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Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 30

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

The next apology is, the troubles of the church. Alas, my disquiet and discontent is not so much for myself, as the public! The church of God suffers.

I confess it is sad and we ought for this “to hang our harps upon the willows.” He is a wooden leg in Christ’s body, that is not sensible of the state of the body. As a Christian must not be proud flesh, so neither dead flesh. When the church of God suffers, he must sympathize; Jeremiah wept for the virgin daughter of Sion. We must feel our brethren’s hard cords through our soft beds. In music, if one string be touched, all the rest sound: when God strikes upon our brethren, our “bowels must sound like an harp”. Be sensible, but give not way to discontent. For consider, 


1. God sits at the stern of his church. (Ps. 46. 5) Sometimes it is a ship tossed upon the waves, “afflicted and tossed! (Is. 54. 11) but cannot God bring this ship to haven, though it meet with a storm upon the sea? This ship in the gospel was tossed because sin was in it; but it was not overwhelmed, because Christ was in it. Christ is in the ship of this church, fear not sinking; the church’s anchor is cast in heaven. Do not we
think God loves his church, and takes as much care of it as we can? The names of the twelve tribes were on Aaron’s breast, signifying how near to God’s heart his people are; they are his portion, (De. 27. 9) and shall that be lost? his glory, (Is. 46. 13) and shall that be finally eclipsed? No certainly. God can deliver his church, not only from, but by opposition; the church’s pangs shall help forward her deliverance.


2. God hath always propagated religion by sufferings. The foundation of the church hath been laid in blood, and these sanguine showers have ever made it more fruitful. Cain put the knife to Abel’s throat, and ever since the church’s veins had bled: but she is like the vine, which by bleeding grows, and like the palm-tree, which the more weight is laid upon it, the higher it riseth. The holiness and patience of the saints, under their persecutions, hath much added both to the growth of religion, and the crown. Basil and Tertullian observe of the primitive martyrs, that divers of the heathens seeing their zeal and constancy turned Christians: religion is that Phoenix which hath always revived and flourished in the ashes of holy men. Isaiah sawn asunder, Peter crucified at Rome with his head downwards, Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and Polycarp of Smyrna, both martyred for religion; yet evermore the truth hath been sealed by blood, and gloriously dispersed; whereupon Julian did forbear to persecute, not out of pity, but envy, because the church grew so fast, and multiplied, as Nazianzen well observes.

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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