Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today 3/19

It's Thursday, and I have off of work today. That usually never happens. My co-worker needed a switch, and I'm always happy to oblige. It's nice having a day off in the middle of the week. However, it does mean that I have to work the next two days. Work has been pretty stressful lately, as the downturn in the economy has meant that the mental health treatment business if booming. It's fascinating to me how it can be that so many can be struggling while others seem to thrive. I guess this is one of those Ecclesiastes type "under the sun" mysteries of life. I spent some time last night chatting with a friend about spiritual things. I enjoy that. I really enjoy that. It's satisfying to me to know that some of the things I've learned about God and life and sorrow and marriage and everything can be of some use to others. The Lord be glorified.

This post sounds like a diary entry. I guess that's ok to blog like that, right?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wherein Does Blessedness Consist? Part 2 -- Wherein it DOES consist.

More from Thomas Watson on blessedness:
Having shown wherein blessedness does not consist, I shall next show wherein it does consist. Blessedness stands in the fruition of the chief good.

(i) It consists in fruition; there must not be only possession, but fruition. A man may possess an estate, yet not enjoy it. He may have the dominion of it, but not the comfort, as when he is in a lethargy or under the predominance of melancholy. But in true blessedness there must be a sensible enjoyment of that which the soul possesses.

(ii) Blessedness lies in the fruition of the chief good. It is not every good that makes a man blessed, but it must be the supreme good, and that is God. ‘Happy is that people whose God is the Lord’ (Psalm 144:15). God is the soul’s rest (Psalm 116:7). Now that only in which the soul acquiesces and rests can make it blessed. The globe or circle, as is observed in mathematics, is of all others the most perfect figure, because the last point of the figure ends in that first point where it began. So, when the soul meets in God, whence it sprang as its first original, then it is completely blessed. That which makes a man blessed must have fixed qualifications or ingredients in it, and these are found nowhere but in God the chief good.

In true blessedness there must be meliority; that which fills with blessedness must be such a good as is better than a man’s self. If you would ennoble a piece of silver, it must be by putting something to it which is better than silver, as by putting gold or pearl to it. So that which ennobles the soul and enriches it with blessedness, must be by adding something to it which is more excellent than the soul, and that is God. The world is below the soul; it is but the soul’s footstool; therefore it cannot crown it with happiness.

Another ingredient is delectability: that which brings blessedness must have a delicious taste in it, such as the soul is instantly ravished with. There must be in it spirits of delight and quintessence of joy, and where can the soul suck those pure comforts which amaze it with wonder and crown it with delight, but in God? ‘In God’, says Augustine, ‘the soul is delighted with such sweetness as even transports it.’ The love of God is a honeycomb which drops such infinite sweetness and satisfaction into the soul as is ‘unspeakable and full of glory.’ (1 Peter 1:8). A kiss from God’s mouth puts the soul into a divine ecstasy, so that now it cries out, ‘It is good to be here.’

The third ingredient in blessedness is plenty; that which makes a man blessed must not be too scanty. It is a full draught which quenches the soul’s thirst; and where shall we find plenty but in Deity? ‘Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures’ (Psalm 36:8); not drops but rivers! The soul bathes itself and is laid, as it were, asteeping in the water of life. The river of paradise overflowed and empties its silver streams into the souls of the blessed.

In true blessedness there must be variety. Plenty without variety is apt to nauseate. In God there is ‘all fullness’. (Colossians 1:19). What can the soul want, but it may be had in the chief good? God is ‘the good in all good things’. He is a sun, a shield, a portion, a fountain, a rock of strength, an horn of salvation. In God there is a complication of all excellencies. There are every moment fresh beauties and delights springing from God.

To make up blessedness there must be perfection; the joy must be perfect, the glory perfect. ‘Spirits of just men made perfect’ (Hebrews 12:23). ‘Blessedness must run through the whole.’ If there be the least defect, it destroys the nature of blessedness, as the least symptom of a disease takes away the wellbeing and right temperature of the body.

True blessedness must have eternity stamped on it. Blessedness is a fixed thing; it admits of no change or alteration. God says of every child of his, ‘I have blessed him and he shall be blessed.’ As the sunshine of blessedness is ‘without clouds’, so it never sets. ‘I give unto them eternal life’ (John 10:28). ‘And so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Eternity is the highest link of blessedness. Thus we have seen that this diamond of blessedness is only to be found in the Rock of Ages. ‘Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.’

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wherein Does Blessedness Consist? Part 1 -- Wherein it does NOT consist.

An excerpt from Thomas Watson:
Wherein does blessedness consist? Millions of men mistake both the nature of blessedness and the way thither. Some of the learned have set down two hundred and eighty eight several opinions about blessedness, and all have shot wide of the mark. I shall show wherein it does not consist, and then wherein it does consist.

