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although held to their unspeakable loss and injury. For our Lord himself does not refuse the title of "children of the kingdom,"* to some of whom he says, "that they shall be cast into outer darkness."
From the premises, it will be easy to learn, what it is that we pray for; when, under a proper understanding of the terms, we put up the petition" Thy kingdom come." We pray, that God would enlarge more and more the bounds of that visible society, in which he is invoked through the all prevailing merits of his dear Son; thus verifying the promises, of "giving him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; "+ and of there being a time, when " from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, his name shall be great among the Gentiles." We pray further, that within the bounds of the same visible Church, God and Christ may be duly honoured by all who call themselves its members. The object of the prayer, is the coming of the kingdom, not in name only, but in all the energy of its true spirit. Now this is accomplished, in proportion as the subjects of it walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called; avoiding all errour in doctrine, and all iniquity in practice; doing what lies in them severally, towards the making of the Church at present, what she will be when "she shall be presented unto her divine Head, a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle." And this leads finally to remark, that the said blessed consummation makes a part of the object of the petition. Until the reaching of that splendid issue, there will still be imperfection-There will still be sin. Doubtless then there will be reason to cherish the devout wish, for that winding up of the drama of life, in which all imperfection will be supplied; and sin will be subdued under the fear of him, who is to put down all rule and all authority and power, opposing themselves to God and to his decrees.
Matt. viii. 12. + Ps. ii. 8. Mal. i. 11. S Eph. v. 27.
From the subject of the prevalence of the kingdom of God, the prayer proceeds to that of conduct worthy of it. "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven:" Here are three expressions to be explained-The will of God-its being done on earth-and the measure of the performance-as it is done in heaven.
The will of God may be considered in two respects. It may be that attached to his sovereignty; which is resistless, and is unceasingly accomplishing its purposes, by conducting all the courses of nature to them, and by overruling to them all things, not excepting the workings of the wayward wills of his disobedient creatures; according to what is said-" he does according to his will, in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth."* To this, the present petition can have no reference. But it contemplates his will, as made known by reason and in revelation.
Our praying that this will may be done on earth, is expressive of desire, that the commands of God may be obeyed by ourselves and by all mankind: that there may be no impiety, no injury of any one to another, and no licentiousness; but that, in the most extensive sense of the words, 66 judgment may run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." The use of the petition implies further, submission to the will of God; as well under any visitations which it may bring on ourselves, as in relation to any disorders in the state of the world, produced by the passions of wicked men; to both of which there may be applied the saying-" Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground:" Every thing of this description being from the high hand of him, whose "judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out."
"God's will is done on earth as it is done in heaven;" when the active obedience of men-for as
* Dan. iv. 35. † Amos, v. 24. Job, v. 6. § Rom. xi. 33.
to patience under suffering there can be no field for it is like that of the blessed angels; who without any failure," do his commandments, and hearken unto the voice of his words."* What though the infirmities of human nature forbid the hope of attaining to the same absolute perfection; yet, in proportion to the height of the mark at which we aim, is that of the degree to which, by the energy of a holy ambition, we shall ascend. For this reason, there is set before us an obedience, which is paid, not by constraint, but cheerfully; which is not lukewarm, but ardent; and which sustains no intermission of zeal, but is performed with constancy by those sinless and happy beings; who "rest not day nor night, saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord, God Almighty."+
We ought not to leave this position without being aware, how awfully it operates to self-condemnation, when put up by a person who is living in sin of any sort: and especially in such sin, as tends to the depravation of our fellow-creatures; thus narrowing that empire of the divine will, concerning which there is inconsistently expressed in words, a desire that it may be extended.
The prayer proceeds to subjects, in which there is a recognition of our personal interests and wants.
"Give us this day our daily bread." "This day:" St. Luke has it "day by day;" which expresses still more strongly the continual dependence in which we should live on him, who "feedeth the young ravens which call on him;" this, not to the prevention of care and labour, which are entailments on humanity; but to procure a blessing, without which all our cares and labours are in vain.
"Our daily bread:" The original expresses the circumstance of sufficiency: meaning for the sup
Ps. ciii. 20. † Rev. iv. 8.
Some have translated "1" "super-substantial. But it bears the signification here given to it. And this is
ply of all our necessities. As to praying for what is more than this, we have no command for it in the Scriptures; however much it had entered into the supplications of the heathen. And yet this is not to be understood, as forbidding the possession of wealth to Christian people; if its snares be avoided in the pursuit and in the enjoyment. The intimation of sufficiency extends the subject of the petition to our necessities generally; which could not be supplied by what should satisfy the cravings of hunger, although bread be understood as denoting food in general; agreeably to the sense in which it is often used in scripture. Therefore all our temporal wants are immediately and literally the object of the petition.
But considering the comprehensive nature of the prayer generally; there is nothing unreasonable in the idea, that the petition before us looks further; and respects the supply of grace for our spiritual nourishment. In the sixth chapter of the gospel of St. John, Christian doctrine is several times denoted under the terms-"The bread that came down from heaven:" And it is only under the agency of divine grace, that this bread can be made to nourish us unto life eternal.
To return to the more immediate import of the words; it concerns us to notice the religious uses which flow, from making the supply of our temporal wants the subject of prayer to God. This inclines us to regard the sanction of his approbation, in all the labours of our respective callings; and in our enjoyment of whatever his providence may have bestowed; and injury in the former, and all arrogancy and its kindred vices in the latter, being inconsistent with sensibility of a dependence on the source of good. The same disposition of mind
preferred; because otherwise, there is no petition for the supply of temporal necessities. As to spiritual food-that is divine grace-there are several petitions, of which it is the direct object.
induces submission under losses and disappointments. For as it is the same wise and gracious Being who gives, and who takes away; his sovereign disposal cannot be looked to in either instance, without its inducing of the belief, that there must be gracious ends in his appointments; whatever they may be. And there issues from this source, the spirit of charity also. For as the prayer is of a social nature, and God being addressed in it as the common father of rich and poor; how can any of the former description presume to intercede for the giving of that bread to the hungry, which they can no otherwise receive, than through the channel of the beneficence of those, who are willing to spare from their superfluity.
The use of the petition in the spiritual sense stated to belong to it, is to maintain in our minds a constant sense of our dependence on the aids of the holy spirit; which we are more apt to forget, than our need of temporal benefits. What is now mentioned is to be done, by cherishing constantly the sense of the essential need in which we stand of that grace, because of the weakness and the corruption of our nature; and because of the many temptations of the world; and it is well if there may not be added, because of melancholy experience of the failure of good resolutions; not fortified by a continual looking to a strength, which demonstrates its perfection in our weakness. However daily needed our temporal food; we can subsist for many days under the want of it. But a single day's want of that bread of life, will lay us prostrate under our spiritual enemy; and may perhaps be the beginning of a train of consequences, which shall work the forfeiture of our salvation.
The former petition was for unmerited benefit: By a natural transition, the next is for relief from merited punishment. "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us:" Here are two particulars-a petition for for