The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 28
(... continued from file 27)

    (3) Take heed of your besetting sin, that which your nature and 
constitution most incline to. As in the hive there is a master bee, 
so in the heart there is a master sin. 'I kept myself from mine 
iniquity.' Psa 18: 23. There is some sin that is a special 
favourite, the peccatum in deliciis, the darling sin that lies in 
the bosom, and this bewitches and draws away the heart. O beware of 
    [1] That sin which a man most cherishes, and to which all other 
sins are subservient, is the sin which is most tended and waited 
upon. The Pharisees' darling sin was vainglory, all they did was to 
feed the sin of pride. 'That they may have glory of men;' when they 
gave alms they sounded a trumpet. Matt 6: 2. If a stranger had asked 
the question, why does this trumpet sound? the answer was, The 
Pharisees are going to give alms to the poor. Their lamp of charity 
was filled with the oil of vainglory. Matt 23: 5. All their works 
they did to be seen of men. Pride was their bosom sin. Oftentimes 
covetousness is the darling sin; all other sins are committed to 
maintain this. Why do men equivocate, oppress, defraud, take bribes, 
but to uphold covetousness? 
    [2] The sin which a man loves not to be reproved for is the 
darling sin. Herod could not endure to have his incest spoken 
against; if John the Baptist meddles with that sin, it shall cost 
him his head. 
    [3] That sin which has most power over a man, and most easily 
leads him captive, is the beloved of the soul. There are some sins 
which a man can better put off and repulse; but there is one sin, 
which, if it becomes a suitor he cannot deny, but is overcome by it: 
this is the bosom sin. The young man in the gospel had a besetting 
sin which he could not resist, and that was the love of the world; 
his silver was dearer to him than his Saviour. It is a sad thing a 
man should be so bewitched by a lust that he will part with the 
kingdom of heaven to gratify it. 
    [4] The sin which men use arguments to defend is the darling 
sin. To plead for sin is to be the devil's attorney. If the sin be 
covetousness, and we vindicate it; if it be rash anger, and we 
justify it, saying (as Jonah 4: 9), 'I do well to be angry,' this is 
the besetting sin. 
    [5] That sin which most troubles a man, and flies in his face 
in an hour of sickness and distress, is the beloved sin. When 
Joseph's brethren were distressed, their sin in selling their 
brother came to remembrance. Gen 45: 3. So, when a man is upon his 
sick-bed, conscience says, Dost not thou remember how thou hast 
lived in such a sin, though thou hast been often warned, yet thou 
wouldst not leave it? Conscience reads a curtain lecture upon the 
darling sin. 
    [6] The sin which a man is most unwilling to part with is the 
darling sin. Jacob could of all his sons, most hardly part with 
Benjamin. 'Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take 
Benjamin away.' Gen 13: 36. So says the sinner, this and that sin 
have I parted with; but must Benjamin go? Must I part with this 
delightful sin? That goes to the heart. It is the Delilah, the 
beloved sin. Oh, if sin be such a deadly evil, dare not to indulge 
any bosom sin, which is the most dangerous of all; and, like a 
humour striking to the heart, which is mortal, leaves open but one 
gap for the wild beast to enter. One darling sin lived in, sets open 
a gap for Satan to enter. 
    (4) Take heed of the sins which attend your particular 
callings. A calling you must have. Adam in paradise tilled the 
ground. God never sealed warrants to idleness. But every calling has 
its snare; as some sin in living out of a calling, so others sin in 
a calling. Remember how deadly an evil sin is. Avoid those sins 
which you are exposed to in your trade. Take heed of all fraud and 
collusion in your dealings. 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do 
to you, do ye even so to them.' Matt 7: 12. 
    Take heed of a sinful tongue in selling. The Scripture says of 
one that goes to heaven, 'He speaketh the truth in his heart.' Psa 
15: 2. It is the custom of many to say the commodity stands them 
more, and yet they take less. This is hardly creditable. 
    Beware of a deceitful balance. 'The balances of deceit are in 
his hand.' Hos 12: 7. Men by making their weights lighter, make 
their accounts heavier. 
    Beware of sophisticating, mingling, and debasing commodities. 
'We sell the refuse of the wheat.' Amos 8: 6. They pick out the best 
grains of the wheat, and sell the worst at the same price as they 
did the best. To mix a coarse commodity with the fine, and sell it 
all for fine, is no better than deceit. Isa 1: 22, 
    Beware of stretching your consciences too far, or taking more 
for a commodity than it is worth. 'If thou sell ought unto thy 
neighbour, ye shall not oppress one another.' Lev 25: 14. There is a 
lawful gain allowed, yet one may not so advantage himself as to 
injure another. Let the tradesman's motto be, 'A conscience void of 
offence toward God and toward men.' Acts 24: 16. He has a hard 
bargain that purchases the world with the loss of his soul. 
    (5) Sin being so deadly an evil, take heed of the appearance of 
sin. Abstain not only from apparent evil, but the appearance of 
evil; if it be not absolutely a sin, yet if it looks like sin, avoid 
it. He who is loyal to his prince, not only forbears to have his 
hand in treason, but he will take heed of that which has a show of 
treason. Joseph's mistress tempted him, and he fled and would not be 
with her. Gen 39: 12. An appearance of good is too little, and an 
appearance of evil is too much. 
