Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Godly Man's Picture - Introduction

After reading only a couple of pages it is apparent that Thomas Watson's The Godly Man's Picture is going to be a completely different book from the first two volumes of the Puritan Reading Challenge. Whereas Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed concentrated on one verse of Scripture, Isaiah 42:3, and John Flavel's The Mystery of Providence concentrated on one topic, God's Providence, Watson takes on the broad category of the characteristics of a Christian.

In other words, while Sibbes and Flavel each use a "rifle", zeroing in on a small target, Watson wields a "shotgun" and is all over the place. After reading the first two chapters it became clear that this month's reading and blogging is going to be of an entirely different nature. I don't anticipate blogging by chapter, but will reserve the right to throw up a comment whenever I come across something that needs to be noted or having a comment that I wish to make.

Here is the first item:

1. Godliness is a real thing
It is not a fantasy, but a fact. Godliness is not the feverish fantasy of a sick brain; a Christian is no enthusiast, one whose religion is all made up of theory. Godliness has truth for its foundation; it is called "the way of truth" (Psa. 119:30). Godliness is a ray and beam that shines from God. If God is true, then godliness is true.
(pg. 12)

I have also consulted the section on Thomas Watson in Beeke and Pederson's Meet the Puritans. I was interested to discover that Thomas Watson's experience was very similar to that of John Flavel. The two men were contemporaries, with Watson born eight years earlier and dying five years prior than Flavel. Both men lost children to death, but Watson was only married once. Both men suffered under the Act of Uniformity in 1662, and both men continued to preach in unconventional venues as a result. Most importantly, both men continue to minister to this day as a result of their writings. While the nature of Watson's book is different from that of Flavel I anticipate that it will also prove to be a blessing to us as we read it together this month.

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