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of worship than what is drawn immediately from the fountain of evangelical instruction. The whole of our prayers are short selections from the writings of the Apostles; and a regular and judicious choice from the holy volume constitutes the remainder of this public sacrifice. It must be the grossest ignorance and prejudice that can object, that we pray not with the Spirit, because we make use of forms, since the words we use are the positive language of inspiration; God's own words, and consequently less liable to error than such as are the produce of man's most fertile fancy. In this excellent service, instead of indulging an enthusiastic hope for immediate inspiration of proper expression (which daily experience proves cannot with any propriety be admitted to take place in the exercise of many extemporė prayers), we have only to pray for the nnction of the Spirit to bless the application of God's own form of words. We must never presume to hope we can invent a better petition or supplication than the language of Holy Writ affords us; and, as our warrant for the safety of such service, Christ has left us a particular direction how to pray; he has transmitted to us a form of his own compiling; not only to be continually made use of by us, but also as a pattern after what manner we may perform acceptable service to our Maker, by expressions collected
from his Holy Word. In what way that form (short as it is) does happily direct us to compose all our prayers aright, will supply the subject of the next Lecture; for the present, let us humbly pray, that this feeble endeavour to glorify God's name, may have a good effect, that all our prayers and works may, through the mediation of Christ's atonement, prove instrumental to reconcile us to our Maker and to each other; to warm our hearts with heavenly affections, and to lower our too fond attachment to this world; to sweeten our tempers, and convey to us the true Christian spirit amidst all our differences, religious or civil, and to make us more ardently and universally desire the glory of God, and the peace and welfare, temporal and spiritual, both of ourselves and all our Christian brethren. And this we pray for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Lord and Saviour. To whom, &c.
FIRST LECTURE ON THE LORD'S PRAYER.
"Our Father which art in heaven."
JOHN, VII. 46.
Never man spake like this man.
IN reference to the holy Prayer upon which I am now about to discourse to you (my brethren), we may most truly apply the words spoken by the officer of the Jews concerning our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; Never man spake like this man: and the reason was manifest-because he taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes. The persuasive influence of his divine Spirit recommended his words, and carried immediate conviction to the hearers. There was no leaven of worldly interest in any thing he said or did; whereas the instruction of the Scribes and Pharisees was deficient in spirituality; they were censured by Christ himself, as corrupting the commandments of God through their traditions.
Of all the blessed instructions for which we are indebted to our Saviour's love, there is no part which demands a more joyful portion of grateful praise, than his tender consideration in leaving us this happy form of prayer. All who firmly believe the Scriptures, and entertain an humble veneration for Christ's divine appointments, can never fail to be affected with a proper sense of the advantages to be derived from faithfully using every act his high wisdom thought necessary to enjoin us. To a truly Christian mind, it surely must afford the highest satisfaction to know, that the value of our petitions is built on that foundation, and sanctifed by the form that Christ himself presented, and left us, as an unerring rule.
The first observation I shall make on this divine pattern of our addresses to Almighty God, will be in what relates to the general instruction it conveys; which contains four very material points: (1.) That we should make our prayers short and consistent, as being most suitable to the respect that is due to the wisdom and majesty of God, as likewise from deep consideration of our weakness and infirmities; for we are taught that we are not to expect to be heard for our long prayers; since, in this duty, God requires chiefly sincerity in our obedience to his commands, and needs not the addition of human eloquence to persuade him:
besides, that the consequence of tedious supplication naturally endangers our being led into unbecoming and ungodly wanderings.
The second point this form engages us to consider, is the important admonition of praying for others, no less than for ourselves, and that in our private as well as public prayers.
Thirdly, It warrants our applying for the necessary comforts of this life, though the very words which express this request imply at the same time (as will be shown in the proper place), that our main concern should be both in our prayers, as well as in our endeavours, for the things of a better world. Fourthly, it teaches us, that we should pray to GOD ONLY, and to him as our Father, through Jesus Christ, who hath obtained the adoption of children to us, according to the Apostle's assertion (Gal. iii. 26), For ye are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And, lastly, we may collect from the sanction of this most holy form, that it is so far from being an unlawful thing to address God in a set form of words, nor in the least degree injurious to the needful influence of the Holy Spirit, that we have here our blessed Lord's own example for it, in whom (doubtless) was the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and in following whose wise appointments it is impossible to err. Nay, even under the law, we shall find that God was pleased in several cases to di