    The appearance of evil is often an occasion of evil. Dalliance 
is an appearance of evil, and oftentimes occasions evil. Touching 
the forbidden fruit occasions tasting. Dancing in masquerades has 
often been the occasion of uncleanness. 
    The appearance of evil may scandalise another. 'When ye sin 
against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin 
against Christ.' I Cor 8: 12. Sinning against a member of Christ is 
sinning against Christ himself. 
    What means shall we use to be kept from acts of sin? 
    (1) If you would be preserved from actual and scandalous sins, 
labour to mortify original sin. If you would not have the branches 
bud and blossom, smite at the root. I know that original sin cannot 
in this life be removed, but labour to have it subdued. Why do men 
break forth into actual sins but because they do not mortify heart 
sins? Suppress the first risings of pride, lust, and passion. 
Original sin unmortified will prove such a root of bitterness as 
will bring forth the cursed root of scandalous sin. 
    (2) If you would be kept from actual sins, think what an odious 
thing sin is. Besides what you have heard, remember sin is the 
accursed thing. Josh 7: 13. It is the abominable thing God hates. 
'Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate.' Jer 44: 4. Sin is the 
spirit of witchcraft; it is the devil's excrement; it is called 
filthiness. James 1: 21. If all the evils in the world were put 
together, and their essence strained out, they could not make a 
thing so filthy as sin is. So odious is a sinner that God loathes 
the sight of him. 'My soul lothed them.' Zech 11: 8. He who defiles 
himself with avarice, what is he but a serpent licking the dust? He 
who defiles himself with the lust of uncleanness, what is he but a 
swine with a man's head? He who defiles himself with pride, what is 
he but a bladder which the devil has blown up? He who defiles 
himself with drunkenness, what is he but a beast that has got the 
staggers? To consider how odious and base a thing sin is, would be a 
means of keeping us from sinning. 
    (3) If you would be kept from actual sins, get the fear of God 
planted in your hearts. 'By the fear of the Lord men depart from 
evil.' Prov 16: 6. Cavebis si pavebis [You will take care if you 
fear]; fear is a bridle to sin and a spur to holiness. Fear puts a 
holy awe upon the heart and binds it to its good behaviour. By the 
fear of the Lord men depart from evil. When the Empress Eudoxia 
threatened to banish Chrysostom, 'Tell her,' said he, 'I fear 
nothing but sin.' Fear is janitor animae; it stands as a porter at 
the door of the soul and keeps sin from entering. All sin is 
committed for want of the fear of God. 'Whose mouth is full of 
cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; there is 
no fear of God before their eyes.' Rom 3: 14, 15, 18. Holy fear 
stands sentinel, and is ever watching against security, pride, and 
wantonness. Fear is a Christian's lifeguard to defend him against 
the fiery darts of temptation. Si vis esse securus, semper time. The 
way to be safe is always to fear. 
    (4) If we would be kept from actual sins, let us be careful to 
avoid all the inlets and occasions of sin. Run not into evil 
company. He that would not have the plague will not go into an 
infected house. Guard your senses, which may be the inlets to sin. 
Keep the two portals, the eye and the ear; especially look to your 
eyes. Much sin comes in by the eye; the eye is often an inlet to 
sin; sin takes fire at the eye; the first sin in the world began at 
the eye. 'When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and 
was pleasant to the eyes, she took of the fruit thereof.' Gen 3: 6. 
Looking begat lusting. Intemperance begins at the eye. Looking on 
the wine when it is red and gives its colour in the glass, causes 
excess of drinking. Prov 23: 31. Covetousness begins at the eye. 
'When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and a 
wedge of gold, I coveted and took them.' Josh 7: 21. The fire of 
lust begins to kindle at the eye. David walking upon the roof of his 
house saw a woman washing herself, and she was, says the text, 
'beautiful to look upon,' and he sent messengers and took her, and 
defiled himself with her. 2 Sam 11: 2. 0 therefore look to your 
eyes! Job made a covenant with his eyes. Job 31: 1. If the eye be 
once inflamed, it will be hard to stand out long against sin. If the 
outworks are taken by the enemy, there is great danger of the whole 
castle being taken. 
    (5) If you would be kept from actual gross sin, study sobriety 
and temperance. I Pet 5: 8. Sobrii este, be sober. Check the 
inordinance of appetite, for sin frequently makes its entrance this 
way. By gratifying the sensitive appetite, the soul, that is akin to 
angels, is enslaved to the brutish part. Many drink to drowsiness, 
if not to drunkenness. Not denying the sensitive appetite, makes 
men's consciences full of guilt, and the world full of scandal. If 
you would be kept from running into sin, lay restraint upon the 
flesh. For what has God given reason and conscience but to be a 
bridle to check inordinate desires? 
    (6) If you would be kept from actual sins, be continually upon 
your spiritual watch. 
    Watch your thoughts. 'How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge 
within thee?' Jer 4: I4. Sin begins at the thoughts. First, men 
cherish revengeful thoughts, then they dip their hands in blood. Set 
a spy over your thoughts. 
    Watch your passions of anger and passions of lust. The heart is 
ready to be destroyed by its own passions, as a vessel to be 
overturned by its sails. Passion transports beyond the bounds of 
reason; it is brevis insania (Seneca), a short frenzy. Moses in a 
passion 'spake unadvisedly with his lips.' Psa 106: 33. The 
disciples in a passion called fire from heaven. A man in a passion 
is like a ship in a storm that has neither pilot nor sails to help 
it, but is exposed to waves and rocks. 
