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MATTH. yi. 5,6,7,8,9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as
the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues
, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be feen of
Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy
closet, and when thoii haft sout thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secrét, and thy Father' which seeth in secret shall re
ward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,
as the heathen do : for they think that they Shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your
Father knoweth what things ye have need
of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us Oirr debts, as we forgive our
debtors. And lead us not into tempation, but deliver
us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen. For, if ye forgive men their trespasses, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trefpasses.
HE second religious duty adopted here
by Christ into his inftitution, and for T
the better performance of which he gives us some directions, is that of
prayer, and what he says of it is in effect as follows.
" As oftentation ought by no means to be your « design in your alm-giving, so neither in your
prayers. When therefore ye pretend to offer up to God your private devotions, do it in such a manner, that they may indeed be private. Let
no vile affection of being observ'd and talk'd of " for your piety, lead you to chuse such places for
prayer, where ye may be feen or hcard. For “ thus the hypocrites do, who love to pray in the “ streets, or any where else, as much in view as “ possible, that their religion may acquire them “ credit and repute amongst men: And this, as it " is their chief design, is like to be all the reward " of such devotion. Do ye on the contrary, when
felves to God in private prayer, « retire into your chambers, or your closets, shut
too your door, and contrive to be as secret as ye can, and use not artifices of any kind, which
may by an affected chance discover to your faC mily, or others, what ye are about. This will “ best answer both the nature and the ends of priu vate prayer; and God, who observes you in the “ most secret retirements, and hears the softest “ whispers of a genuine and fincere devotion, will “ reward you for it openly hereafter. Be careful “ also, when ye pray, to avoid a multiplicity of « useless words, and vain enlargements, and imperC6 tinent flourishes. Let your requests be few,
your expressions grave, and short, and compreu hensive. Be not too minute and particular, ei“ther in what ye ask, or in your arguments for
obtaining it. The heathens indeed are full of “ vain repetitions in this matter, verbose and trifling: “ because they consider not that God is every “ where, and at all times present; they address o themselves to him as if he were a finite being “ like themselves, and wanted an exact information " of their case; or were apt to be fullen, and « needed abundance of arguments to move him;
or might be prevail'd with, as men sometimes
are, by pompous rhetoric, or by long and artful “ orations. But this is a great mistake : Your 6 c heavenly Father knows both before and better " than you your felves, what things ye have need “ of; and is fufficiently inclined by his own dispo« fition to hear, when ye offer up your requests “ with a fincere and decent modesty. After this “ manner therefore pray ye, Our Father, &c.
In explaining of this paragraph, I might and should have said something of the obligation to prayer, as a duty required of Christians, although it be not here directly commanded, but only sup;
posed and taken for granted in those words, When thou prayeft. But because there is another whole paragraph on this subject, wherein perseverance and importunity in prayer being required, our obligation to prayer it felf, as a dutý, is more direct and visible; I shall confine my thoughts here, I. To the confideration of the several forts or
kinds of prayer. II. To enquire into the meaning of the two
cautions given, (1.) Against oftentation; and,
(2.) Against vain repetitions in prayer. III. To make some short observations upon that
most excellent form of prayer, which our Lord has here drawn up for us; concluding
with a paraphrase of the prayer it self. I. First then, Let us consider the several kinds of prayer. For as to the nature of it, or what prayer is in general, it is so well understood, that it needs no description. The mere natural light of reason has taught the theory of prayer to all men in all ages,
and the impulse of mere natural religion has forced even the lewdest and prophanest of mankind into the practice of it, when they have been surprized by a sudden danger. We will proceed therefore, to enquire into the several sorts of prayer, and they are these :
(1.) MENTAL, wherein the desire and affections only, without words, dart up themselves devoutly to God, either by way of petition or praise. This is, indeed, wholly imperceptible, or ought to be made so, to men; but highly pleasing to God, and may be practised whatever company we are in, or whatever business we are about. An example of this we have in our blessed Master, who tho' we read, indeed, of no prayer put up by him for the raising of Lazarus, we must conclude did
silently by himself pray for it; for when they had removed the grave-stone, he lift up
his said, * Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. (2.) Ejaculatory, which is a like. short and sudden fally of the affections, but expressed in words, as that of our Saviour, in his thanksgiving just recited, Father, I thank thee: And at another time, the like ; + In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. And these ejaculations also, if used only upon proper occasions, and without affectation, and from a real inward principle of piety, are not only accepted of God as prayers or praises, but tend to make impressions of seriousness upon the company before whom we utter them. (3.) There are public prayers, when at appointed times we meet with the neighbourhood at the house of God, the Church, to offer up in concert, by the mouth of the minister, and along with him, our petitions and thankfgivings, not only on our own account, but for the community, of which we are members, civil and ecclesiastical, and for the whole christian Church in general. This also is a duty, and of no small. consequence, as might be proved at large, if I had time, but I shall here only take notice of that one text, wherein the Apostle cautions us, that we hould † not forsake the assembling of our selves together, as the manner of some profane and careless Chriftians was then, and still is, to the scandal of their profeffion. (4.) There are family prayers, when we call those together, who are under our peculiar care, to put up their joint requests for such blessings, spiritual and temporal, as are requisite for them as a family, and to praise God for the
* John xi. 41.
| Luke x. 21..
# Heb. X. 25.