The Duty Of Reformation In The Light Of God's Mercies by Thomas Gouge

The Duty Of Reformation In The Light Of God's Mercies
Joseph J. Adrian

How important is the holiness of His people to our Sovereign Lord? What are the most effectual means (revealing God's great wisdom) to bring about this desired end? Thomas Gouge, in this extraordinary work on Reformation, asserts that God's delivering mercies has this end in view——"The design of God in delivering a people from eminent dangers of ruin, is to oblige them to forsake all sinful and wicked practices." Believer's should increasingly desire to do God's will, to honor Him in all things, to intensely desire to live for His glory, to conform all of their ways to His holy word. This should especially be the case in the light of a great delivering mercy. Throughout God's Word His people are oftentimes seen to be hardhearted and rebellious (great affliction followed by great deliverance is a significant way that our Wise God softens the hard and rebellious hearts of His people). To continue in a path of sin and rebellion without repentance and reformation always leads to destruction. John Owen, in his masterful work "Sin And Temptation," highlights this essential aspect of sanctification—-the mortification of sin ("Be killing sin or sin will be killing you").

There is such a great contrast between God's ways and man's ways, as Isaiah 55:8 clearly states: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord." Here is a great example of how great the gap is between God's ways and man's ways: "Rough spirited men in reducing offenders, will use nothing but harsh severity . . . ." This is often how man deals with his fellow man, but God delights to show mercy and is longsuffering towards His people: "Among His blessed attributes, His grace is uppermost, and though He is equally just as good, yet He exercises His goodness more than His justice." Believers should seek to be more like their God than their fellow man in this regard. God brings great affliction, then follows it with great "Delivering Mercy" to make their path straight. What great mercy! This ought to reclaim the hardest heart. This is my desire O Lord, "Order my steps in thy Word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." If affliction and delivering mercy cause your heart to cry out and truly desire this, blessed are thou O man or woman.

All sin is evil——great evil——because it is high-handed rebellion against a Great God. However, there are degrees and aggravations of sin. Christians ought to be mindful of this. Here is a sobering observation from this godly servant of The Most High—-"Sinning after deliverance, is the most heinous sinning, it renders sin exceedingly great, to commit it after great mercies."

Thomas Gouge's application of "The Necessity of Reformation" in view of His great mercy is searching and powerful. He asks a number of poignant questions: "How can our hearts be so damnably obdurate, so insensibly hardened, as not to be melted by such a deliverance as this? Should we again return to our flesh pleasing security in sin,the fountain and spring of our greatest misery?"

This work on reformation by Pastor Thomas Gouge is flooded with light on how important the sanctification of God's people is to "The Living God" and the means "Our All Wise God" undertakes to bring this end—-He will have a holy people, devoted to Him, who are called by His name.