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.
This post continues from last week.
6. A godly person weeps because the sins he commits are in some sense worse than the sins of other men. The sin of a justified person is very odious:
(i) Because he acts contrary to his own principles; He sins not only against the rule, but against his principles, against his knowledge, vows, prayers, hopes, experiences. He knows how dear sin will cost him, yet he adventures upon the forbidden fruit.
(ii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it is a sin of unkindness (1 Kings 11:9). Peter’s denying of Christ was a sin against love. Christ had enrolled him among the apostles. He had taken him up into the Mount of Transfiguration and shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. Yet after all this signal mercy, it was base ingratitude that he should deny Christ. This made him go out and ‘weep bitterly’ (Matt. 26:75). He baptized himself, as it were, in his own tears. The sins of the godly go nearest to God’s heart. Others’ sins anger God; these grieve him. The sins of the wicked pierce Christ’s sides, the sins of the godly wound his heart. The unkindness of a spouse goes nearest to the heart of her husband.
(iii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it rejects more dishonour upon God: ‘By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme’ (2 Sam. 12:14). The sins of God’s people put black spots on the face of religion. Thus we see what cause there is why a child of God should weep even after conversion. ‘Can whoever sows such things refrain from tears?’ Now this sorrow of a godly man for sin is not a despairing sorrow. He does not mourn without hope. ‘Iniquities prevail against me’ (Psa. 65:3) – there is the holy soul weeping. ‘As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away’ – there is faith triumphing.
Divine sorrow is excellent. There is as much difference between the sorrow of a godly man and one who is wicked as between the water of a spring which is clear and sweet, and the water of the sea which is salt and brackish. A godly man’s sorrow has these three qualifications:
(a) It is inward. It is a sorrow of soul. Hypocrites ‘disfigure their faces’ (Matt. 6:16). Godly sorrow goes deep. It is a ‘pricking at the heart’ (Acts 2:37). True sorrow is a spiritual martyrdom, therefore called ‘soul affliction’ (Lev. 23:29).
(b) Godly sorrow is ingenuous . It is more for the evil that is in sin than the evil which follows after. It is more for the spot than the sting. Hypocrites weep for sin only as it brings affliction. I have read of a fountain that never sends out streams except on the evening before a famine. Hypocrites never send forth the streams of their tears except when God’s judgments are approaching.
(c) Godly sorrow is influential. It makes the heart better: ‘by the sadness of the countenance’ the heart is made better’ (Eccles. 7:3). Divine tears not only wet but wash; they purge out the love of sin.