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The Potter's Clay

Scripture, Theology, the Christian worldview, and other ramblings.

08 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 2

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 water.

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 esteem.

--Thomas Watson

More later...

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