Page images

from evil: for thine is the kingdom, power, and glory, for ever. Amen."

Master. How thinkest thou, is it lawful for us, to use any other words of prayer ?

Scholar. Although in this short abridgment are sufficiently contained all things, that every Christian ought to pray for: yet hath not Christ in this prayer tied us up so short, as that it were not lawful for us to use other words and manner of prayer. But he hath set out in this prayer certain principal points, whereunto all our prayers should be referred. But let each 'man ask of God, as his present need requireth. " Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name (saith Christ), he shall give it you." Master. Forasmuch as there is in all this

prayer nothing doubtful, or beside the purpose : I would hear thy mind of it.

Scholar. I do well perceive what the words do signify.

Master. Thinkest thou then, that there is in it nothing dark, nothing hid, nothing hard to understand?

Scholar. Nothing at all. For neither was it Christ's pleasure, that there should be any thing in it dark, or far from our capacity, especially since it belongeth equally to all, and as it is necessary for the simple, as the learned.

Master. Therefore declare unto me in few words each part by itself?

Scholar. 'When I say, “ Our Father which art in heaven :" this do I think with myself, that it cannot be, but that he must hear me, and be pleased with my prayers. For I am his son (although unprofitable and disobedient), and he on the other side is my most bountiful Father, most ready to take pity and pardon me.

Master, Why dost thou say, he is in heaven? Is he in some one certain and limited place in heaven? What meaneth that, which he saith of himself: “I fill both heaven and earth?” again, “ The heaven is my seat and the earth my footstool ?”

Scholar. Hereof have I spoken somewhat before, whereunto I will join this that followeth. First of all, as oft as we do say, “ which art in heaven,” it is as much to say, as heavenly and divine ; for we ought to think much higher of our heavenly Father than of our earthly.

He is also said to be in heaven for this cause, that in that high and heavenly place the notable and wonderful works of God do the more clearly and gloriously shew themselves : and he is now declared to be in everlasting and full felicity: whereas we abide, yet banished in earth full wretchedly. Moreover, as the heaven, by unmeasurable wideness of compass, containeth all places, the earth, and the sea : and no place is there, that may be hid from the large reach of heaven, since it is, at every instant of time, to every thing present : so, hereby may we understand, that God is likewise present to each thing and in each place. He seeth, heareth, and governeth all things, he being himself a Spirit and most far from all earthly and mortal state. Witness whereof Jeremiah the prophet. “ Am not I (saith the Lord) a God near unto you? And am not I a God far off? Shall any man be able to shroud himself in such a corner, that I cannot espy him?"

This is a pithy sentence to drive fear into us, that we offend not that Lord of so large a dominion ; whereby also we are persuaded assuredly to beliere, that God will hear, whensoever we shall stand in need. For he is at all times and in all places present. This foundation then laid, and so sweet and pleasant entrance prepared, there followeth the first part of the Lord's prayer: 'wherein we require, that not

в в з

only we, but also all others whosoever, may in holiness honour, reverence, and worship his name.

Master. How is that to be done?

Scholar. I shall shew you. Then we do that, when leaving all those, that have the name of gods, be they in heaven or in earth, or worshipped in temples, divers shapes and images ; we acknowledge him alone, our Father ; pray to the true God, and Jesus Christ, his only Son, whom he hath sent; and by pure unfeigned prayer caļl upon him alone with uprightness of life and innocency.

Master. Thou hast said very well. Proceed.

Scholar. In the second part we require, that his “ kingdom come.” For we see not yet all things in subjection to Christ. We see not the stone hewn off froin the mountain without work of man, which altogether bruised and brought to nought the image, which Daniel describeth ; that the only rock, Christ, may obtain and possess the dominion of the whole world, granted him of his Father,

Antichrist is not yet slain. For this cause do we long for and pray, that it may at length come to pass and be fulfilled, that Christ may reign with his saints, according to God's promises : that he may live and be Lord in the world, according to the decrees of the holy Gospel: not after the traditions and laws of men, nor pleasure of worldly tyrants,

Master. God grant, his kingdom may come, and that speedily:

Scholar. Moreover, since it is the children's duty to frame their life to their father's will, and not the father's, to bow to the children's pleasure : forasmuch as our will is commonly by exciting of affections, and stirring of lusts, drawn to do those things, that God is displeased with: it is reason, that we hang wholly upon the beck of our heavenly Father, and wholly subunit ourselves to his heavenly govern

[ocr errors]

ment. Wherefore, for this cause, we mortal men do pray, that we may in like case be obedient to his commandment, as are the sun and moon, and other stars in heaven, which by ordinary courses, and by enlightening the earth with incessant beams, execute the Lord's will continually. Or that we, as the angels and other spirits divine, in all points obey him which bestow all their travail diligently, to accomplish his godly commandments.

Next after that, he teacheth us to ask of our heavenly Father our bread: whereby he meaneth not meat only, but also all things else needful for maintenance, and preserving of life: that we may learn, that God alone is author all things: which maketh the fruits of the earth both to grow and increase to plenty. Wherefore, it is meet that we call upon him alone in prayer : which (as David saith) alone feedeth and maintaineth all things.

Master. Some suppose this place to mean that bread that Christ maketh mention of in the sixth of John. That is, of the true knowledge and taste of Christ, that was born and died for us : wherewith the faithful soul is fed. The reason, whereupon they gather this, is the Greek word *, whereby they understand, supernatural, ghostly, heavenly, and divine. This meaning I refuse not, for both these expositions may fitly agree with this place ; but why calleth he it daily, which is also signified by this word * ?

Scholar. We ask daily bread, that might be always present and accompany us continually: to slake and satisfy our thirsty desire, and unsatiate stomach, lest otherwise we should be (as Christ sayeth) careful for tomorrow : because “ the morrow shall care for itself.” For it shall come not without his owa

* ET14510%.

discommodity and care; wherefore, it is not reason, that one day should increase the evil of another. It shall be sufficient for us daily to ask, that our most bountiful Father is ready daily to give.

Now, followeth the fifth request, wherein we beseech the Father to forgive us our trespasses and faults, that we have committed. This request, doubtless, is very necessary, since there is no man living free from sin. Here, therefore, must we cast away all trust of ourselves. Here, must we pluck down pur courage. Here, must we pray our most merciful Father, for the love of Jesu Christ, his most dear and obedient Son, to pardon, forgive, and utterly blot out of his book, our innumerable offences.

Here, ought we, in the mean season, to be mindful of the covenant we make with God. That it may please God so to forgive us our trespasses, as we ourselves forgive them, that trespass against us, Therefore, it is necessary, that we forgive and pardon all men all their offences, of what sort or condition soever they be. If we forgive men their faults, our heavenly Father shall forgive us ours.

Masier. Were these things, my son, thus used, there should not at this day thus violently reign so many brawls, so many contentions, so many and 60 heinous disagreements, enmities, and hatreds of one man to another. But now whereas each man 60 standeth in his own conceit, that he will not lose an inch of his right, neither in honour or wealth ; it chanceth oft, that they lose both their wealth, their honour, and their life itself withal. Yea, they put from themselves, and turn away the favour of God and everlasting glory,

But thou, iny son, must not be ignorant of Christ's commandment; nor of that which Paul teacheth, that thou suffer not thyself to be overcome of evil, that is, suffer not thyself so to be seduced by any other

« PreviousContinue »