Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Wine Needs No Bush

When it comes to painting a picture with words, few Puritans can equal the skill of Thomas Watson. It is interesting to note the many ways he refers to wine in his word pictures. He speaks of the "wine of glory," the "wine of the gospel," and God's "promises dropped into the soul like wine."

I like this one from The Godly Man's Picture (as found inThe Sermons of Thomas Watson, p. 518):

A godly man doth not indulge himself in any sin. Though sin lives in him, yet he doth not live in sin. Every man that hath wine in him, is not in wine.

Jim West elaborates on one particular reference which is perhaps not so clear to 21st century readers in Drinking With Calvin and Luther, p. 71:

In a more obscure reference from The Godly Man's Picture, one of his most enduring works, Watson writes, "If there is wine in the house, the bush will be hung outside, and where there is a principle of godliness in the heart, it will vent itself at the lips; the bush will be hung up." The explanation for the figure is that in Watson's day, a bush was a branch of a tree that was hung out as a sign for a tavern. When the "bush custom" was eventually discontinued, Englishmen hung a coronated frame of wood as a tavern sign. The English thus coined a proverb: "Good wine needs no bush."

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