Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Godly Man’s Picture.
It will be enquired in the next place, “Who is the godly man?” For the full answer to this I shall lay down several specific signs and characteristics of a godly man.
…The first fundamental sign is that a godly man is a man of knowledge.
“The prudent are crowned with knowledge” (Proverbs 14:18). The saints are called “wise virgins” (Matt. 25:4). A natural man may have some head knowledge of God—but he “knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:2). He does not know God savingly. He may have the eye of natural reason open—but he does not discern the things of God in a spiritual manner. Waters cannot go beyond their spring-head. Vapors cannot rise higher than the sun draws them. A natural man cannot act above his sphere; he is no more able to judge sacred things aright than a blind man is to judge colors. (i) He does not see the evil of his heart. If a face is ever so black and deformed—yet it is not seen under a veil; the heart of a sinner is so black that nothing but hell can pattern it—yet the veil of ignorance hides it. (ii) He does not see the beauties of a Savior. Christ is a pearl of great price—but a hidden pearl.
But a godly man is taught by God: “this anointing teaches you of all things” (1 John 2:27), that is, all things essential to salvation. A godly man has “the good knowledge of the Lord” (2 Chron. 30:22). He has “Sound wisdom” (Proverbs 3:21). He knows God in Christ. To know God out of Christ is to know him as an enemy—but to know him in Christ is sweet and delicious. A gracious soul has “the savor of his knowledge” (2 Cor. 2:14). There is a great difference between one who has read of a country, or viewed it on the map—and another who has lived in the country, and tasted its fruits and spices. The knowledge with which a godly man is adorned has these eight rare ingredients in it:
1. It is a grounded knowledge. “If you continue in the faith grounded” (Col. 1:23). It is not simply believing “as my church believes.” Saving knowledge rests upon a double basis: the Word and Spirit. The one is a guide, the other a witness. Saving knowledge is not changeable or doubtful—but has a certainty in it. “We believe and are sure that you are that Christ” (John 6:69); “being always confident” (2 Cor. 5:6). A godly man holds no more than he will die for. The martyrs were so confirmed in the knowledge of the truth, that they would seal it with their blood.
2. It is an appreciative knowledge. The jeweler who has the skill to value a jewel is said to know it. He who esteems God above the comforts of the earth knows him (Psalm 73:25). To compare other things with God is to debase deity; as if you should compare a glow-worm with the sun.
3. It is an enlivening knowledge. “I will never forget your precepts, for with them you have quickened me” (Psalm 119:93). Bible knowledge in a natural man’s head is like a torch in a dead man’s hand. True knowledge animates. A godly man is like John the Baptist, “a burning and a shining lamp”. He not only shines by illumination—but he burns by affection. The spouse’s knowledge made her “love-sick” (Song 2:5). “I am wounded with love.” I am like a deer that is struck with an arrow; my soul lies bleeding, and nothing can cure me—but a sight of him whom my soul loves!
4. It is an applied knowledge. “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). A medicine is best when it is applied. This applicative knowledge is joyful. Christ is called a “surety” (Heb. 7:22). Oh what joy, when I am drowned in debt, to know that Christ is my surety! Christ is called an “advocate” (1 John 2:1). The Greek word for advocate, parakletos, signifies a comforter. Oh, what comfort it is when I have a bad cause, to know Christ is my advocate, who never lost any cause he pleaded!