The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 24
(... continued from file 23)

    12th subtlety. He misrepresents true holiness that he may make 
others out of love with it. He paints the face of religion full of 
scars, and with seeming blemishes, that he may create in the minds 
of men prejudice against it. He represents religion as the most 
melancholy thing, and that he who embraces it must banish all joy 
out of his diocese, though the apostle speaks of 'joy in believing.' 
Rom 15: 13. Satan suggests that religion exposes men to danger: he 
shows them the cross, but hides the crown from them; he labours to 
put all the disgrace he can upon holiness, that he may tempt them to 
renounce it; he abuses the good Christian, and gives him a wrong 
name. The truly zealous man he calls hot-headed and factious; the 
patient man that bears injuries without revenge, he represents as a 
coward; the humble man as low-spirited; the heavenly man he calls a 
fool. He lets things that are seen go for things that are not seen; 
and thus misrepresents religion to the world. As John Huss, that 
holy man, was painted with red devils, so Satan paints holiness with 
as deformed and misshapen a face as he can, that he may, by this 
temptation, draw men off from solid piety, and make them rather 
scorn than embrace it. The hand of Joab is in this. Satan is 
tempting persons to atheism, to cast off all religion. 
    13th subtlety. Satan draws men off from the love of the truth 
to embrace error. 'That they should believe a lie.' 2 Thess 2: 11. 
He is called in Scripture not only an unclean spirit, but a lying 
spirit. As an unclean spirit he labours to defile the soul with 
lust, and as a lying spirit he labours to corrupt the mind with 
error. All this is dangerous, because many errors look so like the 
truth as gilt represents true gold. Satan thus beguiles souls. 
Though the Scripture blames heretics for being promoters of error, 
yet it charges Satan with being the chief contriver of it. They 
spread the error, but the devil is a lying spirit in their mouths. 
Satan's great temptation is to make men believe dangerous impostures 
to be glorious truths. He thus transforms himself into an angel of 
light. What is the meaning of Satan's sowing tares in the parable 
but sowing error instead of truth? Matt 13: 25. How quickly had the 
devil broached false doctrine in the apostles' times? That it was 
necessary to be circumcised, that angel worship was lawful, and that 
Christ was not come in the flesh. Acts 15: 1; Col 2: 18; I John 4: 
3. The devil tempts by drawing men to error, because he knows how 
deadly the snare is, and the great mischief it will do. (1) Error is 
of a spreading nature; it is compared to leaven because it sours, 
and to a gangrene because it spreads. Matt 16: 11; 2 Tim 2: 17. One 
error spreads into more, like a circle in the water that multiplies 
into more circles; one error seldom goes alone. Error spreads from 
one person to another. It is like the plague, which infects all 
round about it. Satan by infecting one person with error infects 
more! The error of Pelagius spread on a sudden to Palestine, Africa, 
and Italy. The Arian error was at first but a single spark, but at 
last it set almost the whole world on fire. (2) The devil lays the 
snare of error, because it brings divisions into the church; and 
these bring opprobrium and scandal upon the ways of God. The devil 
dances at discord. Division destroys peace, which was Christ's 
legacy; and love, which is the bond of perfection. Not only has 
Christ's coat been rent, but his body, by the divisions which error 
has caused. In churches and families where error creeps in, what 
animosities and factions it makes! It sets the father against the 
son, and the son against the father. What slaughters and bloodshed 
have been occasioned by errors in the church! (3) The devil's policy 
in raising errors is to hinder reformation. He was never a friend to 
reformation. In the primitive times, after the apostles' days, the 
serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, 
which was a deluge of heresies, that so he might hinder the progress 
of the gospel. Rev 12: 15. (4) Satan tempts to error, because error 
devours godliness. The Gnostics, as Epiphanius observes, were not 
only corrupted in their judgements, but in their morals; they were 
loose in their lives. 'Ungodly men, turning the grace of our God 
into lasciviousness.' Jude 4. The Familists afterwards turned 
Ranters, and gave themselves over to vices and immoralities; and 
this they did while boasting of the Spirit and of perfection. (5) 
The devil's design in seducing by error is, that he knows it is 
pernicious to souls. It damns as well as vice; poison kills as well 
as a pistol. 'Who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.' 2 Pet 
2: 1. If Satan be thus subtle in laying snares of error to deceive, 
had we not need to pray that God would not suffer us to be led into 
temptation; that he would make us wise to keep out of the snare of 
error; or, if we have fallen into it, that he would enable us to 
recover out of the snare by repentance? 
