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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God Does Not Repent of His Call

From the desk of Thomas Watson:

When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.

God’s Immutable Decree

Quoting Thomas Watson:

“When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or a s princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded on His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out his people’s sins, but not their names.”

Do You Prize Preaching?

In the words of Thomas Watson:

[Concerning the Word preached:] “Do we prize it in our judgments? Do we receive it into our hearts? Do we fear the loss of the Word preached more than the loss of peace and trade? Is it the removal of the ark that troubles us? Again, do we attend to the Word with reverential devotion? When the judge is giving the charge on the bench, all attend. When the Word is preached, the great God is giving us his charge. Do we listen to it as to a matter of life and death? This is a good sign that we love the Word.

The Comfort Of A Reproof

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was noted for remarkably intense study. In 1646 he commenced a sixteen year pastorate at St. Stephen’s, Walbrook. He showed strong Presbyterian views but in 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love’s plot to recall Charles II of England. He was released on June 30, 1652, and was formally reinstated as vicar of St. Stephen’s Walbrook. Watson obtained great fame and popularity as a preacher. Below, he writes about the godly man and his willingness to receive the reproof of the Word of God:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

A corrupt heart loves the comforts of the Word, but not the reproofs: ‘They hate the one who rebukes in the gate.’ (Amos 5:1O). ‘Their eyes flash with fire!’ Like venomous creatures that at the least touch spit poison, ‘When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.’ (Acts 7:54). When Stephen touched them to the quick, they were mad and could not endure it.

How shall we know that we love the reproofs of the Word?

When we desire to sit under a heart-searching ministry. Who cares for medicines that will not work? A godly man does not choose to sit under a ministry that will not work upon his conscience.

When we pray that the Word may meet with our sins. If there is any traitorous lust in our heart, we would have it found out and executed. We do not want sin covered, but cured. We can open our breast to the bullet of the Word and say, ‘Lord, smite this sin.’

When we are thankful for a reproof: ‘Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.’ (Psalm 141:5). David was glad of a reproof. Suppose a man were in the mouth of a lion, and another should shoot the lion and save the man, would he not be thankful? So, when we are in the mouth of sin, as of a lion, and the minister by a reproof shoots this sin to death, shall we not be thankful? A gracious soul rejoices when the sharp lance of the Word has pierced his abscess. He wears a reproof like a jewel on his ear: ‘Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to an obedient ear.’ (Proverbs 25:12).

To conclude, it is convincing preaching which must do the soul good. A nipping reproof prepares for comfort, as a nipping frost prepares for the sweet flowers of spring. (The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson, published by the Banner of Truth)

Are We Lovers Of The Word?

Thomas Watson

The Word of God is spiritually pure. By the Word of God, we are convicted. People who love the Word will seek to be a part of a heart-searching ministry. A Christian soul rejoices when God’s Word has pierced his sin. Thomas Watson shares his perspective on this subject in the excerpts below:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

A godly man loves the Word preached, which is a commentary upon the Word written. This day-star has risen in his heart, and ushered in the Sun of righteousness. The Scriptures are the sovereign oils and balsams; the preaching of the Word is the pouring of them out. The Scriptures are the precious spices; the preaching of the Word is the beating of these spices, which causes a wonderful fragrance and delight. The Word preached is ‘the rod of God’s strength’ (Psa. 11O:2) and ‘the breath of his lips’ (Isa. 11:4). What was once said of the city of Thebes, that it was built by the sound of Amphius’ harp, is much more true of soul conversion. It is built by the sound of the gospel harp. Therefore the preaching of the Word is called ‘the power of God to salvation’ (Rom 1:16). By this, Christ is said (now) to speak to us from heaven (Heb. 12:25). This ministry of the Word is to be preferred before the ministry of angels.

A godly man loves the Word preached, partly from the good he has found by it – he has felt the dew fall with this manna – and partly because of God’s institution. The Lord has appointed this ordinance to save him. The king’s image makes the coin current. The stamp of divine authority on the Word preached makes it an instrument conducive to men’s salvation.

  • Application: Let us test by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we lovers of the Word?

