, I will sit down satisfied with my condition. Surely this glorifies God much; God counts himself much honored by such a Christian. Here, says God, is one after mine own heart; let me do what I will with him, I hear no murmuring, he is content. This shows abundance of grace.

When grace is crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing indeed.

For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is like a Christian. This man must needs bring glory to God; for he shows to all the world, that though he has little meal in his barrel, yet he has enough in God to make him content: he says, as David, Psalms 16: 5,’The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance; the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.’

5     We glorify God by working out our own salvation. God has twisted together his glory and our good. We glorify him by promoting our own salvation. It is a glory to God to have multitudes of converts; now, his design of free grace takes, and God has the glory of his mercy; so that, while we are endeavoring our salvation, we are honoring God. What an encouragement is this to the service of God, to think, while I am hearing and praying, I am glorifying God; while I am furthering my own glory in heaven, I am increasing God’s glory. Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, You will honor and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away? So, for God to say, “Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified.”

6    We glorify God by living to God. 2 Corinthians 5:55. ‘That they which live should not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them.’ Rom 14:4. ‘Whether we live, we live unto the Lord.’ The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly; the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust, but we glorify God when we live to God. We live to God when we live to his service, and lay ourselves out wholly for God. The Lord has sent us into the world, as a merchant sends his factor beyond the seas to trade for him.

We live to God when we trade for his interest, and propagate his gospel.

God has given every man a talent; and when a man does not hide it in a napkin, but improves it for God, he lives to God. When a master in a family, by counsel and good example, labors to bring his servants to Christ; when a minister spends himself, and is spent, that he may win souls to Christ, and make the crown flourish upon Christ’s head; when the magistrate does not wear the sword in vain, but labors to cut down sin, and to suppress vice; this is to live to God, and this is glorifying God. Philippians 1:10. ‘That Christ might be magnified, whether by life or by death.’

Three wishes Paul had, and they were all about Christ; that he might be found in Christ, be with Christ, and magnify Christ.

7    We glorify God by walking cheerfully. It brings glory to God, when the world sees a Christian has that within him that can make him cheerful in the worst times; that can enable him, with the nightingale, to sing with a thorn at his breast. The people of God have ground for cheerfulness.

They are justified and adopted, and this creates inward peace; it makes music within, whatever storms are without. 2 Corinthians 1:1. I Thessalonians 1:1. If we consider what Christ has wrought for us by his blood, and wrought in us by his Spirit, it is a ground of great cheerfulness, and this cheerfulness glorifies God. It reflects upon a master when the servant is always drooping and sad; sure he is kept to hard commons, his master does not give him what is fitting; so, when God’s people hang their heads, it looks as if they did not serve a good master, or repented of their choice, which reflects dishonor on God. As the gross sins of the wicked bring a scandal on the gospel, so do the uncheerful lives of the godly. Ps 100:2. ‘Serve the Lord with gladness.’ Your serving him does not glorify him, unless it be with gladness. A Christian’s cheerful looks glorify God; religion does not take away our joy, but refines it; it does not break our viol, but tunes it, and makes the music sweeter.

8     We glorify God, by standing up for his truths. Much of God’s glory lies in his truth. God has entrusted us with his truth, as a master entrusts his servant with his purse to keep. We have not a richer jewel to trust God with than our souls, nor has God a richer jewel to trust us with than his truth. Truth is a beam that shines from God. Much of his glory lies in his truth. When we are advocates for truth we glorify God. Jude 3. ‘That ye should contend earnestly for the truth.’ The Greek word to contend signifies great contending, as one would contend for his land, and not suffer his right to be taken from him; so we should contend for the truth. Were there more of this holy contention God would have more glory. Some contend earnestly for trifles and ceremonies, but not for the truth. We should count him indiscreet that would contend more for a picture than for his inheritance; for a box of counters than for his box of title deeds.

9   We glorify God, by praising him. Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work. Psalms 1:23. ‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.’ The Hebrew word Bara, to create, and Barak, to praise, are little different, because the end of creation is to praise God. David was called the sweet singer of Israel, and his praising God was called glorifying God. Psalms 86:12. ‘I will praise thee, O Lord my God, and I will glorify thy name.’ Though nothing can add to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others. When we praise God, we spread his fame and renown, we display the trophies of his excellency. In this manner the angels glorify him; they are the choristers of heaven, and do trumpet forth his praise. Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion.

In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels.

Believers are called ‘temples of God.’ I Corinthians 3:16. When our tongues praise, then the organs in God’s spiritual temple are sounding. How sad is it that God has no more glory from us in this way! Many are full of murmuring and discontent, but seldom bring glory to God, by giving him the praise due to his name. We read of the saints having harps in their hands, the emblems of praise. Many have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouth, but few have harps in their hand, blessing and glorifying God. Let us honor God this way. Praise is the quit-rent we pay to God: while God renews our lease, we must renew our rent.

1    We glorify God, by being zealous for his name. Numbers 25:5: ‘Phinehas has turned my wrath away, while he was zealous for my sake.’ Zeal is a mixed affection, a compound of love and anger; it carries forth our love to God, and our anger against sin in an intense degree. Zeal is impatient of God’s dishonor; a Christian fired with zeal, takes a dishonor done to God worse than an injury done to himself. Revelation 2:2. ‘Thou canst not bear them that are evil.’ Our Savior Christ thus glorified his Father; he, being baptized with a spirit of zeal, drove the money-changers out of the temple. John 2:14-17. ‘The zeal of thine house has eaten me up.

2   We glorify God, when we have an eye to God in our natural and in our civil actions. In our natural actions; in eating and drinking. I Cor 10:0I. ‘Whether therefore ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.’ A gracious person holds the golden bridle of temperance; he takes his meat as a medicine to heal the decays of nature, that he may be the fitter, by the strength he receives, for the service of God; he makes his food, not fuel for lust, but help to duty. In buying and selling, we do all to the glory of God. The wicked live upon unjust gain, by falsifying the balances, as in Hosea 12:2. ‘The balances of deceit are in his hands;’ and thus while men make their weights lighter, they make their sins heavier, when by exacting more than the commodity is worth, they do not for fourscore write down fifty, but for fifty four-score; when they exact double the price that a thing is worth. We buy and sell to the glory of God, when we observe that golden maxim, ‘To do to others as we would have them do to us;’ so that when we sell our commodities, we do not sell our consciences also. Acts 24:16. ‘Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men.’ We glorify God, when we have an eye to God in all our civil and natural actions, and do nothing that may reflect any blemish on religion.

