“All Things for Good”

A tiny, nine chapter book took me about four months to read. That is seriously pitiful. But, I will say this for me; it took me that long because every paragraph I was pausing to ingest a beautifully-worded truth, and usually to copy it out in a quote.

Thomas Watson published a lovely book in 1663 titled, "All Things for Good." It is a treatise on Romans 8:28, and deals with the question, "Why does God let bad things happen?" I picked it up because I knew it would be good for me (the Puritan writers are always excellent), and as research for my upcoming distopian trilogy Consider the Ravens. The characters deal with the same question through some pretty bad times, and I needed the advice of thoughtful, seasoned Christians in order to write about it. As always with Mr. Watson, I was given much more than I expected. I pulled so many quotes from this lovely little book, I am forming them into a blogpost, (mostly so that I can refer back to it whenever I want). I hope you are as blessed as I was by this snapshot of Thomas Watson's insight into our Christian lives. Trot over to Banner of Truth and invest in the whole treatise!

Mercies of God - Tools in Our Lives

“A good Christian is not a grave to bury God's mercies, but a temple to sing His praises.”

"The mercies of God quicken. As they are loadstones to love so they are whetstones to obedience… he argues from the sweetness of mercy to the swiftness of duty.”

“Prayer is the bellows of the affections; it blows up holy desires and ardours of the soul… Prayer is the Christian’s gun, which he discharges against his enemies.”

“Faith keeps the heart cheerful, fear keeps the heart serious. Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption.”

“As the stones in an arch help to strengthen one another, one Christian by imparting his experience, heats and quickens another.”

“When a Christian is weak, and can hardly pray for himself, Jesus Christ is praying for him…”

“The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel.”

“A father provides for his child while he lives; but the father dies, and then the child may be exposed to injury. But God never ceases to be a Father. You who are a believer, have a Father that never dies; and if God be your Father, you can never be undone. All things must need to work for your good.”

“The house of God is the palace of the great king; on the Sabbath God shows himself there through the lattice… this blessed day the Sun of righteousness rises upon the soul.”

Good in Afflictions

“Afflictions to the godly are medicinal… No vessel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honor, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction.”

“Affliction teaches us what sin is… A sickbed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves… Water in the glass looks clear, but set it on the fire and the scum boils up.”

“In prosperity the heart is apt to be divided. The heart cleaves partly to God, and partly to the world… Now God takes away the world, that the heart might cleave to Him in sincerity… As we sometimes hold a crooked rod over the fire to straighten it; so God holds us over the fire of affliction to make us more straight and upright.”

“God's rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more lively upon us. It is good to be like Christ, though it be by sufferings.”

“Sin is the mother, affliction is the daughter; the daughter helps to destroy the mother.”

“Afflictions work for good as they make way for comfort. ‘In the valley of Achor is a door of hope (Hosea 2:15).’ Achor signifies trouble. God sweetens outward pain with inward peace.”

“God's rod has honey at the end of it.”

“It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction.”

“When the atheists of the world see that God has a people, who serve him not for a livery, but for love, this stops their mouths.”

“How it strikes a damp into wicked men, when they see that the godly will keep close to God in a suffering condition, and that, when they lose all, yet will they hold fast their integrity.”

“As plowing prepares the earth for a crop, so afflictions prepare and make us meet for glory. The painter lays his gold upon dark colors, so God first lays the dark colors of affliction, and then He lays the golden color of glory.”

Sin in the Christian's Life

“Luter once said, ‘There are three things make a Christian - prayer, meditation, and temptation.’ The apostle Paul and his voyage to Rome, met with the contrary wind. So the wind of temptation is a contrary wind to that of the Spirit; but God makes use of this crosswind, to blow the Saints to heaven.”

“There is a great deal of difference between falling into a temptation, and running into a temptation.”

“None but the godly are capable of desertion. Wicked men know not what God‘s love means, nor what it is to want it.”

“There may be the seed of Grace, where there is not the flower of joy.”

“We may hold the world as a posy in our hand, but it must not to lie too near our heart. We may use it as an inn where we take a meal, but it must not be our home.”

“The favor of God is the best jewel; it can sweeten a prison, and unsting death. Oh how odious then is that sin, which robs us of our best jewel!”

“Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? Religion is the true philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold.”

