The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 17 (... continued from file 16) (17) Consider how far in submissiveness of spirit is from that temper of soul which God requires in affliction! He would have us in patience possess our souls. Luke 21: 19, The Greek word for patience signifies to bear up under a burden without fainting or fretting; but is frowardness in affliction, and quarrelling with God's will, Christian patience? God would have us rejoice in affliction. 'Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:' that is, afflictions; count it joy, be as birds that sing in winter. James 1: 2. 'Having received the word in much affliction, with joy.' I Thess 1: 6. Paul could leap in his fetters, and sing in the stocks. Acts 16: 25. How far is a discontented soul from this frame! He is far from rejoicing in affliction that has not learned to submit. (18) Consider what is it that makes the difference between a godly man and an ungodly man in affliction, but this, that the godly man submits to God's will, the ungodly man will not submit. A wicked man frets and fumes, and is like a wild bull in a net. In affliction he blasphemes God. 'Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God.' Rev 16: 9. Put a stone in the fire, and it flies in your face; so stony hearts fly in God's face. The more a stuff that is rotten is rubbed, the more it frets and tears. When God afflicts the sinner, he tears himself in anger, but a godly man is sweetly submissive to his will. His language is, 'Shall not I drink the cup which my Father has given me?' Spices when bruised, send out a sweet fragrant smell; so, when God bruises his saints, they send out the sweet perfume of patience. Servulus, a holy man, was long afflicted with the palsy, yet his ordinary speech was Laudatur Deus, let God be praised. Oh, let us say, 'Thy will be done;' let us bear that patiently which God inflicts justly, or how do we show our grace? What difference is there between us and the wicked in affliction? (19) Consider that not to submit to God's providential will, is highly provoking to him. Can we anger him more than by quarrelling with him, and not let him have his will? Kings do not love to have their wills opposed, though they may be unjust. How ill does God take it, when we will be disputing against his righteous will? It is a sin which he cannot bear. 'How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?' Numb 14: 27. May not God justly say, How long shall I bear with this wicked person, who, when anything falls out cross, murmurs against me? 'Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you;' ver 28. God swears against a murmurer, 'As I live;' and what will he do as he lives? 'Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness;' ver 29. You see how provoking a discontented quarrelsome spirit is to God; it may cost men their lives, nay, their souls. God sent fiery serpents among the people for their murmuring. I Cor 10: 10. He may send worse than fiery serpents, he may send hell fire. (20) Consider how much God bears at our hand, and shall not we be content to bear something at his hand? It would tire the patience of angels to bear with us one day. 'The Lord is long suffering to us- ward.' 2 Pet 3: 9. How often we offend in our eye by envious impure glances, and in our tongues by rash censuring, but God passes by many injuries, and bears with us! Should the Lord punish us every time we offend, he might draw his sword every day. Shall he bear so much at our hands, and can we bear with nothing at his hand? Shall he be patient with us, and we impatient with him? Shall he be meek, and we murmur? Shall he endure our sins, and shall not we endure his strokes? Oh, let us say, 'Thy will be done.' Lord, thou hast been the greatest sufferer, thou hast borne more from me than I can from thee. (21) Consider that submitting our wills to God in affliction disappoints Satan of his hope, and quite spoils his design. The devil's end is in all our afflictions to make us sin. The reason why Satan smote Job in his body and estate was to perplex his mind, and put him into a passion; he hoped that Job would have been discontented, and in a fit of anger, not only have cursed his birthday, but cursed his God. But Job, lying at God's feet, and blessing him in affliction, disappointed Satan of his hope, and quite spoiled his plot. Had Job murmured, he had pleased Satan; had he fallen into a heat, and sparks of his anger had flown about, the devil had warmed himself at the fire of Job's passion; but Job quietly submitted, and blessed God. Thus Satan's design was frustrated, and he missed his intent. The devil has often deceived us; the best way to deceive him is by quiet submission to God in all things, saying, 'Thy will be done.' (22) Consider that to the godly the nature of affliction is quite changed. To a wicked man it is a curse, the rod is turned into a serpent; affliction to him is but an effect of God's displeasure, the beginning of sorrow, but the nature of affliction is quite changed to a believer; it is by divine chemistry turned into a blessing; it is like poison corrected, which becomes a medicine; it is a love token, a badge of adoption, a preparation for glory. Should not this make us say, 'Thy will be done'? The poison of the affliction is gone; it is not hurtful, but healing. This has made the saints not only patient in affliction, but send forth thankfulness. When bells have been cast into the fire, they afterwards make a sweeter sound; so the godly, after they have been cast into the fire of affliction, sound forth God's praise. 