    Watch your temptations. Satan continually lies in ambush, and 
watches to draw us to sin; stat in procincto diabolus [the devil 
stands girded for battle]. He is fishing for our souls; he is either 
laying snares, or shooting darts. Therefore we had need watch him, 
that we be not decoyed into sin. Most sin is committed for want of 
    (7) If you would be kept front the evil of sin, consult the 
oracles of God; be well versed in Scripture. 'Thy word have I hid in 
my heart, that I might not sin against thee.' Psa 119: 11. The word 
is anceps gladius, a two-edged sword, to cut asunder men's lusts. 
When the fogs and vapours of sin begin to rise, let but the light of 
Scripture shine in the soul, and it dispels them. 'Let the word of 
Christ dwell in you richly.' Col 3: I6. Alphonsus, king of Arragon, 
read over the Bible fourteen times. The word shows the damnable evil 
of sin; it furnishes us with precepts, which are so many recipes and 
antidotes against sin. When Christ had a temptation to sin, he beat 
back the tempter, and wounded him three times with the sword of the 
Spirit: 'It is written.' Why do men live in sin, but because they 
either do not read the word or do not believe it? 
    (8) If you would be preserved from gross, presumptuous sin, get 
your hearts fired with love to God. Love has great force in it; it 
is 'strong as death;' it breaks the league between the heart and 
sin. Two things in God cause love. 
    [1] His glorious beauty. Moses desired to see some glimpse of 
it. 'Lord, show me thy glory.' [2] His amazing love. What a prodigy 
of love was it, to give his Son out of his bosom, and lay such a 
jewel to pawn for our redemption! The glories of God's beauty, and 
the magnitude of his love, like two loadstones, draw our love to 
God; and if we love him, we shall not sin against him: he that loves 
his friend, will not by any means displease him. I have read of four 
men meeting together, who asked one another what it was that kept 
them from sinning? One said, the fear of hell; another said, the 
joys of heaven; the third said, the odiousness of sin; the fourth 
said, that which keeps me from sin is love to God; shall I sin 
against so good a God? shall I abuse love? Love to God is the best 
curbing-bit to keep from sin. 
    (9) If you would be kept from the evil of sin, be diligent in a 
calling. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt [Work buys all things from the 
gods]. Adam in paradise must till the ground. Such as live idly, 
expose themselves to sin. If we have no work to do, Satan will find 
us work; he sows most of his seed in fallow ground. A woman being 
much tempted to sin, came to the reverend Mr Greenham, and asked him 
what she should do to resist temptation? He answered, Be always well 
employed, that when Satan comes he may find thee busied in thy 
calling, and not at leisure to listen to his temptation. 
    (10) If you would be kept from sin, fix the eye of your mind 
upon the 'beauty of holiness.' Holiness consists in conformity to 
God. It is the sparkling of the divine nature, a beam of God shining 
in the soul. How lovely is Christ's bride when decked and bespangled 
with the jewels of holiness! What makes the seraphims angels of 
light, but their holiness? Do but think with yourselves what a 
splendid, glorious thing holiness is, and it will cause a disgust 
and hatred of sin, which is so contrary to it. The beholding of 
beauty will make us out of love with deformity. 
    (11) If you would keep from the evil of sin, meditate 
frequently on death. Think of the unavoidableness of it. Heb 9: 27. 
Statutum est. 'It is appointed unto men once to die.' We are not so 
sure to lie down this night in bed as to lie down in the grave. 
Think of the uncertainty of the time. We are but tenants at will. We 
hold our life at the will of our landlord, and how soon may God turn 
us out of this house of clay! Death often comes when we least look 
for it. The flood, as some learned writers observe, came in the 
month Ziph, or April, in the spring; when the trees were blossoming, 
and the birds singing, and men least looked for it; so, often in the 
spring of youth, when the body is most healthy, and the spirits most 
sprightly and vigorous, and it is least thought on, then death 
comes. Could we think often and seriously of death, it would give a 
death's wound to sin. Nihil sic revocat peccata quam crebra morbis 
contemplatio [Nothing restrains from sin so much as the frequent 
thought of death]. Augustine. No stronger antidote against sin than 
the thought I am now sinning, and to-morrow may be dying. What if 
death should find me doing the devil's work, would it not send me to 
him to receive my wages? Would the adulterer but think, I am now in 
the act of sin, but how soon may death come, and then I who have 
burned in lust, must burn in hell! it would strike a damp into his 
soul, and make him afraid of going after strange flesh. 
    (12) If you would be kept from gross, scandalous sins, beware 
of a covetous heart. Covetousness is a dry drunkenness. He who 
thirsts insatiably after the world will stick at no sin; he will 
betray Christ and a good cause for money. Cui nihil satis, eidem 
nihil turpe [The man for whom nothing is enough holds nothing 
shameful]. Tacitus. 'The love of money is the root of all evil.' I 
Tim 6: 10. From this root comes theft. Achan's covetous humour made 
him steal the wedge of gold. Josh 7: 21. Covetousness makes the 
gaols full. From this root comes murder. Why did Ahab stone Naboth 
to death but to possess his vineyard? I Kings 21: 13. Covetousness 
has made many swim to the crown in blood. From this bitter root of 
covetousness proceeds fraud. It is the covetous hand that holds 
false weights. From this root of covetousness comes uncleanness. You 
read of the hire of a whore. Deut 23: 18. For money she would let 
both her conscience and chastity be set to sale. Oh, if you would be 
kept from the evil of sin, beware of covetousness, which is the 
inlet to so many sins! 
