November 7, 2008

Thomas Watson (c.1620–1686) on Considering the Mercies of God

2. The second serious consideration to work repentance, is to consider the mercies of God.

A stone is soonest broken upon a soft pillow, and a heart of stone is soonest broken upon the soft pillow of God's mercies. "The goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). The clemency of a prince sooner causes relenting in a malefactor. While God has been storming others by his judgments—he has been wooing you by his mercies.

(1) What preventative mercies have we had? What troubles have been prevented, what fears blown over? When our foot has been slipping, God's mercy has held us up! (Psalm 94:18). His mercy has always been a screen between us and danger. When enemies like lions have risen up against us to devour us—free grace has snatched us out of the mouth of these lions! In the deepest waves the arm of mercy has upheld us—and has kept our head above water. And will not all of God's preventative mercies lead us to repentance?

(2) What positive mercies have we had! Firstly, in supplying mercy. God has been a bountiful benefactor, "the God who fed me all my life long unto this day" (Gen. 48:15). What man will spread a table for his enemy? We have been enemies—yet God has fed us! He has given us the horn of oil. He has made the honeycomb of mercy drop on us. God has been as kind to us—as if we had been his best servants. And will not this supplying mercy lead us to repentance? Secondly, in delivering mercy. When we have been at the gates of the grave, God has miraculously preserved our lives. He has turned the shadow of death into morning, and has put a song of deliverance into our mouth. And will not delivering mercy lead us to repentance? The Lord has labored to break our hearts with his mercies. In Judges, chapter 2, we read that when the angel had preached a sermon of mercy, "the people wept loudly." If anything will move tears, it should be the mercy of God. He is an obstinate sinner indeed—whom these great cable-ropes of God's mercy will not draw to repentance!
Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987), 114–115.


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