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nChrist
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« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2009, 08:57:09 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


What monuments of God's vengeance were Nero, Diocletian, Gardiner, and the rest of that persecuting tribe! "Shall not God avenge his own elect! I tell you - he will avenge them speedily!" (Luke 18:7-8 ). Persecutors stand in the place where all God's arrows fly! "He ordains his arrows against the persecutors" (Psalms 7:13). That is a killing Scripture: "The Lord will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will shrivel in their sockets, and their tongues will decay in their mouths!" (Zechariah 14:12).

Second use: CONSOLATION.

Here is comfort to the people of God, in case of the world's disesteem of them - God values them as jewels! And his judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2). The wicked have low thoughts of the righteous. They beat down the price of these jewels as far as they can. They think them but refuse. They disdain them, and load them with slanders and invectives. The prophet Elijah was looked upon by Ahab as the "troubler of Israel" (1 Kings 18:17), and Luther was called a "trumpet of rebellion". Paul was judged "a pestilent fellow" (Acts 24:5). The wicked think that of all things in the world, the saints may be best exterminated: "We have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world" (1 Corinthians 4:13).

But this is a great consolation to believers that, low as is the esteem the reprobate world has of them - yet God has high thoughts of them; he numbers them among his jewels! They are compared for their preciousness, to gold and silver (Revelation 1:20). They are the coins and medals which bear God's own image! They are princes in all lands (Psalms 45:16). Christ engraves their names on his breast, as the names of the twelve tribes were engraved on precious stones upon Aaron's breastplate. God will give whole kingdoms to ransom his jewels (Isaiah 43:3). The wicked think the godly are not worthy to live in the world, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!" (Acts 22:22) But God thinks the world is not worthy of them "The world was not worthy of them." (Hebrews 11:38 ). Hence it is, that God takes away his jewels so fast, and places them in his heavenly treasury!

Third use: EXHORTATION.

1. To the people of God.

Are you one of God's jewels? I then beseech you to SHINE as jewels! Walk circumspectly and holily! "That you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world!" (Philippians 2:15). Such as are God's jewels, should let the world see, that they have worth in them. O Christians, let your lives be an imitation of the life of Christ! Such a jewel was Bradford, the martyr - so humble and innocent in his demeanor that, at his death, many of the Papists could not refrain from weeping!

Are you one of God's jewels? Do nothing that may eclipse or sully your luster! When professors are proud, envious or censorious; when they break their promises, or cheat their creditors - these do not look like saints! What will others say? These are the devil's dirt - not God's jewels. Oh, I beseech you who profess to be of a higher rank than others - honor that worthy name by which you are called; shine as earthly angels! "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession - so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!" (1 Peter 2:9).

Alexander would have the Grecians known not only by their garments - but their virtues. God's people should he known by the sparkling of their graces! Shall there be no difference in behavior between the wicked and the godly - between a clod of earth and a diamond! Let it appear that you are heirs of heaven. You who are God's people, the Lord expects a holy life from you (Matthew 5:47). He looks that you should bring more glory to him - and by your exemplary piety--make proselytes to piety.

2. The godly should be THANKFUL. God has taken you out of the rubbish of mankind - and made you his jewels! "He raises up the poor out of the dust" (Psalms 113:7), that he may set him with princes. So God has raised you out of the dust of a natural estate, and ennobled you - that he may set you with angels, those princes above. Oh, admire God! Set the crown of your praises upon the head of free grace! A joyful, thankful frame of heart - is pleasing to God. If repentance is the joy of heaven, praise is the music of heaven! Bless God who has wrought such a change in you! From lumps of dirt and sin - he has made you into his jewels!

3. There is a time shortly coming when God will make up his jewels. "In that day when I make up my jewels".

Question 1: What is meant by God's making up his jewels?

Answer: There is a difference between God's making of jewels - and his making up of jewels. God's making of jewels is when he works grace in their hearts while on earth. What is God's making up of jewels? This implies two things.

Firstly, God's GATHERING his saints together. God's making up his jewels, implies his gathering his saints together. The godly in this life are like scattered diamonds, they are separated from one another, being dispersed all over the world. But there is a day coming when God will gather all his saints together, as one puts all his pearls together on a string. There must be such a collection or gathering together of God's scattered saints:

1. From the near relation they have to all the persons of the Trinity. God the Father has chosen these jewels and set them apart for himself (Psalms 4:3), and will he lose any of his elect? They are related to Christ - he has bought these jewels with his blood, and will he lose his purchase? They are related to the Holy Spirit. He has sanctified them. When they were a lump of sin, he made them his jewels; and when he has bestowed cost on them, will he lose his cost? Will he not string these pearls, and put them in his celestial cabinet?

2. There must be a gathering together of God's scattered saints - from the prayer of Christ. It was Christ's prayer to his Father, that he would make up his jewels, that he would gather together his pearls, that they might be with him in heaven! "That they may be with me - where I am!" (John 17:24). Christ will not be content - until all the elect jewels lie together in his bosom. He does not think himself complete - until all his saints are with him!
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« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2009, 09:00:16 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


Use: Here is a SOVEREIGN COMFORT to the people of God in two cases.

1. In case of scattering. God's people are scattered up and down in the world; and, which is worse, these jewels lie among rubbish - they dwell among the wicked! "Woe is me that I dwell in the tents of Kedar" (Psalms 120:5). Kedar was Ishmael's son. "Woe is me", says David, "that I live with an Ishmael-brood!" The wicked are still molesting the righteous. God's jewels lie scattered among the vile! But here is the comfort - that shortly God will gather his people from among the wicked - he will make up his jewels - and all his precious jewels shall lie with him in bliss!

2. It is comfort in case of dividing. God's people are now divided; their love for one another is very little. They often look suspiciously upon one another. These divisions are flaws in God's diamonds! Discord among Christians brings a reproach upon true religion, advances Satan's kingdom, and hinders the growth of grace! But this is comfort - God will shortly make up his jewels - he will so gather his saints together - that he will unite them together. They shall be all of one heart (Acts 2:46). What a happy time it will be - when the saints shall be as so many pearls upon one string - and shall accord together in a blessed unity!

Secondly, God's making up his jewels also implies his PERFECTING his saints. A thing is said to be made up - when it is perfected. You make up a garment, when you perfect it. You make up a watch, when you put all the wheels and pins in perfect order. So God's making up his jewels, signifies his perfecting them. The godly in this life are imperfect. They cast but a faint luster of holiness; they receive but "the first fruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23), that is, a small measure of grace. The first fruits under the law were but a handful, compared to the whole vintage.

The consideration of this may humble us. We are God's jewels - yet we are now imperfect. Our knowledge is chequered with ignorance (1 Corinthians 13:5). Our love to God is feeble. Behold here, flaws in the diamond. This may take down our topsail of pride - to consider how flawed and incomplete we are. But when God shall make up his jewels, and perfect his saints - it will be a glorious time! This brings me to the second question.

Question: What is that day - when God will make up his jewels?

Firstly, God makes up his jewels at the day of DEATH. Then he makes the saints' graces, perfect. For this reason the departed saints are called "just men made perfect" (Hebrews 12:23). Sin so mixes with, and dwells within a Christian - that he cannot write a copy of holiness without blotting it. Grace, though it abates sin - yet it does not abolish corruption. But at death God makes up his jewels - he perfects the graces of his people. Will not that be a blessed time, never to have a vain thought again, never to be within the sight of a temptation, or the fear of a relapse?

This, I think, may make death desirable to the godly; then the Lord will complete the graces of His children! They shall be as holy as they desire to be, and as holy as God would have them to be! How will God's jewels sparkle--when they shall be without flaws! In that day of death when God makes up his jewels, the saints light will be clear, and their love will be perfect!

Their light will be clear. They shall be so divinely irradiated, that they shall know the "deep things of God". They shall in this sense be "as the angels" (Matthew 22:30). Their faculty of thought shall be raised higher and made more capacious! Through the crystal glass of Christ's human nature, the saints shall have glorious transparent sights of God! They shall know as they are known (1 Corinthians 13:12); a riddle too mysterious for us mortals, if not for angels, to expound!

In that day the saints love will be perfect. Love is the queen of the graces - it outlives all the other graces. In this life, our love to God is lukewarm and sometimes frozen. A believer weeps that he can love God no more. But at the day of death, when God makes up his jewels - then the saints' love shall be seraphic! The spark of love shall be blown up into a pure flame! The saints shall love God - as much as they desire! They shall love him superlatively and without defect - they shall be made up wholly of love. Oh, blessed day of death! When God shall make up his jewels, the saints graces shall shine forth in their meridian splendor!