    (13) Let us be much in prayer to God, to keep us from engulfing 
ourselves in sin. 'Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' 
Psa 19: I3. We have no power inherent to keep us from evil. Arnoldus 
says, that man in his corrupt estate, has aliquas reliquias vitae 
spiritualis, some relics of spiritual life left. And Arminius says, 
man has a sufficiency of grace within himself whereby he may 
abstinere a malo, abstain from evil; that freewill is a sufficient 
curb to check and pull him back from sin. But what needed Christ to 
have taught us this prayer: Libera nos a malo, 'Deliver us from 
evil'? If we have power of ourselves to keep from sin, why pray to 
God for power? Alas! if David and Peter, who in a habit of grace 
fell, for want of a fresh gale of the Spirit to hold them up, much 
more will they be in danger of falling who have only the power of 
freewill to hold them. 
    Let us therefore sue to God for strength to keep us from 
sinning! Let us pray the prayer of David, 'Hold thou me up, and I 
shall be safe' (Psa 119: 117); and that other prayer, 'Hold up my 
goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip nos.' Psa 17: 5. Lord, 
keep me from dishonouring thee; keep me from the defiling sins of 
the age, that I may not be worse for the times, nor the times the 
worse for me. 'Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' Lord, 
whatever I suffer, keep me from sin. The child is safe in the 
nurse's arms; and we are only safe from falling into sin while we 
are held up in the arms of Christ and free grace. 
    Secondly, this exhortation has an aspect to God's children. You 
that are professors, and carry Christ's colours, I beseech you, 
above all others, to take heed of sin; beware of any action that is 
scandalous and unbecoming the gospel. You have heard what a 
prodigious hyperbolical evil sin is. Come not near the forbidden 
fruit. 'Though Israel play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend.' 
Hos 4: 15. So, though wicked men run into sin, yet let not the 
spouse of Christ defile the breasts of her virginity. Sin ill 
becomes any, but least becomes professors. Dung is unsightly in the 
street; but to see it in the temple is much more offensive. Leprosy 
in the foot is ill, but to see a leprous sore in the face is much 
worse: to see sin break forth in those who have a face of religion, 
is most to be abominated. The sins of the wicked are not so much to 
be wondered at. 'The wicked shall do wickedly.' Dan 12: 10. It is no 
wonder to see a toad spit poison. It was not so wonderful to see 
Cain or Ahab sin; but to see Lot's incest, to see David's hands 
stained with blood, was strange indeed. When the sun is eclipsed 
every one stands and looks at it; so when a child of light is 
eclipsed by scandalous sin, all stand and gaze at such an eclipse. 
    The sins of God's people do, in some sense, provoke him more 
than the sins of the wicked! We read of the provocations of his sons 
and daughters. Deut 32: 19. The sins of the wicked anger God, but 
the sins of his people grieve him. The sins of God's people have a 
more malignant aspect, and are of a blacker dye than others. There 
are aggravations in the sins of his people, which are not to be 
found in the sins of the unregenerate, in eight particulars: 
    (1) The godly have something which may ponere obicem [set up a 
barrier], restrain them from sin. When wicked men sin, they have no 
principle to restrain them; they have wind and tide to carry them, 
they have nothing to pull them back from sin; but a child of God has 
a principle of grace to give check to sin; he has the impulses of 
God's Spirit dissuading him from evil. For him, therefore, to commit 
sin is far worse than for others. It is to sin more desperately; it 
is as if a woman should go about to kill the babe in her womb. 
Christian, when thou sinnest presumptuously, thou doest what in thee 
liest to kill the babe of grace in thy soul. 
    (2) The sins of God's people are greater than others, because 
they sin against more mercy. It is like a weight put in a scale to 
make sin weigh heavier. God has given Christ to a believer; he has 
cut him off from the wild stock of nature, and grafted him into the 
true olive; and for him to abuse all this mercy is to outdo the 
wicked, and to sin with a higher aggravation, because it is to sin 
against greater love. How was Peter's sin enhanced and accented, by 
Christ having done more for him than others! He had dropped some of 
the holy oil upon him; he had taken him into the number of the 
apostles; he had carried him up into the mount of transfiguration, 
and shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. For Peter to deny 
Christ after all this mercy was heinous, and could not be forgiven 
but by a miracle and prodigy of love. 
    (3) The sins of the godly have this aggravation in them, that 
they sin against clearer illumination than the wicked. 'They are of 
those that rebel against the light.' Job 24: 13. Light is there 
taken figuratively for knowledge. It cannot be denied, but the 
wicked sin knowingly; but the godly have a light beyond them, such a 
divine, penetrating light as no hypocrite can attain to. They have 
better eyes to see sin than others; and for them to meddle with sin 
and embrace this dunghill, must needs provoke God, and make the fury 
rise up in his face. O therefore, you that are the people of God, 
flee from sin; your sins are more enhanced, and have worse 
aggravations in them, than the sins of the unregenerate. 
