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/ Songbook.ManuelAdam.com September 22nd, 2004 Newsletter!
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1 - The Supremacy of God's Son
1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our
fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has
spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,
through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance
of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he
upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making
purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on
high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name
he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
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THE ONE THING NECESSARY
by Thomas Watson
"Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling." - Philippians 2:12 If there be
anything excellent, it is salvation; if there be anything necessary,
it is working out salvation; if there be any tool to work with, it is
holy fear. "Work out your salvation with fear."
The words are a grave and serious
exhortation, needful, not only for those Christians who lived in the
apostle's time, but may fitly be calculated for the meridian of this
age wherein we live.
I proceed now to the exhortation,
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," which
words do branch themselves into these three particulars:-
First, the act, work out; secondly, the
object, your own salvation; thirdly, the manner in which we should
work it out, with fear and trembling. I shall speak principally of the
first two, and draw in the other briefly in the application.
The proposition is this: It should be a
Christian's great work to be working out his salvation. The great God
hath put us into the world as into a vineyard, and here is the work He
hath set us about, the working out of salvation. There is a parallel
Scripture to this: "Give diligence to make your calling and
election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10). When estate, friends, life cannot
be made sure, let this be made sure: The original Greek signifies to
study, or beat the brains about a thing. These words in the text,
"work out," imply two things. First, a shaking off spiritual
sloth. Sloth is a pillow on which many have slept the sleep of death.
Secondly, it implies a uniting and rallying together all the powers of
our souls that we may attend the business of salvation. God hath
enacted a law in Paradise, that no man should eat of the tree of life,
but only in the sweat of his brows.
I proceed now to the reasons enforcing
this holy sweat and industry about salvation, and they are three. We
must work out our salvation because of:-
1. The difficulty of this work.
2. The rareness of it.
3. The possibility of it.
1. The difficulty of this work.
It is a work that may make us labour to
the going down of the sun of our life (Dan. 6:14) Now this difficulty
about the work of salvation will appear four manner of ways.
First, from the nature of the work. The
heart is to be changed. The heart is the very nursery of sin. it is
the magazine where all the weapons of unrighteousness he. It is a
lesser hell. The heart is full of antipathy against God; it is angry
with converting grace. Now that the bias of the heart should be
changed, what a work is this! How should we beg of Christ, that He who
turned the water into wine would turn the water, or rather poison of
nature, into the wine of grace?
The heart will be ready to deceive us
in this work of salvation, and make us take a show of grace for grace.
Many think they repent when it is not the offence, but the penalty
which troubles them; not the treason, but the bloody axe. They think
they repent when they shed a few tears; but though this ice begins to
melt a little, it freezeth again; they go on still in sin. Many weep
for their unkind dealings with God, as Saul did for his unkindness to
David. "He said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for
thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil" (1
Sam. 24:17). "And Saul lifted up his voice and wept" (I Sam.
24:16). But for all this he follows David again, and pursues after him
(1 Sam. 26). Secondly, so men can lift up their voices and weep for
sin, yet follow their sins again. Thirdly, others forsake sin, but
still they retain the love of it in their hearts. Like the snake that
casts the coat but keeps the sting, there is as much difference
between false and true tears as between channel water and spring
That which makes salvation-work hard,
is, that it is a slippery work. "Look to yourselves, that we lose
not those things which we have wrought" (2 John 8). This work
falls down almost as fast as we build. An ordinary artificer, when he
hath been at work, finds his work the next morning just as he left it;
but it is not so with us. When we have been working out salvation by
prayer, fasting, meditation, and leave this work awhile, we shall not
find our work as we left it; a great deal of our work is fallen down
again. We had need be often called upon to "Strengthen the things
which remain, that are ready to die" (Rev 3:2). No sooner is a
Christian taken off from the fire of the sanctuary, but he is ready to
cool and freeze again in security. He is like a watch, when he hath
been wound up towards heaven, he doth quickly unwind to earth and sin
again. When the gold hath been purified in the furnace, it remains
pure; but it is not so with the heart. Let it be heated in an
ordinance, let it be purged in the furnace of affliction, it doth not
remain pure, but quickly gathers soil and corruption. We are seldom
long in a good frame. All this shows how difficult the work of
salvation is, we must not only work, but set a watch too.