3   We glorify God by laboring to draw others to God; by seeking to convert others, and so make them instruments of glorifying God. We should be both diamonds and loadstones; diamonds for the lustre of grace, and loadstones for attractive virtue in drawing others to Christ. Galatians 4:19. ‘My little children, of whom I travail,’ It is a great way of glorifying God, when we break open the devil’s prison, and turn men from the power of Satan to God.

4   We glorify God in a high degree when we suffer for God, and seal the gospel with our blood. John 21:18, 19. ‘When thou shalt be old, another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou would not: this spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.’ God’s glory shines in the ashes of his martyrs. Isaiah 24:15. ‘Wherefore glorify the Lord in the fires.’ Micaiah was in the prison, Isaiah was sawn asunder, Paul beheaded, Luke hanged on an olive tree; thus did they, by their death, glorify God. The sufferings of the primitive saints did honor to God, and made the gospel famous in the world. What would others say? See what a good master they serve, and how they love him, that they will venture the loss of all in his service. The glory of Christ’s kingdom does not stand in worldly pomp and grandeur, as other kings’; but it is seen in the cheerful sufferings of his people. The saints of old ‘loved not their lives to the death.’ Revelations 12:2: They embraced torments as so many crowns. God grant we may thus glorify him, if he calls us to it. Many pray, ‘Let this cup pass away,’ but few, ‘Thy will be done.’

5    We glorify God, when we give God the glory of all that we do. When Herod had made an oration, and the people gave a shout, saying, ‘It is the voice of a God, and not of a man,’ he took the glory to himself; the text says, ‘Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory, and he was eaten of worms.’ Acts 12:23. We glorify God, when we sacrifice the praise and glory of all to God. I Corinthians 15:50. ‘I labored more abundantly than they all,’ a speech, one would think, savored of pride; but the apostle pulls the crown from his own head, and sets it upon the head of free grace: ‘yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ As Joab, when he fought against Rabbah, sent for King David, that he might carry away the crown of the victory, 2 Samuel 12:28, so a Christian, when he has gotten power over any corruption or temptation, sends for Christ, that he may carry away the crown of the victory. As the silkworm, when she weaves her curious work, hides herself under the silk, and is not seen; so when we have done anything praiseworthy, we must hide ourselves under the veil of humility, and transfer the glory of all we have done to God. As Constantine used to write the name of Christ over his door, so should we write the name of Christ over our duties. Let him wear the garland of praise.

6   We glorify God by a holy life. A bad life dishonors God. I Peter 2:2. ‘Ye are an holy nation, that ye should shew forth the praises of him that has called you.’ Romans 2:24. ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.’ Epiphanius says, ‘That the looseness of some Christians in his time made many of the heathens shun their company, and would not be drawn to hear their sermons.’ By our exact Bible-conversation we glorify God. Though the main work of religion lies in the heart, yet our light must so shine that others may behold it.

The safety of a building is the foundation, but the glory of it is in the frontispiece; so the beauty of faith is in the conversation.

When the saints, who are called jewels, cast a sparkling luster of holiness in the eyes of the world, then they ‘walk as Christ walked.’ I John 2:6. When they live as if they had seen the Lord with bodily eyes, and been with him upon the mount, they adorn religion, and bring revenues of glory to the crown of heaven.

How the evil of affliction works to the good of the godly.

Taken and adapted from, “A Divine Cordial”
Written by, Thomas Watson.

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“We know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – ROMANS 8:28.

CHRISTIAN READER,

There are two things, which I have always looked upon as difficult. The one is, to make the wicked sad; the other is, to make the godly joyful. Dejection in the godly arises from a double spring; either because their inward comforts are darkened, or their outward comforts are disturbed. To cure both these troubles, I have put forth this ensuing piece, hoping, by the blessing of God, it will buoy up their desponding hearts, and make them look with a more pleasant aspect. I would prescribe them to take, now and then, a little of this Cordial; ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD. To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that ALL things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.

IF the whole Scripture be the feast of the soul, as Ambrose said, then Romans 8 may be a dish at that feast, and with its sweet variety may very much refresh and animate the hearts of God’s people. In the preceding verses the apostle had been wading through the great doctrines of justification and adoption, mysteries so arduous and profound, that without the help and conduct of the Spirit, he might soon have waded beyond his depth. In this verse the apostle touches upon that pleasant string of consolation, “WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD, TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD.” Not a word but is weighty; therefore I shall gather up every filing of this gold, that nothing be lost.

In the text there are three general branches.

First, a glorious privilege. All things work for good.
Second, the persons interested in this privilege. They are doubly specified. They are lovers of God, they are called.

Third, the origin and spring of this effectual calling, set down in these words, “according to his purpose.”

First, the glorious privilege. Here are two things to be considered.

1. The certainty of the privilege — “We know.”
2. The excellency of the privilege — “All things work together for good.”

1. The certainty of the privilege: “We know.”

It is not a matter wavering or doubtful. The apostle does not say, We hope, or conjecture, but it is like an article in our creed, We KNOW that all things work for good. Hence observe that the truths of the gospel are evident and infallible.

A Christian may come not merely to a vague opinion, but to a certainty of what he holds. As axioms and aphorisms are evident to reason, so the truths of religion are evident to faith. “We know,” says the apostle. Though a Christian has not a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel, yet he has a certain knowledge. “We see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13: 12), therefore we have not perfection of knowledge; but “we behold with open face” (2 Cor. 3: 18), therefore we have certainty. The Spirit of God imprints heavenly truths upon the heart, as with the point of a diamond. A Christian may know infallibly that there is an evil in sin, and a beauty in holiness. He may know that he is in the state of grace. “We know that we have passed from death to life” (I John 3:14).

He may know that he shall go to heaven. “We know that if our earthly tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). The Lord does not leave His people at uncertainties in matters of salvation. The apostle says, We know. We have arrived at a holy confidence. We have both the Spirit of God, and our own experience, setting seal to it.

Let us then not rest in skepticism or doubts, but labor to come to a certainty in the things of religion. As that martyr-woman said. “I cannot dispute for Christ, but I can burn for Christ.” God knows whether we may be called forth to be witnesses to His truth; therefore it concerns us to be well grounded and confirmed in it. If we are doubting Christians, we shall be wavering Christians. Whence is apostasy, but from incredulity? Men first question the truth, and then fall from the truth. Oh, beg the Spirit of God, not only to anoint you, but to seal you (2 Cor. 1: 22).

