The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 12
(... continued from file 11)

    How it will trouble you if you should perish to think you came 
short of heaven for want of a little more pains! The prophet Elisha 
bid the king of Israel smite the ground six times, and he smote but 
thrice, and stayed. 2 Kings 13:19. He lost many victories by it; so 
when a man shall think thus, I did something in religion, but did 
not do enough; I prayed, but it was coldly; I did not put coals to 
the incense; I heard the word, but did not meditate on it; I did not 
chew the cud; I smote but thrice, when I should have smote six 
times; had I taken a little more pains I had been happy, but I have 
lost the kingdom of heaven by short-shooting. The consideration, how 
terrible the thought will be of losing heaven for want of a little 
more pains, should be a means to spur on our sluggish hearts, and 
make us more diligent to get the kingdom. 
    (3) The third means for obtaining this kingdom is to keep up 
daily prayer. 'I give myself unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4. Prayer 
inflames the affections, and oils the wheels of endeavour; it 
prevails with God, unlocks his bowels, and then he unlocks heaven. 
All that have got to heaven have crept thither upon their knees. The 
saints now in heaven have been men of prayer. Daniel prayed three 
times a day, Jacob wrestled with God in prayer, and as a prince, 
prevailed. Prayer must be fervent, else it is thuribulum sine 
prunis, as Luther says, a golden censer without fire. O follow God 
with prayers and tears; say as Jacob to the angel, 'I will not let 
thee go, except thou bless me.' Gen 32: 26. Prayer vincit 
Invincibilem; as Luther says, it conquers the Omnipotent. Elijah by 
prayer opened heaven: by ardent and constant prayer heaven is opened 
to us. 
    (4) If you would obtain the heavenly kingdom, get a love to 
heaven. Love puts a man upon the use of all means to enjoy the thing 
loved. He who loves the world, how active is he! He will break his 
sleep and peace for it. He that loves honour, what hazards will he 
run! He will swim to the throne in blood. Jacob loved Rachel, and 
what would he not do, though it were serving two seven-years' 
apprenticeships for obtaining her! Love carries a man out violently 
to the object loved. Love like wings to the bird, like sails to the 
ship, carries a Christian full sail to heaven. Heaven is a place of 
rest and joy, it is paradise, and will you not love it? Love heaven, 
and you cannot miss it. Love breaks through all opposition; it takes 
heaven by storm. Though it labour, it is never weary. It is like the 
rod of myrtle in the traveller's hand, which makes him fresh and 
lively in his travel, and keeps him from being weary. 
    (5) If you would obtain the kingdom of heaven, make religion 
your business. What a man looks upon as a parergon, a thing by the 
by, he does not much mind. If ever we would have heaven, we must 
look upon it as our main concern; other things do but concern our 
livelihood, this concerns our salvation. We make religion our 
business when we wholly devote ourselves to God's service. Psa 139: 
18. We count those the best hours which are spent with God; we give 
God the cream of our affections, the flower of our time and 
strength; we traffic in heaven every day, we are merchants for the 
'pearl of price.' He will not get an estate who does not mind his 
trade; he will never get heaven who does not make religion his main 
    (6) If you would obtain the kingdom of heaven, bind your hearts 
to God by sacred vows. Vow to the Lord that, by his grace, you will 
be more intent upon heaven than ever. 'Thy vows are upon me, O God.' 
Psa 56: 12. A vow binds the votary to duty; he looks upon himself as 
obliged by his vow to cleave to God. When bees fly in a great wind, 
they ballast themselves with little stones, that they may not be 
carried away; so we must fortify ourselves with strong vows, that we 
may not be carried away from God with the violent wind of 
temptation. No question, a Christian may make such a vow, because 
the ground of it is morally good, he vows nothing but what he is 
bound to do by virtue of his baptismal vow, namely, to walk with God 
more closely, and to pursue heaven more vigorously. 
    (7) If you would obtain the kingdom, embrace all seasons and 
opportunities for your soul's welfare. 'Redeeming the time.' Eph 5: 
16. Opportunity is the cream of time; improving seasons of grace is 
as much as our salvation is worth. The mariner, by taking the 
present season while the wind blows, gets to the haven; by taking 
the season, while we have the means of grace, and the wind of the 
Spirit blows, we may arrive at the kingdom of heaven. We know not 
how long we shall enjoy the gospel. The seasons of grace, like 
Noah's dove, come with an olive branch in their mouth, but they soon 
take wings and fly. Though they are sweet, yet they are swift. God 
may remove the golden candlestick from us, as he did from the 
churches of Asia. We have many sad symptoms, 'Grey hairs are here 
and there upon him.' Hos 7: 9. Therefore let us lay hold upon the 
present seasons. They that sleep in seedtime, will beg in harvest. 
