The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 25
(... continued from file 24)

    Satan disturbs the saints' peace by drawing forth their sins in 
the black colours to affright them, and make them ready to give up 
the ghost. He is called the accuser of the brethren; not only 
because he accuses them to God, but accuses them to themselves. He 
tells them they are guilty of certain sins and they are hypocrites; 
whereas the sins of a believer only show that grace is not perfect, 
not that he has no grace. When Satan comes with this temptation, 
show him that Scripture, 'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son 
cleanseth us from all sin.' I John 1: 7. 
    27th subtlety. Satan, by plausible arguments, tempts men to 
commit felo de se, to make away with themselves. This temptation not 
only crosses the current of Scripture, but it is abhorrent to nature 
to be one's own executioner. Yet such are the cunning artifices of 
Satan, that he persuades many to lay violent hands upon themselves, 
as the bills of mortality witness. He tempts some to do this in 
terror of conscience, telling them, All the hell they shall have is 
in their conscience, and death will give them present ease. He 
tempts others to make away with themselves that they may live no 
longer to sin against God. Others he tempts to make away with 
themselves, that they may presently arrive at happiness. He tells 
them, the best of the saints desire heaven, and the sooner they are 
there the better. 
    Augustine speaks of Cleombrotus, who hearing Plato read a 
lecture on the immortality of the soul, and the joys of the other 
world, se in praecipitium dejecit, threw himself down a steep 
precipice, or rock, and killed himself. This is Satan's plot; but we 
must not break prison by laying violent hands upon ourselves, but 
stay till God sends and opens the door. Let us pray 'Lead us not 
into temptation.' Still bear in mind that Scripture, 'Thou shalt not 
kill.' Exod 20: 13. Clamitat in caelum vox sanguinis [The voice of 
blood cries to heaven]. If we may not kill another, much less 
ourselves; and take heed of discontent, which often opens the door 
to self-murder. 
    Thus I have shown you twenty-seven subtleties of Satan in 
tempting, that you may the better know them, and avoid them. There 
is a story of a Jew who would have poisoned Luther, but a friend 
sent to Luther the picture of the Jew, warning him to take heed of 
such a man when he saw him; by which means he knew the murderer, and 
escaped his hands. I have told you the subtle devices of Satan in 
tempting; I have shown you the picture of him that would murder you. 
Being forewarned, I beseech you take heed of the murderer. 
    From the subtlety of Satan in tempting, let me draw three 
    (1) It may administer matter of wonder to us how any are saved. 
How amazing that Satan, this Abaddon, or angel of the bottomless pit 
(Rev 9: 11) this Apollyon, this soul-devourer, does not win all 
mankind! What a wonder that some are preserved, that neither Satan's 
hidden snares prevail nor his fiery darts: that neither the head of 
the serpent, nor the paw of the lion destroys them! Surely it will 
be matter of admiration to the saints, when they come to heaven, to 
think how strangely they came thither; that notwithstanding all the 
force and fraud, the power and policy of hell, they should arrive 
safe at the heavenly port! This is owing to the safe conduct of 
Christ, the Captain of our salvation. Michael is too hard for the 
    (2) Is Satan subtle? See what need we have to pray to God for 
wisdom to discern the snares of Satan, and strength to resist them. 
We cannot of ourselves stand against temptation; if we could, the 
prayer were needless, 'Lead us not,' &c. Let us not think we can be 
too cunning for the devil, or escape his wiles and darts. If David 
and Peter, who were pillars in God's temple fell by temptation, how 
soon should such weak reeds as we are be blown down, if God should 
leave us! Take Christ's advice, 'Watch and pray, that ye enter not 
into temptation.' Matt 26: 41. 
    (3) See how the end of all Satan's subtleties in tempting is, 
that he may be an accuser. He lays the plot, entices men to sin, and 
then brings in the indictment; as if one should make another drunk, 
and then complain of him to the magistrate for being drunk. The 
devil is first a tempter, and then an informer: first a liar and 
then a murderer. 
    Having shown the subtleties of Satan in tempting, I shall 
answer two questions: 
    Why does God suffer his saints to be buffeted by Satan's 
    He does it for many wise and holy ends. 
