Heaven Taken by Storm
The Holy Violence a Christian is to Put Forth in the Pursuit
by: Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
The book is based on the text: "The
kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12)
Here are some excerpts for the Christian who has entered in at the "strait"
gate and has the inner witness of the Holy Spirit:
"This is the first thing in holy violence: resolution of will. I will
have heaven whatever it costs me, and this resolution must be made in the strength of Christ." (p. 9)
"We must offer
violence to heaven... striving [Luke 13:24], wrestling [Ephesians 6:12], running a race [1 Corinthians 9:24], fighting
[1 Timothy 6:12]" (p. 56, 57)
"We must offer violence to heaven in regard to the difficulty of the work:
taking a kingdom... Our own hearts oppose us... All the powers of hell oppose us... It is all uphill to heaven."
(p. 58, 59, 60)
"Is salvation-work so easy? Can a man be saved by a leap? Can he leap out of the devil's
arm into Abraham's bosom? Oh, no, there must be offering of violence. Some think free grace will save them;
but it must be in the use of means. 'Watch and pray.' Others say that the promises will bring them to
heaven, but the promises of the Word are not to be separated from the precepts. The promise tells of a crown, but the
precept says, 'So run' [1 Corinthians 9:24]. The promises are made to encourage faith, not to cherish sloth.
But others say 'Christ has died for sinners.' And so they leave Him to do all for them and they will do nothing.
Then the text would be out of date, and all the exhortations to striving and fighting the good fight of faith are in vain.
Our salvation cost Christ blood; it will cost us sweat." (p. 60)
"Satan will not endure an idle servant;
and do we think God will?... God puts no difference between these two slothful and wicked. [Matthew 25:26]"
"Men are violent in opposing good, and that in several ways. They offer violence to the Spirit of God.
The Spirit knocks at the door of sinners' hearts. He waits till his head is filled with dew, and his locks with
the drops of the night... Acts 7:51: 'Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost'... They offer violence
to conscience. Conscience is God's preacher in the bosom... when conscience cannot be permitted to speak, it will
write. It writes down men's sins; and when at death they shall be forced to read the handwriting... They offer
violence to God's image. The saints... are opposed and shot at... Men are violent in pursuing evil.
They are violent in their opinions... They are violent in their passions... They are violent for their lusts."
(p. 67, 68, 69)
"The pampering of the flesh is the quenching of God's Spirit" (p. 11)
is called cruxifiction in Galations 5:24, which is not done suddenly. Every day some limb of this 'body of death'
must drop off." (p. 12)
"Take heed of consulting with flesh and blood. It is as good to consult with
the devil as with the flesh. The flesh is a bosom traitor... The flesh is a sworn enemy to this holy violence."
(p. 119, 120)
"The motion of the soul to sin is natural, but its motion towards heaven is violent... because
it is against nature. So to lift up the heart to heaven in duty is done by violence and we must provoke ourselves to
it." (p. 14)
"The names given to prayer imply violence... wrestling, pouring out of the soul to God, effectual
fervent prayer..." (p. 22, 23)
"To meditate on worldly, secular things, even if it were all day, we can do without
any diversion; but to have our thoughts fixed on God, how hard to we find it?... The natural averseness from this duty shows
that we are to offer violence to ourselves in it." (p.28)
"Meditate on your evidences for heaven. What have you to show for heaven,
if you should die this night? Was your heart ever thoroughly convinced of sin? Did you ever see yourself as lost
without Christ? Conviction is the first step to conversion. Has God ever made you willing to take Christ upon
His own terms. Zechariah 6:13: 'He shall be a priest upon His throne.' Are you as willing that Christ
should be upon the throne of your heart to rule as well as a priest at the altar to intercede? Are you willing to renounce
those sins to which the bias of your heart naturally inclines?... Are you willing to take Christ for better and for
worse, to take Him with His cross, and to avouch Christ in the worst of times? Do you have the indwelling presence of
the Spirit? If you have, what has God's Spirit done in you? Has it made you of another spirit, to be meek,
merciful, and humble? Is it a transforming Spirit? Has it left the impress of holiness upon you? Beware
of false evidences. None are further from having the true pearl than they who content themselves with the counterfeit."
(p. 29, 30)
"We dream of an earthly eternity. Psalm 49:11: 'Their inward thought is that their houses shall
continue for ever'" (p. 30)
"Self-examination is setting up a court in conscience and keeping a register there,
so that, by strict scrutiny, a man may know how things stand between God and his own soul. Self-examination is a spiritual
inquisition, bringing one's self to trial. A good Christian begins, as it were, the Day of Judgment here in his
own soul... If we will not try ourselves God will try us... He will ask the same question as Christ, 'Whose is this
image and superscription?' And if we cannot show Him His own image, He will reject us." (p.36, 40)
"It is not
how much we do, but how much we love." (p. 81)
"If we use what violence we are able, God will help us. Philippians 2:13:
'It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do"... In all earthly races a man runs in his own strength; but
in the race to heaven we have the Spirit of God helping us. He not only gives us the crown when we have finished running,
but He gives us legs to run." (p. 96)
"Do we strive
with our hearts to get them into a holy frame? How did David awaken all the powers of his soul to serve God...
Do we set time apart to call ourselves to account, and to try our evidences for heaven? Psalm 77:6: 'My spirit
made diligent search.' Do we take our hearts as a watch all in pieces, to see what is amiss and to mend it?
Are we curiously inquisitive into the sate of our souls?... Do we offer violence in prayer? Is there fire in our sacrifice?...
Do we pray in the morning as if we were to die at night?... Do we thirst after the living God? Are our souls big with
holy desires?... Psalm 73:25: 'there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee'. Do we desire
as much to look like Christ as to live with Christ?... Can we deny our ease, our aims, our interest? Can we cross
our own will to fulfill God's? Can we behead our beloved sin?... Do we keep spiritual watch? Do we set spies
in every place, watching our thoughts, our eyes, our tongues?... Have we gotten above the world? Though we walk
on earth, do we trade in heaven?" (p. 80, 81, 82)
"A man will be violent for nothing but what he loves... If you would be violent
for heaven, be sure you make going to heaven your business... have heaven continually in your eye." (p. 123, 125)
with such as are violent" (p. 126)