    (8) If you would go to the kingdom of heaven, you must excubias 
agere, keep a daily watch. 'I say unto all, watch.' Mark 13: 37. 
Many have lost heaven for want of watchfulness. Our hearts are ready 
to decoy us into sin, and the devil lies in ambush by his 
temptations; we must every day set a spy, and keep sentinel in our 
souls. 'I will stand upon my watch.' Hab 2: 1. 
    We must watch our eye. 'I made a covenant with mine eyes.' Job 
31: 1. Much sin comes in by the eye. When Eve saw the tree was good 
for food, and pleasant to the eyes, then she took. Gen 3: 6. First 
she looked, and then she lusted; the eye, by beholding an impure 
object, sets the heart on fire; the devil often creeps in at the 
window of the eye. Watch your eyes. 
    Watch your ear. Much poison is conveyed through the ear. Let 
your ear be open to God, and shut to sin. 
    Watch your hearts. We watch suspicious persons. 'The heart is 
deceitful.' Jer 17: 9. Watch your heart, [1] When you are about holy 
things, it will be stealing out to vanity. When I am at prayer, says 
Jerome, aut per porticum deambulo aut de foenore computo; either I 
am walking through galleries or casting up accounts. [2] Watch your 
hearts when you are in company. The basilisk poisons the herbs he 
breathes on; so the breath of the wicked is infectious. Nay, watch 
your hearts when you are in good company. Such as have some good in 
them may be some grains too light, and have much levity of 
discourse; so that, if no scum boils up, yet there may be too much 
froth. The devil is subtle, and he can as well creep into the dove 
as he did once into the serpent. Satan tempted Christ by an apostle. 
[3] Watch your hearts in prosperity. Now you are in danger of pride. 
The higher the water of the Themes rises, the higher the boat is 
lifted up: the higher men's estates rise, the higher their hearts 
are lifted up in pride. In prosperity, you are in danger not only to 
forget God, but to lift up the heel against him. 'Jeshurun waxed 
fat, and kicked.' Deut 32: 15. It is hard to carry a full cup 
without spilling, and to carry a full, prosperous estate without 
sinning. Turpi fregerunt saecula luxu divitiae molles [Soft riches 
have ruined the age by disgraceful luxury]. Seneca. As Samson fell 
asleep in Delilah's lap, so many have fallen so fast asleep in the 
lap of prosperity, that they have never awaked till they have been 
in hell. [4] Watch your hearts after holy duties. When Christ had 
been praying and fasting, the devil tempted him. Matt 4: 3. After 
combating with Satan in prayer, we are apt to grow secure and put 
our spiritual armour off, and then the devil falls on and wounds us. 
Oh, if you would get to heaven, be always upon your watch-tower, set 
a spy, keep close sentinel in your souls. Who would not watch when 
it is for a kingdom! 
    (9) If you would arrive at the heavenly kingdom, get these 
three graces, which will undoubtedly bring your thither. 
    [1] Divine knowledge. There is no going to heaven blindfold. In 
the creation, light was the first thing that was made; so it is in 
the new creation. Knowledge is the pillar of fire that goes before 
us, and lights us into the heavenly kingdom. It is light that must 
bring us to the 'inheritance in light.' Col 1: 12. 
    [2] Faith. Faith ends in salvation. 'Receiving the end of your 
faith, salvation.' I Pet 1: 9. He who believes, is as sure to go to 
heaven as if he were in heaven already. Acts 16: 31. Faith touches 
Christ; and can he miss of heaven who touches Christ? Faith unites 
to Christ; and shall not the members be where the head is? All have 
not the same degree of faith; we must distinguish between the direct 
act of faith and the reflex act of affiance and assurance; yet the 
least seed and spark of faith gives an undoubted title to the 
heavenly kingdom. I am justified because I believe, not because I 
know I believe. 
    [3] Love to God. Heaven is prepared for those that love God. I 
Cor 2: 9. Love is the soul of obedience, the touchstone of 
sincerity; by our loving God, we may know he loves us. I John 4: 19. 
And those whom God loves, he will lay in his bosom. Ambrose, in his 
funeral oration for Theodosius, brings in the angels hovering about 
his departing soul, and ready to carry it to heaven, who ask him, 
'What that grace was he had practised most on earth?' Theodosius 
replied, Dilexi, Dilexi, 'I have loved, I have loved,' and 
straightway, by a convoy of angels, he was translated to glory. Love 
is a sacred fire kindled in the breast; in the flames of which the 
devout soul ascends to heaven. 
