The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 19
(... continued from file 18)

The Fifth Petition in the Lord's Prayer 
'And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.' Matt 6: 12 
    Before I speak strictly to the words, I shall notice 
    [1] That in this prayer there is but one petition for the body, 
'Give us our daily bread,' but two petitions for the soul, 'Forgive 
us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from 
evil.' Observe hence, that we are to be more careful for our souls 
than for our bodies, more careful for grace than for daily bread; 
and more desirous to have our souls saved than our bodies fed. In 
the law, the weight of the sanctuary was twice as big as the common 
weight, to typify that spiritual things must be of far greater 
weight with us than earthly. The excellency of the soul may 
challenge our chief care about it. 
    (1) The soul is an immaterial substance; it is a heavenly 
spark, lighted by the breath of God. It is the more refined and 
spiritual part of man; it is of an angelic nature; it has some faint 
resemblance to God. The body is the more humble part, it is the 
cabinet only, though curiously wrought, but the soul is the jewel; 
it is near akin to angels; it is capax beatitudinis, capable of 
communion with God in glory. 
    (2) It is immortal; it never expires. It can act without the 
body. Though the body dissolve into dust, the soul lives. Luke 12: 
4. The essence of the soul is eternal; it has a beginning but no 
end. Surely, then, if the soul be so ennobled and dignified, more 
care should be taken about it than the body. Hence, we make but one 
petition for the body, but two petitions for the soul. 
    Use 1. They are reproved who take more care for their bodies 
than their souls. The body is but the brutish part, yet they take 
more care, (1) About dressing their bodies than their souls. They 
put on the best clothes, are dressed in the richest garb; but care 
not how naked or undressed their souls are. They do not get the 
jewels of grace to adorn the inner man. (2) About feeding their 
bodies than their souls. They are caterers for the flesh, they make 
provision for the flesh, they have the best diet, but let their 
souls starve; as if one should feed his hawk, but let his child 
starve. The body must sit in the chair of state, but the soul, that 
princely thing, is made a lackey to run on the devil's errands. 
    Use 2. Let us be more careful for our souls. Omnia si perdas, 
animam servare memento [If you lose everything, remember to keep 
your soul]. If it be well with the soul, it shall be well with the 
body. If the soul be gracious, the body shall be glorious, for it 
shall shine like Christ's body. Therefore, it is wisdom to look 
chiefly to the soul, because in saving the soul we secure the 
happiness of the body. And we cannot show our care for our souls 
more than by improving all seasons for their good; as reading, 
praying, hearing, and meditating. Oh, look to the main chance; let 
the soul be chiefly tended! The loss of the soul would be fatal. 
Other losses may be made up again. If one loses his health, he may 
recover it again; if he loses his estate, he may make it up again; 
but if he lose his soul, the loss is irreparable. The merchant who 
ventures all he has in one ship, if that be lost, is quite ruined. 
    [2] As soon as Christ had said, 'Give us daily bread,' he adds, 
'and forgive us.' He joins the petition of forgiveness of sin 
immediately to the other of daily bread, to show us that though we 
have daily bread, yet all is nothing without forgiveness. If our 
sins be not pardoned, we can take but little comfort in our food. As 
a man that is condemned takes little comfort from the meat you bring 
him in prison, without a pardon; so, though we have daily bread, yet 
it will do us no good unless sin be forgiven. What though we should 
have manna, which was called angels' food, though the rock should 
pour out rivers of oil, all is nothing unless sin be done away. When 
Christ had said, 'Give us our daily bread,' he presently added, and 
'forgive us our trespasses.' Daily bread may satisfy the appetite, 
but forgiveness of sin satisfies the conscience. 
    Use 1. It condemns the folly of most people, who, if they have 
daily bread, the delicious things of this life, look no further; 
they are not solicitous for the pardon of sin. If they have that 
which feeds them, they look not after that which should crown them. 
Alas! you may have daily bread, and yet perish. The rich man in the 
gospel had daily bread, nay, he had dainties, he fared 'sumptuously 
every day;' but 'in hell he lift up his eyes.' Luke 16: 19, 23. 