(1) Wherein blessedness does not consist. It does not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Happiness cannot by any art of chemistry be extracted here. Christ does not say, ‘Blessed are the rich’, or ‘Blessed are the noble’, yet too many idolise these things. Man, by the fall, has not only lost his crown, but his headpiece. How ready is he to terminate his happiness in externals! Which makes me call to mind that definition which some of the heathen philosophers give of blessedness, that it was to have a sufficiency of subsistence and to thrive well in the world. And are there not many who pass for Christians, that seem to be of this philosophical opinion? If they have but worldly accommodations, they are ready to sing a requiem to their souls and say with that brutish fool in the gospel, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease . . .’ (Luke 12:19). ‘What is more shameful’, says Seneca, ‘than to equate the rational soul’s good with that which is irrational.’ Alas, the tree of blessedness does not grow in an earthly paradise. Has not God ‘cursed the ground’ for sin? (Genesis 3:17). Yet many are digging for felicity here, as if they would fetch a blessing out of a curse. A man may as well think to extract oil out of a flint, or fire out of water, as blessedness out of these terrestrial things.

King Solomon arrived at more than any man. He was the most magnificent prince that ever held the sceptre. For his parentage: he sprang from the royal line, not only that line from which many kings came, but of which Christ himself came. Jesus Christ was of Solomon’s line and race, so that for heraldry and nobility none could show a fairer coat of arms. For the situation of his palace: it was in Jerusalem, the princess and paragon of the earth. Jerusalem, for its renown, was called ‘the city of God’. It was the most famous metropolis in the world. ‘Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord’ (Psalms 122:4). For wealth: his crown was hung full of jewels. He had treasures of gold and of pearl and ‘made silver to be as stones’ (1 Kings 10:27). For worldly joy: he had the flower and quintessence of all delights — sumptuous fare, stately edifices, vineyards, fishponds, all sorts of music to enchant and ravish the senses with joy. If there were any rarity, it was a present for king Solomon’s court. Thus did he bathe himself in the perfumed waters of pleasure.

For wisdom: he was the oracle of his time. When the queen of Sheba came to pose him with hard questions, he gave a solution to all her doubts (1 Kings 10:3). He had a key of knowledge to unlock nature’s dark cabinet, so that if wisdom had been lost, it might have been found here, and the whole world might have lighted their understanding at Solomon’s lamp. He was an earthly angel, so that a carnal eye surveying his glory would have been ready to imagine that Solomon had entered into that paradise out of which Adam was once driven, or that he had found another as good. Never did the world cast a more smiling aspect upon any man; yet when he comes to give in his impartial verdict, he tells us that the world has vanity written upon its frontispiece, and all those golden delights he enjoyed were but a painted felicity, a glorious misery. ‘And behold all was vanity’ (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Blessedness is too noble and delicate a plant to dwell in nature’s soil.

That blessedness does not lie in externals, I shall prove by these five demonstrations.

(i) Those things which are not commensurate to the desires of the soul can never make a man blessed; but transitory things are not commensurate to the desires of the soul; therefore they cannot render him blessed. Nothing on earth can satisfy.

‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver’ (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Riches are unsatisfying:

Because they are not real. The world is called a ‘fashion’ (1 Corinthians 7:31). The word in the Greek signifies a mathematical figure, sometimes a show or apparition. Riches are but tinned over. They are like alchemy, which glisters a little in our eyes, but at death all this alchemy will be worn off. Riches are but sugared lies, pleasant impostures, like a gilded cover which has not one leaf of true comfort bound up in it.

Because they are not suitable. The soul is a spiritual thing; riches are of an earthly extract, and how can these fill a spiritual substance? A man may as well fill his treasure chest with grace, as his heart with gold. If a man were crowned with all the delights of the world, nay, if God should build him an house among the stars, yet the restless eye of his unsatisfied mind would be looking still higher. He would be prying beyond the heavens for some hidden rarities which he thinks he has not yet attained to; so unquenchable is the thirst of the soul till it come to bathe in the river of life and to centre upon true blessedness.

(ii) That which cannot quiet the heart in a storm cannot entitle a man to blessedness; but earthly things accumulated cannot rock the troubled heart quiet; therefore they cannot make one blessed. If the spirit be wounded, can the creature pour wine and oil into these wounds? If God sets conscience to work, and it flies in a man’s face, can worldly comforts take off this angry fury? Is there any harp to drive away the ‘evil spirit’? Outward things can no more cure the agony of conscience than a silken stocking can cure a gouty leg. When Saul was sore distressed (1 Samuel 28:15), could all the jewels of his crown comfort him? If God be angry, whose ‘fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him’ (Nahum 1:6), can a wedge of gold be a screen to keep off this fire? ‘They shall cast their silver in the streets; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord’ (Ezekiel 7:19). King Belshazzar was carousing and ranting it. ‘He drank wine in the golden vessels of the temple’ (Daniel 5:3), but when the fingers of a man’s hand appeared, ‘his countenance was changed’ (verse 6), his wine grew sour, his feast was spoiled with that dish which was served in upon the wall. The things of the world will no more keep out trouble of spirit, than a paper sconce will keep out a bullet.