    (4) The sins of the godly are worse than the unregenerate; for, 
when they sin, it is against great experiences. They have felt the 
bitterness of sin in the pangs of the new birth, and afterwards God 
has spoken peace, and they have had an experimental taste how sweet 
the Lord is; and yet, after these experiences, that they should 
touch the forbidden fruit, and venture upon a presumptuous sin, 
enhances and aggravates their guilt, and is like putting a weight 
more in the scale to make their sin weigh heavier. The wicked have 
never tasted the sweetness of a heavenly life; they have never known 
what it is to have any smiles from God; they have never tasted 
anything sweeter than corn and wine; therefore no wonder if they 
sin: but for a child of God who has had such love-tokens from 
heaven, and signal experiences from God, for him to gratify a lust, 
how horrid is this! It was an aggravation of Solomon's sin, that his 
heart was turned from the Lord, who had appeared to him twice. I 
Kings 11: 9. 
    (5) The sins of the godly are greater than others, because they 
sin against their sonship. When wicked men sin, they sin against the 
command; but when the godly sin, they sin against a privilege; they 
abuse their sonship. The godly are adopted into the family of 
heaven, they have a new name. Is it a light thing, said David, to be 
son-in-law to a king? So, to be called the sons of God, to be heirs 
of the promises, is no small honour. For such to run into an open 
offence, is sinning against their adoption. They hereby make 
themselves vile, as if a king's son should be tumbling in the mire, 
or lie among swine. 
    (6) The sins of the godly are worse than others, because they 
are committed against more vows and engagements. They have given up 
their names to God; they have bound themselves solemnly to God by 
oath. 'I have sworn that I will keep thy righteous judgements.' Psa 
119: 106. In the supper of the Lord, they have renewed this sacred 
vow; and, after this, to run into presumptuous sin, is a breach of 
vow, a kind of perjury, which dyes the sin of a crimson colour. 
    (7) The sins of the godly are worse than others, because they 
bring a greater reproach upon religion. For the wicked to sin, must 
be expected from them, as swine will wallow in the mire; but when 
sheep do so, when the godly sin, it redounds to the dishonour of the 
gospel. 'By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies 
of the Lord to blaspheme.' 2 Sam 12: I4. Every one's eye is upon a 
stain in scarlet; for the godly to sin, is like a spot in scarlet, 
it is more taken notice of, and reflects greater dishonour upon the 
ways of God. When the sun is eclipsed, every one stands and looks 
upon it; so, when a child of light is eclipsed by scandalous sin, 
all stand and gaze at it. How does the gospel suffer by the 
miscarriages of the godly! Their blood can never wash off the stain 
they bring upon religion. 
    (8) The sins of the godly are worse, because they encourage and 
harden wicked men in sin. If the wicked see the godly loose and 
uncircumspect in their lives, they think they may do so too. The 
wicked make the godly their pattern, not in imitating their virtues, 
but their vices; and is it not fearful to be the means to damn 
others? These are the aggravations of the sins of the godly. You, 
therefore, above all others, beware of presumptuous sin. Your sins 
wound conscience, weaken grace, and do more highly provoke God than 
the sins of others, and God will be sure to punish you. Whoever 
escapes, you shall not. 'You only have I known of all the families 
of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.' 
Amos 3: 2. If God does not damn you, he may send you to hell in this 
life; he may cause such agonies and tremblings of heart, that you 
will be a terror to yourselves. You may draw nigh to despair, and be 
ready to look upon yourselves as castaways. When David had stained 
himself with adultery and murder, he complained of his broken bones. 
Psa 51: 8. This metaphor sets forth the grief and agony of his soul; 
he lay in sore desertion three quarters of a year, and it is thought 
he never recovered his full joy to his dying day. O. therefore, you 
who belong to God and are enrolled in his family, take heed of 
blemishing your profession with scandalous sin; you will pay dear 
for it. Think of the broken bones. Though God does not blot you out 
of his book, yet he may cast you out of his presence. Psa 51: 2: He 
may keep you in long desertion. You may feel such lashes in your 
conscience, that you may roar out and think yourselves half in hell. 
    [2] We also pray in a special sense, 'Deliver us from evil.' We 
pray to be delivered from evil under a threefold notion. 1. From the 
evil of our heart, which is called an evil heart. Heb 3: 12. 2. From 
the evil of Satan, who is called the 'wicked one.' Matt 13: 19. 3. 
From the evil of the world, which is called en 'evil world.' Gal 1: 
    (1) In the petition, 'Deliver us from evil,' we pray to be 
delivered from the evil of our heart, that it may not entice us to 
sin. The heart is the poisoned fountain, from whence all actual sins 
flow. 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, fornications, 
murders.' Mark 7: 21. The cause of all evil lies in a man's own 
breast, all sin begins at the heart. Lust is first conceived in the 
heart, and then it is midwifed into the world. Whence comes rash 
anger? The heart sets the tongue on fire. The heart is a shop or 
workhouse, where all sin is contrived and hammered out. How needful, 
therefore, is this prayer, deliver us from the evil of our hearts! 
The heart is the greatest seducer, therefore the apostle James says, 
'Every man is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.' James 1: I4. 
The devil could not hurt us, if our own hearts did not give consent. 