    (10) If we would obtain this heavenly kingdom, let us labour 
for sincerity. 'Whoso walketh uprightly, shall be saved.' Prov 28: 
18. The sincere Christian may fall short of some degrees of grace, 
but he never falls short of the kingdom. God will pass by many 
failings where the heart is right. Numb 23: 21. True gold, though it 
be light, has grains of alloy. 'Thou desires truth in the inward 
parts.' Psa 51: 6. Sincerity is the sauce which seasons all our 
actions, and makes them savoury; it is an ingredient in every grace; 
it is called 'unfeigned faith,' and 'love in sincerity.' 2 Tim 1: 5; 
Eph 6: 24. Coin will not go current that wants the king's stamp; and 
grace is not current if it be not stamped with sincerity. Glorious 
duties soured with hypocrisy are rejected, when great infirmities 
sweetened with sincerity are accepted. If any thing in the world 
will bring us to heaven, it is sincerity. Sincerity signifies 
plainness of heart. 'In whose spirit there is no guile,' Psa 32: 2. 
The plainer the diamond is, the richer. 
    Sincerity is when we serve God with our heart; when we do not 
worship him only, but love him. Cain brought his sacrifice, but not 
his heart. God's delight is a sacrifice flaming upon the altar of 
the heart. A sincere Christian, though he has a double principle in 
him, flesh and spirit, has not a double heart, his heart is for God. 
    Sincerity is when we aim purely at God in all we do. The glory 
of God is more worth than the salvation of all men's souls. Though a 
sincere Christian comes short in duty, he takes a right aim. As the 
herb, heliotropium, turns about according to the motion of the sun, 
so a godly man's actions all move towards the glory of God. 
    (11) If we would obtain the heavenly kingdom, let us keep up 
fervency in duty. What is a dead form without the power? 'Because 
thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of 
my mouth.' Rev 3: 16. Fervency puts life into duty. 'Fervent in 
spirit, serving God;' Gr. Zeontes, 'boiling over.' Rom 12: 11. 
Christ prayed 'more earnestly.' Luke 22: 44. When the fire on the 
golden censor was ready to go out, Aaron was to put more coals to 
the incense; so praying with devotion is putting more coals to the 
incense. It is not formality, but fervency, that will bring us to 
heaven. The formalist is like Ephraim, a cake not turned, hot on one 
side, and dough on the other. In the external] part of God's 
worship, he seems to be hot; but as for the spiritual part of God's 
worship, he is cold. Oh! if you would have the kingdom of heaven, 
keep up heart and fervour in duty. Elijah was carried up to heaven 
in a fiery chariot: if you would go to heaven, you must be carried 
thither in the fiery chariot of zeal. It is violence that takes the 
kingdom of heaven. 
    (12) If we would arrive at the heavenly kingdom, let us cherish 
the motions of God's Spirit in our hearts. The mariner may spread 
his sails, but the ship cannot get to the haven without a gale of 
wind; so we may spread the sails of our endeavour, but we cannot get 
to the haven of glory without the north and south wind of God's 
Spirit. How nearly therefore does it concern us to make much of the 
motions of the Spirit - motions to prayer, motions to repentance. 
'When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry 
trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself, for then shall the Lord go 
out before thee.' 2 Sam 5: 24. So, when we hear a voice within us, a 
secret inspiration stirring us up to good duties, we should bestir 
ourselves. While the Spirit works in us, we should work with the 
Spirit. Many men have God's Spirit striving with them, he puts good 
motions in their hearts and holy purposes; but they neglect to 
prosecute these good motions, and the Spirit is grieved, and, being 
grieved, withdraws his assistance, and that assistance being gone, 
there is no getting to heaven. Oh! make much of the motion of the 
Spirit; it is as much as your salvation is worth. The Spirit of God 
is compared to fire. Acts 2: 3. If we are careful to blow the spark, 
we may have fire to inflame our affections, and to light our feet 
into the way of peace. If we quench the Spirit by neglecting and 
resisting its motions, we cut ourselves off from salvation. The 
Spirit of God has a drawing power. Cant 1: 4. The blessed Spirit 
draws by attraction, as the loadstone the iron. In the preaching of 
the word, the Spirit draws the heart up to heaven in holy longings 
and ejaculations. Now, when the Spirit is about thus to draw us, let 
us take heed of drawing back, lest it be to perdition. Heb 10: 39. 
Do as Noah, who, when the dove came flying to the ark, put forth his 
hand, and took it into the ark; so when the sweet dove of God's 
Spirit comes flying to your hearts, and brings a gracious impulse as 
an olive-branch of peace in its mouth, O take this dove into the 
ark; entertain the Spirit in your hearts, and it will bring you to 
    How shall we know the motions of the Spirit from a delusion? 
