WATTS, Dr. Isaac

CHAPTER VII DR. WATTS, THE BIBLE, AND ITS HISTORY

Dr. Watts was preeminently a Bible student; his every contribution, be it literary, poetical or philosophical, was based upon the Bible as he understood it. He knew its history and enjoyed its precepts. To him it possessed above all other works the most valuable knowledge. It was the department of most useful information and of intrinsic value, surpassing all other works of whatever name or claim. Dr. Watts further knew that the history of the Bible differed from the general histories written by men of the world. It was not a man-made or instituted work, to him it was the “Oracles of God,” and he recognized and respected it as such. He could trace in historical succession the narratives it contained in all their essential features.

The Old Testament, to his mind, was in perfect agreement with the Xew. He conceived it to be one book of many parts, one author with many writers ; to him it made plain the essential ele ments of the life of faith and set before his mind’s eye many precious examples ; hence he under stood the Pauline teaching “That whosoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.” The The Old Testament further presented with fault less accuracy many precious examples of faith; hence Enoch, Abraham and Moses were to him exhibits of the faithful to look forward to the “Coming One.” And the Xew Testament gave him a view by faith of salvation “made perfect” both in the miracles and triumphs of the Lord and the marvelous supernatural works wrought by the Apostles.

The Bible to Dr. Watts was the unquestioned authority in matters of Faith and Practice ; hence he shaped his life and lived accordingly, as wit nessed in his splendid heroic stand when he re sisted Voltaire and other noted infidels. His very apt quotation “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist.” Dr. Watts was not easily “moved away from the hope of the gospel.” He knew full well that the Bible was of prior origin to the rationalistic philosophy and the more dangerous sophistry of his day. He knew that its record ran back to the eventful epoch “whence the creation of the world.” He understood hu man history and the Bible covered to his mind all that needed to be known about the early per iods of the race. To him it was the authentic chronicles that admitted of the closest scrutiny and examination, and further gave the only cred itable record of the origin of man, his fall and redemption. Man in his relation to God and God in his relation to man ; his development and final issue. To Dr. Watts the Bible contained all that could be learned about the antidiluvian period and the intervening stretch of time to the days when Noah came from the Ark and a new society was formed. This surprisingly long but inter esting stretch of years is recorded in the sacred scriptures freed from the nauseating fables, silly legions, and cosmogonies, which are as confusing as they are unworthy of serious consideration with their intermingling of local traditional lore, the invention of a rattled brained sophistry, which in a word are so absolutely unreliable and want ing in all the essentials of authentic history. Yet men of the world-pattern type will advance the vain imaginations of some so-called ancient writer of the Orient to confute the unimpeached and unimpeachable “Word of God.”

Dr. Watts rejoiced in the conscious acceptance of the Biblical Narration, to him it gave a full and clear survey of all the events that took place from the morning of creation to the founding of the church in the city of Jerusalem.

Profane history to Dr. Watts was only a means to an end. He further knew that profane au thors have written more or less, in detail, and he regarded their efforts favorably as far as they went. But Dr. Watts in common with every scholar knew that the fullest and best historical authority was the Bible ; hence he relied upon the Biblical Narration. To him it supplied the facts and principles which constitute true history. He was not concerned about the so-called “impli cations.” He knew only too well what implica tion and suggestion had wrought to the literature for the so-called profane historic record.

Dr. Watts was gifted with a rare, penetrating, and discriminating discernment. His was an an alytical mind. He must have and demanded un questioned authority, no “Implication of the pro fane authors, hence his imperative demand. He would allow no “Stair-Bar” of human construc tion to obstruct or impede his confidence in the Biblical Narration. To him the Bible recorded all that was known, or to be known, in this world about the antediluvian period, and further to him it was essential that all profane history must square itself with the historic rendering of the Bible of the pre-Christian era. He knew that atheistic philosophy offered and advanced many plausible theories and excuses for their flagrant misconceptions and discrepancies ; but he re quired a “Thus saith the Lord.” Hence his liter ary productions are ever pronounced and em phatic. There is no uncertain note or tone in his writings or in his preaching. He had no use for the metaphysical, abstract, fictitious theories of men.

Dr. Watts was a good logician, which his con tributions evidenced. The book “Logic” showed a very clear conception of what logic is. He knew full well that all sound logic is reducible to sound sensible facts, and this is what the Bible taught him with forceful significance, and fur ther, lent character to his positive convictions which his poems express, and gave color to all he did in his ministry.

The worldly idea so predominant in his day that recommended Altrusim and its annexes, which insist that the individual should subordi nate his lower nature to his higher intellectual and moral being. Independent of the basic prin ciples presented in the gospel and by the further aid of the erroneous Platonic theory which they advanced under the guise of the doctrine of bi ological and moral faith, the Bible presents the true biology with faultness accuracy. To Dr. . Watts it was the visible organ of revelation given of God to man, to achieve His gracious beneficent purpose in the world and the instrument by which the Holy spirit enabled the believer to intelligently work for the evangelization of the race, through its testimony both historical and moral.

The origin and establishment on earth of the church of which Dr. Watts was such a valiant champion was presented in the Bible, and to him the church was a company, whose primary dis tinction was the possession of heaven-born life. Her existence and her edification in love, her tes timony and mission was clearly defined ; hence his preaching was in accord with the Apostolic presentation of the doctrine of “free and full sal vation” to “all, and upon all, who believed.” It was claimed, however, that in his doctrinal views Dr. Watts was all but a fatalist, because of his advocacy of the doctrine of election and reproba tion, that his sermons were noted for their vigor

ous presentations of the doctrine of eternal judg ment. It should be born in mind that Dr. Watts lived in the times of great indifference to the warnings of the gospel, and he doubtless felt the imperative necessity for presenting this “Phase of the Truth.” His loyalty to the Bible cannot be gainsaid; he knew the mysterious conflict, des cribed in the Pauline epistels “That the law in the members is warring against the law of the mind, ,, bringing the man into “captivity to the law of sin and death.” He could see the man, that is, the un saved man, “Dead in trespasses and sin,” dead, to God, “but alive to sin” ; and, further, the Bible taught that the law of God was originally written on “The fleshy tablets” of the “human heart,” as the law of man’s own nature, but this nature had been so awfully embruted by sin that the original God impressed nature because defaced by the “Fall.” This was the great truth, to his mind ; hence the warning note that sounds throughout his entire hymnology.

The “graven law upon stone” graven by the ringer of God, pointed to mankind at the fork roads of life, to repent, and return to his gracious God and Maker. The Bible thus contained the first table of the law which was not to stand, and gave clearly the view that the second table was to be a witness which would stand for the “Covenant of Grace” through, and by which, the sinner might be saved. This first covenant Dr. Watts knew came by Moses ; the second, “Grace and Truth,” came by Jesus Christ. The Bible revealed the plan to man in order for a right understand ing for his relation toward God and eternal things enabling the redeemed man in Christ to rejoice, because “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes free from the law of sin and death.” “And blessed be the name of our God” who so graciously provided for our weak

nesses and helplessness so richly during our earthly life. There is strength, mark you, for all who believe. “His strength is made perfect in weakness” for the natural man’s poor unwisdom. There is guidance for our ignorance, there is knowledge, and for our suffering there is glory. All of this was well understood by Dr. Watts, hence the “evangelistical note” of hope that runs through the entire length of his literary and poetical production, assuring mankind that “Jesus Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.”

This was the burden and ground of this sainted man’s love for the Bible which he ever labored for during his ministry ; hence his prayer “That the God of hope may fill you with all joy and peace in believing by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Amen. Amen.

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