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
14. A godly man is a HEAVENLY man
Heaven is in him—before he is in heaven! The Greek word
for saint, hagios, signifies a man taken away from the earth. A
person may live in one place—yet belong to another. He may live in Spain yet
be a citizen of England. So a godly man is a while in the world—but he
belongs to the Jerusalem above. That is the place to which he aspires. Every
day is Ascension Day with a believer. The saints are called "stars"
for their sublimity; they have gone above into the upper region: "The way of
life is above, to the wise" (Proverbs 15:24). A godly man is heavenly in six
1. In his election.
2. In his disposition.
3. In his communication.
4. In his actions.
5. In his expectation.
6. In his conduct.
1. A godly man is heavenly in his CHOICES
He chooses heavenly objects. David chose to be a resident
in God's house (Psalm 84:10). A godly person chooses Christ and grace,
before the most illustrious things of this world. What a man chooses—that is
what he is. This choosing of God is best seen in a critical hour. When
Christ and the world come into competition, and we part with the world to
keep Christ and a good conscience, that is a sign we have chosen "the better
part" (Luke 10:42). Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the
people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time."
2. A godly man is heavenly in his DISPOSITION
He sets his affections on things above (Col. 3:2). He
sends his heart to heaven before he gets there. He looks upon the world as
but a beautiful prison and he cannot be much in love with his
fetters, though they are made of gold. A holy person contemplates glory and
eternity; his desires have gotten wings and have fled to heaven. Grace is in
the heart like fire, which makes it sparkle upwards in divine desires and
3. A godly man is heavenly in his SPEECH
His words are sprinkled with salt to season others (Col.
4:6). As soon as Christ had risen from the grave, he was "speaking of the
things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). No sooner has a man
risen from the grave of unregeneracy than he is speaking of heaven. "The
words of a wise man's mouth are gracious" (Eccles. 4:12). He speaks in such
a heavenly manner, as if he were already in heaven. The love he has for God,
will not allow him to be silent. The spouse being sick with love, her tongue
was like the pen of a ready writer: "My beloved is white and ruddy, his head
is as the most fine gold . . . " (Song 5:10,11). Where there is a principle
of godliness in the heart—it will vent itself at the lips!
(1) How can they be termed godly—who are possessed
with a dumb devil? They never have any good discourse. They are fluent and
discursive enough in secular things: they can speak of their wares and
shops, they can tell what a good crop they have—but in matters of religion
they are as if their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth! There are
many people in whose company you cannot tell what to make of them—whether
they are Turks or atheists, for they never speak a word of Christ!
(2) How can they be termed godly—whose tongues are
set on fire by hell? Their lips do not drop honey—but poison, to the
defiling of others! Plutarch says that speech ought to be like gold,
which is of most value when it has least dross in it. Oh, the
unclean, malicious words that some people utter! What an unsavory stench
comes from these dunghills! Those lips that gallop so fast in sin, need
David's muzzle. "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will
put a muzzle on my mouth," (Psalm 39:1). Can the body be healthy—when the
tongue is black? Can the heart be holy—when the devil is in the lips? A
godly man speaks "the language of Canaan." "Those who feared the Lord spoke
often one to another" (Mal. 3:16).
4. A godly man is heavenly in his ACTIONS
The motions of the planets are celestial. A godly man is
sublime and sacred in his motions; he works out salvation; he puts forth all
his strength, as they did in the Greek Olympics, so that he may obtain the
garland made of the flowers of paradise. He prays, fasts, watches, and takes
heaven by storm. He is divinely actuated, he carries on God's interest in
the world, he does angels' work, he is seraphic in his actions.
5. A godly man is heavenly in his HOPES
His hopes are above the world (Psalm 39:7). "In hope of
eternal life" (Titus 1:2). A godly man casts anchor within the veil. He
hopes to have his fetters of sin filed off; he hopes for such things as eye
has not seen; he hopes for a kingdom when he dies—a kingdom promised by the
Father, purchased by the Son, assured by the Holy Spirit. As an heir lives
in hope of the time when such a great estate shall fall to him, so a child
of God, who is a co-heir with Christ, hopes for glory. This hope comforts
him in all varieties of condition: "we rejoice in hope of the glory of God"
(1) This hope comforts a godly man in AFFLICTION.
Hope lightens and sweetens the most severe dispensations. A child of God can
rejoice when tears are in his eyes; the time is shortly coming when the
cross shall be taken off his shoulders and a crown set on his head! A saint
at present is miserable, with a thousand troubles; in an instant, he will be
clothed with robes of immortality, and advanced above seraphim!
(2) This hope comforts a godly man in DEATH.
"The righteous has hope in his death" (Proverbs 14:32). If one should ask a
dying saint, when all his earthly comforts have gone, what he had left, he
would say, "the helmet of hope." I have read of a woman martyr who, when the
persecutors commanded that her breasts should be cut off, said, "Tyrant, do
your worst; I have two breasts which you can not touch, the one of faith and
the other of hope." A soul that has this blessed hope is above the desire of
life or the fear of death. Would anyone be troubled at exchanging the lease
of a poor hut—for an inheritance that will be for him and his heirs? Who
would worry about parting with life, which is a lease that will soon run
out, to be possessed of a glorious inheritance in light?
6. A godly man is heavenly in his CONDUCT
He casts such a luster of holiness as adorns his
profession. He lives as if he had seen the Lord with his bodily eyes. What
zeal, sanctity, humility, shines forth in his life! A godly person emulates
not only the angels—but imitates Christ himself (1 John 2:6). The
Macedonians celebrate the birthday of Alexander, on which day they wear his
picture round their necks, set with pearl and rich jewels. So a godly man
carries the lively picture of Christ about him, in the heavenliness of his
deportment: "our conversation is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20).
Use 1: Those who are eaten up with the world
will be rejected, as ungodly, at the bar of judgment. To be godly and
earthly is a contradiction: "For, as I have often told you before and now
say again even with tears—many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their
destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in
their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." (Philippians 3:18-19). We
read that the earth swallowed up Korah alive (Numb. 16:32). This judgment is
on many—the earth swallows up their time, thoughts and discourse. They are
buried twice; their hearts are buried in the earth before their bodies. How
sad it is that the soul, that princely thing, which is made for communion
with God and angels, should be put to the mill to grind, and made a slave to
the earth! How like the prodigal the soul has become, choosing rather to
converse with swine and feed upon husks—than to aspire after communion with
the blessed Deity! Thus does Satan befool men, and keep them from heaven by
making them seek a heaven here on earth.
Use 2: As we would prove ourselves to be "born
of God", let us be of a sublime, heavenly temper. We shall never go to
heaven when we die—unless we are in heaven while we live. That we may be
more noble and raised in our affections, let us seriously weigh these four
1. God himself sounds a retreat to us to call us off the
world. "Love not the world" (1 John 2:15). We may use it as a
bouquet of flowers to smell—but it must not lie like a bundle of myrrh
between our breasts. "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). Do not
hunt after its honors and profits. God's providences, like his precepts, are
to beat us off the world. Why does he send war and epidemics? What does the
heat of this great anger mean? Surely dying times are to make men die
to the world.
2. Consider how much below a Christian it is to be
earthly-minded. We sometimes laugh at children when we see them
busying themselves with toys, kissing and hugging their dolls, etc., when we
do the same! At death, what will all the world be, which we so hug and
kiss—but like a rag doll? It will yield us no more comfort then. How far it
is below a heaven-born soul to be taken up with these things! No, when such
as profess to be ennobled with a principle of piety and to have their hopes
above, have their hearts below, how they disparage their heavenly calling
and spot their silver wings of grace, by besmirching them with earth!
3. Consider what a poor, contemptible thing the world is.
It is not worth setting the affections on; it cannot fill the
heart. If Satan should take a Christian up the mount of temptation
and show him all the kingdoms and glory of the world, what could he show him
but a deceitful dream? Nothing here can be proportionate to the immense soul
of man. "In the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits" (Job
20:22). Here is lack in plenty. The creature will no more fill the soul than
a drop will fill the bucket. That little sweet which we suck from the
creature, is intermixed with bitterness, like that cup which the Jews gave
Christ. "They gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh" (Mark 15:23). And
this imperfect sweet will not last long: "the world passes away" (1 John
2:17). The creature merely greets us, and is soon on the wing. The world
constantly changes. It is never constant except in its disappointments. How
quickly we may remove our lodgings and make our pillow in the dust! The
world is but a great inn where we are to stay a night or two, and then be
gone. What madness it is so to set our heart upon our inn—as to forget our
4. Consider what a glorious place heaven is.
We read of an angel coming down from heaven who "set his right foot upon the
sea, and his left foot on the earth" (Rev. 10:2). Had we only once been in
heaven, and viewed its superlative glory, how we might in holy scorn trample
with one foot on the earth and with the other foot on the sea! Heaven is
called a better country: "But now they desire a better country, that is, a
heavenly one" (Heb. 11:16). Heaven is said to be a better country, in
opposition to the country where we are now staying. What should we seek, but
that better country?
Question: In what sense is heaven a better country?
Answer 1: In that country above there are better
DELIGHTS. There is the tree of life, and the rivers of pleasure.
There is amazing beauty, and unsearchable riches. There are the delights of
angels. There is the flower of joy fully blown. There is more than we can
ask or think (Eph. 3:20). There is glory in its full dimensions—and beyond
Answer 2: In that country there is a better HOME.