    (1) He lets them be tempted to try them. The Hebrew word 
signifies both to tempt and to try. Temptation is a touchstone to 
try what is in the heart. The devil tempts that he may deceive, but 
God lets us be tempted to try us. Qui non tentatur, non probatur [He 
who is not tempted is not tested]. Augustine. 
    Hereby God tries our sincerity. Job's sincerity was tried by 
temptation; the devil told God that Job was a hypocrite, and served 
him only for a livery; but, said he, 'Touch all that he has (that 
is, let me tempt him) and he will curse thee to thy face!' Job 1: 
11. Well, God did let the devil touch him by temptation, and yet Job 
remained holy, he worshipped God, and blessed God; ver 20, 21. Here 
Job's sincerity was proved; he had fiery temptations, but he came 
out of the fire a golden Christian. Temptation is a touchstone of 
    By temptation God tries our love. The wife of Tigranes never 
showed her chastity and love to her husband, as when she was tempted 
by Cyrus, but did not yield; so, our love to God is seen when we can 
look a temptation in the face, and turn our back upon it. Though the 
devil come as a serpent subtly, and offers a golden apple, yet he 
will not touch the forbidden fruit. When the devil showed Christ all 
the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, such was Christ's 
love to his Father, that he abhorred the temptation. True love will 
not be bribed. When the devil's darts are most fiery, a saint's love 
to God is most fervent. 
    By temptation God tries our courage. 'Ephraim is a silly dove 
without heart.' Hos 7: 11. So it may be said of many, they are 
excordes, without a heart; they have no heart to resist a 
temptation; no sooner does Satan come with his solicitations, but 
they yield; like a coward, who as soon as the thief approaches, 
delivers his purse. He is a valorous Christian that brandishes the 
sword of the Spirit against Satan, and will rather die than yield. 
The courage of the Romans was never more seen than when they were 
assaulted by the Carthaginians; so the heroic spirit of a saint is 
never more seen than in a battle-field, when he is fighting with the 
red dragon, and by the power of faith puts the devil to flight. 
Fidei robur potest esse concussum, non excussum [The strength of 
faith can be shaken, not destroyed]. Tertullian. One reason why God 
lets his people be tempted is, that their metal may be tried, their 
sincerity, love, and magnanimity. When grace is proved, the gospel 
is honoured. 
    (2) God suffers his children to be tempted, that they may be 
kept from pride. Quos non gula superavit [Those whom greed has not 
overcome]. Cyprian. Pride crept once into the angels, and into the 
apostles, when they disputed which of them should be greatest; and 
in Peter, when he said, 'Though all men forsake thee, yet I will 
not,' as if he had had more grace than all the apostles. Pride keeps 
grace low, that it cannot thrive; as the spleen swells, so the other 
parts of the body consume; as pride grows, so grace consumes. God 
resists pride; and, that he may keep his children humble, he suffers 
them sometimes to fall into temptation. 'Lest I should be exalted, 
there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan 
to buffet me.' 2 Cor 12: 7. When Paul was lifted up by revelations, 
he was in danger of being lifted up with pride; then came the 
messenger of Satan to buffet him: that was some sore temptation to 
humble him. The thorn in the flesh was to prick the bladder of 
pride. Better is the temptation that humbles me than the duty that 
makes me proud. Rather than a Christian should be proud, God lets 
him fall into the devil's hands awhile, that he may be cured of his 
    (3) God lets his people be tempted that they may be fitter to 
comfort others who are in the same distress, and speak a word in due 
season to such as are weary. Paul was trained up in the 
fencing-school of temptation, and was able to acquaint others with 
Satan's wiles and stratagems, 2 Cor 2: 11. A man that has ridden 
over a place where there are quicksands, is the fittest to guide 
others through that dangerous way; so he who has been buffeted by 
Satan, and has felt the claws of the roaring lion, is the fittest 
man to deal with one that is tempted. 