    14th subtlety. Satan bewitches and ensnares men by setting 
pleasing baits before them; as the riches, pleasures, and honours of 
the world. 'All these things will I give thee.' Matt 4: 9. How many 
does he tempt with this golden apple? Pride, idleness, luxury, are 
the three worms which are bred by plenty. 'They that will be rich 
fall into temptation and a snare.' I Tim 6: 9. Satan kills with 
these silver darts. How many surfeit on luscious delights! The 
pleasures of the world are the great engine by which Satan batters 
down men's souls. His policy is to tickle them to death, to damn 
them with delights. The flesh would fain be pleased, and Satan 
prevails by this temptation; he drowns them in the sweet waters of 
pleasure. Such as have abundance of the world walk in the midst of 
golden snares. We had need watch our hearts in prosperity, and pray 
not to be led into temptation. We have as much need to be careful 
that we are not endangered by prosperity as a man has to be careful 
at a feast where there are some poisoned dishes of meat. 
    15th subtlety. Satan in tempting pleads necessity. He knows 
that necessity may in some cases seem to palliate and excuse a sin. 
It may seem to make a less evil good to avoid a greater, as Lot 
offered to expose his daughters to the Sodomites, and was willing 
that they should be defiled, that he might preserve the angel 
strangers that were come into his house. Gen 19: 8. Doubtless Satan 
had a hand in this temptation, and made Lot believe that the 
necessity of the action would excuse the sin. The tradesman pleads 
the necessity of unlawful gain, or he cannot live; another pleads a 
necessity of revenge, or his credit would be impaired. Thus Satan 
tempts men to sin by the plea of the necessity. He will quote 
Scripture to prove that in some extraordinary cases there may be a 
necessity of doing that which is not at other times justifiable. Did 
not David, in case of necessity, 'eat the shewbread, which was not 
lawful for him, but only the priests'? Matt 12: 4. We do not read 
that he was blamed; then says Satan, Why may not you in cases 
extraordinary trespass a little and take the forbidden fruit? O 
beware of this temptation! Satan's cloven foot is in it. Nothing can 
warrant a thing in its own sinful: necessity will not justify 
    16th subtlety. Satan draws men to presumption. Presumption is a 
confidence without sufficient ground: it is made up of two 
ingredients - audacity and security. This temptation is common. 
There is a twofold presumption: (1) When men presume that they are 
better than they are; that they have grace when they have none. They 
will not take gold on trust, but they will take grace upon trust. 
The foolish virgins presumed that they had oil in their vessels when 
they had none. Here that rule of Epicharmus is good, 'Distrust a 
fallacious heart.' (2) When men presume on God's mercy; that though 
they are not so good as they should be, yet God is merciful. They 
look upon God's mercy with the broad spectacles of presumption. 
Satan soothes men in their sins; he preaches to them, 'All hope, no 
fear;' and deludes them with golden dreams. Quam multi cum vana spe 
descendant ad inferos [How many with vain hope go down to hell]. 
Augustine. Presumption is Satan's draw-net, by which he drags 
millions to hell. By this temptation he often draws the godly to 
sin. They presume upon their privileges or graces, and so venture on 
occasions of sin. Jehoshaphat joined in a league of amity with king 
Ahab, presuming his grace would he an antidote strong enough against 
the infection. 2 Chron 18: 3. Satan tempted Peter to presume upon 
his own strength; and when it came to the trial he was foiled, and 
came off with shame. We had therefore need pray, that we may not be 
led into this temptation; and say with David, 'Keep back thy servant 
from presumptuous sins.' Psa 19: 13. 
    17th subtlety. Satan carries on his designs against us under 
the highest pretences of friendship. He puts silver upon his bait, 
and dips his poisoned pills in sugar, as some courtiers who make the 
greatest pretences of love where they have the most deadly hatred. 