(1) It is a house "not made with hands" (2 Cor. 5:1). To
denote its excellence, there was never any house, but was made with hands.
But the house above surpasses the art of man or angel; none besides God
could lay a stone in that building.
(2) It is "eternal in the heavens." It is not a guest
house but a mansion house. It is a house that will never be out
of repair. "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars"
(Proverbs 9:1), which can never moulder.
Answer 3: In that country there are better PROVISIONS.
In our Father's house, there is bread enough. Heaven was typified
by Canaan, which flowed with milk and honey. There is the royal feast, the
spiced wine; there is angels' food. There they serve up those rare foods and
dainties, such as exceed not only our expressions—but our imaginations.
Answer 4: In that country there is better SOCIETY.
There is God blessed forever. How infinitely sweet and ravishing will a
smile of his face be! The king's presence makes the court. There are the
glorious cherubim. In this terrestrial country where we now live, we are
among wolves and serpents; in that country above, we shall be among angels!
There are "the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). Here on
earth, the people of God are clouded with infirmities; we see them with
spots on their faces; they are full of pride, passion, censoriousness.
In that Jerusalem above, we shall see them in their royal attire, decked
with unparalleled beauty, not having the least tincture or shadow of sin on
Answer 5: In that country there is a better AIR to
breathe in. We go into the country for air; the best air
is only to be had in that better country:
(1) It is a more temperate air; the climate is
calm and moderate; we shall neither freeze with the cold, nor faint with the
(2) It is a brighter air; there is a better light
shining there. The Sun of righteousness enlightens that horizon with his
glorious beams: "the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:23).
(3) It is a purer air. The marshes, which are full
of foul vapors, we count a bad air and unwholesome to live in. This world is
a place of bogs and marshes, where the noxious vapors of sin arise, which
make it pestilential and unwholesome to live in. But in that country above,
there are none of these vapors—but a sweet perfume of holiness. There is the
smell of the orange-tree and the pomegranate. There is the myrrh and cassia
coming from Christ, which send forth a most fragrant scent.
Answer 6: In that country there is a better SOIL.
The land or soil is better:
(1) For its altitude. The earth, lying low,
is of a baser pedigree; the element which is nearest heaven is purer and
more excellent, like the fire. That country above is the high country; it is
seated far above all the visible orbs (Psalm 24:3).
(2) For its fertility; it bears a richer
crop. The the country above yields noble commodities. There are celestial
pearls; there is the spiritual vine; there is the honeycomb of God's love
dropping; there is the water of life, the hidden manna. There is which that
does not rot, flowers which never fade. There is a crop which cannot be
fully reaped; it will always be reaping time in heaven, and all this the
land yields, without the labor of ploughing and sowing.
(3) For its inoffensiveness. There are no
briars there. The world is a wilderness where there are wicked men, and the
"best of them is a brier" (Micah 7:4). They tear the people of God in their
spiritual liberties—but in the country above there is not one briar to be
seen; all the briars are burned.
(4) For the rarity of the prospect; all
that a man sees there is his own. I account that the best prospect, where a
man can see furthest on his own ground.
Answer 7: In that country there is better UNITY.
All the inhabitants are knit together in love. The poisonous weed of
malice does not grow there. There is harmony without division, and
charity without envy. In that country above, as in Solomon's temple, no
noise of hammer is heard.
Answer 8: In that country there is better EMPLOYMENT.
While we are here, we are complaining of our needs, weeping over our
sins—but there we shall be praising God. How the birds of paradise
will chirp when they are in that celestial country! There the morning stars
will sing together, and all the saints of God will shout for joy.
Oh, what should we aspire after but this country above?
Such as have their eyes opened, will see that it infinitely excels! An
ignorant man looks at a star and it appears to him like a little silver
spot—but the astronomer, who has his instrument to judge the dimension of a
star, knows it to be infinitely larger than the earth. So a natural man
hears of the heavenly country that it is very glorious—but it is at a great
distance. And because he has not a spirit of discernment, the world looks
bigger in his eye. But such as are spiritual artists, who have the
instrument of faith to judge heaven, will say it is by far the better
country and they will hasten there with the sails of desire.
15. A godly man is a ZEALOUS man
Grace turns a saint into a seraph—it makes
him burn in holy zeal. Zeal is a mixed affection, a compound of love and
anger. It carries forth our love to God, and anger against sin—in
the most intense manner. Zeal is the flame of the affections; a godly man
has a double baptism—of water and fire. He is baptized with a spirit
of zeal; he is zealous for God's honor, truth, worship: "My zeal has
consumed me" (Psalm 119:139). It was a crown set on Phineas' head that he
was zealous for his God (Numb. 25:13). Moses is touched with a coal from
God's altar and in his zeal he breaks the tablets (Exod. 32:19). Our blessed
Savior in his zeal whips the buyers and sellers out of the temple: "Zeal for
your house will consume me" (John 2:17).
But there is a false heat—something looking like
zeal, which it is not. A comet looks like a star. I shall therefore show
some differences between a true and a false zeal:
1. A false zeal is a BLIND zeal
"They have a zeal of God—but not according to knowledge"
(Romans 10:2). This is not the fire of the spirit—but wildfire. The
Athenians were very devout and zealous—but they did not know for all
that. "I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God" (Acts
17:23). Thus the Papists are zealous in their way—but they have taken
away the key of knowledge.
2. A false zeal is a SELF-SEEKING zeal
Jehu cries, "Come, see my zeal for the Lord!" (2 Kings
16). But it was not zeal—but ambition; he was fishing for a crown. Demetrius
pleads for the goddess Diana—but it was not her temple—but her silver
shrines, that he was zealous for (Acts 19:25-27). Such zealots Ignatius
complains of in his time, that they made a trade of Christ and religion, by
which to enrich themselves. It is probable that many in King Henry VIII's
time were eager to pull down the abbeys, not out of any zeal against
popery—but that they might build their own houses upon the ruins of those
abbeys, like vultures which fly aloft but their eyes are down upon their
prey. If blind zeal is punished sevenfold, hypocritical zeal shall be
3. A false zeal is a MISGUIDED zeal
It occurs most in things which are not commanded. It is
the sign of a hypocrite to be zealous for traditions and useless of
institutions. The Pharisees were more zealous about washing their cups, than
4. A false zeal is fired with ANGER
James and John, when they wished to call down for fire
from heaven, were rebuked by our Savior: "You know not what manner of spirit
you are of" (Luke 9:55). It was not zeal—but anger. Many have espoused the
cause of religion, rather out of faction and fancy, than out
of zeal for the truth.
But the zeal of a godly man
is a true and holy zeal which evidences itself in its effects:
1. True zeal cannot bear an injury done to God
Zeal makes the blood rise when God's honor is impeached.
"I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you cannot
tolerate those who are evil" (Rev. 2:2). He who zealously loves his friend,
cannot hear him spoken against and be silent.
2. True zeal will encounter the greatest difficulties
When the world holds out of danger to discourage us, zeal
casts out fear. Zeal is quickened by opposition. Zeal does not say, "There
is a lion in the way!" Zeal will charge through an army of dangers,
it will march in the face of death. Let news be brought to Paul that he was
waylaid; "in every city bonds and afflictions" awaited him. This set a
keener edge upon his zeal: "I am ready not to be bound only—but also
to die for the name of the Lord Jesus!" (Acts 21:13). As sharp frosts
by force of contrast make the fire burn hotter, so sharp oppositions only
inflame zeal the more.
3. As true zeal has knowledge to go before it, so it has
sanctity to follow after it
Wisdom leads the van of zeal, and holiness brings up the
rear. A hypocrite seems to be zealous—but he is wicked. The godly man is
white and ruddy; white in purity, as well as ruddy in zeal.
Christ's zeal was hotter than the fire, and his holiness purer than the sun.
4. Zeal that is genuine loves truth when it is despised
"They have made void your law. Therefore I love your
commandments above gold" (Psalm 119:126,127). The more others deride
holiness, the more we love it. What is religion the worse, for others
disgracing it? Does a diamond sparkle the less because a blind man
disparages it? The more outrageous the wicked are against the truth,
the more courageous the godly are for it. When Michal scoffed at
David's pious dancing before the ark, he said, "If this is to be vile, I
will yet be more vile" (2 Sam. 6:22).
5. True zeal causes fervency in duty
"Fervent in spirit" (Romans 12:1). Zeal makes us—hear
with reverence, pray with affection, love with ardency.
God kindled Moses' sacrifice from heaven: "Fire came out from the presence
of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering" (Lev. 9:24). When we are
zealous in devotion, and our heart waxes hot within us—here is a fire from
heaven kindling our sacrifice. How odious it is for a man to be all fire
when he is sinning, and all ice when he is praying! A pious
heart, like water seething hot, boils over in holy affections!
6. True zeal is persevering
Though it is violent, it is perpetual. No waters can
quench the flame of zeal, it is torrid in the frigid zone. The heat of zeal
is like the natural heat coming from the heart, which lasts as long as life.
That zeal which is not constant, was never true.
Use 1: How opposite to godliness are those who
cry down zeal, and count it a religious frenzy! They are for the light of
knowledge—but not for the heat of zeal. When Basil was earnest in preaching
against the Arian heresy, it was interpreted as folly. Religion is a matter
requiring zeal; the kingdom of heaven will not be taken, except by violence
Objection: But why so much fervor in religion? What
becomes of prudence then?
