« AnteriorContinuar »
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
AMONG ail the duties prescribed to us by our religion, the rendering due wurship to God is in nature and for consequence the principal; God thereby being most directly honoured and served, we from it immediately deriving most ample and high benefits; to the performance of which duty we are furnished with excellent direction and assistance from that prayer, which our Lord (at several times and upon several occasions) dictated, and recommended to his disciples, both as a pattern, according to which they should regulate their devotions, (Pray thus, Matt. vi. 9. or in this manner, faith he in St. Matthew,) and as a form, iu which they mould express them; (When you take si.». pray, Jay; that is, fay this, or in these words j so he enjoins them in St. Luke:) a unto it therefore we should carefully attend, as to our best rule; and we should frequently use it as our best matter of devotion: to the well performing of both which duties, it is requisite that we should distinctly understand the particulars contained therein; in order to which purpose we (hall endeavour to explain them: but first let us premise a few words in general about prayer.
* Quaralibct alia vcrba dicamui, quæ affcctus orantis rel præcedendo format ut clareat, vel consequenJo attendit ut crescat, nihil aliud dicimm, quam qaod m ifta Dominica Orations posrtiim eft, si rccte et congruenter oratniw. Aug, EpiJI ill. Vide ilium.
iTim.ii. l. Prayer, in its latitude of acceptation, doth comprehend ZJJjJ^j all devotion, or worship immediately addressed unto Ali.«<3;ii», mighty God; consisting of praise, which we render to '"*■<"»■'■'• Qq(j jn regar(j t0 h;S most excellent perfections and glorious works; of submissive gratulation, declaring our fetisfaction in all the dispensations of his most wife and just providence; of thanksgiving, for the numberless great benefits we have received from him; of acknowledging our total dependence on him, and our subjection to him; of professing faith in him, and vowing service to him; of confessing the sins we have committed against him, with the guilt and aggravation of them; of deprecating the wrath and punishment due to us for our offences; of petition for all things needful and convenient for us; of intercession for others, whose good we according to duty or charity are concerned to desire and promote; prfcyer, I say, (although, according to its most restrained sense, it only doth signify one of these particulars, namely, the olj*i»t iS- petition of what is needful or expedient for us, yes,) 1H%» w««x;«' larger acception, as it commonly is used, it • doth comu»r» ri prise them all: and so we may well take it here; this ixxk^n form, although so very brief, being with' fo admiraMe nuitvtrtu- wisdom contrived, as without straining the words beyond
ittyvyta.' • 2
Chryf. torn, their natural importance, we may, applying a moderate
v'p- I8S" attention, discern them all, as to their main substance,
couched therein; so that we may indeed reasonably re
Totius gard this prayer as a complete directory, and a full ex
bremriu'm^rc'fe of all our devotion toward God: of devotion, I lay,
Ten. dt the which (to engage, excite, and encourage us to the
careful and constant practice thereof) we may consider
enjoined us as a necessary duty, commended to us as a
requisite means of good, and a special instrument of all
piety, and as a high privilege granted to us by God.
i. It is a natural duty and debt we owe to God, (both in correspondence to the design of our being made and endowed with rational capacities agreeable to our relations; and in requital for our being, and for all the good we have, and do continually receive from him,) as most highly to love and reverence him in our hearts, so to declare our esteem of his excellences, and our fense of hi9 bounty toward us, to avow the dependence we have upon his will and providence; the obligations we are under to his mercy and goodness; to yield our due homage of respect, submission, and obedience to him: if we do acknowledge a God, our Maker, our Lord, our continual benefactor, to be, we must consequently acknowledge these performances in reason, justice, and gratitude due to him; and God accordingly requires, and positively enjoins them: he is the Lord our God, whom we must worship and Deut.x.20. serve; the God whom praise waitelh for; who heareth10'"' prayers, and to whom therefore all jlejli miifi come. The Ps. Ixv. 3. Scripture is very frequent in commanding the duty.
