This prayer was offered by Watson just prior to his being ejected from his church on August 24, 1662, as a result of the Act of Uniformity that required pastors to repudiate their denominational ordination, renounce their oath to the Solemn league, and seek ordination from the Bishop of the Church of England. 2,000 Puritan Pastors were removed from their churches on that day. More pressure was later applied through the the Conventicle Act of 1664 which banned nonconformist pastors from preaching in fields or in homes, and the Five Mile Act which prohibited pastors from coming within five miles of their old churches.
Thomas Watson's Prayer
O Lord God, all our springs are in You. It is good for us to draw near to You through Jesus Christ. You are all fullness, the quintessence of all sweetness, the center of all blessedness. You are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him-our Father. You are our light. You give us these blessed opportunities of enjoying communion with Yourself, God blessed forever.
These mercies are forfeited mercies. We have abused the blessings of Your house; we have grieved Your blessed Spirit; therefore, it is just with You to deprive us of these comforts, and to make us know the worth of these mercies-by the lack of them.
Lord, we desire to judge ourselves, that we may not be condemned with the world. Righteous are You, O Lord, and just in all Your judgments. We confess, we are unworthy to have any converse with so holy a God. We are polluted with dust and ashes, not worthy to tread Your courts-and it is of Your mercy that we are not consumed. How often have we plucked fruit from the forbidden tree! We have sinned presumptuously against the clearest light-and always against the dearest love. Your footsteps have dropped fatness. You have shown mercy to us-but the better You have been to us, the worse we have been to You! You have loaded us with mercies-and we have wearied You with our sins! When we look into ourselves, O the poison of our natures! Whatever the leper touched, was unclean; thus do we, by our spiritual leprosy, infect our holy things.
Our prayers need a pardon, and our tears need to have the blood of Christ to wash them. How vain are our vows! How sensual are our affections! We confess, we are untuned and unstrung for every holy action. We are never out of tune to sin-but always out of tune to pray. We give the world our superior affections and our strongest desires. We should use this world as if we used it not; but, alas, we pray as if we prayed not, and serve You as if we served You not. There is not the reverence, nor that devotion, nor that activeness of faith that there should be. Lord, if You should say that You would pardon all our sins to this time and only judge us for this prayer-woe unto us! What breathing of unbelief and hypocrisy is there now, when we approach unto You!
We beg You, pardon us for Christ’s sake. Who can tell how often he offends? We can as well reckon the drops of the ocean-as number our sins! We are ﬁlled up with sins-but have not ﬁlled Your bottle with our tears. This is that which exceedingly aggravates our sins-that we cannot mourn for sin. We can grieve for our losses-but we cannot mourn for our unkindnesses to You. Sin has not only deﬁled us-but hardened us. Nothing can melt us-but the love of Christ! Nothing can soften us-but the blood of Christ! O, do not withhold Your mercies from us! O help us to eat the Passover Lamb with bitter herbs. Let us look on Christ-and weep over Him. Let us look on a broken Christ-with broken hearts; and on a bleeding Christ-with bleeding hearts. Let us mourn for our insincerity, and that we should grieve You, who is always doing us good. O humble us for our unkindness and, for Christ’s sake, blot out our transgressions! They are more than we can number-but not more than You can pardon!
Though we have lost the obedience of Your children-You have not lost the goodness of a Father. Let us be held forth as patterns of mercy, so shall we trumpet forth Your praise to all eternity! Whatever afﬂictions You lay upon our bodies-let not our sins be unpardoned; let there be peace in heaven-and peace in the court of conscience. We have found this part of Your Word true-in the world we shall have trouble. Let us ﬁnd the other part true-in Jesus Christ we shall have peace. O let peace and holiness go together. Make us new creatures, that we may be glorious creatures! Without faith, Christ will not proﬁt us. When we can call nothing in the world ours-let us call Christ ours.
Lord, draw Your image every day more lively upon us! Give us a more lively hope, and a more inﬂamed love to Christ. Let us have a spirit of courage and resolution; keep us from the fallacies of our own hearts; keep us from the deﬁlements of the times; make us pure in heart that we may see You, that we may have gospel spirits, humble spirits, and meek spirits.
As Christ took our ﬂesh, let us partake of His Spirit. You embitter the breast of the creature to us-that we should ﬁnd the sweetness of the promise. There is as much in the promises as ever. Let us live upon You; let us cast anchor in heaven, and we shall never sink.
Bless all Your ordinances to us. Make them to be fullness of life to every one before You. We are come this day to partake of them. O pour in wine and oil into our souls. Let us be as a watered garden; let this blessed Sacrament be a poison to our lust-and nourishment for our grace! Hear us-be our God-follow us with mercy-crown us with acceptance. Do all this for Christ’s sake, whom not seeing we love, in whom believing we rejoice.
To the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit-be glory, honor, and praise, now and forever, amen!