Archive for the ‘Thomas Watson’ Category

He who loves God desires His presence. Lovers cannot be long apart, they soon have fainting fits, for want of a sight of the object of their love.  A soul deeply in love with God desires the enjoyment of Him in His ordinances, in word, in prayer, and sacraments.  David was ready to faint away and die when he had not a sight of God.  “My soul fainteth for God” (Psalm 84:2).

He who loves God does not love sin. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil” (Psalm 97:10).  The love of God, and the love of sin, can no more mix together than iron and clay.  Every sin loved, strikes at the being of God; but he who loves God, has a hatred of sin.  He who would part two lovers is a hateful person.  God and the believing soul are two lovers; sin parts between them, therefore the soul is implacably set against it.  By this, try your love for God.  How could Delilah say she loved Samson, when she entertained correspondence with the Philistines, who were his mortal enemy?

He who loves God is not much in love with anything else. His love is very cool to worldly things.  His love to God moves swiftly, as the sun in the firmament; to the world it moves slowly, as the sun on the dial.  The love of the world eats the heart out of religion; it chokes good affections, as earth put out fire.  The world was a dead thing to Paul: “I am crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to me” (Gal. 6:14).

He who loves God cannot live without Him. Things we love we cannot be without.  A man can do without music or flowers, but not food; so a soul deeply in love with God looks upon himself as undone without Him.  “Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like them who go down into the pit” (Psalm 143:7).  Alas! how do they show they have no love to God who can do well enough without Him!  Let them have corn and oil, and you shall never hear them complain of the lack of God.

He who loves God will be at any pains to get Him. What pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich return from the Indies!  Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might enjoy her.  A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of Him…. “I sought him whom my soul loveth” (Song of Solomon 3:2).  How can they say they love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain Him?

He who loves God prefers Him before estate and life. (1) Before estate – “For whom I have suffered the loss of all things” (Phil. 3:8).  Who that loves a rich jewel would not part with a flower for it?  (2) Before life – “They loved not their lives to the death” (Rev. 12:11).  Love to God carries the soul above the love and the fear of death.

He who loves God loves His favorites, the saints (I John 5:1).  To love a man for his grace and the more we see of God in him, the more we love him, that is an infallible sign of love to God.  The wicked pretend to love God, but hate and persecute His image….  Can it be imagined that he loves God who hates His children because they are like God?

If we love God we cannot but be fearful of dishonoring him, as the more a child loves his father the more he is afraid to displease him, and we weep and mourn when we have offended him….  That Peter should deny Christ after he had received such signal tokens of His love, this broke his heart with grief.  “He wept bitterly.”  Are our eyes dropping tears of grief for sin against God?  It is blessed evidence of our love to God; and such shall find mercy.  “He shows mercy to thousands of them that love Him.”

Use. Let us be lovers of God. We love our food and shall we not love Him that gives it?  All the joy we hope for in heaven is in God; and shall not He who shall be our joy then, be our love now?  It is a saying of Augustine, “I would hate my own soul if I did not find it loving God.”

Excerpted from A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson (1692)

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He is not content to do to heaven alone but wants to take others there. Spiders work only for themselves, but bees work for others.  A godly man is both a diamond and a lodestone—a diamond for the sparkling luster of grace and a lodestone for his attractiveness.  He is always drawing others to embrace piety.  Living things have a propagating virtue.  Where religion lives in the heart, there will be an endeavor to propagate the life of grace in those we converse with:  “My son, Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds” (Philemon 10).  Though God is the fountain of grace, yet the saints are pipes to transmit living streams to others. This great effort for the conversion of souls proceeds:

I. From the nature of godliness.

It is like fire which assimilates and turns everything into its own nature.  Where there is the fire of grace in the heart, it will endeavor to inflame others.  Grace is a holy leaven, which will be seasoning and leavening others with divine principles.  Paul would gladly have converted Agrippa—how he courted him with rhetoric! “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest” (Acts 26:27).  His zeal and eloquence had almost captivated the king (v. 28).  Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

II.  From a spirit of compassion.

Grace makes the heart tender.  A godly man cannot choose but pity those who are in the gall of bitterness.  He sees what a deadly cup is brewing for the wicked.  They must, without repentance, be bound over to God’s wrath.  The fire which rained on Sodom was but a painted fire in comparison with hell fire.  This is a fire with a vengeance: “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).  Now when a godly man sees captive sinners ready to be damned, he strives to convert them from the error of their way: “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

III.  From a holy zeal he has for Christ’s glory.

The glory of Christ is as dear to him as his own salvation.  Therefore, that this may be promoted, he strives with the greatest effort to bring souls to Christ.