All that he can do is to lay the bait, but it is our fault to 
swallow it. 
    O let us pray to be delivered from the lusts and deceits of our 
own heart. 'Deliver us from evil.' Luther feared his heart more than 
the pope or cardinal; and it was Augustine's prayer, Libera me, 
Domine, a meipso; Lord, deliver me from myself. It was good advice 
one gave to his friend, Caveas teipsum [Beware of yourself]. Beware 
of the bosom traitor, the flesh. The heart of a man is the Trojan 
horse, out of which comes a whole army of lusts. 
    (2) In this petition, 'Deliver us from evil,' we pray to be 
delivered from the evil of Satan. He is 'the wicked one.' Matt 13: 
    In what respect is Satan the wicked one? 
    He was the first inventor of evil. He plotted the first 
treason. John 8: 44. 
    His inclination is only to evil. Eph 6: 12. 
    His constant practice is doing evil. I Pet 5: 8. 
    He has some hand in all the evils and mischief that fall out in 
the world. 
    He hinders from good. 'He showed me Joshua the high priest 
standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his 
right hand to resist him.' Zech 3: 1. 
    He provokes to evil. He put it into Ananias' heart to lie. 'Why 
has Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?' Acts 5: 3. 
The devil blows the fire of lust and strife. When men are proud, the 
old serpent has poisoned them, and makes them swell. Thus he is the 
evil one and well may we pray, 'Lord, deliver us from the evil one.' 
The word Satan in the Hebrew signifies an opponent or adversary. 
    He is a restless adversary, he never sleeps. Spirits need no 
sleep. He is a peripatetic. He 'walketh about.' I Pet 5: 8. And how 
does he walk? Not as a pilgrim, but as a spy. He narrowly observes 
where he may plant his pieces of battery, and make his assaults with 
most advantage against us. Satan is a subtle engineer; there is no 
place that can secure us from his assaults and inroads. While we are 
praying, hearing, and meditating, we are of his company, though 
uncertain how we came by it. 
    Satan is a mighty adversary, he is armed with power. He is 
called the 'strong man.' Luke 11: 21. He takes men captive at his 
pleasure. 'Who are taken captive by him at his will,' who are taken 
alive by him. 2 Tim 2: 26. It alludes to a bird that is taken alive 
in the snare. The devil's work is to angle for men's souls; he lays 
suitable baits; he allures the ambitious man with honour, the 
covetous man with riches; he hooks his bait with silver; he allures 
the lustful man with beauty, he tempts men to Delilah's lap to keep 
them from Abraham's bosom. The devil glories in the damnation of 
souls. How needful then is this prayer, 'Deliver us from evil!' 
Lord, keep us from the evil one. Though Satan may solicit us to sin, 
suffer us not to give consent; though he may assault the castle of 
our hearts, yet let us not deliver up the keys of the castle to our 
mortal enemy. 
    (3) In this petition, 'Deliver us from evil,' we pray to be 
delivered from the evil of the world. It is called an evil world, 
not but that the world, as God made it, is good, but through our 
corruption it becomes evil, and we had need pray, deliver us from an 
evil world. Gal 1: 4. 
    In what sense is it an evil world? 
    (1) It is a defiling world. It is like living in an infectious 
air, it requires a high degree of grace to keep ourselves 'unspotted 
from the world.' James 1: 27. It is as hard to live in the world and 
not be defiled, as to go much in the sun and not be tanned. 
    The opinions of the world are defiling; as that a little 
religion will serve the turn; that like leaf gold, it must be spread 
but thin; that morality runs parallel with grace; that to be zealous 
is to be righteous over much; that it is better to keep the skin 
whole than the conscience pure; that the flesh is rather to be 
gratified than mortified. These opinions of the world are defiling. 
    The examples of the world are defiling. Examples have great 
force to draw us to evil. Princeps imperio magnus exemplo major [A 
prince great in power is greater by his example]. Princes are 
looking-glasses by which we dress ourselves; if they do evil, we are 
apt to imitate them. Great men are copies we set before us, and 
usually we write most like the copy when it is blotted. There is 
great proneness in us to follow the examples of the world; therefore 
God has put in a caveat against it. 'Thou shalt not follow a 
multitude to do evil.' Exod 23: 2. How easily are we hurried to sin, 
when we have the tide of natural corruption and the wind of example 
to carry us! Lot was the world's wonder; the complexion of his soul 
kept pure in Sodom's infectious air. The river of Peru, in America, 
after running into the main sea, keeps fresh, and does not mingle 
with the salt waters; to which Lot might be compared, whose piety 
kept fresh in Sodom's salt water. Bad examples are catching. 'They 
were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.' Psa 106: 
35. Had we not need then pray, Lord, deliver us from this evil 
world? Living in the world is like travelling in a dirty road. 
    (2) It is an evil world, as it is an ensnaring world. The world 
is full of snares. Company is a snare, recreation is a snare, oaths 
are snares, riches are golden snares. Opes irritamenfa malorum 
[Riches are incitements to sin]. The apostle speaks of the lust of 
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.' I John 
2: 16. The lust of the flesh is beauty, the lust of the eye is 
money, the pride of life is honour; these are the natural man's 
trinity. In mundo splendor opum, gloriae majestas, voluptatum 
illecebrae ab amore Dei nos abstrabunt [In the world, the splendour 
of wealth, the greatness of high reputation and the allurements of 
pleasure draw us away from the love of God]. The world is a 
flattering enemy; whom it kisses it betrays; it is a silken halter. 
