Thomas Watson quotes
The last book I read was Thomas Watson’s A Body of Divinity. I thought it was pretty hard to read (and as the backcover says that Watson is ‘the most readable of the Puritans’, things aren’t looking good!), but it was really good. About 2/3 of the way through the book I started making a note of the quotes I liked. Below are some of the quotes. They’re not necessarily catchphrasey type things that you would go round saying, but they contain a lot of truth. I’ve also decided to start a quotes page, for good quotes I come across, so this can be the first entry. Most of the rest of the quotes will just be one off things.
I found this first quote interesting because of the way Rev 3:20 (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”) is constantly misquoted by Arminians, who ignore the fact that it was written to a CHURCH (Laodicea) and isn’t talking about an individual’s salvation. Often it is represented (and I think there’s a famous picture of it…actually it can’t be that famous if I’m not sure) that Jesus is knocking at a sinner’s heart and it is up to them to open the door to Him, as there is only a handle on their side. Watson’s analogy of a door in the salvation of sinners however is very different:
The other means of our effectual call is the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the word is the pipe or organ; the Spirit of God blowing in it, effectually changes men’s hearts. ‘While Peter spake, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word of God.’ Acts 10: 44. Ministers knock at the door of men’s hearts, the Spirit comes with a key and opens the door. ‘A certain woman named Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened.’ Acts 16:I4.
- The torments of the damned are: [This is from nearer the start of the book, it's a bit more famous]
(3.) Without cessation, eternal. The pleasures of sin are but for a season, but the torments of the wicked are for ever. Sinners have a short feast, but a long reckoning. Origen erroneously thought, that after a thousand years the damned should be released out of their misery; but the worm, the fire, the prison, are all eternal. Rev 14: I1. ‘The smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever.’ Poenae gehennales puniunt, non finiunt [The torments of hell keep on punishing, they never end]. Prosper. Eternity is a sea without bottom and banks. After millions of years, there is not one minute in eternity wasted; and the damned must be ever burning, but never consuming, always dying, but never dead. Rev 9: 6. ‘They shall seek death, but shall not find it.’ The fire of hell is such, as multitudes of tears will not quench it, length of time will not finish it; the vial of God’s wrath will be always dropping upon a sinner. As long as God is eternal, he lives to be avenged upon the wicked. Oh eternity! eternity! who can fathom it? Mariners have their plummets to measure the depths of the sea; but what line or plummet shall we use to fathom the depth of eternity? The breath of the Lord kindles the infernal lake, Isa 30: 33, and where shall we have engines or buckets to quench that fire? Oh eternity! If all the body of the earth and sea were turned to sand, and all the air up to the starry heaven were nothing but sand, and a little bird should come every thousand years, and fetch away in her bill but the tenth part of a grain of all that heap of sand, what numberless years would be spent before that vast heap of sand would be fetched away! Yet, if at the end of all that time, the sinner might come out of hell, there would be some hope; but that word ‘Ever’ breaks the heart. ‘The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.’ What a terror is this to the wicked, enough to put them into a cold sweat, to think, as long as God is eternal, he lives for ever to be avenged upon them!
- “We may as well look for a star in the earth as for justification in our own righteousness.”
- “Labour for this high privilege of justification. There is balm in Gilead; Christ has laid down his blood as the price of our justification; and he offers himself and all his merits to us, to justify; he invites us to come to him; he has promised to give his Spirit, to enable us to do what is required. Why then, sinners, will ye not look after this great privilege of justification? Why starve in the midst of plenty? Why perish when there is a remedy to save you? Would not he be thought to be distracted, who having a pardon offered him, only upon the acknowledgment of his fault, and promising amendment, should bid the prince keep his pardon to himself; for his part, he was in love with his chains and fetters, and would die? Thou who neglectest justification offered thee freely by Christ in the gospel art this infatuated person. Is the love of Christ to be slighted? Is thy soul, is heaven worth nothing? Oh then look after justification through Christ’s blood!”
- non nascimur filii [We are not born sons]; we are not God’s sons as we are born of godly parents, but by adoption and grace.
- The godly may not enjoy peace, through mistake and misapprehension about sin. They find so much corruption, that they think sure, if there were grace, there would not be such strong working of corruption; whereas this should be so far from discouraging Christians, and hindering their peace, that it is an argument for them. Let me ask, Whence is it that you feel sin? No man can feel sin, but by grace. A wicked man is insensible. Lay a hundredweight upon a dead man, he does not complain; but being sensible of corruption, argues a gracious principle. Rom 7: 21. Again, Whence is it that there is a combat with sin, but from the life of grace? Gal 5: 17. Dead things cannot combat. Whence is it that the saints weep for sin? What are these tears but seeds of faith? The not understanding of this hinders a Christian’s peace.
- As the fire decays, the cold increases; so, as fervency in duty abates, our peace cools.
- ‘I will lay me down in peace, and sleep.’ Psa 4: 8. It was a sad time with David, he was fleeing for his life from Absalom; it was no small affliction to think that his own son should seek to take away his father’s life and crown. David wept and covered his head. 2 Sam 15: 30. Yet at this time he says, ‘I will lay me down in peace, and sleep.’ He had trouble from his son, but peace from his conscience. David could sleep upon the soft pillow of a good conscience. This is a peace worth getting.
