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cies the bare enjoyment of power and authority is enough to ensure its benevolent application. We should therefore inquire farther with deference to those in authority, What may be sometimes wanting where the ability is not, in order to move the depositaries of such authority to our wishes or wants: for finding out their deficiency may lead us to the discovery of some collateral ground of expectation toward our heavenly Father beside that of power and authority before mentioned.
2. What I conceive then to be frequently wanting in such cases, and at the same time as great a requisite almost as ability is Inclination. By which I do not understand an inclination to the act or employment, however good or beneficial it may be, but an inclination to the person for whose benefit the same may be supposed to be undertaken. And that such an inclination does virtually if not actually exist with our heavenly Father may be presumed from another inference observable in the Lord's Prayer, and especially as it appears in the gospel of St. Luke; namely, where it is said, “And forgive us our sins : for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us." (Luke xi. 4.) For if we did not imagine that forgiving trespasses or debts and other acts of mercy were agreeable to our heavenly Father, why should we propose our inclination that way as a recommendation of our views to him ; or as an argument in support of our petition? If we were to implore forgiveness, or only time, of some human creditors, because we are lenient to debtors in our small way, the answer might be, More fool, you, and the worse chance for us. But we mention this inclination to God, as A MARK OF OUR NEAR RELATION TO HIM; expecting what we ask on account of such relation. “ For love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.” (John I. iv. 7, 8.)
3. Therefore, as affinity moves inclination, and inclination ability,-- Affinity may be proposed as the Primum
Mobile with our heavenly Father, the very ground and root of his inclination to favour us in granting generally whatever we ask according to his will as taught by our Lord in his heavenly Prayer. And, to describe such affinity, as it were by sample, in a few instances or particulars;
1, The forementioned principle of Love may be proposed as one instance, characteristic or particular of such affinity. Indeed our Lord tells us plainly that such is the way to be our heavenly Father's children, namely by being as he is in this and other respects in which it is possible. In directing the path of the lightning, or the course of the wind, we are not expected to prove this affinity; but in other acts we shall be expected; as our Lord signified to his disciples, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt. v. 44,45.) But he has given us a greater assurance of loving his enemies than even the alternate blessings of rain and sunshine---in sending his only begotten Son to die for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, (as he says,) that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John iii. 16.) God did not do this only for the sake of doing it, as many people do things; neither did God love the world better than his only begotten Son, that he gave him; but he loved the world well enough for it; and that he might be a Medium of reconciliation for rebels, of grace for sinners, of legitimacy for bastards,—that there might be a sameness, and a reciprocity of action between God and us: this first principle of love being one great step toward it.
2, Another characteristic or instance of affinity with God and consequent ground of acceptance, as aforesaid,
being still of the same principle with the preceding, is Righteousness. For St. Paul clearly indicates their unity of principle, that is, the unity of love and righteousness, in one passage; where he
He that loveth another bath fulfilled the law :” shewing how it may be ; namely, inasmuch as “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour :” (Rom. xiii. 8, 10:) and supposing it to work what good it can at the same time, love will be righteousness in effect, or what we mean by “the fulfilling of the law :" " Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law,” (Ib.) says he. In other words, Love and Righteousness are both of one principle, and equally characteristic of the family or children of God. And St. John says accordingly, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him:” (John I. ii. 29 :) as he also says of love.
In these respects, though not in others, may we be partakers of the divine power or possibility, as children partake sometimes of their parents' features and disposition, and so far prove our advantageous affinity to the Supreme Being. “For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by
When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did he see it, and declare it; be prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job. xxviii. 24, &c.)
3, But these, namely, love and righteousness, and wisdom likewise, if there be any difference between wisdom and righteousness, more than between righteousness and love, are only single or double instances of that affinity to our heavenly Father, which we rely on for his inclination to accompany his ability when we ask him any favour : they are, as I said before, like family features; but the sum of his parental affection and inclination attaches to
a Perfect Image*, even to the beloved Son. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily :" (Col. ij. 9 :) others being united to God through him, as he signified to his disciples under the image of the vine; (John xv.;) and as St. Paul farther intimates in this passage of his epistle to the Colossians, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him which is the Head of all principality and power : in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism; wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Col. ii. 9, &c.)
4, Therefore, St. John alleges also this principle of Faith, as another trait or instance of the foresaid affinity, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” (John I. v. 1,) says he.
They who are alive to the subject, and have followed me so far with their attention, may be aware perhaps by this time where our interest with the Father lies; and, perhaps, it may not be necessary to say more for their satisfaction concerning the ground of our expectations toward God, or of his inclination toward our prayers. The moral of the whole is, OUR UNION WITH CHRIST BY A CHRISTIAN LIFE, AND RECONCILIATION WITH GOD BY HIM: which I have now deduced from the particulars of the Lord's Prayer. The deduction may have been rather tedious for some; but I believe it will be found correct. Our Saviour tells us—the Vine in which we are united tells his scions, “I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain : that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John xv. 16.) And if being found in him be such a recommendation to our prayers, it will be our wisdom to live accordingly, that we may be found in him : especially, considering a circumstance of which our text reininds us; and of which I have consequently a few words to say.
* The character of his Person-translated “ Express Image.” (Heb. i. 3.)
The circumstance alluded to consists in the endless duration of the Kingdom or sphere which contains the precious object of our hopes and petitions; being the sphere of everlasting happiness, and its duration for ever and ever. For you must know, that it is the nature of the peculiar Kingdom of God, being a good life, as it is of life in general, or of nature itself, which is life-to be in a continual progress and compound revolution-a revolution infinitely compounded, through the vast expanse of spirit and intellect; as our planet, the earth, which we inhabit, moves forward in a common orbit, at the same time revolving both on its proper axis and on the axis of its orbit, and of its orbit's orbit perhaps continually. For if matter be limited in form, it is not in space, nor in duration. And hence, that is from the progress of perfection, may be conceived the propriety or occasion of a constant prayer for the Kingdom, and for the coming of the Kingdom, whether considered as a state or progress. The Lord's Prayer is a prayer of that sort : you may call it THE KINGDOM PRAYER, or Prayer of the Kingdom, if you will, as well as, of the Lord or King; and consider it not only as one of your earliest acquisitions in life: but of all the best, and of the most lasting importance, like the Kingdom to which it relates, I mean the Kingdom of God. “For thy Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, (says the Psalmist,) and thy dominion endureth throughout all ages.” (Ps. cxlv. 13.)
The superior duration of this Kingdom is one reason, why we should adhere to the party of Christ in opposition to the world. His party or cause being founded in the Kingdom of God, and every one preferring the firmest cause, so far as he may know it, -as he prays for the Kingdom of God on that account, will pray likewise for the Kingdom of Christ which is identified with it, the Kingdom of God in Christ, and for admittance into