(iii) That which is but for a season cannot make one blessed; but all things under the sun are but ‘for a season’, therefore they cannot enrich with blessedness. Sublunary delights are like those meats which we say are a while in season, and then presently grow stale and are out of request. ‘The world passeth away’ (1 John 2:17). Worldly delights are winged. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden, that stay a little while, but when you come near to them they take their flight and are gone. So ‘riches make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven’ (Proverbs 23:5). They are like a meteor that blazes, but spends and annihilates. They are like a castle made of snow, lying under the torrid beams of the sun. Augustine says of himself, that when any preferment smiled upon him, he was afraid to accept of it lest it should on a sudden give him the slip. Outward comforts are, as Plato says, like tennis balls which are bandied up and down from one to another. Had we the longest lease of worldly comforts, it would soon be run out. Riches and honour are constantly in flight; they pass away like a swift stream, or like a ship that is going full sail. While they are with us they are going away from us. They are like a posy of flowers which withers while you are smelling it; like ice, which melts away while it is in your hand. The world, says Bernard,’ cries out, ‘I will leave you’, and be gone. It takes its salute and farewell together.

(iv) Those things which do more vex than comfort cannot make a man blessed; but such are all things under the sun, therefore they cannot have blessedness affixed to them. As riches are compared to wind (Hosea 12:1) to show their vanity, so to thorns (Matthew 13:17) to show their vexation. Thorns are not more apt to tear our garments, than riches to tear our hearts. They are thorns in the gathering, they prick with care; and as they pierce the head with care of getting, so they wound the heart with fear of losing. God will have our sweetest wine run dregs, yea, and taste of a musty cask too, that we may not think this is the wine of paradise.

(v) Those things which (if we have nothing else) will make us cursed, cannot make us blessed; but the sole enjoyment of worldly things will make us cursed, therefore it is far from making us blessed. ‘Riches are kept for the hurt of the owner’ (Ecclesiastes 5:13). Riches to the wicked are fuel for pride: ‘Thy heart is lifted up because of thy riches’ (Ezekiel 28:5); and fuel for lust: ‘when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery’ (Jeremiah 5:7). Riches are a snare: ‘But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in perdition’ (1 Timothy 6:9). How many have pulled down their souls to build up an estate! A ship may be so laden with gold that it sinks; many a man’s gold has sunk him to hell. The rich sinner seals up money in his bag, and God seals up a curse with it. ‘Woe to him that ladeth himself with thick clay’ (Habakkuk 2:6). Augustine says that Judas for money sold his salvation, and the Pharisees bought their damnation; so that happiness is not to be fetched out of the earth. They who go to the creature for blessedness go to the wrong box.

If blessedness does not consist in externals, then let us not place our blessedness here. This is to seek the living among the dead. As the angel told Mary concerning Christ, ‘He is not here, he is risen’ (Matthew 28:6), so I may say of blessedness, It is not here, it is risen; it is in a higher region. How do men thirst after the world, as if the pearl of blessedness hung upon an earthly crown! O, says one, if I had but such an estate, then I should be happy! Had I but such a comfort, then I should sit down satisfied! Well, God gives him that comfort and lets him suck out the very juice and spirits of it, but, alas, it falls short of his expectation. It cannot fill the hiatus and longing of his soul which still cries ‘Give, give’ (Proverbs 30:15); just like a sick man. If, says he, I had but such a meat, I could eat it; and when he has it, his stomach is bad, and he can hardly endure to taste it. God has put not only an emptiness, but bitterness into the creature, and it is good for us that there is no perfection here, that we may raise our thoughts higher to more noble and generous delights. Could we distil and draw out the quintessence of the creature, we should say as once the emperor Severus said, who grew from a mean estate to be head of the greatest empire in the world: I have, says he, run through all conditions, yet could never find full contentment.

To such as are cut short in their allowance, whose cup does not overflow, but their tears be not too much troubled; remember that these outward comforts cannot make you blessed. You might live rich and die cursed. You might treasure up an estate, and God might treasure up wrath. Be not perplexed about those things the lack of which cannot make you miserable, nor the enjoyment make you blessed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


"It's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore... I am sorry." -- Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Noticed that I don't blog anymore? Yeah, me too. It's not that I don't want to blog -- I like blogging. It's not that I don't have anything to say -- ask anyone around me, I have a lot to say. There are several factors, which I won't bore you with. Suffice it to say that I'm going to make and effort... wait, let's back that up a bit... I'm going to try to make an effort... or, uh... I'm going to make an effort to try to make an effort to blog more. How's that for commitment?

At the risk of being awfully random, here's a quote from Matthew Henry that I wanted to share:
Corrupt nature is impatient of restraint. It is a foolish, pevish thing for men to abandon the comforts of this life, because of the crosses that are commonly woven in with them. No, whatever our condition is, we must bring our minds to it, be thankful for its comforts, submissive to its crosses, and make the best of that which is.