It is a glory to Christ when multitudes are born to him. Every star adds a luster to the sky; every convert is a member added to Christ’s body and a jewel adorning his crown.  Though Christ’s glory cannot be increased, as he is God, yet as he is Mediator, it may.  The more there are saved, the more Christ is exalted.  Why else should the angels rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, but because Christ’s glory now shines the more (Luke 15:10)?

Use I: This excludes those who are spiritual eunuchs from the number of the godly. They do not strive to promote the salvation of others.  “The one through whom no-one else is born is himself born unworthily.”

1.  If men loved Christ, they would try to draw as many as they could to him. He who loves his captain will persuade others to come under his banner.  This unmasks the hypocrite.  Though a hypocrite may make a show of grace himself, yet he never bothers to procure grace in others.  He is without compassion.  I may allude to the verse: “that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off” (Zech. 11:9).  Let souls go to the devil, he cares not.

2.  How far from being godly are those who instead of striving for grace in others, work to destroy all hopeful beginnings of grace in them! Instead of drawing them to Christ, they draw them from Christ. Their work is to poison and harm souls. This harming of souls occurs in three ways:

(i) By bad edicts.  So Jeroboam made Israel sin (I Kings 16:26).  He forced them to idolatry.

(ii)       By bad examples.  Examples speak louder than precepts, but principally the examples of great men are influential.  Men placed on high are like the “pillar of cloud.”  When that went, Israel went. If great men move irregularly, others will follow them.

(iii) By bad company.  The breath of sinners is infectious.  They are like the dragon which “cast a flood out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:15).  They cast a flood of oaths out of their mouths.  Wicked tongues are set on fire by hell (Jas. 3:6).  The sinner finds match and gunpowder, and the devil finds fire.  The wicked are for ever setting snares and temptations before others, as the prophet speaks in another sense: “I set pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink” (Jer. 35:5).  So the wicked set pots of wine before others and make them drink, till reason is stupefied and lust inflamed.  These who make men proselytes to the devil are prodigi­ously wicked.  How sad will be the doom of those who, besides their own sins, have the blood of others to answer for!

3.  If it is the sign of a godly man to promote grace in others, then how much more ought he to promote it in his near relations. A godly man will be careful that his children should know God.  He would be sorry that any of his flesh should burn in hell.  He labors to see Christ formed in those who are himself in another edition.  Augustine says that his mother Monica travailed with greater care and pain for his spiritual than for his natural birth.

The time of childhood is the fittest time to be sowing seed of religion in our children.  “Whom shall he make to understand doctrine?  Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa. 28:9).  The wax, while it is soft and tender, will take any impression.  Children, while they are young, will fear a reproof; when they are old, they will hate it.

(i) It is pleasing to God that our children should know him early in life.  When you come into a garden, you love to pluck the young bud and smell it.  God loves a saint in the bud.  Of all the trees which the Lord could have chosen in a prophetic vision (Jer. 1:11), he chose the almond tree, which is one of the first of the trees to blossom.  Such an almond tree is an early convert.

(ii) By endeavoring to bring up our children in the fear of the Lord, we shall provide for Gods glory when we are dead.  A godly man should not only honor God while he lives, but do something that may promote God’s glory when he is dead.  If our children are seasoned with gracious principles, they will stand up in our place when we have gone, and will glorify God in their generation.  A good piece of ground bears not only a fore-crop but an after-crop.  He who is godly does not only bear God a good crop of obedience himself while he lives, but by training his child in the principles of religion, he bears God an after-crop when he is dead.

Use 2: Let all who have God’s name placed on them do what in them lies to advance piety in others. A knife touched with a lodestone will attract the needle.  He whose heart is divinely touched with the lodestone of God’s Spirit will endeavor to attract those who are near him to Christ.  The heathen could say, “We are not born for ourselves only.”  The more excellent anything is, the more communi­cative it is.  In the body every member is diffusive: the eye conveys light; the head, spirits; the liver, blood.  A Christian must not move altogether within his own circle, but seek the welfare of others.  To be diffusely good makes us resemble God, whose sacred influence is universal.

And surely it will be no grief of heart when conscience can witness for us that we have brought glory to God in this matter by working to fill heaven.  Not that this is in any way meritorious, or has any causal influence on our salvation. Christ’s blood is the cause, but our promoting God’s glory in the conversion of others is a signal evidence of our salvation.  As the rainbow is not a cause why God will not drown the world, but is a sign that he will not drown it; or as Rahab’s scarlet thread hung out of the window (Joshua 2:18) was not a cause why she was exempted from destruction, but was a sign of her being exempted, so our building up others in the faith is not a cause why we are saved, but it is a symbol of our piety and a presage of our felicity.

And thus I have shown the marks and characteristics of a godly man.  If a person thus described is reputed a fanatic, then Abraham and Moses and David and Paul were fanatics, which I think none but atheists will dare to affirm!

From The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson.

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The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of  the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).  The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us.  Christ is the glory, and faith in Christ the comfort, of the gospel.