2. The excellency of the privilege, “All things work together for good.”

This is as Jacob’s staff in the hand of faith, with which we may walk cheerfully to the mount of God. What will satisfy or make us content, if this will not? All things work together for good. This expression “work together” refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God’s providences being divinely tempered and sanctified, do work together for the best to the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that everything in the world shall be for his good. This is a Christian’s cordial, which may warm him — make him like Jonathan who, when he had tasted the honey at the end of the rod, “his eyes were enlightened” (1 Sam. 14:27). Why should a Christian destroy himself? Why should he kill himself with care, when all things shall sweetly concur, yea, conspire for his good? The result of the text is this. ALL THE VARIOUS DEALINGS OF GOD WITH HIS CHILDREN, DO BY A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE TURN TO THEIR GOOD. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant (Psalm 25:10). If every path has mercy in it, then it works for good.

It is one heart-quieting consideration in all the afflictions that befall us, that God has a special hand in them: “The Almighty hath afflicted me” (Ruth 1:21). Instruments can no more stir till God gives them a commission, than the axe can cut of itself without a hand. Job eyed God in his affliction: therefore, as Augustine observes, he does not say, “The Lord gave, and the devil took away,” but, “The Lord hath taken away.” Whoever brings an affliction to us, it is God that sends it.

Another heart-quieting consideration is, that afflictions work for good. “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for their good” (Jer. 24:5). Judah’s captivity in Babylon was for their good. “It is good for me that l have been afflicted” (Psalm 119:71). This text, like Moses’ tree cast into the bitter waters of affliction, may make them sweet and wholesome to drink. Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs God extracts our salvation. Afflictions are as needful as ordinances (1 Peter 1:6). No vessel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honor, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth” (Psalm 25:10). As the painter intermixes bright colors with dark shadows; so the wise God mixes mercy with judgment. Those afflictive providences which seem to be prejudicial, are beneficial. Let us take some instances in Scripture.

Joseph’s brethren throw him into a pit; afterwards they sell him; then he is cast into prison; yet all this did work for his good. His abasement made way for his advancement, he was made the second man in the kingdom. “Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 1:20). Jacob wrestled with the angel, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint. This was sad; but God turned it to good, for there he saw God’s face, and there the Lord blessed him. “Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for 1 have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:30). Who would not be willing to have a bone out of joint, so that he might have a sight of God?

King Manasseh was bound in chains. This was sad to see — a crown of gold changed into fetters; but it wrought for his good, for, “When he was in affliction he besought the Lord, and humbled himself greatly, and the Lord was entreated of him” (2 Chron. 33:11, 12). He was more beholden to his iron chain, than to his golden crown; the one made him proud, the other made him humble.

Job was a spectacle of misery; he lost all that ever he had he abounded only in boils and ulcers. This was sad; but it wrought for his good, his grace was proved and improved. God gave a testimony from heaven of his integrity, and did compensate his loss by giving him twice as much as ever he had before (Job 42:10).

Paul was smitten with blindness. This was uncomfortable, but it turned to his good. God did by that blindness make way for the light of grace to shine into his soul; it was the beginning of a happy conversion (Acts 9:6).

As the hard frosts in winter bring on the flowers in the spring, as the night ushers in the morning-star: so the evils of affliction produce much good to those that love God. But we are ready to question the truth of this, and say, as Mary did to the angel, “How can this be?”

Therefore I shall show you several ways how affliction works for good.

(1). Affliction is our preacher and tutor? “Hear ye the rod” (Micah 6: 9). Luther said that he could never rightly understand some of the Psalms, till he was in affliction. Affliction teaches what sin is. In the word preached, we hear what a dreadful thing sin is, that it is both defiling and damning, but we fear it no more than a painted lion; therefore God lets loose affliction, and then we feel sin bitter in the fruit of it. A sick-bed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves. God makes us know affliction, that we may better know ourselves. We see that corruption in our hearts in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there. Water in the glass looks clear, but set it on the fire, and the scum boils up. In prosperity, a man seems to be humble and thankful, the water looks clear; but set this man a little on the fire of affliction, and the scum boils up — much impatience and unbelief appear. “Oh,” says a Christian, “I never thought I had such a bad heart, as now I see I have; I never thought my corruptions had been so strong, and my graces so weak.”

(2). Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making the heart more upright. In prosperity the heart is apt to be divided (Hosea 10:2). The heart cleaves partly to God, and partly to the world. It is like a needle between two loadstones; God draws, and the world draws. Now God takes away the world, that the heart may cleave more to Him in sincerity. Correction is a setting the heart right and straight. As we sometimes hold a crooked rod over the fire to straighten it; so God holds us over the fire of affliction to make us more straight and upright. Oh, how good it is, when sin has bent the soul awry from God, that affliction should straighten it again!

(3). Afflictions work for good, as they conform us to Christ. God’s rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more lively upon us. It is good that there should be symmetry and proportion between the Head and the members. Would we be parts of Christ’s mystical body, and not like Him? His life, as Calvin says, was a series of sufferings, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53: 3). He wept, and bled. Was His head crowned with thorns, and do we think to be crowned with roses? It is good to be like Christ, though it be by sufferings. Jesus Christ drank a bitter cup, it made Him sweat drops of blood to think of it; and, though it be true He drank the poison in the cup (the wrath of God) yet there is some wormwood in the cup left, which the saints must drink: only here is the difference between Christ’s sufferings and ours; His were satisfactory, ours are only castigatory.

(4). Afflictions work for good to the godly, as they are destructive to sin. Sin is the mother, affliction is the daughter; the daughter helps to destroy the mother. Sin is like the tree that breeds the worm, and affliction is like the worm that eats the tree. There is much corruption in the best heart; affliction does by degrees work it out, as the fire works out the dross from the gold, “This is all the fruit, to take away his sin” (Isa. 27:9). What if we have more of the rough file, if we have less rust! Afflictions carry away nothing but the dross of sin. If a physician should say to a patient, “Your body is ill, and full of bad diseases, which must be cleared out, or you die; but I will prescribe prescription which, though it may make you sick, yet it will carry away the dregs of your disease, and save your life”; would not this be for the good of the patient? Afflictions are the medicine which God uses to carry off our spiritual diseases; they cure the excessive gas of pride, the fever of lust, the dropsy of covetousness. Do they not then work for good?