    The motions of the Spirit are always agreeable to the word. If 
the word be for holiness, so is the Spirit. The Spirit persuades to 
nothing but what the word directs. Which way the tide of the word 
runs, that way the wind of the Spirit blows. 
    (13) We obtain the kingdom of heaven by uniform and cheerful 
obedience. Obedience is the road through which we travel to heaven. 
Many say they love God, but refuse to obey him. Does he love the 
prince's person who slights his commands? 
    Obedience must be uniform. 'Then shall I not be ashamed' (Heb. 
I shall not blush) 'when I have respect unto all thy commandments.' 
Psa 119: 6. As the sun goes through all the signs of the zodiac, so 
we must go through all the duties of religion. If a man has to go a 
hundred miles, and he goes ninety nine, and there stops, he comes 
short of the place he is to travel to. If, with Herod, we do many 
things that God commands, yet, if we die in the total neglect of any 
duty, we come short of the kingdom of heaven. For instance, if a man 
seem to make conscience of duties of the first table, and not the 
duties of the second; if he seem to be religious, but is not just, 
he is a transgressor, and is in danger of losing heaven. As the 
needle which points the way which the loadstone draws, so a good 
heart moves the way which the word draws. 
    Obedience must be cheerful. 'I delight to do thy will, O my 
God, yea, thy law is within my heart.' Psa 40: 8. That is the 
sweetest obedience which is cheerful, as that is the sweetest honey 
which drops from the comb freely. God sometimes accepts willingness 
without the work, but never of the work without willingness. 'There 
came out two women, and the wind was in their wings.' Zech 5: 9. 
Wings are swift, but wind in the wings denotes great swiftness; and 
is an emblem of the swiftness and cheerfulness which should be in 
obedience. We go to heaven in the way of obedience 
    (14) If we would obtain this kingdom we must be much in the 
communion of saints. One coal of juniper will warm and inflame 
another; so, when the heart is dead and frozen, the communion of 
saints will help to warm it. 'They that feared the Lord spake often 
one to another.' Mal 3: 16. 'Christians should never meet,' says Mr 
Boston, 'without speaking of their meeting together in heaven.' One 
Christian may be very helpful by prayer and conference to another, 
and give him a lift towards heaven. Old Latimer was much 
strengthened and comforted by hearing Mr Bilney's confession of 
faith. We read that when Moses' hands were heavy, and he was ready 
to let them fall, Aaron and Hur stayed them up. Exod 17: 12. A 
Christian who is ready to faint under temptation, and lets down the 
hands of his faith, by conversing with other Christians is 
strengthened, and his hands are held up. A great benefit of holy 
conference is counsel and advice. 'If a man,' says Chrysostom, 'who 
has but one head to advise him, could make that head a hundred, he 
would be very wise; but a single Christian has this benefit by the 
communion of saints, that they are as so many heads to advise him 
what to do in such a case or exigency.' By Christian conference the 
saints can say, 'Did not our hearts burn within us?' Communion of 
saints we have in our creed, but it is too little in our practice. 
Men usually travel fastest in company; so we travel fastest to 
heaven in the communion of saints. 
    (15) If we would attain to this kingdom of heaven, let us be 
willing to come up to Christ's terms. Many will cheapen, and bid 
something for the kingdom of heaven; they will avoid gross sin, and 
will come to church, and say their prayers; and yet all this while 
they are not willing to come up to God's price, that is, they will 
not resist the idol of self-righteousness, flying only to Christ as 
the horns of the altar; they will not sacrifice their bosom-sin; 
they will not give God spirit-worship, serving him with zeal and 
intenseness of soul. John 4: 24. They will not forgive their 
enemies; they will not part with their carnal profits for Christ; 
they would have the kingdom of heaven, but they will not come up to 
the price. If you would have this kingdom, do not article and 
bargain with Christ, but accept of his terms; say, 'Lord, I am 
willing to have the kingdom of heaven, whatever it cost me; I am 
willing to pluck out my right eye, to part with all for the kingdom; 
here is a blank paper I put into thy hand, Lord, write thy own 
articles, I will subscribe to them.' 
    (16) If we would obtain the heavenly kingdom, let us attend to 
the holy ordinances, by which God brings souls to heaven. 'Except 
these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.' Acts 27: 31. Some 
people would leap out of the ship of ordinances, and then God knows 
whither they leap; but except ye abide in the ship of ordinances, ye 
cannot be saved. Especially, if you would get to heaven, attend to 
the word preached. It was by the ear, by our first parents listening 
to the serpent, that we lost paradise; and it is by the ear, by 
hearing of the word, that we get to heaven. 'Hear, and your soul 
shall live.' Isa 55: 3. God sometimes in the preaching of the word 
drops the holy oil into the ear, which softens and sanctifies the 
heart. The word preached is called the 'ministration of the Spirit,' 
because the Spirit of God makes use of the engine to convert souls. 
2 Cor 3: 8. If the word preached does not work upon men, nothing 
will; not judgement, nor miracles; no, not though one should rise 
from the dead. Luke 16: 31. If a glorified saint should come out of 
heaven, and assume a body, and tell you of all the glory of heaven, 
and the joys of the blessed, and persuade you to believe; if the 
preaching of the word will not bring you to heaven, neither would 
his rhetoric do it who rose from the dead. In heaven there will be 
no need of ordinances, but while we live here there is. The lamp 
needs oil, but the star needs none. While the saints have their lamp 
of grace burning here, they need the oil of ordinances to be 
continually dropping upon them; but there will be no need of this 
oil when they are stars in heaven. If you intend to get to heaven, 
be swift to hear: for faith comes by hearing. Rom 10:14, 17. Peter 
let down the net of his ministry, and at one draught caught three 
thousand souls. If you would have heaven's door opened to you, wait 
at the posts of wisdom's door. 
    (17) If you would arrive at heaven, have this kingdom ever in 
your eye. Our blessed Lord looked at the joy that was set before 
him; and Moses had an 'eye to the recompence of the reward.' Heb 11: 
26. Let the kingdom be much in your thoughts; meditation is the 
means to help us to heaven. 
    How does it help? 
    As it is a means to prevent sin. No sword like this to cut 
asunder the sinews of temptation. It is almost impossible to sin 
presumptuously with lively thoughts and hopes of heaven. It was when 
Moses was out of sight that Israel set up a calf, and worshipped it; 
so when the kingdom of heaven is out of sight, out of men's 
thoughts, they set up their lusts and idolise them. The meditation 
of heaven banishes sin; he who thinks of the weight of glory, throws 
away the weight of sin. 
    To meditate on the kingdom of heaven would excite and quicken 
obedience. We should think we could never pray enough, never love 
God enough, who has prepared such a kingdom for us. Immensum gloria 
calcar habet [Glory possesses an immeasurable stimulus]. Paul had 
heaven in his eye, he was once caught up thither; and how active was 
he for God! I Cor 16: 10. This oils the wheels of obedience. 
    It would make us strive after holiness, because none but such 
are admitted into this kingdom; only the pure in heart shall see 
God. Matt 5: 8. Holiness is the language of heaven, it is the only 
coin that will pass current there. This consideration should make us 
'cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, 
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.' 2 Cor 7: 1. 
    (18) The last means for obtaining the heavenly kingdom is 
perseverance in holiness. 'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will 
give thee a crown of life.' Rev 2: 10. In Christians non initia set 
fines laudantur [it is not the beginning but the end which wins 
praise]. Jerome. 
    Is there such a thing as persevering till we come to heaven? 
    That any one holds out to the kingdom, is a wonder, if you 
consider, (1) What a world of corruption is mingled with grace. 
Grace is apt to be stifled, as the coal to be choked with its own 
ashes. Like a spark in the sea, it is a wonder it is not quenched. 
It is a wonder that sin does not overlay grace, as the nurse 
sometimes does the child, that it dies. 
    (2) The implacable malice of Satan. He envies that we should 
have a kingdom, when he himself is cast out. It cuts him to the 
heart to see a piece of dust and clay made a bright star in glory, 
and he himself an angel of darkness. He will Acheronta movere, move 
all the powers of hell to hinder us from the kingdom; he spits his 
venom, shoots his fiery darts, raises a storm of persecution; yea, 
and prevails against some. 'There appeared a great red dragon, and 
his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast 
them to the earth.' Rev 12: 3, 4. By the red dragon is meant the 
heathenish empire; now, when his tail cast so many to the earth, it 
is a wonder that any of the stars keep fixed in their orb. 
    (3) The blandishments of riches. The young man in the gospel 
went very far, but he had rich possessions, and these golden weights 
hindered him from the kingdom. Luke 18: 23. Jonathan pursued the 
battle till he came at the honeycomb, and then he stood still. I Sam 
14: 27. Many are forward for heaven, till they taste the sweetness 
of the world; but when they come at the honeycomb, they stand still, 
and go no further. Faenus pecuniae funus animae [The gain of money 
is the ruin of the soul]. Those who have escaped the rocks of gross 
sins, have been cast away upon the golden sands. What a wonder 
therefore that any holds on till he come to the kingdom! 
    (4) It is a wonder that any hold out in grace, and do not tire 
in their march to heaven, if you consider the difficulty of the 
Christian's work. He has no time to lie fallow, he is either 
watching or fighting; nay, he is to do those duties which to the eye 
of sense and reason seem inconsistent. While he does one duty, he 
seems to cross another. He must come with holy boldness to God in 
prayer, yet must serve him with fear; he must mourn for sin, yet 
rejoice; he must be contented, yet covet (I Cor 12: 31); condemn 
men's impieties, and yet reverence their authority. What difficult 
work is this! It is a wonder that any saint arrives at the heavenly 
kingdom. To this I might add, the evil examples abroad, which are so 
attractive, that we may say the devils are come among us in the 
likeness of men. What a wonder is it that any soul perseveres till 
he come to the kingdom of heaven! But great as the wonder is, there 
is such a thing as perseverance. A saint's perseverance is built 
upon three immutable pillars. 
    Upon God's eternal love. We are inconstant in our love to God; 
but he is not so in his love to us. 'I have loved thee with an 
everlasting love;' with a love of eternity. Jer 31: 3. God's love to 
the elect is not like a king's love to his favourite, which when it 
is at the highest spring-tide, soonest ebbs; but God's love is 
eternized. He may desert, not disinherit; he may change his love 
into a frown, not into hatred; he may alter his providence, not his 
decree. When once the sunshine of God's electing love is risen upon 
the soul, it never sets finally. 
    A saint's perseverance is built upon the covenant of grace. It 
is a firm, impregnable covenant; as you read in the words of the 
sweet singer of Israel. 'God has made with me an everlasting 
covenant, ordered in all things and sure.' 2 Sam 23: 5. It is a 
sweet covenant, that God will be our God; the marrow and 
quintessence of all blessing; and it is a sure covenant, that he 
will put his fear in our heart, and we shall never depart from him. 
Jer 32: 40. This covenant is inviolable, it cannot be broken; 
indeed, sin may break the peace of the covenant, but it cannot break 
the bond of the covenant. 
    The third pillar upon which perseverance is built is the mystic 
union. Believers are incorporated into Christ, they are knit to him 
as members to the head, by the nerve and ligament of faith, so that 
they cannot be broken off. Eph 5: 23. What was once said of Christ's 
natural body is as true of his mystic body. 'A bone of him shall not 
be broken.' John 19: 36. As it is impossible to sever the leaven and 
the dough when they are once mingled, so it is impossible when 
Christ and believers are once united, ever by the power of death or 
hell to be separated. How can Christ lose any member of his body and 
be perfect? You see upon what strong pillars the saints' 
perseverance is built. 
    How does a Christians hold on till he comes to the kingdom? How 
does he persevere? 
    (1) Auxilio Spiritus [By the help of the Spirit]. God carries 
on a Christian to perseverance by the energy and vigorous working of 
his Spirit. The Spirit maintains the essence and seed of grace; it 
blows up the sparks of grace into a holy flame. Spiritus est 
Vicarius Christi [The Spirit is the Vicar of Christ]. Tertullian. It 
is Christ's deputy and proxy; it is every day at work in a 
believer's heart, exerting grace into exercise, and ripening it into 
perseverance. The Spirit carves and polishes the vessels of mercy, 
and makes them fit for glory. 
    (2) Christ causes perseverance, and carries on a saint till he 
comes to the heavenly kingdom, vi orationis, by his intercession. He 
is an advocate as well as a surety; he prays that the saints may 
arrive safe at the kingdom. 'Wherefore he is able to save them to 
the uttermost (i.e. perfectly), seeing he ever liveth to make 
intercession for them.' Heb 7: 25. That prayer he made for Peter on 
earth, he prays now in heaven for the saints, that their faith fail 
not, and that they may be with him where he is. Luke 22: 32. John 
17: 24. And surely if he pray that they may be with him in his 
kingdom, they cannot perish by the way. Christ's prayer is 
efficacious. If the saints' prayers have so much force and 
prevalence in them, as Jacob, who had power with God, and as a 
prince prevailed, and Elijah by prayer unlocked heaven; if the 
prayers of the saints have so much power with God, what has Christ's 
prayer? How can the children of such prayers miscarry? How can they 
fall short of the kingdom who have him praying for them, who is not 
only a Priest, but a Son? Besides, what he prays for as he is man, 
he has power to give as he is God. 
    But methinks I hear some Christian say, if only perseverance 
obtains the kingdom, they fear they shall not come thither; they 
fear they shall faint by the way, and the weak legs of their grace 
will never carry them to the kingdom of heaven. 
