Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from All Things for Good.
Inferences from the proposition that all things work for the good of the saints.
(1) If all things work for good, hence learn that there is a providence. Things do not work of themselves, but God sets them working for good. God is the great Disposer of all events and issues. He sets everything working. ‘His kingdom ruleth over all’ (Psalm 103:19). It is meant of His providential kingdom. Things in the world are not governed by second causes, by the counsels of men, by the stars and planets, but by divine providence. Providence is the queen and governess of the world. There are three things in providence: God’s foreknowing, God’s determining, and God’s directing all things to their periods and events. Whatever things do work in the world, God sets them a working. We read in the first of Ezekiel of wheels, and eyes in the wheels, and the moving of the wheels. The wheels are the whole universe, the eyes in the wheels are God’s providence, the moving of the wheels is the hand of Providence, turning all things here below. That which is by some called chance is nothing else but the result of providence.
Learn to adore providence. Providence has an influence upon all things here below. It is this that mingles the ingredients, and makes up the whole compound.
(2) Observe the happy condition of every child of God. All things work for his good, the best and worst things. ‘Unto the upright ariseth light in darkness’ (Psalm 112:4). The most dark, cloudy providences of God have some sunshine in them. What a blessed condition is a true believer in! When he dies, he goes to God; and while he lives, everything shall do him good. Affliction is for his good. What hurt does the fire to the gold? It only purifies it. What hurt does the fan to the corn? It only separates the chaff from it. What hurt do leeches to the body? They only suck out the bad blood. God never uses His staff, but to beat out the dust. Affliction does that which the Word many times will not, it ‘opens the ear to discipline’ (Job 36:10). When God lays men upon their backs, then they look up to heaven. God’s smiting His people is like the musician’s striking upon the violin, which makes it put forth a melodious sound. How much good comes to the saints by affliction! when they are pounded and broken, they send forth their sweetest smell. Affliction is a bitter root, but it bears sweet fruit. ‘It yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness’ (Heb. 12:11). Affliction is the highway to heaven; though it be flinty and thorny, yet it is the best way. Poverty shall starve our sins; sickness shall make grace more helpful (2 Cor. 4:16). Reproach shall cause ‘the Spirit of God and of glory to rest upon us’ (1 Pet. 4:14). Death shall stop the bottle of tears, and open the gate of Paradise. A believer’s dying day is his ascension day to glory. Hence it is, the saints have put their afflictions in the inventory of their riches (Heb. 11:26). Themistocles being banished from his own country, grew afterwards in favour with the king of Egypt, whereupon he said, ‘I had perished, if l had not perished.’ So may a child of God say, ‘If I had not been afflicted, I had been destroyed; if my health and estate had not been lost, my soul had been lost.’
(3) See then what an encouragement here is to become godly. All things shall work for good. Oh, that this may induce the world to fall in love with religion! Can there be a greater lodestone to piety? Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? Religion is the true philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold. Take the sourest part of religion, the suffering part, and there is comfort in it. God sweetens suffering with joy; He candies our wormwood with sugar. Oh, how may this bribe us to godliness! ‘Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee’ (Job 22:21). No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God. By this, good shall come unto you, abundance of good, the sweet distillations of grace, the hidden manna, yea, everything shall work for good. Oh, then get acquaintance with God, espouse His interest.