Answer: Though prudence is to direct zeal—yet it is
not to destroy it. Because sight is requisite, must the body therefore have
no heat? If prudence is the eye in religion, zeal is the heart.
Question: But where is moderation?
Answer: Though moderation in things of indifference
is commendable, and doubtless it would greatly tend to settling the peace of
the church—yet in the main articles of faith, wherein God's glory and our
salvation lie at stake, here moderation is nothing but sinful neutrality.
Objection: But the apostle urges moderation: "Let
your moderation be known to all" (Phil. 4:5).
1. The apostle is speaking there of moderating our
passion. The Greek word for "moderation" signifies candor and
meekness—the opposite of rash anger. And so the word is rendered in another
place "patient" (1 Tim. 3:3). By moderation, then, is meant meekness of
spirit. That is made clear by the subsequent words, "The Lord is at hand"—as
if the apostle had said, "Avenge not yourselves, for the Lord is at hand."
He is ready to avenge your personal wrongs—but this in no way hinders a
Christian from being zealous in matters of religion.
2. What strangers they are to godliness, who have no zeal
for the glory of God! They can see his ordinances despised, his worship
adulterated—yet their spirits are not at all stirred in them. How many are
of a dull, lukewarm temper, zealous for their own secular interest—but with
no zeal for the things of heaven! Hot in their own cause—but cool in God's
cause. The Lord most abominates lukewarm nominal Christians. I almost said
that he is sick of them. "I wish you were either one or the other!"
(anything but lukewarm); "because you are neither cold nor hot, I will spue
you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15,16). A lukewarm Christian is only
half-baked, just like Ephraim: "Ephraim is a cake not turned" (Hos. 7:8).
I would ask these tepid, neutral professing Christians
this question, "If religion is not a good cause, why did they undertake it
at first? If it is, why do they go about it so faintly? Why have they no
more holy ardor of soul?" These people would gladly go to heaven on a soft
bed—but are loath to be carried there in a fiery chariot of zeal.
Remember, God will be zealous against those who are not zealous; he provides
the fire of hell for those who lack the fire of zeal!
Use 2: As you would be found in the catalogue
of the godly, strive for zeal. It is better to be of no religion—than not to
be zealous in religion. Beware of carnal policy. This is one of those three
things which Luther feared would be the death of religion. Some men have
been too wise to be saved. Their discretion has quenched their zeal. Beware
of sloth, which is an enemy to zeal: "be zealous therefore, and repent"
(Rev. 3:19). Christians, what do you reserve your zeal for? Is it for your
gold which perishes; or for your sinful passions which will make you perish?
Can you bestow your zeal better than upon God?
How zealous men have been in a false religion! "They
lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance" (Isaiah 46:6).
The Jews did not spare any cost in their idolatrous worship. No, they "cause
their sons and daughters to pass through the fire to Molech" (Jer. 32:35).
They were so zealous in their idol worship that they would sacrifice their
sons and daughters to their false gods. How far the blind heathen went in
their false zeal! When the tribunes of Rome complained that they needed gold
in their treasuries to offer to Apollo, the Roman matrons plucked off their
chains of gold, and rings, and bracelets—and gave them to the priests to
offer up sacrifice. Were these so zealous in their sinful worship, and will
you not be zealous in the worship of the true God?
Do you lose anything by your zeal? Shall it not be
superabundantly recompensed? What is heaven worth? What is a sight of God
worth? Was not Jesus Christ zealous for you? He sweat drops of blood, he
conflicted with his Father's wrath. How zealous he was for your redemption,
and have you no zeal for him? Is there anything you yourselves hate more
than dullness and slothfulness in your servants? You are weary of such
servants. Do you dislike a dull spirit in others, and not in yourselves?
What are all your duties without zeal but mere fancies and nonentities?
Do you know what a glorious thing zeal is? It is the
luster that sparkles from grace; it is the flame of love; it resembles the
Holy Spirit: "There appeared cloven tongues like fire, which sat upon each
of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:3,4).
Tongues of fire were an emblem to represent that fire of zeal
which the Spirit poured upon them.
Zeal makes all our pious performances prevail with God.
When the iron is red hot it enters best; and when our services are red hot
with zeal, they pierce heaven soonest!
16. A godly man is a PATIENT man
"You have heard of the patience of Job" (Jas. 5:11).
Patience is a star which shines in a dark night. There is a twofold
1. Patience in waiting
If a godly man does not obtain his desire immediately, he
will wait until the mercy is ripe: "My soul waits for the Lord" (Psalm
130:6). There is good reason why God should have the timing of our mercies:
"I, the Lord, will bring it all to pass at the right time" (Isaiah
60:22). Deliverance may delay beyond our time—but it will not delay beyond
Why should we not wait patiently for God? We are
servants; it becomes servants to be in a waiting posture. We wait for
everything else; we wait for the seed until it grows (Jas. 5:7). Why can we
not wait for God? God has waited for us (Isaiah 30:18). Did he not wait for
our repentance? How often did he come, year after year, before he found
fruit? Did God wait for us, and can we not wait for him? A godly man is
content to await God's leisure; though the vision is delayed, he will wait
for it (Hab. 2:3).
2. Patience in bearing trials
This patience is twofold:
(a) Patience in regard to man—when we bear
injuries without revenging.
(b) Patience in regard to God—when we bear his
hand without repining. A good man will not only do God's will—but bear his
will: "I will bear the indignation of the Lord" (Mic. 7:9). This patient
bearing of God's will is not:
(1) A stoical apathy; patience is not
insensitivity under God's hand; we ought to be sensitive.
(2) Enforced patience, to bear a thing because we
cannot help it, which (as Erasmus said) is rather necessity than patience.
But patience is a cheerful submission of our will to God. "May the
will of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:14). A godly man acquiesces in what God
does, as being not only good, but best for himself. The great
quarrel between God and us is, "Whose will shall stand?" Now the regenerate
will falls in with the will of God. There are four
things which are opposite to this patient frame of soul:
(a) Disquiet of spirit, when the soul is
discomposed and pulled off the hinges, insomuch that it is unfit for holy
duties. When the strings of a lute are snarled up, the lute is not fit to
make music. So when a Christian's spirit is perplexed and disturbed, he
cannot make melody in his heart to the Lord.
(b) Discontent, which is a sullen, dogged
mood. When a man is not angry at his sins—but at his condition, this is
different from patience. Discontent is the daughter of pride.
(c) Defection, which is a dislike of God and
his ways, and a falling off from religion. Sinners have hard thoughts of
God, and if he just touches them on a sore spot, they will at once go away
from him and throw off his livery.
(d) Self-vindication, when instead of being
humbled under God's hand, a man justifies himself, as if he had not deserved
what he suffers. A proud sinner stands upon his own defense, and is ready to
accuse God of unrighteousness, which is as if we should accuse the sun with
darkness. This is far from patience. A godly man subscribes to God's
wisdom, and submits to his will. He says not only, "Good is the word
of the Lord" (Isaiah 39:8)—but "Good is the rod of the Lord!"
Use: As we would demonstrate ourselves to be
godly, let us be eminent in this grace of patience: "the patient in spirit
is better than the proud in spirit" (Eccles. 7:8). There are some graces
which we shall have no need of in heaven. We shall have no need of faith
when we have full vision, nor patience when we have perfect joy—but in a
dark sorrowful night there is need of these stars to shine (Heb. 10: 36).
Let us show our patience in bearing God's will. Patience in bearing God's
will is twofold:
1. When God removes any comfort from us.
2. When God imposes any trouble on us.
1. We must be patient when God removes any comfort from
us. If God takes away any of our relations—"I take away the
desire of your eyes with a stroke" (Ezek. 24:16)—it is still our duty
patiently to acquiesce in the will of God. The loss of a dear relation is
like pulling away a limb from the body. "A man dies every time he loses his
own kith and kin." But grace will make our hearts calm and quiet, and
produce holy patience in us under such a severe dispensation. I shall lay
down eight considerations which may act like spiritual medicine to kill
the worm of impatience under the loss of relations:
(1) The Lord never takes away any comfort from his
people, without giving them something better. The disciples
parted with Christ's physical presence, and he sent them the Holy Spirit.
God eclipses one joy, and augments another. He simply makes an exchange; he
takes away a flower, and gives a diamond.
(2) When godly friends die, they are in a better
condition. They are taken away "from the evil to come" (Isaiah
57:1). They are out of the storm, and have gone to the haven!
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13). The godly have a
portion promised them upon their marriage to Christ—but the portion is not
paid until the day of their death. The saints are promoted at death to
communion with God; they have what they so long hoped for, and prayed for.
Why, then, should we be impatient at our friends' promotion?
(3) You who are a saint, have a friend in heaven whom you
cannot lose. The Jews have a saying at their funerals, "Let your
consolation be in heaven." Are you mourning somebody close to you? Look up
to heaven and draw comfort from there; your best kindred are above. "When my
father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm
27:10). God will be with you in the hour of death: "though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me" (Psalm 23:4). Other
friends, you cannot keep. God is a friend you cannot lose. He will be your
guide in life; your hope in death; your reward after
(4) Perhaps God is correcting you for a fault, and if so,
it befits you to be patient. It may be your friend had more of
your love than God did, and therefore God took away such a relation, so that
the stream of your love might run back to him again. A gracious woman had
been deprived, first of her children, then of her husband. She said, "Lord,
you intend to have all my love." God does not like to have any creature set
upon the throne of our affections; he will take away that comfort, and then
he shall lie nearest our heart. If a husband bestows a jewel on his wife,
and she so falls in love with that jewel as to forget her husband, he will
take away the jewel so that her love may return to him again. A dear
relation is this jewel. If we begin to idolize it, God will take away the
jewel, so that our love may return to him again.