What are the kinds of faith?

1)     An historical or dogmatic faith, which is believing the truths revealed in the Word, because of divine authority.

2)     There is a temporary faith, which lasts for a time, and then vanishes.  “Yet hath he no root in himself, but endureth for a while.” Matt 13:21.  A temporary faith is like Jonah’s gourd, which came up in a night and withered (Jonah 4).

3)     A miraculous faith granted to the apostles to work miracles for the confirmation of the gospel.  This Judas had—he cast out devils, yet was cast out to the devil.

4)     A true justifying faith, which is called “A faith of the operation of God,” and is a jewel hung only upon the elect (Col. 2:12).

What is justifying faith?

What it is not. It is not a bare acknowledgment that Christ is a Savior.  There must be an acknowledgment, but that is not sufficient to justify.  The devils acknowledged Christ’s Godhead (Matt. 8:29).  There may be an assent to divine truth, and yet no work of grace on the heart.  Many assent in their judgments, that sin is an evil thing, but they go on in sin, whose corruptions are stronger than their convictions; and that Christ is excellent; they cheapen the pearl, but do not buy.

What justifiying faith is. True justifying faith consists in three things:

1)     Self-renunciation. Faith is going out of one’s self, being taken off from our own merits, and seeing we have no righteousness of our own (Phil. 3:9).  Self-righteousness is a broken reed, which the soul dares not lean on.  Repentance and faith are both humbling graces; by repentance a man abhors himself; by faith he goes out of himself.  As Israel in their wilderness march behind them saw Pharaoh and his chariots pursuing before them the Red Sea ready to devour; so the sinner [looks] behind [and] sees God’s justice pursuing him for sin, [looks] before [and sees] hell ready to devour him; and in this forlorn condition, he sees nothing in himself to help, but he must perish unless he can find help in another.

2)     Reliance.  The soul casts itself upon Jesus Christ; faith rests on Christ’s person.  Faith believes the promise; but that which faith rests upon in the promise is the person of Christ: therefore the spouse is said to “lean upon her Beloved” (Song of Solomon 8:5).  Faith is described to be “believing on the name of the Son of God,” 1 John 3:23, viz., on his person.  The promise is but the cabinet, Christ is the jewel in it which faith embraces; the promise is but the dish, Christ is the food in it which faith feeds on.  Faith rests on Christ’s person.  It glories in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14).  To consider Christ crown-ed with all manner of excellencies, stirs up admiration and wonder; but Christ looked upon as bleeding and dying, is the proper object of our faith; it is called therefore “faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:25).

3)     Appropriation, or applying Christ to ourselves.  A medicine, though it be ever so sovereign, if not applied, will do no good; though the plaster be made of Christ’s own blood, it will not heal, unless applied by faith; the blood of God, without faith in God, will not save.  This applying of Christ is called receiving him (John 1:12).  The hand receiving gold, enriches; so the hand of faith, receiving Christ’s golden merits with salvation, enriches us.

How is faith wrought?

By the blessed Spirit is called the “Spirit of grace” because he is the spring of all grace (Zech. 12:10).  Faith is the chief work which the Spirit of God works in a man’s heart.  In making the world God did but speak a word, but in working faith he puts forth his arm (Luke 1:51).  The Spirit’s working faith is called, “The exceeding greatness of God’s power” (Eph. 1:19).  What a power was put forth in raising Christ from the grave when such a tombstone lay upon him as “the sins of all the world!”  Yet he was raised up by the Spirit.  The same power is put forth by the Spirit of God in working faith.  The Spirit irradiates the mind, and subdues the will.  The will is like a garrison, which holds out against God: the Spirit with sweet violence conquers, or rather changes it; making the sinner willing to have Christ upon any terms; to be ruled by him as well as saved by him.

Wherein lies the preciousness of faith?

1)     In its being the chief gospel-grace, the head of the graces.  As gold among the metals, so is faith among the graces.  Clement of Alexandria calls the other graces the daughters of faith.  In heaven, love will be the chief grace; but, while we are here, love must give place to faith.  Love is the crowning grace in heaven, but faith is the conquering grace upon earth.  “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

2)     In its having influence upon all the graces, and setting them to work: not a grace stirs till faith set it to work.  As the clothier sets the poor to work, sets their wheel going; so faith sets hope to work. The heir must believe his title to an estate in reversion before he can hope for it; faith believes its title to glory, and then hope waits for it.  If faith did not feed the lamp of hope with oil, it would soon die.  Faith sets love to work.  “Faith which worketh ‘by love’” (Gal. 5:6).  Believing the mercy and merit of Christ causes a flame of love to ascend.  Faith sets patience to work.  “Be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12).  Faith believes the glorious rewards given to suffering.  This makes the soul patient in suffering.  Thus faith is the master-wheel, it sets all the other graces running.

