Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Puritans (Part 2) - The End of the Wicked

Have you ever been discouraged by the seemingly easy lives of those who are not at all concerned about walking with God? Have you ever struggled as you tried to remain godly while watching those who are not prosper? Have you ever wondered if holiness is really worth the effort? I think these are the exact questions that Asaph, one of the Psalm writers, was struggling with when he penned the 73rd Psalm.

Asaph wrote, in Psalm 73:2-3, " feet came close to stumbling, my steps almost slipped... as I saw the prosperity of the wicked." By the time he gets to verse 12 we can really see his frustration, in verses 12 & 13 he writes that the wicked are "always at ease" and "increased in wealth," then he adds, "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure..."

But is it in vain that we pursue holiness? a few days ago I mentioned that I had been reading some of the Puritans' writings and I came across this one the other day by Thomas Watson addressing these very issues; here is what he had to say:

The children of God have little cause to envy the prosperity of the wicked. They may have all they can desire; nay, they may have "more than heart can wish." Psalm 73:7. They steep themselves in pleasure! "They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute." Job 21:12. The wicked are high--when God's people are low in the world.

The goats scramble up the mountains of prosperity; when Christ's sheep are below in the valley of tears! The wicked are clothed in purple; while the godly are in sackcloth. The prosperity of the wicked is a great stumbling block. But there is no cause of envy them, if we consider two things:

  • First--that this is all they have! "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things"--you had all your heaven here.
  • Secondly--that God has laid up better things for His children. He has prepared a kingdom of glory for them! They shall have the beatific vision; they shall be crowned with the pleasures of paradise forever!

Oh, then do not envy the fleeting prosperity of the wicked! The wicked go through a pleasant way--to execution! The godly go through a foul way--to coronation!

See how happy all the saints are at death! They go to a kingdom! They shall see God's face, which shines ten thousand times brighter than the sun in its meridian glory. The godly at death shall be installed into their honor, and have the royal crown set upon their head. They have in the kingdom of heaven--the quintessence of all delights. They shall lie in Christ's bosom, that bed of spices.

There is such a pleasant variety in the happiness of heaven, that after millions of years it will be as fresh and desirable as the first hour's enjoyment! In the kingdom of heaven, the saints are crowned with all those perfections which they are capable of. The desires of the glorified saints are infinitely
satisfied; there is nothing absent which they could wish might be enjoyed; there is nothing present which they could wish might be removed.

In the kingdom of heaven there is . . .
  • Knowledge without ignorance,
  • Holiness without sin,
  • Beauty without blemish,
  • Strength without weakness,
  • Light without darkness,
  • Riches without poverty,
  • Ease without pain,
  • Liberty without restraint,
  • Rest without labor,
  • Joy without sorrow,
  • Love without hatred,
  • Plenty without surfeit,
  • Honor without disgrace,
  • Health without sickness,
  • Peace without discord,
  • Contentment without cessation,
  • Glory in its highest elevation!

Oh, the happiness of those who die in the Lord! They go into this blessed kingdom!
Thomas Watson

This is the same conclusion that Asaph came to; in verses 16 and 17 he wrote, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end." So the next time you get discouraged by the "prosperity of the wicked" spend some alone with God, come into His sanctuary, and let Him remind you, through His word, what you have to look forward to, and what is the end of the wicked.
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