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Matt. vi. 10.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
This petition is from the lips of One who himself came to seek and save that which was lost. It speaks the emotions of the Savior's heart toward the heathen. He thought of them, when he left his people this form of prayer.
The phrase, the will of God, denotes both the divine law and the divine purpose. The divine law includes all that God requires; the divine purpose all that he means should take place. The divine law is the rule of action to accountable agents,—every where commanding what is right, and prohibiting what is wrong; the divine purpose is a rule of action to no being in the universe, save God himself, and expresses no legal authority and no moral obligation whatever. The former respects the conduct of intelligent agents as right or wrong in its own nature; the latter has respect to events, and is concerned with the consequences, of
human conduct, with which a rule of action has nothing to do. The divine purpose, or the decretal will of God, is accomplished as really, as extensively, as perfectly on the earth, as it is in heaven; and it were absurd to offer a prayer that calls in question this great truth. But the preceptive will of God is accounted as a strange thing—is abused and vilified; and however venerated in higher and purer worlds, is despised and trampled on on earth. It is this great nioral code, as revealed in the precepts and prohibitions of the Bible, to which our text refers. That this may be performed on earth as it is in heaven, is a very proper, as well as unutterably important object of supplication. In illustrating and enforcing the import of this petition, therefore, on the present occasion, my design is,
To show how the will of God is done in heaven; and
Why it is desirable that it should be thus done on the earth. My
First object is to show how the will of God is done in heaven.
Heaven is a section of the divine empire, and as really and as much under the binding force of law, as any other part of God's dominions. The same God exists and governs there, that exists and governs here. He is the Creator, Benefactor, and Lawgiver of heaven, as well as of earth. In that invisible world, there are essentially the same moral relations of intelligent beings, and the same laws founded on those relations, which exist in this lower world. The origin of moral obligation,
therefore, the principle and foundation of moral rectitude, are one and the same in both worlds; and hence the standard, the rule by which the moral conduct of intelligent creatures is regulated, is the same in both. And in heaven, its existence and obligations are not only acknowledged and felt, but obeyed as in no other world,
All the obligations of the divine law are there fulfilled. Every precept and every probibition is there regarded with reverence and love. The divine will is done in all its parts.
All those affections of mind which are due from creatures to their creator, from subjects to their supreme Lord, from pensioners upon the divine bounty to the first and best Benefactor, and from redeemed sinners to their all-sufficient and gracious Redeemer, are there enkindled and sustained. All that is elevating and joyful in complacency and delight in the divine character and administrations; all that fills and overpowers the soul with admiration of God's wonderful works; all that is amiable and lovely in that lowliness and sweetness of mind which are characteristic of those who veil their faces in the divine presence; all that is peaceful in resignation, and joyous in gratitude, is there mingled and blended in an obedience which expresses all the beauties of holiness. There are no rival deities there, and no idolatry to subvert the throne of the Most High. There is no profanity, irreverence, or lightness, either of thought, word, or deed; but every expression of reverence and filial fear. There is no violation of the sabbath there; but that glorious world is one vast temple, and its revolving ages are one everlasting day of holy rest. There
are no infringements upon the claims of social piety,“no relation inverted, -no tie torn asunder, -no principle of subordination destroyed, but the vast assembly exhibits a picture of peace and concord, of harmony and affection, which nothing destroys or interrupts. There is no murderous hand or malignant heart there; no harshness, or cruelty; no furious and revengeful passions;- no unkindness, or even criminal inattention and negligence. There is no licentiousness, nor impurity; no depredation or fraud; no locks nor bars; and no suspicions of dishonesty. - There is no lyiug tongue, nor covetous desire; but truth, that strong bond of society—that firm foundation of confidence and ' intercourse, remains inviolate; and every inordinate desire is superseded by that chastened, subdued spirit, that secures uninterrupted tranquillity and repose. . the noblest, the sublimest, the loveliest character in the universe. It is uniform, consistent, complete, and entire. It has no blemishes; no cloud, nor shadow in its horizon; no spots on its disk; no waxing and wining light; but a steady, pure, and full-orbed splendor.
The will of God is also obeyed in heaven by all its inhabitants. There may be and probably are, great diversities of rank, as well as different orders of intelligence in the heavenly world; for “there are thrones and dominions, and principalities and powers." Heaven is an immense family, large and extended beyond our highest conceptions. . It is not improbable that that amazing world exceeds in extent and variety, in splendor and glory, all other worlds and systeins combined. But the