The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 27
(... continued from file 26)

    Sin is a polluting thing. It is not only a defection, but a 
pollution; it is as rust to gold, as a stain to beauty. It is called 
'filthiness of flesh and spirit.' 2 Cor 7: 1. It makes the soul red 
with guilt and black with filth. Quanta foeditas vitiosae mentis! 
[How great is the foulness of a corrupt mind!] Cicero. This filth of 
sin is inward. A spot in the face may easily be wiped off, but to 
have the liver and lungs tainted is far worse. Sin has got into the 
conscience. Titus 1: 15. It defiles all the faculties - the mind, 
memory, affections, as if the whole mass of blood were corrupted. It 
pollutes and fly-blows our holy things. If the leper under the law 
had touched the altar, the altar would not cleanse him, but he would 
pollute the altar, which is an emblem of sin's leprosy spotting our 
holy things. 
    Sin is a debasing thing, it degrades us of our honour. 'In his 
estate shall stand up a vile person.' Dan 11: 21. This was spoken of 
Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a king, and whose name signifies 
illustrious; but sin made him vile. Sin blots a man's name. Nothing 
so turns a man's glory into shame as sin. It makes a man like a 
beast. Psa 49: 20. It is worse to be like a beast than to be a 
beast; it is no shame to be a beast, but it is a shame for a man to 
be like a beast. Lust makes a man brutish, and wrath makes him 
    Sin is an enslaving thing. A sinner is a slave when he sins 
most freely. Grave servitutis jugum [Heavy is the yoke of slavery]. 
Cicero. Sin makes men the devil's servants. Satan bids them sin, and 
they do it. He bid Judas betray Christ, and he did it; he bid 
Ananias tell a lie, and he did it. Acts 5: 3. When a man commits 
sin, he is the devil's lackey and runs on his errand. They who serve 
Satan have such a bad master that they will be afraid to receive 
their wages. 
    Sin is an unsavoury thing. 'They are all together become 
filthy;' in the Hebrew, they are become stinking. Psa 14: 3. Sin is 
very offensive to God. If he who worships in God's house lives in 
the sin of uncleanness, though he be perfumed with all the spices of 
Arabia, his prayers are unsavoury. 'Incense is an abomination to me' 
(Isa 1: 13); therefore 'the proud he knoweth afar off.' Psa 138: 6. 
He will not come near the dunghill sinner that has such offensive 
vapours coming from him. 
    Sin is a painful thing, it costs men much labour and pains to 
accomplish their wicked designs. 'They weary themselves to commit 
iniquity.' Jer 9: 5. Peccatum est sui ipsius poena [Sin is its own 
punishment]. What pains did Judas take to bring about his treason! 
He goes to the high priest, then to the band of soldiers, and then 
back again to the garden! What pains did the powder-traitors take in 
digging through a thick stone wall! What pains in laying their 
barrels of powder, and then covering them with crows of iron! How 
they tired themselves out in sin's drudgery! Chrysostom says virtue 
is easier than vice. It is easier to be sober than intemperate; it 
is easier to serve God than to follow sin. A wicked man sweats at 
the devil's plough, and is at great pains to damn himself. 
    Sin is a disturbing thing. Whatever defiles disturbs. Sin 
breaks the peace of the soul. 'No peace to the wicked.' Isa 57: 21. 
When a man sins presumptuously, he stuffs his pillow with thorns, 
and his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die. Sin causes a 
trembling at the heart. When Spira had sinned, he had a hell in his 
conscience; he was in such horror that he confessed he envied Cain 
and Judas. Charles IX, who was guilty of a massacre in Paris, was 
afterwards a terror to himself; he was frightened at every noise, 
and could not endure to be awaked out of his sleep without music. 
Sin breaks the peace of the soul. Cain in killing Abel stabbed half 
the world at a blow, but could not kill the worm of his own 
conscience. Thus you see what an evil sin is in the nature of it, 
and what need we have to pray, 'Deliver us from evil.' 
    (3) Look upon sin in the judgement and opinion of the godly, 
and it will appear to be the most prodigious evil. 
    It is so great an evil that the godly will rather do anything 
than sin. Moses chose 'rather to suffer with the people of God than 
to enjoy the pleasures of sin.' Heb 11: 24. The primitive Christians 
said, ad leonem potius quam lenonem [to the lion rather than to the 
bawdy house], they chose rather to be devoured by lions without than 
lusts within. Irenaeus was carried to a place where a cross was on 
one side and an idol on the other, and he was put to his choice 
either to bow to the idol or suffer on the cross, and he chose the 
latter. A wise man will choose rather to have a rent in his coat 
than in his flesh; and the godly will rather endure outward 
sufferings than a rent in their conscience. So great an evil is sin 
that the godly will not sin for the greatest gain; they will not sin 
though they might purchase an estate by it - nay, though they were 
sure to promote God's glory by it. 
