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manhood-nor will it cease to operate while the mind animates our material frame.
With but little observation, we shall not fail to discover some of the important purposes which it answers. How can the new born infant receive its first nourishment ? Neither instructed by its nurse nor influenced by habit, it obtains its food with the utmost ease and readiness. This is the power of instinct. How can we so readily and almost unintentionally close the eyelid, when that tender organ is in danger? It is by instinct. And there are numerous instances, which are continually occurring, that illustrate the principle of instinct in a manner both curious and convincing.
T. P. J.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in Heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.
Man needs precept upon precept, and line upon line, respecting the duties of religion. Not only must he be told in general terms, that men ought to pray every where lifting up holy hands; but he needs particular directions how to pray aright. Thanks be to God, that there is a throne of grace, where sinners may have audience through a Mediator. Thanks be to God, that our Divine Teacher has given us specific instructions respecting the duty of prayer. Let us devoutly attend to those he has given us.
“ After this manner therefore pray ye.” The word “therefore” refers to previous directions given by Christ to his disciples. In them he had just forbidden the vain repetitions in prayer which characterized the prayers of the Jews in those days. They often vociferated the same exclamations again and again. While their prayers were tedious for their length, they were limited to but a few ideas. In the Lord's prayer an opposite course is both enjoined and exemplified. Thus men are taught
both by precept and example to have their prayers short, but comprehensive. Conciseness in prayer, is, on another occasion, recommended by the consideration that we are not heard for our much speaking. Since our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask, the object of prayer is never to acquaint him with our necessi. ties or desires ; but to arouse the dormant energies of our own minds, to elevate the languid affections of our hearts, and to obey divine precepts. Those prayers therefore best answer the design of prayer which are adapted to excite and increase devout affections in the soul. Where the ideas are most important and the spirit most fervent, there is least danger of prayer's being protracted to an unprofitable length.
Besides, “after this manner pray ye,” teaches that, on the one hand set forms of prayer are not sinful, and on the other hand, that they are not commanded. On this subject many prejudices have existed. Some appear to feel that prayer cannot be offered aright to God, if a precomposed form is used. Such feelings are doubtless wrong. For where the words used are adapted to the circumstances under which the prayer is offered, and the hearts of the worshippers ascend in the expressed desires, Jehovah will accept them. Another Evangelist introduces the Lord's prayer with this language: "When ye pray say our Father," &c. Though we believe this was not designed to require a repetition of that prayer, whenever prayer is offered, much less to confine us exclusively to those words, it does prove that forms of prayer are not to be indiscriminately conden At the commencement of social worship in families and in schools, it may sometimes be both suitable and profitable for precomposed forms to be used, though they ought not to be continued when the gifts and the confidence of those whose duty it is to lead, render them no longer necessary.
Some advantages attend forms of prayer, for public worship, though they are perhaps more than counterbalanced by disadvantages almost necessarily connected with them. And we have Christ's example for using in private prayer the same words more than once or twice.
In Gethsemane he did this. Thus we may discover the impropriety of our condemning forms of prayer. but on the other hand, we ought to guard against the prejudices often felt respecting extemporaneous prayer. All the prayers of our blessed Saviour recorded in the page of Inspiration, except two in the garden, were extemporaneous, and adapted to the particular circumstances under which they were offered. The first in the garden must have been extempore, and in its repetition it was equally suitable, because equally appropriate. When the heart is warmed and elevated with right desires and affections, it will perhaps be more expanded and refreshed by spontaneous effusions of the soul, than from the most able and devotional forms of prayer. For this reason we may discover the wisdom of our great Teacher, that instead of saying, confine yourselves to set forms of prayer, he has directed, “ After this manner therefore pray ye : Our Father, which art in Heaven."
Here we have the language of dependence and of filial Confidence at once put into our lips. When we call God our Father, we are reminded that we derived our existence from him. The plural epithet recognizes the whole intelligent universe as the created offspring of the same parent. “ Have we not all one Father ? Hath not one God created us?” The bountiful provision of God as our Father, extends to all men living. They have all been nourished and brought up as children. The phrase "Our Father,” well becomes the lips of dependent intelligences, who have derived their life, their sustenance, and ten thousand temporal blessings, from the hand of God. He has extended to us all more than a father's care. He has bestowed a thousand fold of parental kindness upon us.
To these truths we should be habitually aliye; and particularly so when drawing near to God in prayer; then while we say “Our Father," let us feel ourselves social beings, deriving unnumbered mercies from one common source, and in duty bound to love and to feel for others as those who love their neighbours as themselves. 66 Our FATHER,” should remind us that we owe him filial affection, confidence, and obedience. How much love the child owes to parents for that ocean of
love in their hearts, whose numberless and copious streams of kindness have flowed around him. All these demand confidence in the parent, that according to bis wisdom and ability he will satisfy every reasonable desire. And the father's will is to be esteemed law before the child is capable of being governed by higher authority.
But what ardour of affection can equal the creature's obligations to the Father of our spirits. What unlimited and uninterrupted confidence in his providence and grace should his past dealings with us inspire. He will do all things well, should be the unshaken confidence of our souls. Such a confidence would propel us forward in the path of duty and of obedience, leaving with God the consequences, and expecting from him all needful supplies. Such filial deportment would prove us the children of God by adoption. We should be able to look up with the eye of faith to a covenant God, and lift to him the sweet accents of Abba, FATHER. How interesting the thought that rebel worms may, through the atonement and intercessions of Christ, become the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Christians
of the Father of lights, with the Apostle James; “ Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." truly pious are therefore the children of God, in a higher and more endearing sense than others; they have received the spirit of adoption; they are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of map, but of God.
When we pray 6 Our Father, which art in Heaven, we are to view him as dwelling in light inaccessible and full of glory. Though Jehovah fills immensity with his presence, yet the manifestations of himself are peculiarly and preeminently glorious in Heaven. There too his train filleth the temple. Cherubim and seraphim, with the spirits of just men made perfect, constantly ascribe holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Presently all the redeemed will be there as their home, and engaged in the same sublime worship as their everlasting employment. There is the portion of God's
people. “Our Father, which art in Heaven,” should ever remind us that Heaven is the peculiar residence of the Father of our spirits, of the Redeemer of our souls, of all holy angels, and will be our portion hereafter, if we hunger and thirst atter righteousness. And for this temper we are encouraged to pray in the first petition of the Lord's prayer, “ HALLOWED BE THY NAME. In this language we desire that God would enable us to hallow his name by all the works of our hands; that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world; that we may bring forth fruit to the praise of the glory of his grace. In this language we also pray that in the words of our lips, and in the thoughts of our hearts, the name of God may be revered and treated as holy. We thus pray, that every thing in which God manifests himself to his creatures, may be subservient to his declarative glory. The preeminence of God's glory should ever be viewed as of infinite importance. And it should be the desire of our hearts in every prayer, that ourselves and all others, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of God. And if this be the desire of our hearts, they will rejoice in the spread of the glorious gospel, and in the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world. For when the Lord appears to build up Zion, he appears in his glory.
But this directly leads to the second petition, 6 THY KINGDOM COME.
Here we pray that the kingdoms of this world may all become the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; that the kingdom of Satan may be destroyed, and the dominions of Christ extend to every nation, and be acknowledged in every family and every heart on earth. We express the desire that the kingdom of God's providence may sustain and supply all creatures whose eyes wait on him for their daily portions ; that the kingdom of grace may refine us and others from all our pollutions of the flesh and spirit, and enable us to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Thus we might be in a waiting posture to behold the kingdom of grace extended, and more especially to meet with power and triumph the kingdom of glory, where the righteous will reign with Christ forever and ever.