3)     In its being the grace which God honors to justify and save.  Thus indeed it is “precious faith,” as the apostle calls it (2 Pet 2).  The other graces help to sanctify, but it is faith that justifies—“Being justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1).  Repentance or love do not justify, but faith does.

How does faith justify?

1)     Faith does not justify as it is a work, which would make a Christ of our faith; but faith justifies, as it lays hold of the object, viz. Christ’s merits.  If a man had a precious stone in a ring that healed, we may say the ring heals; but properly it is not the ring, but the precious stone in the ring that heals.  Thus faith saves & justifies, but it is not any inherent virtue in faith, but as it lays hold on Christ it justifies.

2)     Faith does not justify as it exercises grace. It cannot be denied, that faith invigorates all the graces, puts strength and liveliness into them, but it does not justify under this notion.  Faith works by love, but it does not justify as it works by love, but as it applies Christ’s merits.

Why should faith save and justify more than any other grace?

1)     Because of God’s purpose.  He has appointed this grace to be justifying; and he does it, because faith is a grace that takes a man off himself and gives all the honor to Christ and free grace.  “Strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).  Therefore God has put this honor on faith, to make it saving and justifying.  The king’s stamp makes the coin pass for currency; if he would put his stamp upon leather, as well as silver, it would make it currency: so God having put his sanction, the stamp of his authority and institution upon faith, makes it to be justifying and saving.

2)     Because faith makes us one with Christ (Eph. 3:17).  It is the espousing, incorporating grace, it gives us coalition and union with Christ’s person.  Other graces make us like Christ, faith makes us members of Christ.

Use One: Of exhortation.  Let us above all things labor for faith. Fides est sanctissimum humani pectoris bonum.  “Above all, taking the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16).  Faith will be of more use to us than any grace; as an eye, though dim, was of more use to an Israelite than all the other members of his body, a strong arm, or a nimble foot.  It was his eye looking on the brazen serpent that cured him.  It is not knowledge, though angelic, not repentance, though we could shed rivers of tears, which justify us; only faith, whereby we look on Christ.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).  If we do not please him by believing, he will not please us in saving.  Faith is the condition of the covenant of grace; without faith, without covenant; and without covenant, without hope (Eph. 2:12).

Use two: Of trial.  Let us try whether we have faith.  There is something that looks like faith, and is not, as a Bristol-stone looks like a diamond.  Some plants have the same leaf with others, but the herbalist can distinguish them by the root and taste.  Some faith may look like true faith, but it may be distinguished by the fruits.  Let us be serious in the trial of our faith.  Much depends upon our faith; for if our faith be not good, even our duties and graces are adulterated.

How then shall we know a true faith?

By the noble effects.

1)     Faith is a Christ-prizing grace—it puts a high valuation upon Christ.  “To you that believe he is precious” (1 Pet. 2:7).  Paul best knew Christ—“Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Cor. 9:1).  He saw Christ with his bodily eyes in a vision, when he was caught up into the third heaven; and with the eye of his faith in the Holy Supper; therefore he best knew Christ.  And see how he styles all things in comparison of him. “I count all things but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).  Do we set a high estimate upon Christ?  Could we be willing to part with the wedge of gold for the pearl of price?

2)     Faith is a refining grace—“Mystery of faith in a pure conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9).  Faith is in the soul as fire among metals; it refines and purifies.  Morality may wash the outside, faith washes the inside—“Having purified their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).  Faith makes the heart a holy of holies.  Faith is a virgin-grace: though it does not take away the life of sin yet it takes away the love of sin.  Examine if your hearts be an unclean fountain, sending out the mud and dirt of pride and envy.  If there be legions of lusts in thy soul, there is no faith.  Faith is a heavenly plant, which will not grow in an impure soil.

3)     Faith is an obedient grace—“The obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26).  Faith melts our will into God’s.  It runs at God’s call.  If God commands duty (though cross to flesh and blood) faith obeys—“By faith Abraham obeyed” (Heb. 11:8).  Faith is not an idle grace.  It not only believes God’s promise, but obeys his command.  It is not having knowledge that will evidence you to be believers; the devil has knowledge, but [lacks] obedience.  The true obedience of faith is a cheerful obedience.  God’s commands do not seem grievous.  Have you obedience, and obey cheerfully?  Do you look upon God’s command as your burden, or privilege; as an iron fetter about your leg, or as a gold chain about your neck.

4)     Faith is an assimilating grace.  It changes the soul into the image of the object; it makes it like Christ.  Never did any look upon Christ with a believing eye, but he was made like Christ.  A deformed person may look on a beautiful object, and not be made beautiful; but faith looking on Christ transforms a man, and turns him into his similitude.  Looking on a bleeding Christ causes a soft bleeding heart; looking on a holy Christ causes sanctity of heart; looking on a humble Christ makes the soul humble.  As the chameleon is changed into the color of that which it looks upon, so faith, looking on Christ, changes the Christian into the similitude of Christ.