Satan puts off his lion's skin and comes in sheep's clothing; he 
pretends kindness and friendship, and would consult what might be 
for our good. Thus he came to Christ, 'Command that these stones be 
made bread.' Matt 4: 3. As if he had said, 'I see thou art hungry, 
and here there is no table spread for thee in the wilderness; I, 
therefore, pitying thy condition, wish thee to get something to eat; 
turn stones to bread, that thy hunger may be satisfied:' but Christ 
spied the temptation, and with the sword of the Spirit wounded the 
old serpent. Thus Satan came to Eve, and tempted her under the 
notion of a friend: Eat, said he, of the forbidden fruit; for the 
Lord knows, 'that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall be as gods:' 
as if he had said, I persuade you only to that which will put you 
into a better condition than you now are in; eat of this tree, and 
it will make you omniscient, 'Ye shall be as gods.' What a kind 
devil was here! But it was a subtle temptation. She greedily 
swallowed the bait, and ruined herself and all her posterity. Let us 
fear his fallacious flatteries. Timeo Danaos et done farentes [I 
distrust the Greeks even when they bring gifts]. 
    18th subtlety. Satan tempts men to sin by persuading them to 
keep his counsel. They are like those that have some foul disease, 
and will rather die than tell the physician. It were wisdom, in case 
of sore temptation, to open one's mind to some experienced 
Christian, whose counsel might be an antidote against it. There is 
danger in concealing it, as in concealing a distemper that may prove 
mortal. How had we need renew the petition, 'Lead us not into 
    19th subtlety. Satan makes use of fit tools and engines for 
carrying on his work - that is, he makes use of such persons as may 
be the most likely means to promote his designs. He lays the plot of 
a temptation, cuts out the work, and employs others to finish it. 
    (1) He makes use of such as are in places of dignity, men of 
renown. He knows, if he can get these on his side, they may draw 
others into snares. When the princes and heads of the tribes joined 
with Korah, they presently drew a multitude into the conspiracy. 
Numb 16: 2, 10. 
    (2) He carries on his designs by men of wit and parts, such as, 
if it were possible, should deceive the very elect. He must have a 
great deal of cunning that persuades a man to be out of love with 
his food; but the devil can make use of heretical spirits to 
persuade men to be out of love with the ordinances of God, in which 
they profess to have found comfort. Many who once seemed to be 
strict frequenters of the house of God are persuaded, by Satan's 
cunning instruments, to leave it off and to follow an ignis fatuus, 
the light within them. One great subtlety of the devil is to make 
use of such cunning, subtle-paled men as may be fit to carry on his 
tempting designs. 
    (3) He makes use of bad company to be instruments of tempting, 
especially to draw youth into sin. First they persuade them to come 
into their company, then to twist into a cord of friendship, then to 
drink with them, and, by degrees, debauch them. These are the 
devil's decoys to tempt others. 
    20th subtlety. Satan strikes at some grace more than others. He 
aims at some persons more than others; or at some grace more than 
others; and if he can prevail in this, he knows it will be an 
advantage to him. If you ask what grace it is that Satan most 
strikes at, I answer, it is the grace of faith. He lays the train of 
his temptation to blow up the fort of our faith. Fidei scutum 
percutit [He strikes the shield of faith]. Why did Christ pray more 
for Peter's faith than any other grace? Luke 22: 32. Because he saw 
that his faith was most in danger; the devil was striking at this 
grace. Satan, in tempting Eve, laboured to weaken her faith. 'Yea, 
has God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' Gen 3: 
1. The devil would persuade her that God had not spoken truth; and 
when he had once brought her to distrust, she took of the tree. It 
is called scutum fidei, 'the shield of faith.' Eph 6: 16. Satan, in 
tempting, strikes most at our shield, he assaults our faith. Though 
true faith cannot be wholly lost, it may suffer a great eclipse. 
Though the devil cannot by temptation take away the life of faith, 
yet he may hinder its growth. He cannot gratiam diruere [destroy 
grace], but he may debilitare [weaken it]. 
    Why does Satan in tempting chiefly assault our faith? 
    'Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king.' 
I Kings 22: 31. Faith is the king of the graces; it is a royal, 
princely grace, and puts forth the most majestic and noble acts; 
therefore Satan fights chiefly with this grace. I shall show you the 
devil's policy in assaulting faith most. 