    (4) God lets his children be tempted to make them long more for 
heaven, where they shall be out of gunshot, and freed from the 
hissing of the old serpent. Satan is not yet fully cast into prison, 
but like a prisoner who is under bail, he vexes and molests the 
saints; he lays his snares, throws his fireballs, but it only makes 
the people of God long to be gone from hence, and pray that they had 
the wings of a dove, to fly away and be at rest. God suffered Israel 
to be vexed with the Egyptians, that they might long the more to be 
in Canaan. Heaven is the centrum, a place of rest, centrum 
quietativum: no bullets of temptation fly there. The eagle that 
soars aloft in the air, and sits perching upon the tops of high 
trees, is not troubled with the stinging of serpents; so, when 
believers have got into the heaven above, they shall not be stung 
with the old serpent. The devil is cast out of the heavenly 
paradise. Heaven is compared to an exceeding high mountain. Rev 21: 
10. It is so high, that Satan's fiery darts cannot reach up to it. 
Nullus ibi hostium metes, nullae insidiae daemonum [There is no fear 
of enemies there, no snares of devils]. Bernard. 
    The temptations here are to make the saints long till death 
sound a retreat, and call them off the field where the bullets of 
temptation fly so thick, that they may receive a victorious crown. 
    What rocks of support are there, or what comfort for tempted 
    (1) That it is not our case alone, but has been the case of 
God's most eminent saints. 'There has no temptation taken you but 
such as is common to man,' yea, to the best men. I Cor 10: 13. 
Christ's lambs, which have had the mark of election upon them, have 
been set upon by the world. Elijah, that could shut heaven by 
prayer, could not shut his heart from temptation. I Kings 19: 4. Job 
was tempted to curse God, Peter to deny Christ; and hardly ever any 
saint has got to heaven but has met with a lion by the way. Sortem 
quam omnes sancti patiuntur nemo recusat [No one escapes the lot 
which all the saints suffer]. Nay, Jesus Christ himself, though free 
from sin, yet was not free from temptation. We read of his baptism; 
then he was 'led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.' 
Matt 4: 1. No sooner was Christ out of the water of baptism, but he 
was in the fire of temptation; and if the devil would set upon 
Christ, no wonder if he set upon us. There was no sin in Christ, no 
powder for the devil's fire. Temptation to him was like a burr on a 
crystal glass, which glides off; or like a spark of fire on a marble 
pillar, which will not stick: and yet Satan was bold to tempt him. 
It is some comfort that such as have been our betters have wrestled 
with temptations. 
    (2) Another rock of support that may comfort a tempted soul, 
is, that temptations (where they are burdens) evidence grace. Satan 
does not tempt God's children because they have sin in them, but 
because they have grace in them. Had they no grace he would not 
disturb them, for where he keeps possession all is in peace. Luke 
11: 21. His temptations are to rob the saints of their grace. A 
thief will not assault an empty house, but where he thinks there is 
treasure; a pirate will not set upon an empty ship, but one that is 
full of spices and jewels; so the devil assaults most the people of 
God, because he thinks they have a rich treasure of grace in their 
hearts, and he would rob them of it. Why are so many cudgels thrown 
at a tree, but because there is much fruit upon it? The devil throws 
his temptations at you, because he sees you have much fruit of grace 
growing upon you. Though to be tempted is a trouble, yet to think 
why you are tempted is a comfort. 
    (3) Another rock of support or comfort is, that Jesus Christ is 
near at hand, and stands by us in all our temptations. Here take 
notice of two things: 
    [1] Christ's sympathy in our temptations. Nobis compatitur 
Christus [Christ suffers with us]. 'We have not an high priest which 
cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.' Heb 4: 15. 
Jesus Christ sympathises with us; he is so sensible of our 
temptations as if he himself lay under them, and did feel them in 
his own soul. As in music, when one string is touched, all the rest 
sound, so when we suffer Christ's bowels sound; we cannot be tempted 
but he is touched. If you saw a wolf worry your child, would you not 
pity it? You cannot pity it as Christ does tempted ones. He had a 
fellow feeling when upon earth, much more now in glory. 
    But how can it consist with Christ's glory now in heaven, to 
have a fellow feeling with our sufferings? 
