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For if “the body without the spirit is dead," like faith without works, (Jam. ii. 26,) we must also think the spirit without the body in great danger; since the wording is to the meaning of a prayer, what the body, matter, or medium of any kind, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, may be to the spirit.
2. It seemed worth while to propose these two or three objections or difficulties on the Lord's Prayer, and on the concluding passage especially, for a sample; as the answers to such objections prove in general to be no mean part of its Evidence, though not so direct, as the particulars of its worth; whether we regard 1, the Scope of the Prayer; or 2, its Effect: for example,
1, To mention the Scope of the Lord's Prayer, and its peculiar excellence; it is the only prayer for the Kingdom and glory or worship of God, that I remember, with so direct an application to its object. We have prayers for our humble selves, and very properly also-prayers for other kings; but none like this for the King of all, that I can recollect. The expressions, “ Hallowed be thy name: thy Kingdom come: thy will be done”-addressed at once both to their divine Object and for him, savour likewise especially of divine authorship. These are not earthly expressions: and if we would find a parallel for them, it must be still in the productions of their authorin their own author's productions: as, for example, in that divine prayer of his recorded by St. John, with this short introduction or transition from the account of an heavenly discourse, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and said,-Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” (John xvii. 1.)
2, The genuine Effect of a prayer with such views and particulars answering thereto, may be easily imagined: it is such as to constitute indeed its best panegyric, and most direct evidence. For, as its Author says, though in another relation, “ the tree is kuown by his fruit." (Matt. xii. 33.) Singleness of purpose and greatness of mind,-a constant reverence for the name of God-the love of a brother for those of his own kind, and of a patron for the kinds below him,-moderation and content in every station, and under any present circumstances, with a prudent regard to futurity, founded on the fear of Godare the characters which this divine composition is calculated to impress on the minds of those who repeat it habitually. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. iv. 7,) my honest brethren. Without meaning to disparage either the adult or the rising generation, I may observe to you, that within my recollection your honest character was more common in England than it seems at present: which I attribute, in great measure, to a more general teaching of the Lord's Prayer in the country then, and more little independent schools about the country every where to be taught it. For the church having wisely ordered that the Lord's Prayer should be learned, among other good things, by all as far as her au. thority extended, it follows, that when her authority was more predominant, the effect of this Prayer must have been more extensive.
§ 4. But of this, by the way: and having mentioned the effect of the Prayer, I should like to say a word before I conclude, respecting its use or Application, as an improvement on the doctrine now advanced.
1. First, therefore, with regard to the circumstances of Time and Place, to which I have alluded before *; I observe, that the most favourable quarter to pour this heavenly effusion forth in is, as I have also stated before, in spirit and in truth : and the next best place may be the temple, the synagogue, the closet, the road-side, or any where—as it may happen. With regard to time or season, the same: any season may serve, if it be well taken. But the Prayer itself would seem to indicate the beginning of
* In page 245, &c.
every day more especially, from its several petitions, being chiefly prospective; as for example, "Give us this day our daily bread,”—“ Forgive us our trespasses” of this day,—“Lead us not (this day) into temptation,”—“ Deliver us (this day) from evil:” his kingdom, however, not being for this day merely; but " for ever and ever.” Yet even for that period, or as long as the day continues, we may still say “This day," and This BLESSED day, both at the beginning and end; as saith the Holy Ghost, “To day, if ye will hear his voice, (the voice of God,) harden not your hearts.” (Heb. iii. 7, 8.) For the last moment of a day may be as pregnant with danger as any, and we not perceive it;-thanks to divine Providence!
Some people would like to go to Jerusalem, only to have the pleasure of standing on the same spot where our Lord might perchance have stood once in the course of his humiliation; and some would like to have an holy day every week beside Sunday, to commemorate some other accident of his life beside the joyful resurrection : but having his prayer in our mouth and in our hearts, is better than being ourselves in any place, town or country, where he ever was; and instead of holy days, we had better think of holy hours and minutes, or of a steady course of piety and holiness, without either straining or relaxing immoderately: which seems to be the tone of this heavenly prayer.
Alas: how often in repeating its sublime provisions, Give us our daily bread; Forgive us our trespasses; Deliver us from evil,-do we want a temper and intelligence becoming our petition ! how often do we forget the dignity of the Presence and the majesty of the divine Object whom we have the honour to address in prayer! how often do we forget the many millions who ought to be remembered! how often do we forget our own frailty, high expectations, and only dependence,-wanting even the humble requisite of a serious attention! And then; what an absurdity, or something worse, to cry, Amen!
Without having attended to the several clauses or petitions in a prayer to God, as they came up, how can we presume to let such a word escape our lips at the conclusion? What greater mockery can there be of the divine Object to whom we profess to pray? People should not think it enough to testify their assent to any prayer that is offered before him, and to the Lord's—to his own Son's especially, by an unmeaning sound, or without its proper meaning: they should seriously and sincerely attend to every particular before; and then let them say, Amen. · O heavenly Benefactor, “our Father, which art in Heaven;" if, when we say, “Hallowed be thy name,” we do not hallow it sufficiently, make us adore it: If, when we say, “Thy Kingdom come,” we do not feel disposed to strive for it, do thou rekindle our ambition, and animate our endeavours to that end: If, when we say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we do not feel our absolute need every moment of thy grace within us, and thy providence without, to save, nourish, and defend us either way, do thou both strengthen our appetite for these blessings, and accord them to our prayers: If, when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses,” we do not feel sufficiently the burden and enormity of our sins, with the necessity of mutual forgiveness, do thou still both incline to forgiveness, and qualify us for its enjoyment by charity and repentance: If, while we deprecate the evil that is, and temptation to more, we be not sufficiently afraid of them, O teach us to remember their consequence: And finally; if, in acknowledging the eternity of thy dominion, we do not think sufficiently, as indeed we cannot-of thy honour, and glory, and majesty, do thou vouchsafe to make us more capable of receiving, and more blest in enjoying that impression. May our wanderings in thy holy temple be no more hindrance to our prayers, than Naaman's involuntary bowing was to him in the temple of Rimmon, (Kings II. v. 18,) especially in the more venial case of mingling with our devotions objects worthy of the same. May we never remember the trespasses of others toward us so sensibly as our own toward thee. May we never approach thee in prayer but with due reverence, nor depart without thy blessing on our humble endeavours: for the sake of thy beloved Son; that he may be glorified in us, and we with thee, and thou in him. “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever: Amen."
“He that eateth, eateth to the Lord; for he giveth God thanks : and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”
Rom. xiv. 6.
ALTHOUGH the service of God may be supposed to consist like that of any other master, in something else beside eating and drinking, and giving thanks; yet, as the service of man cannot be discharged without the first of these parts, and should not be without both,—so neither can the service of God; as I think I shall be able to prove. It may be thought beneath the dignity of the pulpit, to be occupied with such vulgar topics; as it was thought “ not meet” or convenient for the twelve apostles when the number of the disciples was multiplied “to leave the word of God, and serve tables :” (Acts vi. 1, 2 :) but circumstances may happen to change the complexion of these matters. In particular, it has pleased divine Wisdom, as I once signified, to associate the image of spiritual things with the use of carnal things for their better understanding and remembrance; and so far any
* See page 308.