The Godly Man's Picture, Drawn with a
Scripture Pencil, or, Some Characteristic
Marks of a Man who is Going to Heaven
By Thomas Watson
The CHARACTERISTICS of a godly man
20. A godly man is good in his relationships
To be good in general is not enough—but we must show
piety in our relationships.
1. He who is good as a MAGISTRATE is godly.
The magistrate is God's representative. A godly magistrate holds the balance
of justice, and gives everyone his right: "You must never twist justice or
show partiality. Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise
and corrupt the decisions of the godly" (Deut. 16:19). A magistrate must
judge the cause, not the person. He who allows himself to be
corrupted by bribes, is not a judge but a party. A magistrate
must do that which is "according to law" (Acts 23:3). And in order that he
may do justice, he must examine the cause. The archer who wishes to shoot
right, must first see the target.
2. He who is good as a MINISTER is godly.
Ministers must be:
(1) Painstaking. "Preach the Word; be prepared
in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great
patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). The minister must not be
idle. Sloth is as inexcusable in a minister, as sleeping in a sentry. John
the Baptist was a "voice crying" (Matt. 3:3). A dumb minister
is of no more use, than a dead physician. A man of God must work
in the Lord's vineyard. It was Augustine's wish that Christ might find
him at his coming either praying or preaching.
(2) Knowledgeable. "For the lips of a priest
ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek
instruction--because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty" (Mal. 2:7).
It was said in honor of Gregory Nazianzene that he was an ocean of divinity.
The prophets of old were called "seers" (1 Sam. 9:9). It is absurd to have
blind seers. Christ said to Peter, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:16). But
how sad it is when the shepherd needs to be fed! Ignorance in a minister is
like blindness in an optometrist. Under the law, he who had the plague in
his head, was unclean (Lev. 13:44).
(3) A plain preacher, suiting his matter and
style to the capacity of his audience (1 Cor. 14:19). Some ministers, like
eagles, love to soar aloft in abstruse metaphysical notions, thinking they
are most admired when they are least understood. They who preach in the
clouds, instead of hitting their people's conscience, shoot over their
(4) Zealous in reproving sin. "Rebuke them
sharply" (Titus 1:13). Epiphanius said of Elijah, that he sucked fire out of
his mother's breasts. A man of God must suck the fire of zeal out of the
breasts of Scripture! Zeal in a minister is as proper as fire on the
altar. Some are afraid to reprove, like the swordfish which has a sword in
his head, but is without a heart. So they carry the sword of the Spirit with
them—but have no heart to draw it out in reproof against sin. How many have
sown pillows under their people (Ezek. 13:18), making them sleep so
securely, that they never awoke until they were in hell!
(5) Holy in heart and life:
(a) In heart. How sad it is for a minister to
preach that to others, which he never felt in his own soul; to exhort others
to holiness and himself be a stranger to it. Oh, that this were not too
often so! How many blow the Lord's trumpet with foul breath!
(b) In life. Under the law, before the priests
served at the altar, they washed in the laver. Such as serve
in the Lord's house must first be washed from gross sin in the laver of
repentance. The life of a minister should be a walking Bible. Basil said of
Gregory Nazianzene that he thundered in his doctrine, and lightened in his
conduct. A minister must imitate John the Baptist, who was not only "a voice
crying"—but "a light shining" (John 5:35). Those who live in contradiction
to what they preach, disgrace this excellent calling. And though they are
angels by office—yet they are devils in their lives (Jer. 23:15).
3. He who is good as a HUSBAND is godly. He
fills up that relationship with love: "Husbands, love your wives" (Eph.
5:25). The vine twisting its branches about the elm and embracing it may be
an emblem of that entire love which should be in the marital relationship. A
married condition would be sad--if it had cares to embitter it and not love
to sweeten it. Love is the best diamond in the marriage ring! "Isaac
loved Rebekah" (Gen. 24:67). Unkindnesses in this close relationship are
very unhappy. We read in heathen authors that Clytemnestra, the wife of
Agamemnon, in order to revenge an injury received from her husband, first
rent the veil of her chastity and afterwards consented to his death. The
husband should show his love to his wife by covering infirmities; by
avoiding occasions of strife; by sweet, endearing expressions; by pious
counsel; by love tokens; by encouraging what he sees amiable and virtuous in
her; by mutual prayer; by being with her, unless detained by urgency of
business. The pilot who leaves his ship and abandons it entirely to the
merciless waves, declares that he does not value it or reckon there is any
treasure in it.
The apostle gives a good reason why there should be
mutual love between husband and wife: "that your prayers be not hindered" (1
Pet. 3:7). Where anger and bitterness prevail, there prayer is either
intermitted or interrupted.
4. He who is good as a FATHER is godly
(1) A father must drop holy instructions into his
children: "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph.
6:4). This is what Abraham did: "I know Abraham, that he will command his
children and his household, and they shall keep the way of the Lord" (Gen.
18:19). Children are young plants which must be watered with good education,
so that they may, with Obadiah, fear the Lord "from their youth up" (1 Kings
18:12). Plato said, "In vain does he expect a harvest, who has been
negligent in sowing." Nor can a parent expect to reap any good from a child,
where he has not sown the seed of wholesome instruction. And though,
notwithstanding all counsel and admonition, the child should die in sin—yet
it is a comfort to a godly parent to think that before his child died, he
gave it spiritual medicine.
(2) A parent must pray for his children. Monica, the
mother of Augustine, prayed for his conversion, and someone said "it was
impossible that a son of so many prayers and tears should perish." The soul
of your child is in a trap--and will you not pray that it may "escape from
the Devil's trap?" (2 Tim. 2:26) Many parents are careful to lay up
portions for their children—but they do not lay up prayers for
(3) A parent must give his children discipline: "Do not
withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will
not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death" (Proverbs
23:13-14). The rod beats out the dust and moth of sin. A child
indulged and humored in wickedness, will prove a burden instead of a
blessing. David pampered Adonijah: "his father had never disciplined
him at any time" (1 Kings 1:6). And afterwards he was a grief of heart to
his father, and wanted to put him off his throne. Discipline is a hedge of
thorns--to stop children in their mad race to hell.