    Wert thou indeed to stand in thy own strength, thou mightest 
fall away. The branch withers and dies that has no root to grow 
upon. Thou growest upon the root Christ, who will be daily sending 
forth vital influence to strengthen thee; though thou art imbecile 
and weak in grace, yet fear not falling short of heaven: For, 
    (1) God has made a promise to weak believers. What is a bruised 
reed but an emblem of a weak faith? yet it has a promise made to it. 
'A bruised reed shall he not break.' Matt 12: 20. God has promised 
to supply the weak Christian with as much grace as he shall need, 
until he comes to heaven. Beside the two pence which the good 
Samaritan left to pay for the cure of the poor wounded man, he 
passed his word for all that he should need beside. Luke 10: 35. So, 
Christ does not only give a little grace in hand, but his bond for 
more, that he will give as much grace as a saint should need till he 
comes to heaven. 'The Lord will give grace and glory:' that is, a 
fresh supply of grace, till we be perfected in glory. Psa 84: 11: 
    (2) God has most care of his weak saints, who fear they shall 
never hold out till they come to the kingdom. Does not the mother 
tend the weak child most? 'He shall gather the lambs with his arm, 
and carry them in his bosom.' Isa 40: 11. If thou thinkest that thou 
art so weak that thou shalt never hold out till thou comest to 
heaven, thou shalt be carried in the arms of the Almighty. He 
gathers the lambs in his arms. Christ, the Lion of the tribe of 
Judah, marches before his people, and his power is their rereward, 
so that none of them faint or die in their march to heaven. 
    What are the encouragements to make Christians hold on till 
they come to the kingdom of heaven? 
    (1) It is a great credit to a Christian, not only to hold forth 
the truth, but to hold fast the truth till he comes to heaven. When 
grace flourishes into perseverance, and with the church of Thyatira, 
our last works are more than our first, it is insigne honouris, a 
star of honour. Rev 2: 1. It is matter of renown to see grey hairs 
shine with golden virtues. The excellency of a thing lies in the 
finishing of it. Where is the excellence of a building? Not when the 
first stone is laid, but when it is finished. So the beauty and 
excellence of a Christian is, when he has finished his faith, having 
done his work, and is landed safe in heaven. 
    (2) You that have made a progress in religion, have not many 
miles to go before you come at the kingdom of heaven. 'Now is our 
salvation nearer than when we believed.' Rom 13: 11. You who have 
hoary hairs, your green tree is turned into an almond tree; you are 
near to heaven, it is but going a little further and you will set 
your feet within heaven's gates. Oh! therefore now be encouraged to 
hold out, your salvation is nearer than when you first began to 
believe. Our diligence should be greater when our salvation is 
nearer. When a man is almost at the end of the race, will he now 
tire and faint? Will he not put forth all his strength, and strain 
every limb, that he may lay hold upon the prize? Our salvation is 
now nearer; the kingdom is as it were within sight; how should we 
now put forth all our strength, that we may lay hold upon the 
garland of glory! Doctor Taylor, when going to his martyrdom, said, 
'I have but two stiles to go over, and I shall be at my Father's 
house.' Though the way to heaven be up-hill, you must climb the 
steep rock of mortification; and though there be thorns in the way, 
you have gone the greatest part of it, and are within a few days' 
march of the kingdom, and will not you persevere? Christian, pluck 
up thy courage, fight the good fight of faith, pursue holiness. Ere 
long you will put off your armour, and end all your weary marches, 
and receive a victorious crown; your salvation is nearer, you are 
within a little of the kingdom, therefore now persevere, you are 
ready to commence and take your degree of glory. 
    (3) The blessed promise annexed to perseverance is an 
encouragement. The promise is a crown of life. Rev 2: 10. Death is a 
worm that feeds in the crowns of princes, but behold here a living 
crown, and a never-fading crown. I Pet 5: 4. 'He that overcometh, 
and keepeth my works to the end, I will give him stellam matutinam, 
the morning-star.' Rev 2: 28. The morning-star is brighter than the 
rest. This morning-star is meant of Christ; as if Christ had said, I 
will give to him that perseveres some of my beauty; I will put some 
of my illustrious rays upon him; he shall have the next degree of 
glory to me, as the morning-star is next the sun. Will not this 
animate and make us hold out? We shall have a kingdom, and that 
which is better than a kingdom, a bright morning-star. 
    What are the means which conduce to perseverance, or, what 
shall we do that we may hold out to the kingdom? 
    (1) Take up religion upon good grounds, not in a fit or humour, 
or out of worldly design; but be deliberate, weigh things well in 
the balance. 'Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not 
down first and counteth the cost?' Luke 14: 28. Think with 
yourselves what religion must cost you; it must cost you the parting 
with your sins; and may cost you the parting with your lives. 
