Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Fight of Faith Crowned. In this passage, Watson is meditating on the usefulness of the promise of a crown of righteousness that will be granted to the believer in Heaven (2 Tim. 4:8).
1. If there is a crown laid up, it calls for our love toward God. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us” to give us a crown. This is the highest ennobling of a creature. If there is love in a crumb, what is there in a crown? If there is love in pardoning mercy, what is there in crowning mercy? It is a favor that we poor vermin, worms and not men, should be allowed to live; but that worms should be made kings, that Christ should be arraigned and we adorned, that the curse should be laid on His head and the crown on ours — “Behold, what manner of love is thisl” It is beyond all hyperbole. And should this not make our hearts reverberate and echo back love? Oh, Christians! Light your love at this fire; like burning glasses, they burn when the sun has shone on them. God having shone upon us in love, let our hearts burn, and our love to God must be divinely qualified.
First, it must be a genuine love. We must not love Him for something else, as a man loves a potion for health’s sake, but as a man loves sweet wine for itself. We must love God for those intrinsic excellencies in Him which are so alluring and amiable.
Second, it must be a voluntary love, else it is not love but coercion. It must come freely, like water from a spring. It must be a free-will offering, not like the paying of a tax.
Third, it must be an exuberant love. It must not be stinted; not a few drops, but a stream. It must, like the Nile, overflow the banks.
Fourth, it must be a transcendent love. It must be of no ordinary extraction, but a choice, inure, superlative love. We must not only give God the milk of our love, but the cream; not only the truth of it, but the spirits and quintessence. “I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranates” (Song of Solomon 8:2). If the spouse has a cup which is more juicy and spiced, Christ shall drink of that.
Fifth, it must be a most intense, ardent love. The sun shines as much as it can; such must our love to God be. It must boil over, but never give over. What unparalleled love has God shown us! Oh, Christian! Answer love with love. In love we may, as Bernard said, reciprocate with God. If God is angry, we must not be angry again; but if God loves us, we must love Him again. Oh, love God the Father who has made this crown for us. Love God the Son who has bought this crown for us. Love God the Holy Spirit who has made us fit to wear this crown.
2. Let us pant and breathe after this happy condition. Does not the heir desire to be crowned? Here we have a weight of sin; in heaven we shall have a weight of glory. How should our souls be big with desire to be gone hence? What is the world we so dote on? ’Tis but a spacious pardon, and should we not be willing to go out of prison to be crowned? The bird desires to go out of the cage, though it is made of gold. The academics compare the soul of man to a fowl, mounting with her wings aloft. Every saint is a true bird of paradise; he is ever flying up towards heaven in ardent and zealous affection; he longs to be out of this earthen cage of the body when with the Phoenix he shall receive his golden crowns on his head, and shine in glory as the angels of God. Tertullian observes that Scipio, when his father had told him of that glory the soul should be invested with in a state of immortality, said Scipio, “Why do I tarry thus long upon the earth? Why do I not hasten to die?”
I think that, when we hear of this crown of righteousness which will so infinitely enrich and adorn the soul, it should make us be weary of this world and long for the time of our solemn inauguration How did Paul desire to be dissolved? Would not man be willing to hoist up sails and cross the waters though troublesome if he were sure to be crowned as soon as he came ashore? Why are our souls so earthly? We love to be grazing in the world s full pastures and are afraid to die. Most men look so ghastly at the thoughts of death as if they were rather going to the cross than the crown. Oh long for death! The Apostle calls death a putting off of our earthly clothes (2 Corinthians 5:4). This is all death does to us if we are in Christ — it puts off our clothes and puts on a crown. This should make us say as did Hilarion, “Go out, my soul, go out. Why do you tremble? You are going to receive a crown.” A believer at death will be the happiest loser and the happiest gainer. He will lose his sins; he will gain glory. The day of death is the saint’s coronation day.