5. He who is good as a MASTER is godly
A godly man promotes true religion in his family; he sets
up piety in his house, as well as in his heart: "I will walk within my house
with a perfect heart" (Psalm 101:2). "I and my household will serve the
Lord" (Josh. 24:15). I find it written in honor of Cramer, that his family
was a nursery of piety. A godly man's house is a little church:
"the church which is in his house" (Col. 4:15).
(1) A good man makes known the oracles of God to those
who are under his roof. He reads the Word and perfumes his house with
prayer. It is recorded of the Jews, that they had sacrifices in their family
as well as in the tabernacle (Exod. 12:3).
(2) A godly man provides necessities. He relieves his
servants in health and sickness. He is not like that Amalekite who shook off
his servant when he was sick, (1 Sam. 30:13)—but rather like the good
centurion, who sought Christ for the healing of his sick servant (Matt.
(3) A godly man sets his servants a good example. He is
sober and heavenly in his deportment; his virtuous life is a good mirror
for the servants in the family to dress themselves by.
6. He who is good in the relationship of a CHILD is godly
He honors his parents. Philo the Jew, placed the fifth
commandment in the first table—as if children had not performed their whole
devotion to God until they had given honor to their parents. This honoring
of parents consists in two things:
(1) In respecting them--which respect is shown
both by humility of speech and by attitude. The opposite of this is
when a child behaves himself in an unseemly and proud manner. Among the
Lacedemonians, if a child had behaved rebelliously towards his parent, it
was lawful for the father to appoint someone else to be his heir, and to
disinherit that child.
(2) Obeying their commands: "Children, obey your parents
in the Lord" (Eph. 6:1). Duty is the interest which children pay
their parents, on the capital they have had from them. Christ has set
all children a pattern of obedience to their parents: "He was subject unto
them" (Luke 2:51). The Rechabites were eminent for this: "I set cups and
jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, but they refused.
"No," they said. "We don't drink wine, because Jehonadab our ancestor, gave
us this command: You and your descendants must never drink wine" (Jer.
35:5,6). Solon was asked why, among the many laws he made, none was against
disobedient children. He answered that it was because he thought none would
be so wicked.
God has punished children who have refused to pay the
tribute of obedience. Absalom, a disobedient son, was hanged in an oak
between heaven and earth, as being worthy of neither. Manlius, an old man,
being reduced to much poverty, and having a rich son, entreated him only for
charity—but could not obtain it. The son disowned him as his father, using
reproachful language. The poor old man let tears fall (as witnesses of his
grief) and went away. God, to revenge this disobedience of his son, soon
afterwards struck him with madness. He in whose heart godliness lives, makes
as much conscience of the fifth commandment as of the first.
7. He who is good as a SERVANT is godly
"Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not
only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of
heart and reverence for the Lord." (Col. 3:22; Eph. 6:5). The goodness of
servants lies in:
(1) Diligence. Abraham's servant quickly
dispatched the business his master entrusted him with (Gen. 24:33).
(2) Cheerfulness. Servants must be cheerful
workers, like the centurion's servants: "If I say to one, 'Go,' he goes"
(3) Faithfulness, which consists in two things:
(a) In not defrauding. "Not stealing" (Titus 2:10).
(b) In keeping counsel. It proves the badness of a
stomach, when it cannot retain what is put into it, and the badness of a
servant when he cannot retain those secrets which his master has committed
(4) Submissiveness. "Be submissive to their
masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back" (Titus
2:9). It is better to correct a fault than to minimize it. And what may
stimulate a servant in his work is that encouraging scripture, "Work hard
and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance
as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ." (Col. 3:24). If
Christ should bid you do a piece of work for him, would you not do it? While
you serve your master, you serve the Lord Christ. If you ask what salary you
shall have, "the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward."
Use 1: Is it the grand sign of a godly man to
be holy in his relationships? Then the Lord be merciful to us. How few godly
ones are to be found! Many put on the coat of profession. They will
pray and discourse on points of religion—but "What means this bleating of
the sheep?" (1 Sam. 15:14). They are not good in their relationships. How
bad it is when Christians are defective in family piety!
Can we call a bad magistrate, godly? He perverts
equity: "Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word? Do you judge
the people fairly? No, all your dealings are crooked; you hand out violence
instead of justice" (Psalm 58:1,2). Can we call a bad parent, godly?
He never teaches his child the way to heaven. He is like the ostrich which
is cruel to her young (Job 39:16). Can we call a bad employer, godly?
Many employers leave their religion at church (as the clerk does his book).
They have nothing of God at home; their houses are not Bethels—but Bethavens—not
little temples but little hells. How many employers at the
last day must plead guilty at the bar. Though they have fed their servants'
bellies, they have starved their souls. Can we call a bad child,
godly? He stops his ear to his parents' counsel. You may as well call him
who is disloyal--a good subject. Can we call a bad servant, godly? He
is slothful and wilful; he is more ready to spy a fault in another than to
correct it in himself. To call one who is bad in his relationships godly, is
a contradiction; it is to call evil good (Isaiah 5:20).
Use 2: As we desire to have God approve of us,
let us show godliness in our relationships. Not to be good in our
relationships spoils all our other good things. Naaman was an honorable man—but
he was a leper (2 Kings 5:1). That "but" spoiled everything. So such a
person is a great hearer—but he neglects relative duties. This stains
the beauty of all his other actions. As in printing, though the letter is
ever so well shaped—yet if it is not set in the right place, it spoils the
sense. So let a man have many things commendable in him—yet if he is not
good in his right place, making conscience of how he walks in his
relationships, he does harm to religion. There are many to whom Christ will
say at last, as to the young man, "There is still one thing you lack" (Luke
18:22). You have misbehaved in your relative capacity. As therefore we
cherish our salvation and the honor of true religion, let us shine in that
orb of relationships where God has placed us.
