Thomas Watson – A Heinous, Execrable Thing

I shall show what a heinous and execrable thing sin is. It is the complication of all evil; it is the spirits of mischief distilled. The Scripture calls it the “accursed thing” (Joshua 7:13); it is compared to the venom of serpents, the stench of sepulchers. The apostle useth this expression of sin, “Out of measure sinful” (Rom 7:13), or, as it is in the Greek, “Hyperbolically sinful.” The devil would paint over sin with the vermillion color of pleasure and profit that he may make it look fair; but I shall pull off the paint from sin that you may see the ugly face of it. We are apt to have slight thoughts of sin and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” (Gen 19:20). But that you may see how great an evil sin is, consider these four things:

1. The origin of sin from whence it comes: It fetcheth its pedigree from hell. Sin is of the devil: “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Satan was the first actor of sin and the first tempter to sin: sin is the devil’s firstborn.

2. Sin is evil in the nature of it. (1) It is a defiling thing. Sin is not only a defection, but a pollution. It is to the soul as rust is to gold, as a stain is to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt and black with filth. Sin in Scripture is compared to a “menstruous cloth” (Isaiah 30:22), to a plague-sore (1 Kings 8:38). Joshua’s filthy garments, in which he stood before the angel (Zec 3:3), were nothing but a type and hieroglyphic of sin. Sin hath blotted God’s image and stained the orient brightness of the soul. Sin makes God loathe a sinner (Zech 11:8); and when a sinner sees his sin, he loathes himself (Ezek 20:43). Sin drops poison on our holy things: it infects our prayers. The high priest was to make atonement for sin on the altar (Ex 29:36) to typify that our holiest services need Christ to make an atonement for them. Duties of religion in themselves are good, but sin corrupts them, as the purest water is polluted running through muddy ground. Under the law, if the leper had touched the altar, the altar had not cleansed him; but he had defiled the altar. The apostle calls sin, “Filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor 7:1). Sin stamps the devil’s image on a man…It turns a man into a devil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).

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Thomas Watson – God’s Mercy

What are the properties of God’s mercy?

(1) It is free and spontaneous. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy or force it; we cannot deserve it nor force it, because of our enmity. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. ‘I will love them freely.’ Hos 14: 4. Every link in the golden 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: 4. Justification is free. ‘Being justified freely by his grace.’ Rom 3: 24. Say not I am unworthy; for mercy is free. If God should show mercy only to such as deserve it, he must show mercy to none.

(2) The mercy which God shows is powerful. How powerful is that mercy which softens a heart of stone! Mercy changed Mary Magdalen’s heart, out of whom seven devils were cast: she who was an inflexible adamant was made a weeping penitent. God’s mercy works sweetly, yet irresistibly; it allures, yet conquers. The law may terrify, but mercy mollifies. Of what sovereign power and efficacy is that mercy which subdues the pride and enmity of the heart, and beats off those chains of sin in which the soul is held.

(3) The mercy which God shows is superabundant. ‘Abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands.’ Exod 34: 6. God visits iniquity ‘to the third and fourth generation’ only, but he shows mercy to a thousand generations. Exod 20: 5, 6. The Lord has treasures of mercy in store, and therefore is said to be ‘plenteous in mercy’ (Psa 86: 5), and ‘rich in mercy’ (Eph 2: 4). The vial of God’s wrath drops only, but the fountain of his mercy runs. The sun is not so full of light as God is of love.

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Thomas Watson – The Saint’s Spiritual Delight

But his delight is in the law of the Lord. Ps. 1:2

CHAPTER 1

Showing that Negative Goodness is but a broken Title to Heaven.

Just as the book of the Canticles is called the Song of Songs by a Hebraism (being the most excellent of songs), so Psalm 1 may not unfitly be entitled, the Psalm of Psalms, for it contains in it the very pith and quintessence of Christianity. What Jerome says of Paul’s epistles, I may say of this psalm; it is short for the composition, but full of length and strength for the matter. This psalm carries blessedness in the frontispiece; it begins where we all hope to end: it may well be called A Christian’s Guide, for it reveals the quicksands where the wicked sink down in perdition, verse 1; and the firm ground on which the saints tread to glory, verse 2. The text is an epitome and breviary of religion, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.” Every word has its emphasis; I begin with the first word But.

