A Godly Man is a Man Fired with Love to God

By Thomas Watson; excerpted with minor editing from The Godly Man’s Picture,—

Drawn with a Scripture Pencil, or Some Characteristic Marks of a Man who is Going to Heaven
(BOT, 1992 [first published 1666]), 30-32 [Sect. 3 of chap 4, "Showing the Characteristics of a Godly Man"]

"I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications" (Psalm 116:1)

Faith and love are the two poles on which all religion turns. A true saint is carried in that chariot, "the midst whereof is paved with love" (Song 3:10). As faith enlivens, so love sweetens every duty. The sun mellows the fruit, so love mellows the services of religion, and gives them a better relish. A godly man is sick of love: "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee" (Jn 21:16). "Though, dear Saviour, I denied thee, yet it was for lack of strength, not for lack of love." God is the fountain and quintessence of goodness. His beauty and sweetness lay constraints of love upon a gracious heart. God is the saint’s portion (Ps 119:57). And what more loved than a portion? "I would hate my own soul," says Augustine, "if I found it not loving God." A godly man loves God and therefore delights to be in his presence; he loves God and therefore takes comfort in nothing without him. "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" (Song 3:3)

The pious soul loves God and therefore thirsts for him. The more he has of God, the more still he desires. A sip of the wine of the Spirit whets the appetite for more. The soul loves God and therefore rejoices to think "of his appearing" (2 Tim 4:8). He loves him and therefore longs to be with him. Christ was in Paul’s heart, and Paul would be in Christ’s bosom (Phil 1:23). When the soul is once like God, it would gladly be with God. A gracious heart cries out, "O that I had wings," that I might fly away, and be with my love, Christ. The bird desires to be out of the cage, though it is hung with pearl.

Such is the love a gracious soul has to God, that many waters cannot quench it. He loves a frowning God.

Though I am out of sight, and clean forgot,

Let me not love thee, if I love thee not.

(George Herbert)

A godly man loves God, though he is reduced to straits. A mother and her nine-year-old child were about to die of hunger. The child looked at its mother and said, "Mother, do you think God will starve us?" "No, child," said the mother, "he will not." The child replied, "But if he does, we must still love him, and serve him."


Let us test our godliness by this touch-stone: Do we love God? Is he our treasure and centre? Can we, with David, call God our "joy", yes, our "exceeding joy" (Ps 43:4)? Do we delight in drawing near to him, and "come before his presence with singing" (Ps 100:2)? Do we love him for his beauty more than his jewels? Do we love him, when he seems not to love us?

If this be the sign of a godly man, how few will be found in the number! Where is the man whose heart is dilated in love to God? Many court him, but few love him. People are for the most part eaten up with self-love; they love their ease, their worldly profit, their lusts, but they do not have a drop of love to God. If they loved God, would they be so willing to be rid of him? "They say unto God, Depart from us" (Job 21:14). If they loved God, would they tear his name by their oaths? Does he who shoots his father in the heart love him? Though they worship God, they do not love him; they are like the soldiers who "bowed the knee to Christ, and mocked him" (Mt 27:29). He whose heart is a grave in which the love of God is buried, deserves to have that curse written upon his tombstone, "Let him be Anathema Maranatha" (1 Cor 16:22). A soul devoid of divine love is a temple that best suits damned spirits.W