Secondly, God makes up his jewels at the day of the RESURRECTION. Then he makes the saints bodies perfect. These, like sparkling diamonds, shall shine in glory! At the resurrection God is said to change the bodies of the saint, "He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own!" (Philippians 3:21). How will he change them? Not that they shall be other bodies than they were before. The substance of their bodies shall not be changed - but the qualities. As wool, when it is dyed into a purple color, is not altered in the substance - but in the quality, and is made more illustrious. Just so, God in making up his jewels, will cause a greater resplendency in the saints bodies than before.

When God makes up the jewels of the saints bodies at the resurrection, they shall be perfect in four ways:

1. In amiability or sweetness of beauty. Here the bodies of the righteous are often deformed. Leah has her weak eves, and Barzillai has his lameness; but at the resurrection the bodies of the saints shall be of unspotted loveliness. And no wonder, for they shall be made like Christ's glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

2. When God at the resurrection makes up the jewels of the saints bodies, they shall have perfection of parts. Their bodies in this world may be maimed and disfigured; but in the day of the resurrection they shall have all the parts of their bodies restored (Acts 3:21). Such as have lost an eye, shall have their eye again; such as lack a leg or an arm, shall have their arm again.

3. When God makes up the jewels of the saints bodies at the resurrection, they shall be swift and lively in their motion. Here on earth, the bodies of the saints move heavily - but then they shall be sprightly, and move rapidly from one place to another. Here the body is a weight; in heaven it shall be a wing!
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« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2009, 09:01:58 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


4. When God makes up the jewels of the saints bodies, they shall be immortal. The body once glorified, shall never be subject to death! "For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die!" (1 Corinthians 15:53). Heaven is a healthy climate; no death-bell goes there. This mortal body shall put on immortality.

Let us labor to he in the number of God's jewels, that when the Lord shall make up his jewels, he may perfect our souls and bodies in glory

Question: How shall we know that we are in the number of God's jewels?

Answer: Have we holiness? "But we are washed - but we are sanctified" (1 Corinthians 6:11). We are not God's jewels by creation - but regeneration. If holiness sparkles in us - it is a sign we are God's jewels; and then when God comes to make up his jewels, he will put glory upon our souls and bodies forever!


C. God Rewards His People by SPARING Them

The third part of the saints reward is God's sparing them: "I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him." The Hebrew word to spare signifies to use clemency. In this phrase, there is less said - and more intended. "I will spare them", that is, "I will deal with them as a father does with his son. The kind of tenderness that a father shows to his child, the same will I show to those that fear me."

Doctrine: God will deal with those who fear him - as a compassionate father does with his dutiful son.

Two things are in this proposition:

1. That God is a Father. He is a father by creation. He has given us our being: "Have not we all one father? Has not one God created us?" (Malachi 2:20). God is also a father by election: he has chosen out a certain number, to be his children (Ephesians 1:4). And God is a father by special grace: he stamps his impress of holiness upon men (Colossians 3:10). All God's children resemble him - though some are more like him than others.

2. That God will deal with those that fear him, as a compassionate father does with his dutiful son.

A. God will accept them, as a father does his son. If the child only lisps and can hardly speak plainly, the father takes all in good part. So God, as a father, will accept what his children do in sincerity: "There will I require your offerings ... I will accept you with your sweet savor" (Ezekiel 20:40-41).

B. To such as fear God, he will be full of pity to them, as a tender father is to his son. There are in God, affections of compassion and affections of delight.

Affections of compassion. A father feels for his child. God has great pity and tenderness towards his children. (Isaiah 63:15). The compassion of parents are steel and marble compared with God's - "the tender mercy of our God" (Luke 1:78 ). In the Greek it is "the affections of mercy". These affections make God sympathize with his children in misery. He is touched in their wounds: "As a father pities his children so the Lord pities those who fear him" (Psalms 103:13 ).

In God are also affections of delight. How dearly did Jacob love Benjamin! His life was bound up in him (Genesis 44:30). All the affections of parents come from God. They are but a drop of his ocean, a spark of his flame. God's love is a love that "passes knowledge!" (Ephesians 3:19). The saints cannot love their own souls, so entirely as God loves them. In particular,

a. God loves the persons of his children; they are the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8 ). He engraves them upon the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). This alludes to those who carry about them, engraved on the stone of their ring, the picture of some dear friend whom they entirely love.

b. God loves the places his children were born in, the better for their sakes: "God loves the gates of Zion" (Psalms 87:2); "This and that man was born in her" (verse 5); that is, "this and that believer". God loves the very ground his children walk upon. Why was Judea, the ancient seat of Israel, called "a delightsome land" (Malachi 3:12)? Not so much delightful for the fruit growing in it - as for the saints living in it.