Do we love the Word written? What sums of money the martyrs gave for a few pages of the Bible! Do we make the Word our bosom friend? As Moses often had ‘the rod of God’ in his hand, so we should have ‘the Book of God’ in our hand. When we want direction, do we consult this sacred oracle? When we find corruptions strong, do we make use of this ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew them down? When we are disconsolate, do we go to this bottle of the water of life for comfort? Then we are lovers of the Word! But alas, how can they who are seldom conversant with the Scriptures say they love them? Their eyes begin to be sore when they look at a Bible. The two testaments are hung up like rusty armor which is seldom or never made use of. The Lord wrote the law with his own finger, but though God took pains to write, men will not take pains to read. They would rather look at a deck of cards than at a Bible. (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

If The Lord Be On Our Side

Thomas Watson

From the pen of Thomas Watson:

If the Lord be on our side He can save us in that very way in which we think He will destroy us. Would not any have thought the whale’s belly should have been Jonah‘s grave? But God made the fish a ship, in which he sailed to the shore . . . If the Lord of Hosts be on our side, He can make the Church’s affliction a means of her augmentation, ‘The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied.’ (Ex.1:12) (Watson, Religion Our True Interest, 91)

A Godly Man Loves Talking About God’s Word

When you need sound advice, do you consult the Word of God? When evil is strong in the land, do you take up the ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew it down? When all seems against you, do you drink from the fountain of life? If so, you are a lover of God’s Word! However, most people could not carry on a conversation about the Word of God for five minutes. Thomas Watson explains the need for witnesses who can talk about Christ:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Never did a man take such delight in a dish that he loved as the prophet did in the Word. And indeed, how can a saint choose but take great pleasure in the Word? All that he ever hopes to be worth is contained in it. Does not a son take pleasure in reading his father’s will and testament, in which he bequeaths his estate to him?

‘Your word I have hidden in my heart’ (Psalm119:11) – as one hides a treasure so that it should not be stolen. The Word is the jewel; the heart is the cabinet where it must

Thomas Watson

be locked up. Many hide the Word in their memory, but not in their heart. And why would David enclose the Word in his heart? ‘That I might not sin against you.’ As a man would carry an antidote about him when he comes near an infected place, so a godly man carries the Word in his heart as a spiritual antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin. Why have so many been poisoned with error, others with moral vice, but because they have not hidden the Word as a holy antidote in their heart?

A wise man will not let his land be taken from him but will defend his title. David looked upon the Word as his land of inheritance: ‘Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.’ (Psalm 119:111) And do you think he will let his inheritance be wrested out of his hands? A godly man will not only dispute for the Word but die for it: ‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God.’ (Rev 6:9)

‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.’ (Job. 23:12). ‘The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72). Memorable is the story of King Edward the Sixth. On the day of his coronation, when they presented three swords before him, signifying to him that he was monarch of three kingdoms, the king said, ‘There is still one sword missing.’ On being asked what that was, he answered, ‘The Holy Bible, which is the ‘sword of the Spirit’ and is to be preferred before these ensigns of royalty.’

‘My tongue shall speak of your word.’ (Psalm 119:172). As a covetous man talks of his rich purchase, so a godly man speaks of the Word. What a treasure it is, how full of beauty and sweetness! Those whose mouths the devil has gagged, who never speak of God’s Word, indicate that they never reaped any good from it.

The Word is his compass, by which he sets his life, the balance in which he weighs his actions. He copies out the Word in his daily walk: ‘I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim. 4:7). St Paul kept the doctrine of faith, and lived the life of faith.

Question: Why is a godly man a lover of the Word?

Answer: Because of the excellence of the Word.

The Word written is our pillar of fire to guide us. It shows us what rocks we are to avoid; it is the map by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. The Word is a spiritual mirror through which we may see our own hearts. The mirror of nature, which the heathen had, revealed spots in their lives, but this mirror reveals spots in the imagination; that mirror revealed the spots of their unrighteousness, this reveals the spots of our righteousness. ‘When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died’ (Rom. 7:9). When the Word came like a mirror, all my opinion of self-righteousness died.