The pleasures of the world, like opium, cast men into the sleep of 
security. Lysimachus sold his crown for a draught of water; so, many 
part with heaven for the world. The king of Armenia was sent 
prisoner to queen Cleopatra in golden fetters. Too many are enslaved 
with the world's golden fetters. The world bewitched Demas. 2 Tim 4: 
10. One of Christ's own apostles was caught with a silver bait. It 
is hard to drink the wine of prosperity and not be giddy. The world, 
through our innate corruption, is evil, as it is a snare. 'They that 
will be rich fall into temptation and a snare.' 1 Tim 6: 9. If an 
angel were to live here, there were no danger of the world's 
ensnaring him, because he has no principle within to receive the 
temptation; but we have a corrupt principle that suits the 
temptation, and that makes us always in danger. 
    (3) It is an evil world as it is a discouraging world. It casts 
scorn and reproach upon those who live virtuously. What, will you be 
holier than others, wiser than your ancestors? The world deals with 
the professors of religion, as Sanballat did with the Jews when they 
were building. 'He mocked the Jews, and said, What do these feeble 
Jews? Will they fortify themselves? Will they revive the stones out 
of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?' Neh 4: 1. So the 
wicked world casts out squibs of reproach at the godly. What, will 
ye build for heaven? What needs all this cost? What profit is it to 
serve the Almighty? Thus the world would pluck off our chariot 
wheels when we are driving towards heaven. These are called cruel 
mockings. Heb 11: 36. It requires a great measure of sanctity to 
withstand the discouragements of the world, to dance among serpents, 
to laugh at reproaches, and bind them as a crown about our head. 
    (4) It is an evil world as it is a deadening world. It dulls 
and deadens the affections to heavenly objects. It cools holy 
motions, like a damp in a silver mine, which puts out the light. 
Earthly things choke the seed of the word. A man entangled in the 
world is so taken up with secular concerns that he can no more mind 
the things above than the earth can ascend, or the elephant fly in 
the air. And even such as have grace in them, when their affections 
are belimed with the earth, they find themselves much indisposed to 
meditation and prayer; it is like swimming with a stone about the 
    (5) It is an evil world as it is a maligning world. It hates 
the people of God. 'Because ye are not of the world, therefore the 
world hateth you.' John 15: 19. Hatred, as Aristotle says, is 
against the whole kind. Haman's hatred was against the seed of the 
whole Jews. When you can find a serpent without a sting, or a 
leopard without spots, then you may expect to find a wicked world 
without hatred. The mark that is shot at is piety. 'They are mine 
adversaries, because I follow the thing that good is.' Psa 38: 20. 
The world pretends to hate the godly for something else, but the 
ground of the quarrel is holiness. The world's hatred is implacable; 
anger may be reconciled, hatred cannot. You may as well reconcile 
heaven and hell, as the two seeds. If the world hated Christ, no 
wonder it hates us. 'The world hated me before it hated you.' John 
15: 18. Why should any hate Christ? This blessed Dove had no gall, 
this Rose of Sharon sent forth the sweetest perfume; but it shows 
the world's baseness, that it is a Christ-hating and a saint-hating 
world. Had we not need to pray, deliver us from this evil world? 
    (6) It is an evil world, as it is a deceitful world. 
    There is deceit in dealing. 'He is a merchant, the balances of 
deceit are in his hand.' Hos 12: 7. The Hebrew word rimmah signifies 
both to deceive and oppress. He who dares use deceit will not spare 
to oppress. 
    There is a deceit in friendship. 'But a faithful man who can 
find?' Prov 20: 6. Trita frequensque via est per amici fallere 
nomen. Some use too much courtship in friendship; they are like 
trumpets which make a great noise, but within they are hollow. Some 
can flatter and hate, commend and censure. Mel in ore, fel in corde 
[Honey on the tongue, gall in the heart]. Dissembled love is worse 
than hatred. 
    There is deceit in riches. 'The deceitfulness of riches.' Matt 
13: 22. The world makes us believe it will satisfy our desires, and 
it does but increase them; it makes us believe it will stay with us, 
and it takes wings. Prov 23: 5. 
    (7) It is an evil world, as it is a disquieting world. It is 
full of trouble. John 16: 33. The world is like a beehive; when, 
having tasted a little honey, we have been stung with a thousand 
bees. Basil was of opinion that before the fall the rose grew 
without prickles; but now every sweet flower of our life has its 
thorns. There are many things which cause disquiet-loss of friends, 
law-suits, crosses in estate. Relations are not without their 
troubles; some are troubled that they have no children, others that 
they have children: the world is a vexing vanity. If a man be poor, 
he is despised by the rich; if he be rich, he is envied by the poor. 
If we do not find an ensnaring world, we shall find it an afflicting 
world; it has more in it to wean us than tempt us. The world is a 
sea, where we are tossed upon the surging waves of sorrow, and often 
in danger of shipwreck. It is a wilderness, full of fiery serpents. 
