GODLINESS IS GREAT GAIN
O the joy, the peace, the comfort, the rest that saints meet with in the ways and service of God! They find that religious services are not empty things, but things in which God is pleased to discover his beauty and glory to their souls. “My soul thirsts for God,” says David, “that I might see thy beauty and thy glory, as I have seen thee in thy sanctuary.”
O the sweet looks, the sweet words, the sweet hints, the sweet nudgings, the sweet influences, the sweet love-letters that gracious souls have from heaven, when they wait upon God in holy and heavenly services, the least of which will darken and outweigh all the bravery and glory of this world, and richly recompense the soul for all the troubles, afflictions and dangers that have attended it in the service of God!
Oh! The saints can say, “great gain” under all their troubles and afflictions, that they have meat to eat, and drink to drink, that the world knows not of; that they have such incomes, such refreshments, such warmings, etc., that they would not exchange for all the honours, riches, and dainties of this world!
Ah! Let but a Christian compare his external losses with his spiritual, internal, and external gain, and he shall find that, for every penny he loses in the service of God, he gains a pound; and for every pound that he loses, he gains a hundred; for every hundred lost, he gains a thousand. We lose pins in his service and find pearls; we lose the favour of the creature, and peace with the creator, and, haply, the comforts and contents of the creature, and we gain the favour of God, peace with conscience, and the comforts and contents of a better life.
Ah, did the men of this world know the sweet that saints enjoy in afflictions’ they would rather choose Manasseh’s iron chain than his golden crown; they would rather be Paul a prisoner, than Paul enraptured up in the third heaven! For ” light afflictions”, they shall have “a weight of glory”; for a few afflictions, they shall have these joys, pleasures, and contents, that are as the stars of heaven, or as the sands of the sea that cannot be numbered; for momentary afflictions, they shall have an eternal crown of glory.
Solomon bids us buy the truth, but doth not tell us what it must cost, because we must get it though it be ever so dear. We must love it both shining and scorching. Every parcel of truth is precious, as the filings of gold; we must either live with it or die for it. As Ruth said to Naomi, ” whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part thee and me:” so must gracious spirits say, where truth goes I will go, and where truth lodges I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part me and the truth. A man may lawfully sell his house, land, and jewels, but the truth far exceeds all price, and must not be sold; it is our heritage. ‘Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever.’ It is a legacy that our forefathers have bought with their blood, which should make us willing to lay down anything, and to lay out anything, that we may, with the wise merchant in the gospel, purchase this precious pearl, which is of more worth than heaven and earth, and which will make a man live happily, die comfortably, and reign eternally. It is not the knowing, nor the talking, nor the reading man, but the dying man that at last will be found the happiest man.
(An extract from Godliness is Great Gain – Thomas Watson: 1620 – 1686)