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted.' Psa 119: 7I. 'Blessed be the name of the Lord.' Job 1: 21. (23) Consider how many good things we receive from God, and shall we not be content to receive some evil? 'Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?' Job 2: 10. In the Hebrew, shall we receive good from God, and not evil? This may make us say, 'Thy will be done.' How many blessings have we received at the hand of God's bounty? We have been bemiracled with mercy. What sparing, preventing, delivering mercy have we had! The honeycomb of mercy has continually dropped upon us. His mercies 'are new every morning.' Lam 3: 23. Mercy comes in as constantly as the tide; nay, how many tides of mercies do we see in one day. We never feed, but mercy carves every bit to us; we never drink but in the golden cup of mercy; we never go abroad, but mercy sets a guard of angels about us; we never lie down in bed, but mercy draws the curtains of protection close about us. Shall we receive so many good things at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? Our mercies far outweigh our afflictions; for one affliction we have a thousand mercies. O then, let us submit to God, and say, 'Thy will be done.' The sea of God's mercy should swallow up a few drops of affliction. (24) Consider that the conformity of our wills to God in affliction brings much honour to the gospel. An unsubmissive Christian reproaches religion, as if it were not able to subdue an unruly spirit. It is weak physic which cannot purge out ill humours; and sure it is a weak gospel if it cannot master our discontent, and martyr our wills. In submissiveness is a reproach, but a cheerful resignation of our will to God sets a crown of honour upon the head of religion, it shows the power of the gospel, which can charm down the passions, and melt the will into God's will; therefore in Scripture, submissive patience is brought in as an adorning grace. 'Here is the patience of the saints.' Rev 14: 12. (25) Consider the example of our Lord Jesus, how flexible and submissive was he to his Father! He who taught us this prayer, 'Thy will be done,' had learned it himself. Christ's will was perfectly tuned to his Father's will; it was the will of his Father that he should die for our sins, and he 'endured the cross.' Heb 12: 2. It was a painful, shameful, cursed death; he suffered the very pains of hell equivalently, yet he willingly submitted. 'He opened not his mouth:' he opened his side when the blood ran out, but he opened not his mouth in repining; his will was resolved into the will of his Father. Isa 53: 7. 'The cup which my Father has given me shall I not drink it?' John 18: 11. Now, the more our wills are subject to God's will in affliction, the nearer we come to Christ our pattern. Is it not our prayer that we may be like Christ? By holy submission we imitate him; his will was melted into his Father's will. (26) Consider that to submit our wills to God, is the way to have our own will. Every one would be glad to have his will. The way to have our will is to resign it. God deals with us as we do with froward children, while we fret and quarrel, he will give us nothing, but when we are submissive, and say, 'Thy will be done,' he carves out mercy to us. The way to have our will is to submit to his. David brought his will to God's. 'Here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.' 2 Sam 15: 26. After he resigned his will he had his will. God brought him back to the ark and settled him again on his throne. 2 Sam 19. Many a parent who has had a dear child sick, when he could bring his will to part with it, has had his child restored. Nothing is lost by referring our will to God, the Lord takes it kindly from us, and it is the only way to have our will. (27) Consider that we may the more cheerfully surrender our souls to God when we die, when we have surrendered our will to God while we live. Our blessed Saviour had all along submitted his will to God. There was but one will between God the Father and Christ. Christ in his lifetime having given up his will to his Father, at death cheerfully gave up his soul to him. 