    The godly testify sin to be a great evil, in that they desire 
to die upon no account more than this, that they may be rid of sin. 
They are desirous to put off the clothing of the flesh, that they 
may be unclothed of sin. It is their greatest grief that they are 
troubled with such inmates as the stirrings of pride, lust, and 
envy. It was a cruel torment of Mezentius who tied a dead man to a 
living. Thus a child of God has corruption joined with grace; a dead 
man tied to a living. So hateful is this, that a believer desires to 
die for no reason more than this, that death shall free him from 
sin. Sin brought death into the world, and death shall carry sin out 
of the world. 
    (4) Judge of sin by comparison, and it will appear to be the 
most deadly evil. Compare what you will with it - afflictions, 
death, or hell, and still sin is worse. 
    First compare sin with affliction. There is more evil in a drop 
of sin than in a sea of affliction. 
    [1] Sin is the cause of affliction, and the cause is more than 
the effect. Sin brings all mischief: it has sickness, sword, famine, 
and all judgements in its womb. It rots the name, consumes the 
estate, and wastes the body. As the poets feigned of Pandora's box, 
that when opened it filled the world full of diseases, so when Adam 
broke the box of original righteousness, it caused all the penal 
evils in the world. Sin is the Phaeton that sets the world on fire. 
It turned the angels out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise. It 
causes mutinies, divisions, and massacres. 'O thou sword of the 
Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet?' Jer 47: 6. The sword 
of God's justice lies quietly in the scabbard till sin draws it out 
and whets it against a nation. So that sin is worse than affliction, 
being the cause of it: and the cause is more than the effect. 
    [2] God is the author of affliction. 'Shall there be evil in a 
city, and the Lord has not done it?' Amos 3: 6. It is meant of the 
evil of affliction. God has a hand in affliction, but no hand in 
sin. He is the cause of every action, so far as it is natural, but 
not as it is sinful. He who makes an instrument of iron is not the 
cause of the rust and canker which corrupts it; so God made the 
instrument of our souls, but not the rust and canker of sin which 
corrupts them. Peccatum Deus non fecit [God is not the author of 
sin]. Augustine. God can no more act evil than the sun can darken. 
In this sense sin is worse than affliction. God has a hand in 
affliction, but disclaims having any hand in sin. 
    [3] Affliction reaches the body only, and makes that miserable, 
but sin makes the soul miserable. The soul is the most noble part. 
It is a diamond set in a ring of clay; it is excellent in its 
essence, a spiritual, immortal substance; excellent in the price 
paid for it, redeemed with the blood of God. Acts 20: 28. It is of 
more worth than a world. The world is of a coarser make, the soul of 
a finer spinning: in the world we see the finger of God, in the soul 
the image of God. To have the precious soul endangered is far worse 
than to have the body endangered. Sin wrongs the soul. Prov 8: 36. 
It casts the jewel of the soul overboard. Affliction is but skin- 
deep, it can but take away the life, but sin takes away the soul. 
Luke 12: 20. The loss of the soul is an unparalleled loss, it can 
never be made up again. 'God,' says Chrysostom, 'has given thee two 
eyes, if thou losest one, thou hast another; but thou hast but one 
soul, and if that be lost, it can never be repaired.' Thus sin is 
worse than affliction; the one can reach the body only, the other 
ruins the soul. Is there not great reason, then, that we should 
often put up this petition, 'Deliver us from evil'? 
    [4] Afflictions are good for us. 'It is good for me that I have 
been afflicted.' Psa 119: 7I. Many can bless God for affliction. 
Affliction humbles. 'Remembering mine affliction, the wormwood and 
the gall, my soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in 
me.' Lam 3: I9. Afflictions are compared to thorns; these thorns are 
to prick the bladder of pride. Hos 2: 6. Affliction is the school of 
repentance. 'Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised; I 
repented.' Jer 31: 18, 19. The fire being put under the distillery, 
makes the water drop from the roses; so the fire of affliction makes 
the water of repentance drop from the eyes. Affliction brings us 
nearer to God. The loadstone of mercy does not draw us so near to 
God as the cords of affliction. When the prodigal was pinched with 
want, he said, 'I will arise, and go to my Father.' Luke 15: 18. 
Afflictions prepare for glory. 'Light affliction worketh for us an 
eternal weight of glory.' 2 Cor 4: 17. The painter lays his gold 
upon dark colours; so God lays first the dark colours of affliction, 
and then the golden colour of glory. Thus affliction is for our 
good; but sin is not for our good; it keeps good things from us. 