Question. But why hath God made the way
to heaven so hard? Why must there be this working?
Answer. To make us set a high estimate
upon heavenly things. If salvation were easily come by, we should not
have valued it to its worth. If diamonds were ordinary, they would be
slighted; but because they are hard to come by, they are in great
2. The rareness of this work
The second reason we must put forth so
much holy sweat and industry about salvation is because of the
rareness of this work. But few shall be saved; therefore we had need
work the harder that we may be in the number of these few. The way to
hell is a broad way; the causeway of it is paved with riches and
pleasure; it hath a golden causeway; therefore there are daily so many
travellers in it. But the way to heaven lies out of the road; it is an
unbeaten path, and few can find it. Those who advocate universal grace
say that Christ died intentionally for all; but then why are not all
saved? Can Christ be frustrated of His intention? Some are so gross to
aver that all shall actually be saved; but hath not our Lord Christ
told us, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:14)?
How all can go in at this gate, and yet but few find it, seems to me a
3. The possibility of this work
The third reason why we should put forth
so much vigour about the work of salvation is because of the
possibility of the work. Impossibility kills all endeavour. Who will
take pains for that which he thinks there is no hope of ever
obtaining? But "there is hope in Israel concerning this."
Salvation is a thing feasible; it may be had. Oh Christians, though
the gate of paradise be strait, yet the gate is open! It is shut
against the devils, but it is yet open to you. Who would not crowd
hard to get in? It is but paring off your sins; it is but unloading
some of your thick clay; it is but assuaging the swelling humour of
your pride, and you may get in at the strait gate. This possibility,
nay probability, of salvation may put life into your endeavour. If
there be corn to be had, why should you sit starving in your sins any
And so I proceed to the use of
exhortation, to persuade you all in the bowels of Christ to set about
this great work, "the working out your salvation." Beloved,
here is a plot for heaven, and I would have you all in this plot;
rally together all the powers of your souls; give neither God nor
yourselves rest till you have "made your election sure."
Christians, fall to work; do it early, earnestly, incessantly. Pursue
salvation as in a holy chase; other things are but matters of
convenience; salvation is a matter of necessity. You must either do
the work that Christians are doing, or you must do the work that
devils are doing. Oh, you that never yet took one stitch in this work
of salvation, begin now. Religion is a good trade if it be
well-followed. Be assured there is no salvation without working. But
here I must lay down a caution to prevent mistakes.
Though we shall not be saved without
working, yet not for our working. We do not work out salvation by way
of merit. Bellarmine saith, "We merit heaven out of
worthiness." No, though we are saved in the use of means, yet by
grace too (Eph. 2:5). There must be ploughing and sowing the ground,
but yet no crop can be expected without the influence of the sun; so
there must be working, but no crop of salvation can be hoped for
without the sunshine of free grace: "It is your Father's good
pleasure to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Give? Why, might
some say, we have wrought hard for it? Ay, but heaven is a donative;
though you work for it, yet it is the good pleasure of God to bestow
it. Still look up to Christ's merit; it is not your sweat, but His
blood that saves. That your working cannot merit salvation is clear,
"It is God that works in you to will and to do" (ver. 13).
It is not your working, but God's co-working. For as the scrivener
guides the child's hand, or he cannot write; so the Spirit of God must
afford His auxiliary concurrence, or our work stands still. How then
can any man merit by working, when it is God that helps him to work?
I shall now, having laid down this
caution, resume the exhortation, and persuade you to the working out
salvation. But I must first remove two objections which lie in the
Objection 1. You bid us work out
salvation, but we have no power to work.
Answer. It is true, we have not power;
I deny that we have the liberty to work. Man before conversion is
purely passive; therefore the Scripture calls it a heart of stone
(Ezek. 36:26). A man by nature can no more prepare himself to his own
converting than the stone can prepare itself to its own softening. But
yet when God begins to draw, we may follow. Those dry bones in Ezekiel
could not of themselves live, but when breath came into them, then
"they lived, and stood up upon their feet" (Ezek. 37: 10).
Question. But suppose God hath not
dropped in a principle of grace? Suppose He hath not caused breath to
Answer. Yet use the means. Though you
cannot work spiritually, yet work physically; do what you are able,
and that for two reasons.
