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them. But these Confiderations will serve on both sides if they be laid to Heart, they will make you to forgive and love one another, as you desire that God for Christ's Sake should forgive you. This is all I shall say to this Matter.
And now I shall conclude thiş Discourse upon the Lord's Prayer with two Observations, one concerning the Prayer it self, the other concerning our Use of it.
Concerning the Prayer it relf, viz. that it is a full and copious Prayer, not only containing much Sense in few Words, but so containing it,as to give us a Scheme of Pra&tical Religion in those very Words whereof the Petitions consist; and therefore it will not be easily forgotten, what Things have nevertheless been said, even of the Lord's Prayer, by pretended Spiritual Men, that fepa. rate from our Communion, especially so long as the Pretence goes on still. According to these Men tbe Lord's Prayer was (and is still) a Staff for the Lame, a Form to those that wanted the Spirit of Prayer, Milk for. such Babes as the Disciples were when our Lord taught them to pray, and might ferve well enough for Childrens Prayer, till they were able to go alone without Crutches. So far as these and the like wise Exprefsions were levelled against the Lord's Prajer, as it is a Form, I shewed in a great measure the
siiniii:.;.. . Vanity
Vanity of them in speaking to the Words, When ye pray, fay Our Father. But so far as they were designed to derogate from the Prayer, as Such a Form, I considered them not, leaving the. Excellency of the Form, which all Christians that love and fear God should use, to be collected from the feveral Petitions of it. · I think I may say that I have not strain’d any one Passage in this Prayer beyond the natural Sense which the Words themselves offer; and I believe you will confefs that this Prayer does abound with such a Variety of Requests and Instructions to answer all our Needs; that it requires much, tho' not difficult Consideration, to understand them thoroughly. Can we believe there. fore that these Men ever considered the Excellent Matter of this Prayer? Or rather is it not plain that they are such as the Apostle speaks of, who know not whereof they affirm? They talk much of their Spiritual Gifts. Now one would think a much lower Degree of them, than they pretend to, might have qualified them to consider the Profitable Variety of this Prayer, and to conclude that there is an Excellency and Loftinefs in it above the Reach of Children, tho' there is a Plainness in it too, to make it useful even for them. But surely it is not for the Credit of their way, that if they can make #;::; . : ' , :tis
' a Pro
a Profelyte, one of his first Spiritual Attainments is to contemn the Lord's Prayer."
2. Concerning the Use of this Prayer. I do not think it necessary for every Man to have all the profitable" Considerations at once present to his Mind when he prays, which I' have offered to you from this Prayer, and there is good reason for it, for I do not think it possible; but yet I say we must pray with Understanding; and the general Sense of each Petition is all that is absolutely necessary to be apprehended in order to that when we pray. But if you th ask me, To what End then have I offered to you those several particular Explications ? I answer, for this End, viz. to furnish you with Meditations when you do not pray, or before you pray; and this will make the Use of the generał Petition to be in effect a Prayer for all those particular Blessings under it, which I had in my Mind before. For if I am convinced that all these Particulars are contained under the general Petition, and are to be prayed for, why, I pray for every one that I thought of before, when I come to the general Petition. . In like manner the Motives to Earnestness, which I urged, are to be considered before, to make me Earnest; and if I am so, when I pray, it is owing to thöfe Considerations, tho' many cannot well be in my Mind at once when I pray; only if there be one espe
cial Grace or Blessing which I count more necessary than another, or if I am to confess any Sin more particularly, and to beg Pardon of it, or if one Consideration hath more Force to move my Affection than others, I should do well to carry that along with me in my Mind, to support my Devotion in the Act.
Finally, Those other Prayers we chuse for Helps to Devotion, should qualify us for the Use of this; for they are, or at least Ought to be, the particular Explications of this. And because, even when we have been as particular in Prayer as it is requisite and fit for us to be, we may yet have faild, in not asking many Particulars, we should use this Prayer of our Lord more frequently and fervently, having This need fo to do, left otherwise we miss of some Necessary Grace for not asking; whereas in the Lord's Prayer we ask all that is Needful.
Of Religious Fasting:
..MATTH. VI. xvi. Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the · Hypocrites
TN this Exhortation of our Saviour it is | implied that Fafting is a Duty, that is, that there is a Religious Fast required; and Fasting is upon a Religious Account, when it is an outward Expression and instrumental Means of Religion, when it is an Ad of Humiliation of our selves before GOD, whereby we express to God our Sorrow for our Sins, and our Unworthiness of the very least of his Blessings, whether this be for the averting and preventing of those Judgments, which we have reason to be afraid of, or for the removing of those Afflictions we feel, or which our Friends and Brethren suffer under, or for the subduing of our