'Your sins have withholden good things from you.' Jer 5: 25. Sin 
stops the current of God's mercy; it precipitates men to ruin. 
Manasseh's affliction brought him to humiliation; but that of Judas 
brought him to desperation. 
    [5] A man may be afflicted, and his conscience be quiet. Paul's 
feet were in the stocks, yet he had the witness of his conscience. 2 
Cor 1: 12. The head may ache, yet the heart may be well; the outward 
man may be afflicted, yet the soul may dwell at ease. Psa 25: 13. 
The hail may beat upon the tiles of the house when there is music 
within. In the midst of outward pain there may be inward peace. 
Thus, in affliction, conscience may be quiet; but when a man commits 
a presumptuous, scandalous sin, conscience is troubled. By defiling 
the purity of conscience we lose the peace of conscience. When Spira 
had sinned and abjured the faith, he was a terror to himself; he had 
a hell within. Tiberius the emperor felt such a sting in his 
conscience, that he told the senate, he suffered death daily. 
    [6] In affliction we may have the love of God. Afflictions are 
love tokens. 'As many as I love I rebuke.' Rev 3: 19. Afflictions 
are sharp arrows, but shot from the hand of a loving Father. If a 
man should throw a bag of money at another, and it should bruise him 
a little, and raise the skin, he would not be offended, but take it 
as a fruit of love; so, when God bruises us with affliction, it is 
to enrich us with the golden graces of his Spirit, and all is in 
love; but when we commit sin God withdraws his love; it is the sun 
overcast with a cloud; nothing appears but anger and displeasure. 
When David had sinned in the matter of Uriah, 'the thing that David 
had done displeased the Lord.' 2 Sam 11: 27. 
    [7] There are many encouragements to suffer affliction. God 
himself suffers with us. 'In all their affliction he was afflicted.' 
Isa 63: 9. God will strengthen us in our sufferings. 'He is their 
strength in the time of trouble.' Psa 37: 39. Either God makes our 
burden lighter, or our faith stronger. He will compensate and 
recompense our sufferings. 'Every one that has forsaken houses or 
lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and inherit 
everlasting life.' Matt 19: 29. Here are encouragements to suffer 
affliction, but there is no encouragement to sin. God has brandished 
a flaming sword of threatenings to deter us from sin. 'God shall 
wound the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his 
trespasses.' Psa 68: 21. A flying-roll of curses enters into the 
house of a sinner. Zech 5: 4. If a man sin, be it at his peril. 'I 
will make mine arrows drunk with blood.' Dent 32: 42. God will make 
men weary of their sins, or he will make them weary of their lives. 
Thus sin is worse than affliction. There are encouragements to 
suffer affliction, but no encouragement to sin. 
    [8] When a person is afflicted, he suffers alone; but by 
sinning openly he hurts others. He does hurt to the unconverted. One 
man's sin may lay a stone in another man's way, at which he may 
stumble and fall into hell. Oh, the evil of scandalous sin! Some are 
discouraged, others hardened. Thy sinning may be the cause of 
another's damning. The priests going wrong caused others to stumble. 
Mal 2: 7, 8. He does hurt to the converted. By an open scandalous 
sin he offends weak believers, and so sins against Christ. I Cor 8: 
12. Thus sin is worse than affliction, because it does hurt to 
    [9] In affliction the saints may rejoice. 'Ye received the word 
in much affliction, with joy.' I Thess 1: 6. 'Ye took joyfully the 
spoiling of your goods.' Heb 10: 34. Aristotle speaks of a bird that 
lives among thorns, and yet sings sweetly; so a child of God can 
rejoice in afflictions. Paul had his prison songs. 'We glory in 
tribulations.' Rom 5: 3. The Greek word signifies an exuberancy of 
joy, a joy with boasting and triumph. God often pours in those 
divine consolations that cause the saints to rejoice in afflictions, 
so that they had rather have their afflictions than be without their 
comforts. God candies their wormwood with sugar. Rom 5: 5. You have 
seen the sunshine when it rains: the saints have had the shinings of 
God's face when afflictions have rained and dropped upon them. Thus 
we may rejoice in affliction, but we cannot rejoice in sin. 'Rejoice 
not, O Israel, for joy, as other people, for thou hast gone a 
whoring from thy God.' Hos 9: 1. Sin is matter of shame and grief, 
not of joy. David having sinned in numbering the people, his 'heart 
smote him.' 2 Sam 24: 10. As pricking a vein lets out the blood, so, 
when sin has pricked the conscience, it lets out the joy. 
    [10] Affliction magnifies a person. 'What is man that thou 
shouldest magnify him, and visit him every morning?' Job 7: 17, 18. 