(5). Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of loosening our hearts from the world. When you dig away the earth from the root of a tree, it is to loosen the tree from the earth; so God digs away our earthly comforts to loosen our hearts from the earth. A thorn grows up with every flower. God would have the world hang as a loose tooth which, being twitched away does not much trouble us. Is it not good to be weaned? The oldest saints need it. Why does the Lord break the conduit-pipe, but that we may go to Him, in whom are “all our fresh springs” (Psalm 87:7).

(6). Afflictions work for good, as they make way for comfort. “In the valley of Achor is a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15). Achor signifies trouble. God sweetens outward pain with inward peace. “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16: 20). Here is the water turned into wine. After a bitter pill, God gives sugar. Paul had his prison-songs. God’s rod has honey at the end of it. The saints in affliction have had such sweet raptures of joy, that they thought themselves in the borders of the heavenly Canaan.

(7). Afflictions work for good, as they are a magnifying of us. “What is man, that thou should magnify him, and that thou should visit him every morning?” (Job 7: 17). God does by affliction magnify us three ways.

(1st.) in that He will condescend so low as to take notice of us. It is an honor that God will mind dust and ashes. It is a magnifying of us, that God thinks us worthy to be smitten. God’s not striking is a slighting: “Why should ye be stricken anymore?” (Isaiah 1:5). If you will go on in sin, take your course, sin yourselves into hell.

(2nd.) Afflictions also magnify us, as they are ensigns of glory, signs of sonship. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons” (Heb. 12:7). Every print of the rod is a badge of honour.

(3rd.) Afflictions tend to the magnifying of the saints, as they make them renowned in the world. Soldiers have never been so admired for their victories, as the saints have been for their sufferings. The zeal and constancy of the martyrs in their trials have rendered them famous to posterity. How eminent was Job for his patience! God leaves his name upon record: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” (James 5:11). Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander the conqueror.

(8.) Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. “Happy is the man whom God corrects” (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. “Happy is the man whom God corrects.”

It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full-moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab’s corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.

(9). Afflictions work for good, as they put to silence the wicked. How ready are they to speak evil and calumniate the godly, that they serve God only for self-interest. Therefore God will have His people endure sufferings for religion, that He may put a padlock on the lying lips of wicked men. When the atheists of the world see that God has a people, who serve Him not for a livery, but for love, this stops their mouths. The devil accused Job of hypocrisy, that he was a mercenary man, all his religion was made up of ends of gold and silver. “Doth Job serve God for nothing? Hast not thou made a hedge about him?” Etc. “Well,” says God, “put forth thy hand, touch his estate” (Job 1:9). The devil had no sooner received a commission, but he falls a breaking down Job’s hedge; but still Job worships God (Job. 1:20), and professes his faith in Him. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job. 13:15). This silenced the devil himself. How it strikes a damp into wicked men, when they see that the godly will keep close to God in a suffering condition, and that, when they lose all, they yet will hold fast their integrity.

(10). Afflictions work for good, as they make way for glory (2 Cor. 4:17). Not that they merit glory, but they prepare for it. As ploughing prepares the earth for a crop, so afflictions prepare and make us meet for glory. The painter lays his gold upon dark colors, so God first lays the dark colors of affliction, and then He lays the golden color of glory. The vessel is first seasoned before wine is poured into it: the vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in. Thus we see afflictions are not prejudicial, but beneficial, to the saints. We should not so much look at the evil of affliction, as the good; not so much at the dark side of the cloud, as the light. The worst that God does to His children is to whip them to heaven.

The Mystical Union Between Christ and His People

Taken and adapted from, “The Godly Man’s Picture”
Written by, Thomas Watson

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“My beloved is mine, and I am His.”

–Song of Solomon 2:16

In this Song of Songs we see the love of Christ and his church running towards each other in a full torrent.

The text contains three general parts:

1. A symbol of affection: “My beloved.”
2. A term of appropriation: “is mine.”

3. A holy resignation: “I am his.”

Doctrine: There is a marital union between Christ and believers. The apostle, having treated at large of marriage, winds up the whole chapter thus: “This is a great mystery—but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). What is closer than union? What sweeter? There is a twofold union with Christ:

1. A natural union. This all men have, Christ having taken their nature on him and not that of the angels (Heb. 2:16). But if there is no more than this natural union, it will give little comfort. Thousands are damned—though Christ is united to their nature.

2. A sacred union. By this we are mystically united to Christ. The union with Christ is not personal. If Christ’s essence were transfused into the person of a believer, then it would follow that all that a believer does should be meritorious.

But the union between Christ and a saint is:

(a) Federal: “My beloved is mine.” God the Father gives the bride; God the Son receives the bride; God the Holy Spirit ties the knot in marriage—he knits our wills to Christ and Christ’s love to us.

(b) Effectual. Christ unites himself to his spouse by his graces and influences: “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Christ makes himself one with the spouse by conveying his image and stamping the impress of his own holiness upon her!

This union with Christ may well be called mystical. It is hard to describe the manner of it. It is hard to show how the soul is united to the body—and how Christ is united to the soul. But though this union is spiritual—it is real. Things in nature often work insensibly, yet really (Eccles. 11:5). We do not see the hand move on the sun-dial, yet it moves. The sun exhales and draws up the vapors of the earth insensibly yet really. So the union between Christ and the soul—though it is imperceptible to the eye of reason—is still real (1 Cor. 6:17).

Before this union with Christ there must be a separation. The heart must be separated from all other lovers, as in marriage there is a leaving of father and mother: “Forget your own people, and your father’s house.” (Psalm 45:10). So there must be a leaving of our former sins, a breaking off the old league with hell before we can be united to Christ. “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’” (Hosea 14:8), or as it is in the Hebrew, “with sorrows.” Those sins which were looked on before as lovers, are now sorrows. There must be a divorce, before a union.

The purpose of our marital union with Christ is twofold:

1. Co-habitation. This is one purpose of marriage, to live together: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (Ephesians 2:17). It is not enough to pay Christ a few complimentary visits in his ordinances—hypocrites may do so—but there must be a mutual associating. We must dwell upon the thoughts of Christ: “he who abides in God” (I John 3:24). Married people should not live apart.

2. Fruit bearing: “That you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead—that we should bear fruit to God.” (Rom. 7:4). The spouse bears the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness (Gal. 5:22). Barrenness is a shame in Christ’s spouse!

