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3. The weight of the matter we go upon. Qur errand to the throne is, to worship God, who will be sanctified in them that come nigh him, and before all the people will he be glorified, Lev. X. 3. which is awful and solemn work, and gives ground for that question, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Micah vi.6. It is to present our iupplications for our needs for time and for eternity. And if he help us not, all the world cannot do it. Our souls lie at stake, eternity is before us; and to treat with God on the business of eternity, is business that needs direction.
4. Our weakness and aptnefs to mistake and milcarry in the approach, Job xxxvii. 19. Teach us what we shall pray unto him: for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. We have no skill to manage the weighty matter; and we will be perfuaded of it, if we know ourselves. We are ready to go wrong in the matter of prayer, Rom. viii. 26. to ask of God things not agreeable to his revealed will, being blinded with our own passions and prejudices, Luke ix. 54. And we are apt to go wrong in the manner of prayer, by infincerity, formality, and carnality, Jam. iv. 3.
Ir. 5. Lastly, The danger of mistaking and miscarryprayer,
either of the ways. It may provoke the Lord against us, and bring down a curle instead of a blessing upon us, Mal. i. ult
. Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrifileth unto the Lord a corrupt thing : for I am a great King, faith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreudful among the heathen. Exod. xx. 7. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain : for the Lord will not bold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. AC least it will fruitrate our prayers, that they will be rejected and not heard, Jam. iv. 3. our petitions caft over the bar. Or what we feck not agreeable to his will, may be given us with a vengeance, Psal. cvi, 15.
· II. The second head is, What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer. Our gracious God has not left us without direction in that matter. We have from himself the rule which we are to walk by in our addresles to the throne : and how else could we know it, who else could teach us how guilty creatures should present their supplications to the most high God? And,
First, There is a general rule given us for that end; and that is the whole word of God, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, in which God's will is revealed, as to all things to be believed or done by us, 1 John v. 14. By our Bible we may learn to pray; for there we are furnished with all sorts of helps and directions for this duty, as to matter, manner, and words; and therefore it is a complete directory
1. It furnishes us abundantly with matter of prayer, in all the parts of it, petition, confession, &c. Pfal. li. 4. 5. Phil. iy. 6. And whoso has the word of God dwell. ing richly in him, will not want of matter for prayer, for himself or for others. There is a ftorehouse of it there, of great variety ; and we are welcome to the use of it, agreeable to our own case.
2. It fully directs us as to the manner of prayer : as for instance, that we must pray with fincerity, Heb. x. 22. with humility, Plal. x. 17. in faith, Jam. i. 6. and with fervency, Jam. v. 16. And there is no qualification necessary in prayer, but what we may learn from the holy word.
3. It furnishes us with the most fit words to be used in prayer. Do ye want words to express your desires before the Lord? He has given us his own words in the Bible, that we may use them according to our needs, Hof. xiv. 2.
Secondly, There is a special rule given us by Jesus Christ for that end, namely, that form of words which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord's prayer : that excellent pattern and example
of prayer, composed by Jesus Christ himself for our direction, in the text, which every Christian is obliged to receive with the utmost reverence, as the Lord's own word. But it was never imposed by Jesus Christ or his apostles, as a set form to which his church is bound, to pray in these very words, and no other. It is true, in the year 18 the council of Tolcdo imposed it on the clergy under the pain of deposition; but then Antichrist had mounted the throne, and the Papifts fince have superstitiously abused it to this day. I would all Protestants could plead, Not guilty. To clear this matter,
1. The Lord's prayer is given us as a directory for prayer, a pattern and an example, by which we are to regulate our petitions, and make other prayers by. This is clear from the text, After this manner pray ye, &c. And it is a most ample directory in few words, to be eyed by all praying perfons, if ftudied and understood. There we are taught to pray in a known tongue, and without vain repetitions, to God only, and for things allowed, to have chief respect to the glory of God, and our own advantage.