That is, visit him with affliction. 
    How do addictions magnify us? 
    (1) As they are signs of sonship. 'If ye endure chastening, God 
dealeth with you as with sons.' Heb 12: 7. Every print of the rod is 
a badge of honour. (2) As the sufferings of the godly have raised 
their fame and renown in the world. The zeal and constancy of the 
martyrs in their sufferings have eternalized their name. Oh, how 
eminent was Job for his patience! 'Ye have heard of the patience of 
Job.' James 5: 2: Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander 
the conqueror. Thus afflictions magnify a person; but sin does not 
magnify, but vilifies him. When Eli's sons had sinned and profaned 
their priesthood, they turned their glory into shame; the text says 
they 'made themselves vile.' I Sam 3: 13. Sin casts an indelible 
blot on a man's name. 'whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a 
wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be 
wiped away.' Prov 6: 32, 33. 
    [11] A man by suffering affliction may bring honour to 
religion. Paul's iron chain made the gospel wear a gold chain. 
Suffering credits and propagates the gospel; but committing sin 
brings dishonour and scandal upon the ways of God. Cyprian says, 
when in the primitive times a virgin, who vowed herself to religion, 
had defiled her chastity, totem ecclesiae coetum erubescere, shame 
and grief filled the face of the whole congregation. When scandalous 
sins are committed by a few, they bring a reproach upon many; as 
three or four brass shillings in a sum of money make all the rest 
    [12] When a man's afflictions are upon a good account, when he 
suffers for Christ, he has the prayers of God's people. It is no 
small privilege to have a stock of prayer going; it is like a 
merchant that has a part in several ships: and suffering saints have 
a large share in the prayers of others. 'Peter was in prison; but 
prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.' 
Acts 12: 5. What greater happiness than to have God's promises and 
the saints' prayers! But when a man sins presumptuously and 
scandalously, he has the saints' bitter tears and just censures; he 
is a burden to all that know him, as David speaks in another case, 
'They that did see me without fled from me.' Psa 31: 2: So the 
people of God flee from a scandalous sinner; he is like an infected 
person, everyone shuns and avoids him. 
    [13] Affliction can hurt a man only while he is living, but sin 
hurts him when he is dead. As a man's virtues and alms may do good 
when he is dead, so his sins may do him mischief when he is dead. 
When a spider is killed, the poison of it may hurt; so the poison of 
an evil example may do much hurt when a man is in his grave. 
Affliction at most can but last a man's life, but sin lives and 
hurts when he is gone. Thus sin is far worse than affliction. 
    Secondly. Sin is worse than death. Aristotle calls death the 
terrible of terribles, and Job calls it 'the king of terrors,' but 
sin is more deadly than death itself. Job 18: 14. 1. Death, though 
painful, would not hurt but for sin; it is sin that embitters it and 
makes its sting. 'The sting of death is sin.' 1 Cor 15: 26. Were it 
not for sin, though death might kill, it could not curse us. Sin 
poisons death's arrow, so that it is worse than death, because it 
puts a sting into death. 2. Death does but separate between the body 
and the soul; but sin, without repentance, separates between God and 
the soul. 'Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I more?' Judges 
18: 24. Death does but take away our life, but sin takes away our 
God from us; so that it is worse than death. 
    Thirdly. Sin is worse than hell. In hell there is the worm and 
the fire, but sin is worse. 1. Hell is of God's making, but sin is 
none of his making; it is a monster of the devil's creating. 2. The 
torments of hell are a burden only to the sinner, but sin is a 
burden to God. 'I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is 
full of sheaves.' Amos 2: 13. 3. In hell torments there is something 
that is good: there is the execution of God's justice, there is 
justice in hell; but sin is the most unjust thing; it would rob God 
of his glory, Christ of his purchase, and the soul of its happiness; 
so that it is worse than hell. 
    (s) Look upon sin in the manner of its cure. It cost much to be 
done away; the guilt of sin could not be removed but by the blood of 
Christ; he who was God must die and be made a curse for us before 
sin could be remitted. 
    How horrid is sin, that no angel or archangel, nor all the 
powers of heaven, could procure its pardon, but the blood of God 
only! If a man should commit an offence, and all the nobles should 
kneel before the king for him, but no pardon could be had, unless 
the king's son be arraigned and suffer death for him, all would 
conceive it to be a horrible thing that was the cause of this. Such 
is the case here, the Son of God must die to satisfy God's justice 
for our sins. Oh, the agonies and sufferings of Christ! In his body: 
his head crowned with thorns, his face spit upon, his side pierced 
with the spear, his hands and feet nailed. Totum pro vulnere corpus 
[His whole body as one wound]. He suffered in his soul. 'My soul is 
exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.' Matt 26: 38. He drank a 
bitter cup, mingled with curses, which made him, though sanctified 
by the Spirit, supported by the Deity, and comforted by angels, 
sweat drops of blood, and cry out upon the cross, 'My God, why hast 
thou forsaken me!' All this was to do away with our sin. View sin in 
Christ's blood, and it will appear of a crimson colour. 
