Observe, our text does not say, “This man shall be blessed for his deed,” but “in his deed.” God hath ordained both the end and the means, and what God has joined together let no man put asunder. To slight the means of grace, and pay but little attention to our deportment among men, is a sad evidence that we are not looking into the perfect law of liberty; and to expect God to bless us for our well-doing, is equally as absurd and dishonourable. The blessing of God is connected with the obedience of faith.
But, with what shall “this man” be blessed? He shall be blessed with peace of conscience: “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them” (Ps 119:165); or, as it might be rendered, “they shall have no stumbling-block.” Christ, to them, is not a stone of stumbling, nor rock of offence, but he is in reality their peace, for he is the Prince of Peace, and of his peace there shall be no end. The law of liberty is called the gospel of peace (Rom 10:15; Eph 6:15); and just in proportion as the Holy Ghost leads the mind into the gospel, so will our peace abound; for out of Christ there is no peace to a poor sinner. But a substantial peace is a part of the legacy which Christ bequeathed to his saints: it is a peace which passeth all understanding, and is a blessing which the world can neither give nor take away. Peace with God, and peace of conscience, through the Lord Jesus Christ, will keep the mind calm in the greatest storm, and quiet the soul in the greatest difficulties and distresses. This caused the Psalmist to rejoice and say, “The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever. The Lord will give strength unto his people, the Lord will bless his people with peace.” (Ps 29:10-11)
Another part of this blessing is, they shall walk in the light of God’s countenance, in the clear sunshine of his divine favour; they shall hold holy converse with him as their God and Father, have sweet discoveries of his divine excellences, and trace his beauties with solemn pleasure. In his light they shall see light, and shall not be left to the conjectures of a depraved nature, to the blindness of a dark understanding, nor yet to the wisdom of the worldly wise, nor the fancies of a disordered brain, to form ideas of God and truth. No; faith discovers Jehovah in his own word, and that by the light of the Lord himself, which is the true light; for this man is brought to the light, that, on the one hand, his deeds may be reproved, and that, on the other, he may discover the beauties of, and delight in, the Lord: “But unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” (Mal 4:2) Hence, says David, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.” But with what are they blessed? “They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” (Ps 89:15-16)
Hence it appears that joy is another branch of this blessing. But in what shall they rejoice? In their own works? No, but in the name of the Lord: and well they may, for, his name is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and are safe. Yea, his name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love him. God is their all and in all, and they have both joy and peace in believing: they have the blessed soul-soothing oil of joy for mourning: a divine and holy unction from the Holy One, and this is the free gift of God.
Another part of this blessing is, they shall be exalted in God’s righteousness; for though their life may be considered a life of madness, and their end without honour, by the wise and prudent, yet shall they be exalted, but not by man, nor from man, but in God’s righteousness. And righteousness exalts any people; but what a divine exaltation must that man be blessed with, that is exalted in the unsullied righteousness of the eternal God! Great as this blessing is, the people that know the joyful sound, or look into the perfect law of liberty, and are doers of the work, are thus blessed; for “in thy righteousness shall they be exalted;” and this blessing they shall, in its measure, experience in the very work, as a foretaste of what is in reserve, and a sure earnest of the greatest glory God can show, and their immortal minds can enjoy. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and such souls are truly rich; for, they are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
Another part of this blessing is, that God is to them a refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble; so that they have no cause to fear, come what will. God’s grace is sufficient for them; and his strength is made perfect in their weakness; and all things must work together for their good. (See Hab 3:17,19) The promise of God to Abraham is, “In blessing, I will bless thee;” and the blessing of Abraham resteth upon all who believe. (Gal 3:14) In a word, they are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus; and God hath promised to supply all their needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus the Lord: but the enjoyment of these blessings is connected with faith in, and obedience to, Christ, their living Head; or, in other words, with looking into the perfect law of liberty, and continuing therein, not being forgetful hearers, but doers of the word.
It is folly to expect the enjoyment of these blessings while we can slight the ways of God. Christians are exhorted to be diligent and hope to the end; to watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation; to stand, and having done all, to stand; not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is, but, if they love Christ, to keep his commandments as a proof thereof: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” Such passages of sacred writ as these cannot be left on record as mere ciphers, or to answer no end but to puzzle and perplex the mind. No, beloved! they are the word of God, and are addressed to Christians, as means by which Jehovah is pleased to stir up our pure minds to activity in those ways in which he has designed to bless us. Let us not dare to call them legal, nor treat them with indifference, but esteem them as a part of the perfect law of liberty; and remember that, “the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Prov 13:4)
That God may enable us to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, and in all things show ourselves a pattern of good works; that we may live in the blessed enjoyment of the true liberty of the gospel; that we may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breath, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God; and that we may live not unto ourselves, but unto the Lord: May the Lord grant it, for the Redeemer’s sake. Amen and Amen.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist.