« AnteriorContinuar »
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
AMONG all the duties prescribed to us by our religion, the rendering due worship to God is in nature and for consequence the principal; God thereby being most dire&tly 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 feveral times and upon several occasions) di&tated, 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, in which they fhould express them; (When you Luke sl. 2. pray, say; that is, say this, or in these words; 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 fhould diftinaly understand the particulars contained therein; in order to which purpofe we shall endeavour to explain them: but firft let us premise a few words in general about prayer. ..
. . Quamlibet alia verba dicamus, quæ affectus orantis vel præcedendo format ut clareat, vel consequendo attendit ut crefcat, nihil aliud dicimus, quam quod in ifta Dominica Oratione pofitum eft, fi recte et congruenter orimus. Aug. Epift. 121. Vide illum.
1 Tim. ii. 1. Prayer, in its latitude of acceptation, doth comprehend
on all devotion, or worship immediately addressed unto Alπροσευχαι, iprsučius, mighty God; consisting of praise, which we render to ευχαριστίαι.
God in regard to his most excellent perfections and glorious works; of submisfive gratulation, declaring our fatisfaction in all the dispensations of his most wife and juk 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 profeffing faith in him, and vowing service to him; of confefsing the fins 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 defire and promote; prayer; I say, (although, according to its most restrained fenfe, it
only doth fignify one of these particulars, namely, the Os móvov ijs petition of what is needful or expedient for us, yet,) in its xñs isodio
orice larger acception, as it commonly is used, it doth comizsīva tà prise them all: and so we may well take it here; this hane Blou form, although fo 'very brief, being with fo admirable Focisu, tas wisdom contrived, as without ftraining the words beyond Chryf. tom. their natural importance, we may, applying a moderate *. p. 185. attention, discern them all, as to their main substance,
couched therein'; so that we may indeed reasonably reTotius gard this prayer as a complete directory, and a full exEvangelii
um. ercise of all our devotion toward God: of devotion, I say, Tert. de the which (to engage, excite, and encourage us to the Orar. i. 9.
careful and constant practice thereof) we may confider enjoined us as à 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..
1. 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 moft highly to love and reverence him in our hearts, so to de
clare our esteem of his excellences, and our sense of his 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, fubmission, 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. 1. 20. Serve; the God whom praise waiteth for; who heareth 10 prayers, and to whom therefore all flesh must come. The Pf. lxv. 2. Scripture is very frequent in commanding the duty.
2. It is a most useful means, or a condition requisite, for the procurement of benefits and blessings upon us, God Eixñs dohath declared that he doth accept, he hath promised that these he will reward, all devotions with an honest intention and Ps. xxxiv. pure mind offered up unto him; that he is nigh unto all 18, 1
alt 18, 19. x. them that call upon him in truth; that he will be found of 17.
Jer. xxix. them who seek him with all their heart; that he will ful-13. fil the depre of them that fear him; he will hear their cry, 1.John iii. and will save them ; that they who seek him shall not want Matt. xxi. any good thing; that, whatever we ask in prayer believing, lu
M8, Luke xj. 9. we Mall receive ; that if we ask, it shall be given us; if we John xiv.
13. xv. 7. seek, we shall find ; if we knock, it shall be opened to us. avi. 23. Prayer is also a means of procuring a blessing upon all our undertakings; it fanctifieth 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; fupplies of all our needs, both corporal and spiritual; comfort in all our sorrows and sadneffes ; fatisfa&tion in all our doubts and darknesses of mind; help and strength against all our temptations, we may be confident to obtain, if we. duly feek 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
fil the who seek him with in truth; that he will
ren; and red by on Policy
that will neglect this duty, that will not vouchfafe to seek help and remedy of God, may be sure to want it; fhall
certainly suffer for their proud contempt, profane difiJohn v. 40. dence, or foolish noth; 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's 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 fo 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 effeétual instrument working in us, all true good; it is the channel, by which God conveyeth fpirit
tual light into our minds, and spiritual vigour into our Difficilli hearts. It is both the seed and the food of fpiritual life ;
um eft by which all holy difpofitions of soul, and all honeft refoopus prare. Luth. lutions of practice, are bred and nourished, are augmented Fervour of and strengthened in us. It exciteth, it quickeneth, it Rom . maintaineth all pious affections; the love of God can no 11. otherwise than by it be kindled, fomented, or kept in το πνεύματι Ziortis.
**' life, (without it we certainly shall bave an estrangement,
and an aversation from him ;) it alone can maintain a conftant 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 favoury relifh of divine things, which sweeteneth and endeareth 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 sense and defire of heavenly things. By it God imparteth strength to subdue bad inclinations, to reftrain sensual appetites, to compress irregular paffions; 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 furely meet with therein. It is, in short, the only strong bulwark against temptation and fin; 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; fo mighty in power, fo large in bounty, so full of goodness and pity; so thoroughly able, fo 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 Pr. Ixii. 8. our hearts, as the Psalmist speaks, before God; of disbur-Ill. dening our minds of all their cares, their desires, their doubts, their griefs, and anxieties, into the breast of so kind. . a friend, so wise a counsellor, so able a helper ; who alone indeed can afford relief, ease, fatisfaction, and comfort to us! Considering which things we shall appear, not only very disobedient to God, and highly ingrateful toward him, (who fo infinitely condescends in vouchsafing to us duft and ashes (vile and unworthy creatures) leave to Gen. xviii. speak and converse with him,) but very injurious and un- 27. faithful to ourselves, and to our own good; if we neglect this duty commanded, or Night this privilege indulged to us : ;'
In the due performance of which we are directed and affifted by this form of prayer, composed and dictated for that purpose by him, who best knew what we ought to Deus folus pray for, and how we ought to pray; 'what matter of demo
tuit, ut fe fire, what manner of address, what difpofition of mind vellet orari.
Tert. de would be most pleasing and acceptable to his Father, o would most become and befit us in our approaches to him. VOL. v.
Orat. c. 9.