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the honourable name of Christian by assuming it. A prayerless Christian is an anomaly which exists not in the creation of God. Thou art not a Christian, but a Christless one; thou art without God and without Christ, and therefore without hope in the world. Ah! ye poor, prayerless ones, ye know not what ye do. You are setting at nought one of the sweetest enjoyments, one of the most precious blessings which fall to the lot of sinful man. If a father's presence and society be so delightful to the loving and affectionate child, O how much more refreshing is the presence of our Father in heaven! And yet this is a joy to which multitudes are strangers. What prevents you from the enjoyment of fellowship with a reconciled Father? Are you afraid that such has been your waywardness and rebellion He is unwilling to receive you? Are you anxious to return? Behold that loving Father running to meet you. He is waiting to be gracious; O that you were waiting to receive this grace.
SECTION III.PRAYER-LORD'S PRAYER.
MAT. VI. 9, 10.
Our blessed Lord in pointing out to His hearers the true nature of the life of God in the soul, sets forth one grand peculiarity of it, that it is a secret walk
with God; and this essential characteristic He contrasts with the religious life of the Pharisees, open, public and ostentatious, adopting as illustrations the very duties, alms-giving, prayer, and fasting, to which that sect of the Jews were most scrupulously attentive. In regard to the solemn and important duty of prayer, the Redeemer shows, that though public or social prayer is undoubtedly incumbent upon Christians, still, from the very nature of the exercise, prayer is a secret dealing with God; and, therefore, closet devotion will ever form a most blessed and delightful employment of the true child of God. He will feel it to be a privilege and a pleasure, a duty and a delight to be often alone with God. Jesus takes occasion also to warn His disciples against some false conceptions and foolish practices which have in all ages been too extensively prevalent on the subject of prayer. And, in order fully to explain and enforce the views which He was engaged in impressing upon His followers, He presents them with a model of prayer, short, beautiful and comprehensive, which is commonly known by the name of the Lord's Prayer, introducing it in these words :
V. 9. "After this manner therefore pray ye."
It has been much disputed whether this prayer is to be regarded as a form which the Redeemer meant that His people should regularly use in their devotions,
both public and private; or if it is only to be understood as a model or pattern which might serve to guide believers in regard both to the matter and the manner of their prayers. The words here used, "After this manner pray ye," might at first sight be thought to indicate that it was simply a pattern for our imitation, but the corresponding word in the original implies no more than "thus," a rendering which might plainly be considered as supporting either the one side or the other of this disputed question. When, on another occasion, as recorded by the evangelist Luke, Jesus, in answer to the entreaty of his disciples, "Lord, teach us to pray," repeated the substance, not the precise words of the prayer before us, he introduced it thus, "When ye pray, say," which seems to be an injunction to use the very words of the prayer. But it is surely no slight objection against the opinion that the Lord's Prayer was designed to be a form of perpetual use in the Church, that, when we compare the two Evangelists who have recorded it, we find several variations in the words; and in Luke, the doxology, or conclusion, is omitted altogether. Had the disciples recognised as incumbent upon them the use of this prayer in its precise words, is it not strange, that although we find in the New Testament several prayers which were offered up by them after our Lord's ascension, this particular prayer seems on not a single occasion to have been employed by them;
nor, indeed, is there any proof in the history of the Church, that this prayer was used as a form until the third century.
Viewing the Lord's Prayer in connection with the context, it appears to be the obvious design of our blessed Redeemer to teach His people to pray in the Spirit. There is no express reference to the work and the name of Christ. Jesus was now exhibiting for the first time, clearly and without a figure, the true nature and design of the kingdom of God. But the facts in the providence of God on which the kingdom rested, the events in the history of the Redeemer which were yet to happen, and which were to be evolved by the free agency of man, He refrains from explaining. The great doctrines, however, as to the work of Christ, and the efficacy of His atonement, are contained in this prayer by implication, though not directly. The one grand idea to which the whole prayer tends is, the ardent longing of the believer for the coming of the kingdom of God. This thought runs through the whole prayer, from its preface to its conclusion, just as the unfolding of the nature of the kingdom runs through the whole of this sublime Sermon on the Mount. The Lord's Prayer then, viewed in this aspect, may be divided into two parts, the one referring to the relation of God to man, and the other of man to God. The one portion of the prayer breathes a wish that God Himself would establish His
kingdom in the hearts of men, and the other breathes a wish that all the obstacles to the establishment of this kingdom in the hearts of men, may be removed; while the conclusion expresses a firm hope and belief founded on the nature of God, that the prayer will be heard and answered.
The first part of the prayer, consisting of the preface and the first three petitions, will occupy our attention in the present section. The preface is contained in these words," Our Father which art in heaven." This beautiful, interesting and endearing appellation of God-" Our Father," is used for the first time in the New Testament age in the present sermon of our Lord; and to point it out to us as in the full extent of its meaning characteristic of the dispensation of grace He embraces many opportunities of employing it, as that epithet which would best express the relation in which God stands to all His believing people, and teaches them to use it in their approaches to a throne of grace. In one sense God is the Father of the whole human family. "He made us and not we ourselves." "He is the Father of our spirits" and "the former of our bodies." "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us." And in His providential dealings He hath acted towards us as a Father. He hath supplied our daily returning wants, and watched over us with more than a father's care and kindness. But it is not until we