This marriage union with Christ is the most noble and excellent union:

(a) Christ unites himself to many. In other marriages only one person is taken—but here millions are taken! Otherwise, poor souls might cry out, “Alas! Christ has married So-and-so, but what is that to me? I am left out.” No, Christ marries thousands. It is a holy and chaste polygamy. Multitudes of people do not defile this marriage bed. Any poor sinner who brings a humble, believing heart may be married to Christ.

(b) There is a closer union in this holy marriage than there can be in any other. In other marriages, two make one flesh—but Christ and the believer make one spirit: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17). Now as the soul is more excellent than the body, and admits of far greater joy, so this spiritual union brings in more astonishing delights and ravishments than any other marriage relationship is capable of. The joy that flows from the mystical union is unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).

(c) This union with Christ never ceases. Other marriages are soon at an end. Death cuts asunder the marriage knot—but this marital union is eternal. You who are once Christ’s spouse shall never again be a widow: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2:19). To speak properly, our marriage with Christ begins where other marriages end, at death.

In this life there is only the contract. The Jews had a time set between their engagement and marriage, sometimes a year or more. In this life there is only the engagement and contract; promises are made on both sides, and love passes secretly between Christ and the soul. He gives some smiles of his face, and the soul sends up her sighs and drops tears of love. But all this is only a preliminary work, and something leading up to the marriage. The glorious completing and solemnizing of the marriage is reserved for heaven. There, in heaven, is the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9) and the bed of glory perfumed with love where the souls of the elect shall be perpetually consoling themselves. “Then shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17). So death merely begins our marriage with Christ.

Application 1: If Christ is the head of the mystical body (Ephesians 1:22), then this doctrine beheads the Pope…

That man of sin who usurps this prerogative of being the head of the church, and so would defile Christ’s marriage bed. What blasphemy this is! Two heads are monstrous. Christ is Head, as he is Husband. There is no vice-husband, no deputy in his place. The Pope is the beast in Revelation (Rev. 13:11). To make him head of the church, what would this be but to set the head of a beast upon the body of a man?

Application 2: If there is such a marital union, let us test whether we are united to Christ:

1. Have we chosen Christ to set our love upon, and is this choice founded on knowledge?

2. Have we consented to the match? It is not enough that Christ is willing to have us—but are we willing to have him? God does not so force salvation upon us that we shall have Christ whether we want to or not. We must consent to have him. Many approve of Christ—but do not give their consent. And this consent must be:

(a) Pure and genuine. We consent to have him for his own worth and excellence: “You are fairer than the sons of men” (Psalm 45:2).

(b) A present consent: “now is the acceptable time” (2 Cor. 6:2). If we put Christ off with delays and excuses, perhaps he will stop coming. He will leave off wooing. “His spirit shall no longer strive,” and then, poor sinner, what will you do? When God’s wooing ends, your woes begin.

3. Have we taken Christ? Faith is the bond of the union. Christ is joined to us by his Spirit, and we are joined to him by faith. Faith ties the marriage knot.

4. Have we given ourselves up to Christ? Thus the spouse in the text says, “I am his,” as if she had said, “All I have is for the use and service of Christ.” Have we made a surrender? Have we given up our name and will to Christ? When the devil solicits by a temptation, do we say, “We are not our own, we are Christ’s; our tongues are his, we must not defile them with oaths; our bodies are his temple, we must not pollute them with sin?” If it is so, it is a sign that the Holy Spirit has produced this blessed union between Christ and us.

Application 3: Is there this mystical union? Then from that we may draw many inferences:

1. See the DIGNITY of all true believers. They are joined in marriage with Christ! There is not only assimilation but union; they are not only like Christ but one with Christ. All the saints have this honor. When a king marries a beggar, by virtue of the union she is ennobled and made of the blood royal. As wicked men are united to the prince of darkness, and he settles hell upon them as their inheritance, so the godly are divinely united to Christ, who is King of kings, and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16). By virtue of this sacred union the saints are dignified above the angels. Christ is the Lord of the angels—but not their husband.

2. See how HAPPILY all the saints are married. They are united to Christ, who is the best Husband, “the Chief among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:10). Christ is a Husband who cannot be paralleled:

(a) For tender care. The spouse cannot be as considerate of her own soul and credit as Christ is considerate of her: “He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7). Christ has a debate with himself, consulting and projecting how to carry on the work of our salvation. He transacts all our affairs, he attends to our business as his own. Indeed, he himself is concerned in it. He brings fresh supplies to his spouse. If she wanders out-of-the-way, he guides her. If she stumbles, he holds her by the hand. If she falls, he raises her. If she is dull, he quickens her by his Spirit. If she is perverse, he draws her with cords of love. If she is sad, he comforts her with promises.

(b) For ardent affection. No husband loves like Christ. The Lord says to the people, “I have loved you,” and they say, “In what way have you loved us?” (Mal. 1:2). But we cannot say to Christ, “In what way have you loved us?” Christ has given real demonstrations of his love to his spouse. He has sent her his Word, which is a love-letter, and he has given her his Spirit, which is a love-token. Christ loves more than any other husband:

Christ puts a richer robe on his bride: “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10).

In this robe, God looks on us as if we had not sinned! This robe is as truly ours to justify us, as it is Christ’s to bestow on us. This robe not only covers but adorns. Having on this robe, we are reputed righteous, not only as righteous as angels—but as righteous as Christ: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor.5:21).

Christ gives his bride not only his golden garments but his image! He loves her into his own likeness. A husband may have a dear affection for his wife—but he cannot stamp his own image on her. If she is deformed, he may give her a veil to hide it—but he cannot put his beauty on her. But Christ imparts “the beauty of holiness” to his spouse: “Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” (Ezek. 16:14). When Christ marries a soul, he makes it lovely: “You are all beautiful, my love” (Song of Solomon 4:7). Christ never thinks he has loved his spouse enough until he can see his own face in her.

Christ discharges those debts which no other husband can. Our sins are the worst debts we owe. If all the angels should contribute money, they could not pay one of these debts—but Christ frees us from these. He is both a Husband and a Surety. He says to justice what Paul said concerning Onesimus, “But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.” (Philemon 1:18).

Christ has suffered more for his spouse than ever any husband did for a wife. He suffered poverty and ignominy. He who crowned the heavens with stars was himself crowned with thorns. He was called a companion of sinners, so that we might be made companions of angels. He had no regard of his life; he leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath to save his spouse from drowning!