(5) A godly relation is parted with—but not
lost. That is lost, which we have no hope ever of seeing
again. Pious friends have only gone a little ahead of us. A time will
shortly come when there shall be a meeting without parting (1 Thess. 5:10).
How glad one is to see a long-absent friend! Oh, what glorious joy there
will be, when old relations meet together in heaven, and are in each other's
embraces! When a great prince lands at the shore, the guns go off in token
of joy; when godly friends have all landed at the heavenly shore and
congratulate one another on their happiness, what stupendous joy there will
be! What music in the choir of angels! How heaven will ring with their
praises! And that which is the crown of all, those who were joined in the
flesh here on earth, shall be joined nearer than ever in the mystic body,
and shall lie together in Christ's bosom, that bed of perfume (1 Thess.
(6) We have deserved worse at God's hand. Has
he taken away a child, a wife, a parent? He might have taken away his
Spirit. Has he deprived us of a relation? He might have deprived us of
salvation. Does he put wormwood in the cup? We have deserved poison. "You
have punished us less than our iniquities deserve" (Ezra 9:13). We have a
sea of sin—but only a drop of suffering.
(7) The patient soul enjoys itself most sweetly.
An impatient man is like a troubled sea which cannot rest (Isaiah 57:20). He
tortures himself upon the rack of his own griefs and passions. Whereas
patience calms the heart, as Christ did the sea, when it was rough. Now
there is a sabbath in the heart, yes, a heaven. "In your patience possess
your souls" (Luke 21:19). By faith a man possesses God, and by
patience he possesses himself.
(8) How patient many of the saints have been,
when the Lord has broken the very staff of their comfort in bereaving them
of relations. The Lord took away Job's children and he was so far from
murmuring that he fell to blessing: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and
naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken
away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21). God foretold the
death of Eli's sons: "in one day both of them shall die," (1 Sam. 2:34). But
how patiently he took this sad news: "It is the Lord's will. Let him do what
he thinks best." (1 Sam. 3:18). See the difference between Eli and Pharaoh!
Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord?" (Exod. 5:2). Eli said, "It is the Lord."
When God struck two of Aaron's sons dead, "Aaron held his peace" (Lev.
10:2,3). Patience opens the ear—but shuts the mouth! It opens the ear
to hear the rod—but shuts the mouth so that it has not a word to say against
God. See here the patterns of patience; and shall we not copy them? These
are heart-quietening considerations when God sets a death's-head upon
our comforts and removes dear relations from us.
2. We must be patient when God inflicts any TROUBLE on
us. "Patient in tribulation" (Romans 12:12).
(1) God sometimes lays heavy affliction on his people:
"Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me." (Psalm
38:2). The Hebrew word for "afflicted" signifies "to be melted." God seems
to melt his people in a furnace.
(2) God sometimes lays various afflictions on the saints:
"he multiplies my wounds" (Job 9:17). As we have various ways of sinning,
so the Lord has various ways of afflicting. Some he deprives of their
estates; others he chains to a sick bed; others he confines to
a prison. God has various arrows in his quiver, which he shoots.
(3) Sometimes God lets the affliction lie for a long
time: "None of us knows how long this will last" (Psalm 74:9). As
it is with diseases—some are chronic and linger and hang about the body
several years—so it is with afflictions. The Lord is pleased to exercise
many of his precious ones with chronic afflictions, which they suffer for a
long time. Now in all these cases, it befits the saints to rest patiently in
the will of God. The Greek word for "patient" is a metaphor and alludes to
one who stands invincibly under a heavy burden. This is the right notion of
patience, when we bear affliction invincibly without fainting or fretting.
The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a
Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation
who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul
wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should
always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or
acting with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him. Patience
adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: "You brought
us into the net" (Psalm 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net—yet the
Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must
not be "as a wild bull in a net" (Isaiah 51:20), kicking and flinging
against their Maker—but lie patiently until God breaks the net and makes a
way for their escape. I shall propound four potent arguments to encourage
patience under those troubles which God inflicts on us:
(a) Afflictions are for our profit, for our benefit:
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (Heb.
12:10). We pray that God would take such a course with us as may do our
souls good. When God is afflicting us, he is hearing our prayers; he does it
"for our good." Not that afflictions in themselves profit us—but as God's
Spirit works with them. For as the waters of Bethesda could not give health
of themselves, unless the angel descended and stirred them (John 5:4), so
the waters of affliction are not in themselves healing until God's Spirit
co-operates and sanctifies them to us. Afflictions are profitable in many
(1) They make men sober and wise. Physicians
have mental patients bound in chains and put on a frugal diet to bring them
to the use of reason. Many run stark mad in prosperity; they know neither
God nor themselves. The Lord therefore binds them with cords of affliction,
so that he may bring them to their right minds. "If they are held in cords
of affliction, then he shows them their transgressions. He opens also their
ear to discipline" (Job 36:8-10).
(2) Afflictions are a friend to grace:
(A) They beget grace. Beza acknowledged that God
laid the foundation of his conversion, during a violent sickness in Paris.
(B) They augment grace. The people of God are
indebted to their troubles; they would never have had so much grace, if they
had not met with such severe trials. Now the waters run, and the spices flow
forth. The saints thrive by affliction as the Lacedemonians grew rich by
war. God makes grace flourish most in the fall of the leaf.
(3) Afflictions quicken our pace on the way to heaven.
It is with us as with children sent on an errand. If they meet with apples
or flowers by the way, they linger and are in no great hurry to get home—but
if anything frightens them, then they run with all the speed they can, to
their father's house. So in prosperity, we gather the apples and flowers and
do not give much thought to heaven—but if troubles begin to arise and the
times grow frightful, then we make more haste to heaven and with David "run
the way of God's commandments" (Psalm 119:32).
(b) God intermixes mercy with affliction. He
steeps his sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no
night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it. There is no condition
so dismal but we may see a pillar of fire to give us light. If the body
is in pain, and conscience is at peace—there is mercy. Affliction
is for the prevention of sin; there is mercy. In the ark there was "a rod
and a pot of manna", the emblem of a Christian's condition: "mercy
interlined with judgment" (Psalm 101:1). Here is the rod and manna.
(c) Patience proves that there is much of God in the
heart. Patience is one of God's titles: "the God of patience"
(Romans 15:5). If you have your heart cast in this blessed mold, it is a
sign that God has imparted much of his own nature to you; you shine with
some of his beams.
Impatience proves that there is much unsoundness of
heart. If the body is of such a type that every little scratch of a pin
makes the flesh fester, you say, "Surely this man's flesh is very unsound."
So impatience with every petty annoyance, and quarreling with providence—is
the sign of a disturbed Christian. If there is any grace in such a heart,
they who can see it must have good eyes. But he who is of a patient spirit
is a graduate in religion, and participates in much of the divine nature.
(d) The end of affliction is glorious. The
Jews were captive in Babylon, but what was the end? They departed
from Babylon with vessels of silver, gold and precious things (Ezra 1:6).
So, what is the end of affliction? It ends in endless glory (Acts 14:22; 2
Cor. 4:17). How this may rock our impatient hearts quiet! Who would not
willingly travel along a little dirty path—at the end of which is a
Question: How shall I get my heart tuned to a patient
Answer: Get faith; all our impatience proceeds from
unbelief. Faith is the breeder of patience. When a storm of passion begins
to arise, faith says to the heart, as Christ did to the sea, "Peace, be
still", and there is at once a calm.
Question: How does faith work patience?
Answer: Faith argues the soul into patience.
Faith is like that town clerk in Ephesus who allayed the contention of the
multitude and argued them soberly into peace (Acts 19:35,36). So when
impatience begins to clamor and make a hubbub in the soul, faith appeases
the tumult and argues the soul into holy patience. Faith says, "Why are you
disquieted, O my soul?" (Psalm 42:5). Are you afflicted? Is it not your
Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you, and making you
fit for glory. He smites that he may save. What is your trial?
Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may
fall, even "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11). Are you
driven from your home? God has prepared a city for you (Heb. 11:16). Do you
suffer reproach for Christ's sake? "The spirit of glory and of God rests
upon you" (1 Pet. 4:14). Thus faith argues and disputes the soul into
Pray to God for patience. Patience is a flower of
God's planting. Pray that it may grow in your heart, and send forth its
sweet perfume. Prayer is a holy charm, to charm down the evil spirit of
impatience. Prayer composes the heart and puts it in tune, when impatience
has broken the strings and put everything into confusion. Oh, go to God.
Prayer delights God's ear; it melts his heart; it opens his hand. God cannot
deny a praying soul. Seek him with importunity and either he will remove the
affliction—or, which is better, he will remove your impatience!
17. A godly man is a THANKFUL man
Praise and thanksgiving is the work of heaven; and he
begins that work here which he will always be doing in heaven. The Hebrew
word for "praise" comes from a root that signifies "to shoot up." The godly
man sends up his praises like a volley of shots towards heaven. David was
modeled after God's heart and how melodiously he warbled out God's praises!