1. Because a man by neglecting the means, doth destroy himself. It is
like a man by not going to the physician, may be said to be the cause
of his own death.
2. God is not wanting to us when we do what we are able. Urge the
promise, "Seek and ye shall find" (Matt. 7:7). Put this bond
in suit by prayer; you say you have no power, but have you not a
promise? Act so far as you can. Though I dare not say as the Arminian,
when we do exert and put forth nature, God is bound to give grace; yet
this I say, God is not wanting to them that seek his grace. Nay, I
will say more, He denies His grace to none but them that wilfully
refuse it (John 5:40).
Objection 2. The second objection is
this; But to what purpose should I work? There is a decree past; if
God hath decreed I shall be saved, I shall be saved.
Answer. God decrees salvation in a way
of working (2 Thes. 2:13). Origen, in his book against Celsus,
observes a subtle argument of some who disputed about Fate and
Destiny. One gave counsel to his sick friend not to send for the
physician, because, saith he, it is appointed by destiny whether thou
shalt recover or not. If it be thy destiny to recover, then thou
needest not the physician; if it be not thy destiny, then the
physician will do thee no good. The like fallacy doth the devil use to
men; he bids them not work; if God hath decreed they shall be saved,
they shall be saved, and there is no need of working; if He hath not
decreed their salvation, then their working will do them no good; this
is an argument fetched out of the devil's topics. But we say, God
decrees the end in the use of means. God did decree that Israel should
enter into Canaan, but first they must fight with the sons of Anak.
God decreed that Hezekiah should recover from his sickness, but let
him lay a fig to the boil (Isa. 38:21). We do not argue thus in other
things. A man doth not say, "If God hath decreed I shall have a
crop this year, I shall have a crop; what need I plough, or sow, or
manure the land?" No, he win use the means, and expect a crop.
Though "the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich" (Prov.
10:22), yet it is as true, "the hand of the diligent maketh
rich" (Prov. 10:4). God's decreeing is carried on by our working.
And thus having removed these
objections, let me now persuade you to set about this blessed work,
the working out your salvation; and that my words may the better
prevail, I shall propound several arguments by way of motive to excite
you to this work.
The first argument or motive to working,
is taken from the preciousness of the soul; well may we take pains
that we may secure this from danger. The soul is a divine spark
kindled by the breath of God. It doth out-balance the world (Matt.
16:26). If the world be the book of God, as Origen calls it, the soul
is the image of God. Plato calls the soul a glass of the Trinity. It
is a bright mirror in which some refracted beams of God's wisdom and
holiness do shine forth; the soul is a blossom of eternity. God hath
made the soul capable of communion with Himself It would bankrupt the
world to give half the price of a soul. How highly did Christ value
the soul when He sold Himself to buy it? Oh then, what pity is it that
this excellent soul (this soul for which God called a council in
heaven when he made it) should miscarry and be undone to all eternity?
Who would not rather work night and day than lose such a soul? The
jewel is invaluable, the loss irreparable.
Holy activity and industry doth ennoble a
Christian. The more excellent any thing is, the more active. The sun
is a glorious creature, it never stands still, but is going it's
circuit round the world. Fire is the purest element, and the most
active; it is ever sparkling and flaming. The angels are the most
noble creatures and the most nimble; therefore they are represented by
the cherubim, with their wings displayed. God Himself is (as the
school men speak) a most pure act: Homer saith of Agamemnon, that he
did sometimes resemble Jupiter in feature, Pallas in wisdom, Mars in
valour; by holy activity we resemble God who is a most pure act. The
phoenix flies with a coronet on its head; the industrious Christian
wants not a coronet; his sweat ennobles him; his labour is his ensign
of honour. Solomon tells us that "drowsiness shall clothe a man
with rags" (Prov. 23:21). Infamy is one of the rags that hang
upon him; God hates a dull temper. We read in the law, that the ass,
being a dug creature, must not be offered up in sacrifice. Spiritual
activity is a badge of honour.
Working out salvation is that which will
make death and heaven sweet to us. It will sweeten death. He that hath
been hard at work all day, how quietly doth he sleep at night? You who
have been working out salvation all your lives, how comfortably may
you lay down your head at night in the grave, upon a pillow of dust,
in hopes of a glorious resurrection? This will be a deathbed cordial.