c. God so loves his children, that he charges the great ones of the world upon pain of death, not to hurt them. They are sacred to him. "He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm" (Psalms 105:14-15). By "anointed" are meant such as have the anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:20).

d. God delights in his children's company, he loves to see their faces, "Let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." (Song of Solomon 2:14) If but two or three of God's children meet and pray together, God will he sure to make one of the company: "There am I in the midst of them!" (Matthew 18:20).

e. God so loves his children that his eye is never off them: "The eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him" (Psalms 33:18 ).
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« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2009, 09:03:18 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


Question: But is this such a privilege - to have God's eye upon his children? God's eye is upon the wicked too.

Answer: it is one kind of eye that the Judge casts upon the malefactor; and another that the Prince casts upon his favorite. God's eye upon the wicked is an eye of vengeance - but his eye upon his children is an eye of benediction.

f. God sets a continual guard about his children, to preserve them from danger. He hides them in his pavilion (Psalms 27:5). He covers them with the golden feathers of his protection (Psalms 91:4). No prince goes so well guarded, as God's child, for he has a guard of angels about him. The angels are a numerous guard: "The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire" (2 Kings 6:17). Those horses and chariots of fire were the angels of God, gathered in the manner of a huge army to defend the prophet Elijah.

g. God clothes his children in rich garments: "Her clothing is of wrought gold" (Psalms 45:13). Jacob loved his son Joseph and gave him a finer coat to wear than the rest of his brethren: "He made him a coat of many colors" (Genesis 37:3). God loves his children and gives them a finer coat, more finely woven, a coat of diverse colors. It is partly made of Christ's righteousness, and partly of inherent holiness (Revelation 19:8 ).

h. Such is God's love that he thinks nothing too good for his children! He enriches them with the upper and lower springs; he gives them the finest of the wheat, and honey out of the rock; he makes them a feast of fat things (Isaiah 25:6). He gives them the body and blood of his Son, and delights to see his children spreading themselves as olive plants round about his table (Psalms 128:3).

3. God will receive the PETITIONS of those who fear him - as a tender father receives his son's petitions. They may come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). If they come for pardon of sin, or strength against temptation, God will not deny them. Three things may cause boldness in prayer - the saints have a Father to pray to, the Spirit to help them to pray, and Jesus Christ as their Advocate to present their prayers.

4. On such as are fearers of God, God will bestow an inheritance, as a father does upon his son. This inheritance is no less than a kingdom! (Luke 12:32). In it are gates of pearl, rivers of pleasure; and (which is to be noted as a difference between God's settling an inheritance on his children, and an earthly father's settling an inheritance) a son cannot enjoy the inheritance until his father is dead; but every adopted child of God may at once enjoy both the inheritance and the father, because God is both father and inheritance! (Genesis 15).

5. With such as are fearers of God, God will pass by many infirmities. That is what is meant by this expression in the text, "I will spare them as a man spares his own son." What a wonder is this - that God did not spare the angels (2 Peter 2:4)! No, he did not spare his natural Son (Romans 8:32). Yet he will spare his adopted sons! "I will spare, them, I will not use extremity as I might - but pass by many aberrations."

Caution: It is not that the sins of God's children are hidden from him - but such is his paternal clemency that he is pleased to bear with many frailties in his children. He spares them as a father spares his son. How often do God's people grieve his Spirit by the neglect of spiritual watchfulness, or the loss of their first love; but God spares them! Israel provoked God with their murmurings - but he used fatherly indulgence towards them (Psalms 78:38; Nehemiah 9:17).

First Use: INFORMATION.

1. From this word, "I will spare them as a man spares his son", take notice that even the best need sparing. "If you, Lord, should mark iniquities - who shall stand?" (Psalms 130:3). The Papists speak of merits - but how can we merit - when our best services are so defective that we need sparing! How can these two stand together, our meriting and God's sparing? What will become of us without sparing mercy? We need to pray as Nehemiah, "Remember me, O my God, concerning this also - and spare me according to the greatness of your mercy!" (Nehemiah 13:22). Let us fly to this asylum, "Lord, spare us as a father spares his son!"

