A Godly Man is a Man Moved By Faith

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]), 28-29

As gold is the most precious among the metals, so is faith among the graces. Faith cuts us off from the wild olive of nature, and grafts us into Christ. Faith is the vital artery of the soul: "The just shall live by his faith" (Hab 2:4). Such as are destitute of faith may breathe, but they lack life. Faith enlivens the graces; not a grace stirs till faith sets it working. Faith is to the soul what the animal spirits are to the body, exciting lively activity in it. Faith excites repentance; it is like the fire to the still which makes it drop. When I believe God’s love to me, this makes me weep that I should sin against so good a God. Faith is the mother of hope; first we believe the promise, then we hope for it. Faith is the oil which feeds the lamp of hope. Faith and hope are two turtle-dove graces; take away one, and the other languishes. If the sinews are cut, the body is lame; if this sinew of faith is cut, hope is lame. Faith is the ground of patience; he who believes that God is his God, and that all providences work for his good, patiently yields himself to the will of God. Thus faith is a living principle.

And the life of a saint is nothing but a life of faith. His prayer is the breathing of faith (Jas 5:15). His obedience is the result of faith (Rom 16:26). A godly man by faith lives in Christ, as the beam lives in the sun: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20). A Christian by the power of faith sees above reason, trades above the moon (2 Cor 4:18). By faith his heart is finely quietened; he trusts himself and all his affairs to God (Ps 112:7). As in a time of war, men get into a garrison and trust themselves and their treasures there, so "the name of the Lord is a strong tower" (Prov 18:10), and a believer trusts all that ever he is worth in this garrison. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim 1:12). God trusted Paul with his gospel, and Paul trusted God with his soul.

Faith is a catholicon – a remedy against all troubles. It is a godly man’s sheet-anchor that he casts out into the sea of God’s mercy, and is kept from sinking in despair. "If only faith is firm, no ruin harms."


Let us test ourselves by this characteristic. Alas, how far from being godly are those who are destitute of faith! Such are altogether drowned in sense.…

Most men are spiritually purblind; they can only see just before them (2 Pet 1:9). I have read of a people in India who are born with one eye. Such are they who are born with the eye of reason, but lack the eye of faith, who because they do not see God with bodily eyes, do not believe in a god. They may as well not believe they have souls, because being spirits they cannot be seen.

Oh, where is he who lives in the heights, who has gone into the upper region and sees "things not seen" (Heb 11:27)? "If men lived by faith, would they use sinful means for a livelihood?" (Chrysostom). If there were faith, would there be so much fraud? If theirs were living faith, would men, like dead fish, swim downstream? In this age there is scarcely so much faith to be found among men as there is among the devils, "for they believe and tremble" (Jas 2:19). It was a grave and serious comment of Mr Greenham, that he feared not papism, but atheism would be England’s ruin. But I shall not expatiate, having written at greater length on this head in another discourse. W