It will sweeten heaven. The more pains we have taken for heaven, the
sweeter will it be when we come there. It is delightful for a man to
look over his work and see the fruit appear. When he hath been
planting trees in his orchard, or setting flowers, it is pleasant to
behold and review his labours. Thus in heaven, when we shall see the
fruit of our labours, "the end of your faith, even the
salvation" (1 Pet. 1:9), this will make heaven the sweeter. The
more pains we have taken for heaven, the more welcome it will be; the
more sweat, the more sweet. When a man hath been sinning, the pleasure
is gone, and the sting remains; but when he hath been repenting, the
labour is gone, and the joy remains.
Yet you have time to work. This text and
sermon would be out of season to preach to the damned in hell. If I
should bid them work, it is too late; their time is past. It is night
with the devils; it is yet day with you. Work while it is day (John
9:4). If you lose your day, you lose your souls. This is the season
for your souls. Now God commands, now the Spirit breathes, now
ministers beseech, and as so many bells of Aaron, would chime in your
souls to Christ. Oh, improve your season! This is your seed-time, now
sow the seeds of faith and repentance. If when you have seasons, you
lack hearts, the time may come when you have hearts and you shall lack
seasons. Take time while you may; the mariner hoists up his sails
while the wind blows. Never had a people a fairer gale for heaven than
you of this city, and will you not set forward in your voyage? What
riding is there to the term: I warrant you the lawyer will not lose
his term. Oh my brethren, now is the term-time for your souls, now
plead with God for mercy, or at least get Christ to plead for you.
Think seriously of these things.
[Reasons to think seriously of these
First, our life doth unravel
apace. Gregory compares our life to the mariner in a ship going full
sail; we are every day sailing apace to eternity.
Secondly, the seasons of grace
though they are precious, are not permanent. Abused mercies wilt like
Noah's dove, take their wings and fly from us. England's golden hour
will soon run out; gospel blessings are very sweet, but very swift.
"Now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke 19:42). We know not
how soon the golden candlestick may be removed.
Thirdly, there is a time when
the Spirit hath done striving. There are certain spring tides of the
Spirit, and these being neglected, possibly we may never see another
tide come in. When conscience hath done speaking, usually the Spirit
hath done striving.
Fourthly,the loss of gospel
opportunities will be the hell of hell. When a sinner shall at the
last day think with himself, oh, what might I have been! I might have
been as rich as the angels. as rich as heaven could make me. I had a
season to work in, but I lost it. This, this will be as a vulture
gnawing upon him; this will enhance and accent his misery. And let
this persuade you speedily to work out your salvation.
Fifthly, you may do this work
and not hinder your other work; working out salvation and working in a
calling are not inconsistent. And this I insert to prevent an
objection. Some may say, but if I work so hard for heaven, I shall
have no time for my trade. No, surely, the wise God would never make
any of His commands to interfere; as He would have you "seek ye
first the kingdom" (Matt. 6:33), so he would have you provide for
your family (1 Tim. 5: 8); you may drive two trades together. I do not
like those who make the church exclude the shop, who swallow up all
their time in hearing, but neglect their work at home (2 Thes. 3:11).
They are like the lilies of the field which toil not, neither do they
spin. God never sealed a warrant to idleness. He both commands and
commends diligence in a calling, which may the rather encourage us to
look after salvation, because this work will not take us off our other
work. A man may with Caleb, follow God fully, (Num. 14:24) and yet
with David be "following the ewes great with young" (Ps.
78:71). Piety and industry may dwell together.
Sixthly, the inexcusableness of
those who neglect working out their salvation. Methinks I hear God
expostulating the case with men at the last day, after this manner,
"Why did ye not work? I gave you time to work, I gave you light
to work by, I gave you My gospel, My ministers. I bestowed talents
upon you to trade; I set the recompense of reward before you. Why did
ye not work out your salvation?" Either it must be sloth or
stubbornness. Was their any work ye did of greater concern? You could
work in brick, but not in gold. What can you say for yourselves why
the sentence should not pass? Oh, how will the sinner be left
speechless at such a time, and how will this cut him to the heart to
think with himself he neglected salvation, and could give no reason
Seventhly, the inexpressible
misery of such as do not work out salvation. Those who sleep in
spring, shall beg in harvest. After death, when they look to receive a
full crop of glory, they will be put to beg, as Dives, for one drop of
water. Vagrant persons who will not work are sent to the house of
correction. Such as will not work out salvation, let them know, hell
is God's house of correction that they must be sent to.