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.' Luke 23: 46. You that resign up your wills to God, may at the hour of death comfortably bequeath your souls to him.  The second means to bring our will to God in affliction is, to study his will. (1) It is a sovereign will. He has a supreme right and dominion over his creatures, to dispose of them as he pleases. A man may do with his own as he lists. 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?' Matt 20: 15. A man may cut his own timber as he will. God's sovereignty may cause submission; he may do with us as he sees good. He is not accountable to any creature for what he does. 'He giveth not account of any of his matters.' Job 33: 13. Who shall call God to account? Who is higher than the highest? Eccl 5: 8. What man or angel dare summon God to his bar? 'He giveth not account of any of his matters.' God will take an account of our carriage towards him, but he will give no account of his carriage towards us. He has an absolute jurisdiction over us, the remembrance of which, as a sovereign will, to do with us what he pleases, may silence all discontents, and charm down all unruly passions. We are not to dispute, but to submit. (2) God's will is wise. He knows what is conducive to the good of his people, therefore submit. 'The Lord is a God of judgement,' that is, he is able to judge what is best for us; therefore rest in his wisdom and acquiesce in his will. Isa 30: 18. We rest in the wisdom of a physician; we are content he should scarify and let blood, because he injudicious, and knows what is most conducive to our health. If the pilot be skilful, the passenger says, 'Let him alone; he knows best how to steer the ship.' Shall we not rest in God's wisdom? Did we but study how wisely he steers all occurrences, and how he often brings us to heaven by a cross wind, it would much quiet our spirits, and make us say, 'Thy will be done.' God's will is guided by wisdom. Should he sometimes let us have our will, we should undo ourselves; did he let us carve for ourselves, we should choose the worst piece. Lot chose Sodom because it was well watered, and was as the garden of the Lord, but God rained fire upon it out of heaven. Gen 13: 10; Gen 19: 24. (3) God's will is just. 'Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?' Gen 18: 25. God's will is regula et mensura [rule and measure], it is the rule of justice. The wills of men are corrupt, therefore unfit to give law; but God's will is a holy and unerring will, which may cause submission. Psa 97: 2. God may cross, but he cannot wrong us; severe he may be, not unjust; therefore we must strike sail, and say, 'Thy will be done.' (4) God's will is good and gracious. It promotes our interest: if it be his will to afflict us, he shall make us say at last, it was good for us that we were afflicted. His flail shall only thresh off our husks. That which is against our will shall not be against our profit. Let us study what a good will God's is, and we shall say, fiat voluntas, 'Thy will be done.' (5) God's will is irresistible. We may oppose it, but we cannot hinder it. The rising wave cannot stop the ship when it is in full sail, so the rising up of our will against God cannot stop the execution of his will. 'Who has resisted his will?' Rom 9: 19. Who can stay the chariot of the sun in its full career? Who can hinder the progress of God's will? Therefore it is in vain to contest with God; his will shall take place: there is no way to overcome him but by lying at his feet.  The means of submission to God in affliction is, to get a gracious heart. All the rules and helps in the world will do but little good till grace is infused. The bowl must have a good bias, or it will not run according to our desire; so till God put a new bias of grace into the soul, which inclines the will, it never submits to him. Grace renews the will, and it must be renewed before it be subdued. Grace teaches self-denial, and we can never submit our will till we deny it.  A fourth means is to labour to have our covenant interest cleared, to know that God is our God. 'This God is our God.' Psa 48: 14. He whose faith flourishes in assurance, that can say God is his, will say, 'Thy will be done.' A wicked man may say, 'God has laid this affliction upon me, and I cannot help it;' but a believer says, 'My God has done it, and I will submit.' He who can call God his, knows God loves him as he loves Christ, and designs his salvation; therefore he will, with Paul, take pleasure in reproaches. 2 Cor 12: 10. In every adverse providence yield to God, as the wax to the impression of the seal.  