    (1) It is the grace that does Satan most mischief; it makes the 
most resistance against him. 'Whom resist, stedfast in faith.' I Pet 
5: 9. No grace more bruises the serpent's head than faith. It is 
both a shield and a sword, defensive and offensive. It is a shield 
to guard the head and defend the vitals. The shield of faith 
prevents the fiery darts of temptation from piercing us through. 
Faith is a sword that wounds the red dragon. 
    How comes faith to be so strong that it can resist Satan and 
put him to flight? 
    Because it brings the strength of Christ into the soul. 
Samson's strength lay in his hair, ours lies in Christ. If a child 
be assaulted, it runs and calls to its father for help: when faith 
is assaulted, it runs and calls Christ, and in his strength 
    Faith furnishes itself with a store of promises. The promises 
are faith's weapons to fight with. As David, by five stones in his 
sling, wounded Goliath, so faith puts the promises, as stones, into 
its sling. I Sam 17: 40. 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' 
Heb 13: 5. 'A bruised reed shall he not break.' Matt 12: 20. 'Who 
will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.' I Cor 10: 
13. 'The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.' 
Rom 16: 20. 'No man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.' 
John 10: 29. Here are five promises, like five stones, put into the 
sling of faith, and with these a believer may wound the red dragon. 
Faith being such a grace to resist and wound Satan, he watches his 
opportunity to batter our shield, though he cannot break it. 
    (2) Satan strikes most at our faith, and would weaken and 
destroy it, because it has a great influence upon all the other 
graces, and sets them to work. Like some rich clothier, that gives 
out a stock of wool to the poor, and sets them spinning, faith gives 
out a stock to all the other graces, and sets them to work. It sets 
love to work. 'Faith which worketh by love.' Gal 5: 6. When once the 
soul believes God's love, its love is kindled to God. The believing 
martyrs burned hotter in love than in fire. Faith sets repentance to 
work. When the soul believes there is mercy to be had, it sets the 
eyes weeping. Oh, says the soul, that ever I should offend such a 
gracious God! Repenting tears drop from the eye of faith. 'The 
father of the child cried out with tears, Lord, I believe.' Mark 9: 
24. If the devil cannot destroy our faith, yet if he can disturb it, 
if he can hinder and stop its actings, he knows all the other graces 
will be lame and inactive. If the spring in a watch be stopped, the 
motion of the wheels will be hindered: so if faith be down, all the 
other graces will be at a stand. 
    21st subtlety. Satan encourages those doctrines that are 
flesh-pleasing. He knows the flesh loves to be gratified, that it 
cries out for ease and liberty, and that it will not endure any 
yoke, unless it be lined and made soft. He will be sure, therefore, 
to lay his bait of temptation so as to please and humour the flesh. 
The word says, 'Strive as in an agony' to enter into glory; crucify 
the flesh; take the kingdom of heaven by holy violence. Satan, to 
enervate and weaken these Scriptures, flatters the flesh; tells man 
there needs no such strictness; nor so much zeal and violence; a 
softer pace will serve; sure there is an easier way to heaven; there 
needs no breaking the heart for sin: do but confess to a priest, or 
tell over a few beads, or say some Ave Marias, and that will procure 
you a pardon, and give you admission into paradise. Or he goes 
another way to work: if he sees men startle at Popery, he stirs up 
flattering Antinomianism, and says, 'What needs all this cost? what 
needs repenting tears? these are legal; what need to be so strict in 
your obedience? Christ has done all for you: you should make use of 
your Christian liberty.' This temptation draws many away; it takes 
them off from strictness of life. He who sells cheapest shall have 
most customers, the devil knows that it is a cheap and easy doctrine 
which pleases the flesh, and he doubts not but he shall have 
customers enough. 
    22nd subtlety. Satan has his temptations in reference to holy 
duties. His policy is either to hinder from duty, or discourage in 
duty, or put men too far in duty. 
    (1) To hinder from duty, as (I Thess 2: 18), 'We would have 
come once and again, but Satan hindered us.' So many duties of 
religion would have been performed, but Satan hindered. The hand of 
Joab is in this. There are three duties which the devil is an enemy 
to, and labours to keep us from. 
    Meditation. He will let men profess, or pray and hear in a 
formal manner, which does him no hurt and them no good, but he 
opposes meditation, as being a means to compose the heart and make 
it serious. He can stand your small shot, if you do not put in this 
bullet. He cares not how much you hear or how little you meditate. 
