Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is from The Christian on the Mount.
Enter into a serious meditation on the state of your souls; while you are meditating on other things, do not forget yourselves; the great work lies at home. It was Solomon’s advice, “know the state of thy flock” (Proverbs 27:23). Much more know the state of your soul; for lack of this meditation, men are like travelers, skilled in other countries, but ignorant of their own. So they know other things, but not how it goes with their souls, whether they are in a good state or bad. There are few who by holy meditation enter within themselves.
There are two reasons why so few meditate upon the state of their souls:
Self-guiltiness. Men are reluctant to look into their hearts by meditation lest they should-find that which would trouble them. The cup is in their sack. Most are herein like tradesmen who, being ready to sink in their estates, are reluctant to look into their account books lest they should find their estate low. But would it not be better to enter into your heart by meditation than that God should in a sad manner enter into judgment with you?
Presumption. Men hope all is well; men will not take their land upon trust, but will have it surveyed-yet they will take their spiritual estate upon trust without any surveying. They are confident their case is good (Proverbs l4:l6). They presume that it is a thing not to be disputed on, and this confidence is but conceit. The foolish virgins, though they had no oil in their lamps, yet how confident were they? “They came knocking.” They did not doubt that they would find admittance. Just so, many do not possess salvation, but remain secure; they presume all is well, never seriously meditating whether they have oil or not. O Christian, meditate about your soul! See how the case stands between God and you; do as merchants: cast up your estate that you may see what you are worth. See if you are rich towards God (Luke 12:21). Meditate about three things:
1. About your debts. See if your debts are paid or not, that is, your sins pardoned; see if there are no arrears, no sin in your soul that are unrepented of.
2. Meditate about your will. See if your will is made yet. Have you resigned up all the interest in yourself? Have you given up your love to God? Have you given up your will? This is to make your will. Meditate about your will; make your spiritual will in the time of health. If you put off the making of your will until death, it may be invalid; perhaps God will not accept your soul then.
3. Meditate about your evidences. These evidences are the graces of the Spirit; see whether you have any evidences. What desires have you after Christ? What faith? See whether there are any flaws in your evidences. Are your desires true? Do you as well desire heavenly principles as heavenly privileges? Oh, meditate seriously upon your evidences.
To sift our hearts thus by meditation is very necessary; if we find that our estate is not sound, the mistake is discovered and the danger can be prevented. If our spiritual estate is sound, we shall have the comfort of it. What gladness was it to Hezekiah when he could say, “Remember now, O Lord, how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight” (Isaiah 38:3). So, what unspeakable comfort will it be when a Christian, upon a serious meditation and review of his spiritual condition, can say, “I have something to show for heaven. I know I have passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14), and as a holy man once said, “I am Christ’s, and the devil has nothing to do with me.”