Therefore he was called "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam. 23:1). Take a
Christian at his worst—yet he is thankful. The prophet Jonah was a man of
waspish spirit. The sea was not so stirred with the tempest, as Jonah's
heart was stirred with passion (Jonah 1:13). Yet through this cloud you
might see grace appear. He had a thankful heart: "I will sacrifice unto you
with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed" (Jonah
2:9). To illustrate this more clearly, I shall lay down these four
1. Praise and thanksgiving is a saint-like work
We find in Scripture that the godly are still called upon
to praise God: "Praise the Lord; you who fear him, praise the Lord" (Psalm
135:20). "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let the high praises of God be
in their mouth" (Psalm 149:5,6). Praise is a work proper to a saint:
(1) None but the godly can praise God aright.
As all do not have the skill to play the lute, so not everyone can sound
forth the harmonious praises of God. Wicked men are bound to praise
God—but they are not fit to praise him. None but a living Christian
can tune God's praise. Wicked men are dead in sin; how can they who are
dead, lift up God's praises? "The grave cannot praise you" (Isaiah 38:18). A
wicked man stains and eclipses God's praise. If a filthy hand works in
satin, it will slur its beauty. God will say to the sinner, "What have you
to do, to take my covenant in your mouth?" (Psalm 50:16).
(2) Praise is not lovely, for any but the godly:
"praise is lovely for the upright" (Psalm 33:1). A profane man with God's
praises is like a dunghill with flowers. Praise in the mouth of a sinner, is
like a proverb in the mouth of a fool. How unfitting it is for anyone to
praise God—if his whole life dishonors God! It is as indecent for a wicked
man to praise God, as it is for a thief to talk of living by faith, or for
the devil to quote Scripture. The godly alone are fit to be choristers in
God's praises. It is called "the garment of praise" (Isaiah 61:3). This
garment fits handsomely only on a saint's back.
2. Thanksgiving is a more noble part of God's worship
Our needs may send us to prayer, but it takes a
truly honest heart to praise God. The raven cries; the lark
sings. In petition we act like men; in thanksgiving we act
3. Thanksgiving is a God-exalting work
"Whoever offers praise glorifies me" (Psalm 50:23).
Though nothing can add the least mite to God's essential glory—yet praise
exalts him in the eyes of others. Praise is a setting forth of God's honor,
a lifting up of his name, a displaying of the trophy of his goodness, a
proclaiming of his excellence, a spreading of his renown, a breaking open of
the box of ointment, whereby the sweet fragrance of God's name is sent
abroad into the world.
4. Praise is a more distinguishing work
By this a Christian excels all the infernal spirits. Do
you talk of God? So can the devil; he brought Scripture to Christ. Do you
profess religion? So can the devil; he transforms himself into an angel of
light. Do you fast? He never eats. Do you believe? The devils have a faith
of assent; they believe, and tremble (Jas. 2:19). But as Moses worked such a
miracle as none of the magicians could reproduce, so here is a work
Christians may be doing, which none of the devils can do—and that is the
work of thanksgiving. The devils blaspheme—but do not bless.
Satan has his fiery darts but not his harp and violin.
Use 1: See here the true genius and
characteristic of a godly man. He is much in doxologies and praises. It is a
saying of Lactantius that he who is unthankful to his God cannot be a godly
man. A godly man is a God-exalter. The saints are temples of the Holy Spirit
(1 Cor. 3:16). Where should God's praises be sounded—but in his temples? A
good heart is never weary of praising God: "his praise shall continually be
in my mouth" (Psalm 34:1). Some will be thankful while the memory of the
mercy is fresh—but afterwards leave off. The Carthaginians at first to send
the tenth of their yearly revenue to Hercules—but by degrees they grew weary
and stopped sending. David, as long as he drew his breath, would chirp forth
God's praise: "I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being"
(Psalm146:2). David would not now and then give God a snatch of music, and
then hang up the instrument—but he would continually be celebrating God's
A godly man will express his thankfulness in every
duty. He mingles thanksgiving with prayer: "in everything by prayer with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6).
Thanksgiving is the more divine part of prayer. In our petitions we express
our own necessities; in our thanksgivings we declare God's excellences.
Prayer goes up as incense, when it is perfumed with thanksgiving.
And as a godly man expresses thankfulness in every duty,
he does so in every condition. He will be thankful in adversity as
well as prosperity: "In everything give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:18). A gracious
soul is thankful and rejoices that he is drawn nearer to God, though it be
by the cords of affliction. When it goes well with him, he praises
God's mercy; when it goes badly with him, he magnifies God's justice.
When God has a rod in his hand, a godly man will have a psalm
in his mouth. The devil's smiting of Job was like striking a musical
instrument; he sounded forth praise: "Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the
name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21). When God's spiritual plants are cut
and bleed, they drop thankfulness; the saints' tears cannot drown their
If this is the sign of a godly man, then the number of
the godly appears to be very small. Few are in the work of praise. Sinners
cut God short of his thank offering: "Where are the nine?" (Luke
17:17). Of ten lepers healed there was but one who returned to give
praise. Most of the world are sepulchers to bury God's praise. You will hear
some swearing and cursing—but few who bless God. Praise is the rent which
men owe to God—but most are behindhand with their rent. God gave King
Hezekiah a marvelous deliverance, "but Hezekiah rendered not again according
to the benefit done unto him" (2 Chron. 32:25). That "but" was a blot on his
Some, instead of being thankful to God, "render evil for
good." They are the worse for mercy: "Do you thus requite the Lord, O
foolish and unwise people?" (Deut. 32:6). This is like the toad which turns
the most wholesome herb to poison. Where shall we find a grateful Christian?
We read of the saints "having harps in their hands" (Rev 5:8)—the emblem of
praise. Many have tears in their eyes and complaints in their
mouths—but few have harps in their hand and are blessing and praising
the name of God.
Use 2: Let us scrutinize ourselves and examine
by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we thankful for mercy? It
is a hard thing to be thankful.
Question: How may we know whether we are rightly
Answer 1: We are rightly thankful—when we are
careful to register God's mercies: "David appointed certain of the Levites
to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel" (1 Chron. 16:4).
Physicians say that the memory is the first thing which decays. It is true
in spiritual matters: "They soon forgot his works" (Psalm 106:13). A godly
man enters his mercies, as a physician does his remedies, in a book, so that
they may not be lost. Mercies are jewels that should be locked up. A child
of God keeps two books always by him: one to write his sins in—so
that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in—so that he
may be thankful.
Answer 2: We are rightly thankful—when our
hearts are the chief instrument in the music of praise: "I will praise
the Lord with my whole heart" (Psalm 111:1). David would tune not
only his violin—but also his heart. If the heart does not join with the
tongue, there can be no true praise. Where the heart is not engaged, the
parrot is as good a chorister as the Christian.
Answer 3: We are rightly thankful—when the
favors which we receive, endear our love to God the more. David's miraculous
preservation from death drew forth his love to God: "I love the Lord" (Psalm
116:1). It is one thing to love our mercies; it is another thing to
love the Lord. Many love their deliverance, but not their
deliverer. God is to be loved more than his mercies.
Answer 4: We are rightly thankful when, in
giving our praise to God, we see no worthiness from ourselves: "I am not
worthy of the least of all the mercies you have showed unto your servant"
(Gen. 32:10). As if Jacob had said, "Lord, the worst bit you carve for me,
is better than I deserve." Mephibosheth bowed himself and said, "What is
your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (2 Sam.
9:8). So when a thankful Christian makes a survey of his blessings and sees
how much he enjoys, that others better than he lack, he says, "Lord, what am
I, a dead dog, that free grace should look upon me, and that you
should crown me with such loving kindness!"
Answer 5: We are rightly thankful—when we put
God's mercy to good use. We repay God's blessings—with service. The Lord
gives us health—and we spend and are spent for Christ (2 Cor. 12:15).
He gives us an estate—and we honor the Lord with our substance
(Proverbs 3:9). He gives us children—and we dedicate them to God and
educate them for God. We do not bury our talents—but use them for God's
glory. This is to put our mercies to good use. A gracious heart is like a
piece of good ground that, having received the seed of mercy, produces a
crop of obedience.
Answer 6: We are rightly thankful—when we can
have our hearts more enlarged for spiritual mercies—than for temporal
mercies: "Blessed be God, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings"
(Eph. 1:3). A godly man blesses God more for a fruitful heart—than a full
crop. He is more thankful for Christ—than for a kingdom. Socrates was
accustomed to say that he loved the king's smile—more than his gold. A pious
heart is more thankful for a smile of God's face—than he would be for all
the gold of the Indies.
Answer 7: We are rightly thankful—when mercy
is a spur to duty. It causes a spirit of activity for God. Mercy is not like
the sun to the fire, to dull it—but like oil to the wheel, to make it run
faster. David wisely argues from mercy to duty: "You have delivered my soul
from death. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm
116:8,9). It was a saying of Bernard, "Lord, I have two mites, a soul and a
body, and I give them both to you."
Answer 8: We are rightly thankful—when we
motivate others to this angelic work of praise. David does not only wish to
bless God himself—but calls upon others to do so: "Praise the Lord, all you
nations; extol him, all you peoples." (Psalm 117:1). The sweetest music is
that which is in unison. When many saints join together in unison, then they
make heaven ring with their praises. As one drunkard will be calling upon
another—so in a holy sense, one Christian must be stirring up another to the
work of thankfulness.