2. See God's different dealing with the godly and the wicked. The Lord will not spare the wicked: "I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy - but destroy them!" (Jeremiah 13:14). It is sad when the prisoner begs of the judge to spare him - but the judge will show him no favor. God's cup of wrath is unmixed! (Revelation 14:10). Yet it is said to be mixed. The cup of wrath God gives the wicked is mixed with all sorts of punishments. But in this sense it is unmixed -  it is without the least drop of mercy in it! (Psalms 78:45-51). God for a while reprieves men - but forbearance is not forgiveness. Though God spares his children - yet obdurate sinners shall feel the weight of his wrath!

3. If the Lord spares his people as a father does his son - then they should serve him as a son does his father.

1. They should serve him WILLINGLY. "Serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought!" (1 Chronicles 28:9). Cain's sacrifice was rejected, because he brought it grudgingly and against his will. It was rather the paying of a tax than a free-will offering. The best obedience is that which is voluntary, as that is the best honey which drops from the honeycomb. God sometimes accepts of willingness without the work (1 Kings 8:18 ) - but never of the work without willingness.

2. They should serve God UNIVERSALLY. True obedience is universal; it observes one command as well as another; it fulfills difficult duties and dangerous duties. As the needle points the way that the magnet draws, so a gracious heart inclines to those things which the Word teaches (Luke 1:6). It is the note of a hypocrite to be partial in obedience; some sin he will indulge (2 Kings 5:18 ), some duty he will dispense with; his obedience is lame on one foot.
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« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2009, 09:04:47 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


3. They should serve God SWIFTLY. Beware of a dull temper of soul; the loveliness of obedience is in the liveliness of it. We read of two women, "The wind was in their wings" (Zechariah 5:9). Wings are swift - but wind in the wings denotes great swiftness. Such swiftness should be in our obedience to God. If God spares us as a father does his son, we should serve him as a son does his father.

Second Use: EXHORTATION.

If God spares us as a father does his son - let us imitate God. It is natural for children to imitate their parents; what the father does, the child is apt to learn the same.

Let us imitate God in this one thing - As God spares us, and passes by many failures - so let us be sparing in our censures of others; let us look upon the weaknesses and indiscretions of our brethren with a more tender compassionate eye.

Indeed, in cases of scandal we ought not to bear with others - but sharply reprove them. But if through inadvertence or passion they act wrongly - let us pity and pray for them. How much God bears with us! He spares us, and shall not we be sparing to others? Perhaps they have been wronged, and false things may be said about them. Athanasius was falsely accused by the Arians of adultery; Basil was falsely accused of heresy. It is usual for the world to misrepresent the people of God; therefore let us be sparing in our censures. God spares us--and shall not we be sparing towards others?

Third use: COMFORT.

Here is comfort to the children of God in case of failings. The Lord will not be severe to mark what they have done amiss - but will spare them. He passes by many infirmities: "He will rest in his love" (Zephaniah 3:17); in the original it is, "He will be silent in his love". As if the prophet had said, though the church had her failings - yet God's love was such, that it would not allow him to mention them. God turns a blind eye to our many oversights: "My eye spared them from destruction" (Ezekiel 20:17).

I do not speak of presumptuous sins - but of failings such as vain thoughts, deadness in duty, sudden surprises by temptation. These being mourned for, God for Christ's sake will spare us as a father does his son.

This is one of the richest comforts in the Book of God. Who is he who lives - and sins not? How defective we are in our best duties! How full our lives are either of blanks or of blots! Were it not for God's sparing mercy - we would all go to hell. But this text is a choice cordial; if our hearts are sincere, God will spare us as a father does his son. "I will not execute the fierceness of my anger" (Hosea 11:9).

I know not a greater rock of support, for a fainting Christian than this - God will abate the severity of the law. Though we come short in our duty, he will not fail of his mercy - but will spare us as a father spares his son.


The Difference Between Righteous and the Wicked

"Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (Malachi 3:18 ).

Here follows the close of the chapter, which I shall little more than paraphrase. These words are spoken to the wicked, as learned expositors assert; for though the godly shall at last discern what a difference God makes between them and the wicked, how merciful he is to the one, and how severe to the other - yet this text is chiefly spoken to the wicked: "You have said, It is vain to serve God!" (verse 14) "From now on we will say, 'Blessed are the arrogant.' For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them go free of harm." (verse 15). Well, says God, though now you call the proud happy and the godly foolish - yet when I have made up my jewels - then you wicked ones shall see clearly what a difference I make between the righteous, and the wicked; between him who serves God - and him who does not serve him. Then, when it is too late, when the day of grace is past, and the drawbridge of mercy is pulled up - then shall you discern a difference between the holy and the profane!