    Use 2. Let us pray that God would not give us our portion in 
this life, that he would not put us off with daily bread, but that 
he would give forgiveness. This is the sauce that would make our 
bread relish the sweeter. A speech of Luther, valde protestatussum 
me nolle sic satiari ab illo. I did solemnly protest that God should 
not put me off with outward things. Be not content with that which 
is common to the brute creatures, the dog or elephant, to have your 
hunger satisfied; but, besides daily bread, get pardon of sin. A 
drop of Christ's blood, or a dram of forgiving mercy, is infinitely 
more valuable than all the delights under the sun. Daily bread may 
make us live comfortably, but forgiveness of sins will make us die 
comfortably. I come now to the words of the petition, 'Forgive us 
our debts,' etc. 
    Here is a term given to sin, it is a debt; the confession of 
the debt, 'our debts;' a prayer, 'forgive us;' and a condition on 
which we desire forgiveness, 'as we forgive our debtors.' 
    1. The first thing is the term given to sin; it is a debt. That 
which is here called a debt is called sin. 'Forgive us our sins.' 
Luke 11: 4. So, then, sin is a debt, and every sinner is a debtor. 
Sin is compared to a debt of ten thousand talents. Matt 18:24. 
    Why is sin called a debt? 
    Because it fitly resembles it. (1) A debt arises upon non- 
payment of money, or the not paying that which is one's due. We owe 
to God exact obedience, and not paying what is due, we are in debt. 
(2) In case of non-payment, the debtor goes to prison; so, by our 
sin, we become guilty, and are exposed to God's curse of damnation. 
Though he grants a sinner a reprieve for a time, yet he remains 
bound to eternal death if the debt be not forgiven. 
    In what sense is sin the worst debt? 
    (1) Because we have nothing to pay. If we could pay the debt, 
what need to pray, 'forgive us'? We cannot say, as he in the gospel, 
'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all;' we can pay neither 
principal nor interest. Adam made us all bankrupts. In innocence 
Adam had a stock of original righteousness to begin the world with, 
he could give God personal and perfect obedience; but, by his sin, 
he was quite broken, and beggared all his posterity. We have nothing 
to pay; all our duties are mixed with sin, and so we cannot pay God 
in current coin. 
    (2) Sin is the worst debt, because it is against an infinite 
majesty. An offence against the person of a king, is crimen laesae 
majestatis [the crime of high treason], it enhances and aggravates 
the crime. Sin wrongs God, and so is an infinite offence. The 
schoolmen say, omne peccatum contra conscientiam est quasi 
deicidium, i.e., every known sin strikes at the Godhead. The sinner 
would not only unthrone God, but ungod him, which makes the debt 
    (3) Sin is the worst debt, because it is not a single, but a 
multiplied debt. Forgive us 'our debts;' we have debt upon debt. 
'Innumerable evils have compassed me about.' Psa 40: 12. We may as 
well reckon all the drops in the sea, as reckon all our spiritual 
debts; we cannot tell how much we owe. A man may know his other 
debts, but he cannot number his spiritual debts. Every vain thought 
is a sin. 'The thought of foolishness is sin.' Prov 24: 9. And what 
swarms of vain thoughts have we! The first rising of corruption, 
though it never blossom into outward act, is a sin; then, 'who can 
understand his errors?' We do not know how much we owe to God. 
    (4) Sin is the worst debt; because it is an inexcusable debt in 
two respects; [1] There is no denying the debt. Other debts men may 
deny. If the money be not paid before witnesses, or if the creditor 
lose the bond, the debtor may say he owes him nothing; but there is 
no denying the debt of sin. If we say we have no sin, God can prove 
the debt. 'I will set [thy sins] in order before thine eyes.' Psa 
50: 21. God writes down our debts in his book of remembrance, and 
his book, and the book of conscience exactly agree: so that the debt 
cannot be denied. 
    [2] There is no shifting off the debt. Other debts may be 
shifted off. We may get friends to pay them, but neither man nor 
angel can pay this debt for us. If all the angels in heaven should 
make a purse, they cannot pay one of our debts. In other debts men 
may get a protection, so that none can touch their persons, or sue 
them for it; but who shall give us a protection from God's justice? 
'There is none that can deliver out of thine hand.' Job 10: 7. 