Eighthly, if all this doth not
prevail, consider, what it is we are working for. None will take pains
for a trifle; we are working for a crown, for a throne, for a
paradise, and all this is comprised in that one word,
"salvation." Here is a whet-stone to industry. All men
desire salvation. It is the crown of our hopes; we should not think
any labour too much for this. What pains will men take for earthly
crowns and sceptres! And suppose all the kingdoms of the world were
more illustrious than they are - their foundations of gold, their
walls of pearl, their windows of sapphire - what were all this to that
kingdom we are labouring for? We may as well span the firmament as set
forth this in all its splendour and magnificence. Salvation is a
beautiful thing, it is as far above our thoughts as it is beyond our
deserts. Oh, how should this add wings to our endeavours! The merchant
will run through the intemperate zones of heat and cold for a little
prize. The soldier, for a rich booty, will endure the bullet and
sword, he will gladly undergo a bloody spring for a golden harvest. Oh
then, how much more should we spend our holy sweat for this blessed
prize of salvation!
And so, having laid down some arguments by
way of motive, to persuade to this work, I shall now propound some
means by way of direction to help us in this work; and here I shall
show you what are those things to be removed which will hinder our
working, and what are those things to be prosecuted which will further
1. We must remove those things which
will hinder our working out salvation. There are six bars in the
way to salvation which must be removed.
(i) First, the entanglements of the
world. While the foot is in a snare, a man cannot run. The world
is a snare; while our feet are in it, we cannot run the race set
before us (Heb. 12: 1). If a man were to climb up a steep rock, and
had weights tied to his legs, they would hinder his ascent; too many
golden weights will hinder us from climbing up this steep rock that
leads to salvation. While the mill of a trade is going, it makes such
a noise that we can hardly hear the minister "lifting up his
voice like a trumpet." The world chokes our zeal and appetite
after heavenly things; the earth puts out the fire; the music of the
world charms us asleep, and then we cannot work. In mines of gold
there are killing damps. Oh. how many souls have been destroyed with a
damp arising from the earth!
(ii) The second bar in the way to
salvation is sadness and uncheerfulness: when a man's heart is
sad, he is unfit to go about his work; he is like an untuned
instrument. Under fears and discouragements we act but faintly in
religion. David labours to chide himself out of this spiritual
melancholy, "why art thou cast down o my soul?" (Ps. 42:5).
Cheerfulness quickens; the Lacedemonians used music in their battles
to excite their spirits and make them fight more valiantly.
Cheerfulness is like music to the soul, it excites to duty, it oils
the wheels of the affections. Cheerfulness makes service come off with
delight, and we are never carried so swift in religion as upon the
wings of delight. Melancholy takes off our chariot wheels, and then we
drive on heavily.
(iii) The third bar in the way to
salvation is spiritual sloth. This is a great impediment to our
working. It was said of Israel, "they despised the pleasant
land" (Ps- 106:24); what should be the reason? Canaan was a
paradise of delight, a type of heaven; but they thought it would cost
them a great deal of trouble and hazard in the getting, and they would
rather go without it; they despised the pleasant land. Are there not
millions among us who had rather go sleeping to hell, than sweating to
heaven? I have read of certain Spaniards who live near where there is
great store of fish, yet are so lazy that they win not be at the pains
to catch them, but buy of their neighbours. Such a sinful stupidity
and sloth is upon the most, that though Christ be near them, though
salvation is offered in the gospel, yet they will not work out
salvation. "Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep" (Prov.
19:15). Adam lost his rib when he was asleep; many a man loseth his
soul in this deep sleep.
(iv) The fourth bar in the way to
salvation is an opinion of the easiness of salvation; God is
merciful, and the worst come to the worst, it is but repent.