    (6) Look upon sin in its dismal effects, and it will appear the 
most horrid and prodigious evil. 'The wages of sin is death,' that 
is, 'the second death.' Rom 6: 23. Rev 21: 8. Sin has shame for its 
companion, and death for its wages. A wicked man knows what sin is 
in the pleasure of it, but does not know what sin is in the 
punishment of it. Sin is scorpio pungens [a stinging scorpion], it 
draws hell at the heels of it. This hellish torment consists of two 
    Poena damni, the punishment of loss. 'Depart from me.' Matt 7: 
23. It was a great trouble to Absalom that he might not see the 
king's face; but to lose God's smiles, to be banished from his 
presence, in whose presence is fulness of joy, how sad and 
tremendous! That word, 'Depart,' said Chrysostom, is worse than the 
fire. Sure sin must be the greatest evil, which separates us from 
the greatest good. 
    Poena senses, the punishment of sense. 'Depart from me, ye 
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his 
angels.' Matt 25: 41. Why, sinners might plead, 'Lord, if we must 
depart from thee, let us have thy blessing.' 'No; go, ye cursed.' 
'If we must depart from thee, let it be into some place of ease and 
rest.' 'No; go into fire.' 'If we must go into fire, let it be for a 
little time; let the fire be quickly put out.' 'No; go into 
everlasting fire.' 'If it be so, that we must be there, let us be 
with good company.' 'No; with the devil and his angels.' Oh, what an 
evil is sin! All the torments of this life are but lubidrium et 
risus [mockery and ridicule], a kind of sport to hell torments. What 
is a burning fever to the burning in hell! It is called, the 'wrath 
of Almighty God.' Rev 19: 15. The Almighty God inflicts the 
punishment, therefore it will be heavy. A child cannot strike very 
hard, but if a giant strike, he kills with a blow; but to have the 
almighty God lay on the stroke, will be intolerable. Hell is the 
emphasis of misery. The body and soul, which have sinned together, 
shall suffer together; and those torments shall have no period put 
to them. They 'shall seek death, and shall not find it.' Rev 9: 6. 
'The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.' Rev 14: 
11. Here the wicked thought a prayer long, a Sabbath long; but how 
long will it be to lie upon beds of flames for ever! That word, 
ever, breaks the heart. Surely, then, sin is the most deadly and 
execrable evil. Look upon it in its original, in its nature, in the 
judgement and estimate of the wise; look upon it comparatively, it 
is worse than affliction, death, and hell; look upon it in the 
manner of cure, and in the dismal effect, it brings eternal 
damnation. Is there not, then, great reason that we should make this 
prayer, 'Deliver us from evil'? 
    Use 1. For instruction. (1) Is sin such a deadly, pernicious 
evil, the evil of evils? See what we are to pray most to be 
delivered from, and that it is in reference to sin our Saviour has 
taught us to pray, 'Deliver us from evil.' Hypocrites pray more 
against temporal evils than spiritual. Pharaoh prayed more to have 
the plague of hail and thunder removed than his hard heart to be 
removed. Exod 9: 28. The Israelites prayed, Tolle serpentes, take 
away the serpents from us, more than to have their sin taken away. 
Numb 21: 7. The hypocrite's prayer is carnal: he prays more to be 
cured of his dearness and lameness than of his unbelief; more that 
God would take away his pain than take away his sin. But our prayer 
should be, 'Deliver us from evil.' Spiritual prayers are best. Hast 
thou a diseased body? Pray more that the disease of thy soul may be 
removed than of thy body. 'Heal my soul, for I have sinned.' Psa 41: 
4. The plague of the heart is worse than a cancer in the breast. 
Hast thou a child that is crooked? Pray more to have its unholiness 
removed than its crookedness. Spiritual prayers are more pleasing to 
God, and are as music in his ears. Christ has here taught us to pray 
against sin, 'Deliver us from evil.' 
    (2) If sin be so great an evil, then admire the wonderful 
patience of God that bears with sinners. Sin is a breach of God's 
royal law, it strikes at his glory; for God to bear with sinners who 
provoke him, shows admirable patience. Well may he be called 'the 
God of patience.' Rom 15: 5. It would tire the patience of the 
angels to bear with men's sins one day; but what does God bear! How 
many affronts and injuries he puts up with! He sees all the 
intrigues and horrid impieties committed in a nation. 'They have 
committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery; even I 
know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.' Jer 29: 23. God could 
strike men dead in their sins; but he forbears, and respites them. 