Indeed, the Pope pretends that his pardon shall be men's protection, 
and God's justice shall not sue them: but that is a forgery, and 
cannot be pleaded at God's tribunal. Other debts, if the debtor dies 
in prison, cannot be recovered: death frees him from debt; but if we 
die in debt to God, he knows how to recover it. As long as we have 
souls to distrain on, God will not lose his debt. Not the death of 
the debtor, but the death of the Surety, pays a sinner's debt. In 
other debts men may flee from their creditor, leave their country, 
and go into foreign parts, and the creditor cannot find them; but we 
cannot flee from God. He knows where to find all his debtors. 
'Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I take the wings of the 
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy 
right hand shall hold me.' Psa 139: 7, 9, 10. 
    (3) Sin is the worst debt, because it carries men, in case of 
non-payment, to a worse prison than any upon earth, even to a fiery 
prison; and the sinner is laid in worse chains, chains of darkness, 
where he is bound under wrath for ever. 
    Wherein have we the character of bad debtors? 
    (1) A bad debtor does not love to be called to account. There 
is a day coming when God will call his debtors to account. 'So then, 
every one shall give an account of himself to God.' Rom 14: 12. But 
we play away the time, and do not love to hear of the day of 
judgement; we love not that ministers should put us in mind of our 
debts, or speak of the day of reckoning. What a confounding word 
will that be to a self-secure sinner, redde rationem, give an 
account of your stewardship! 
    (2) A bad debtor is unwilling to confess his debt, he will put 
it off, or make less of it; so we are more willing to excuse sin 
than confess it. How hardly was Saul brought to confession. 'I have 
obeyed the voice of the Lord, but the people took of the spoil.' I 
Sam 15: 20, 21. He rather excuses his sin than confesses it. 
    (3) A bad debtor is apt to hate his creditor. Debtors wish 
their creditors dead; so wicked men naturally hate God, because they 
think he is a just judge, and will call them to account. In the 
Greek they are called God haters. A debtor does not love to see his 
    Use 1. They are reproved who are loath to be in debt, but make 
no reckoning of sin, which is the greatest debt; they use no means 
to get out of it, but run further in debt to God. We should think it 
strange, if writs or warrants were out against a man, or a judgement 
granted to seize his body and estate, and yet he was wholly 
regardless and unconcerned. God has a writ out against a sinner, 
nay, many writs, for swearing, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, and 
yet the sinner eats and drinks, and is quiet, as if he were not in 
debt. What an opiate has Satan given men! 
    Use 2. If sin be a debt, let us be humbled. The name of debt, 
says Ambrose, is grave vocabulum, grievous. Men in debt are full of 
shame, they lie hid, and do not care to be seen. A debtor is ever in 
fear of arrest. Canis latrat et cor palpitat [A dog barks and his 
heart pounds]. Oh! let us blush and tremble, who are so deeply 
indebted to God. A Roman dying in debt, Augustus the emperor sent to 
buy his pillow, because, said he, I hope that will have some virtue 
to make me sleep, on which a man so much in debt could take his 
ease. We that have so many spiritual debts lying upon us, how can we 
be at rest till we have some hope that they are discharged? 
    II. The second thing in this petition is confession. Let us 
confess our debt. Let us acknowledge that we are in arrears with 
God, and deserve that he should enforce the law upon us, and throw 
us into hell-prison. By confession we give glory to God. 'My son, 
give glory to the God of Israel, and make confession unto him.' Josh 
7: 19. Say that God would be righteous if he should distrain upon 
all we have. If we confess the debt, God will forgive it. 'If we 
confess our sins, he is just to forgive. ' I John 1: 9. Do but 
confess the debt, and God will cross it out from the book. 'I said, 
I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest 
the iniquity of my sin.' Psa 32: 5. 
    Let us not confess merely, but labour to get our spiritual 
debts paid, by Christ the Surety. Say, 'Lord, have patience with me, 
and Christ shall pay thee all. He has laid down an infinite price.' 
The covenant of works would not admit of a surety; it demanded 
personal obedience: but this privilege we have by the gospel, which 
is a court of chancery to relieve us. If we have nothing to pay, God 
will accept a surety. Believe in Christ's blood, and the debt is 
    WE have next to consider in these words the petition, 'Forgive 
us our sins,' and the condition, 'For we also forgive everyone that 
is indebted to us.' Our forgiving others is not a cause of God's 
forgiving us, but it is a condition without which he will not 
forgive us. 
