Godliness - An Exhortation
Chapter 6 in Thomas Watson’s work, “The Godly Man’s Picture” is one of exhortation to godliness. He accomplishes this first by contrasting the godly and the ungodly. He starts by exhorting men to seriously weigh their misery while they remain in a state of ungodliness. Here Watson would have a person consider that the ungodly are in a state of death, that their offerings are polluted, that they have no right to the covenant of grace, that they are vile, foolish, and facing God’s wrath. He then would have a person consider what rare persons the godly are. The godly are set apart as precious to God. They are honorable. They are discerning, having both good insight and foresight. They are people of quality and are happy.
Thomas Watson goes on to say that striving for godliness is a most rational pursuit given the excellence of godliness. If men were not besotted, if their fall had not knocked their brains out, they would see that it is the most rational thing in the world to become godly. Godliness is our spiritual beauty. It is not greatness that sets us off in God’s eye, but goodness. Godliness affords us solid peace and makes us happy. Godliness does not destroy happiness but refines it. His rose is without prickles, his wine without froth. There is much profit in being godly. It endures, and living as a godly person will be our delight when we die.
Thomas Watson’s exhortation to be godly is an exhortation to become a Christian, to believe. One is either godly or ungodly. One is either saved or not. Saving faith is the beginning of godliness and Watson would say that characteristics of godliness are a Christian’s box of evidences. These are symptoms of salvation. Those who abide in the vine will bear much fruit (John 15:5). One cannot be godly without being a Christian.
We can often become unsettled when we consider our lack of godliness but as Watson says, whoever has one of these characteristics in truth has everything in embryo. What this means, though, is that we can grow in godliness. In 2 Peter 1, Peter lists godliness as one of the characteristics that should mark us as Christians and which should be increasing (vs. 8). It is something we can train ourselves in (1 Tim. 4:7). So, in exhorting people to godliness, it is first to exhort people to believe. Then, having believed, it is to exhort people to not be content with a mediocre faith, but one that is vibrant and growing and which results in godliness.