Consider if a kingdom will not countervail your sufferings. Weigh 
things well, and then make your choice. 'I have chosen the way of 
truth.' Psa 119: 30. Why do many apostatise, and fall away, but 
because they never sit down and count the cost? 
    (2) If we would hold out to the kingdom, let us cherish the 
grace of faith. 'By faith ye stand.' 2 Cor 1: 24. Faith, like 
Hercules' club, beats down all opposition before it; it is a 
conquering grace. 
    How comes faith to be so strong? 
    Faith fetches Christ's strength into the soul. Phil 4: 13. A 
captain may give his soldier armour, but not strength. Faith 
partakes of Christ's strength, and gets strength from the promise; 
as the child by sucking the breast gets strength, so faith by 
sucking the breast of the promise; hence faith is such a wonder- 
working grace, and enables a Christian to persevere. 
    (3) If you would hold out to the kingdom, set before your eyes 
the examples of those noble heroic saints who have persevered to the 
kingdom. Vivitur exemplis [Life is lived by examples], examples have 
more influence upon us than precepts. 'My foot has held his steps.' 
Job 23: 11. Though the way of religion has flints and thorns in it, 
yet my foot has held its steps; I have not fainted in the way, nor 
turned out of the way. Daniel held on his religion, and would not 
intermit prayer, though he knew the writing was signed against him, 
and a prayer might cost him his life. Dan 6: 10. The blessed martyrs 
persevered to the kingdom through sufferings. Saunders, that holy 
man, said, 'Welcome the cross of Christ; my Saviour began to me in a 
bitter cup, and shall I not pledge him?' Another martyr, kissing the 
stake, said, 'I shall not lose my life, but change it for a better; 
instead of coals I shall have pearls.' What a spirit of gallantry 
was in these saints! Let us learn constancy from their courage. A 
soldier, seeing his general fight valiantly, is animated by his 
example, and has new spirits put into him. 
    (4) Let us add fervent prayer to God, that he would enable us 
to hold out to the heavenly kingdom. 'Hold thou me up, and I shall 
be safe.' Psa 119: 117. Let us not presume on our own strength. When 
Peter cried to Christ on the water, 'Lord save me,' then Christ took 
him by the hand. Matt 14: 30. When he grew confident of his own 
strength, Christ let him fall. Oh pray to God for auxiliary grace. 
The child is safe when held in the nurse's arms; so are we in 
Christ's arms. Let us pray that God will put his fear in our hearts, 
that we do not depart from him; and that prayer of Cyprian, Domine, 
quod coepisti perfice, ne in portu naufragium accidat. Lord, perfect 
that which thou hast begun in me, that I may not suffer shipwreck 
when I am almost at the haven. 
    Use 5. Here let me lay down some powerful persuasive, or divine 
arguments to make you put to all your strength for obtaining this 
blessed kingdom. 
    (1) The great errand for which God sent us into the world is to 
prepare for this heavenly kingdom. 'Seek ye first the kingdom of 
God.' Matt 6: 33. First in time, before all things; and first in 
affection, above all things. Great care is taken for securing 
worldly things. Matt 6: 25. To see people labouring for the earth, 
as ants about a molehill, would make one think it were the only 
errand they came about. But, alas! what is all this to the kingdom 
of heaven? I have read of a devout pilgrim travelling to Jerusalem, 
who passing through several cities, where he saw many stately 
edifices, wares and monuments, would say, 'I must not stay here, 
this is not Jerusalem;' so when we enjoy worldly things, peace and 
plenty, and have our presses burst out with new wine, we should say 
to ourselves, this is not the kingdom we are to look after, this is 
not heaven. It is wisdom to remember our errand. It will be but sad 
upon a death-bed for a man to find he has busied himself about 
trifles, played with a feather, and neglected the main thing he came 
into the world about. 
    (2) Seeking the heavenly kingdom will be judged most prudent by 
all men at last. Those who are most regardless of their souls now, 
will wish before they die that they had minded eternity more. When 
conscience is awakened, and men begin to come to themselves, what 
would they give for the kingdom of heaven? How happy would it be if 
men were of the same mind now, as they will be at death! Death will 
alter men's opinions. They who most slighted and disparaged the ways 
of religion, will wish their time and thoughts had been taken up 
about the excellent glory. At death men's eyes will be opened, and 
they will see their folly when it is too late. All men, even the 
worst, will wish at last that they had minded the kingdom of heaven. 
Why should not we do now what all will wish they had done when they 
come to die? 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 13...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-12.txt