21. A godly man does spiritual things in a spiritual
"We are the true circumcision, who worship God in the
spirit" (Phil. 3:3). Spiritual worship is pure worship: "You are built up a
spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (1
Peter 2:5)—spiritual not only in the matter—but also in the quality. A
wicked man either lives in the total neglect of duty--or else discharges it
in a dull, careless manner. Instead of "using the world as if he used it
not" (1 Cor. 7.31), he serves God as if he did not serve him. A godly man
spiritualizes duty; he is not only for the doing of holy things--but for the
holy doing of things.
Question: What is it to perform spiritual duties
Answer: It consists in three things:
1. To do duties from a spiritual principle, namely, a
renewed principle of grace. A man may have gifts which attract
admiration; he may have the most melting, ravishing expressions; he may
speak like an angel come down from heaven; yet his duties may not be
spiritual because he lacks the grace of the Spirit. Whatever a moral,
unregenerate person does--is only nature refined. Though he may do
duties better than a godly man—yet not so well—better as to the matter and
elegance—yet not so well, as lacking a renewed principle. A crab-tree may
bear as well as an apple tree; the fruit may be big and lovelier to the
eye—yet it is not such good fruit as the other, because it does not come
from so good a stock. So an unregenerate person may perform as many duties
as a child of God, and these may seem to be more glorious to the outward
view—but they are harsh and sour, because they do not come from the sweet
and pleasant root of grace. A true saint gives God that wine, which comes
from the pure grape of the Spirit.
2. To perform duties spiritually is to do them with the
utmost intention. A Christian is very serious and strives to keep
his thoughts close to the work in hand: "that you may attend upon the Lord
without distraction" (1 Cor. 7:35).
Question: But may not a godly man have roving
thoughts in duty?
Answer: Yes, sad experience proves it. The thoughts
will be dancing up and down in prayer. The saints are called stars,
and many times in duty they are wandering stars. The heart is like
quicksilver which will not settle. It is hard to tie two good thoughts
together. We cannot lock our hearts so close but that distracting thoughts,
like wind, will get in. Jerome complains about himself. "Sometimes," he
says, "when I am doing God's service, I am walking in the galleries or
casting up accounts."
But these wandering thoughts in the godly are not
allowed: "I hate vain thoughts" (Psalm 119:113). They come like
unwelcome guests who are no sooner spied, than they are turned out.
Question: From where do these wandering thoughts arise in
Answer 1: From the depravity of nature. They are
the mud which the heart casts up.
Answer 2: From Satan. The devil, if he cannot
hinder us from duty, will hinder us in duty. When we come
before the Lord, he is at our right hand to resist us (Zech. 3:1). Like when
a man is going to write, and another stands at his elbow and jogs him, so
that he cannot write evenly. Satan will set vain objects before the
imagination, to cause a diversion. The devil does not oppose formality,
but fervency. If he sees that we are setting ourselves in good
earnest to seek God, he will be whispering things in our ears, so that we
can scarcely attend to what we are doing.
Answer 3: These wandering thoughts arise from the
world. These vermin are bred out of the earth. Worldly business often
crowds into our duties, and while our mouths are speaking to God, our
hearts are thinking of the world: "They sit before me as my
people—but their heart goes after their covetousness" (Ezek. 33:31).
While we are hearing the Word or meditating, some worldly business or other
commonly knocks at the door and we are called away from the duty while we
are doing it. It is the same with us as it was with Abraham when he was
going to worship—the birds came down on the sacrifice (Gen. 15:11).
Question: How may we get rid of these wandering thoughts,
so that we may be more spiritual in duty?
Answer 1: Fix your eyes on God's purity. He whom we
serve is a holy God, and when we are worshiping him, he cannot tolerate our
conversing with vanity. While a king's subject is speaking to him, will the
king like him to be playing with a feather? Will God endure light, feathery
hearts? How devout and reverent the angels are! They cover their faces and
cry, "Holy, holy."
Answer 2: Think of the grand importance of the duties
we are engaged in. As David said, concerning his building a house for God,
"the work is great" (1 Chron. 29:1). When we are hearing the Word, "the work
is great." This is the Word by which we shall be judged. When we are at
prayer, "the work is great." We are pleading for the life of our souls, and
is this a time to trifle?
Answer 3: Come with delight to duty. The nature of
love is to fix the mind upon the object. The thoughts of a man who is in
love, are on the person he loves, and nothing can distract them. The
thoughts of a man who loves the world are always intent on it. If our hearts
were more fired with love, they would be more fixed in duty, and oh, what
cause we have to love duty! Is not this the direct road to heaven? Do we not
meet with God here? Can the spouse be better than in her husband's company?
Where can the soul be better than in drawing near to God?
Answer 4: Consider the mischief that these vain
distracting thoughts do. They blow away our duties; they hinder fervency;
they show great irreverence; they tempt God to turn his ear away from us.
Why do we think God should heed our prayers--when we ourselves
scarcely heed them?
3. To do duties spiritually is to do them in faith.
"By faith Abel offered unto God, a better sacrifice than Cain" (Heb. 11:4).
The holy oil for the tabernacle had several spices put into it (Exod.
30:34). Faith is the sweet spice which must be put into duty. It is a wrong
done to God--to doubt either his mercy or his truth. A Christian may
venture his soul upon the promises of God in Scripture.
Use 1: How far from godliness, are those who
are unspiritual in their worship, who do not do duties from a renewed
principle and with the utmost intention of soul—but merely to stop the mouth
of conscience! Many people look no further than the bare doing of duties—but
never heed how they are done. God does not judge our duties by their
length—but by love. When men put God off with the dreggish part of duty, may
he not say, like Isaiah, "Is it such a fast that I have chosen?" (Isaiah
58:5). "Are these the duties I required? I called for the heart and
spirit--and you bring nothing but the carcass of duty. Should
I receive this?" "The Lord says--These people come near to me with their
mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are
far from me." Isaiah 29:13
Use 2: Let us show ourselves godly by being
more spiritual in duty. It is not the quantity, but the quality--which
God is concerned with. It is not how much we do--but how well.