Just as the book of the Canticles is called the Song of Songs by a Hebraism (being the most excellent of songs), so Psalm 1 may not unfitly be entitled, the Psalm of Psalms, for it contains in it the very pith and quintessence of Christianity. What Jerome says of Paul’s epistles, I may say of this psalm; it is short for the composition, but full of length and strength for the matter. This psalm carries blessedness in the frontispiece; it begins where we all hope to end: it may well be called A Christian’s Guide, for it reveals the quicksands where the wicked sink down in perdition, verse 1; and the firm ground on which the saints tread to glory, verse 2. The text is an epitome and breviary of religion, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.” Every word has its emphasis; I begin with the first word But.

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Thomas Watson – The Worst Things

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

We shall consider, first — WHAT things work for good to the godly; and here we shall show that both the best things and the worst things work for their good.

Do not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature, the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse. But though they are naturally evil — yet the wise overruling hand of God disposing and sanctifying them — they are morally good. As the elements, though of contrary qualities — yet God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe. Or as in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another — but all carry on the motions of the watch. Just so, things that seem to move cross to the godly — yet by the wonderful providence of God, work for their good. Among these worst things, there are four sad evils which work for good to those who love God.

1. The evil of AFFLICTION works for good, to the godly.

It is one heart-quieting consideration in all the afflictions which befall us—that God has a special hand in them: “The Almighty has afflicted me” (Ruth 1:21). Instruments can no more stir until God gives them a commission, than the axe can cut, by 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 has taken away.” Whoever brings an affliction to us, it is God who sends it.

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Thomas Watson – The Christian Soldier

John the Baptist, hearing in prison of the fame of Christ, sends two of his disciples to Him with this question, Are You He who should come, or do we look for another? verse 3. Not that John Baptist knew not that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, for he was confirmed in this both by the Spirit of God and by a sign from heaven (John 1:33). But John the Baptist hereby endeavored to correct the ignorance of his own disciples who had a greater respect for him, than for Christ.

In the fourth verse Christ answers their question, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Jesus Christ demonstrates Himself to be the true Messiah by His miracles which were real and visible proofs of His divinity. John’s disciples being departed, Christ falls into a high praise and commendation of John the Baptist, Verse 7. “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?” As if Christ had said, John the Baptist was no inconstant man, fluctuating in his mind and being shaken as a reed from one opinion to another; he was no Reuben, unstable as water—but was fixed and resolute in piety, and a prison could make no alteration in him.

Verse 8. “If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes?” John did not indulge his senses; he wore not silks—but camel’s hair; nor did he desire to live at court—but in a wilderness, Matt. iii. 3,4.

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Thomas Watson – Christ’s Kingly Office

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Question: How does Christ execute the office of a king?

Answer: In subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Let us consider now Christ’s regal office. ‘And he hath on his vesture, and on his thigh, a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords’ (Rev. 19:16).

Jesus Christ is of mighty renown, he is a king; (1) he has a kingly title. ‘High and Lofty’ (Is. 47:14). (2) He has his insignia regalia, his ensigns of royalty; corona est insigne regae potestatis [a crown is the symbol of royal power]. He has his crown (Rev. 6:2); his sword, ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh’ (Ps. 45:3); his sceptre, ‘A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom’ (Heb. 1:8). (3) He has his escutcheon, or coat of armour; he inserts the lion in his coat of arms: ‘The lion of the tribe of Judah’ (Rev. 5:5). The text says ‘he is King of kings.’ He has a pre-eminence of all other kings, and is called, ‘The Prince of the kings of the earth’ (Rev. 1:5). He must needs be so, for ‘by him kings reign’ (Prov. 8:15). They hold their crowns by immediate tenure from this great King. Christ infinitely outvies all other princes; he has the highest throne, the largest dominions, and the longest possession. ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever’ (Heb. 1:8). He has many heirs, but no successors. Well may he be called ‘King of kings,’ for he has an unlimited power. The power of other kings is limited, but Christ’s power is unlimited. ‘Whatsoever he pleased, that did he, in heaven and earth, and in the seas’ (Ps. 135:6). Christ’s power is as large as his will. The angels take the oath of allegiance to him. ‘Let all the angels of God worship him’ (Heb. 1:6).

How came Christ to be king?

Not by usurpation, but legally. He holds his crown by immediate tenure from heaven. God the Father has decreed him to be king. ‘I have set my king upon my holy hill: I will declare the decree’ (Ps. 2:6, 7). God has anointed and sealed him to his regal office. ‘Him hath God the Father sealed’ (John 6:27). God has set the crown upon his head.