“It is gods way, first to cast down, then to comfort (2 Cor 7:6)… ‘light is sown for the righteous' (Psalm 97:11). The saints’ comfort may be hidden like seed under ground, but the seed is ripening, and will increase and flourish into a crop.”

“A believer will not let Satan have peaceable possession. If he cannot keep sin out, he will keep it under; though he cannot quite overcome, yet he is overcoming.”

Smiting for Good

"If God does not give you that which you like, He will give you that which you need.”

“When God lays men upon their backs, then they look up to heaven.”

“God's smiting his people is like the musician’s striking up on the violin, which makes it put forth a melodious sound… Affliction is a bitter root, but it bears sweet fruit. ‘It yeildeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’”

“There is never a providence of God, but has either a mercy or a wonder in it.”

“Sinners would have Christ put a crown up on their head, but not a yoke upon their neck. He were a strange king that should rule without laws.”


“A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him.”

“We love the saints though in some lesser things they differ from us… Where there is union in fundamentals, there ought to be union in affections.”

“Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage… Love animates a Christian; it fires his heart with zeal, and steels it with courage.”

“It is not duty, but love to duty, God looks at. It is not how much we do, but how much we love…To do a duty without love, is not sacrifice, but penance.”

“Love takes off the tediousness of duty… Love makes duty a pleasure… He that loves God is never weary of serving Him.”

“Christ having set us a copy of love, and written it with His blood, let us labor to write after so fair a copy, and to imitate Him in love.”

“Love to God is the best self-love… by loving God, we forward our own salvation… he that does not love God, does not love himself.”

“Peter was dejected with the sense of his sin, he thought himself unworthy that ever Christ should take notice of him, or employed him more in the work of His apostleship; see how Christ goes about to comfort him. ‘Peter, lovest thou me?’…To love God is a better sign of sincerity that to fear Him.”

“Do you love God? Then you may be sure of God’s love to you… Our love is nothing but the reflection of God's love.”

“For want of hearts full of love, men have heads full of error; unholy opinions are for want of holy affections.”

"Question: What shall we do to love God?
Answer: Study God… Labor for an interest in God…. Make it your earnest request to God, that He will give you a heart to love Him."

“When a tender body leaves off clothes, it is apt to get cold: so when we leave off duty, by degrees we cool in our love to God.”

Make Your Calling Sure

“We are called to the enjoyment of the ever-blessed God: as if a man were called out of the prison to sit upon a throne. Quintus Curtius writes of one, who while digging in his garden was called to be king. Thus God calls us to glory and virtue. (2 Pet 1:3) First to virtue, then to glory.”

"As God makes heaven fit for us, so he makes us fit for heaven… A man remaining in the filth and rubbish of nature, is no more fit for heaven, then a dead man is fit to inherit an estate. The high calling is not a thing arbitrary or indifferent, but as needful as salvation; yet alas, how is this one thing needful neglected!”

“‘Give diligence to make your calling sure’ (2 Pet 1:10). This is the great business of our lives, to get sound evidence of our effectual calling… Oh, my brethren, when things are dark without, let all be clear within."

“The light of grace is the morning-star which ushers in the sunlight of glory.”

“He who is in enlightened by the Spirit, counts holiness his best heraldry, and looks upon his effectual calling as his preferment.”

“Naturalist say of precious stones, though they have their matter from the earth, yet their sparkling luster is from the influence of the heavens: so it is with a godly man, though his body be from the earth, yet the sparkling of his affections is from heaven; his heart is drawn into the upper region, as high as Christ. He not only cast off every wicked work, but every earthly weight. He is not a worm, but an eagle.”

“Those who are patterns of mercy should be trumpets of praise.”

“Christians must keep a decorum; they must observe what is comely… It is one of the saddest sights to see a man lift up his hands in prayer, and with those hands oppress... to you hear man in words profess God, and it works deny him… Yours is a holy calling, and will you be unholy?”

“It is better to go to heaven with a few, then to hell in the crowd.”

“What though the sea roar, though the earth be unquiet, though the stars are shaken out of their places, you need not fear. You are called, and therefore are sure to be crowned.”

“God did not choose us because we were worthy, but by choosing us He makes us worthy.”

“The signs of salvation are in the saints, but the cause of salvation is in God.”

“There is no such thing as merit. Our best works have in them both defection an infection, and so are but glittering sins…”

“Our graces are imperfect, our comforts ebb and flow, but God‘s foundation standeth sure.”