    III. We shall now consider the petition, 'Forgive us our sins.' 
This is a blessed petition. The ignorant would say, 'Who will show 
us any good?' (Psa 4: 6) meaning a good lease, a good purchase; but 
the Saviour teaches us to pray for that which is more noble, and 
will stand us in more stead, which is the pardon of sin. Forgiveness 
of sins is a primary blessing, it is one of the first mercies God 
bestows. 'Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you;' that is, 
forgiveness. Ezek 36: 25. When God pardons, there is nothing he will 
stick at to do for the soul; he will adopt, sanctify, crown. 
    What is forgiveness of sin? 
    It is God's passing by sin, wiping off the score and giving us 
a discharge. Micah 7: 18. 
    [1] The nature of forgiveness will more clearly appear, by 
opening some Scripture phrases; and by laying down some 
    (1) To forgive sin, is to take away iniquity. 'Why dost thou 
not take away mine iniquity?' Job 7: 21. Hebrew, lift off. It is a 
metaphor taken from a man that carries a heavy burden which is ready 
to sink him, and another comes, and lifts it off, so when the heavy 
burden of sin is on us, God in pardoning, lifts it off from the 
conscience, and lays it upon Christ. 'He has laid on him the 
iniquity of us all.' Isa 53: 6. 
    (2) To forgive sin, is to cover it. 'Thou hast covered all 
their sin.' Psa 85: 2. This was typified by the mercy-seat covering 
the ark, to show God's covering of sin through Christ. God does not 
cover sin in the Antinomian sense, so as he sees it not, but he so 
covers it, that he will not impute it. 
    (3) To forgive sin, is to blot it out. 'I am he that blotteth 
out thy transgressions.' Isa 43: 25. The Hebrew word, to blot out, 
alludes to a creditor who, when his debtor has paid him, blots out 
the debt, and gives him an acquittance; so when God forgives sin, he 
blots out the debt, he draws the red lines of Christ's blood over 
it, and so crosses the debt-book. 
    (4) To forgive sin is for God to scatter our sins as a cloud. 
'I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions.' Isa 44: 
22. Sin is the cloud, an interposing cloud, which disperses, that 
the light of his countenance may break forth. 
    (5) To forgive sin, is for God to cast our sins into the depths 
of the sea, which implies burying them out of sight, that they shall 
not rise up in judgement against us. 'Thou wilt cast all their sins 
into the depths of the sea.' Micah 7: 19. God will throw them in, 
not as cork that rises again, but as lead that sinks to the bottom. 
    [2] The nature of forgiveness will further appear by laying 
down some propositions respecting it. 
    (1) Every sin deserves death, and therefore needs forgiveness. 
The Papists distinguish between mortal sins and venial sins. Some 
are ex surreptione [surreptitious], they creep unawares into the 
mind, as vain thoughts, sudden motions of anger and revenge, which 
Bellarmine says, are in their own nature venial. It is true that the 
greatest sins are in one sense venial, that is, God is able to 
forgive them; but the least sin is not in its own nature venial, but 
deserves damnation. We read of the lusts of the flesh, and the works 
of the flesh. Rom 13: 14; Gal 5: 19. The lusts of the flesh are 
sinful, as well as the works of the flesh. That which is a 
transgression of the law merits damnation; but the first stirrings 
of corruption are a breach of the royal law, and therefore merit 
damnation. Rom 7: 7, Prov 24: 9. So that the least sin is mortal, 
and needs forgiveness. 
    (2) It is God only that forgives sin. To pardon sin is one of 
the jura regalia [royal prerogatives], the flowers of God's crown. 
'Who can forgive sins but God only?' Mark 2: 7. It is most proper 
for God to pardon sin; only the creditor can remit the debt. Sin is 
an infinite offence, and no finite power can discharge an infinite 
offence. No man can take away sin, unless he is able to infuse 
grace; for, as Aquinas says, with forgiveness is always infusion of 
grace; but no man can infuse grace, therefore no man can forgive 
sin. He only can forgive sin, who can remit the penalty, but it is 
God's prerogative only to forgive sin. 
    But a Christian is charged to forgive his brother. 'Forgiving 
one another.' Col 3: 13. 
    In all second-table sins, there are two distinct things; 
disobedience against God, and injury to man. That which man is 
required to forgive, is the wrong done to himself, but the wrong 
done to God, he cannot forgive. Man may remit a trespass against 
himself, but not a transgression against God. 
