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little child was crossing the street, whom, unseen by the driver, his horse hit, prostrated, and ran over: the anxious mother flew screaming to the spot, where her child lay motionless after the horse and dray had passed over it-but, when taken to her arms, cherished in her bosom, and carried to her couch, the poor little sufferer revived, and upon examination it was ascertained that though stunned with the violence of the fall, no bone was broken or dislocated, no internal bruise or external injury had been sustained. How providential, exclaimed the friends! So it was gazetted—and so universally regarded. But—what did they all mean? doubtless, that it was a providential rescue! Their thoughts confined Providence to the isolated event of the child's preservation, as if the preliminaries and concomitants, the prostrating, the stunning, the screaming, &c. &c. were not just as providential as the deliverance; and as if it would not have been equally providential, had the horse pulverized the bones of the little creature ' beneath his feet! The recent explosion of the Ætna steam-boat which killed twelve or thirteen persons almost instantaneously, was a very providential event, just as providential in the destruction it dealt to the dead, as in the almost miraculous preservation of the boy who was precipitated into the air, and returned in perfect safety to the wreck and finally to terra firma. There is no such thing as chance, absolute, though there is such a thing as chance relative. What is absolutely fixed and ordered by the great Arbiter of events, who knows all things and is defeated by none, is contingent, accidental, casual to us, who know not the purposes of God, and therefore cannot anticipate the occurrences of an hour.
There is a singular traditionary anecdote of the ce lebrated Dr. Witherspoon. I know not that it is recorded, but have no doubt of its authenticity-with which I shall conclude this paper. When that disting guished man was President of Nassau-Hall at Princeton, and was one morning taking a walk in the vicinity of his dwelling, he met a pious friend, a plain farmer of the neighbourhood, who, in answer to the inquiry res
pecting his health, remarked that it was good, but the wonder was that his life was in him, “ for,” continued he," I was yesterday returning from a journey on horseback, and riding at ease along a narrow road round the precipitous breast of a mountain, just as I came to the most dangerous part-my horse stumbled, the earth on the downward side yielded to the pressure, and had we fallen there the human certainty is that both horse and rider had ceased to brëath ere they ceased to fall : but the poor animal placed his foot upon the jutting point of a concealed rock, which sustained him and he recovered bis position—was it not providential ?" The Doctor coolly replied, " Yes ! it was ;-but not more so than what happened to me in a similar equestrian journey which I recently performed : for I rode my horse about twenty miles, and returned—and he never stumbled once, nor balked." Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.
ESSAY ,....NO. VIII.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but de liver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever, Amen.
JESUS. In the first petitions of the Lord's Prayer, spiritual blessings are exclusively sought-But man is. compounded of body and soul. His existence is for time as well as for eternity. Though the soul and eternity ought to engross his highest solicitude and occupy his principal attention ; he is not required to forget the wants of the body and of time. For temporal supplies we are taught to pray in the petition ; «Give us this day our daily bread.” In this language we acknowledge
that we are entirely dependent on God for every morsel of food which we eat.-In whatever lawful way we possess the means of providing sustenance for ourselves and families, we are still dependent on the good providence of God for all our temporal comforts. It is he who gave us the friends who were instrumental of supporting us in helpless infancy, and improvident childhood; he gives us all our abilities to earn subsistence, and it is through his blessing alone that our lawful efforts to provide things necessary for our support and comfort are successful. Of this we should be particu, larly sensible when we approach the Throne of Grace. This petition likewise harmonizes with the directions, 66 seekest thou great things for thyself; seek them not. Having food and raiment, therewith let us be content:" Or with the more emphatical directions of Christ himself, “ Take no (anxious) thought what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed : Take no (anxious) thought for the morrow.”—The spirit of this petition, requires us to be moderate in our desires for temporal things. We may with Agur, ask of God to feed us with food convenient for us, and otherwise from day to day supply our real necessities. But to thirst for great possessions, and habitually indulge such desires, is incompatible with a right use of this petition.
Our very prayers are therefore directly opposed to covetousness. And while we ask of God to give us a competency of earthly things for the present, we must not indulge in anxiety about the future. We are to do our duty each day, to provide things honest in the sight of all med, and then calmly direct our waiting eyes to Him from whom all his creatures receive their portion in due season. While we ask him to give, we should feel a filial confidence in his parental provi. dence to supply all our necessities. While we ask to receive it day by day, we are reminded that it is as much our business daily to acknowledge his hand in our temporal supplies, as it was that of Israel when feeding on the manna, The allusion which our Lord probably made to the
manna may remind us that the petition, “ give us this day our daily bread;" includes more than the bread of necessity for our bodies ; that it includes desires for the bread of life for our souls. For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The soul each day needs spiritual sustenance. The bread of God is he wbich cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world—Jesus has taught us that he is the bread of life: that a true knowledge of him and his salvation is the only true nourishment for the soul. And we should all unite in the prayer, “ Lord, evermore give us this bread.”
This provision for the soul is as much more important for us individually, than provision for the body, as the soul is more valuable than the body, and as eternity is longer than time. And we should desire that this may be received day by day, till time with us shall be no more, and that then we may forever feast on the same heavenly food. In a word, give us this day our daily bread, requires us in the ways of industry, economy, and prayer to seek and expect temporal supplies from the Father of lights ; to have our desires confined within narrow bounds; to feel thankful for daily supplies as coming from God: and it also encourages us to seek more earnestly for those spiritual supplies for ourselves and our fellow men, which are of everlasting importance.
“ And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
The spirit of this petition requires us to approach God as on the mercy seat. We must go feeling ourselves deeply involved in moral debt. We have ever been under infinite obligations to love God with all our hearts, and serve him with all our abilities. His love requires all this of us. But we have in ways innumerable trespassed against God. Sins of deed, word, and thought, of commission and omission, against his law and against his gospel, have swelled the claims of divine justice against us. We owe God ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay.
Rightly to offer this petition we must entirely dis
claim all expectation of atoning for past disobedience, by present amendment, repentance, or even suffering. We must feel that nothing but forgiveness can ever re_move from us the guilt of our offences. And since Christ is the way; and the only way of access to the mercy seat of God, we are to ask in his name. to desire and expect forgiveness exclusively on the account of what he has done and suffered in man's stead, that God might be just and the “ justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."
As we daily sin, so we daily need forgiveness as much as we need our daily bread.
But what is the most remarkable in this petition is the forgiving temper which it requires us habitually to cultivate towards all who trespass against us.
Here is the seal of heaven manifestly affixed to this prayer. In a thousand ways, men are liable to receive wrongs from their fellow men. On earth there is a constant collision of pursuits, feelings, and interests. While we are liable to do wrong, we are liable to have others trespass against us, by speaking evil of us; by defrauding us of our dues; or by abusing our persons. Nothing is more contrary to the natural feelings of our hearts than a forgiving temper. We are prone to have anger rise, and to meditate retaliation. This prayer is exactly adapted to act as a strong curb on our passions. It reminds us in the outset that we have trespassed a thousand-fold more against God than men have ever trespassed against us; thus it tends to cast down imaginations, and every high thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. For when we pray that God would forgive us as we forgive others; we virtually imprecate his displeasure upon us, if we then harbour hatred or revenge in our hearts towards others, even towards men who have most injured us.
And we may well shudder at the thought of using this petition, while we have a resentful or unforgiving temper of heart.
It appears to have been a principal object in this