Methinks I see the justice of God with a flaming sword in his hand, 
ready to strike the stroke; and patience steps in for the sinner and 
says, Lord, spare him awhile longer. Methinks I hear the angel 
saying to God, as the king of Israel to the prophet, 'Shall I smite 
them? Shall I smite them?' 2 Kings 6: 21. Lord, here is such a 
sinner: shall I smite him? Shall I take off the head of such a 
drunkard, swearer, Sabbath-breaker? And God's patience says, as the 
dresser of the vineyard, 'Let him alone this year.' Luke 13: 8. Oh, 
the infinite patience of God, that he should bear with sinners so 
long! 'If a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?' I Sam 
24: 19. God finds his enemies, yet he lets them go, he is not 
presently avenged on them. Every sin has a voice to cry to God for 
vengeance; as Sodom's sin cried. Gen 18: 20. God spares men; but let 
not sinners presume upon his patience. Long forbearance is not 
forgiveness; God's patience abused leaves men more inexcusable. 
    (3) If sin be so great an evil, there is no little sin. There 
is no little treason: every sin strikes at God's crown and dignity; 
and in this sense it may be said, Are not 'thine iniquities 
infinite?' Job 22: 5. The least sin, as the schoolmen say, is 
infinite objective, because it is committed against an infinite 
Majesty. Nothing can do away with sin but that which has infinity in 
it; for though the sufferings of Christ, as man, were not infinite, 
yet the divine nature shed forth an infinite value and merit upon 
his sufferings. No sin is little, and there is no little hell for 
sin. As we are not to think any of God's mercies little, because 
they are more than we can deserve, so neither are we to think any of 
our sins little, because they are more than we can answer for. The 
sin we esteem lightest, without Christ's blood, will be heavy enough 
to sink us into perdition. 
    (4) If sin be so great an evil, see whence all personal or 
national troubles come from. They come from the evil of sin. Sin 
grows high, which makes divisions grow wide. It is the Achan that 
troubles us, it is the cockatrice egg, out of which comes a fiery, 
flying serpent. It is like Phaeton, who, as the poets feign, driving 
the chariot of the sun, set the world on fire. Like the planet 
Saturn, it has a malignant influence. It brings us into straits. 
'David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait.' 2 Sam 24: 14. 'As 
keepers of a field are they against her round about;' as horses or 
deer in a field are so enclosed with hedges, and so narrowly 
watched, that they cannot get out, so Jerusalem was so close 
besieged with enemies and watched, that there was no escape for her. 
Jer 4: 17. whence was this? 'This is thy wickedness;' ver 18. Al our 
evils are from the evil of sin. The cords that pinch us are of our 
own twisting. Flagitium et flagellum sunt tanquam acus et filum 
[Punishment follows wickedness as the thread the needle]. Sin raises 
all the storms in conscience. The sword of God's justice lies quiet 
till sin draws it out of the scabbard, and makes God whet it against 
a nation. 
    (5) If sin be so great an evil, how little reason has any one 
to be in love with it! Some are so infatuated with it, that they 
delight in it. The devil can so cook and dress sin, that it pleases 
the sinner's palate. 'Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth.' Job 
20: I2. Sin is as delightful to corrupt nature as meat to the taste. 
It is a feast on which men feed their lusts; but there is little 
cause to be in love with it. 'Though wickedness be sweet in his 
mouth, it is the gall of asps within him.' Job 20: 12, 14. To love 
sin is to hug an enemy. Sin puts a worm into conscience, a sting 
into death, a fire into hell. It is like those locusts in Rev 9: 7: 
'On their heads were as it were crowns like gold and they had hair 
as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions, 
and they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in 
their tails.' After the woman's hair comes in the scorpion's sting. 
    (6) If sin be so great an evil, what shall we say of them who 
make light of sin, as if there were no danger in it; as if God were 
not in earnest when he threatens sin; or as if ministers were about 
a needless work, when they preach against it? Some people make 
nothing of breaking a commandment; they make nothing of telling a 
lie, of cozening or slandering; nothing of living in the sin of 
uncleanness. If you weigh sin in the balance of some men's 
judgements, it is very light; but who are those that make light of 
sin? Solomon has described them. 'Fools make a mock at sin.' Prov 
14: 9. Stultus in vitia cito dilabitur [The fool falls quickly into 
vices]. Isidore. Who but fools would make light of that which 
grieves the Spirit of God? Who but fools would put a viper in their 
bosom? Who but fools would laugh at their own calamity, and make 
sport while they give themselves poison? 
