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.
As gold is the most precious among the metals, so is faith among the graces. Faith cuts us off from the wild olive of nature, and grafts us into Christ. Faith is the vital artery of the soul: ‘The just shall live by his faith’ (Hab. 2:4). Such as are destitute of faith may breathe, but they lack life. Faith enlivens the graces; not a grace stirs till faith sets it working. Faith is to the soul what the animal spirits are to the body, exciting lively activity in it. Faith excites repentance; it is like the fire to the still which makes it drop. When I believe God’s love to me, this makes me weep that I should sin against so good a God. Faith is the mother of hope; first we believe the promise, then we hope for it. Faith is the oil which feeds the lamp of hope. Faith and hope are two turtle-dove graces; take away one, and the other languishes. If the sinews are cut, the body is lame; if this sinew of faith is cut, hope is lame. Faith is the ground of patience; he who believes that God is his God, and that all providences work for his good, patiently yields himself to the will of God. Thus faith is a living principle.
And the life of a saint is nothing but a life of faith. His prayer is the breathing of faith (Jas. 5:15). His obedience is the result of faith (Rom. 16:26). A godly man by faith lives in Christ, as the beam lives in the sun: ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal. 2:20). A Christian by the power of faith sees above reason, trades above the moon (2 Cor. 4:18). By faith his heart is finely quietened; he trusts himself and all his affairs to God (Psa. 112:7). As in a time of war, men get into a garrison and trust themselves and their treasures there, so ‘the name of the Lord is a strong tower’ (Prov. 18:10), and a believer trusts all that ever he is worth in this garrison. ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day’ (2 Tim. 1:12). God trusted Paul with his gospel, and Paul trusted God with his soul.
Faith is a catholicon — a remedy against all troubles. It is a godly man’s sheet-anchor that he casts out into the sea of God’s mercy, and is kept from sinking in despair. ‘If only faith is firm, no ruin harms.’