Watson's Prayer

I recently happened upon a few articles by Henry Jansma on Thomas Watson’s “farewell prayer,” delivered in July of 1662. Watson and other ministers would be expelled from their pulpits a month later for failing to comply with the Act of Uniformity. The looming date of this “Great Ejection” was surely a burden to many—which makes the tone and content of Watson’s prayer all the more remarkable.

You can read the text of his prayer below:


O Lord God, all our springs are in thee.
It is good for us to draw nigh to thee through Jesus Christ.

Thou art all fullness, [the quintessence of all sweetness, the center of all blessedness].
Thou art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in him our Father.
Thou art our light;
thou givest us these blessed opportunities of enjoying communion with thyself,
God blessed for ever.

These mercies are forfeited mercies.

We have abused the blessings of thy House,
and we have grieved thy blessed Spirit.
Therefore, it is just with thee to deprive us of these comforts,
and to make us know the worth of these mercies by the want of them.

Lord, we desire to judge ourselves,
that we may not be condemned with the world.
Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just in all thy judgments;
we confess we are unworthy to have any converse with so holy a God.
We are polluted dust and ashes, not worthy to tread thy Courts,
and it is of thy mercy that we are not consumed.

How often have we pluckt fruit from the forbidden tree!
We have sinned presumptuously against the clearest Light, the dearest love.
Always have we sinned… thou hast shown mercy to us,
but the better thou hast been to us, the worse we have been to thee.
Thou hast loaded us with thy mercies,
and we have wearied thee with our sins.
When we look into ourselves, Oh the poison of our natures!
Whatever the Leper did touch was unclean;
thus do we, by our spiritual Leprosy, infect our holy things.

Our prayers had need have pardon,
and our tears had need have the blood of sprinkling 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 mal-affections and our strong desire;
we should use this world as if we used it not,
and always we pray, as if we prayed not;
and serve thee, as if we served thee not.
There is not that reverence, nor that devotion,
nor that activeness of faith that there should be.

Lord, if thou wouldest say that thou wouldst pardon all our sins to this time,
only judging us for this prayer—woe unto us!
What breathings of unbelief and hypocrisy is there now, when we approach unto thee!

We pray thee pardon us for Christ's sake.
Who can tell how oft he doth offend?
We can as well reckon the drops of the Ocean, as number our sins;
we have filled the number of the Nation's sins,
but we have not filled thy bottle with our tears.

This is that which exceedingly aggravates our sins: we cannot mourn for sin.
We can grieve for our losses, but we cannot mourn for our unkindnesses.
We have crucified the Lord of life;
sin hath 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, withhold not thy mercies from us!
O, help us to eat the Passover 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],
that we should grieve that God who always does us good.
Oh, 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 God can pardon.

Though we have lost the duty of children, thou hast not lost the goodness of a Father.
Let us be held forth as patterns of mercy, so shall we trumpet forth thy praise to all Eternity. Whatever afflictions thou layest upon our bodies,
let not our sins be unpardoned,
let not sin and affliction be together upon us.
Let there be peace in Heaven,
and peace in the Court of Conscience.
We have found this part of thy Word true: “In the world we shall have troubles”;
let us find the other part true: in Jesus Christ we shall have peace. [John 16:33]
Oh, 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 thine Image every day more lively upon 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 God,
that we may have Gospel spirits,
humble spirits,
meek spirits.

As Christ did take our flesh, let us partake of his Spirit.
There is as much in the Promises as ever; let us live upon God,
let us cast anchor in Heaven, and we shall never sink.

Shower down thy blessings—even the choicest of them—
upon the head and heart of our dread Sovereign Charles, by thy appointment,
of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
Let him see wherein his chiefest interest lies;
let him count those his best subjects, that are Christ's subjects.
Bless him in his Royal Consort, in his Royal Relations, the Lords of his Privy Council;
let them be a terror to evil doers, and encouragers of those that do well.

Bless all thy Ordinances to us, make them to be fullness of life to every one before thee:
we are come this day to partake of them.
Oh pour in Wine and oil into our souls; let us be 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, and all for Christ his sake, whom not seeing, we love, in whom believing, we rejoice.

To Christ, with thee and thy holy Spirit,
be Glory, Honour, and Praise, now and forever.
Amen.


Ben Ciavolella is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary. He works as a publishing assistant and editor for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.


Related Articles

Available Online: Matthew Henry's A Method for Prayer

"Anglican Thomas Watson’s Prayer" by Henry Jansma
 Part 1   ||   Part 2  ||   Part 3

"The Simplicity and Profundity of Prayer" by Mark Johnston

"The Valley of Vision," edited by Arthur Bennett

"A Method for Prayer" by Matthew Henry (print version)


Notes

The Text of this prayer has been adapted from A Compleat Collection of Farewel Sermons (London, 1663).

Bracketed text may be found in other transcripts of this prayer (cf. Sermons of the Great Ejection).