Christ’s love does not end with his life. He loves his spouse forever: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2:19). Well may the apostle call it “a love which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

3. See how RICH believers are. They have married into the crown of heaven, and by virtue of the marital union all Christ’s riches go to believers: “communion is founded in union.” Christ communicates his graces (John 1:16). As long as Christ has them, believers shall not be in need. And he communicates his privileges—justification, glorification. He settles a kingdom on his spouse as her inheritance (Heb. 12:28). This is a key to the apostle’s riddle, “as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:10). By virtue of the marriage union, the saints have an interest in all Christ’s riches!

4. See how fearful a sin it is, to abuse the saints. It is an injury done to Christ, for believers are mystically one with him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When the body was wounded, the Head, being in heaven, cried out. In this sense, men crucify Christ afresh (Heb. 6:6), because what is done to his members is done to him. If Gideon was avenged upon those who slew his brethren, will not Christ much more be avenged on those that wrong his spouse (Judges 8:21)? Will a king tolerate having his treasure rifled, his crown thrown in the dust, his queen beheaded? Will Christ bear with the affronts and injuries done to his bride? The saints are the apple of Christ’s eye (Zech. 2:8), and let those who strike at his eye answer for it. Isa 49:26 “I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine” (Isaiah 49:26).

5. See the reason why the saints so rejoice in the Word and sacrament, because here they meet with their Husband, Christ! The wife desires to be in the presence of her husband. The ordinances are the chariot in which Christ rides, the lattice through which he looks forth and shows his smiling face. Here Christ displays the banner of love (Song of Solomon 2:4). The Lord’s Supper is nothing other than a pledge and security of that eternal communion which the saints shall have with Christ in heaven. Then he will take the spouse into his bosom. If Christ is so sweet in an ordinance, when we have only short glances and dark glimpses of him by faith, oh then, how delightful and ravishing will his presence be in heaven when we see him face to face and are forever in his loving embraces!

Application 4: This mystical union affords much comfort to believers in several cases:

1. In the case of the disrespect and unkindness of the world: “in wrath they hate me” (Psalm. 55:3). But though we live in an unkind world, we have a kind Husband: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). What angel can tell how God the Father loves Christ? Yet the Father’s love to Christ is made the copy and pattern of Christ’s love to his spouse! This love of Christ as far exceeds all created love as the sun outshines the light of a torch. And is not this a matter of comfort? Though the world hates me, Christ still loves me.

2. In the case of weakness of grace. The believer cannot lay hold on Christ, except with a trembling hand. There is a “spirit of infirmity” on him. But oh, weak Christian, here is strong consolation: you have a marital union to Christ! You are the spouse of Christ! Will he will bear with you as the weaker vessel? Will a husband divorce his wife because she is weak and sickly? No! he will be the more tender with her. Christ hates divorce—but he will pity infirmity. When the spouse is faint and ready to be discouraged, Christ puts his left hand under her head (Song of Solomon 2:6). This is the spouse’s comfort when she is weak. Her Husband can infuse strength into her: “My God shall be my strength” (Isaiah 49:5).

3. In the case of death. When believers die—they go to their Husband! Who would not be willing to cross the gulf of death that they might meet with their Husband, Christ? “I desire to loosen anchor” (Phil. 1:23), and be with Christ. What though the way is dirty? We are going to our friend. When a woman is engaged, she longs for the day of marriage. After the saints’ funeral, their marriage begins. The body is a prison to the soul. Who would not desire to exchange a prison for a marriage bed? How glad Joseph was to go out of prison to the king’s court! God is wise; he lets us meet with changes and troubles here, so that he may wean us from the world and make us long for death. When the soul is divorced from the body, it is married to Christ.

4. In the case of passing sentence at the Day of Judgment. There is a marriage union and, oh Christian, your Husband shall be your judge! A wife would not fear appearing at the bar if her husband was sitting as judge. What though the devil should bring in many indictments against you? Christ will expunge your sins in his blood. Could he possibly say, “I shall condemn my spouse?” Oh, what a comfort this is! The Husband is judge! Christ cannot pass sentence against his spouse without passing it against himself. For Christ and believers are one.

5. In the case of the saints’ suffering. The church of God is exposed in this life to many injuries—but she has a Husband in heaven who is mindful of her and will “turn water into wine” for her. Now it is a time of mourning with the spouse because the Bridegroom is absent (Matt. 9:15). But shortly she shall put off her mourning. Christ will wipe the tears of blood off the cheeks of his spouse: “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). Christ will comfort his spouse for as much time as she has been afflicted. He will solace her with his love; he will take away the cup of trembling and give her the cup of consolation. And now she shall forget all her sorrows, being called into the banqueting house of heaven and having the banner of Christ’s love displayed over her.

Application 5: Let me press several duties upon those who have this marriage union with Christ:

1. Make use of this relationship in two cases:

(a) When the law brings in its indictments against you. The law says, “Here there are so many debts to be paid!” and it demands satisfaction. Acknowledge the debt—but turn it all over to your Husband, Christ. It is a maxim in law that the suit must not go against the wife, as long as the husband is living. Tell Satan when he accuses you, “It is true that the debt is mine—but go to my Husband, Christ! He will discharge it.” If we took this course, we might relieve ourselves of much trouble. By faith we turn over the debt to our Husband. Believers are not in a state of widowhood but of marriage. Satan will never go to Christ—he knows that justice is satisfied and the debt book cancelled—but he comes to us for the debt so that he may perplex us. We should send him to Christ and then all lawsuits would cease. This is a believer’s triumph. When he is guilty in himself, he is worthy in Christ. When he is spotted in himself, he is pure in his Head.

(b) In the case of desertion. Christ may (for reasons best known to himself) step aside for a time: “my beloved had withdrawn himself” (Song of Solomon 5:6). Do not say, therefore, that Christ has gone for good. It is a fruit of jealousy in a wife, when her husband has left her a while, to think that he has gone from her for good. Every time Christ removes himself out of sight, it is wrong for us to say, “The Lord has forsaken me” (Isaiah 49:14). This is jealousy, and it is a wrong done to the love of Christ and the sweetness of this marriage relationship. Christ may forsake his spouse in regards to comfort—but he will not forsake her in regard of union. A husband may be a thousand miles distant from his wife—but he is still a husband. Christ may leave his spouse—but the marriage knot still holds.