    This fellow feeling in Christ arises not from an infirmity or 
passion, but from the mystic union between him and his members. 'He 
that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye.' Zech 2: 8. Every 
injury done to a saint he takes as done to him in heaven. Every 
temptation strikes at him, and he is touched with the feeling of 
    [2] Christ's succour in temptation. As the good Samaritan first 
had compassion on the wounded man, there was sympathy; then he 
poured in wine and oil, there was succour (Luke 10: 34); so when we 
are wounded by the red dragon, Christ is first touched with 
compassion, and then pours in wine and oil. 'In that he himself has 
suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are 
tempted.' Heb 2: 18. The Greek word for succour (boethesia) 
signifies to run speedily to one's help; so fierce is Satan, so 
frail is man, that Christ, who is God-man, runs speedily to his 
help. When Peter was ready to sink, and said, 'Lord, save me,' 
Christ presently stretched forth his hand, and caught him; so when a 
poor soul is tempted, and cries to heaven for help, 'Lord, save me,' 
Christ comes in with his auxiliary forces. Noscit Christus, our Lord 
Jesus knows what it is to be tempted, therefore he is ready to 
succour such as are tempted. It has been observed that child-bearing 
women are more pitiful to others in their travails than such as are 
barren; so the Lord Jesus having been in travail by temptations and 
sufferings, is more ready to pity and succour such as are tempted. 
    Concerning Christ's succouring the tempted, consider two 
things: his ability, and his agility to succour. 'He is able to 
succour them that are tempted.' Heb 2: 18. He is called Michael, 
which signifies, 'Who is like God.' Rev 12: 7. Though the tempted 
soul is weak, yet he fights under a good Captain, the Lion of the 
tribe of Judah. When a tempted soul fights, Christ comes into the 
field as his second. Michael will be too hard for the dragon. When 
the devil lays the siege of a temptation, Christ can raise it when 
he pleases; he can beat through the enemy's quarters, and so rout 
Satan that he shall never be able to rally his forces any more. 
Jesus Christ is on the saint's side, and who would desire a better 
lifeguard than omnipotence? As Christ is able to succour the 
tempted, so he will certainly succour them. His power enables him, 
his love inclines him, his faithfulness engages him to succour 
tempted souls. It is a great comfort to a soul in temptation to have 
a succouring Saviour. God succoured Israel in the wilderness among 
fiery serpents. The rock sending forth water, the manna, the pillar 
of cloud, the brazen serpent, what were these but types of God's 
succouring poor souls in the wilderness of temptation, stung by the 
devil, that fiery serpent? Alexander being asked how he could sleep 
so securely, when his enemies were about him, said, 'Antipater is 
awake, who is always vigilant.' So when our tempting enemy is near 
us, Jesus Christ is awake, who is a wall of fire around us. There is 
a great deal of succour to the tempted in the names given to Christ. 
As Satan's names may terrify, so Christ's may succour. The devil is 
called Apollyon, the devourer. Rev 9: 11. Christ is called a 
Saviour. The devil is called the 'strong man.' Matt 12: 29. Christ 
is called El Gibbor, the mighty God. Isa 9: 6. The devil is called 
the accuser. Rev 12: 10. Christ is called the Advocate. I John 2: 1. 
The devil is called the tempter. Matt 4: 3. Christ is called the 
Comforter. Luke 2: 25. The devil is called the prince of darkness. 
Christ is called the Sun of Righteousness. The devil is called the 
old serpent. Christ is called the Brazen Serpent that heals. John 3: 
14. Thus the very names of Christ have some succour in them for 
tempted souls. 
