Lord's Day Liturgy

Against a Painted Happiness

We’ve chosen the next book for our Men to Men meetings, The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson. Watson was a Puritan, and a non-conformist, meaning that he refused to “conform” to the Church of England’s requirements. When the Act of Uniformity passed in 1662, Watson was take off the list of “approved” pastors. He continued to preach anyway—in homes, barns, and backwoods. As a group of men we’ve not read one of these Puritan paperbacks before, and our first discussion will be at the October meeting.

Not far into his subject, Watson points out the problems with “painted on” godliness. Though the title of his work is about a “picture,” the descriptions he gives are three-dimensional, of spiritual substance, not surface.

Watson laments beauty that is only paint-deep. “Will painted gold enrich a man? Will painted wine refresh him who is thirsty?” (17).

He who has only a painted holiness shall have a painted happiness. (17)

This is what we cannot be, as men, as Christians. If we are to be those who rejoice in their trials (James 1:2), if we are to be those who rejoice in their toil (Ecclesiastes 3:22; 5:19), then we must be those whose rejoicing wells from the heart-deeps. This also means that our confession of sin must do more than scratch and scrub at the surface. Strip off the layers and let godliness be like stain in the grain, not a veneer, a coat of gloss.

If we are to be godly, and have a godly gladness about us, then we must get all the way down to it, even from our knees.