2. Rejoice in your Husband, Christ. Has Christ honored you by taking you into the marriage relationship and making you one with himself? This calls for joy. By virtue of the union, believers are sharers with Christ in his riches. It was a custom among the Romans, when the wife was brought home, for her to receive the keys of her husband’s house, intimating that the treasure and custody of the house was now committed to her. When Christ brings his bride home to those glorious mansions which he has gone ahead to prepare for her (John 14:2), he will hand over the keys of his treasure to her, and she shall be as rich as heaven can make her! And shall not the spouse rejoice and sing aloud upon her bed (Psalm. 149:5)? Christians, let the times be ever so sad, you may rejoice in your spiritual espousals (Hab. 3:17, 18). Let me tell you, it is a sin not to rejoice—you find fault with your Husband, Christ.

When a wife is always sighing and weeping, what will others say? “This woman has a bad husband!” Is this the fruit of Christ’s love to you, to reflect dishonor upon him? A melancholy spouse saddens Christ’s heart. I do not deny that Christians should grieve for sins of daily occurrence—but to be always weeping (as if they mourned without hope) is dishonorable to the marriage relationship. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). Rejoicing brings credit to your husband. Christ loves a cheerful bride, and indeed the very purpose of God’s making us sad is to make us rejoice. We sow in tears, so that we may reap in joy. The excessive sadness and contrition of the godly will make others afraid to embrace Christ. They will begin to question whether there is that satisfactory joy in religion which is claimed. Oh, you saints of God, do not forget consolation; let others see that you do not regret your choice. It is joy that puts liveliness and activity into a Christian: “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy.

3. Adorn this marriage relationship, so that you may be a crown to your husband.

(a) Wear a veil. We read of the spouse’s veil (Song of Solomon 5:7). This veil is humility.

(b) Put on your jewels. These are the graces which for their luster are compared to rows of pearl and chains of gold (Song of Solomon 1:10). These precious jewels distinguish Christ’s bride from strangers.

(c) Behave as becomes Christ’s spouse:

In chastity. Be chaste in your judgments; do not defile yourselves with error. Error adulterates the mind (1 Tim. 6:5). It is one of Satan’s artifices—first to defile the judgment, then the conscience.

In sanctity. It is not for Christ’s spouse to behave like harlots. A half-naked breast and a wanton tongue—do not befit a saint. Christ’s bride must shine forth in gospel purity, so that she may make her husband fall in love with her. A woman was asked what dowry she brought her husband. She answered that she had no dowry—but she promised to keep herself chaste. So though we can bring Christ no dowry, yet he expects us to keep ourselves pure, not spotting the breasts of our virginity by contagious and scandalous sins.

4. Love your Husband, Christ (Song of Solomon 2:5). Love him though he is reproached and persecuted. A wife loves her husband when in prison. To inflame your love towards Christ, consider:

(a) Nothing else is fit for you to love. If Christ is your Husband, it is not fit to have other lovers who would make Christ grow jealous.

(b) He is worthy of your love. He is of unparalleled beauty: “altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16).

(c) How fervent is Christ’s love towards you! He loves you in your worst condition, he loves you in affliction. The goldsmith loves his gold in the furnace. Just so, Christ loves you notwithstanding your fears and blemishes. The saints’ infirmities cannot wholly remove Christ’s love from them (Jer. 3:1). Oh then, how the spouse should be endeared in her love to Christ! Perfect love to Christ, will be the excellence of heaven. Our love will then be like the sun in its full strength!

Attributes of God’s Mercy

Taken and adapted from, “A Body of Practical Divinity,” Volume 1: The Mercy of God (sermon) Written by Thomas Watson,(1620 – 1686), pp. 101-107.  Published, London, 1869. Material sourced from, “The Dead Poet Society” hosted by Paul D.

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“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   –Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

God’s mercy is free

To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. ‘I will love them freely.’ Hos 14:4. Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free. ‘He has chosen us in him, according to the good pleasure of his will.’  Eph 1:1. Justification is free.  ‘Being justified freely by his grace.’ Rom 3:34. Salvation is free.  ‘According to his mercy he saved us.’  Titus 3:3. Say not then, I am unworthy; for mercy is free.  If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, he would show none at all.

God’s mercy is an overflowing mercy…

God’s mercy is infinite.  ‘Plenteous in mercy.’  Psalm 86:6. ‘Rich in mercy.’ Eph 2:2. ‘Multitude of mercies.’  Psa 51:1: The vial of wrath drops, but the fountain of mercy runs.  The sun is not so full of light as God is of mercy.  God has morning mercies.  ‘His mercies are new every morning.’ Lam 3:33.  He has night mercies.  ‘In the night his song shall be with me.’  Psalm 13:3. God has mercies under heaven, which we taste; and in heaven, which we hope for.

God’s mercy is eternal. 

‘The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.’  Psalms 103:37. ‘His mercy endures for ever,’ is repeated twenty-six times in one psalm, Psalms 136.  The souls of the blessed shall be ever bathing themselves in this sweet and pleasant ocean of God’s mercy.  God’s anger to his children lasts but a while, ‘but his mercy lasts for ever.’ Psalms 103:3.  As long as he is God he will be showing mercy. As his mercy is overflowing, so it is ever-flowing.  Use one: We are to look upon God in prayer, not in his judgement robes, but clothed with a rainbow full of mercy and clemency.  Add wings to prayer.  When Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven, that which made him go up thither with joy was, ‘I go to my Father;’ so that which should make our hearts ascend with joy in prayer, is, ‘We are going to the Father of mercy, who sits upon the throne of grace.’  Go with confidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, saying, perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.

Believe in God’s mercy. 

‘I will trust in the mercy of God for ever.’ Psalms 52:2. 

God’s mercy is a fountain opened.  Let down the bucket of faith and you may drink of this fountain of salvation.  What greater encouragement to believe than God’s mercy?  God counts it his glory to be scattering pardons; he is desirous that sinners should touch the golden scepter of his mercy and live.

Offering Violence to Satan

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Taken and adapted from, “The Christian Soldier,”
Written by Thomas Watson, 1669.

We must offer violence to Satan. Satan opposes us both by open violence, and by secret treachery.

In open violence, he is called the Red Dragon; in secret treachery, he is called the Old Serpent. We read in Scripture of his snares and darts; he hurts more by his snares than by his darts.