5)     True faith grows. All living things grow.  “From faith to faith” (Rom. 1:7).

How may we judge of the growth of faith?

Growth of faith is judged by strength.  We can do that now, which we could not do before.  When one is man-grown, he can do that which he could not do when he was a child; he can carry a heavier burden; so thou can bear crosses with more patience.

Growth of faith is seen by doing duties in a more spiritual manner, with more fervency.  We put coals to the incense, from a principle of love to God.  When an apple has done growing in bigness, it grows in sweetness; so thou performest duties in love and art sweeter, and come off with a better relish.

But I fear I have no faith.

We must distinguish between weakness of faith and no faith.  A weak faith is true.  The bruised reed is but weak, yet it is such as Christ will not break.  Though thy faith be weak, be not discouraged.

1)     A weak faith may receive a strong Christ.  A weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong one; and a weak eye might have seen the brazen serpent.  The woman in the gospel did but touch Christ’s garment, and received virtue from him. It was the touch of faith.

2)     The promise is not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise says not whosoever has a giant-faith, that can remove mountains, that can stop the mouths of lions, shall he saved; but whosoever believes, be his faith ever so small.  Though Christ sometimes chides a weak faith, yet that it may not be discouraged, he makes it a promise. Beati qui esuriunt (Matt. 5:3).

3)     A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most; the vine is a weak plant, but it is fruitful.  Weak Christians may have strong affections.  How strong is the first love, which is after the first planting of faith!

4)     Weak faith may be growing. Seeds spring up by degrees; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.  Therefore, be not discouraged.  God, who would have us receive them that are weak in faith, will not himself refuse them (Rom. 14:1).  A weak believer is a member of Christ; and though Christ will cut off rotten members from his body, he will not cut off weak members.

From A Body of Practical Divinity (1692).

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As gold is the most precious among the metals, so is faith among the graces.  Faith cuts us off from the wild olive of nature, and grafts us into Christ.  Faith is the vital artery of the soul: “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).  Such as are destitute of faith may breathe, but they lack life.  Faith enlivens the graces; not a grace stirs till faith sets it working.

Faith is to the soul what the animal spirits are to the body, exciting lively activity in it.  Faith excites repentance. When I believe God’s love to me, this makes me weep that I should sin against so good a God.  Faith is the mother of hope; first we believe the promise, then we hope for it.  Faith is the oil which feeds the lamp of hope.  Faith and hope are two turtle-dove graces; take away one, and the other languishes.

If the sinews are cut, the body is lame; if this sinew of faith is cut, hope is lame.  Faith is the ground of patience; he who believes that God is his God, and that all providences work for his good, patiently yields himself to the will of God.   Thus faith is a living principle.

And the life of a saint is nothing but a life of faith. His prayer is the breathing of faith (Jas. 5:15). His obedience is the result of faith (Rom. 16:26).  A godly man by faith lives in Christ, as the beam lives in the sun: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).  A Christian by the power of faith sees above reason, trades above the moon (2 Cor. 4:18).  By faith his heart is lively quietened; he trusts himself and all his affairs to God (Psa. 112:7).  As in a time of war, men get into a garrison and trust themselves and their treasures there, so “the name of the Lord is a strong tower” (Prov. 18:10), and a believer trusts all that ever he is worth in this garrison.  “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).  God trusted Paul with his gospel, and Paul trusted God with his soul.

Faith is a catholicon—a remedy against all troubles.  It is a godly man’s sheet-anchor that he casts out into the sea of God’s mercy, and is kept from sinking in despair.  “If only faith is firm, no ruin harms.”

Use: Let us test ourselves by this characteristic.  Alas, how far from being godly are those who are destitute of faith!  Such are altogether drowned in sense.  Most men are spiritually purblind; they can only see just before them (2 Pet. 1:9).  I have read of a people who are born with one eye.  Such are they who are born with the eye of reason, but lack the eye of faith, who, because they do not see God with bodily eyes, do not believe in a god.  They may as well not believe they have souls, because being spirits they cannot be seen.

Oh, where is he who lives in the heights, who has gone into the upper region and sees “things not seen” (Heb. 11:27)?  “If men lived by faith, would they use sinful means for a livelihood?” (Chrysostom).  If there were faith, would there be so much fraud? If theirs were living faith, would men, like dead fish, swim downstream?  In this age there is scarcely so much faith to be found among men as there is among the devils, “for they believe and tremble”(Jas. 2:19).

It was a grave and serious comment of Mr. Greenham, that he feared not papism, but atheism would be England’s ruin.  But I shall not expatiate, having written at greater length on this head in another discourse.

