« AnteriorContinuar »
cases, we may expect a sufficient supply to carry us to our tomb. But idle men cannot ask the blessed God for their daily bread; much less can the dishonest, the profane, the Sabbath-breaker, who will “mind earthly things” only on that sacred day. In a word, no one who supports himself by the “wages of unrighteousness,” and who would be rich by the ruin of his neighbour at the gaming-table, or by taking advantage of his ignorance in trade, can thus apply for the necessary food of the day, without being guilty of the most impious insolence to the Majesty of heaven.
And does it not teach us moderation also ? The daily use of this petition, if not in the exact words, yet in its general tenor, plainly teaches us, that we are creatures of a day,—that our life is as nothing, and that we should refer the necessities of to-morrow to the Author of tomorrow. Remember this, ye anxious parents, with respect to yourselves and families. Ye have prayed this day for your food, and the watchful providence of God has given it to you ; to-morrow you must do likewise. And He who is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” will not deny you what is proper. “ The prudent man foreseeth the evil,” and prepares accordingly. Discretion and thoughtfulness with reference to the future, are the duty of all men; and he who lives at random, tempts rather than trusts the Almighty. But a proper foresight is one thing, and an overwhelming anxiety is another.
Finally. Does not this prayer teach you to repose with confidence in the bountiful liberality of your Father who is in heaven? Who bids you present it? The Son of God who knew both your wants and the willingness of the Divine Being to relieve them. And under what character are you to address Him? The most endearing and attractive-your benignant and compassionate Parent, who will not suffer you to “lack any thing that is good.” “Commit
your way, therefore, unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."*
But the second petition is likewise full of instruction. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." And does not such language bring our sins to remembrance, and proclaim our guilt? Have we not“ trespassed” against the authority, wisdom, patience, and forbearance of God? I cannot now enter on any doctrinal confirmation of the fact, but I must, however, faithfully declare, that the truth implied in this supplication is personally applicable to you all. And not only so, but some in this congregation have swelled the amount of their “ debts” to a most enormous aggregate. With all the means of knowing the divine will, and of learning the method of salvation ; with every thing in the scripture and in providence calculated to arouse the conscience and renovate the heart; with the perpetual exhibition before your eyes, of the way in which hell may be avoided and heaven obtained, you still persevere in a course of sin! You have heard again and again the invitations of the gospel, and perhaps in early life the tears of a mother fell on your cheek, and the prayers of a father now in glory, sounded in your ears, all intended to bring you to God; but you are impenitent still! Your's is a dreadful case indeed! Consider it, I earnestly beseech you; and may the consideration lead you to repentance.
And does not the petition imply also, that there must be an application of pardon to our hearts? Free and full as the exercise of mercy is, faith in the cross of Christ is essential to a saving participation. And what is this necessary principle? The sacred writers were always careful to show us, that it is more than a notion in the head, the apprehension of an abstract truth-or a persuasion of the mind. It includes indeed all these ; but it is these in action. It is a coming to Christ-a fleeing to Him-a surrender of the soul to his grace, and its committal to his custody to be saved by Him alone. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.” “The spirit and the bride say come;" and now I press the question,—will you “come that you may have life?” Can you reflect on the necessity of being “ found in him," and yet be careless as to the attainment of the blessing? Is it possible for you to ponder your dismal prospects for eternity, unpardoned and unrenewed, and yet cherish a fatal stupidity as to the exposed condition of your undying spirit? What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, that thou perish not.' Better you had never been born, than to “fall into the hands of the living God." Yet there is a way of escapethe door of mercy, and the throne of grace, invite your confidence, and beckon your approach. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” + Amen.
* Psalm xxxvii. 5.
MATTHEW vi. 13.
“AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US
FROM EVIL: FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER
COMPARISONS are commonly invidious. They are so when they respect worth of character and usefulness. But they are equally unamiable, perhaps more sinful, when they are drawn between different portions of divine truth. In the various petitions contained in this brief, but sublime and comprehensive prayer, we necessity to attempt such a distinction. Every one is important-highly important,—whether it respects the glory of the Creator, or the necessities of the creature. The three first, as we have seen, embrace all that is dear to Jehovah,-his holiness—his authority—and his glory : the three last, all that can be valuable or necessary for manhis food-his pardon--and his sanctification. It is the latter of these which now remains to be considered. Happy had it been for multitudes of Christian professors, of this subject had been seriously regarded. From what reproachful notoriety and scandalous impurities would they have been preserved! “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The way in which we
walk is thick set with difficulties and dangers, “temptations” and “ evil;" and it is, therefore, of the utmost importance that we should earnestly seek the gracious protection of an all-sufficient arm against the enemies that watch for our halting, and would triumph in our defeat. Favour me, therefore, my Christian brethren, with your serious attention to the important petitions under consideration.
OBSERVE THE DANGER SUPPOSED—THE DELIVERANCE REQUESTED AND THE GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENTS WE ARE DIRECTED TO MAKE.
I. THE DANGER SUPPOSED.-" LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.”
This language implies danger. Let ns describe its nature ; what is it? The liableness of man to be overcome by temptation. But what is temptation? This is first to be explained. In its literal import, it means, to put any thing to the trial ; but the word is variously used in the sacred writings, and its signification is best determined by the connection in which it stands. And if this simple rule had been always observed by the professed interpreters of scripture, how much folly and error had been prevented. In the case of Abraham who was “tempted," we have the word in this sense, for the narrative shows us how the blessed God was pleased to try his faith and patience. Sometimes the term is used to express afflictions in general, such as are with lighter or darker shades, the common heritage of the servants of the Lord. Thus the Redeemer speaks: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations :"* these temptations were the scenes of hunger, reproach, and violence, which the Captain of Salvation did not disdain, “that he might
• Luke xxii. 28.