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ON THE LORD'S PRAYER. -4. MEATS AND
"Give us this day our daily bread."
MATT. vi. 11.
I LATELY observed to you, my brethren, how the Lord's Prayer is divisible into two parts; which may be called human and divine from their respective objects, in the same manner as the decalogue, or ten commandments which God spake in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, may be divided and named; the same ten commandments being also in some measure a foundation for the Lord's Prayer in substance as well as in this formal respect. "The law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ," (Gal. iii. 24,) says St. Paul: and here is an instance of it, with regard to what may be considered the first petition of the Lord's Prayer on the human side, "Give us this day our daily bread." Concerning which I will not dispute, whether we should read with the Hebrew original, "Give us this day OUR BREAD FOR TOMORROW," instead of "Our daily bread;" or whether Give us daily our daily bread might not be as near the Author's meaning, and suit both the Greek and Hebrew copies as well as either. For leaving such verbal criticism as equally inapplicable to a general audience and unbecoming a minister of the Word who professes to follow it more according to the spirit than according to the letter,-I find 1, the Matter or thing here prayed for; 2, its Circumstances and Accompaniments;to be nearly the same either way: and shall accordingly proceed to enlarge on those two points successively. First
1. I am to describe the Matter or thing prayed for in this first HUMAN petition, as I call it, of the Lord's Prayer:
in which, as well as in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, so called because it was similarly instituted by him, two widely differing aliments are signified by one type or vehicle; being 1, Food for the Body; 2, Food for the Soul: two things so distinct as will need to be distinctly considered. Thus
1. We contemplate in bread, as Food for the Body"the staff" or support of that outward and visible life which we protract upon earth, and may enjoy too either as lonely pilgrims looking forward to a better home, or as earthly creatures, if we be not more vicious than the rest-of whom some get their bread cheaper than some of us: on the quality of which staff or support it will not be worth while to enlarge, so much as on
2. The other sort of aliment to which I alluded, namely the Food for the Soul, or Soul-food, as it may be called: which is equally indicated in Scripture by the image of flesh, as of bread; and, conceived under either of these ideas, will not be more spiritual in itself than the basis of either article by which it is indicated, if it be indeed more spiritual food. For in bread itself we understand something more than a lifeless mass, as we understand in chips: which something, whatever it may be, is truly the life or essence of bread. And so in wine we understand something more than a mere vapid liquor, as it might be of water coloured to the same hue for example; which something, whatever it may be, is the life or essence of wine. This is premised in order to shew the possibility of a new principle being infused into the creation of such a quality as to become an adequate and never failing basis, staff, or support to our invisible life first, and our visible likewise, when it shall please God to restore the same, the face of nature still remaining for the present unchanged and undisturbed. So you take a quantity of flour of wheat; which is not itself without life, though very fugitive: you infuse a new principle into it by the name of Leaven, and knead it together, knowing that "a little leaven lea
veneth the whole lump:" (Cor. I. v. 6:) and the flour is no longer a dissolute heap like dust-an heap "without form and void;" without any firmness or consistency, unapplicable as human food: it is now bread,-specifically of a light weight, it may be hoped, and agreeable consistency; the most general and important of all the articles appropriated as food for our little outward and visible life upon earth, and a worthy parallel for that which we want to support our divine life for a time upon earth also, as well as eternally in heaven.
This higher kind of food or support is indicated sometimes by other metaphors besides bread and flesh in order to suit more special occasions; as by Drink for the thirsty, and Food for the hungry; Milk for children, and Meat for men; Bread only as a necessary of life, and Fatness as a luxury or enjoyment: to mention no more. Thus the Lord is supposed to say to Israel, as one person might to another, "Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou Jesurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." (Isaiah xliv. 2, 3.) Another while the Lord as a person is supposed to ask Israel as a people, "Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." (Ib. lv. 2.) St. Peter bids them, "as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby." (Pet. I. ii. 2.) And St. Paul tells them, or some of them, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it: neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal?" (Cor. I. iii. 2, 3.) But the most edifying and direct exemplification of these congenial figures is given by the Word itself, "which was made flesh and dwelt among us;" (John i. 14;) especially in
one particular chapter of the same according to the saint who asserts it; as for example, (speaking to his countrymen, the Jews): "Labour not for the meat which perisheth; but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life; which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Moses gave you not that Bread from Heaven: but my Father giveth you the true Bread from Heaven. For the Bread of God is he which cometh down from Heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As THE LIVING FATHER HATH SENT ME, AND I LIVE BY THE FATHER; SO HE THAT EATETH ME, EVEN HE SHALL LIVE BY ME. This is that bread which came down from Heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." (Ib. vi. 27, &c.)
It was one of the measures of divine Wisdom and Goodness for the recovery of fallen man, to raise him again from earth and earthly things, by combining them with heavenly things, and things more likely to be forgotten with things more likely to be remembered: especially in the early part of his training; when man was to be allured and his at
tention fixed with forms and ceremonies, as children are with toys and picture-books. And, as there is nothing more urgent, nor more likely to be remembered, than the repletion of the body,-no more common business than eating and drinking in this mortal life, the best ingredient for such a combination on the earthly side appeared in the article of meat: hence the great point that is made of this article in the Mosaic institution: some meats being clean and some unclean, some to be eaten and others not, or some on one particular day, and not on another; all which was ordained, not with any Epicurean view to delicacy in eating, but for the sublime and benevolent purpose aforesaid; that the heart might be established with grace by such means, and men springing as it were from this firm, basis might leap into Heaven: being children in bondage under the elements of the world, until the fulness of the time, when "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that they might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal. iv. 4, 5.) And if our Redeemer have continued this allusion to meats in his gospel, and even by his own direct or particular discourse, as in the copious example lately cited, it is still with the same view, namely, that the heart of man might be exalted continually by his grace, and not elated or puffed up by a superstitious observance of meats, nor days either.
Such is the drift of his doctrine-the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which is a part of his soul-bread, and the doctrine of the Word by himself. But it was not delivered under the advantage of a patient, or rather partial, hearing, with the sanction of the state, and such other encouragement as usually attends its reading and exposition in this pleasant retreat from the world, a place consecrated to the worship of God in his own way or appointment: on the contrary that blessed doctrine to which the world is so highly indebted, was in the beginning questioned, doubted,