A musician is commended, not for playing long--but for playing well. We must
not only do what God appoints--but as God appoints. Oh, how
many are unspiritual in spiritual things! They bring their services but not
their hearts. They give God the skin, not the fat of the offering. "God is a
Spirit" (John 4:24)—and it is the spirituality of duty he is best pleased
with: "Spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God" (1 Pet. 2:5). The spirits
of the wine are best. So is the spiritual part of duty: "making melody
in your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19). It is the heart which makes
the music; the spiritualizing of duty gives life to it. Without this--it is
only dead praying, dead hearing—and dead things are not pleasing. A dead
flower has no beauty, a dead breast has no sweetness.
Question: What may we do, to perform duties in a
Answer 1: Let the soul be kept pure. Lust besots and
dispirits a man. Beware of any tincture of uncleanness (Jas. 1:21). Wood
that is full of sap will not easily burn. Just so, a heart steeped in sin is
not fit to burn in holy devotion. Can he who feeds carnal lust be spiritual
in worship? "Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart" (Hos.
4:11). Any sin lived in, takes away the heart. Such a person has no heart to
pray or meditate. The more alive the heart is in sin, the more it dies to
Answer 2: If we wish to be spiritual in duty, let us
revolve these two things in our mind:
(1) The profit which comes from a duty performed in a
spiritual manner. It enfeebles corruption; it increases grace; it defeats
Satan; it strengthens our communion with God; it breeds peace of conscience;
it procures answers of mercy; and it leaves the heart always in better tune.
(2) The danger of doing duties in an unspiritual manner.
They are as if they had not been done. For what the heart does not do--is
not done. Duties carelessly performed, turn ordinances into
judgments. Therefore many, though they are often doing duty--go away
worse from duty! If medicine is not well made and the ingredients rightly
mixed, it is as bad as poison for the body. Just so, if duties are not well
performed, they leave the heart harder and more sinful than before.
Unspiritual duties often create temporal judgments: "the
Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due
order" (1 Chron. 15:13). Therefore God makes breaches in families and
relationships, because people do not worship him in that manner and due
order which he requires.
Answer 3: If we want to have our duties
spiritual, we must get our hearts spiritual. An earthly heart cannot
be spiritual in duty. Let us beg from God, a spiritual palate to
relish a sweetness in holy things. For lack of spiritual hearts, we come to
duty without delight--and go away without profit! If a man wants to have the
wheels of his watch move regularly, he must mend the spring. Christian, if
you want to move more spiritually in duty, get the spring of your heart
22. A godly man is thoroughly trained in piety
He obeys every command of God: "I have found David a man
after my own heart, for he will carry out all My will" (Acts 13:22).
In the Greek it is "all my wills." A godly man strives to walk
according to the full breadth and latitude of God's law. Every command has
the same stamp of divine authority on it, and he who is godly will obey one
command as well as another: "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have
respect to all your commandments" (Psalm 119:6). A godly man goes
through all the body of piety--as the sun through all the signs of the
Zodiac. Whoever is to play a ten-stringed instrument must strike every
string or he will spoil all the music. The ten commandments may be compared
to a ten-stringed instrument. We must obey every commandment, strike every
string, or we cannot make any sweet music in piety.
True obedience is filial. It is fitting that the child
should obey the parent in all just and sober commands. God's laws are like
the curtains of the tabernacle which were looped together. They are like a
chain of gold where all the links are coupled. A godly man will not
willingly break one link of this chain. If one command is violated, the
whole chain is broken: "whoever shall keep the whole law—yet offend in one
point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10). A voluntary breach of one of God's
laws involves a man in the guilt, and exposes him to the curse of the whole
law. True obedience is entire and uniform. A good heart, like the needle,
points the way in which the loadstone draws.
This is one great difference between a child of God and a
hypocrite. The hypocrite picks and chooses in religion. He will perform some
duties which are easier, and gratify his pride or interest—but other duties
he takes no notice of: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you
hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you
have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and
faithfulness" (Matt. 23:23). To sweat in some duties of religion, and freeze
in others--is the symptom of a disordered Christian. Jehu was zealous in
destroying the idolatry of Baal—but let the golden calves of Jeroboam stand
(2 Kings 10:29). This shows that men are not good in truth--when they are
good by halves. If your servant should do some of your work you command him,
and leave the rest undone, how would you like that? The Lord says, "Walk
before me, and be perfect" (Gen. 17:1). How are our hearts perfect with
God--when we prevaricate with him? Some things we will do and other things
we leave undone. He is godly who is godly universally. "Here I am, Father;
command what you will" (Plautus).
There are ten duties that God calls for, which a godly
man will conscientiously perform, and indeed these duties may serve as so
many other characteristics and touchstones to test our godliness by:
1. A godly man will often be calling his heart to account
He takes the candle of the Word and searches his
innermost being: "I commune with my own heart: and my spirit made diligent
search" (Psalm 77:6). A gracious soul searches whether there is any duty
omitted--or any sin cherished. He examines his evidences for
heaven. As he will not take his gold on trust, so neither will he
take his grace. He is a spiritual merchant; he casts up the estate of
his soul to see what he is worth. He "sets his house in order." Frequent
reckonings keep God and conscience friends. A carnal person cannot abide
this heart-work; he is ignorant how the affairs go in his soul. He is like a
man who is well acquainted with foreign countries, but a stranger in his own
2. A godly man is much in private prayer
He keeps his hours for private devotion. Jacob, when he
was left alone, wrestled with God (Gen. 32:24). So when a gracious heart is
alone, it wrestles in prayer and will not leave God until it has a blessing.
A devout Christian exercises 'eyes of faith' and 'knees of prayer'.
