God, to discern good and bad."? It should, therefore, when we make use of this petition, be our desire, that we all, in our degree, may “be not

unwise, but understanding what the will of the bi Lord is ;'

;">8 « and may abound more and more, “in knowledge and all judgment."9 They do every thing without exception, which they know to be God's pleasure; whereas we are very apt to omit part, and perform the rest but imperfectly. They do it with alacrity and cheerfulness; whereas we too often show great backwardness and reluctance. They do it, also, from a real principle of duty; whereas, were the truth but known, as to God it is known, a great share of the good actions, upon which we value ourselves, are, perhaps, only good appearances; proceeding, some from consti. tution, some from worldly prudence, some from vanity ; few, it may be doubted, principally, and fewer yet, entirely, from the love or fear of God, from esteem of virtue, or hatred of sin. In these respects, then, we must earnestly pray, and dili. gently endeavour, to be like the holy angels ; and were we but like them in one thing more, that they all, without exception, do the will of God, and have none amongst them disobedient to it, then would our earth resemble heaven, indeed. How far this is from being the case, we know too well. But, notwithstanding, let us comfort ourselves with considering, that as the time was, when even these blessed spirits had a mixture of evil ones amongst them ; so the time will be, when we shall have no such mixture amongst us; but shall become, in this and all respects, “as the angels of God in heaven."1

(7) 2 Sam. xiv. 17.

(8) Eph. v. 17. (1) Matt. xxii. 30.

(9) Phil. i. ..


Give us this day, our daily bread ; and forgive us

our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.

THE three former of the six petitions of the Lord's Prayer, express our earnest desires, that we, and all our fellow-creatures, may attain the great end of our creation ; that is, may understand, receive, and practice true religion, to God's honour and our own eternal happiness; after which we proceed, in the three last, to ask of him the means, to this end; such supplies of our wants, as will be needful for the performance of our duties. And they are comprehended under three heads more; the relief of our temporal necessities, the forgiveness of our past sins, and the assistance of his grace against future temptations.

The first of these blessings we request, by say. ing, “ give us this day our daily bread."' Áll the good things of life, and all our capacity of receiving support and comfort from them, proceed, as every thing doth, from God's free gift; and therefore depend, as every thing doth, on his free pleasure ; for, what he hath bestowed, he can, with just the same ease, at any time, take away. He hath placed things, indeed, in a regular, and what we call a natural course and order. But this order is not only of his own appointing, but his own preserving too. He it is that “maketh his “sun to rise;" "giveth us rain from heaven, “ and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with “ food and gladness." 2' Were he only thus kind to us all in general, it would certainly be our duty

(1) Matt. v. 45.

(2) Acts xiv, 17.

to acknowledge his kindness, and pray for the continuance of it. But as we learn from Scripture. further, that his providence extends, even in the minutest instance, to each of us in particular; and that not the smallest thing comes to pass but by his appointment, or wise permission ;3 this furnishes additional reasons for applying to him, that his conti. nual superintendency may be ever exercised towards us for our good. "We know not, indeed, with certainty, in these matters, what will be good for us. But still, since he hath given us desires, inseparable from our frame, of enjoying life to its ordinary term, with a competent share of the seve. ral accommodations which contribute to make it agreeable ; it must be lawful to express those de. sires to him in a proper manner.

And this our Saviour directs us how to do, when he bids us petition for “our daily bread.”

The word bread, as it frequently signifies in Scripture all sorts of food, so it may very naturally signify what it doth in this prayer, all sorts of things requisite in human life. meant, when he prayed, that God would “feed 6 him with food (in the original it is bread) con« venient for him."4 And this we mean in common discourse, as often as we speak of persons getting their bread. But, then, it must be by no means extended beyond things requisite ; those, without which we are unable either to subsist at all, or, however, conveniently and comfortably. Not that desires of further advantages in the world are universally unlawful. But they are so apt to enlarge and swell into extravagant and sinful passions ; into schemes of luxury, or vanity, or covetousness; that we have usually much more need to restrain and check, than to authorise them, by asking the accomplishment of them from God,

This Agur

(3) Mat. X. 29, 30, Luke xü. 6, 7.

(4) Prov. XXX. S.

56 for me.

lest we be guilty of what St. James condemns, “ asking amiss, that we may consume it upon our 6 lusts."5

It is, therefore, only for such a share of worldly good, as to a reasonable and moderate mind will appear sufficient, that our Saviour allows us here to pray; in the spirit which Agur, in the prayer just mentioned, expresses, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient

Lest I be full and deny thee, and say, " Who is the Lord ? or lest I be


and steal, “ and take the name of my God in vain.”6 For, indeed, though the temptations of extreme poverty are very great, yet, the tendency of wealth, and ease, and power, to sensuality, and pride, and forgetfulness of God, is so exceeding strong, that a well instructed and considerate mind, would rather submit, than choose to be placed in a condition of abundance and eminence. For preserving the order, and conducting the affairs of the world, some must be in such stations; but let all who are, look well to their ways, and let none of their inferiors envy them.

It ought to be further observed here, that our blessed Lord hath not only confined us to pray for “our bread,” but “our daily bread;" to be given us as we ask for it, day by day; intending, doubtless, to make us remember and acknowledge that our dépendance on God is continual, from one moment to another ; that they who have the most of this world, have it only during his pleasure ;

and are bound both to ask and receive every day's enjoyment of it, as a new gift from him; while, at the same time, they who have least, may be assured, that what he hath commanded them to pray for, he will ordinarily not fail to bestow upon them; by blessing their endea

(5) Jam. iv. 3.

(6) Prov. xxx. 8, 9.

vours, if they are able to use endeavours; or by stirring up the charity of others towards them, if they are not

For as to those who can labour, industry is the method by which God hath thought fit to give them their bread; and, therefore, by which they ought to seek it. They have no title to it any other way ; St. Paul having directed, " that, if any one “ will not work, neither should he eat.” 7 Nor must they work only to supply their present necessities ; but, by diligence and frugality, lay up something, if possible, for future exigencies also : learning of “ the ant, which provideth her meat “ in the summer, and gathereth her food in the " harvest." 8

So that applying for our daily bread to God, is far from excluding a proper care to use the appointed means of procuring it for ourselves. But if our care be a presumptious one, and void of regard to the Disposer of all things, we provoke him to blast our fairest hopes. And if it be an anxious and distrustful one, we think injuriously of him to whom we pray; who can as easily give us the bread of to-morrow, as he gave us that of yesterday. Nay, if our worldly cares, though they do not disquiet our minds, yet engross them ; if we carry our attention to this world so far as to forget the next; or imagine ourselves to be securer in stores “ laid

many years,

"9 than in God's good providence; this also is very unsuitable to the spirit, both of our Lord's Prayer, and of his whole religion ; which commands us to “ seek first “ the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and “ not to trust in uncertain riches, but in him “ who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” 2

I shall only add two observations more, which

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(7) 2 Thess. iii. 10. (8) Prov. vi. 8. (9) Luke xii. 19. (1) Matt. vi. 33.

(2) 1 Tim. vi. 17.

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