Faith and love are the two poles on which all religion turns. A true saint is carried in that chariot, “the midst whereof is paved with love” (Song 3:10).  As faith enlivens, so love sweetens every duty.  The sun mellows the fruit, so love mellows the services of religion, and gives them a better relish.  A godly man is sick of love: “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:16).  “Though, dear Savior, I denied thee, yet it was for lack of strength, not for lack of love.”  God is the fountain and quintessence of goodness.  His beauty and sweetness lay constraints of love upon a gracious heart.  God is the saint’s portion (Psa. 119:57).  And what more loved than a portion? “I would hate my own soul,” says Augustine, “if I found it not loving God.”  A godly man loves God and therefore delights to be in his presence; he loves God and therefore takes comfort in nothing without him.

“Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” (Song 3:3).  The pious soul loves God and therefore thirsts for him.  The more he has of God, the more still he desires.  A sip of the wine of the Spirit whets the appetite for more.  The soul loves God and therefore rejoices to think “of his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).  He loves him and therefore longs to be with him.  Christ was in Paul’s heart, and Paul would be in Christ’s bosom (Phil. 1:23).  When the soul is once like God, it would gladly be with God.  A gracious heart cries out, “Oh that I had wings,” that I might fly away, and he with my love, Christ.  The bird desires to be out of the cage, though it is hung with pearl.

A godly man loves God, though he is reduced to straits. A mother and her nine-year-old child were about to die of hunger.  The child looked at its mother and said, “Mother, do you think God will starve us?”  “No, child,” said the mother, “he will not.” The child replied, “But if he does, we must love him, and serve him.”

Use: Let us test our godliness by this touch-stone: Do we love God?  Is he our treasure and center?  Can we, with David, call God our “joy”, yes, our “exceeding joy” (Psa. 43:4)?  Do we delight in drawing near to him, and “come before his presence with singing” (Psa. 100:2)?  Do we love him for his beauty more than his jewels? Do we love him, when he seems not to love us?

If this be the sign of a godly man, how few will be found in the number!  Where is the man whose heart is dilated in love to God?  Many court him, but few love him.  People are for the most part eaten up with self-love; they love their ease, their worldly profit, their lusts, but they do not have a drop of love to God.  If they loved God, would they he so willing to be rid of him? “They say unto God, Depart from us” (Job 21:14).  If they loved God, would they tear his name by their oaths?  Does he who shoots his father in the heart love him?  Though they worship God, they do not love him; they are like the soldiers who bowed the knee to Christ, and mocked him” (Matt. 27:29).  He whose heart is a grave in which the love of God is buried, deserves to have that curse written upon his tombstone, “Let him be Anathema Maranatha” (I Cor. 16:22).  A soul devoid of divine love is a temper that best suits damned spirits.  But I shall waive this, and pass to the next.

Excerpted and edited from The Godly Man’s Picture.

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The Holy Spirit dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:14; Galatians 4:6). The schoolmen raise the question whether a man receives the Holy Ghost himself or not. Montanus held that the godly so have God’s Spirit in them that they partake of his essence, and have become one person with him. But this amounts to no less than blasphemy. Then it would follow that every saint was to be worshipped.

I conceive that the Spirit is in the godly, in whom he flows in measure. They have his presence and receive his sacred influences. When the sun comes into a room, it is not the body of the sun that is there but the beams that sparkle from it.

The Spirit of God reveals himself in a gracious soul in two ways:

1. By his motions

These are some of that sweet perfume that the Spirit breathes upon the heart, by which it is raised into a kind of angelic frame.

Question 1: But how may we distinguish the motions of the Spirit from a delusion?

Answer: The motions of the Spirit are always consonant with the Word. The Word is the chariot in which the Spirit of God rides; whichever way the tide of the Word runs, that way the wind of the Spirit blows.

Question 2: How may the motions of the Spirit in the godly be distinguished from the impulses of a natural conscience?

Answer 1: A natural conscience may sometimes provoke to the same thing as the Spirit does, but not from the same principle. Natural conscience is a spur to duty, but it drives a man to do his duties for fear of hell — as the galley-slave tugs at the oar for fear of being beaten — whereas the Spirit moves a child of God from a more noble principle. It makes him serve God out of choice, and esteem duty his privilege.

Answer 2: The impulses of a natural conscience drive men to easier duties of religion, in which the heart is less like perfunctory reading or praying. But the ions of the Spirit in the godly go further, causing them do the most irksome duties, like self-reflection, self-humbling; yes perilous duties, like confessing Christ’s in times of danger. Divine motions in the heart are like wine which seeks vent. When God’s Spirit possesses a man, he carries him full sail through all difficulties.