Answer 9: We are rightly thankful—when we not
only speak God's praise—but live his praise. It is called an
expression of gratitude. We give thanks when we live thanks.
Such as are mirrors of mercy should be patterns of piety.
"Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness" (Obad.
17). To give God oral praise and dishonor him in our lives, is to commit a
barbarism in religion, and is to be like those Jews who bowed the knee to
Christ and then spit on him (Mark 15:19).
Answer 10: We are rightly thankful—when we
propagate God's praises to posterity. We tell our children what God has done
for us: in such a need he supplied us; from such a sickness he
raised us up; in such a temptation he helped us. "O God, our fathers
have told us, what work you did in their days, in the times of old" (Psalm
44:1). By transmitting our experiences to our children, God's name is
eternalized, and his mercies will bring forth a plentiful crop of praise
when we are gone. Heman puts the question, "shall the dead praise you?"
(Psalm 88:10). Yes, in the sense that when we are dead, we praise God
because, having left the chronicle of God's mercies with our children, we
start them on thankfulness and so make God's praises live when we are dead.
Use 3: Let us prove our godliness by
gratefulness: "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name" (Psalm 29:2).
1. It is a good thing to be thankful. "It is
good to sing praises unto our God" (Psalm 147:1). It is bad when the tongue
(that organ of praise) is out of tune and jars by murmuring and discontent.
But it is a good thing to be thankful. It is good, because this is all the
creature can do to lift up God's name; and it is good because it tends to
make us good. The more thankful we are, the more holy. While
we pay this tribute of praise, our stock of grace increases. In other debts,
the more we pay, the less we have; but the more we pay this debt of
thankfulness, the more grace we have.
2. Thankfulness is the rent we owe to God.
"Kings of the earth, and all people; let them praise the name of the Lord"
(Psalm 148:11,13), Praise is the tribute or custom to be paid into the King
of heaven's treasury. Surely while God renews our lease, we must renew our
3. The great cause we have to be thankful. It
is a principle grafted in nature—to be thankful for mercies received. Even
the heathen praised Jupiter for their victories.
What full clusters of mercies hang on us when we go to
enumerate God's mercies! We must, with David, confess ourselves to be
bewildered: "Many, O Lord my God, are your wonderful works which you have
done, they cannot be reckoned up in order" (Psalm 40:5). And as God's
mercies are past numbering, so they are past measuring. David
takes the longest measuring line he could get. He measures from earth to the
clouds, no, above the clouds—yet this measure would not reach the heights of
God's mercies: "Your mercy is great above the heavens" (Psalm 108:4).
Oh, how God has enriched us with his silver showers! A whole constellation
of mercies has shone in our hemisphere.
(1) What temporal favors we have received! Every
day we see a new tide of mercy coming in. The wings of mercy have
covered us; the breast of mercy has fed us: "the God who fed me all
my life long unto this day" (Gen. 48:15). What snares laid for us have been
broken! What fears have blown over! The Lord has made our bed, while
he has made others' graves. He has taken such care of us, as if he
had no one else to take care of. Never was the cloud of providence so
black—but we might see a rainbow of love in the cloud. We have been
made to swim in a sea of mercy! Does not all this call for thankfulness?
(2) That which may put another string into the instrument
of our praise and make it sound louder—is to consider what spiritual
blessings God has conferred on us. He has given us water from the upper
springs; he has opened the wardrobe of heaven and fetched us out
a better garment than any of the angels wear! He has given us the best
robe, and put on us the ring of faith, by which we are married to
him. These are mercies of the first magnitude, which deserve to have an
asterisk put on them. More—God keeps the best wine until last! Here on
earth, he gives us mercies only in small quantities; the greatest things are
laid up in heaven! Here on earth, there are some honey drops and
foretastes of God's love; the rivers of pleasure are reserved for
paradise! Well may we take the harp and violin and triumph in God's praise.
Who can tread on these hot coals of God's love—and his heart not burn in
4. Thankfulness is the best policy. There is
nothing lost by it. To be thankful for one mercy is the way to have more. It
is like pouring water into a pump which fetches out more. Musicians love to
sound their trumpets where there is the best echo, and God loves to bestow
his mercies where there is the best echo of thankfulness.
5. Thankfulness is a frame of heart that God delights in.
If repentance is the joy of heaven, praise is the music. Bernard
calls thankfulness, "the sweet balm that drops from a Christian."
Four sacrifices God is very pleased with: the sacrifice
of Christ's blood; the sacrifice of a broken heart; the sacrifice of alms;
and the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Praise and thanksgiving (says Greenham)
is the most excellent part of God's worship, for this shall continue in the
heavenly choir when all other exercises of religion have ceased.
6. What a horrid thing ingratitude is! It
gives a dye and tincture to every other sin and makes it crimson.
Ingratitude is the spirit of baseness: "Your trusted friends will set traps
for you" (Obad. 7). Ingratitude is worse than brutish (Isaiah 1:3). It is
reported of Julius Caesar that he would never forgive an ungrateful person.
Though God is a sin-pardoning God, he scarcely knows how to pardon for this.
"How shall I pardon you for this? your children have forsaken me, when I had
fed them to the full, they then committed adultery" (Jer. 5:7). Draco (whose
laws were written in blood) published an edict that if any man had received
a benefit from another, and it could be proved against him that he had not
been grateful for it, he should be put to death. An unthankful person is a
monster in nature—and a paradox in Christianity. He is the scorn of heaven
and the plague of earth. An ungrateful man never does well, except in one
thing—that is, when he dies. Then he becomes a monument of God's justice.
7. Not being thankful is the cause of all the judgments
which have lain on us. Our unthankfulness for health has been the
cause of so much mortality. Our gospel unthankfulness and sermon-surfeiting
has been the reason why God has put so many lights under a bushel. Who will
spend money on a piece of ground that produces nothing but briars?
Unthankfulness stops up the golden vial of God's bounty, so that it will not
Question: What shall we do to be thankful?
Answer 1: If you wish to be thankful, get a heart
deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is
the best pipe to sound forth God's praise. He who studies his sins wonders
that he has anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill: "I was
once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, but I was shown mercy"
(1 Tim. 1:13). How thankful Paul was! How he trumpeted forth free grace! A
proud man will never be thankful. He looks on all his mercies as either of
his own procuring or deserving. If he has an estate, this he
has got by his wits and industry, not considering that scripture, "Always
remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you power to become rich"
(Deut. 8:18). Pride stops the current of gratitude. O Christian, think of
your unworthiness; see yourself as the least of saints, and the chief of
sinners—and then you will be thankful.
Answer 2: Strive for sound evidences of God's love to
you. Read God's love in the impress of holiness upon your hearts. God's
love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness:
"Unto him that loved us, be glory and dominion forever!" (Rev. 1:5,6). The
deepest springs yield the sweetest water. Hearts deeply aware of God's love
yield the sweetest praises
18. A godly man is a lover of the saints
The best way to discern grace in oneself—is to love grace
in others: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). What is religion—but a knitting together
of hearts? Faith knits us to God—and love knits us one to
another. There is a twofold love to others:
1. A civil love. A godly man has a love of
civility to all: "Abraham stood up, and bowed to the children of Heth" (Gen.
23:7). Though they were extraneous and not within the pale of the
covenant—yet Abraham was affable to them. Grace sweetens and refines
nature. "Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble"
(1 Pet. 3:8). We are to have a love of civility to all:
(1) Because they are of the same clay, of the same lump
and mold with ourselves and are a piece of God's intricate needlework.
(2) Because our sweet deportment towards them may be a
means to win them over and put them in love with the ways of God. Morose,
crude behavior, often alienates the hearts of others and hardens them most
against holiness, whereas loving behavior is very obliging and may be like a
loadstone to draw them to true religion.
2. A pious and a holy love. This, a godly man
has chiefly for those who are "of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). The
first was a love of courtesy, this of delight. Our love to the saints (says
Augustine) should be more than to our natural relations, because the bond of
the Spirit is closer than that of blood. This love to the saints which shows
a man to be godly must have seven ingredients in it:
(1) Love to the saints must be SINCERE. "Let
us not love in word, neither in tongue—but in deed and in truth" (1 John
3:18). The honey that drops from the comb is pure; so love must be pure,
without deceit. Many are like Naphtali: "He gives goodly words" (Gen.
49:21). Pretended love is like a painted fire, which has no
heat in it. Some hide malice under a false veil of love. I have read of
Antoninus the Emperor that where he made a show of friendship, he intended
the most mischief.
(2) Love to the saints must be SPIRITUAL. We
must love them because they are saints, not out of self-respect because they
are affable or have been kind to us.
But we must love them from spiritual considerations,
because of the good that is in them. We are to reverence their holiness,
else it is a carnal love.
(3) Love to the saints must be EXTENSIVE. We
must love all who bear God's image:
(a) We must love the saints, though they have many
infirmities. A Christian in this life is like a good face full of freckles.
You who cannot love another because of his imperfections, have never yet
seen your own face in the mirror. Your brother's infirmities may make you
pity him; his graces must make you love him.
(b) We must love the saints, though in some things they
do not agree with us. Another Christian may differ from me in lesser
matters, either because he has more light than I, or because he has less
light. If he differs from me because he has more light, then I have no
reason to censure him. If he differs from me because he has less light, then
I ought to bear with him as the weaker vessel. In things of an indifferent
nature, there ought to be Christian forbearance.
