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hend what we desire, without laborious explications; such flourishes of rhetorick, and such a profufion of arguments to enforce it, as if he were to be deceived or flattered into compliance; or did not consider the reasonableness of what we ask, or were not inclined to do us good without much persuafion. Thus indeed it is sometimes necessary to apply our selves to men, who though they should be able to help us, may not know our wants, or may not readily apprehend us; or tho' they do, may perhaps be unwilling, and need to be persuaded': But God has none of these imperfections and weaknesses; he understands our necessities better than we do our selves; he knows both how and when to help us, and from the infinite compassion of his națurey is more ready of himself to help, than we are to desire he should. For this reason Solomon discreetly advises us against much talking in our prayers.
* God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few. And our Saviour cautions us in this paragraph against vain repetitions. Whatever is not requisite to heighten our devotions, or whatever is used merely to lengthen them; and whatever may imply, or seem to suppose any of the beforementioned weaknesses and imperfections in God, are the repetitions here condemn'd. In opposition to which our Lord has prescribed us a form or pattern of prayer, extremely short, and yet expressive and significant of every thing in general terms, which we can or ought to desire. Some perhaps will say, If God knows our wants, and will supply them, of what use is prayer? Why should we pray at all? To which we may answer, that as thanks and praise are not required of us, as bringing any profit to God; his glory and honour are the fame, however neglectful
* Ecclef. v. 2.
we may be of our duty; lo neither is prayer required as necessary for the conveying any knowledge of our wants to God, or persuading him to relieve them; but as an exercise of our faith, and an acknowledgment of our constant dependance upon him. As he who does not give thanks for the benefits he receives, is not worthy of them ; so likewise he who does not desire and ask a blessing, does not deserve to have it bestow'd upon him. This therefore being the ground and reason of
prayer, not the laying open our wants before God by way of information, or the prevailing with him by florid arguments to help us ; but the reducing to practice an humble and believing sense of his power, his goodness, and his other attributes, and of our own dependance upon him; it will appear in the nature of the thing, that prayer it self is still necessary
because 'tis decent, reasonable, and commanded; and yet that abundance of words in prayer is necdless, as by the caution here 'tis also sinful ; I will now proceed,
III. In the third place, to make fome short and general observations from this divine platform and example of prayer, which our Lord has left us; and they shall be these that follow.
(1.) That a form of prayer is lawful, not only in our public services, but in our private devotions
Our Saviour is speaking here of secret or clofet prayer,
and he bids us pray stws, thus, Our Father, &c. that is, either in these words (for the prayer it self is exprefly delivered as a form, Luke xi. 2.) or after this manner; which will imply not only that we should put up those or the like petitions, but that we should, or may at least, pray also in a prepared form of words, as this which he gives us for a pattern is.
(2.) That brevity is most proper and most acceptable in our devotions; not but that upon particular occasions, fpiritual or temporal, we may enlarge, as the fervency of our minds, or the necessity of the benefits we pray for, may excite us :
: for long prayers are not lintul merely as they are long, but as they are lengthen’d out of a vain not, on of being more acceptable to God thereby; or as they are spun out by impertinent, needless, and affected repetitions.
-(3.) That the method of the Lord's prayer is not strictly and to the utmost niceness binding, yet in general it is: that is, we should begin with a decent and devout preface, and end with a like folemn conclusion, and order the matter as well as the manner of petitions, in some general proportion, to the directory here given us, as particularly,
(4.) That our desire of spiritual bleslings should take up more room in our hearts and devotions than of temporal. There is here but one short petition for the necessaries of this present life, Give us this day our daily bread: but there are two which regard our spiritual state, viz. for the forgiveness of our past sins, and the preserving from lin for the future.
(5.) That what tends immediately to the glory of Güd in the world, should be the chief subject of our prayers, and most regarded in them. Here are but six petitions in all; and the three first (which have the precedence, as of more concern than the other) do especially relate to the glory and honour of God, as, Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come ; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
(6.) THAT we should pray for others, as well as for our selves; for it runs in the plural number, our Father; give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses; lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil.
(7.) That praises, and particular adoration and acknowledgment of God's power, and other glorious attributes, should be join'd with all our pray
So here, Our Father, which art in heaven. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
(8.) We must observe, that tho' the intercession and merits of Christ are not here pleaded or mentioned (because Christ had not then suffered upon the cross, nor afcended into heaven to enter upon his mediatorial intercession for us, when he
prescribed this form of prayer;) yet we learn abundantly from other places in the New Testament, that we must put up all our prayers through him, and in his name, not hoping to be accepted on any other terms; and indeed he himself instructs us elsewhere of the necessity of this, when he tells us, * Whatsoever ye fall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you. Having drawn these general observations and that in as small a compass as was possible, it now remains only that I conclude with a short paraphrase of the Lord's prayer; and the rather short, because it would not be proper to make a long one, since the prayer it self was designed as a pattern of brevity and conciseness in our devotions; and yet every word being so very copious and expressive, it must be such a paraphrase, as may give us at least a general notion of the extent and meaning of each sentence in it.
" Most glorious God, the Creator and Sovereign “ of all things, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ and in him by adoption and grace, the Father « of all true Christians; infinite in compassion to“ wards them, and infinitely powerful, as well as “ ready to grant, whatever is fit for them to ask:
“ May thy name be every where ador'd with the
profoundest reverence; thy power, thy wisdom, " thy justice, thy mercy, and all thy other glori
ous attributes, which thou displayeft not only “ in heaven, but from thence over all the world, “ be acknowledged with humble awe and adoration,
fear and love by all mankind. Let thy holy “ Spirit rule in our hearts, subdue our corruptions, « and engage our affections to a most willing obe6 dience to thy laws: Let all nations be enlight“ ned with a true knowledge of thee, and of Jesus c Christ whom thou haft fent : Let the heathen “ become his inheritance, and the uttermost parts “ of the earth his possession, and in thy due time as compleat the number of the clect, and bring us « all to thy everlasting kingdom of glory. Shower “ down upon us such influences of thy holy Spi“ rit, as may enable us to submit chearfully to thy “ will in every thing, and obey thy commands « faithfully; with the fame readiness, sincerity, " and delight, as the angels do in heaven. Vouch“ safe to bestow upon us this day, whatever thy “ divine wisdom (which best knows what is fit “ for us) shall see necessary to the support of our « bodies, to the advantage of our affairs, to the “ comfort of our minds, and above all to the fpia ritual benefit of our souls. Pardon all our sins, 6 and for the sake of Jesus Christ, lay not upon us " the punishment for them which we deserve: “ Forgive us, gracious Lord, as we in obedience
to thy command, are heartily ready to forgive « all such as have injured or offended us. Re« move far from us whatever may prove an oca casion of sin, or a temptation to it; or at least, “ supply us by thy holy Spirit with strength and « resolution effectually to overcome all tempta6 tions. Deliver us from sin, that worst of evils 6 which can befal us; and from the devil, the au