2. By his virtues

These are various:

  1. God’s Spirit has a teaching virtue; the Spirit teaches convincingly (John 16:8). He so teaches as to persuade.
  2. God’s Spirit has a sanctifying virtue. The heart is naturally polluted, but when the Spirit comes into it, he works sin out and grace in. The Spirit of God was represented by the dove, an emblem of purity. The Spirit makes the heart a temple of purity and a paradise for pleasantness. The holy oil of consecration was nothing but a prefiguring of Spirit (Exodus 30:25). The Spirit sanctifies a man’s fancy, causing it to mint holy meditations. He sanctifies his will, biasing it to good, so that now it shall be as delightful to serve as before it was to sin against him. Sweet powders perfume the linen. So God’s Spirit in a man perfumes him with holiness and makes his heart a map of heaven.
  3. God’s Spirit has a vivifying virtue: “the Spirit giveth life” (2 Cor.3:6). As the blowing in an organ makes it sound, the breathing of the Spirit causes life and motion. When the prophet Elijah stretched himself upon the dead child, he revived (I Kings 17:22); so God’s Spirit stretching himself upon the soul infuses life into it. As our life is from the Spirit’s operations, so is our liveliness: “the Spirit lifted me up” (Ezek. 3:14). When the heart is bowed down and is listless to duty, the Spirit of God lifts it up. He puts a sharp edge upon the affections; he makes love ardent, hope lively. The Spirit removes the weights of the soul and gives it wings.
  4. God’s Spirit has a jurisdictive virtue; he rules and governs. God’s Spirit sits paramount in the soul; he gives check to the violence of corruption; he will not allow a man to be vain and loose like others. The Spirit of God will not be put out of office; he exercises his authority over the heart, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
  5. The Spirit has a mollifying virtue; therefore he is compared to fire which softens the wax. The Spirit turns flint into flesh: “I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). How shall this be effected? “I will put my spirit within you” (v.27). While the heart is hard, it lies like a log, and is not wrought upon either by judgments or by mercies, but when God’s Spirit comes in, he makes a man’s heart as tender as his eye and now it is made yielding to divine impressions.
  6. The Spirit of God has a corroborating virtue; he infuses strength and assistance for work; he is a Spirit of power (2 Tim. 1:7). God’s Spirit carries a man above himself: “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). The Spirit confirms faith and animates courage. He lifts one end of the cross, and makes it lighter to bear. The Spirit gives not only a sufficiency of strength, but also a redundance.

Question: How shall we know whether we are acting in the strength of God’s Spirit, or in the strength of our own abilities?

Answer 1: When we humbly cast ourselves upon God for assistance, as David going out against Goliath cast himself upon God for help: “I come to thee in the name of the Lord”

Answer 2: When our duties are divinely qualified, we do them with pure aims.

Answer 3: When we have found God going along with us, we give him the glory for everything (I Cor. 15:10). This clearly evinces that the duty was carried on by the strength of God’s Spirit more than by any innate abilities of our own.

  1. God’s Spirit has a comforting virtue. Sadness may arise in a gracious heart (Psa. 43:5). As the heavens, though it is a right and lucid body, still has interposed clouds, this sadness is caused usually through the malice of Satan, who, when he cannot destroy us, will disturb us. But God’s Spirit within us sweetly cheers and revives. He is called the “the Comforter” (John 14:16). These comforts are real and infallible. Hence it is called “the seal of the Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). When a deed is sealed, it is firm and unquestionable. So when a Christian has the seal of the Spirit, his comforts are confirmed. Every godly man has these revivings of the Spirit in some degree; he has the seeds and beginnings of joy, though the flower is not fully ripe mid blown.

Question: How does the Spirit give comfort?

Answer 1: By showing us that we are in a state of grace. A Christian cannot always see his riches. The work of grace may be written in the heart, like shorthand which a Christian cannot read. The Spirit gives him a key to open these dark characters, and spell out his adoption, whereupon he has joy and peace. “We have received the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12).

Answer 2: The Spirit comforts by giving us some ravishing apprehensions of God’s love: “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 5:5). God’s love is a box of precious ointment, and it is only the Spirit who can break this box open, and fill us with its sweet perfume.

Answer 3: The Spirit comforts by taking us to the blood of Christ. As when a man is weary and ready to faint, we take him to the water, and he is refreshed, so when we are fainting under the burden of sin, the Spirit takes us to the fountain of Christ’s blood: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened…” (Zech. 13:1). The Spirit enables us to drink the waters of justification which run out of Christ’s sides. The Spirit applies whatever Christ has purchased; he shows us that our sins are done away in Christ, and though we are spotted in ourselves, we are undefiled in our Head.

Answer 4: The Spirit comforts by enabling conscience to comfort. The child must be taught before it can speak. The Spirit opens the mouth of conscience, and helps it to speak and witness to a man that his state is good, whereupon he begins to receive comfort: “conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 9:1). Conscience draws up a certificate for a man, then the Holy Ghost comes and signs the certificate.

