William Gadsby Sermons (Complete)

46 A Godly Man

“For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee at a time when thou mayest be found.”—Psalm 32:6

Let us inquire what constitutes a godly man; and, in order to clear the way for this, we will first notice a few things that men may possess, and yet not be godly. We live in a day when we are to have charity for every body and every thing but God and truth, and when we are to have none for them. Men are to be allowed to reject truth, and set up something or anything to oppose it, and we must have charity for them, but none for the truth itself; but this is not the charity of the gospel, for that rejoiceth in the truth.

I will then, be as charitable as I can—as I dare; but I firmly believe that by far the greatest part of professors are ungodly men. They may profess free will, or boast of free grace; they may strenuously maintain the truths of the gospel, in doctrine, and practise what the world calls piety, and yet have no vital religion—be ungodly men. A nominal knowledge of doctrines, however great that knowledge may be, will never constitute the possessor a godly person, nor prove that he is so. They are like the foolish virgins, who had lamps, and had trimmed them; but having no oil they soon went out. Arminians say they must have had oil, else they could not have gone out. Indeed! Well; the Word of God says, “they took no oil with them” (Matt. xxv. 3); and I had rather believe that than all the men in the world. But let us look at it. Is it not possible to take a lamp, trim it, put in the wick, &c., and make it look very nice, and yet have no oil; so that when the wick is lighted, it just makes a bit of a flash, and then goes out for want of oil? So it is with professors in general. They never had any oil; no divine life or unction of the Spirit; a mere external profession; not a particle of the grace of God. Their character is described in 2 Tim. iii. 1-8. A form of godliness, both in doctrine and practice, men may have, and at the same time deny the power thereof. I need not tell you who they are that “creep into houses,” &c. Some of you are well aware of some of that description, who are ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And nothing short of the same almighty power that built the world can accomplish it. God communicates to the soul what it never had before. The great Head of the church began his ministry with this solemn statement: “Ye must be born again.” This new birth is a heavenly one. Hence they are said to be born of God. With divine life and light he quickens the dead soul, and causeth it to feel and see what it never felt or saw before. He stamps his image on the heart, shines on it, and in God’s light it discovers to us the hideous image we wore before. We sicken at it, groan under it, and are led to cry vehemently for mercy. We are made partakers of the divine nature, of the communicable holiness of God; and when this change takes place, the man becomes a new creature. All hell can never make him what he was before; nor could all the angels in heaven have accomplished the change.

This change, that constitutes us godly, is made more blessedly manifest to us as God is pleased to shine on it and to bring this passage home to the heart: “Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Real godliness discovers to us our ungodliness; and we sink, and are a stench in our own nostrils, and feelingly cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” And when we are favoured with faith to view God’s loveliness, in the face of Jesus Christ, and, under the divine unction of the Spirit, feel our own interest in it and enjoy its soul transforming power (2 Cor. iii. 17,18, iv. 6), it wraps up our souls, and we are wrapped up in him. Whenever this takes place, the sinner becomes an envied man. The devil knows it, and will soon be up in arms against him. Perhaps some of you will say, I don’t see how the devil can know. Well; I’ll tell you. We read of the unclean spirit going out of a man, but, finding no rest, he goes back again, finds the house “empty, swept, and garnished.” It had no furniture in—no grace, no spiritual life, no vital faith, no love, nothing but an empty profession. But when God takes a sinner in hand, he does not give the devil an opportunity of going out, but he turns him out, delivereth the soul from the consumer, and sets up his own kingdom in the heart. Satan well knows the difference between going out and God turning him out. When he goes out, he can go in again when he pleases; but when he is turned out by a stronger than he, he is barred out; and when thus barred out, he will do all he can to plague and horrify the poor soul, but he cannot reign; he may tear and worry him, but he cannot devour him; for he cannot undo what God has done. The Spring-head of all vital godliness is the Lord Jesus Christ, all centers in, comes from, and leads to him. The godly man is made partaker of his communicable nature, and clothed in his righteousness, and thus stands complete in him.—1888.