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Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 24

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

The next apology is, I am under great reproaches.

Let not this discontent: for,

1. It is a sign there is some good in thee; saith Socrates, what evil have I done, that this bad man commends me? The applause of the wicked usually denotes some evil, and their censure imports some good. (Ps. 38. 20) David wept and fasted, and that was turned to his “reproach”. (Pe. 4. 14) As we must pass to heaven through the spikes of suffering, so through the clouds of reproach. 
2. If your reproach be for God, as David’s was, “for thy sake I have born reproach; (Ps. 69. 7) then it is rather matter of triumph, than dejection. Christ doth not say, when you are reproached be discontented; but rejoice: (Mat. 5. 12) Wear your reproach as a diadem of honour, for now a spirit of “glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Pe. 4. 14) Put your reproaches into the inventory of your riches; so did Moses. (He. 11. 26) It should be a Christian’s ambition to wear his Saviour’s livery, though it be sprinkled with blood and sullied with disgrace.
3. God will do us good by reproach: as David of Shimei’s cursing; “it may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day. (2 Sa. 16. 12) This puts us upon searching our sin: a child of God labours to read his sin in every stone of reproach that is cast at him; besides, now we have an opportunity to exercise patience and humility.
4. Jesus Christ was content to be reproached by us; he despised the shame of the cross. (He. 12. 2) It may amaze us to think that he who was God could endure to be spit upon, to be crowned with thorns, in a kind of jeer; and when he was ready to bow his head upon the cross, to have the Jews in scorn, wag their heads and say, “he saved others, himself he cannot save.” The shame of the cross was as much as the blood of the cross; his name was crucified before his body. The sharp arrows of reproach that the world did shoot at Christ, went deeper into his heart than the spear; his suffering was so ignominious, that as if the sun did blush to behold, it withdrew its bright beams, and masked itself with a cloud; (and well it might when the Sun of Righteousness was in an eclipse;) all this contumely and reproach did the God of glory endure or rather despise for us. O then let us be content to have our names eclipsed for Christ; let not reproach lie at our heart, but let us bind it as a crown about our head! Alas, what is reproach? this is but small shot, how will men stand at the mouth of a cannon? These who are discontented at a reproach, will be offended at a faggot.
5. Is not many a man contented to suffer reproach for maintaining his lust? and shall not we for maintaining the truth? Some glory in that which is their shame, (Ph. 3. 19) and shall we be ashamed of that which is our glory? Be not troubled at these petty things. He whose heart is once divinely touched with the loadstone of God’s Spirit, doth account it his honour to be dishonoured for Christ, (Ac. 15. 4) and doth as much despise the world’s censure, as he doth their praise.
6. We live in an age wherein men dare reproach God himself. The divinity of the Son of God is blasphemously reproached by the Socinian; the blessed Bible is reproached by the Antiscripturist, as if it were but a legend of lies, and every man’s faith a fable; the justice of God is called to the bar of reason by the Arminians; the wisdom of God in his providential actings, is taxed by the Atheist; the ordinances of God are decried by the Familists, as being too heavy a burden for a free-born conscience, and too low and carnal for a sublime seraphic spirit; the ways of God, which have the majesty of holiness shining in them, are calumniated by the profane; the mouths of men are open against God, as if he were an hard master, and the path of religion too strict and severe. If men cannot give God a good word, shall we be discontented or troubled that they speak hardly of us?
Such as labour to bury the glory of religion, shall we wonder that “their throats are open sepulchres,” (Ro. 3. 13) to bury our good name? O let us be contented, while we are in God’s scouring-house, to have our names sullied a little; the blacker we seem to be here, the brighter shall we shine when God hath set us upon the celestial shelf.

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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