    (7) If sin be so great an evil, I infer that there is no good 
to be got by it. Of this thorn we cannot gather grapes. If sin be a 
deadly evil, we cannot get any profit by it; no man ever could 
thrive upon this trade. Atheists said, 'It is vain to serve God, and 
what profit is it?' Mal 3: 14. But we may say more truly, what 
profit is there in sin? 'What fruit had ye then in those things 
whereof ye are now ashamed?' Rom 6: 21. Where are your earnings? 
What have you got by sin? It has shame for its companion, and death 
for its wages. What profit had Achan of his wedge of gold? That 
wedge seemed to cleave asunder his soul from God. What profit had 
Ahab of the vineyard he got unjustly? The dogs licked his blood. I 
Kings 21: 19. What profit had Judas of his treason? For thirty 
pieces he sold his Saviour, and bought his own damnation. All the 
gain men get by their sins, they may put in their eye; nay, they 
must put it there and weep it out again. 
    (8) If sin be so great an evi], see the folly of those who 
venture upon it, because of the pleasure they have in it. 'Who had 
pleasure in unrighteousness.' 2 Thess 2: 12. As for the pleasure of 
sin, it is but seeming; it is but a pleasant fancy; a golden dream. 
And besides, it is a mixed pleasure, it has bitterness intermingled 
with it. 'I have, says the harlot, perfumed my bed with myrrh, 
aloes, and cinnamon.' Prov 7: 17. For one sweet, here are two 
bitters; cinnamon is sweet, but myrrh and aloes are bitter; the 
harlot's pleasure is mixed. There are those inward fears and lashes 
of conscience that embitter the pleasure. If there be any pleasure 
in sin, it is only to the body, the brutish part; the soul is not at 
all gratified by it. 'Soul, take thine ease;' he might have more 
properly said, 'Body, take thine ease;' the soul cannot feed on 
sensual objects. Luke 12: 19. In short, the pleasure men talk of in 
sin, is their disease. Some take pleasure in eating chalk or coals, 
which is from disease; so when men talk of pleasure in eating the 
forbidden fruit it is from the sickness and disease of their souls. 
They 'put bitter for sweet.' Isa 5: 20. Oh, what folly is it, for a 
cup of pleasure, to drink a sea of wrath! Sin will be bitter in the 
end. 'Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his 
colour in the cup; at the last it biteth like a serpent.' Prov 23: 
31, 32. Sin will prove like Ezekiel's roll, sweet in the mouth, but 
bitter in the belly, mel in ore, fel in corde. Ask Cain now how he 
likes his murder? Achan how he likes his golden wedge? O remember 
thee saying of Augustine, Momentaneum est quod delectat, aeternum 
quad cruciat [The pleasure is momentary, the torture eternal]. The 
pleasure of sin is soon gone, but the sting remains. 
    (9) If sin be so great an evil, what wisdom is it to depart 
from it! 'To depart from evil is understanding.' Job 28: 28. To sin 
is to do foolishly; therefore to depart from sin is to do wisely. 
Solomon says, 'In the transgression of an evil man there is a 
snare.' Prov 29: 6. Is it not wisdom to avoid a snare? Sin is a 
deceiver, it cheated our first parents. Instead of being as gods, 
they became as the beasts that perish. Psa 49: 20. Sin has cheated 
all that have meddled with it; and is it not wisdom to shun such a 
cheater? Sin has many fair pleas, and tells how it will gratify all 
the senses with pleasure; but, says a gracious soul, Christ's love 
is sweeter; peace of conscience is sweeter; what are the pleasures 
of sin to the pleasures of paradise? Well may the saints be called 
wise virgins, because they spy the deceits that are in sin, and 
avoid the snares. 'The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to 
depart from evil is understanding.' 
    (10) If sin be so great an evil, how justifiable and 
commendable are all those means which are used to keep men from sin! 
How justifiable are a minister's admonitions and reproofs! 'Rebuke 
them sharply' (Titus 1: 13); cuttingly; a metaphor from a surgeon 
that searches a wound, and cuts out the proud flesh that the patient 
may be sound; so God's minister comes with a cutting reproof, but it 
is to keep from sin, and to save the soul. Si merito objurgaverit te 
aliquis, scito quia profuit [If anyone has reproved you justly, be 
sure that it was to your benefit]. Seneca. Esteem them your best 
friends who would keep you from sinning against God. If a man were 
going to poison or drown himself, would he not be his friend who 
should hinder hint from doing it? All a minister's reproofs are but 
to keep you from sin, and hinder from self-murder; all is in love. 
'Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.' 2 Cor 5: 11. It 
is the passion of most to be angry with those who would reclaim them 
from sin. 'They hate him that rebuketh in the gate.' Amos 5: 10. Who 
is angry with the physician for prescribing a bitter potion, seeing 
it is to purge out the peccant humour? It is mercy to men's souls to 
tell them of their sins. And surely those are priests of the devil 
who see men go on in sin, and ready to drop into hell, and never 
pull them back by a reproof; nay, perhaps flatter them in their 
sins. God never made ministers to be false glasses, to make bad 
faces look fair; such make themselves guilty of other men's sins. 
    (11) If sin be so great an evil, the evil of evils, see what a 
bad choice they make who choose sin to avoid affliction! It is as if 
to save the coat from being rent, one should suffer his flesh to be 
rent. It was a false charge that Elihu brought against Job: 'This 
[iniquity] hast thou chosen rather than affliction.' Job 36: 21. 
This is a bad choice. Affliction has a promise made to it, but sin 
has no promise made to it. 2 Sam 22: 28. Affliction is for our good, 
but sin is not for our good; it would entail hell and damnation upon 
us. Spira chose iniquity rather than affliction, but it cost him 
dear; at last he repented of his choice. He who commits sin to avoid 
suffering, is like one that runs into a lion's den to avoid the 
stinging of a gnat. 
    (12) If sin be so great an evil, it should be a Christian's 
great care in this life to keep from it. 'Deliver us from evil.' 
Some make it all their care to keep out of trouble; they had rather 
keep their skin whole than their conscience pure; but our care 
should be chiefly to keep from sin. How careful are we to forbear 
such a dish as the physicians tell us is hurtful to us: it will 
bring the stone or gout! Much more should we be careful that we eat 
not the forbidden fruit, which will bring divine vengeance. 'Keep 
thyself pure.' 1 Tim 5: 22. It has always been the study of the 
saints to keep aloof from sin. 'How can I do this great wickedness, 
and sin against God?' Gen 39: 9. 'Keep back thy servant from 
presumptuous sins.' Psa 19: 13. It was a saying of Anselm, 'If sin 
were on one side, and hell on the other, I would rather leap into 
hell than willingly sin against my God.' Oh, what a mercy is it to 
be kept from sin! We count it a great mercy to be kept from the 
plague and fire; but what is it to be kept from sin! 
    (13) Is sin so great an evil? It should make us long for 
heaven, where we shall be perfectly freed from sin, not only from 
its outward acts, but from the inbeing of sin. In heaven we shall 
not need to pray this prayer, 'Deliver us from evil.' What a blessed 
time will it be when we shall never have a vain thought more! Then 
Christ's spouse shall be sine macula et ruga, without spot or 
wrinkle. Eph 5: 27. Now there is a dead man tied to the living; we 
cannot do any holy duty, but we mix sin with it; we cannot pray 
without wandering; we cannot believe without doubting; but then our 
virgin souls shall not be capable of the least tincture of sin, but 
we shall all be as the angels of God. 
    In heaven we shall have no temptation to sin. The old serpent 
is cast out of paradise, and his fiery darts shall never come near 
to touch us. 
    Use 2. For exhortation. 
    First to all in general. If sin be so great and prodigious an 
evil, as you love your souls, take heed of sin. If you taste the 
forbidden fruit, it will cost you dear, it will cost you bitter 
tears, it may cost you lying in hell. O therefore flee from sin. 
    (1) Take heed of sins of omission. Matt 23: 23. It is as really 
dangerous not to do things commanded, as to do things forbidden. 
Some think it no great matter to omit reading Scripture. The Bible 
lies by like rusty armour, which they never use. They think it no 
great matter to omit family or closet-prayer; they go several 
months, and God never hears from them. They have nothing sanctified 
to them; they feed upon a curse; 'for every creature is sanctified 
by prayer.' I Tim 4: 4, 5. The bird which may shame many never takes 
a drop but its eye is lifted up towards heaven. O take heed of 
living in the neglect of any known duty. It was the prayer of a holy 
man on his death-bed, 'Lord, forgive my sins of omission.' 
    (2) Take heed of secret sins. Some are more modest than to sin 
openly in a balcony; but they will carry their sins under a canopy, 
they will sin in secret. Rachel would not let her father's images be 
seen, but she put them under her, 'and sat upon them.' Gen 31: 34. 
Many will be drunk and unclean, if they may do it when nobody sees 
them; they are like one that shuts up his shop windows, but follows 
his trade within doors. If sin be so great an evil, let me warn you 
this day not to sin in secret; know that you can never sin so 
privately but that the two witnesses, God and conscience, are always 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 28...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-27.txt