Meditation is chewing the cud, it makes the word digest and turn to 
nourishment; it is the bellows of the affections. The devil is an 
enemy to this. When Christ is alone in the wilderness, giving 
himself to divine contemplations, the devil comes and tempts him, to 
hinder him. He will thrust in worldly business, something or other 
to keep men off from holy meditation. 
    Mortification. This is as needful as heaven. 'Mortify your 
members which are upon the earth, uncleanness, inordinate 
affection.' Col 3: 5. Satan will let men be angry with sin, exchange 
sin, or restrain sin, which keeps it a prisoner, that cannot break 
out; but when it comes to taking away the life of sin, he labours to 
stop the warrant and hinder the execution. When sin is mortifying, 
Satan is being crucified. 
    Self-examination. 'Examine yourselves:' a metaphor from metal 
that is pierced through, to see if there be gold within. 2 Cor 13: 
5. Self-examination is a spiritual inquisition set up in the soul. 
Man must search his heart for sin, as one would search a house for a 
traitor; or, as Israel sought for leaven to burn it. Satan, if it be 
possible, will, by his temptations, keep men from this duty. He 
tells them their estate is good, and what need they put themselves 
to the trouble of examination? Though men will not take their money 
on trust, but will examine it by the touchstone, yet Satan persuades 
them to take their grace on trust. He persuaded the foolish virgins 
that they had oil in their lamps. He has another policy, which is to 
show men the faults of others, in order to keep them from searching 
their own. He will allow them spectacles to see what is amiss in 
others, but not a looking-glass to behold their own faces and see 
what is amiss in themselves. 
    (2) His policy is to discourage in duty. When any one has been 
performing holy duties, he tells him he has played the hypocrite; he 
has served God for money, he has had sinister ends: his duties have 
been full of distraction they have been fly-blown with pride: he has 
offered the blind and the lame and how can he expect a reward from 
God? He tells a Christian he has increased his sin by prayer, and 
endeavours to make him out of conceit with his duties, so he knows 
not whether he had better pray or not. 
    (3) If this plot will not take, he labours to put a Christian 
on too far in duty. If he cannot keep him from duty, he will run him 
on too far in it. Humiliation, or mourning for sin, is a duty, but 
Satan will push it too far; he will say, Thou art not humbled 
enough; and, indeed, he never thinks a man is humbled enough till he 
despairs. He would make a Christian wade so far in the waters of 
repentance, that he should get beyond his depth, and be drowned in 
the gulf of despair. He comes thus to the soul, Thy sins have been 
great, and thy sorrows should be proportionate to thy sins. But is 
it so? Canst thou say thou hast been as great a mourner as thou hast 
been a sinner? Thou didst for many years drive no other trade but 
sin - and is a drop of sorrow enough for a sea of sin? No; thy soul 
must be more humbled, and lie steeping longer in the brinish waters 
of repentance. He would have a Christian weep himself blind, and in 
a desperate mood throw away the anchor of hope. Now, lest any be 
troubled with this temptation, let me say that this is a mere 
fallacy of Satan; for sorrow proportionable to sin is not attainable 
in this life, nor does God expect it. It is sufficient for thee, 
Christian, if thou hast a gospel-sorrow; if thou grievest so far as 
to see sin hateful, and Christ precious; if thou grievest so as to 
break off iniquity; if thy remorse end in divorce. This is to be 
humbled enough. The gold has lain long enough in the fire when the 
dross is purged out; so a Christian has lain long enough in 
humiliation when the love of sin is purged out. This is to be 
humbled enough for divine acceptation. God, for Christ's sake, will 
accept of this sorrow for sin; therefore let not Satan's temptations 
drive thee to despair. You see how subtle an enemy he is, to hinder 
from duty, or discourage in duty, or put men on too far in duty, 
that he may run them upon the rock of despair. Had we not need, 
then, who have such a subtle enemy, to pray, 'Lord, lead us not into 
temptation'? As the serpent beguiled Eve, let us not be beguiled by 
this hellish Machiavelli. 