    The Scripture speaks of a power committed to ministers to 
forgive sin: 'Whose-soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto 
them.' John 20: 23. 
    Ministers cannot remit sin authoritatively and effectually, but 
only declaratively. They have a special office and authority to 
apply the promises of pardon to broken hearts. When a minister sees 
one humbled for sin, but afraid God has not pardoned him, and is 
ready to be swallowed up of sorrow, for the easing of this man's 
conscience, he may, in the name of Christ, declare to him, that he 
is pardoned. He does not forgive sin by his own authority, but as a 
herald, in Christ's name, pronounces a man's pardon. As under the 
law, God cleansed the leper, and the priest pronounced him clean, so 
God, by his prerogative, forgives sin, and the minister pronounces 
forgiveness to the penitent sinner. Power to forgive sin 
authoritatively in his own name, was never granted to any mortal 
man. A king may spare a man's life, but cannot pardon his sin. 
Popes' pardons are insignificant, like blanks in a lottery, good for 
nothing but to be torn. 
    (3) Forgiveness of sin is purely an act of God's free grace. 
There are some acts of God which declare his power, as making and 
governing the world; others that declare his justice, as punishing 
the guilty; others that declare his free-grace, as pardoning 
sinners. 'I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own 
sake.' Isa 43: 25. He forgives as when a creditor freely forgives a 
debtor. 'I obtained mercy.' I Tim 1: 16. I was all over besprinkled 
with mercy. When God pardons a sin, he does not pay a debt, but 
gives a legacy. Forgiveness is spun out of the bowels of God's 
mercy; there is nothing we can do that can deserve it; not our 
prayers, or tears, or good deeds can purchase pardon. When Simon 
Magus would have bought the gift of the Holy Ghost with money, 'Thy 
money,' said Peter, 'perish with thee.' Acts 8: 20. So if men think 
they can buy pardon of sin with their duties and alms, let their 
money perish with them. Forgiveness is an act of God's free grace, 
in which he displays the banner of love. This will raise trophies of 
God's glory, and cause the saints' triumph in heaven, that when 
there was no worthiness in them, when they lay in their blood, God 
took pity on them, and held forth the golden sceptre of love in 
forgiving. Forgiveness is a golden thread spun out of the bowels of 
    (4) Forgiveness is through the blood of Christ. Free grace is 
the inward moving cause. Christ's blood is the outward cause of 
meriting pardon. 'In whom we have redemption through his blood.' Eph 
1: 7. All pardons are sealed in Christ's blood. The guilt of sin was 
infinite, and nothing but that blood which was of infinite value 
could procure forgiveness. 
    But if Christ laid down his blood as the price of our pardon, 
how can we say God freely forgives sin? If it be by purchase, how is 
it by grace? 
    It was God's free grace that found out a way of redemption 
through a Mediator. Nay, God's love appeared more in letting Christ 
die for us, than if he had forgiven us without exacting any 
satisfaction. It was free grace that moved God to accept of the 
price paid for our sins. That God should accept a surety; that one 
should sin, and another suffer, was free grace. So that forgiveness 
of sin, though purchased by Christ's blood, is by free grace. 
    (5) In forgiveness of sin, God remits the guilt and penalty. 
Remissa culpa, remittitur poena [On remission of guilt, the 
punishment is also remitted]. Guilt is an obligation to punishment, 
it cries for justice. God in forgiving indulges the sinner as to the 
penalty. He seems to say to him, 'Though thou art fallen into the 
hands of my justice, and deserves" to die, yet I will take off the 
penalty; whatever is charged upon thee shall be discharged.' When 
God pardons a soul, he will not reckon with him in a purely 
vindictive way; he stops the execution of justice. 
    (6) By virtue of this pardon God will no more call sin to 
remembrance. 'Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.' 
Heb 8: 12. He will pass an act of oblivion, he will not upbraid with 
former unkindnesses. When you fear that God will call your sins 
again to remembrance after pardon, look into this act of indemnity, 
'Their iniquities will I remember no more.' God is said therefore to 
'blot out our sin.' A man does not call for a debt when he has 
crossed the book. When God pardons a man, his former displeasure 
ceases. 'Mine anger is turned away.' Hos 14: 4. 
    But is God angry with his pardoned ones? 
