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refreshing; the fountains of life seem open, and the heart feels like drawing out large and rich supplies.
Let it not be understood, however, that it is only at such times that the Christian offers acceptable prayer. Often does he pray most effectually, when, if I may so say, he can not pray at all: i. e. he is so overwhelmed with a sense of the divine glory—the holiness of God appears so unspeakably glorious, and his own heart so sinful and ungrateful, that language fails to express the emotions of his soul. Still, he
prays. God, who sees in secret, knows the real desires of the soul, and sees in that heart, which can utter only sobs, the humility, and love, and faith, which render it quite consistent for him to bless—and bless with large measures of grace.
Long prayers in the sanctuary and the social prayermeeting, but especially in the family, are not, in general, to be commended. If, to the “gift of prayer," be added the “ spirit of prayer,"—freedom of utterance and holy intensity of soul-pertinency of expression and warmth of heartgreater indulgence is admissible. But neither the minister in the pulpit, nor the parent in the family, should extend their prayers to such length as to weary those whom they lead. Family prayer should, ordinarily, be only of moderate length. Childien are easily wearied, especially with a service in which their hearts are not interested. Family devotion, the . reading of the Scriptures, and the prayer which follows, should ever be made as pleasant and attractive as may be. There is not a service on earth more delightful than that of prayer. Not an attitude more lovely than that of bending before the footstool of God. Why, then, make that service repugnant? Why that attitude repulsive?
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Tus prayer is given as a model. And where, in beauty nd comprehensiveness, exists its equal? Every thought is natural; every part of it simple; and yet, in these few and brief sentences, there is involved whatever is needed by mankind, whether as individuals, as families, as nations, or as a
It is designed to express the manner in which we are to offer our supplications to God. “After this manner pray ye." Christ would not confine us to the precise words or petitions here used. The substance of this prayer is recorded in the eleventh chapter of Luke; but it is there expressed in language sufficiently different to indicate that Christ did not intend to present this as a form of prayer to be used on all occasions, but “to express the substance of our petitions—to specify to his ignorant disciples what petitions it would be proper to present to God.” Christ did not always use this prayer himself, (See Matt. 26: 39--42, 44) and, indeed, there is no proof that either he or his disciples ever used it exactly in this form.
The "Lord's Prayer," as it is commonly called, consists of three parts:
I. An Introduction, or Invocation.
II. Six Petitions ; three of which have reference to the glory of God, and three to our own temporal and spiritual wants :
1. “Hallowed be thy name,"
To the glory
* The author, in this division, follows Mr. Bickersteth.
To our own wants.
4. “Give us this day our daily bread."
us from evil.” III. A Conclusion; in which the perfections of God are acknowledged, and are plead as a reason why the petitions should be granted.
The reader will observe, that, in this prayer, men are not taught to ask in the name of Christ.
6 The reason may be," observes a writer, " that, when it was given, Christ's atonement had not actually taken place, nor his intercession, as a risen Savior, begun. Therefore, our Lord says: "Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name: at that day ye shall ask in my name." John 16: 24, 26.
“Our Father which art in heaven,”-Matt. vi. 9. Never had the saints of the solden time” addressed God in terms so filial and familiar as these. God had, indeed, revealed himself on various occasions, and to various individuals, as a God of kindness and compassion. To Moses, he had proclaimed himself, “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious.” The Psalmist often bears testimony to the benevolence of God: “ The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Indeed, God had, in express terms, styled himself 66 Father to Israel.” Jer. 31:9. But, on no page, do we find the children of God, nor even the prophets, in their addresses and suppli
"The author takes pleasure in acknowledging his indebtedness for some valuable thoughts on the Lord's Prayer to Manuscript Sermons on the same subject, by Rev. WILLIAM W. WOODWORTH, Berlin.
cations to Him, using this tender and affectionate appellation. Rather, they seem to have been more impressed with his infinite majesty and awful glory. Even the Psalmist, whose intercourse and communion with God seems to have been peculiarly intimate and delightful, never calls him " Father."
This direction, then, of Jesus to his disciples, in reference to prayer, seems, in some sort, a new revelation; at least, here was a new era in man's intercourse with God. From this time, that intercourse was to be more intimate and more frequent. The reign of mercy was about to commence in better earnest. The Messenger of mercy was now on earth, and was about to open still wider the “happy gates of gospel grace.” There he would soon station himself, and make proclamation, “ night and day:" "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.” There, too, the God of grace
and love would himself appear; and, looking upon the face of his Anointed, would say, bending from his throne, “I will be to you a father, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.”
Blessed annunciation! Most delightful assurance! And may 1-1, a worm of the dust-poor, insignificant, and, more than all, a vile and ungrateful sinner-may I hope for such honor? for such grace ?
And can this mighty King
Of glory condescend?
'My father and my friend ?'
Join all my powers,
And praise the Lord.
In a sense, God is the father of all, whatever be their moral dispositions. He has fashioned their bodies, and endowed them with rational and immortal minds; and, as his offspring, he regards them with kindness and compassion. He provides for them those temporal blessings which they daily need, and takes a deep and abiding interest in their spiritual and eternal joy. There is not that human being,
how degraded and wretched soever he may be, who may not direct his eye to heaven, and say—and say in truth to God, “ Thou art my Father :” and upon that being God looks, not with complacency-that is impossible, for what concord has holiness and sin ?—but he regards him with benevolence, and would, were the wretch willing, call him “son," in a higher sense, and upon a better basis. He would adopt him into his family, fold him to his bosom, and give him an inheritance-a glorious inheritance on high.
He has done so, and is doing so, with a portion of mankind. As many as receive Christ, to them he gives power to become the sons of God. They repent and believe, and are, therefore, adopted into the family of God. These are his children in a peculiar sense; these have the privileges of sons and daughters; these have a right to call God "Father.” They are no longer aliens, but friends; no more outcasts, but fellow-citizens-children-heirs. The promises are theirs ; the inheritance theirs; all they can wish theirs.
Why should not such call God “Father ?" And why, when he contemplates them as “one with Jesus Christ,” why should he not own them-love thembless them? True, they are imperfect now, but they are going on "unto perfection.” They are far away from heaven and glory, but they are, every moment, coming nearer and nearer thereto. What a blessed privilege it is to have God for a “Father!” Methinks thousands and tens of thousands of those who never call him so, and have no right to call him thus, in a spiritual sense, would, if they were to pause and reflect for a few moments, call him so, with all the ardor and affection of “new-born babes." I often wonder that sinners en masse do not unite and say:
We would no longer lie,
Like slaves beneath the throne;