Hypocrites who have nothing of religion besides the
frontispiece, love to be seen. Christ has characterized them: "they
love to pray in the corners of the streets--that they may be seen" (Matt.
6:5). The hypocrite is devout in the temple. There everyone will gaze at
him—but he is a stranger to secret communion with God. He is a saint in the
church—but an atheist in private. A good Christian holds secret
communication with heaven. Private prayer keeps up the trade of godliness.
When private holiness is laid aside, a stab is given to the heart of
3. A godly man is diligent in his calling
He takes care to provide for his family. The church
must not exclude the shop. Mr. Perkins said: "Though a man is
endued with excellent gifts, hears the Word with reverence and receives the
sacrament—yet if he does not practice the duties of his calling--all is
sheer hypocrisy." Piety never did grant a patent for idleness:
"We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are
busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to
settle down and earn the bread they eat." (2 Thess. 3:11,12). The
bread that tastes most sweet--is obtained with most sweat. A
godly man would rather fast--than eat the bread of idleness. Vain professing
Christians talk of living by faith—but do not live in a calling. They are
like the lilies of the field: "they toil not, neither do they spin" (Matt.
6:28). An idle person is the devil's tennis ball, which he bandies up and
down with temptation until at last the ball goes out of play.
4. A godly man sets bounds to himself in things lawful
He is moderate in matters of recreation and
diet. He takes only so much as is needed for the restoration of health,
and as may the better dispose him for God's service. Jerome lived
abstemiously; his diet was a few dried figs and cold water. And Augustine in
his "Confessions" says: "Lord, you have taught me to go to my food--as
to a medicine." If the bridle of reason checks the appetite,
much more should the curbing-bit of grace do so. The life of a sinner
is brutish; the glutton feeds "without fear" (Jude 12), and the drunkard
drinks without reason. Too much oil chokes the lamp, whereas a smaller
quantity makes it burn more brightly. A godly man holds the golden bridle
of temperance, and will not allow his table to be a snare.
5. A godly man is careful about moral righteousness
He makes conscience of equity as well as piety.
The Scripture has linked both together: "that we might serve him in
holiness and righteousness" (Luke 1:74,75). Holiness: there is
the first table of the law; righteousness: there is the second table of the
law. Though a man may be morally righteous, and not godly—yet no one can be
godly, unless he is morally righteous. This moral righteousness is seen in
our dealings with men. A godly man observes that golden maxim, "So in
everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matt. 7:12).
There is a threefold injustice in business matters:
(1) Using false weights: "the balances of deceit are in
his hand" (Hos. 12:7). Men, by making their weights lighter, make their sin
heavier. "They make the ephah small" (Amos 8:5). The ephah was a measure
they used in selling. They made the ephah small; they gave but scant
measure. A godly man who takes the Bible in one hand, dare not use false
weights in the other.
(2) Debasing a commodity: "they sell the refuse of the
wheat" (Amos 8:6). They would pick out the best grains of the wheat and sell
the worst at the same price as they did the best. "Your wine is mixed
with water" (Isaiah 1:22). They adulterated their wine—yet made their
customers believe it came from the pure grape.
(3) Taking a great deal more than the commodity is worth.
"If you sell anything unto your neighbor . . . you shall not oppress one
another" (Lev. 25:14). A godly man deals exactly but not exactingly. He will
sell so as to help himself—but not to harm another. His motto is, "a
conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).
The hypocrite separates these two which God has joined
together—righteousness and holiness. He pretends to be pure but is not just.
It brings piety into contempt, when men hang out Christ's colors—yet will
use fraudulent circumvention and, under a mask of piety, neglect morality. A
godly man makes conscience of the second table of the law, as well as the
6. A godly man will forgive those who have wronged him
Revenge is sweet to nature. A gracious spirit passes
by affronts, forgets injuries and counts it a greater victory to conquer an
enemy by patience--than by power. It is truly heroic "to
overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). Though I would not trust an
enemy—yet I would endeavor to love him. I would exclude him from my
creed—but not from my prayer (Matt. 5:44).
Question: But does every godly man succeed in
forgiving, yes, loving his enemies?
Answer: He does so in a gospel sense. That is:
(a) In so far as there is assent. He subscribes to it in
his judgment as a thing which ought to be done: "with my mind I serve the
law of God" (Romans 7:25).
(b) In so far as there is grief. A godly man mourns that
he can love his enemies no more: "O wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24).
"Oh, this base cankered heart of mine, that has received so much mercy and
can show so little! I have had millions forgiven me—yet I can hardly forgive
(c) In so far as there is prayer. A godly man prays that
God will give him a heart to love his enemies. "Lord, pluck this root of
bitterness out of me, perfume my soul with love, make me a dove without
(d) In so far as there is effort. A godly man resolves
and strives in the strength of Christ against all rancor and virulence of
spirit. This is in a gospel sense to love our enemies. A wicked man cannot
do this; his malice boils up to revenge.
7. A godly man lays to heart the miseries of the church
"We wept, when we remembered Zion" (Psalm 137:1). I have
read of certain trees whose leaves, if cut or touched, the other leaves
begin to contract and shrink, and for a time hang down their heads. Such a
spiritual sympathy exists among Christians. When other parts of God's church
suffer, they feel it themselves, as it were. Ambrose reports that when
Theodosius was terminally ill, he was more troubled about the church of God
than about his own sickness.
When the Lord strikes others, a godly heart is deeply
affected: "my affections shall sound like an harp" (Isaiah 16:11). Though
things go well with a child of God in his own private life, and he lives in
a house of cedar--he still grieves to see things go badly with the public.
Queen Esther enjoyed the king's favor and all the delights of the court—yet
when a warrant portending bloodshed was signed for the death of the
Jews--she mourns and fasts, and ventures her own life to save theirs.
8. A godly man is content with his present condition
If provisions get low, his heart is tempered to his
condition. A godly man puts a kind interpretation upon providence. When God
brews him a bitter cup, he says, "This is my medicine cup--it is to
purge me and do my soul good." Therefore he is most content (Phil. 4:11).