    Though a child of God, after pardon, may incur his fatherly 
displeasure yet his judicial wrath is removed. Though he may lay on 
the rod, yet he has taken away the curse. Correction may befall the 
saints, but not destruction. 'My lovingkindness will I not take from 
him.' Psa 89: 33. 
    (7) Sin is not forgiven till it be repented of. Therefore they 
are put together: 'Repentance and remission.' Luke 24: 47. Domine, 
da poenitentiam, et postea indulgentiam [Grant repentance, Lord, and 
afterwards pardon]. Fulgentius. In repentance there are three main 
ingredients, all which must be before forgiveness. They are 
contrition, confession, and conversion. 
    Contrition, or brokenness of heart. 'They shall be like doves 
of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.' 
Ezek 7: 16. This contrition or rending of the heart, is expressed 
sometimes by smiting on the breast; Luke 18: 13; sometimes by 
plucking off the hair; Ezra 9: 3; and sometimes by watering the 
couch; Psa 6: 6. But all humiliation is not contrition; some have 
only pretended sorrow for sin, and so have missed forgiveness; as 
Ahab humbled himself, whose garments were rent, but not his heart. 
    What is that remorse and sorrow which goes before forgiveness 
of sin? 
    It is a holy sorrow, it is a grieving for sin, quatenus sin, as 
it is sin, and as it is dishonouring God, and defiling the soul. 
Though there were no sufferings to follow, yet the true penitent 
would grieve for sin. 'My sin is ever before me.' Psa 51: 3. This 
contrition goes before remission. 'I repented; I smote upon my 
thigh. Is Ephraim my dear son? my bowels are troubled for him. I 
will surely have mercy upon him.' Jer 31: 19, 20. Ephraim was 
troubled for sinning, and God's bowels were troubled for Ephraim. 
The woman in the gospel stood at Jesus' feet weeping, and a pardon 
followed. 'Wherefore, I say, her sins which are many, are forgiven.' 
Luke 7: 47. The seal is set upon the wax when it melts; God seals 
his pardon upon melting hearts. 
    The second ingredient in repentance is confession. 'Against 
thee, thee only, have I sinned.' Psa 51: 4. This is not auricular 
confession; which the Papists make a sacrament, and affirm that 
without confession of all sins in the ears of the priest, no man can 
receive forgiveness. The Scripture is ignorant of this, nor do we 
read that any general Council, till the Lateran Council, which was 
about twelve hundred years after Christ, ever decreed auricular 
    But does not the Scripture say, 'Confess your faults one to 
another'? James 5:16. 
    This is absurdly brought for auricular confession; for, by 
this, the priest must confess to the people, as well as the people 
to the priest. The sense of that place is that in case of public 
scandals, or private wrongs, confession is to be made to others; but 
chiefly, confession is to be made to God, who is the party offended. 
'Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.' Confession gives vent to 
sorrow; it must be free without compulsion, ingenuous without 
reserve, cordial without hypocrisy; the heart must go along with it. 
This makes way for forgiveness. 'I said I will confess my 
transgressions, and thou forgavest.' Psa 32: 5. When the publican 
and thief confessed, they had pardon. The publican smote upon his 
breast with contrition, and said, 'God be merciful to me a sinner,' 
there was confession; he went away justified, there was forgiveness. 
The thief said, 'We indeed suffer justly': there was confession; and 
Christ absolved him before he died: 'Today shalt thou be with me in 
paradise.' Luke 23: 43. These words of Christ may have occasioned 
that saying of Augustine: Confession shuts the mouth of hell, and 
opens the gate of paradise. 
    The third ingredient in repentance is conversion, or turning 
from sin. 'We have sinned:' there was confession. 'They put away the 
strange gods:' there was conversion. Judges 10: 15, 16. It must be a 
universal turning from sin. 'Cast away from you all your 
transgressions.' Ezek 18: 31. You would be loath that God should 
forgive some of your sins only. Would you have him forgive all, and 
will you not forsake all? He that hides one rebel, is a traitor to 
the crown; he that lives in one known sin, is a traitorous 
hypocrite. There must not only be a turning from sin, but a turning 
to God. Therefore it is called 'Repentance toward God.' Acts 20: 21. 
The heart points towards God as the needle to the north pole. The 
prodigal not only left his harlots, but arose and went to his 
father. Luke 15: 18. This repentance is the ready way to pardon. 