(c) We must love the saints, though their graces outvie
and surpass ours. We ought to bless God for the eminence of another's grace,
because hereby religion is honored. Pride is not quite slain in a believer.
Saints themselves are apt to grudge and repine at each other's excellences.
Is it not strange that the same person should hate one man for his sin and
envy another for his virtue? Christians need to look to their hearts. Love
is right and genuine, when we can rejoice in the graces of others though
they seem to eclipse ours.
(4) Love to the saints must be APPRECIATING.
We must esteem them above others: "He honors those who fear the Lord" (Psalm
15:4). We are to look upon the wicked as chaff—but upon the saints as
jewels. These must be had in high veneration.
(5) Love to the saints must be SOCIAL. We
should delight in their company: "I am a companion of all those who fear
you" (Psalm 119:63). It is a kind of hell to be in the company of the
wicked, where we cannot choose but hear God's name dishonored. It was a
capital crime to carry the image of Tiberius, engraved on a ring or coin,
into any sordid place. Those who have the image of God engraved on them
should not go into any sinful, sordid company. I have only ever read of two
living people who desired to keep company with the dead, and they were
possessed by the devil (Matt. 8:28). What comfort can a living Christian
have from conversing with the dead (Jude 12)? But the society of saints is
desirable. This is not to walk "among the tombs"—but "among beds of spices."
Believers are Christ's garden; their graces are the flowers; their savory
discourse is the fragrant scent of these flowers.
(6) Love to the saints must be DEMONSTRATIVE.
We should be ready to do all offices of love to them, vindicate their names,
contribute to their necessities and, like the good Samaritan, pour oil and
wine into their wounds (Luke 10:34,35). Love cannot be concealed—but is
active in its sphere and will lay itself out for the good of others.
(7) Love to the saints must be CONSTANT. "He
who dwells in love" (1 John 4:16). Our love must not only lodge for a
night—but we must dwell in love: "Let brotherly love continue" (Heb. 13:1).
As love must be sincere, without hypocrisy; so it must be constant, without
deficiency. Love must be like the pulse, always beating, not like those
Galatians who at one time were ready to pluck out their eyes for Paul
(Gal. 4:15) and afterwards were ready to pluck out his eyes. Love
should expire only with our life. And surely if our love to the saints is
thus divinely qualified, we may hopefully conclude that we are enrolled
among the godly. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples—if
you have love one to another" (John 13:35).
What induces a godly man to love the saints is the fact
that he is closely related to them. There ought to be love among relations;
there is a spiritual kinship among believers. They all have one head,
therefore should all have one heart. They are stones of the same
building (1 Pet. 2:5), and shall not these stones be cemented together with
Use 1: If it is the distinguishing mark of a
godly man to be a lover of the saints, then how sad it is to see this grace
of love in eclipse! This characteristic of godliness is almost blotted out
among Christians. England was once a fair garden where the flower of love
grew—but surely now this flower is either plucked, or withered. Where is
that amity and unity which there should be among Christians? I appeal to
you—would there be that censuring and despising, that reproaching and
undermining one another—if there were love? Instead of bitter tears,
there are bitter spirits. It is a sign that iniquity abounds when the
love of many grows cold. There is that distance among some professing
Christians as if they had not received the same Spirit, or as if they did
not hope for the same heaven. In primitive times there was so much love
among the godly—that it set the heathen wondering; and now there is so
little love—that it may set Christians blushing.
Use 2: As we would be written down for saints
in God's calendar, let us love the brotherhood (1 Pet. 2:17). Those who
shall one day live together, should love together. What is it
that makes a disciple, but love (John 13:35)? The devil has knowledge—but
that which makes him a devil is that he lacks love. To persuade Christians
to love, consider:
(1) The saints have that in them which may make us love
them. They are the intricate embroidery and workmanship of the
Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:10). They have those rare lineaments of grace that none
but a pencil from heaven could draw. Their eyes sparkle forth beauty, "their
breasts are like clusters of grapes" (Song 7:7). This makes Christ himself
delight in his spouse: "The king is held in the galleries" (Song 7:5). The
church is the daughter of a prince (Song 7:1). She is waited on by angels
(Heb 1:14). She has a palace of glory reserved for her (John 14:2), and may
not all this draw forth our love?
(2) Consider how evil it is for saints not to love:
(a) It is UNNATURAL. The saints are Christ's
lambs (John 21:15). For a dog to worry a lamb is usual—but for one
lamb to worry another is unnatural. The saints are brethren (1 Peter
3:8). How barbarous it is for brethren not to love!
(b) Not to love is a FOOLISH thing. Have not
God's people enemies enough, that they should fly in the faces of one
another? The wicked confederate against the godly: "They have taken crafty
counsel against your people" (Psalm 83:3). Though there may be a private
grudge between such as are wicked—yet they will all agree and unite against
the saints. If two greyhounds are snarling at a bone and you put a hare
between them, they will leave the bone and chase the hare. So if wicked men
have private differences among themselves, and the godly are near them, they
will leave snarling at one another and chase the godly. Now, when God's
people have so many enemies abroad, who watch for their halting and are glad
when they can do them a mischief, shall the saints fall out and divide into
parties among themselves?
(3) Not to love is very UNSEASONABLE. God's
people are in a common calamity. They all suffer in the cause of the gospel,
and for them to disagree is altogether unseasonable. Why does the Lord bring
his people together in affliction, except to bring them together in
affection? Metals will unite in a furnace. If ever Christians unite,
it should be in the furnace of affliction. Chrysostom compares
affliction to a shepherd's dog, which makes all the sheep run together.
God's rod has this loud voice in it: "Love one another." How unworthy it is
when Christians are suffering together, to be then striving
(4) Not to love is very SINFUL.
(a) For saints not to love, is to live in contradiction
to Scripture. The apostle is continually plucking this string of love, as if
it made the sweetest music in religion: "This commandment have we from him,
That he who loves God love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). (See also Romans
13:8; Col. 3:14; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11). Not to love is to walk contrary
to the Word. Can he who goes against the rules of medicine, be a good
physician? Can he who goes against the rules of piety, be a good Christian?
(b) Lack of love among Christians greatly silences the
spirit of prayer. Hot passions make cold prayers. Where animosities and
contentions prevail, instead of praying for one another, Christians will be
ready to pray against one another, like the disciples who prayed for fire
from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54). And will God, do you think, hear
such prayers as come from a wrathful heart? Will he eat our leavened
bread? Will he accept those duties which are soured with bitterness of
spirit? Shall that prayer which is offered with the strange fire of our
sinful passions, ever go up as incense?
(c) These heart-burnings hinder the progress of piety in
our own souls. The flower of grace will not grow in a wrathful
heart. The body may as soon thrive, while it has the plague—as a soul
can thrive, which is infected with malice. While Christians are debating,
grace is abating. As the spleen grows, health decays. As hatred
increases, holiness declines.
(5) Not to love is very FATAL. The differences
among God's people portend ruin. All mischiefs come in at this gap of
division (Matt. 12:25). Animosities among saints may make God leave his
temple: "the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood upon the
threshold" (Ezek. 10:4). Does not God seem to stand upon the threshold of
his house, as if he were taking wings to fly? And woe to us if God departs
from us (Hos. 9:12)! If the master leaves the ship, it is nearly sinking
indeed. If God leaves a land, it must of necessity sink in ruin.
Question: How shall we attain this excellent grace of
Answer 1: Beware of the devil's couriers—I mean such
as run on his errand, and make it their work to blow the coals of contention
among Christians, and render one party odious to another.
Answer 2: Keep up friendly meetings. Christians
should not be shy of one another, as if they had the plague.
Answer 3: Let us plead that promise: "I will give
them one heart, and one way" (Jer. 32:39). Let us pray that there may be no
contests among Christians, except as to who shall love most. Let us pray
that God will divide Babylon—and unite Zion.
Use 3: Is it a mark of a godly man to love the
saints? Then those who hate the saints must stand indicted as ungodly. The
wicked have an implacable malice against God's people, and how can
antipathies be reconciled? To hate the holy children of God, is a brand of
the reprobate. Those who malign the godly, are the curse of creation. If all
the scalding drops from God's vial will make them miserable—they shall be
so! Never did any who were the haters and persecutors of saints thrive at
that trade. What became of Julian, Diocletian, Maximinus, Valerian, Cardinal
Crescentius and others? They are standing monuments of God's vengeance!
"Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous
will be punished. " (Psalm 34:21).
19. A godly man does not indulge in any SIN
Though sin lives in him—yet he does not live in sin. A
godly man may step into sin through infirmity—but he does not keep
on that road. He prays, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me
along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23-24).
Question: What is it to indulge sin?
Answer 1: To give the breast to it and feed it. As a
fond parent humors his child and lets him have what he wants, so to indulge
sin is to humor sin.
Answer 2: To indulge sin is to commit it with
delight. The ungodly "delight in wickedness" (2 Thess. 2:12).
In this sense, a godly man does not indulge sin. Though
sin is in him, he is troubled at it and would gladly get rid of it. There is
as much difference between sin in the wicked and sin in the godly—as between
poison being in a serpent and poison being in a man. Poison in a serpent is
in its natural place and is delightful—but poison in a man's body is harmful
and he uses antidotes to expel it. So sin in a wicked man is delightful,
being in its natural place—but sin in a child of God is burdensome and he
uses all means to expel it. The sin is trimmed off. The will is against it.