9. A godly man is fruitful in good works
The Hebrew word for godly (chasid) signifies
"merciful", implying that to be godly and charitable are of equal force--one
and the same. A good man feeds the hungry, clothes the naked. "He is ever
merciful" (Psalm 37:26). The more devout sort of the Jews to this day
distribute the tenth part of their estate to the poor and they have a
proverb among them, "Give the tenth, and you will grow rich." The hypocrite
is all for faith, nothing for works; like the laurel which
makes fine leaves--but bears no fruit.
10. A godly man will suffer persecution
He will be married to Christ, though he settles no other
estate on him, than the cross. He suffers out of choice and with a
spirit of gallantry (Heb. 11:35). Argerius wrote a letter to his friend,
headed: "From the pleasant gardens of the Leonine prison." The
blessed martyrs who put on the whole armor of God, blunted the edge of
persecution by their courage. The juniper tree makes the coolest shadow--and
the hottest coal. So persecution makes the coal of love hotter--and
the shadow of death cooler.
Thus a godly man goes round the whole circle of pious
duties and obeys God in whatever he commands.
Objection: But it is impossible for anyone to walk
according to the full breadth of God's law, and to follow God
Answer: There is a twofold obeying of God's law. The
first is perfect, when all is done, which the law requires. This we
cannot arrive at in this life. Secondly, there is an incomplete obedience
which is accepted in Christ. This consists in four things:
(1) An approving of all God's commands: "the commandment
is holy and just and good . . . I consent unto the law that it is good"
(Romans 7:12, 16). There is both assent and consent.
(2) A sweet delight in God's commands: "I will delight
myself in your commandments, which I have loved" (Psalm 119:47).
(3) A cordial desire to walk in all God's commands: "O
that my ways were directed to keep your statutes" (Psalm 119:5).
(4) A real endeavor to tread in every path of the
command: "I turned my feet unto your testimonies" (Psalm 119:59).
This, God esteems perfect obedience--and is pleased to
take it in good part. Zacharias had his failings; he hesitated through
unbelief, for which he was struck dumb. Yet it is said that he "walked in
all the commands of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6), because he cordially
endeavored to obey God in all things. Evangelical obedience is true
in its essence, though not perfect in its degree; and where it comes short,
Christ puts his merits into the scales--and then there is full weight.
23. A godly man walks with God
"Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:9). The age in which Noah
lived was very corrupt: "the wickedness of man was great in the earth"
(v.5). But the iniquity of the times, could not put Noah off his walk: "Noah
walked with God." Noah is called a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter
1. Noah preached by doctrine
His preaching (say some of the rabbis) was in this vein:
"Turn from your evil ways, so that the waters of the flood will not come
upon you and cut off the whole of Adam's race."
2. Noah preached by his life
He preached by his humility, patience, sanctity. "Noah
walked with God."
Question: What is it, to walk with God?
Answer: Walking with God imports five things:
1. Walking as under God's eye. Noah reverenced
God. A godly man sets himself as in God's presence, knowing that his judge
is looking on: "I have set the Lord always before me" (Psalm 16:8). David's
eyes were here.
2. The familiarity and intimacy which the soul has with
God. Friends walk together and console themselves with one
another. The godly make known their requests to God--and he makes known his
love to them. There is a sweet fellowship between God and his people: "Our
fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus
Christ" (1 John 1:3).
3. Walking above the earth. A godly man is
elevated above all sublunary objects. The person who walks with God must
ascend very high. A dwarf cannot walk among the stars, nor can a dwarfish,
earthly soul walk with God.
4. Visible piety. Walking is a visible
posture. Grace must be conspicuous to the onlookers. He who reveals
something of God in his behavior, walks with God. He shines forth in
5. Continued progress in grace. It is not only
a step--but a walk. There is a going on towards maturity. A
godly man does not sit down in the middle of the way--but goes on until he
comes to the "end of his faith" (1 Pet. 1:9). Though a good man may be out
of the path, he is not out of the way. He may through infirmity step
aside (as Peter did)—but he recovers by repentance and goes on in
progressive holiness: "The righteous will hold to their ways, and those with
clean hands will grow stronger" (Job 17:9).
Use 1: See from this how improper it is to
describe as godly, those who do not walk with God. They want to have Noah's
crown—but they do not love Noah's walk. Most are found in the
devil's black walk! "Many walk, of whom I tell you weeping, that they
are the enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18).
1. Some will commend walking with God, and say it is the
rarest life in the world—but will not set one foot on the way.
All who commend wine, do not pay the price. Many a father commends
virtue to his child--but does not set him a pattern.
2. Others walk a few steps in the good old ways—but they
retreat back again (Jer. 6:16). If the ways of God were not good,
why did they enter them? If they were good, why did they forsake them? "For
it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment" (2 Pet.
3. Others slander walking with God as a melancholy walk.
God accounts this as blasphemy: "the way of truth shall be evil spoken of"
(2 Pet. 2:2). In the Greek it is "it shall be blasphemed."
4. Others deride walking with God as if it were a way of
foolish scrupulosity. "What! Do you want to join the "holy
tribe"? Do you want to be wiser than others?" There are some people who, if
it were in their power, would jeer holiness out of the world. The chair of
the scornful, stands at the mouth of hell (Proverbs 19:29).
5. Others, instead of walking with God, walk according to
the flesh (2 Pet. 2:10).
(1) They walk by fleshly opinions.
(2) They walk according to fleshly lusts.
(1) They walk by fleshly OPINIONS. There are six of
(a) That it is best "to do what most do, to steer
after the course of the world—and to be in the world's mode." They think it
best--not to get a new heart—but to get into a new fashion.
(b) That reason is the highest judge and umpire in
matters of piety. "We must believe no further than we can see!" For a man to
become a fool that he may be wise, to be saved purely by the righteousness
of another, to keep all by losing all—this the natural man will by no means
put in his creed.
