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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 7

There are two pregnant reasons, why there must be so much study and exercitation: 1. Because spiritual things are against nature. Everything in religion is antipodes to nature. There are in religion two things, and both are against nature. (1.) Matters of faith: as, for men to be justified by the righteousness of another, to become a fool that he may be wise, to save all by losing all; this is against nature. (2.) Matters of practice: as, Self-denial; for a man to deny his own wisdom, and see himself blind; his own will, and have it melted into the will of God; plucking out the right eye, beheading and crucifying that sin which is the favourite, and lies nearest to the heart; for a man to be dead to the world, and in the midst of want to abound; for him to take up the cross, and follow Christ, not only in golden, but in bloody paths, to embrace religion, when it is dressed in night-clothes, all the jewels of honour and preferment being pulled of; this is against nature, and therefore must be learned. Self-examination; for a man to take his heart, as a watch, all in pieces; to set up a spiritual inquisition, or court of conscience, and traverse things in his own soul; to take David’s candle and lantern, (Ps. 119. 105) and search for sin; nay, as judge, to pass the sentence upon himself. (2 Sa. 34.17) this is against nature, and will not easily be attained to without learning. Self-reformation; to see a man, as Caleb, or another spirit, walking antipodes to himself, the current of his life altered, and running into the channel of religion: this is wholly against nature. When a stone ascends, it is not a natural motion, but a violent; the motion of the soul heaven-ward is a violent motion, it must be learned; flesh and blood is not skilled in these things; nature can no more cast out nature, than Satan can cast out Satan. 2. Because spiritual things are above nature. There are some things in nature that are hard to find out, as the cause of things, which are not learned without study. Aristotle, a great philosopher, whom some have called an eagle fallen from the clouds, yet could not find out the motion of the river Euripus, and therefore threw himself into it; what then are divine things, which are in sphere above nature, and beyond all human disquisition; as the Trinity, the hypostatical union, the mystery of faith to believe against hope? Only God’s Spirit can light our candle here. The apostle calls these “the deep things of God.” The gospel is full of jewels, but they are locked up from sense and reason. The angels in heaven are searching into these sacred depths. (1 Pe. 22)

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays. My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)

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