    23rd subtlety. Satan tempts to sin by the hope of returning out 
of it by speedy repentance. It is easy for the bird to fly into the 
snare, but it is not so easy to get out of it. Is it so easy a thing 
to repent? Are there no pangs in the new birth? Is it easy to leap 
out of Delilah's lap into Abraham's bosom? How many has Satan 
flattered into hell by the policy, that if they sin, they may 
recover themselves by repentance! Alas! is repentance in our power? 
A springlock can shut of itself, but it cannot open without a key; 
so we can shut ourselves out from God, but we cannot open to him by 
repentance, till he opens our heart who has the key of David in his 
    24th subtlety. Satan puts us upon doing that which is good, 
    To mourn for sin is a duty; the sacrifices of God are a broken 
heart. But there is a time when it may not be so seasonable. Psa 51: 
17. After some eminent deliverance, which calls for rejoicing, to 
have the spirit dyed of a sad colour, and to sit weeping, is not 
seasonable. There was a special time at the feast of tabernacles, 
when God called his people to cheerfulness. 'Seven days shalt thou 
keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt surely 
rejoice.' Deut 16: 15. Now, if at this time the Israelites had hung 
their harps upon the willows, and been disconsolate, it had been 
very unseasonable, like mourning at a wedding. When God, by his 
providence, calls us to thanksgiving, and we sit drooping, and, with 
Rachel, refuse to be comforted, it is very evil, and savours of 
ingratitude. It is Satan's temptation; the hand of Joab is in this. 
    To rejoice is a duty. 'Praise is comely for the upright.' Psa 
33: 1. But when God, by his judgements, calls us to weeping, joy and 
mirth is unseasonable. 'In that day did the Lord call to weeping, 
and behold joy and gladness.' Isa 22: 12, 13. Oecolampadius, and 
other learned writers, think it was in the time of King Ahaz, when 
the signs of God's anger, like a blazing star, appeared. To be given 
to mirth at that time, was very unseasonable. 
    To read the word is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon 
it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is 
being preached, or the sacrament administered, is unseasonable, yea, 
sinful; as Hushai said, 'The counsel is not good at this time.' 2 
Sam 17: 7. There was a set time enjoined for the Passover, when the 
Jews were to bring their offering to the Lord. Numb 9: 2. Had the 
people been reading the law at home in the time of the Passover, it 
had not been in season, and God would have punished it for a 
contempt. It is the devil's subtle temptation either to keep us from 
duty, or to put us upon it when it is least in season. Duties of 
religion, not well timed, and done in season, are dangerous. Snow 
and hail are good for the ground when they come in their season; but 
in the harvest, when the corn is ripe, a storm of hail would do 
    25th subtlety. Satan persuades men to delay repenting and 
turning to God. He says (as Hag 1: 2), 'The time is not come.' Now 
youth is budding, or you are but in the flower of your age, it is 
too soon to repent: 'The time is not come.' This temptation is the 
devil's draw-net by which he draws millions to hell; it is a 
dangerous temptation. Sin is dulce venenum (a sweet poison). 
Bernard. The longer poison lies in the body, the more mortal; so, by 
delay of repentance, sin strengthens, and the heart hardens. The 
longer ice freezes, the harder it is to be broken; so the longer a 
man freezes in impenitency, the more difficult it will be to have 
his heart broken. When sin has gotten a haunt, it is not easily 
driven away. Besides, the danger of delaying repentance appears in 
this, that life is hazardous, and may on a sudden expire. What 
security have you that you shall live another day? Life is made up 
of a few flying minutes; it is a taper soon blown out. 'What is your 
life? It is even a vapour.' James 4: 14. The body is like a vessel, 
tunned with a little breath; sickness broaches it, death draws it 
out. How dangerous therefore is it to procrastinate and put off 
turning to God by repentance! Many now in hell purposed to repent, 
but death surprised them. 