A godly man enters his protest against sin: "Oh, what a miserable person I
am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?" (Romans
7:24). A child of God, while he commits sin, hates the sin he commits
In particular there are four kinds of sin, which a godly
man will not allow himself:
1. SECRET sins. Some are more modest than to
commit open gross sin. That would be a stain on their reputation. But they
will sit brooding upon sin in a corner: "Saul secretly practiced mischief"
(1 Sam. 23:9). All will not sin on a balcony—but perhaps they will sin
behind the curtain. Rachel did not carry her father's images like a saddle
cloth to be exposed to public view—but she put them under her and sat on
them (Gen. 31:34). Many carry their sins secretly.
But a godly man dare not sin secretly:
(1) He knows that God sees in secret, "for he knows the
secrets of every heart." (Psalm 44:21). As God cannot be deceived by our
subtlety, so he cannot be excluded by our secrecy.
(2) A godly man knows that secret sins are in some sense
worse than others. They reveal more guile and atheism. The curtain-sinner
makes himself believe that God does not see: "Son of man, have you seen what
the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They
are saying—The Lord doesn't see us!" (Ezek. 8:12). Those who have bad eyes
think that the sun is dim. How it provokes God, that men's atheism should
give the lie to his omniscience! "He who formed the eye, shall he not see?"
(3) A godly man knows that secret sins shall not escape
God's justice. A judge on the bench can punish no offence but what is proved
by witnesses. He cannot punish the treason of the heart—but the sins of the
heart are as visible to God as if they were written upon the forehead. As
God will reward secret duties, so he will revenge secret sins.
2. GAINFUL sins. Gain is the golden bait, with
which Satan fishes for souls! "The sweet smell of money." This was the last
temptation he used with Christ: "All these things will I give you" (Matt.
4:9). But Christ saw the hook under the bait. Many who have escaped gross
sins, are still caught in a golden net. To gain the world, they will
use indirect routes.
A godly man dare not travel for riches along the devil's
highway. Those are sad gains, which make a man lose peace of conscience and
heaven at last. He who gets an estate by injustice stuffs his pillow with
thorns, and his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die. "What good
will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"
3. A beloved BESETTING sin. "Let us throw off
everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let
us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1. There is
usually one sin that is the favorite—the sin which the heart is most fond
of. A beloved sin lies in a man's bosom as the disciple whom Jesus loved,
leaned on his bosom (John 13:23). A godly man will not indulge a darling
sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity" (Psalm 18:23). "I will not
indulge the sin of my constitution, to which the bias of my heart more
naturally inclines." "Fight neither with small nor great—but only with the
king" (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. The oracle of
Apollo answered the people of Cyrrha that if they would live in peace among
themselves, they must make continual war with those strangers who were on
their borders. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war
against our favorite sin and never leave off until it is subdued.
Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?
Answer 1: The sin which a man does not love to have
reproved is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest
spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin—it shall cost him his
head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins
reproved—but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this
sin—their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!
Answer 2: The sin on which the thoughts run most, is
the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart
goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that
person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your
thoughts and greets you in the morning—that is your predominant sin.
Answer 3: The sin which has most power over us, and
most easily leads us captive, is the one beloved by the soul. There are some
sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can
more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot
deny it—but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many
sins—but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.
Christians, mark what sin you are most readily led captive by—that is the
harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so
bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with not only half the
kingdom (Esther 7:2) but the whole kingdom of heaven, he must part with it,
to gratify that lust!
Answer 4: The sin which men use arguments to defend,
is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it
to his death. So when there is any sin in the bosom, men will defend it. The
sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. If the sin is anger,
we plead for it: "I do well to be angry" (Jonah 4:9). If the sin is
covetousness and we vindicate it and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify
it—that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.
Answer 5: The sin which most troubles us, and flies
most in the face in an hour of sickness and distress, that is the Delilah
sin! When Joseph's brethren were distressed, their sin in selling their
brother came to remembrance: "We are truly guilty concerning our brother . .
. therefore is this distress come upon us" (Gen. 42:21). So, when a man is
on a sickbed and conscience says, "You have been guilty of such a sin; you
went on in it, and rolled it like honey under your tongue!" Conscience is
reading him a sad lecture. That was the beloved sin for sure.
Answer 6: The sin which a man finds most difficulty
in giving up, is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most
difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin
I have parted with—but must Benjamin go, must I part with this delightful
sin? That pierces my heart!" As with a castle that has several forts about
it, the first and second fort are taken—but when it comes to the castle,
the governor will rather fight and die than yield that. So a man may allow
some of his sins to be demolished—but when it comes to one sin, that is the
taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the
master sin for sure.
The besetting sin is a God-provoking sin. The wise men of
Troy counseled Priam to send Helena back to the Greeks, not permitting
himself to be abused any longer by the charms of her beauty, because keeping
her within the city would lay the foundation of a fatal war. So we should
put away our Delilah sin, lest it incense the God of heaven, and make him
commence a war against us.
The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As
Samson's strength lay in his hair, so the strength of sin, lies in this
beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death. A
godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down!
He sets this sin, like Uriah, in the forefront of the battle, so that it may
be slain. He will sacrifice this Isaac, he will pluck out this right eye, so
that he may see better to go to heaven.
4. Those sins which the world counts LESSER.
There is no such thing as little sin—yet some may be deemed less
comparatively. But a godly man will not indulge himself in these. Such as:
(1) Sins of omission. Some think it no great matter to
omit family, or private prayer. They can go for several months and God never
hears from them. A godly man will as soon live without food, as without
prayer. He knows that every creature of God is sanctified by prayer (1 Tim.
4:5). The bird may shame many Christians; it never takes a drop—but the eye
is lifted up towards heaven.
(2) A godly man dares not allow himself vain, frothy
discourse, much less that which looks like an oath. If God will judge for
idle words, will he not much more for idle oaths?
(3) A godly man dare not allow himself rash censuring.
Some think this a small matter. They will not swear—but they will
slander. This is very evil. This is wounding a man in that which is
dearest to him. He who is godly turns all his censures upon himself!
He judges himself for his own sins—but is very watchful and concerned, about
the good name of another.
Use: As you would be numbered among the
genealogies of the saints, do not indulge yourselves in any sin. Consider
the mischief which one sin lived in, will do:
1. One sin lived in, gives Satan as much advantage
against you as more sins. The fowler can hold a bird by one wing. Satan
held Judas fast by one sin.
2. One sin lived in, proves that the heart is not
sound. He who hides one rebel in his house is a traitor to the crown.
The person who indulges one sin is a traitorous hypocrite.
3. One sin lived in, will make way for more, as a
little thief can open the door to more. Sins are linked and chained
together. One sin will draw on more. David's adultery made way for murder.
One sin never goes alone! If there is only one nest egg—the devil can
brood on it.
4. One sin lived in, is as much a breach of God's law
as more sins. "Whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is
guilty of breaking it all" (Jas. 2:10). The king may make a law against
felony, treason and murder. If a man is guilty of only one of these, he is a
5. One sin lived in, prevents Christ from entering.
One stone in the pipe keeps out the water. One sin indulged in, obstructs
the soul and keeps the streams of Christ's blood from running into it.
6. One sin lived in, will spoil all your good duties.
A drop of poison will spoil a glass of wine. Abimelech, a bastard-son,
destroyed seventy of his brethren (Judges 9:5). One bastard-sin will destroy
seventy prayers. One dead fly will spoil the whole box of precious ointment.
7. One sin lived in will be a cankerworm to eat out
the peace of conscience. It takes away the manna from the ark,
and leaves only a rod. "Alas! What a scorpion lies within!" (Seneca).
One sin is a pirate—to rob a Christian of his comfort. One jarring
string puts all the music out of tune. One sin lived in—will spoil the music
8. One sin lived in, will damn as well as more sins.
One disease is enough to kill. If a fence is made ever so
strong, and only one gap is left open; the wild beast may enter and tread
down the corn. If only one sin is allowed in the soul, you leave open a gap
for the devil to enter! A soldier may have only one gap in his
armor--and the bullet may enter there. He may as well be shot there--as if
he had no armor on at all. So if you favor only one sin, you leave a part of
your soul unprotected--and the bullet of God's wrath may enter there—and
shoot you! One sin lived in, may shut you out of heaven! What difference is
there, between being shut out of heaven for one sin--or for many sins? One
millstone will sink a man into the sea--as well as a hundred!
9. One sin harbored in the soul will unfit us for
suffering. How soon an hour of trial may come. A man who has hurt his
shoulder cannot carry a heavy burden, and a man who has any guilt in his
conscience cannot carry the cross of Christ. Will he who cannot deny his
lust for Christ—deny his life for Christ? One unmortified sin
in the soul—will bring forth the bitter fruit of apostasy.
If, then, you would show yourselves godly, give a
certificate of divorce to every sin. Kill the Goliath sin! "Let not sin
reign" (Romans 6:12). In the original it is "Let not sin king it over
you." Grace and sin may be together—but grace and the love of sin cannot.
Therefore parley with sin no longer—but with the spear of mortification,
spill the heart-blood of every sin! "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. "So put to death the sinful, earthly things
lurking within you." Colossians 3:5.