The Watchman

The Watchman

There may be a mistaken tendency to think that it is only recently that the Gospel and those who uphold it are under attack. But this is a perennial problem as this piece by H.  Bonar attests. Here is an ode to those of you who defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, speaking the truth in love, strength, and courage, by His grace.

by Scottish pastor, Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Thy way, not mine, O Lord, however dark it be;

Lead me by Thine own hand, choose out the path for me.

…if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Ezekiel 33:6-7

“Some one, then, must undertake the ungracious task of probing and laying bare the evils of the age; for men must not be allowed to congratulate themselves that all is well. If others will not, He will.

If others shrink from the obloquy of such a work, he will not…. he loves his fellow-men too well. They may upbraid him; they may call him a misanthropist, or a prophet of evil; they may ascribe his warnings to the worst of motives, such as pride, or arrogance, or self-esteem, or malice, or envy; but he will give no heed to these unjust insinuations.

He will prefer being thus misunderstood and maligned, to allowing men to precipitate themselves upon a ruin which they see not. Rather than that they should perish, he will allow his own good name to be spoken against. He will risk every thing, even the hatred of brethren, rather than withhold the warning. If they give no heed to it, he has, at least, saved his own soul. If they do, he has saved both his own soul and theirs.

He would rather take up the glad tidings of peace, and tell men of Him who came the first time for shame and death, and who is coming the second time for glory and dominion; but he feels as one who has a special and personal message to deliver, which cannot be postponed.

He must remember that he is a watchman; and, having seen danger pressing on, he must not hesitate to make it known. He must speak his message of forewarning and rebuke, sparing no arrows, and neither smoothing down nor hiding any form of sin, but laying his finger upon every sore, and beseeching men to turn from their ungodliness. The evils around him press upon him sadly; the coming evils are foreshadowed upon his spirit, and, therefore, he lifts up his voice like a trumpet.

Satan has many snares which need to be detected; the world has many spells and lures which must be disenchanted; religion has many guises which must be unmasked, many devious paths of inconsistency which must be pointed out, many cherished errors which must be condemned, many carnal taints which must be abhorred and shunned. All these he must protest against without fear or favour.”

Smooth let it be or rough,

It will be still the best;

Winding or straight, it leads

Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;

I would not, if I might;

Choose Thou for me, my God,

So I shall walk aright.


  1. Soli deo gloria

    Welcome back Don.

    You have been saving up some good material for us!

    I read an interesting review of Ian Murrays book on Evangelicalism. It is sobering, and You reminded me of this in Bonars warning.

    There is a battle for the mind going on. It has entered the churches now, and I don’t hear many voices calling out ‘hang on a minute – is this really what scripture commands and requires from us’. I see fashions come and go, and like lemmings people follow after with little thought. People follow leading characters blindly. Even Paul didn’t have that luxury (the Bereans!) .

    I have always found history to be a good friend. It makes us wise, and shows us how to live. There is nothing new under the son, and the struggles of our brothers in centuries past, we find are strangely up to date.

    Thanks Don.

    • Don

      SDG, it’s good to be back – one can only take so much Canadian winter.

      Yes, I agree. My father used to encourage me to read John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards and others. However, it has only been recently that I have taken up his challenge.

      So often, their words, though couched in seventeenth century English, touch on subjects that still today are contemporary issue.

      We can learn so much from our faithful forefathers in Christ.

    We’re being lulled into sleep by a comforting, materialistic world. There are none of us half-awake. What we need are watchmen, men who stand and give the warning. You may or may not be awake very much, but to the extent you are awake, find someone less awake and warn them. It may be the saving of their soul and perhaps, might even be the saving of yours.

  2. Soli Deo Gloria

    So there seems to be three of us in agreement on the relevance of Bonar’s call to be Watchmen. Thats good. But its not good enough! What are we going to do with this responsibility (on the assumption that we are not interested for merely academic reasons……

    • Soli Deo Gloria

      I just had to share this ….

      One of Satan’s devices is to pour a cloud over God’s people and make them weary and suspicious of ‘negativity’. An article such as this one is likely to be viewed in this way. But we are robbed of the benefit God has given to us through his servant (and this servant can speak through his words, though long dead).

      When I think of how my days often pan out, there is the continual ruffling of circumstances and thoughts which draw me to the thought – I am missing out on this, or I am not getting what I am owed etc etc. The negativity of life is all around us, and Satan uses this to disturb Gods people. We concentrate on what we are losing out on. But God says ‘in everything give thanks – for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’! All the promises are ‘yea and amen’ in Christ, and He is ours. My point is that we should not allow Satan to rob us of the benefit of the things God has provided, by allowing him to drive us into a corner where we sulk with our thoughts and mope on what we are being denied. Thats the root of the first sin isn’t it: ‘has God said’?

      We are a very privileged people with a wonderful heritage. We are wiser than many others if we read and take heed to warnings, and then help others to understand the great wisdom that is stored up for us in the writings of godly men, long since gone to glory.

  3. Don

    Interesting segway, SDG. I actually didn’t think of this quote from Bonar as having a negative tone, but I suppose it can be viewed that way.

    You are so right. Satan would love to paint believers as being negative, judgemental and narrow. And I suppose the contemporary fear, even amongst God’s people, of being portrayed as politically incorrect, causes many to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.

    Those who fall prey to this will never be called “Watchmen”. I would rather face the rejection of man and hear from my Lord, “Well done”.

    “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19

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