(c) That a little religion will serve the turn. "The
lifeless form may in be kept up—but zeal is madness!" The world thinks
that piety to be best which, like leaf-gold, is spread very thin.
(d) That the way which is exposed to affliction is not
good. A stick, though it is straight, seems crooked under water. So piety,
if it is under affliction, appears crooked to a carnal eye.
(e) That all a man's concern should be for the present
world. As that profane cardinal said, he "would leave his part in paradise
to keep his cardinalship in Paris."
(f) That sinning is better than suffering. It is greater
concern to keep the skin whole--than the conscience pure.
These are such rules as the crooked serpent has found
out—and whoever walks by them, shall neither know God, nor peace."
(2) They walk according to fleshly LUSTS. "For
those who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they
that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5. "For if
you live after the flesh--you shall die: but if you through the Spirit
do mortify the deeds of the body--you shall live." Romans 8:13. They make
provision (turn caterers) for the flesh (Romans 13:14). Such a person was
the Emperor Heliogabalus. He so indulged the flesh that he never sat except
among sweet flowers, mixed with amber and musk. He attired himself in
purple, set with precious stones. He did not burn oil in his lamps—but a
costly balsam brought from Arabia, very odoriferous. He bathed himself in
perfumed water; he put his body to no other use—but to be a strainer for
fine food and drink to run through.
The ungodly walk according to the flesh. If a drunken or
unclean lust calls--they gratify it! They brand as cowards, all who dare not
sin at the same rate as they do. These, instead of walking with God, walk
contrary to him. Lust is the compass they sail by! Satan is their
pilot--and hell the port they are bound for.
Use 2: Let us test whether we have this
characteristic of the godly: Do we walk with God? That may be known:
1. By the way we walk in. It is a private,
secluded way, in which only some few holy ones walk. Therefore it is called
a "pathway" to distinguish it from the common road: "in the pathway thereof
is no death" (Proverbs 12:28). "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is
the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter
through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14.
2. By a walk in the fear of God. "Enoch walked
with God" (Gen. 5:22). The Chaldean version renders it, "he walked in the
fear of the Lord." The godly are fearful of that which may displease God.
"How then can I do this great wickedness--and sin against God!" (Gen. 39:9).
This is not a base, servile fear—but:
(1) A fear springing from affection (Hos. 3:5). A
child fears to offend his father out of the tender affection he has for him.
This made holy Anselm say, "If sin were on one side and hell on the other--I
would rather leap into hell than willingly offend my God."
(2) A fear joined with faith. "By faith Noah,
moved with fear" (Heb. 11:7). Faith and fear go hand in hand. When the soul
looks at God's holiness, he fears. When he looks at God's promises,
he believes. A godly man trembles—yet trusts. Fear preserves
reverence, faith preserves cheerfulness. Fear keeps the soul from lightness,
faith keeps it from sadness. By this we may know whether we walk with God,
if we walk "in the fear of God." We are fearful of infringing his laws, and
forfeiting his love. It is a brand set upon the ungodly: "There is no fear
of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18). The godly fear--and do not offend
(Psalm 4:4). The wicked offend--and do not fear (Jer. 5:23,24). Careless and
dissolute walking will soon estrange God from us--and make him weary
of our company: "what communion has light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14).
Use 3: Let me persuade all who wish to be
accounted godly, to get into Noah's walk. When the truth of grace
is in the heart--the beauty of grace is seen in the walk!
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone,
the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
1. Walking with God is very pleasing to God. He
who walks with God declares to the world, which company he loves most: "His
fellowship is with the Father" (1 John 1:3). He counts those the sweetest
hours which are spent with God. This is very pleasing and acceptable to God:
"Enoch walked with God" (Gen. 5:24). And see how kindly God took this at
Enoch's hand: "he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Heb.
2. Close walking with God will be a good means to
entice and allure others to walk with him. The apostle exhorts wives so
to walk, that the husbands might be won by their conduct (1 Pet. 3:1).
Justin Martyr confessed that he became a Christian by observing the holy and
innocent lives of the early saints.
3. Close walking with God would put to silence the
adversaries of the truth (1 Pet. 2:15). Careless behavior puts a sword
into wicked men's hands to wound piety. What a sad thing it is when it is
said of professing Christians--that they are as proud, as covetous and as
unjust as others! Will this not expose the ways of God to contempt? But holy
and close walking would stop the mouths of sinners, so that they should not
be able to speak against God's people without giving themselves the lie.
Satan came to Christ and "found nothing in him" (John 14:30). What a
confounding thing it will be to the wicked when holiness is the only
thing they have to fasten on the godly as a crime. "We will never find any
basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with
the law of his God" (Dan. 6:5).
4. Walking with God is a pleasant walk. The ways
of wisdom are called pleasantness (Proverbs 3:17). Is the light not
pleasant? "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance"
(Psalm 89:15). Walking with God is like walking among beds of spices, which
send forth a fragrant perfume. This is what brings peace: "walking in the
fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit" (Acts
9:31). While we walk with God, what sweet music the bird of conscience
makes in our breast! "They shall sing in the ways of the Lord" (Psalm
5. Walking with God is honorable. It is a credit
for one of an inferior rank, to walk with a king. What greater dignity can
be put upon a mortal man, than to converse with his Maker, and to walk with
God every day?
6. Walking with God leads to rest: "There remains
therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb. 4:9). Those who walk with their
sins shall never have rest: "they rest not day and night" (Rev. 4:8). But
those who walk with God shall sit down in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29);
just as a weary traveler, when he comes home, sits down and rests. "To him
who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me in my throne" (Rev.
3:21). A throne denotes honor, and sitting denotes rest.
