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Excerpts from the book by Thomas Watson: Body of Divinity
Question 20: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
Use one: Of INFORMATION.
See the amazing goodness of God, to enter into covenant with us! He never entered into covenant with angels when they fell. It was much condescension in God to enter into covenant with us in a state of innocence—but more so when we were in a state of enmity. In this covenant of grace, we may see the cream of God's love, and the working of his affections to sinners. This is a marriage covenant. "I am married to you—says the Lord." Jeremiah 3:14. In the new covenant, God makes himself over to us, and what can he give more? He makes over his promises to us, and what better bonds can we have?
Whether we are in covenant with God. There are three characteristics of God's covenant people.
"Be clothed with humility." 1 Pet 5:5. God's people esteem others better than themselves; they shrink into nothing in their own thoughts. Phil 2:3. David cries out, "I am a worm, and no man:"Psalm 22:6. Though a saint, though a king—yet a worm! When Moses' face shined, he covered it with a veil. When God's people shine most in grace, they are covered with the veil of humility. Pride excludes from the covenant, for "God resists the proud." Surely, such as whom God resist, He will not take to be with Himself in glory. Abraham the father of the faithful, confesses, "I am nothing but dust and ashes." Genesis 18:27.
Though they cannot serve God perfectly--they serve Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in his worship. They do not murmur at sufferings. They will go through a sea and a wilderness—if God calls. "Your people shall be a willing people." This spontaneity and willingness is from the attractive power of God's Spirit. The Spirit does not force--but sweetly draws the will. This willingness in makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work--but never the work without willingness.
Pardon is the crowning mercy. "Who forgives your iniquity, who crowns you." This is a branch of the covenant. "I will be their God, and I will forgive their iniquity." Sin being pardoned, all wrath ceases. How terrible is it when but a spark of God's wrath flies into a man's conscience! But sin being forgiven, there is no more wrath. God does not appear now in the fire or earthquake—but covered with a rainbow full of mercy!
Wicked men have mercies by Providence, not by virtue of a covenant; they have their mercies with God's leave, not with his love. But such as are in covenant have their mercies sweetened with God's love—and they swim to them in the blood of Christ! As Naaman said to Gehazi, "Take two talents," so says God to such as are in covenant, take two talents, take health—and take Christ with it; take riches—and take my love with them; take the venison—and take the blessing with it; take two talents.
If you are haunted with temptations, plead the covenant, "Lord, you have promised to bruise Satan under my feet shortly; will you allow your child to be thus harassed? Take off the roaring lion." If in need, plead the covenant, "Lord, you have said, I shall lack no good thing; will you save me from hell, and not from poverty? will you give me a kingdom, and deny me daily bread?"
Psalm 25:10. Not only golden paths—but his bloody paths are for good. Every wind of Providence shall blow them nearer heaven. Affliction shall humble and purify. Heb 12:10. Out of the bitterest medicine, God distills your salvation. Afflictions add to the saints, glory. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles; the heavier the saints' cross is, the heavier shall be their crown.
The text calls it an "everlasting covenant." Such as are in covenant are elected; and God's electing love is unchangeable. "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them; but I will put my fear in their heart, that they shall not depart from me." Jer 32:40. God will so love the saints, that he will not forsake them; and the saints shall so fear God that they shall not forsake him. It is a covenant of eternity. It must be so; for whom is this covenant made with? Is it not with believers? and have not they coalition and union with Christ? Christ is the head, they are the body. Eph 1:22, 23. This is a near union, much like that union between God the Father and Christ. "As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us." John 17:2I. Now, the union between Christ and the saints being so inseparable, it can never be dissolved, or the covenant made void; so that you may die with comfort.
Behold a death-bed cordial; death breaks the union between the body and the soul—but perfects the union between Christ and the soul. This has made the saints desire death as the bride the wedding-day. Phil 1:23. "Lead me, Lord, to that glory," said one, "a glimpse whereof I have seen, as in a glass darkly."
To show you how you who have tasted of covenant-mercy should walk, and live as a people in covenant with God. As you differ from others in respect of dignity, so you must in point of life-style.
God's love to you calls for love. It is Amor gratiatus—a free love. Why should God pass by others, and take you into a league of friendship with himself? In the law, God passed by the lion and eagle, and chose the dove; so he passes by the noble and mighty. It is Amor plenus—a full love. When God takes you into covenant, you are his Hephzihah; Isa 62:4; his delight is in you; he gives you the key of all his treasure, he heaps pearls upon you, he settles heaven and earth upon you; he gives you a bunch of grapes by the way, and says, "Son, all I have is yours!" And does not all this call for love? Who can tread upon these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love to God?
The covenant has made you a royal nation, therefore be a holy people. Shine as lights in the world; live as earthly angels. God has taken you into covenant, that you and he may have communion together; and what is it that keeps up your communion with God, but holiness?
Psalm 103:1. God is your God in covenant; he has done more for you than if he had made you ride upon the high places of the earth, and given you crowns and scepters! Oh take the cup of salvation, and bless the Lord! Eternity will be little enough to praise him. Musicians love to play on their music where there is the loudest sound, and God loves to bestow his mercies where he may have the loudest praises. You that have angels' reward—do angels, work. Begin that work of praise here, which you hope to be always doing in heaven.