Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Christian on the Mount.
The promises of God are flowers growing in the paradise of Scripture; meditation, like the bee, sucks out the sweetness of them. The promises are of no use or comfort to us until they are meditated upon. Roses hanging in the garden may give a fragrant redolence, yet their sweet water is distilled only by the fire. Just so, the promises are sweet in reading over, but the water of these roses, the spirits and quintessence of the promises, are distilled into the soul only by meditation. The incense, when it is pounded and beaten, smells sweetest. Meditating on a promise, like the beating of the incense, makes it more fragrant and pleasant. The promises may be compared to a gold mine, which only enriches when the gold is dug out. By holy meditation, we dig out that spiritual gold that lies hidden in the midst of the promise, and so we come to be enriched!
Cardan says that every precious gemstone has some hidden virtue in it. They are called precious promises in 2 Peter 1:4. When they are applied by meditation, then their virtue appears, and they become precious indeed. There are three sorts of promises that we should meditate upon:
1. Meditate upon promises of remission. “I, even I am He who blots out Thy transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Whereas the poor sinner may say, “Alas, I am deep in debt with God. I fear I have not filled His bottle with my tears, but I have filled His book with my debts!” Well, but meditate on His promise: “I am He who blots out.…” The word there in the original to blot out is a metaphor alluding to a merchant who, when his debtor has paid him, blots out the debt and gives him an receipt of discharge. So, says God, “I will blot out your sin. I will cross out the debt book!” In the Hebrew it is, “I am blotting out your transgressions.” It is as if He had said, “I have taken My pen and am crossing out your debt!”
Oh, but the sinner may say, “There is no reason God should do this for me.” But acts of grace do not go by reason, “I will blot out your sins for My name’s sake.”
Oh, but the sinner says, “Will not the Lord call my sins again to remembrance?” No, He promises to send them into oblivion. “I will not upbraid you with your sins. I will remember your sins no more.” Here is a sweet promise to meditate upon; it is a hive full of the honey of the gospel.
2. Meditate upon promises of sanctification. The earth is not so apt to be overgrown with weeds and thorns as the heart is to be overgrown with lusts! Now, God has made many promises of healing (Hosea 14:4), and purging (Jeremiah 33:8), promises of sending His Spirit (Isaiah 44:3), which, for its sanctifying nature, is compared sometimes to water that cleanses the vessel, sometimes to wind, which is the fan to winnow and purify the air, sometimes to fire, which refines the metals. Meditate often on that promise from Isaiah 1:l8: “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow!” Scarlet is so deep a dye that all the art of man cannot take it out; but behold here a promise: God will whiten the soul. He will make a scarlet sinner into a snow white saint! By virtue of this refining and consecrating work, a Christian is made partaker of the divine nature; he has a suitability and fitness to have communion with God forever. Meditate much on this promise.
3. Meditate upon promises of remuneration: “The haven of rest” (Hebrews 4:9), the beatific sight of God (Matthew 5:8), the glorious mansions (John 14:2). Meditation on these promises will be as choice cordials to keep us from fainting under our sins and sorrows.