God is merciful, it is true, but withal
He is just; He must not wrong His justice by showing mercy; therefore
observe that clause in the proclamation, He "will by no means
clear the guilty" (Ex. 34:7). If a king did proclaim that only
those should be pardoned who came in and submitted to his sceptre;
could any, still persisting in rebellion, claim the benefit of that
pardon? Oh sinner, wouldst thou have mercy, and wilt not disband the
weapon of unrighteousness?
It is but repent. But repent? It is
such a but that we cannot hit unless God direct our arrow. Tell me, Oh
sinner, is it easy for a dead man to live and walk? Thou art
spiritually dead, and wrapped up in thy winding sheet (Eph. 2:2). Is
regeneration easy? Are there no pangs in the new birth? Is self-denial
easy; dost thou know what religion must cost, and what it may cost? It
must cost you the parting with your lusts, it may cost you the parting
with your life; take heed of this obstruction. Salvation is not
accomplished lightly; thousands have gone to hell upon this mistake.
The broad spectacles of presumption have made the strait gate seem
wider than it is.
(v) The fifth bar in the way to
salvation is carnal friends. It is dangerous listening to their
voice. The serpent did speak in Eve. Job's wife would have caged him
off from serving God, "Dost thou still retain thine
integrity?" (Job 2:9) What, still pray and weep? Here the devil
did hand over a temptation to Job by his wife. Carnal friends will be
calling us off from our work. What needs all this ado? Less pains will
serve. We read that some of Christ's kindred, when they saw Christ so
earnest in preaching, would try to stop Him: His friends "went to
lay hold on Him" (Mark 3:2 1). Our friends and kindred would
sometimes stand in our way to heaven, and judging our zeal madness,
would lay hold of us and hinder us from working out our salvation.
Such friends Spira met with; for advising with them whether he should
revoke his former opinions concerning Luther's doctrine, or persist in
them to death, they wished him to recant, and so openly abjuring his
former faith, he became like a living man in hell.
(vi) The sixth bar in the way to
salvation is evil company. They will take us off our work. The
sweet waters lose their freshness when they run into the salt;
Christians lose their freshness and savouriness among the wicked;
Christ's doves will be sullied by lying among these pots. Sinful
company is like the water in a smith's forge which quencheth the iron
be it ever so hot; such cool good affections. The wicked have the
plague of the heart (1 Kings 8:38), and their breath is infectious.
They will discourage us from working out our salvation; just as he who
is a suitor to a woman; and is very earnest in his suit, there comes
one and tells him he knows something about the woman of ill report,
some impediment; the man hearing this, is presently taken off, and the
suit ceaseth. So it is with many a man who begins to be a suitor to
religion. Fain he would have the match made up, and he grows very hot
and violent in the suit, and begins to work out his salvation, but
then there come some of his confederates, and they tell him they know
something about religion that is of ill report. "This sect is
everywhere spoken against." There must be so much strictness and
mortification that he must never look to see good days anymore;
hereupon he is discouraged, and so the match is broken off. Take heed
of such persons; they are devils covered with flesh; they are, as one
saith, like Herod, who would have killed Christ as soon as He was
born. Thus, when Christ is, as it were, beginning to be formed in the
heart, they would in a spiritual sense kill Him.
And thus I have shown you the bars that
lie in the way to salvation, which are to be removed.
2. I proceed now in the second place to
lay down some helps conducive to salvation.
(i) The first is in the text, fear
and trembling. This is not a fear of doubting, but a fear of
diligence. This fear is requisite in the working out of salvation. Let
us fear lest we come short (Heb. 4:1). Fear is a remedy against
presumption. Hope is like the cork to the net, it keeps the soul from
sinking in despair; and fear is like the lead to the net, it keeps the
soul from floating in presumption. Fear is that flaming sword that
turns every way to keep sin from entering. Fear quickens; it is an
antidote against sloth. "Noah being moved with fear, prepared an
ark" (Heb. 11:8). The traveller, lest night should overtake him
before he gets to his journey's end, spurs on the faster. Fear causeth
circumspection; he that walks in fear treads warily. Fear is a
preservative against apostasy, "I will put My fear in their
hearts, that they shall not depart from Me" (Jer. 32:40). The
fear of falling keeps us from falling: Fear is the badge and livery of
a Christian. The saints of old were men fearing God (Mal. 3:16). It is
reported of holy Anselm, that he spent most of his thoughts about the
day of judgment. "Happy is the man that feareth always" (Prov.