2. It may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other praying graces. So we own the very words may lawfully be ufed, Matth. vi. 9. compared with Luke xi. 2. See Larger Cat. queft. 187. and the Directory for public worship, under the title, of prayer after sermon, parrag. 5. Who can retuse this, since it is a piece of holy ícripture, of the Lord's own word? And they who are so weak, as that they cannot conceive prayer, do well to use this holy form, though they should cr.deavour to make further progress in prayer. And sometimes knowing Christians, under great desertions, not able to conceive prayer, have used it with good;fuccess. But,
3. Our Lord hath not tied us to this very form of words, when we pray to God. This is evident,
(1.) Because the prayers afterwards recorded in the
fcripture, were neither this form of words, nor yet concluded with it. Christ himself used it not in his prayer at Lazarus's grave, John xi. 41. nor in his last prayer, John xvii. Nor did his apostlęs, Acts i. 24. nor the church, Acts iv. 24. c.
(2.) This prayer is diversely set down by Matthew and Luke, the only two evangelists that make meng tion of it. And though it is obvious, that there is an entire harmony between thein, as to the matter and sense of the words ; yet it is equally obvious,, to all who compare them together, that there is fome dif ference as to the mode or manner of expression ; part ticularly as to the fourth and Gith petitions; which cer, tainly there would not have been, had it been deligned for a form of prayer. In Luke the fourth petition runs thus, Give us day by day our daily bread; but in Matthew it is thus expressed, Give us this day qur daily bread. The latter contains a petition for the supply of present wants; and the former for the supply of wants as they daily recur upon us: so that both ac counts being compared together, we are directed to pray for those temporal bicflings which we, want at present, and for a supply of those we ftand in need of as they daily recur: which thews a considerable difference in the expressions. In Luke the fifth petition is, Forgive us our fins ; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us ; whereas in Matthew the expresion is very different, viz. forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Again, Luke leaves out the doxology, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen; which Matthew adds. From whence it may be justly interred, that our Lord's design, in furnishing his disciples with this prayer, was rot, that they should confine themselves tolely to the manner of expression uied therein, without the least variation ; for then undoubtedly the two evangelists would have recorded it in the very same words; být he rather intended it as a directory respecting the mat*?r of prayer. So that it is impollible to keep by the
form of words precisely, since it is not one. It is said, Luke si. 2. When ye pray, say, &c. Here we are tied to the form of words, fay our adversaries. Ans. By this phrase is to be understood the manner, viz. Say this on the matter; pray after this inanner: Compare Matth. vi. 9. If it is to be understood oherwise, tien, 1.) According to Maith. X. 7. Go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, the disciples preaching was confined to these very words, which we are sure it was not: 2.) It would be unlawful to pray in
any other words, which no Christian dare affert: 3.) Neither Papists nor Episcopalians stick to these words in Luke, but use the words in Matthew; by which they give up the cause.
Further, it may be observed, that our Saviour chiefly intended this prayer as a directory, refpecting the matter of our petitions, rather than a form ; because it does not explicitly contain all the parts of prayer, particularly confession of sin, and thankful acknowledgement of mercies. Again, there is no explicit or direct mention of the Mediator, in whose name we are to pray; nor of his obedience, sufferings, and interceffion, on which the efficacy of our prayers is founded, and their fuccess depends : which things are to be fupplied from other parts of scripture; all which, taken together, give us a coinplete directory for prayer.
From the whole, I think it is evident, that a prayer formed upon the model of this excellent pattern, having the substance of the several petitions interspersed through it, though expressed in other words, is a true scriptural prayer, and that there is no necessity to conclude with the Lord's prayer. And therefore I cannot but think, that Papists and many Protestants who conclude their prayers with the very words of the Lord's prayer, make a very fuperftitious use of it; causing peo. ple imagine that the bare recital of the words of the Lord's prayer fanctifies their other prayers; and thatVol. III.