The Word of God is a sovereign comfort in distress. While we follow this cloud, the rock follows us. ‘This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.’ (Psalm 119:50). Christ is the fountain of living water; the Word is the golden pipe through which it runs. What can revive at the hour of death but the word of life (Phil. 2:16)? (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

We Are Travelers

Thomas Watson

From the desk of Thomas Watson:

The world is a great inn; we are guests in this inn. Travelers, when they are met in their inn, do not spend all their time in speaking about the inn; they are to lodge there but a few hours and are gone. They speak about their home and the country to which they are traveling. So when we meet together, we should not be talking only about the world; we are to leave this presently. We should talk about our heavenly country. (Watson, Heaven Taken By Storm, 38)

Loving The Written Word Of God

Thomas Watson

We should do our best to meditate on the Bible every day. The true Christian meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He endeavors to saturate his mind with the Scriptures. Thomas Watson explains the importance of loving God’s Word:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. (Psalm 119:97-98 ESV)

Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden set with ornaments and flowers. A godly man delights to walk in this garden and sweetly solace himself. He loves every branch and part of the Word: He loves the counseling part of the Word, as it is a directory and rule of life. The Word is the direction sign which points us to our duty. It contains in it things to be believed and practiced. A godly man loves the directions of the Word.

He loves the threatening part of the Word. The Scripture is like the Garden of Eden: as it has a tree of life in it, so it has a flaming sword at its gates. This is the threatening of the Word. It flashes fire in the face of every person who goes on obstinately in wickedness. ‘God will wound the head of His enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses.’ (Psa. 68:21). The Word gives no indulgence to evil. It will not let a man halt half-way between God and sin. The true mother would not let the child be divided (I Kings 3:26), and God will not have the heart divided. The Word thunders out threats against the very appearance of evil. It is like that flying scroll full of curses (Zech. 5:1). A godly man loves the menaces of the Word. He knows there is love in every threat. God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin. God’s threats are like the buoy, which shows the rocks in the sea and threatens death to such as come near. The threat is a curbing bit to check us, so that we may not run in full career to hell. There is mercy in every threat.

He loves the consolatory part of the Word – the promises. He goes feeding on these as Samson went on his way eating the honeycomb (Judges 14:8, 9). The promises are all marrow and sweetness. They are reviving to us when we are fainting; they are the conduits of the water of life. ‘In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.’ (Psa. 94:19). The promises were David’s harp to drive away sad thoughts; they were the breast which gave him the milk of divine consolation.

A godly man shows his love to the Word written by diligently reading it. The noble Bereans ‘searched the Scriptures daily’ (Acts 17:11). Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:12). The Word is our Magna Carta for heaven; we should be daily reading over this charter. The Word shows what truth is and what error is. It is the field where the pearl of price is hidden. How we should dig for this pearl! A godly man’s heart is the library to hold the Word of God; it dwells richly in him (Col. 3:16). It is reported of Melancthon that when he was young, he always carried the Bible with him and read it greedily. The Word has a double work: to teach us and to judge us. Those who will not be taught by the Word shall be judged by the Word. Oh, let us make ourselves familiar with the Scripture! (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

True Christians Prize Christ

Thomas Watson

In the words of Thomas Watson:

We cannot prize Christ at too high a rate. We may prize other things above their value. That is our sin. We commonly overrate the creature; we think there is more in it than there is; therefore God withers our gourd, because we over-prize it.

But we cannot raise our esteem of Christ high enough. He is beyond all value! There is no ruby or diamond, but the jeweler can set a fair price on it. But Christ’s worth can never be fully known. No seraphim can set a due value on Him. His riches are unsearchable! Ephesians 3:8. Christ is more precious than heaven!

True Christians prize Christ, as most precious. He is their chief treasure and delight. This reason why millions perish, is because they do not prize Christ.

The ungodly choose things of no value, before Christ! “You blind fools!” Matthew 23:17. If a person chooses an apple before a priceless diamond—he is judged to be a fool. How many such idiots are there, who choose the gaudy, empty things of this life—before the Prince of Glory! (“The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil”)

Pardoned By God

Thomas Watson

Quoting Thomas Watson:

“Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it, Micah 7:19. Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned.”

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