    26th subtlety. Satan, in tempting, assaults and weakens the 
saints' peace. If he cannot destroy their grace, he will disturb 
their peace. He envies the Christian his good day; and if he cannot 
keep him from a heaven hereafter, he will keep him from a heaven 
upon earth. There is nothing, next to holiness, a Christian prizes 
more than peace and tranquillity of mind. It is the cream of life, a 
bunch of grapes by the way. Now, Satan's great policy is to shake a 
Christian's peace; that, if he will go to heaven, he shall go 
thither through frights, and plenty of tears. He throws in his 
fire-balls of temptation, to set the saints' peace on fire. Of such 
great concern is spiritual peace, that no wonder if Satan would, by 
his intricate subtleties, rob us of that jewel. Spiritual peace is a 
token of God's favour. As Joseph had a special testimony of his 
father's kindness in the party-coloured coat, so have the saints a 
special token of God's good will to them, when he gives them the 
party-coloured coat of inward peace. No wonder then, if Satan rages 
so much against the saints' peace, and would tear off this 
comfortable robe from them. The devil troubles the waters of the 
saints' peace because hereby he hopes to have the more advantage of 
    (1) By perplexing their spirits, he takes off their chariot 
wheels; unfits them for the service of God; and puts body and mind 
out of temper, as an instrument out of tune. Sadness of spirit 
prevailing, a Christian can think of nothing but his troubles; his 
mind is full of doubts, fears, surmises, so that he is like a person 
distracted, and is scarcely himself; either he neglects the duties 
of religion, or his mind is taken off from them while he is doing 
them. There is one duty especially that melancholy and sadness of 
spirit unfits for, and that is thankfulness. Thankfulness is a 
tribute or quit-rent due to God. 'Let the saints be joyful, let the 
high praises of God be in their mouth.' Psa 149: 5, 6. But when 
Satan has disturbed a Christian's spirit and filled his mind full of 
black, and almost despairing thoughts, how can he be thankful? It 
rejoices Satan to see how his plot takes. By making God's children 
unquiet, he makes them unthankful. 
    (2) By troubling the saints' peace, Satan lays a stumbling 
block in the way of others. By this he gets occasion to render the 
ways of God unlovely to those who are looking heavenward. He sets 
before new beginners the perplexing thoughts, the tears, the groans 
of those who are wounded in spirit, to scare them from all 
seriousness in religion. He will object to new beginners: Do you not 
see how these sad souls torture themselves with melancholy thoughts, 
and will you change the comforts and pleasures of this life to sit 
always in the house of mourning? Will you espouse that religion 
which makes you a terror to yourselves, and a burden to others? Can 
you he in dove with a religion that is ready to fright you out of 
your wits? Thus the devil, by troubling the saints' peace, would 
discourage others who are looking towards heaven; he would beat them 
off from prayer, and hearing all soul-awakening sermons, by the fear 
lest they should fall into this black humour of melancholy, and end 
their days in despair. 
    (3) By this subtle policy of Satan, in disturbing the saints' 
peace, and making them believe God does not love them, he sometimes 
so far prevails as to make them begin to entertain hard thoughts of 
God. Through the black spectacles of melancholy, God's dealings look 
sad and ghastly. Satan tempts the godly to have strange thoughts of 
God; to think he has cast off all pity, and has forgotten to he 
gracious, and to make sad conclusions. Psa 78: 7, 8, 9. 'I reckoned, 
that as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to 
night, wilt thou make an end of me.' Isa 38: 13. The devil, by 
melancholy, causes a sad eclipse in the soul, so that it begins to 
think God has shut up the springs of mercy, and there is no hope. 
Hereupon Satan gets further advantage of a troubled spirit. 
Sometimes he puts it upon sinful wishes and execrations against 
itself; as Job, who in distemper of mind, cursed his birthday. Job 
3: 3. Though he did not curse his God, yet he cursed his birthday. 
Thus you see what advantages the devil gets by raising storms and 
troubling the saints' peace. If the devil is capable of any delight, 
it is to see the saints' disquiets: their groans are his music. It 
is a sport to him to see them torture themselves upon the rack of 
melancholy, and almost drown themselves in tears. When the godly 
have unjust surmises of God, question his love, deny the work of 
grace, and fall to wishing they had never been born, Satan is ready 
to clap his hands, and shout for a victory. 
    By what arts and methods does Satan, in tempting, disturb the 
saints' peace? 
    He slily conveys evil thoughts, and makes a Christian believe 
they come from his own heart. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack, 
but it was of Joseph's putting there; so a child of God often finds 
atheistical and blasphemous thoughts in his mind, but Satan has put 
them there. As some lay their children at another's door, so Satan 
lays his temptations at our door, and fathers them upon us. We then 
trouble ourselves about them, and nurse them, as if they were our 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 25...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-24.txt