    How and in what manner does Christ succour them that are 
    He succours them by sending his Spirit, whose work it is to 
bring those promises to their mind which are fortifying. 'He shall 
bring all things to your remembrance.' John 14: 26. The Spirit 
furnishes us with promises as so many weapons to fight against the 
old serpent. 'The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet 
shortly.' Rom 16: 20. 'God will not suffer you to be tempted above 
that ye are able.' I Cor 10: 13. The seed of the woman shall bruise 
the serpent's head. Gen 3: 15. We are often in times of temptation, 
as a man that has his house beset, and cannot find his weapons, his 
sword and gun, in which case Christ sends his Spirit, and brings 
things to our remembrance that help us in our combat. The Spirit of 
Christ does for the tempted what Aaron and Hur did for Moses, when 
they put a stone under him and held up his hands, and then Israel 
prevailed. The Spirit puts the promises under the hand of faith, and 
then the Christian overcomes the devil, that spiritual Amalek. The 
promise is to the soul, as the anchor to the ship, which keeps it 
steady in a storm. 
    Christ succours them that are tempted by 'interceding for 
them.' When the devil is tempting, Christ is praying. The prayer 
which Christ put up for Peter when he was tempted, extends to all 
his saints. Lord, said Christ, it is my child that is tempted; 
Father, pity him. Luke 22: 32. When a poor soul lies bleeding of the 
wounds the devil has given him, Christ presents his wounds to his 
Father, and, in the virtue of those, pleads for mercy. How powerful 
must his prayer be! He is a favourite. John 11: 42. He is both High 
Priest and a Son. If God could forget that Christ were a Priest, he 
cannot forget that he is a Son. Besides, Christ prays for nothing 
but what is agreeable to his Father's will. If a king's son 
petitions only for that which his father has a mind to grant, his 
suit will not be denied. 
    Christ succours his people, by taking off the tempter. When the 
sheep begin to straggle, the shepherd sets the dog on them to bring 
them back to the fold, and then calls off the dog; so God takes off 
the tempter. He 'will with the temptation make a way to escape,' he 
will make an outlet. I Cor 10: 13. He will rebuke the tempter. 'The 
Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.' Zech 3: 2. It is no small support, that 
Christ succours the tempted. The mother succours the child most when 
it is sick; she sits by its bedside, brings it cordials; so, when a 
soul is most assaulted, it shall be most assisted. 
    I have dealt unkindly with Christ and sinned against his love, 
and surely he will nor succour me, but let me perish in the battle! 
    Christ is a merciful High Priest, and will succour thee 
notwithstanding thy failings. Joseph was a type of Christ; his 
brethren sold him away, and the 'irons entered into his soul;' yet 
afterwards, when his brethren were ready to die in the famine, he 
forgot their injuries, and succoured them with money and corn. 'I 
am,' said he, 'Joseph your brother.' So Christ will say to a tempted 
soul, 'I know thy unkindnesses, how thou hast distrusted my love, 
grieved my Spirit; but I am Joseph, I am Jesus, therefore I will 
succour thee when thou art tempted.' 
    (4) Another rock of support is that the best man may be most 
tempted. A rich ship may be violently set upon by pirates; so he who 
is rich in faith may have the devil upon him with his 
battering-pieces. Job, an eminent saint, was fiercely assaulted. 
Satan smote his body that he might tempt him either to question 
God's providence or quarrel with it. Paul was a chosen vessel, but 
how was this vessel battered with temptation! 2 Cor 12: 7. 
    Is it not said, 'He that is begotten of God, that wicked one 
toucheth him not'? I John 5: 18. 
    It is not meant that the devil does not tempt him, but he 
toucheth hint not, that is, tactu lethali, Cajetan, with a deadly 
touch. 'There is a sin unto death.' I John 5: 16. Now, Satan with 
all his temptations does not make a child of God sin 'a sin unto 
death.' Thus he touches him not. 
    (5) Another rock of support is that Satan can go no further in 
tempting than God gives him leave. The power of the tempter is 
limited. A whole legion of devils could not touch one swine till 
Christ gave them leave. Satan would have sifted Peter till he sifted 
out all his grace, but Christ would not suffer him. 'I have prayed 
for thee,' &c. Christ binds the devil in a chain. Rev 20: 1. If 
Satan's power were according to his malice, not one soul should be 
saved; but he is a chained enemy. It is a comfort that Satan cannot 
go a hair's breadth beyond God's permission. If an enemy could not 
touch a child further than the father appointed, he would do the 
child no great hurt. 