7. Walking with God is the safest walking. Walking
in the ways of sin, is like walking on the banks of a river. The
sinner treads on the precipice of the bottomless pit, and if death gives him
a jog, he tumbles in. But it is safe going in God's way: "Then shall you
walk in your way safely" (Proverbs 3:23). He who walks with a guard walks
safely. He who walks with God, shall have God's Spirit to guard him from
sin, and God's angels to guard him from danger (Psalm 91:11).
8. Walking with God will make death sweet. It was
Augustus' wish that he might have a euthanasia--a quiet, easy death without
much pain. If anything makes our pillow easy at death it will be this, that
we have walked with God in our lives. Do we think walking with God can do us
any hurt? Did we ever hear any cry out on their deathbed--that they have
been too holy, that they have prayed too much, or walked with God too much?
No! That which has cut them to the heart has been this--that they have not
walked more closely with God! They have wrung their hands, and torn their
hair--to think that they have been so bewitched with the pleasures of the
world. Close walking with God will make our enemy (death) be at peace with
us. When King Ahasuerus could not sleep, he called for the book of records,
and read it (Esther 6:1). So when the violence of sickness causes sleep to
depart from our eyes, and we can call for conscience (that book of records)
and find written in it, "On such a day we humbled our souls by fasting; on
such a day our hearts melted in prayer; on such a day we had sweet communion
with God"—what a reviving this will be! How we may look death in the face
with comfort and say, "Lord, now take us up to you in heaven. Where we have
so often been by affection--let us now be by fruition."
9. Walking with God is the best way to know the mind
of God. Friends who walk together impart their secrets one to another:
"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him" (Psalm 25:14). Noah
walked with God--and the Lord revealed a great secret to him—destroying the
old world and saving him in the ark. Abraham walked with God, and God made
him one of his privy council (Gen. 24:40): "Shall I hide from Abraham that
thing which I do?" (Gen. 18:17). God sometimes sweetly unbosoms himself to
the soul in prayer and in the holy supper, as Christ made himself known to
the disciples in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35).
10. They who walk with God shall never be wholly left
by God. The Lord may withdraw for a time, to make his people cry after
him the more—but he will not leave them altogether: "I hid my face from you
for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy
on you" (Isaiah 54:8). God will not cast off any of his old acquaintance; he
will not part with one who has kept him company. "Enoch walked with God: and
he was not; for God took him" (Gen. 5:24). He took him up to heaven. As the
Arabic renders it, "Enoch was lodged in the bosom of divine love."
Question: What may we do, to walk with God?
Answer 1: If you desire to walk with God--get off the old
road of sin! He who would walk in a pleasant meadow--must turn
off the road. The way of sin is full of travelers. There are so many
travelers on this road, that hell, though it is of a great circumference,
would gladly enlarge itself and make room for them (Isaiah 5:14). This
way of sin seems pleasant--but the end is damnable. "I have",
says the harlot, "perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon" (Proverbs
7:17). See how with one sweet (the cinnamon) there were two
bitters (myrrh and aloes). For that little sweet in sin at present there
will be a far greater proportion of bitterness afterwards. Therefore get out
of these briars. You cannot walk with God and sin: "what fellowship has
righteousness with unrighteousness?" (2 Cor. 6:14).
Answer 2: If you wish to walk with God--get acquainted
with him. "Acquaint now yourself with him" (Job 22:21). Know God
in his attributes and promises. Strangers do not walk together.
Answer 3: If you desire to walk with God--get all
differences removed. "Can two walk together, except they are
agreed?" (Amos 3:3). This agreement and reconciliation is made by faith:
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood"
(Romans 3:25). When once we are friends, then we shall be called up to the
top of the mount like Moses, and have this dignity conferred on us--to be
the favorites of heaven and to forever walk with God.
Answer 4: If you desire to walk with God--get a liking
for the ways of God. They are adorned with beauty
they are sweetened with pleasure (Proverbs 3:17);
they are fenced with truth (Rev. 15:3);
they are accompanied with life (Acts 2:28);
they are lengthened with eternity (Hab. 3:6).
Be enamored with the way of piety--and you will soon walk
Answer 5: If you desire to walk with God--take hold of
his arm. Those who walk in their own strength will soon grow
weary and tire. "I will go in the strength of the Lord God" (Psalm 71:16).
We cannot walk with God, without God. Let us press him with his promise: "I
will cause you to walk in my statutes" (Ezek. 36:27). If God takes us by the
hand, then we shall "walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
24. A godly man strives to be an instrument for making
He is not content to go 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 magnet—a diamond for
the sparkling luster of grace, and a magnet for his attractiveness. He is
always drawing others to embrace piety. Living things have a propagating
virtue. Where piety 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" (Philem. 10). Though God is the
fountain of grace—yet the saints are the pipes which transmit the
living streams to others.
This great effort for the conversion of souls proceeds:
1. From the nature of godliness
Grace 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, do you believe the prophets? I know you do" (Acts 26:27). His zeal
and eloquence had almost captivated the king (v. 28). Then Agrippa said to
Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to
be a Christian?"
2. From a spirit of compassion
Grace makes the heart tender. A godly man pities 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 Satan's captives 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).
3. 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 that 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
Use 1: 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: "Let the dying
die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's
flesh" (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:
(1) By bad edicts. So Jeroboam made Israel
sin (1 Kings 16:26). He forced them to idolatry.
(2) 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 live sinfully, others will follow them.
(3) 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 brings match and
gunpowder--and the devil brings the fire! The wicked are forever 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,
until 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
very sad if any of his family 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
seeds of piety in our children. "Who is it he is trying to teach? To
whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to
those just taken from the breast" (Isaiah 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.
(1) 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.
(2) By endeavoring to bring up our children in the fear
of the Lord, we shall provide for God's 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 piety, he bears God an after-crop when he is
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 magnet, will attract the needle. He whose heart is divinely touched with
the magnet 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 diffusive it is. In the
body every member is diffusive: the eye conveys light; the head, spirits;
the heart, blood. A Christian must not move altogether within his own
circle—but seek the welfare of others. To be diffusively 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 sole
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; just 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 eternal 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!