'Let the wicked forsake his way, and return unto the Lord, and he 
will abundantly pardon.' Isa 55: 7. A king will not pardon a rebel 
whilst he continues in open hostility. Thus repentance goes before 
remission. They who never repented can have no ground to hope that 
their sins are pardoned. 
    Not that repentance merits the forgiveness of sin. To make 
repentance satisfy is Popish. By repentance we please God, but we do 
not satisfy him. 'Christ's blood must wash our tears.' Repentance is 
a condition, not a cause. God will not pardon for repentance, nor 
yet without it. He seals his pardons on melting hearts. Repentance 
makes us prize pardon the more. He who cries out of his broken 
bones, will the more prize the mercy of having them set again; so, 
when there is nothing in the soul but clouds of sorrow, and God 
brings pardon, which is setting a rainbow in the cloud to tell the 
soul the flood of God's wrath shall not overflow, oh! What joy is 
there at the sight of this rainbow! The soul burns in love to God. 
    (8) The greatest sins come within the compass of forgiveness. 
Incest, sodomy, adultery, theft, murder, which are sins of the first 
magnitude are pardonable. Paul was a blasphemer, and so sinned 
against the first table; a persecutor, and so sinned against the 
second table; and yet he obtained mercy. I Tim 1: 13. Zaccheus, an 
extortioner, Mary Magdalene, an unchaste woman, out of whom seven 
devils were cast, Manasseh, who made the streets run with blood, had 
pardon. Some of the Jews, who had a hand in crucifying Christ, were 
forgiven. God blots out not only the cloud, but the thick cloud, 
enormities as well as infirmities. Isa 44: 22. The king, in the 
parable, forgave his debtor that owed him ten thousand talents. Matt 
28: 27. A talent weighed three thousand shekels, ten thousand 
talents contained almost twelve tons of gold. This was an emblem of 
God's forgiving great sins. 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they 
shall be as white as snow.' Isa 1: 18. Scarlet, in the Greek, is 
called twice dipped, and the art of man cannot wash out the dye 
again. Though your sins are of a scarlet dye, God's mercy can wash 
them way, as the sea covers great rocks as well as little sands. 
This I mention that sinners may not despair. God counts it a glory 
to him to forgive great sins: in which mercy and love ride in 
triumph. 'The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant,' it was 
exuberant, it overflowed, as the Mile. I Tim 1: 14. We must not 
measure God by ourselves. His mercy excels our sins as much as 
heaven does the earth. Isa 55: 9. If great sins could not be 
forgiven, great sinners should not be preached to; but the gospel is 
to be preached to all. If they could not be forgiven, it were a 
dishonour to Christ's blood; as if the wound were broader than the 
plaister. God has first made great sinners 'broken vessels;' he has 
broken their hearts for sin, and then he has made them 'golden 
vessels;' he has filled them with the golden oil of pardoning mercy. 
This may encourage great sinners to come in and repent. The sin 
indeed against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable, not but that there is 
mercy enough in God to forgive it, but because he who has committed 
it will not have pardon. He despises God, scorns his mercy, spills 
the cordial of Christ's blood, and tramples it under foot; he puts 
away salvation from him. When a poor sinner looks upon himself and 
sees his guilt, and then looks on God's justice and holiness, he 
falls down confounded; but here is that which may be as a cork to 
the net, to keep him from despair - if he will leave his sins and 
come to Christ, mercy can seal his pardon. 
    (9) When God pardons a sinner, he forgives all sins. 'I will 
pardon all their iniquities.' Jer 33: 8. 'Having forgiven you all 
trespasses.' Col 2: 13. The mercy-seat, which was a type of 
forgiveness, covered the whole ark, to show that God covers all our 
transgressions. He does not leave one sin upon the score; he does 
not take his pen and for fourscore sins write down fifty, but blots 
out all sin. 'Who forgiveth all shine iniquities.' Psa 103: 3. When 
I say, God forgives all sins, I understand it of sins past, for sins 
to come are not forgiven till they are repented of. Indeed God has 
decreed to pardon them; and when he forgives one sin, he will in 
time forgive all; but sins future are not actually pardoned till 
they are repented of. It is absurd to think sin should be forgiven 
before it is committed. 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 20...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-19.txt