28:14). Fear is a Christian's garrison, the way to be secure is always
to fear. This is one of the best tools for a Christian to work with.
(ii) Secondly, another great help in
working out salvation is love. Love makes the work proceed with
delight; seven years labour seemed nothing to Jacob because of the
love that he did bear to Rachel. Love facilitates everything. It is
like wings to the bird, like wheels to the chariot, like sails to the
ship; it carries the soul on swiftly and cheerfully in duty. Love is
never weary. It is an excellent saying of Gregory, "Let but a man
get the love of the world into his heart, and he will quickly be
rich." So do but get the love of religion into your heart, and
you will quickly be rich in grace. Love is a vigorous, active grace.
It despiseth dangers; it tramples upon difficulties; like a mighty
torrent it carries all before it. This is the grace which "takes
heaven by violence." Get but your hearts well heated with this
grace, and you will be fitted for this work.
(iii) A third thing conducive to
salvation is work in the strength of Christ. "I can do all
things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). Never
go to work alone. Samson's strength lay in his hair. And a Christian's
strength lies in Christ. When you are to do any duty, to resist any
temptation, to subdue any lust, set upon it in the strength of Christ;
some go out against sin in the strength of resolutions and vows, and
they are soon foiled. Do as Samson; he first cried to heaven for help
and then having taken hold of the pillars, he pulled down the house
upon the lords of the Philistines. When we engage Christ in the work,
and so take hold upon the pillar of an ordinance, we then bring down
the house upon the head of our lusts.
(iv) Fourthly, work humbly, be
humble, think not to merit by your working. Satan would either keep us
from working, or else he would make us proud of our working. God must
pardon our works before He crowns them. if we could pray as angels,
shed rivers of tears, build churches, erect hospitals, and should have
a conceit that we merited by this, it would be as a dead fly in the
box of perfume; it would stain and eclipse the glory of the work. Our
duties, like good wine, relish of a bad cask: They are but glittering
sins. Let not pride poison our holy things; when we have been working
for heaven, we should say as good Nehemiah, "Remember me, O my
God, concerning also, and spare me according to the greatness of Thy
mercy" (Neh. 13:22).
(v) Fifthly, work upon your knees;
be much in prayer. Beg the Spirit of God to help you in the work; make
that prayer, "Awake O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon
my garden" (Song 4:16). We have need that this Spirit blow upon
us, there being so many contrary winds blowing against us, and
considering how soon holy affections are apt to wither. The garden
hath not more need of wind to make its fruit flow out, than we of the
Spirit to make our graces flourish. Philip joined himself to the
Eunuch's chariot (Acts 8:29). God's Spirit must join itself to our
chariot; as the mariner hath his hand to the helm, so he hath his eye
to the star. While we are working, we must look up to the Spirit. What
is our preparation without the Spirit's operation? What is all our
rowing without a gale from heaven? "The Spirit lifted me up"
(Ezek. 3:14). God's Spirit must both infuse grace and excite it. We
read of a "wheel in the middle of a wheel" (Ezek. 1: 16).
The Spirit of God is that inner wheel that must move the wheel of our
endeavours. To conclude all, pray to God to bless you in your work.
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong"
(Eccl. 9: 1 1), nothing prospers without a blessing; and what way to
obtain it but by prayer? It is a saying of one of the ancients, The
saints carry the keys of heaven at their girdle. Prayer beats the
weapon out of the enemy's hand, and gets the blessing out of God's
(vi) Lastly, work in hope; the
apostle saith, "he that ploweth should plow in hope" (1 Cor.
9:10). Hope is the soul's anchor (Heb. 6:19). Cast this anchor upon
the promise and you shall never sink. Nothing more hinders us in our
working than unbelief Surely, saith a Christian, I may toil all day
for salvation and catch nothing. What is there "no balm in
Gilead?" Is there no mercy seat? Oh, sprinkle faith in every
duty! Look up to free grace; fix your eye upon the blood of Christ;.
Would you be saved? To your working join believing.
<Taken from http://www.fivesolas.com/watson/onething.htm>
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