« FöregåendeFortsätt »
dened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." (Cor. II. v. 1, &c.)
And, God be praised! we have this consolation for the burden under which we groan, that if the consequence of moral evil can be so deeply impressed on the natural elements, as to be perpetuated in their unavoidable use, the consequence of moral good likewise may be similarly impressed and perpetuated through the same medium,— not by transubstantiation, however, but by conversion, in the use of "the bread which cometh down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die." (John vi. 50.) For, by such means, not only our food and other incidentals, but "ourselves, our souls and bodies," may be consecrated to God in Christ; being new made, without any transformation. We do not find, that regeneration in the moral department will make things different from what they might otherwise have been in the natural: thistles will be thistles in the ground of the regenerate, as well as in that of the old leaven; pain will be pain, care will be care, corruption will be corruption, as much as bread will be bread; but the moral effect of these things, and even of sin itself, as I have shewn before now-will be changed. For "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. v. 20, 21.) "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" "Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delivered from the hand of the enemy." (Ps. cvii. 2.)
• In Christian Modes, Vol. II. p. 103.
ON THE LORD'S PRAYER.-8, THE MORAL AND AFFIRMATION.
"For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever: Amen."
MATT. vi. 13.
In one copy of the Lord's Prayer this divine production is made, as I observed at the beginning of my lectures, to conclude with the deprecation, or petition, or both together, which I commented upon last: while the other copy, which I have now quoted throughout, concludes with the words of my text. As we have both copies of the Prayer, the omission of this clause in one of them is no disadvantage; let us thank God, that it was not omitted in both. And indeed there could not be much danger of such an omission: from the special Providence that watches over our sacred records it was hardly to be expected, that any part of a prayer delivered to us in our Lord's own words and designed for the constant use of his church should be suffered to miscarry in any particular; and as not elsewhere, so neither here, in the end, I hope. For it is the end that must crown a good work and the end of this prayer will be found, I trust, as fruitful to edification and instruction as the beginning, or any intermediate part; there is no part of it, but may be as edifying in theory as availing in practice. You will probably recollect, that these two ends-knowledge and practice, are the same to which I proposed at first to train you on by means of these discourses; and the same tendency I hope they will also maintain to the last; adverting one while to one subject, another while to another, sometimes to the prayer itself.
So again before I proceed with the topics suggested by my text, I wish now to indicate a propriety, fulness, or finish, as it may be said, in this addition according to St. Matthew; which seems to prove a second thought of its
Author, or else a greater particularity in this than in his former delivery-perhaps on account or in consideration of his larger audience. And the same will appear to be an improvement in two ways,-in respect of the form, as well as the meaning of the prayer; or in the letter, as well as in the spirit of the same.
Thus we may consider the clause to be added in the first place, if we will, by way of a doxology on the offering or performance; ascribing the glory of the same to God, as in our Gloria Patri after the reading Psalms, and sometimes after the singing; also in the glorification of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, at the end of the sermon, and before the general blessing, or blessing of the congregation; also in examples of former times that we meet with in sacred history; as king David's blessing or glorification on dedicating the temple, or rather its materials; when he "blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty for all that is in the Heaven, and in the earth is thine; THINE IS THE KINGDOM, O Lord; and thou art exalted as Head above all." (Chron. I. xxix. 10, 11.) For, as the protomartyr Stephen signified, "David found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob: But Solomon built him an house: howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands," (Acts vii. 46-48,) said he; as Solomon had also observed. (Kings I. viii. 27.) And therefore that house of Solomon's building; which he left in such perfection as to be the wonder of the whole earth, was now after many vicissitudes on the point of yielding to one of another sortto a temple combined in the Spirit of truth; being a wonder in Heaven, or such a thing however as "the angels desire to look into." (Pet. I. i. 12.)
Upon this view or principle the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer will be answerable to the beginning, and each an
adoration with only a formal difference. For when I say, "Our Father which art in Heaven; hallowed be thy name: thy Kingdom come: thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven," at the beginning, I felicitate the same presence to which I perform obeisance at the conclusion in another mode by saying, "Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory." And thus the beginning and conclusion are here found to correspond in the style of a regular address; proving-not that Jesus ever studied politeness or rhetoric, (John vii. 15,) but, that some of their forms cannot be wholly without foundation, being approved by his use; also, that this prayer, with all its divine origin or inspiration was still not altogether extemporary but rather studied,-nay, revised, reconsidered, and improved by afterthought; so that humanity may appear to have had some share with divinity, but none with human infirmity, in this production,—as in all its Author's other acts or simple constituents.
The forementioned and some other verbal accomplishments of the Lord's Prayer, which are interesting in theory, I have thought worth indicating at different times: but what I still propose to insist on chiefly is, the practical view that may be had of the same, even to its very conclusion as more agreeable to the Spirit, and more promising for the edification of my hearers; inasmuch as it affords, 1, a good Moral to the prayer; and 2, a general Affirmation, or evidence; to be adapted to practice by 3, a suitable Application. Speaking,
§ 1. Of the Moral; I shall endeavour to deduce the same 1, generally from the spirit, drift or general meaning of the prayer, compared with its conclusion and the inferential form of my text, "FOR thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory." Where only by the first syllable something is inferred from what follows in favour of all that was asked before; which is to be discovered by asking ourselves a reason for it: as for example, Why should our Father who is in Heaven be pleased to restore his
happy Kingdom, and cause his auspicious name to be honoured-in earth as in Heaven? Why should he give us this present, or any other day, our daily bread? Why should he forgive us our trespasses, even when, either * willingly or not, we forgive them that trespass against us? Why should he not lead us into temptation, but rather deliver us from evil? Why all this why is it to be expected? For without some expectation of course it would not be asked.
1. Only seeing the Power and Authority to do this may certainly be one plain ground of such expectation, and seems to be the only direct motive for the same here proposed to its divine Object by his children. Considering too, how their general prayer, the Lord's Prayer, as we call it, is full of references to the supremacy of our Father in heaven, and on such his supremacy with almighty power and endless glory all our hopes and prayers for eternal salvation, honour and happiness are founded in the first instance, such an acknowledgment of the premises seems most seasonable. It is as much as to say, We ask such things of thee, O heavenly Father, as grace, life and salvation, with the gift to hallow thy name,-such things as are within the power and direction of no other being, and could be expected of no other; but might of thee: "For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen:" that is, Most assuredly.
But admitting the power of our heavenly Father to do all this, may we therefore confidently expect, that he will do it or may the very presence and enjoyment of power and authority be of itself a sufficient assurance of our views upon it-whatever they may be? It does not seem a matter of course that any one having himself the power to do good should place such power implicitly at the disposal of another only on his asking; we cannot perceive this certain consequence upon earth; we do not find such expectation by any means infallible; we do not find, that in our spe
* Our Saviour says, "From your hearts.” (Matt. xviii. 35.)