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MATTHEW, vi. 13.
Deliver us from evil.
It was originally intended to unite these words with the preceding petition, and to make them the ground of one discourse; but, on examining them more closely, it appeared that they would afford a train of thought sufficiently removed from that which occupied our attention last Lord's Day, and capable of forming the basis of some remarks which could not then be conveniently introduced. Our text leads us to contemplate the believer,
I. As apprehensive of danger; and,
I. The believer, in offering this prayer, is supposed to be apprehensive of danger.
To, be apprehensive of danger where no danger exists, indicates either a weak mind, or a guilty conscience. We have heard of some, who, though not deficient in natural courage, have trembled at the thought of retirement; who, in that state of agitation which an accusing conscience produces, have been appalled at the shaking of a leaf,—turned pale at the sound of every unknown step,- and, in imagination, armed both friends and strangers with the assassin's blade. Caligula, though so impious as to imitate the thunders of heaven, would, at the slightest whisper of danger, creep under his bed. “ The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” There are some, also, who, through excessive refinement, or indulgence, or nervous debility, are at certain seasons totally deprived of mental firmness, and fall a prey to the terrors of their own fancy. But the spiritual dangers of which a good man is apprehensive, are not of this nature; they are not creations of the fancy, but terrible realities, which harass and threaten the christian pilgrim, more or less, through the whole extent of his spiritual journey
The term "evil,” in our text, is indefinite. It is regarded by some as an epithet used in reference to the great enemy of man, who, in other parts of scripture, is styled, emphatically, “the wicked one.” The petition, according to this view, is deemed expressive of a desire, that, if we should be led into temptation, (which is deprecated in the preceding clause, the Father of mercies would rescue us from it, and place us beyond the reach of its influence. We conceive, however, that the word, as it occurs here, should not be restricted to the agency of Satan, but viewed in its more extensive application, as comprehending moral evil in general.
Happy should we be, christian brethren, if with truth we could assure you that no dangers infest your path, that the serpents of the desert are all slain, that the lions of the forest cease to roar for their prey! Happy should we be, if, instead of sounding the trumpet of alarm, and announcing the approach of an enraged and
ble foe, we could show you his legions prostrate and utterly destroyed! Happy should we be, on these sacred occasions, if, from the certain persuasion of your safety, we could always feel ourselves justified in expatiating solely on your christian privileges,--in placing before you those honours by which you are distinguished as the followers of the Saviour, in illustrating “great and precious promises,” which are so conducive to your comfort and your joys, and in pointing to those immortal glories which we hope “are laid up
in heaven!” Be assured, that when these are not the topics of our ministry, it is not because we imagine them trite and uninteresting, or because we indulge any fear of exhausting them, but because we are desirous of discharging an imperative duty, by“ warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” It was very natural for the tribes of Reuben and Gad to desire for their possession the eastern side of the Jordan, where the tempest of war had subsided; but they could not enjoy it on any
condition except that of contending, together with their brethren, against the Canaanites. It was very natural for the disciples, when irradiated with glory on the mount of transfiguration, to wish for tabernacles there, and a perpetual abode; but they were obliged to descend, and to endure the tribulation which their Divine Master had predicted. Nothing is more common than for Christians to prefer those subjects which are calculated to remove all suspicion of their piety, to heighten their joys, and confirm their assurance. But a correct acquaintance