We are once again at the beach with our good friend Thomas Watson and his book All Things for Good. The first part of the book, “All Things,” talks about the good things and the bad things that God uses for our good. Of course, the bad things we don’t always like. Watson walks through those. One of those bad things is affliction. As Watson deals with affliction, he wants us to take, as he says, “heart-quieting comfort” in how God brings these things into our life for his purposes.
He has some vivid ways of describing how affliction works in our lives. At one point he says, “God’s rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more lively upon us.” At another place, he says, “Afflictions are the medicine which God uses to carry off our spiritual diseases. They cure the timpani of pride, the fever of lust, the dropsy of covetousness.” Of course, we don’t always like affliction. We can’t always see God’s purposes in it. Watson reminds us that God’s ways are above our ways. Nevertheless, he calls us to trust in God, to remember that nothing that happens to us is random. Nothing is a mistake. Everything happens for a reason, for God’s reason. And so we need to learn to trust in God. We must not be discontent or malcontent, but be truly content in what God is doing in our lives.
The second part deals with that clause of loving God. Watson offers a beautiful and practical paragraph. So as you sit there and watch the waves, consider what Watson says:
Love is a humble grace; it does not walk abroad in state; it will creep upon its hands; it will stoop and submit to anything whereby it may be serviceable to Christ. As we see in Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, both of them honourable persons, yet one takes down Christ’s body with his own hands, and the other embalms it with sweet odours. It might seem much for persons of their rank to be employed in that service, but love made them do it. If we love God, we shall not think any work too mean [or, simple] for us, by which we may be helpful to Christ’s members. Love is not squeamish; it will visit the sick, relieve the poor, wash the saints’ wounds. The mother that loves her child is not coy and nice; she will do those things for her child which others would scorn to do. He who loves God will humble himself to the meanest office of love to Christ and his members.
Watson goes on to tell us that loving God means loving what God loves. He offers a distillation of the true identity of Puritanism. This is the essence of the Puritans: They loved God’s Word. They were people of the Book. They loved God’s day, the Sabbath day to worship God. The Sabbath day was at the center of their week and at the center of their lives. Watson also says loving God means loving God’s laws, his commands. That’s obeying him. And finally, loving God means loving God’s people, the saints. That is loving the church.
Watson says there is no one perfect in church. So don’t go looking; you won’t find any. He also reminds us of some good practical advice. Remember, we might be annoyed by people. They might be annoying to us, but they’re really not honestly trying to annoy us. We just find them annoying. And we can look to God for some strength and encouragement to get past all of this pettiness and to love people. That is loving God.
And then, finally, what do we have? Ultimately, we have God’s purpose for our lives, and here Watson uncovers the doctrine of unconditional election and the doctrine of assurance. And so indeed, all things for good. Thank you, Thomas Watson.