- If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. ‘When Joram sew Jehu, he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?’ 2 Kings 9: 22. What peace, so long as sin remains unmortified? If you would have peace with God, break the league with sin; give battle to sin, for it is a most just war. God has proclaimed it: nay, he has promised us victory. ‘Sin shall not have dominion.’ Rom 6: I4. No way to peace, but by maintaining a war with sin. Pax nostra bellum contra daemonem [Our peace is a war against the Devil]. Tertullian. When Samson had slain the lion, there came honey out of the lion; so by slaying sin, we get the honey of peace.
- Use two [on Peace]: You who have this peace, peace above, peace within, labour to keep it: it is a precious jewel, do not lose it. It is sad to have the league of national peace broken, but it is worse to have the peace of conscience broken. Oh, preserve this peace! First, take heed of relapses. Has God spoken peace? Do not turn again to folly. Psa 85: 8. Besides ingratitude, there is folly in relapses. It was long ere God was reconciled and the breach made up, and will you again eclipse and forfeit your peace? Has God healed the wound of conscience, and will you tear it open again? Will you break another vein? Will you cut a new artery? This is returning indeed to folly. What madness is it to meddle again with that sin, which will breed the worm of conscience! Secondly, make up your spiritual accounts daily; see how matters stand between God and your souls. ‘I commune with my own heart.’ Psa 77: 6. Often reckonings keep God and conscience friends. Do with your hearts as you do with your watches, wind them up every morning by prayer, and at night examine whether your hearts have gone true all that day, whether the wheels of your affections have moved swiftly towards heaven. Oh, call yourselves often to account! Keep your reckonings even, for that is the way to keep your peace.
- Why is this [Spiritual] joy to be labored for?
(1.) Because it is self-existent, it can subsist in the absence of all other carnal joy. This joy depends not upon outward things. As the philosophers said, when the musicians came to them, ‘Philosophers can be merry without music;’ so he that has this joy can be cheerful in the deficiency of carnal joys; he can rejoice in God, in sure hope of glory, ‘although the fig-tree shall not blossom.’ Hab 3: 17. Spiritual joy can go without silver crutches to support it. Spiritual joy is higher built than upon creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises, and on the blood of Christ.
- What shall we do to obtain this spiritual joy?
Walk consistently and spiritually. God gives joy after long and close walking with him. (I.) Observe your hours. Set time every day apart for God. (2.) Mourn for sin. Mourning is the seed, as Basil says, out of which the flower of spiritual joy grows. ‘I will restore comforts to his mourners.’ Isa 57: I8. (3.) Keep the book of conscience fair written. Do not by presumptuous sins blur your evidences. A good conscience is the ark in which God puts the hidden manna. (4.) Be often upon your knees, pray with life and fervency. The same Spirit that fills the heart with sighs fills it with joys. The same Spirit that indites the prayer, seals it. When Hannah had prayed, her countenance was no more sad. I Sam 1: I8. Praying Christians have much intercourse with God; and none are so like to have the secrets of his love imparted, as those who hold correspondence with him. By close walking with God we get bunches of grapes by the way, which are an earnest of future happiness
- Growth in Grace
True grace is progressive, of a spreading and growing nature. It is with grace as with light; first, there is the crepusculum, or daybreak; then it shines brighter to the full meridian. A good Christian is like the crocodile. Quamdiu vivet crescit; he has never done growing. The saints are not only compared to stars for their light, but to trees for their growth. Isa 61: 3, and Hos 14: 5. A good Christian is not like Hezekiah’s sun that went backwards, nor Joshua’s sun that stood still, but is always advancing in holiness, and increasing with the increase of God. I Cor 3: 6.
- The day of judgement is comfort in respect of weakness of grace. A Christian is ready to be troubled to see his grace so minute and imperfect; but, at the last day, if Christ find but a drachm of true grace, it shall be accepted. If shine be true gold, though it be many grains too light, Christ will put his merits into the scales, and make it pass current.
- Motives and incentives for growing in grace:
(8.) We cannot grow too much in grace; there is no nimium, no excess there. The body may grow too great, as in the dropsy; but faith cannot grow too great. ‘Your faith groweth exceedingly.’ 2 Thess 1: 3. Here was exceeding, yet not excess. As a man cannot have too much health, so not too much grace. Grace is the beauty of holiness. Ps 110: 3. We cannot have too much spiritual beauty; it will be the only trouble at death, that we have grown no more in grace.
(9) Such as do not grow in grace, decay in grace. Non progredi in via est regredi [Not to go forward in the Christian life is to turn back]. Bernard. There is no standing in religion, either we go forward or backward. If faith does not grow, unbelief will; if heavenly-mindedness does not grow, covetousness will. A man that does not increase his stock, diminishes it: so if you do not improve your stock of grace, your stock will decay. The angels on Jacob’s ladder were either ascending or descending: if you do not ascend in religion, you descend.
- As the wicked have a worm that never dies, so the elect have a crown that never fades. Ever, is a short word, but it has no end.
- God can more easily raise the body out of the grave, than we can wake a man out of sleep.
- The bodies of the wicked shall be raised with ignominy. Those bodies which on the earth tempted and allured others with their beauty, shall at the resurrection be loathsome to behold; they shall be ghastly spectacles. ‘They shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.’ Isa 66: 24. But the bodies of the saints shall be raised with honour. ‘It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory.’ I Cor 15: 43. The saints, bodies then shall shine as sparkling diamonds. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun.’ Matt 13: 43.
- The body shall rise again. This was Job’s comfort. ‘Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.’ Job 19: 26.