Answer 5: The Spirit conveys the oil of joy through two golden pipes:

  1. The Ordinances. As Christ in prayer had his counten­ance changed (Luke 9:29) and there was a glorious luster upon his face, so often in the use of holy ordinances the godly have such raptures of joy and soul transfigurations that they have been carried above the world, and despised all things below.
  2. The Promises. The promises are comforting: (i) For their sureness (Rom. 4:16). God in the promises has put his truth in pawn. (ii) For their suitableness, being calculated for every Christian’s condition. The promises are like a herb garden. There is no disease but some herb may be found there to cure it. But the promises of themselves cannot comfort. Only the Spirit enables us to suck these honeycombs. The promises are like a still bill of herbs, but this still will not drop unless the fire is put under it. So when the Spirit of God (who is compared to fire) is put to the still of the promises, then they distil consolation into the soul. Thus we see how the Spirit is in the godly by his virtues.


Use 1: It brands those as ungodly who have none of God’s Spirit: “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). And if he is none of Christ’s, then whose is he? To what regiment does he belong? It is the misery of a sinner that he has none of God’s Spirit.

Use 2: As you would be listed in the number of the godly, strive for the blessed indwelling of the Spirit. Pray with Melanchthon, “Lord, inflame my soul with thy Holy Spirit;” and with the spouse, “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden” (Song 4:16). As a mariner would desire a wind to drive him to sea, so beg for the prosperous gales of the Spirit and the promise may add wings to prayer. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask?” (Luke 11:13). God’s Spirit is a rich jewel. Go to God him: “Lord, give me thy Spirit. Where is the jewel promised me? When shall my soul be like Gideon’s, wet with the dew of heaven?”

Consider how necessary the Spirit is. Without him we do nothing acceptable to God:

  1. We cannot pray without him. He is a Spirit of supplica­tion (Zech. 12:10). He helps both the inventiveness and affection: “The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans” (Rom. 8:26).
  2. We cannot resist temptation without him: “ye shall receive ­power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). He who has the tide of corrupt nature and the of temptation must of necessity be carried down the stream of sin if the contrary wind of the Spirit does not blow.
  3. We cannot be fruitful without the Spirit. “The golden rain from heaven waters the thirsty hearts.” Why is the Spirit compared to dew and rain, but to show us how unable we are to bring forth a crop of grace unless the dew of God fails upon us?
  4. Without the Spirit, no ordinance is effectual to us. Ordinances are the conduit pipes of grace, but the Spirit is the spring. Some are content that they have a “Levite to their priest” (Judges 17:13), but never look any further. As if a merchant should be content that his ship has good tackling and is well manned, though it never has a gale of wind. The ship of ordinances will not carry us to heaven, though an angel is the pilot, unless the wind of God’s Spirit blows. The Spirit is the soul of the Word without which it is but a dead letter. Ministers may prescribe medicine, but it is God’s Spirit who must make it work. Our hearts are like David’s body when it grew old: “they covered him with clothes, but he got no heat” (I Kings 1:). So though the ministers of God ply us with prayers and counsel as with hot clothes, yet we are cold and chilly till God’s Spirit comes; and then we say, like the disciples, “Did not our heart burn within us?” (Luke 24:32). Oh, therefore, what need we have of the Spirit!

Finally, you who have the blessed Spirit manifested by his energy and vital operations:

1. Acknowledge God’s distinguishing love. The Spirit is an earmark of election (1 John 3:24). Christ gave the bag to Judas but not his Spirit. The Spirit is a love token. Where God gives his Spirit as a pawn, he gives himself as a portion. The Spirit is a comprehensive blessing; he is put for all good things (Matt. 7:11). What would you be without the Spirit but like so many carcasses? Without this, Christ would not profit you. The blood of God is not enough without the breath of God. Oh then, be thankful for the Spirit. This lodestone will never stop drawing you till it has drawn you up to heaven.

2. If you have this Spirit, do not grieve him (Eph. 4:30). Shall we grieve our Comforter?

Question: How do we grieve the Spirit?

Answer 1: When we unkindly repel his motions. The Spirit sometimes whispers in our ears and calls to us as God did to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel” (Gen. 35:1). So the Spirit says, “Arise, go to prayer, retire to meet your God.” Now when we stifle these motions and entertain temptations to vanity, this is grieving the Spirit. If we check the motions of the Spirit, we shall lose the comforts of the Spirit.

Answer 2: We grieve the Spirit when we deny the work of Spirit in our hearts. If someone gives another person a token and he should deny it and say he never received it, would be to abuse the love of his friend. So, Christian, when God has given you his Spirit, witnessed by those meltings of heart and passionate desires for heaven, yet you deny that you ever had any renewing work of the Spirit in you, this is base ingratitude and grieves the good Spirit. Renounce the sinful works of the flesh, but do not deny the work of the Spirit.

Edited and excerpted from The Godly Man’s Picture.

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