a. It is a most useful means, or a condition requisite, for the procurement of benefits and blessings upon us. GodEix?t },hath declared that he doth accept, he hath promised that",!««'eU he will reward, all devotions with an honest intention and Ps- "xiv. pure mind offered up unto him; that he is nigh unto all ls') *9J'Xt them that call upon him in truth; that he will be found of1!them who seek him with all their heart; that he willful- ia,' Jil the defire of them that fear him; he will hear their cry,'John '"• and will save them; that,they who seek himfliall not want Matt. xxi. any good thing} that, whatever we ask in prayer believing,TM^1^?'^ wejhall receive; that if we ask, itjhall be given us; if w e J°hn *>»• Jeek,.tueJ}iall find} if we knock, it shall be opened to us,ivi.". Prayer is -also a mean6 of procuring a blessing upon all our undertakings; it sanctifieth every performance, &c. There is no good thing so great and precious; so high above the reach of common power; so strange to expect, or difficult to compass, which we may not easily and surely by this means obtain; relief in all distresses, both of our outward and inward estate; supplies of all our needs,.both corporal and spiritual; comfort in all our sorrows and sadnesses j satisfaction in all our doubts and darknesses of mind; help and strength against all our temptations, we may be confident to obtain, if we duly seek them from the Almighty Dispenser of all good gifts: sure promises there are, and obvious examples hereof, too many to be now recited: as, on the other hand, they
that will neglect this duty, that will not vouchsafe to seek help and remedy of God, may be sure to want it; &all certainly suffer for their proud contempt, profane diffiJoUn T. 40. dence, or foolish sloth; You will not, faith our Saviour, come to me, that ye may have life: no wonder then if they- do not receive it, if they will not go thither for it, where only it is to be had. All good things are in God* hand; and we shall never by any force or policy get them thence without his will, moved by entreaty: all good gifts come from heaven; and thence we shall never fetch them down, without ascending thither in our hearts and affections; spiritual goods especially are so high above us, that we can never reach them otherwise than by God's help by humble supplication obtained.
3. It is not only a means, by impetration acquiring for us, but it is an effectual instrument working in us, all tree good; it is the channel, by which God conveyeth spin-* tual light into our minds, and spiritual vigour into out DifficiUi- hearts. It is both the feed and the food of spiritual life) mum eft jj.r whjch au jj0iy dispositions of soul, and all honest refoLutl. lutions of practice, are bred and nourished, are augmented Ferrourof and strengthened in us. It exciteth, it quickeneth, it Rom xii maintaineth all pious affections; the love of God can no >'_• # otherwise than by it be kindled, fomented, or kept in itTM','!'"'*' life, (without it we certainly shall have an estrangement, and an aversation from him;) it alone can maintain a constant reverence and awe of God, keeping him in our thoughts, and making us to live as in his presence; it chiefly enliveneth and exerciseth our faith and our hope in God; it is that which begetteth in our hearts a savoury relish of divine things, which sweeteneth and endearclh to our souls the practice of piety, which only can enable us with delight and alacrity to obey God's commandments; it alone can raise our minds, from the cares and concernments of this world, to a fense and desire of heavenly things. By it God imparteth strength to subdue bad inclinations, to restrain sensual appetites, to compress irregular passions; to evade the allurements to evil, and the discouragements from good, which this world always
presenteth; to support also with patience and equanimity the many crosses and troubles we must surely meet with therein. It is, in fliort, the only strong bulwark against temptation and sin; the only sure guard of piety and a good conscience; no man indeed can be a faithful servant to God, a real friend to goodness, a serious practiser of duty, without a constant tenor of devotion.
4. It is a most high privilege and advantage to us, that we are allowed to pray and address our devotions to God. To have a free access to the presence and audience of an earthly prince (to the effect of receiving from him all that we could desire) would be deemed a matter of great honour and much advantage: how much more is it so to us, that we are admitted to the presence and ear of the great King of all the world; so mighty in power, so large in bounty, so full of goodness and pity; so thoroughly able, so exceedingly willing to grant and perform our requests! How sweet a thing, of what comfort and benefit is it, to have the liberty of pouring out our fouls and Ps. lxii. 8. our hearts, as the Psalmist speaks, before God; of difbur-x1"' *' dening our minds of all their cares, their desires, their doubts, their griefs, and anxieties, into the breast of so kind a friendj so wife a counsellor, so able a helper; who alone indeed can afford relief, ease, satisfaction, and comfort to U3! Considering which things we (hall appear, not only very disobedient to God, and highly ittgrateful toward him, (who so infinitely condescends in vouchsafing to us duft and ajhes (vile and unworthy creatures) leave to Gen. xriii. speak and converse with him,) but very injurious and un-*7' faithful to ourselves, and to our own good; if we neglect this duty commanded, or slight this privilege indulged to us: 1
In the due performance of which we are directed and assisted by this form of prayer, composed and dictated for that purpose by him, who best knew what we ought to Deus solus pray for, and how we ought to pray; what matter of de-^TMf£ sire, what manner of address, what disposition of mind vellet orari. would be most pleasing and acceptable to his Father, ora,, c. 9. would most become and befit us in our approaches to him.
VOL. V. L 1