Thomas Watson on the mercy of God

According to Dr. Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson:

“Thomas Watson was probably born in Yorkshire. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1639 and a Master of Arts degree in 1642… During the Civil War, Watson began expressing his strong Presbyterian views. He had sympathy for the king, however. He was one of the Presbyterian ministers who went to Oliver Cromwell to protest the execution of Charles I. Along with Christopher Love, William Jenkyn, and others, he was imprisoned in 1651 for his part in a plot to restore the monarchy. Although Love was beheaded, Watson and the others were released after petitioning for mercy. Watson was formally reinstated to his pastorate in Walbrook in 1652.

When the Act of Uniformity passed in 1662, Watson was ejected from his pastorate. He continued to preach in private—in barns, homes, and woods—whenever he had the opportunity. In 1666, after the Great Fire of London, Watson prepared a large room for public worship, welcoming anyone who wished to attend. After the Declaration of Indulgence took effect in 1672, Watson obtained a license for Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate, which belonged to Sir John Langham, a patron of nonconformists. Watson preached there for three years before Stephen Charnock joined him. They ministered together until Charnock’s death in 1680. Watson kept working until his health failed. He then retired to Barnston, in Essex, where he died suddenly in 1686 while engaged in private prayer. He is buried in the same grave as his father-in-law who served as a minister at Barnston.

Watson’s depth of doctrine, clarity of expression, warmth of spirituality, love of application, and gift of illustration enhanced his reputation as a preacher and writer. His books are still widely read today” (Meet The Puritans).

According to Dr. Curt Daniel, Thomas Watson was:

"Presbyterian...One of the most famous Puritan preachers. Popular writer: A Body of Divinity (a systematic theology based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism); The Lord's Prayer; The Ten Commandments; The Beatitudes; A Divine Cordial; Repentance; others" (The Major English Puritans).

In his book The Lord's Prayer (first published in 1692 as part of A Body of Practical Divinity), Watson wrote concerning the fifth petition:

"Some rules or directions, how we may obtain forgiveness of sin. (1) We must take heed of mistakes about pardon of sin; as the mistakes that our sins are pardoned when they are not. 

Whence is this mistake?

From two grounds. [1] Because God is merciful. God's being merciful shows that man's sins are pardonable. But there is a great deal of difference between sins pardonable and sins pardoned; thy sins may be pardonable, yet not pardoned. Though God be merciful, yet whom is God's mercy for? Not for the presuming sinner, but the repenting sinner. Such as go on in sin, cannot lay claim to it. God's mercy is like the ark, which none but the priests might touch; none but such are spiritual priests, sacrificing their sins, may touch the ark of God's mercy.

[2] Because Christ died for their sins, therefore they are forgiven. That Christ died for remission of sin is true; but that all have remission is false, for then Judas would be forgiven. Remission is limited to believers. 'By him all that believe are justified;' but all do not believe; some slight and trample Christ's blood under foot. Acts xiii 39; Heb x 29. Notwithstanding Christ's death, all are not pardoned. Take heed of this dangerous mistake. Who will seek after pardon that thinks he has it already?" (Thomas Watson, The Lord's Prayer, p. 249).

Thus Thomas Watson believed there was a sense in which Christ died for Judas. Watson is ignorant of the sole ground of pardon; and thus he desires to establish an alternative ground (cf. Romans 10:1-4). That which makes the ultimate difference between pardon and no pardon is the GROUND of pardon. And for Watson, it obviously is NOT the efficacious and precious death of Jesus Christ.

A "presuming sinner" is a liar as the apostle John writes in 1 John 2:4, Watson. No need for you to profane and trample Christ's blood under your feet and treat it as a common thing with your demonic doctrine whereby the sinner ultimately makes "satisfaction" for his own sins. 

Here is Thomas Watson on the mercy of God:

"God's mercy is one of the most orient pearls of his crown; it makes his Godhead appear amiable and lovely. When Moses said to God, 'I beseech thee shew me thy glory;' the Lord answered him, 'I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will shew thee mercy.' Exod xxxiii 19. God's mercy is his glory. His holiness makes him illustrious; his mercy makes him propitious. 

Even the worst tasted God's mercy; such as fight against God's mercy, taste of it; the wicked have some crumbs from mercy's table. 'The Lord is good to all.' Psa cxlv 9. Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle, as well as on the rose. The diocese where mercy visits is very large. Pharaoh's head was crowned though his heart was hardened" (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 94).

According to Watson God's unconditional and active hardening and reprobating of Pharaoh was meant to mercifully soften Pharaoh while he stubbornly fought against it. To Watson, the difference between Moses' salvation and Pharaoh's destruction is NOT the mercy of God in Christ ALONE, but something else. If Moses is Watson's rose and Pharaoh is the thistle, then we see clearly how Watson rejects Paul's epistle.

"For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity. So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very thing I raised you up, so that I might display My power in you, and so that My name might be publicized in all the earth. So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, Why did You make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory" (Romans 9:15-23).