    (6) Another rock of support is that it is not having a 
temptation that makes guilty, but giving consent to it. We cannot 
hinder a temptation. If we abhor the temptation, it is our burden, 
not our sin. We read in the old law, that if one forced a virgin, 
and she cried out, she was reputed innocent; so if Satan by 
temptation would commit a rape upon a Christian, and he cries out, 
and does not consent, the Lord will charge it upon the devil's 
score. It is not laying the bait that hurts the fish if the fish do 
not bite. 
    (7) Another rock of support is, that our being tempted is no 
sign of God's hating us. A child of God often thinks God does not 
love him because he lets him be haunted by the devil. Non sequitur, 
this is a wrong conclusion. Was not Christ himself tempted, and yet 
by a voice from heaven proclaimed, 'This is my beloved Son'? Matt 3: 
17. Satan's tempting and God's loving may stand together. The 
goldsmith loves his gold in the fire; and God loves a saint, though 
shot at by fiery darts. 
    (8) Another rock of support is that Christ's temptation was for 
our consolation, aqua ignis [water to fire]. Jesus Christ is to be 
looked upon as a public person, as our head and representative; and 
what he did, he did for us: his prayer was for us, his suffering was 
for us; when he was tempted, and overcame the temptation, he 
overcame for us. Christ's conquering Satan was to show that elect 
persons shall at last be conquerors over Satan. When Christ overcame 
Satan's temptation, it was not only to give us an example of 
courage, but an assurance of conquest. We have overcome Satan 
already in our covenant head, and we shall at last perfectly 
    (9)Another rock of support is that the saints' temptation shall 
not be above their strength. The harper will not stretch the strings 
of his harp too hard, lest they break. 'God is faithful, who will 
not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.' I Cor 10: 13. 
He will proportion our strength to the stroke. 'My grace is 
sufficient for thee.' 2 Cor 12: 9. The torchlight of faith shall be 
kept burning, though all the winds of temptation are blowing. 
    (10) Another rock of support is that these temptations shall 
produce much good. 
    They quicken a spirit of prayer in the saints. They pray more 
and better. Temptation is orationis flabellum [fan], the exciter of 
prayer. Perhaps before, the saints came to God as cold suitors in 
prayer - they prayed as if they prayed not. Temptation is a medicine 
for security. When Paul had a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he 
was more earnest in prayer. 'For this thing I besought the Lord 
thrice.' 2 Cor 12: 8. The thorn in his flesh was a spur in his sides 
to quicken him in prayer. The deer when shot with the dart runs 
faster to the water; so a soul that is shot with the fiery darts of 
temptation runs the faster to the throne of grace; and is earnest 
with God, either to take off the tempter, or to stand by him when he 
is tempted. 
    God makes the temptation to sin a means to prevent it. The more 
a Christian is tempted, the more he fights against the temptation. 
The more a chaste woman is assaulted, the more she abhors the 
attempt. The stronger Joseph's temptation was, the stronger was his 
opposition. The more the enemy attempts to storm a castle, the more 
is he repelled and beat back. 
    A godly man's temptations cause the increase of grace. Unus 
Christianus temptatus mille; 'one tempted Christian,' says Luther, 
'is worth a thousand.' He grows more in grace. As the bellows 
increase the flame, so temptation increases the flame of grace. 
    By these temptations God makes way for comfort. After Christ 
was tempted, the angels came and ministered unto him. Matt 4: 2. 
When Abraham had been warring, Melchizedek brought him bread and 
wine to revive his spirits. Gen 14: 18. So after the saints have 
been warring with Satan, God sends his Spirit to comfort them. 
Luther said that temptations were amplexus Christi, Christ's 
embraces, because he then manifests himself most sweetly to the 
    That I may further comfort such as are tempted, let me speak to 
two particular cases. 
    I have horrid temptations to blasphemy, say some. 
    Did not the devil tempt Christ after this manner: 'All these 
things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me'? 
Matt 4: 9. What greater blasphemy can be imagined than that the God 
of heaven and earth should worship the devil? Yet Christ was tempted 
to this. If when blasphemous thoughts are injected, you tremble at 
them, and are in a cold sweat, they are not yours, Satan shall 
answer for them; let him that plots the treason suffer. 