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Thomas Watson – The Holiness of God

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The next attribute is God’s holiness. Ex. 15:2, ‘Glorious in holiness.’ Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Ps. 111:9, ‘Holy and reverend is his name.’ He is ‘the holy One.’ Job 6:10. Seraphims cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.’ Isa vi 3. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God’s holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil, and cannot look on iniquity.’ Hab 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.’ Ps. 119:140. It is compared to silver refined seven times. Ps. 12:6. 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,’ Ps. 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 i 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.’ Lev xx 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.

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Thomas Watson – Examining Our Repentance

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If any shall say they have repented, let me desire them to try themselves seriously by those seven…effects of repentance which the Apostle lays down in 2 Corinthians 7:11.

1. Carefulness: The Greek word signifies a solicitous diligence or careful shunning [of] all temptations to sin. The true penitent flies from sin as Moses did from the serpent (Ex. 4:3).

2. Clearing of ourselves: The Greek word is apology. The sense is this: though we have much care, yet through strength of temptation we may slip into sin. Now in this case, the repenting soul will not let sin lie festering in his conscience, but judges himself for his sin. He pours out tears before the Lord. He begs mercy in the name of Christ and never leaves until he has gotten his pardon. Here he is cleared of guilt in his conscience and is able to make an apology for himself against Satan.

3. Indignation: He that repents of sin, his spirit rises against it, as one’s blood rises at the sight of him whom he mortally hates. Indignation is a being fretted395 at the heart with sin. The penitent is vexed with himself. David calls himself a fool and a beast (Ps. 73:22). God is never better pleased with us than when we fall out with ourselves for sin.

4. Fear: A tender heart is ever a trembling heart. The penitent has felt sin’s bitterness. This hornet has stung him and now, having hopes that God is reconciled, he is afraid to come near sin any more. The repenting soul is full of fear. He is afraid to lose God’s favor, which is better than life. He is afraid he should, for want396 of diligence, come short of salvation. He is afraid lest, after his heart has been soft, the waters of repentance should freeze and he should harden in sin again. “Happy is the man that feareth alway” (Pro 28:14)…A repenting person fears and sins not; a graceless person sins and fears not.

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Thomas Watson – No Rowing to Paradise Except Upon the Stream of Repenting Tears

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Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.“ Revelation 3:20

There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet. Why are the wells of repentance stopped? Do not the sinners of the land know that they should repent? Have they no warning? Have not God’s faithful messengers lifted up their voice as a trumpet and cried to them to repent? But many of these tools in the ministry have been spent and worn out upon rocky hearts. Do we think that God will always put up with our affronts?

Some bless themselves that they have a stock of knowledge, but what is knowledge good for without repentance? Learning and a bad heart is like a fair face with a cancer in the breast. Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light the way to hell. Repentant tears may be compared to myrrh, which though it is bitter in taste, has a sweet smell and refreshes the spirit. So repentance, though it is bitter in itself, yet it is sweet in the effects. It brings inward peace.

We are to find as much bitterness in weeping for sin as ever we found sweetness in committing it. Surely David found more bitterness in repentance than ever he found comfort in Bathsheba. Tears have four qualities: they are moist, salt, hot, and bitter. It is true of repenting tears, they are hot to warm a frozen conscience; moist, to soften a hard heart; salt, to season a soul decaying in sin; bitter, to wean us from the love of the world. And I will add a fifth, they are sweet, in that they make the heart inwardly rejoice.

David, who was the great weeper in Israel, was the sweet singer of Israel. The sorrows of the repentant are like the sorrows of a travailing woman: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21).

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Thomas Watson – How May We know Whether We Love God?

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He who loves God desires His presence. Lovers cannot be long asunder, they soon have their fainting fits, for lack of a sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love with God desires the enjoyment of Him. David was ready to faint away, when he had not a sight of God. “My soul faints for God.” Psalm 84:2

He who loves God, does not love sin. “You who 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. He who loves God, has an antipathy against 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 sin. By this try your love to God. How can he say he loves God, who loves sin—which is God’s enemy?

He who loves God is not much in love with anything else. His love is very cool to worldly things. The love of the world eats out the heart of piety; it chokes holy affections, as earth puts out the fire. He who loves God—uses the world but chooses God. The world engages him—but God delights and satisfies him. He says as David, “God, my exceeding joy!” Psalm 43:4. “God is the cream of my joy!”

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