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SERM. decree of the Almighty is unquestionably IV.
received with the utmost complacency and the most entire satisfaction, by those pious and loyal spirits who surround his throne, and they are certainly ever prompt and eager to shew the most perfect obedience to his commands : such complacency and satisfaction in all events, and such obedience to all the divine commands, we in this petition desire may be exhibited by mankind. May we as fully acquiesce in all thou doest, and as exactly obey all thou enjoinest, as the blessed angels !
The fourth petition is-- Give us this “ day our daily bread.". This is well paraphrased in the catechism itself :-"I “ pray unto God that he will send us all “ things that be needful both for our souls “ and bodies.” Two explanations are given of this petition; it probably comprises both; either the bread of the time to come, that is, the happiness of futurity, or our maintenance in this present life. The first re
time to come, that
spects our souls, and the latter our bodies. SER M.
IV. Observe the modesty of the petition as re, w lating to earthly things, and be careful in all your other prayers to conform to it. It asks not for riches, elegancy, splendour, but for bread; and though under the term bread is, doubtless, comprehended all necessaries, yet they are clearly necessaries alone, not supérfluities. Nor do we ask even for necessaries, to make us so far beforehand that we should be independent of God; but, we say, “ Give us this day our “ daily bread;" grant us what may suf• fice for our present support; for the rest
we trust cheerfully to thy providence ; • we cast all our care upon thee, in full
knowledge and confidence that thout . • carest for us.'
“ Forgive us our trespasses, as we for“ give them that trespass against us," is the fifth petition. The first step towards obtaining forgiveness of our sins, is to E
SERM. be sensible of them and to confess them. IV.
“ If we say that we have no sin, we de"ceive ourselves, and the truth is not in “ uş; but if we confess our sins, God is " faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteous“ ness.” Now this petition implies confession, inasmuch as by the very asking of forgiveness of sins, we own that we have been sinners; we, however, annex a condition, on which we apply for this forgiveness, which is, that we ourselves pardon those who have in any way offended against us. Let us then be very careful, when we approach the throne of mercy, to bear no malice nor hatred in our hearts, to wish no ill to any of our fellow-creatures, however they may have proyoked us, but to be ready on any opportunity to do them all service. “ If you forgive to men their "trespasses (says our Saviour) your hea. “venly father will also forgive you.” The reverse is likewise true,
« Lead us not into temptation, but de: SERM.
IV. “ liver us from evil,” is the last petition; for I think, though it consists of two clauses, it may be considered as one petition. I have seen these words changed for others, which are in my opinion more agreeable to the sense of the original language. “ Abandon us not to temptation, but pre" serve us from evil.” The phrase, “lead • us not into temptation," seems to imply, that we believe God to be the author of it, which he certainly never is of the sort of temptation here intended: whereas ' aban. • don us not, nor permit us to go into temp* tation,' steers clear of this seeming impropriety. The word, which is translated de liver, means more than that-it means preserve, by which may be understood, not merely · free us from the evils into which • we have fallen, but prevent us from fall*ing into any evils at all. Temptation is of two kinds; one is sent to give the vir: E 3
SERM. tuous an opportunity of displaying their
good qualities : such was that of Abraham, when he was commanded to offer up his son; such were those into which the early Christians fell, when they were so severely persecuted ; and such are those which good men now experience, when they meet with vexations and afflictions, and pass victoriously through them. The other sort of temptations are those occasions of sin, which but too often occur, that are by their own violence, and the weakness of those to whose lot they fall, insurmountable. It is obvious that they are these latter against which we pray, as these only are prejudicial to us, the former tending to the glory of God and the good of our own souls. Preserve us from evil:"that greatest of all evils, Sin, and the consequences of sin, the anger of God, are here principally intended: but yet, in an inferior degree, it is certainly allowable to