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the will of God, may thus be known obeyed, and submitted to by us; but also by the whole earth.
4. The fourth petition is," give us this day our daily bread.” In this petition, we pray, that of God's free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them."
In this petition we are taught, to acknowledge our constant dependence on God, for every temporal comfort; that every temporal blessing we receive, is a free unmerited gift from him; that we are to ask, not for abundance, but for a competency, or for daily bread; and that having food and raiment, or a competency of temporal blessings we should be thankful and contented.
5. The fifth petition is, "and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In this petition," we pray, that God, for Christ's sake, would freely pardon all our sins which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others."
By debts in this petition, we are to understand sins.In this petition we acknowledge ourselves sinners, deserving of the wrath of God, and unable to pay the dreadful debt we owe to divine justice, and that therefore we lie at mercy and seek forgiveness. And since it is abundantly evident from the word of God that forgiveness is offered and extended to the sinner, only through Christ, in this petition we ask, the forgiveness of our sins through the merits of Christ, and acknowledge the sacrifice which he has made for sin. In this petition we are taught the importance and necessity of praying with a temper of forgiveness towards our fellow men, who may have injured or offended us; and we are taught to use our forgiveness of others, as an argument, why we should be forgiven; and to expect forgiveness from God, only as we forgive our fellow men. This petition by no means implies, that there is any merit in forgiving others, entitling us to forgiveness from God; but only that we are hence encouraged to hope that we have the disposition, suitable to receive forgiveness, as a free favour from the hands of God. Neither does this petition imply that every person who forgives shall be forgiven; but only that those who forgive from right motives, may from hence take encouragement to hope that God will forgive them.This petition further teaches us, that they who pray
to God, while they hold anger, malice, and revenge, towards any of their fellow men, or refuse to forgive them, have no just ground to expect that God will hear or forgive them. This is confirmed by other declarations of our Saviour. "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses;" Mat. vi. 14, 15. And again, "When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses;" Mark xi. 25. 26. Hence it is evident that if we do not pray with a forgiving temper, we can have no Scriptural ground to hope that the Lord will hear or forgive us. And every time we say the Lord's prayer with an unforgiving temper, and holding malice against any; or every time we make a prayer conformable to the Lord's prayer with such a temper, we do virtually pray for our own perdition. And how, my hearers, can we dare to lift up our faces to God, and ask him to forgive us, to speak in the language of the parable, the ten thousand talents we owe him, when we refuse to forgive our brother, the offences which he has committed against us, which are in comparison as nothing?
6. The sixth petition is, " and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil." In this petition, "we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted unto sin or support and deliver us when we are tempted."
This petition supposes, that we are exposed to temptation, and that God may justly leave us to be tempted to sin. And it is true that we are in a world, where we are exposed to many temptations, from the men and the things of the world, from the remaining corruptions of our own hearts, and from Satan the great adversary, who goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, This petition further supposes, that we are afraid of sin, and sensible of our own weakness to resist temptations. We therefore pray that God would not suffer us to be tempted to sin; or that if he sees fit to permit us to be tempted, he would support us under temptations, keep us from yielding to them, and give us grace to resist and o
vercome them, so that we may be delivered from the evil
III. The third part of the Lord's prayer is the conclusion. This is in the following words, "for thine is the kingdom, the power and glory forever; Amen." This conclusion "teacheth us toke our encouragement in prayer from God onls and in our prayers to praise hi ascribing the kingdom, power, and glory to him, and in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard. we say, amen."
This conclusion teacheth us to derive all our encouragement in prayer, not from any worthiness in ourselves, but from God alone. This is implied in the word for, with which this conclusion begins. That kingdom, for the coming of which we have prayed, is the Lord's, and therefore we are encouraged to hope that he will set it up, and maintain it in the world. All power is his, and therefore he is able to fulfil all our petitions. The glory, for the manifestation and advancement of which we have prayed is his, and therefore we hope that he will hear us and glorify himself. And as he can hear all our requests, for ourselves, which are according to his will, revealed in his word, consistently with his own glory; and glorify himself by granting them, we hope that he will hear and answer This conclusion further teaches us, that it is our duty, in our prayers, to mingle praises to God, and ascribe to him the glory due to his name. The word "Amen," with which the Lord's prayer concludes, signifies either, so be it, or so shall it be, and probably both; and thus expresses both our desire, that what we have prayed for, may take place, and our hope and confidence that it will.
From what has been said we may now remark, that none but those whose hearts are renewed, can rightly say the Lord's prayer, or make a prayer which contains the same sentiments. Who, but one who has a heart reconciled to God, can call him his Father? Is it not mocking God, to say" hallowed be thy name," and yet care nothing for his glory; but daily dishonour him, and profane his name: Is it not totally inconsistent to pray "thy kingdom come, and will be done on earth as it is in heaven," when they who offer up these petitions belong to another kingdom, at open war with this, and are totally opposed to the kingdom of God, and neither do, nor desire to do his will? How can those ask aright for daily bread, who neither
feel their dependence on God, nor feel thankful for his mercies? Is it not absurd to ask the pardon of sin, and then rush immediately into it? And to ask to be forgiven as they forgive, when perhaps their hearts are filled with enmity towards a fellow creature? And is it not inconsistent, to pray to be kept out of the way of temptation, and then run wilfully into it?
Let these questions be duly considered by those who have used this, or any other prayer containing the same sentiments, in a careless manner. Let them carry conviction to their minds, of the sinfulness of their conduct. And let them, not relinquish prayer, but be careful to pray aright, and to live according to the sentiments expressed in their prayers.
I have now, my brethren, finished a course of sermons on the leading doctrines and duties contained in the word of God, and arranged in the order of our excellent Cate chism. It has pleased God to spare my life to finish them, for which I desire to thank him. These sermons have been profitable to myself, and I hope and believe that my Jabour has not been in vain to my people; but that under them there has beer a considerable increase of religious knowledge, and some fruits of real holiness. And I hope that seed has been sown which though it may seem for a time to lie buried in dust, will eventually produce an abundant harvest. Let me remind you, my hearers, that you must soon render an account to God for these, and all other sermons which you have heard. A number, who began these sermons with us, are now in the eternal world. We also must soon be there. Let us therefore be diligent in improving the means with which we are privileged, that we may be enabled to give an account of our stewardship with joy.-AMEN & AMEN.