Doctrine 1: The wicked at present have their eyes shut! "To this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear!" (Deuteronomy 29:4). Natural men have the sword upon their right eye, "The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye! His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind!" (Zechariah 11:17). They see no difference between the pious and the impious; they imagine that it fares as well with the wicked as with the righteous; nay, it seems to fare better with the wicked. The wicked flourish: "These are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches" (Psalms 73: 12). Whereas those who pray and fast, are oppressed. The wicked bless themselves, and think they are now in a better condition than the righteous; the matter is not to be wondered at, for "the god of this world has blinded the minds of sinners" (2 Corinthians 4:4). But at last their eyes shall he opened; and that brings me to the second doctrine.
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« Reply #35 on: September 30, 2009, 09:06:25 PM »

The Great Gain of Godliness
by Thomas Watson, 1681


Doctrine 2: There is a time shortly coming when impious, grossly wicked sinners, shall SEE an obvious difference between the godly and the nicked. The tables will then be turned! "Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."

Question: When is the time when the eyes of sinners shall he opened, and they shall see a difference between the righteous and the wicked?

Answer: There are two times when sinners shall see a manifest difference between the righteous and the wicked.

Firstly, at the day of judgment. That will be a day of manifest difference. Things will then appear in their proper colors; the difference will easily be seen between the godly and the wicked; the one being absolved - the other condemned!

Secondly, at the hour of separation, when God shall eternally separate the reprobate from the elect, as a winnowing fan separates the chaff from the wheat - and there shall be a visible discerning between the righteous and wicked. "All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life!" (Matthew 25:32-33, 46). Jesus Christ will take his saints up with him into glory - and will cast the wicked down to hell. He will make up the godly as jewels, and tie up the wicked in bundles to be burned! "Bind them in bundles to burn them" (Matthew 13:30). Now sinners shall be convinced with a vengeance, that the state of the righteous and the wicked is different! They shall see the righteous advanced to a heavenly kingdom, and themselves cast into a fiery prison!

Oh, the dreadfulness of that place of torment! Could men lay their ears to the infernal lake, and but for one hour hear the groans and shrieks of the damned - they would tell us that they now see what before they would not believe - the infinite difference between the righteous and the wicked! In hell is torment upon torment, "blackness of darkness" (Jude 13), "chains of darkness" (2 Peter 2:4). These chains are God's decree ordaining, and his power binding men under wrath! And that which accentuates and puts a sting into the torments of the wicked - is that they shall be always scorching in the fire of God's wrath! "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever" (Revelation 14:11 ).

Christ said of his suffering on the cross, "It is finished!" But sinners shall never say of their sufferings in hell - that they are finished. No! if the damned had lain in hell as many thousand years as there are drops in the sea - eternity has yet to begin!

First use: INFORMATION.

This may inform all wicked men that, no matter how blind they are now - yet at last the veil shall be taken from their eyes! They now count themselves the only happy men, and look upon the people of God with derision. They load them with invectives and curse them with their slanders. Well, the time is not far off - when the wicked shall clearly discern who belong to Christ - and who belong to the devil. As Moses said to Korah and his company, "Tomorrow the Lord will show who are his" (Numbers 16:5), so at the day of judgment the Lord will show who are his - and who are not. Nay, sooner than that: at the day of death the wicked shall see how it will be with them for eternity!

Oh, that the eyes of sinners may be speedily opened - that they may see the difference of things, the beauty which is in holiness, and the astonishing madness that is in sin!

Second use: CONSOLATION to the righteous.

Though at present they are slighted, and have the odium of the world cast upon them - yet shortly God will make a visible difference between them and the wicked. As it was with Pharaoh's two officers, the butler and the baker; at first there seemed to be no difference between them - but in a short while there was difference made. The chief butler was advanced to honor - but the chief baker was executed (Genesis 40:21-22). So though now God's people are low and despised, and the wicked treat them with boastful insolence - yet when the critical day comes, there shall be a final separation made between the righteous and the wicked. The one shall be dignified - the other damned! "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life!" (Matthew 25:46).

Be encouraged therefore, saints of God - to persist in a course of holiness. Though now you seem to be lowermost - yet in the resurrection you shall be uppermost: "The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning" (Psalms 49: 14). That is, they shall have dominion over the wicked in the morning of the resurrection. They shall then laugh the wicked to scorn (Psalms 52:6). "Then you will see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Malachi 3:18
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