1. His Violence. He labors to storm the castle of the heart he stirs up to passion, lust, revenge. These are called ‘fiery darts’ Ephes. 6: 16, because they often set the soul on fire.  While Satan in regard to his fierceness is called a Lion, “l Peter 5: 8. ‘Your adversary the Devil as a roaring Lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.’ Not (saith Chrysostom) whom he may bite, –but devour.

2. His Treachery. What he cannot do by force, he will endeavor to do by fraud. Satan hath several subtle policies in tempting.

In suiting his temptations to the complexion and temper of the body, Satan studies the physiognomy, and lays suitable baits.— He knew Achan’s covetous humor, and tempted him with a wedge of gold. He tempts the sanguine man with beauty.

2. Another subtlety is to draw men to evil, sub specie boni, under a pretense of good. —The pirate does mischief by hanging out false colors: so does Satan by hanging out the colors of religion. He puts some men upon sinful actions, and persuades them much good will come of it. He tells them in some cases they may dispense with the rule of the Word, and stretch their conscience beyond that line that they may be in a capacity of doing more service. As if God needed our sin to raise his glory.

3. Satan tempts to sin gradually. As the husbandman digs about the root of a tree, and by degrees loosens it, and at last it falls. Satan steals by degrees into the heart: he is at first more modest: he did not say to Eve at first, Eat the apple; no, but he goes more subtlety to work; he puts forth a question, Hath God said? Sure Eve, thou art mistaken; the bountiful God never intended to debar thee one of the best trees of the garden. Hath God said? Sure, either, God did not say it; or if he did, he never really intended it. Thus by degrees he wrought her to distrust, and then she took of the fruit and eat. Oh, take heed of Satan^ first motions to sin, that seem more modest—principiis obsta. He is first a fox, and then a lion.

4. Satan tempts to evil in lawful things. It was lawful for Noah to eat the fruit of the grape; but he took too much, and so sinned. Excess turns that which is good into evil. Eating and drinking may turn to intemperance. Industry in one’s calling (when excessive) is covetousness. Satan draws men to, an immoderate love of the creature, and then makes them offend in that which they love. As Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius in that meat he loved most.

5. Satan puts men upon doing good out of bad ends: if he cannot hurt them by scandalous actions, he will by virtuous actions. Thus he tempts some to espouse religion out of policy to get preferment, and to give alms, for applause, that others may see their good works, and canonize them. This hypocrisy does leven the duties of religion, and make them lose their reward.

6. The Devil persuades to evil by such as are good. This sets a gloss upon his temptations, and makes them less suspected. The devil hath made use sometimes of the highest and holiest men to promote his temptations. The devil tempted Christ by an apostle, Peter dissuades him from suffering. Abraham, a good man, bids his wife equivocate: Say, Thou art my sister. These are his subtleties in tempting. Now here we must offer violence to Satan,

1. By faith, 1 Peter 5:9. ‘Whom resist, steadfast in faith.’ Faith is a wise intelligent grace; it can see a hook under the bait.

2. It is a heroic grace; it is said, above all, to quench the fiery darts of Satan. Faith resists the devil:

1. As it does keep the castle of the heart that it does not yield. It is not the being tempted makes guilty,’ but giving consent. Faith enters its protest against Satan.

2. Faith not only not yields, but beats back the temptation. Faith holds the promise in one hand, and Christ in the other: the promise encourages faith, and Christ strengthens it: so faith beats the enemy out of the field.

3. We must offer violence to Satan by prayer. We overcome him upon our knees. As Samson called to Heaven for help, so a Christian by prayer brings in auxiliary forces from Heaven. In all temptations go to God by prayer.’ Lord, teach me to use every piece of the spiritual armor; how to hold the shield how to wear the helmet, haw to use the sword of the Spirit. Lord, strengthen me in the battle; let me rather die a conqueror, than be taken prisoner, and led by Satan in triumph. —Thus we must offer violence to Satan. There is ‘a lion in the way,’ but we must resolve upon fighting.

And let this encourage us to offer violence to Satan. Our enemy is beaten in part already. Christ, who is ‘the captain .of our salvation,’ hath given Satan his death-wound upon the cross, Col. 2: 15. The serpent is soonest killed in his head. Christ hath bruised the head of the old Serpent, —the devil is a chained enemy, and a conquered enemy and therefore fear not to give battle to him. Resist him, and he will fly: he knows no march but running away.

We must offer violence to the world…

…The world shews its golden apple, it is a part of our vow in baptism to fight under Christ’s banner against the world. Take heed of being drowned in the luscious delights of it. It must be a strong brain that bears heady wine. He had need have a great deal of wisdom and grace, that knows how to bear a great estate. Riches oft send up their intoxicating fumes, which makes men’s heads giddy with pride, “Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked,’ Deut.31:15. It is hard to climb up the hill of God with too many golden weights. Those that want the honors of the world, want the temptations of it. The world is blandus Dcemon, a flattering enemy. It is given to some as Michal to David, for a snare. The world shews its two breasts of pleasure and profit, and many fall asleep with the breast in their mouth. The world does never kiss us, but with an intent to betray us. It is a silken halter.

The world is no friend to grace; it chokes our love to heavenly things: the earth puts out the fire. Naturally we love the world, Job 31: 24. ‘If I have made gold my hope;’ the Septuagint renders it, ‘If I have been married to my gold.’ Too many are wedded to their money; they live together as man and wife. O let us take heed of being entangled in this pleasing snare. Many who have escaped the rock of scandalous sins, yet have sunk in the world’s golden quicksand. The sin is not in the using of the world, but in the loving, 1 John 2: 15. ‘Love not the world.’ If we are Christians, we must offer violence to the world. Believers are ‘called out of the world:’ they are in the world, but not of it, John 17. As we say of a dying man, he is not a man for this world. A true saint is crucified in his affections to the world, Gal. 6: 14. He is dead to the honors and pleasures of it. What delight does a dead man take in pictures or music? Jesus Christ gave himself ‘ to redeem us from this present evil world,’ Gal. 1:4. If we will be saved, we must offer violence to the world. Living fish swim against the stream. We must swim against the world, else we shall fee carried down the stream, and fall into the Dead Sea. That we may offer violence to the world, let us remember, it is deceitful; our Savior calls it, ‘The deceitfulness of riches,’ Matt.13:22.

The world promises happiness. It promises us nothing less Rachel, but puts off on us blear-eyed Leah:’ it promises to satisfy our desires, but instead increases them: it gives us poisoned pills, but it always wraps them in sugar.