Thomas Watson: The Necessity Of Meditation -- By: Jennifer C. Neimeyer

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:1 (Jan 2010)
Article: Thomas Watson: The Necessity Of Meditation
Author: Jennifer C. Neimeyer


Thomas Watson: The Necessity Of Meditation

Jennifer C. Neimeyer

In modern times, a Christian’s reference to his morning’s “meditation” would likely invoke for his hearers (both Christians and non-Christians alike!) images of Buddhist monks and transcendentalist “New Agers” humming with closed eyes and folded legs. They might assume he meant that he had spent time that morning completely emptying his mind, separating it from the world, and then attaching it to “the so-called Cosmic Mind.”1

While Scripture mentions meditation in various places, it depicts meditation in a manner vastly different from the above image. According to Psalm 1:2, the righteous man delights in God’s law, “and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”2 This meditation is active (“day and night”) and has content (“in his law”); it involves filling the mind, not passively emptying it. Joshua 1:8 calls God’s people to this active thinking: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Here, Joshua expands meditation from just thinking about the Word to include speaking it as well (“shall not depart out of thy mouth”). In addition, he relates the purpose of meditation, namely, obedience (“to do according to all that is written therein”).

Despite the teaching of these and other biblical passages on meditation, God’s people though the ages have regularly neglected and forgotten the practice. Three and a half centuries ago, Puritan author and pastor Thomas Watson recognized this lack, especially the dearth

of written material on meditation. He wrote in the “Dedicatory” of his manual on meditation, “There is little written (so farre as I know) upon this subject. Most Discourses of this nature digresse into ejaculations. I have with the help of God cut out my way thorough [sic] the rock, not finding any path that others had gone in before me; so that I have not offered that to you which cost me nothing....”3 Not only did Thomas Watson think the practice an important one to revive, but his writings even suggest that he saw meditation as the most important aspect of private Christian devotion. Support for such a claim is threefold. First and most significantly, Watson’s The Saints Delight, To Which is Annexed a Treatise of MeditationYou must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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