Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Vision (3/3/11): Watson on how to pay attention during a sermon: Consider "it may be the last sermon that ever we shall hear"

Image:  Worship at Hertford Town Church, UK.

I’m back in Thomas Watson, reading his book Heaven Taken by Storm (original 1669; Northampton Press, 2007). The book is a meditation on Matthew 11:12: “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Watson takes the verse to mean that the saints must “violently” (i.e., whole-heartedly or passionately) pursue spiritual disciplines and the ordinary means of grace in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.

One chapter is devoted to “Reading and Hearing the Word,” in which Watson offers this final motivation to spur the conscience to listen expectantly when the Word is preached:

It may be the last time that God will ever speak to us in his Word; it may be the last sermon that ever we shall hear; and we may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging. Did people think thus when they come into the house of God, “Perhaps this will be the last time that God will counsel us about our souls, the last time that ever we shall see our minister’s face,” with what devotion would they come! How would their affections be all on fire in hearing? We give great attention to the last speeches of friends. A parent’s dying words are received as oracles. Oh, let all this provoke us to diligence in hearing; let us think that this may be the last time that Aaron’s bell shall sounds in our ears and before another day, we shall be in another world (p. 21).

May we be hearers and doers of the Word!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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