Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Christian on the Mount.
Meditate upon the small number of those who shall be saved.
“But few are chosen” (Matthew 20: 16). Among the millions in Rome there are but few senators; and among the swarms of people in the world there are but few believers. One said that all the names of the good emperors might be engraved on a little ring. There are not many names in the book of life. We# read of four kinds of ground in the parable, and but OH? good ground (Matthew 13). How few in the world know Christ. How few there are that believe in Him: “Who has believed our report” (Isaiah 53:1)? How few bow to Christ’s scepter. The heathen idolaters and Mohammedans possess almost all Asia, Africa, and America; in many parts of the world the devil is worshiped, as among the Parthians and Pilapians. Satan takes up most climates and hearts. How many formalists there are in the world. 2 Timothy 3:5 speaks of “having a form of godliness.” Formalists are like wool that receives a slight tincture, not a deep dye; whose religion is a paint, not an engraving (that a storm of persecution will wash off). These look like Christ’s doves, but are the serpent’s brood. They hate God’s image, like the panther that hates the picture of a man.
Oh, meditate often on the small number of those who shall be saved.
Meditation on this would keep us from marching along with the multitude. “Thou shall not follow a multitude” (Exodus 23:2). The multitude usually goes wrong: most men walk after the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2), that is, the lusts of their hearts and the fashions of the times. They march after the prince of the air. Meditation on this would make us turn out of the common road.
Meditation on the fewness of those who shall be saved would make us walk tremblingly. Few find the way; and, when they have found it, few walk in the way. The thoughts of this would work holy fear (Hebrews 4:1) — not a despairing fear, but a jealous and cautious fear. This reverential fear the eminent saints of God have had. Augustine said of himself that he knocked at heaven’s gate with a trembling hand. This fear is joined with hope. Psalm 147:11: “The Lord taketh pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” A child of God fears because the gate is strait; but he hopes because the gate is open.
Meditation on the fewness of those who shall be saved would be a whetstone to holy industry. It would put us upon working out our salvation; if there are so few that shall be crowned, it would make us the swifter in the race. This meditation would be an alarm to sleepy Christians.