Another means to submission to God in affliction is, to get a humble spirit. A proud man will never stoop to God; he will rather break than bend; but when the heart is humble, the will is pliable. What a vast difference was there between Pharaoh and Eli! Pharaoh cried out, 'Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?' Exod 5: 2. But Eli said, 'It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' I Sam 3: 18. See the difference between a heart that is swelled with pride, and that which is ballasted with humility! Pharaoh said, 'Who is the Lord?' Eli, 'It is the Lord.' A humble soul has a deep sense of sin, he sees how he has provoked God, he wonders he is not in hell; therefore, whatever God inflicts, he knows it is less than his iniquities deserve, which makes him say, 'Lord, thy will be done.' O, get into a humble posture. The will is never flexible till the heart is humble.  Another means is to get your hearts loosened from things below. Be crucified to the world. Whence children's frowardness but when you take away their playthings? When we love the things of the world, and God takes them away from us, we grow froward and unsubmissive to his will. Jonah was exceedingly glad of the gourd; and when God smote it, he grew froward, and because God had killed his gourd, he said, Kill me too. Jonah 4: 8. He who is a lover of the world, can never pray this prayer heartily: 'Thy will be done;' his heart boils with anger against God; and when the world is gone, his patience is gone too. Get mortified affections to these sublunary things.  A further means for submission to God's will is to get some good persuasion that your sin is pardoned. Feri, Domine, feri, quia peccate mea condonata sunt: Lord, smite where thou wilt,' said Luther, 'because my sins are pardoned.' Pardon of sin is a crowning blessing. Has God forgiven my sin? I will bear anything; I will not murmur but admire; I will not complain of the burden of affliction, but bless God for removing the burden of sin. The pardoned soul says this prayer heartily, 'Thy will be done.' Lord, use thy pruning- knife, so long as thou wilt not come with thy bloody axe to hew me down.  Another means is, if we would have our wills submit to God, not to look so much on the dark side of the cloud as the light side; that is, let us not look so much on the smart of affliction as the good. It is bad to pore all on the smart, as it is bad for sore eyes to look too much on the fire; but we should look on the good of affliction. Samson not only looked on the lion's carcass, but on the honeycomb within it. 'He turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was honey in the carcass.' Judges 14: 8. Affliction is the frightful lion, but see what honey there is in it. It humbles, purifies, fills us with the consolations of God; there is honey in the belly of the lion. Could we but look upon the benefit of affliction, stubbornness would be turned into submissiveness, and we should say, 'Thy will be done.'  As a further means, let us pray to God that he would calm our spirits and conquer our wills. It is no easy thing to submit to God in affliction. There will be risings of the heart; therefore let us pray that what God inflicts righteously, we may bear patiently. Prayer is the best spell or charm against impatience. It does to the heart what Christ did to the sea when it was tempestuous, he rebuked the wind, and there was a great calm. So, when passions are up, and the will is apt to mutiny against God, prayer makes a gracious calm in the soul. Prayer does to the heart what sponge does to the cannon: when hot, it cools it.  Another means, if we would submit to God's will in affliction, is to put a good interpretation upon God's dealings, and take all he does in the best sense. We are apt to misconstrue God's dealings, and put a bad interpretation upon them, as Israel did. 'Why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die there?' Numb 20: 4. God has brought affliction upon us, we say, because he hates us, and intends to destroy us; and such hard thoughts of God cause sullenness and stubbornness. Oh, let us make a fair and candid interpretation of providence. Does God afflict us? Say, perhaps he intends us mercy in this: he will try us whether we will love him in afflictions; he is about to mortify some sin, or exercise some grace; he smites the body that he may save the soul. Could we put such a good meaning upon God's dealings, we should say, 'Thy will be done.' 'Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.' Psa 141: 5.  The last means, if you would submit to God in affliction, is to believe that the present condition is best for you. We are not competent judges. We fancy it is best to have ease and plenty, and have the rock pour out rivers of oil; but God sees affliction to be best. He sees our souls thrive best upon the bare common. The fall of the leaf is the spring of our grace. Could we believe that condition to be best which God carves out to us, the quarrel would soon be at an end, and we should sit down satisfied with what he does, and say, 'Thy will be done.' The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 18...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-17.txt .