What storms of persecution are raised against the righteous! 2 Tim 
3: 12. The wicked are briers, where Christ's sheep lose some of 
their golden fleece. Mic 7: 4. Then had we not need pray, Lord, 
deliver us from being hurt by this evil world? Why should we be 
forbidden to love the world? Though we are commanded to love our 
enemies, yet this is an enemy we must not love. 'Love not the 
world.' I John 2: 15. 
    [3] Let it be observed, however, that abstaining from, or 
forbearing the external acts of sin, is not sufficient to entitle us 
to salvation. When we pray, 'Deliver us from evil,' more is implied 
in it, as that we make progress in holiness. Being divorced from sin 
is not enough, unless we are espoused to virtue; therefore in 
Scripture these two are joined. 'Depart from evil, and do good.' Psa 
34: 14; Rom 12: 9. 'Cease to do evil, learn to do well.' Isa 1: 16, 
17. 'Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and 
spirit perfecting holiness.' 2 Cor 7: 1. Leaving sin is not enough, 
unless we embrace righteousness. Virtutis est magis honesta agere 
quam non turpia [The mark of righteousness is rather to do good than 
not to do evil]. As it is in the body, it is not enough that the 
disease be stopped, but it must grow in health; so in the soul, it 
is not enough that acts of sin be forborne, which is stopping a 
disease, but it must be healthy, and grow in holiness. 
    Use 1. Those are reproved who labour only to suppress the 
outward acts of sin, but do not press on to holiness; they cease 
from doing evil but do not learn to do well. Their religion lies 
only in negatives; they glory in this, that they are given to no 
vice, none can charge them with any foul miscarriages. 'God, I thank 
thee that I am not as other men are; extortioners, unjust, 
adulterers.' Luke 18: 11. This is not enough, you must advance a 
step further in solid piety. It is not enough that a field be not 
sown with tares or hemlock, but it must be sown with good seed. 
Consider two things: 
    (1) If that you are not guilty of gross sins be the best 
certificate you have to show, God makes no account of you. Though a 
piece of brass be not so bad as clay, yet not being so good as 
silver, it will not pass for current coin; so, though you are not 
grossly profane, yet not being of the right metal, wanting the stamp 
of holiness, you will never pass current in heaven. 
    (2) A man may abstain from evil, yet he may go to hell for not 
doing good. 'Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn 
down, and cast into the fire.' Matt 3: 10. Why were the foolish 
virgins shut out? They had done no hurt, they had not broken their 
lamps: yea, but their fault was, there was no goodness in them, they 
had no oil in their lamps. O therefore, let us not content ourselves 
in being free from gross acts of sin, but let us launch forth 
further in holiness; let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution, 
perfecting holiness. 
    [4] 'Deliver us from evil,' may be from temporal evil. We pray 
that God will either prevent temporal evils or deliver us out of 
    (1) We pray that God will prevent temporal evils; that he will 
be our screen, to stand between us and danger. 'Save me from them 
that persecute me.' Psa 7: 1. We may lawfully pray against the plots 
of the wicked, that they may prove abortive, that, though they have 
a design upon us, they may not have their desire upon us. 'Keep me 
from the snares which they have laid for me.' Psa 141: 9. 
    (2) We pray that God will deliver us out of temporal evils; 
that he will remove his judgements from us, whether famine, sword, 
or pestilence. 'Remove thy stroke away from me.' Psa 39: 10. Yet may 
we pray to be delivered from temporal evils, only so far as God sees 
it good for us. We may pray to be delivered from the evil of sin 
absolutely, but we must pray to be delivered from temporal evils 
conditionally, so far as God sees fit for us, and may stand with his 
    Use 2. In all the troubles that lie upon us, let us look up to 
God for ease and succour. 'Should not a people seek unto their God?' 
Isa 8: 19. The Papists, then, are to blame who knock at the wrong 
door. When they are in any trouble, they pray to the saints to 
deliver them. When they are in danger of shipwreck, they pray to St 
Nicholas; when they are in the fit of a fever, they pray to St 
Petronilla! when they are in travail, they pray to St Margaret. How 
unlawful it is to invocate saints in prayer I will prove from one 
Scripture: 'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not 
believed?' Rom 10: 14. We may pray to none but such as we believe 
in; but we ought not to believe in any saint, therefore we may not 
pray to him. The Papists have, in their Lady's Psalter, directed 
their prayers for deliverance to the Virgin Mary; Deliver me, O 
Lady. Benedicta Domina, in manibus tuis reposita est nostra salus; O 
thou blessed Lady, in thy hands our salvation is laid up. But 
'Abraham be ignorant of us.' Isa 63: 16. The saints and virgin Mary 
are ignorant of us. 
    To pray to saints is idolatry advanced to blasphemy. Our 
Saviour has taught us in all our distresses to pray to God for a 
cure. 'Deliver us from evil.' He only knows what our troubles are, 
and can give us help from trouble; he only that laid the burden on 
can take it off. David went to God: 'O bring thou me out of my 
distresses.' Psa 25: 17. God with a word can heal. 'He sent his 
word, and healed them.' Psa 107: 20. He delivered the three children 
out of the fiery furnace, Joseph out of prison, Daniel out of the 
lions' den; which proves him to be God, because none can deliver as 
he does. 'There is no other God that can deliver after this sort.' 
Dan 3: 29. Let us, then, in all our straits and exigencies, look to 
God, and say, 'Deliver us from evil.' 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(... concluded)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-28.txt