    But my case is yet worse, say others; I have been tempted to 
such sins, and have yielded; the tempter has overcome me. 
    I grant that, through the withdrawing of God's grace, and the 
force of temptation, a child of God may be overcome. David was 
overcome by temptation in the case of Bathsheba, and in numbering 
the people. There is a party of grace in the heart true to Christ; 
but sometimes it may be overvoted by corruption, and then a 
Christian yields. It is sad thus to yield to the tempter. But yet 
let not a child of God be wholly discouraged, and say there is no 
hope. Let me pour in some balm of Gilead into this wounded soul. 
    (1) Though a Christian may fall by a temptation, yet the seed 
of God is in him. 'His seed remaineth in him.' I John 3: 9. Gratia 
concutitur, non excutitur [Grace is shaken, not destroyed]. 
Augustine. A man may be bruised by a fall, yet there is life in him. 
A Christian foiled by Satan may be like the man going to Jericho, 
who fell among thieves, and was left 'wounded and half dead;' but 
still there is a vital principle of grace; his seed remains in him. 
Luke 10: 30. 
    (2) Though a child of God may be overcome in praelio, in a 
skirmish, yet not in bello, in the main battle; as an army may be 
worsted in a skirmish, but conquer at last. Though Satan may foil a 
child of God in a skirmish by a temptation, the believer shall 
overcome at last. A saint may be foiled, yet not conquered; he may 
lose ground, and not lose the victory. 
    (3) God does not judge his children by one action, but by the 
frame of the heart. As he does not judge a wicked man by one good 
action, so neither a godly man by one bad action. A holy person may 
be worsted by a temptation; but God does not measure him by that. 
Who measures milk when it seethes and boils up? God does not take 
the measure of a saint when the devil has boiled him up in a 
passion, but he judges of him by the pulse and temper of his heart. 
He would fear God; and when he fails he weeps. God looks which way 
the bias of his heart stands; if that be set against sin, God will 
    (4) God will make a saint's fall by temptation turn to his 
spiritual advantage. 
    He may let a regenerate person fall by a temptation to make him 
more watchful. Perhaps he walked loosely, and was decoyed into sin; 
but for the future he will grow more curious and cautious in his 
walking. The foiled Christian is a vigilant Christian; he will take 
care not to come within the lion's chain any more; he will be shy 
and fearful of the occasion of sin; he will not go abroad without 
his spiritual armour, and will gird on his armour by prayer. When a 
wild beast gets over the hedge and hurts the corn, the farther will 
make his fence stronger; so, when the devil gets over the fence by 
temptation, and foils a Christian, he will be sure to mend his 
fence, and be more vigilant against temptation afterwards. 
    God sometimes lets his children be foiled by temptation that 
they may see their continual dependence on God, and may go to him 
for strength. We need not only habitual grace to stand against 
temptation, but auxiliary grace; as the boat needs not only the 
oars, but wind, to carry it against a strong tide. God lets his 
children sometimes fall by temptation, that, seeing their own 
weakness, they may rest more on Christ and free grace. Cant 8: 5. 
    By suffering his children to be foiled by a temptation, God 
settles them the more in grace. They get strength by their falls. 
The poets feign that Antaeus the giant, in wrestling with Hercules, 
got strength by every fall to the ground; so a saint, when foiled in 
wrestling with Satan, gets more spiritual strength. Peter had never 
such strength of faith as after being foiled in the high priest's 
hall. How was he fired with zeal and steeled with courage! He who 
before was dashed out of countenance by the voice of a maid, now 
dares openly confess Christ before rulers and the councils. Acts 2: 
I4. As the shaking of the tree settles it the more, God lets his 
children be shaken with the wind of temptation, that they may be 
more settled in grace afterwards. Let not those Christians whom God 
has suffered to be foiled by temptation, cast away their anchor, or 
give way to despairing thoughts. 
    May it not make Christians careless whether they fall into 
temptation or not, if God can make the temptation advantageous to 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 26...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-25.txt