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secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Here our Saviour warns his disciples against the same pharisaical hypocrisy in praying, which he had before reproved in almsgiving. It was lawful to pray in the synagogues, and to pray standing, and that before men; but to do this upon design to be applauded by men, is condemned by Christ. Our business in prayer lies with God, we are not to concern ourselves how men like our performances, it is sufficient if God doth approve and will accept them. To cure the foregoing vanity, Christ directs to secret prayer in our closets, where God is the Witness, and will be the Rewarder, of our sincerity. Note, That secret prayer is a commanded and encouraged duty, and when in sincerity performed shall be attended with a public and glorious reward: Pray to thy Father which is in secret, &c.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
A vain-glorious ostentation in prayer was condemned by our Saviour in the former verse; here a vain-glorious multiplication of words, by idle tautologies and impertinent repetitions, is condemned also; after the manner of the heathen, who expect to have their prayers granted by God for the multiplicity of words used by themselves. Hence note, That a christian's business in prayer being not to inform God, (for he knoweth what things we need, before we ask him ;) nor yet to move and persuade God, (for he is our Father:) it certainly argues an undue apprehension of God, when we lengthen out our prayers with vain repetitions and a multitude of words. Yet note, 1. That it is not all repetition of the same words in prayer which Christ here condemns, for he himself prayed thrice, using the same words, that the cup might pass from him. Nor, 2. Are we to apprehend that prayers continued to a considerable length are forbidden by Christ; for Solomon's prayer was such, 1 Kings viii. Nehemiah's such, chap. ix. 'Tis said the people confessed and worshipped for three hours: Christ continued in prayer all night; and the church, Acts xii. made
The sense and signification of this best of prayers, is this: O thou our Father in 'Jesus Christ! who remainest in thy throne in heaven, and art there per'petually praised, and perfectly obeyed by 'glorious angels and glorified saints; grant 'that thy name may be glorified, thy throne acknowledged, and thy holy will obeyed, here on earth below, by us thy sons and servants, most sincerely and readily, and in some proportion to what is done in 'heaven. And because, by reason of the frailty of our natures, we cannot subsist without the comforts and supports of life, 'we crave, that such a proportion of the good things of this life may be given unto us, as may be sufficient for us; and that we may be content with our allowance. And knowing that thy holiness and justice 'oblige thee to punish sin and sinners, we 'plead with thee, for the sake of thy Son's satisfaction, to pardon to us our daily
⚫ trespasses, which we are guilty of in this ⚫ state of imperfection; as we do freely and • heartily forgive others that have offended and wronged us. And seeing that by reason of the frailty of our natures we are ⚫ prone to rush upon and run into temptation; we crave that, by the power of thy omnipotent grace, we may be kept from Satan's temptations, from the world's ⚫ allurements, from our own evil inclinations, and be preserved unblamable to ⚫ thine everlasting kingdom; which is ex⚫alted over all persons, over all places, over all things, in all times, past, present, and to come: and accordingly, in testimony ⚫ of our desires, and in assurance to be heard and answered, we say, Amen; so be it; so let it be, even so, O Lord, let it be for ' ever. More particularly, in this comprehensive and compendious prayer, the following severals are remarkable. Namely, 1. That the learned observe, that this prayer is taken out of the Jewish liturgies, in which it is entirely found, excepting these words, As we forgive them that trespass against us. From whence Grotius notes, how far Christ the Lord of his church was from affecting novelties, or despising any thing because it was a form; a piece of piteous weakness amongst some at this day. Observe, 2. The person to whom Christ directs us to make our prayers; namely, to God, under the notion of a Father; teaching us, that in all our religious addresses to God, we are to conceive of him, and pray unto him, under the notion and relation of a Father. Our Father, &c. So is he by creation, by a right of providence and preservation, by redemption, by outward and visible profession, by regeneration and adoption; and this relation which God stands in to us, may encourage us to pray unto him; for being our Father, we are sure that he is of easy access unto, and graciously ready to grant what we pray for. And whereas it is added, which art in heaven; this is not to be so understood if his essence were included, or his presence circumscribed or confined there, for he fills heaven and earth with the immensity of it: but he is said to be so in heaven, because there is the special manifestation of his presence, of his purity, of his power and glory, and teaches us with what holy fear, with what humble reverence, and not without a trembling veneration, polluted dust ought to make their solemn approaches to the God of heaven. Observe, 3. That the three first petitions relate more immediately
to God. 1. That his name may be hallowed. By the name of God, understand God himself, as made known to us in his attributes, words, and works. This name is hallowed or sanctified by us three ways; by our lips, when we acknowledge his divine perfections, and tell of all his wondrous works; in our hearts, by entertaining suitable conceptions of God; and in our lives, when the consideration of these divine perfections engages us to suitable obedience. 2. That his kingdom may come: by which we are not to understand his general and providential kingdom, by which he ruleth over all the world, that being always come, and capable of no farther amplification; but principally the kingdom of grace, promoted in the hearts of his people by the preaching of the gospel: we pray that God would dethrone sin and Satan in our own and others' souls, and increase grace and sanctification both in us and them, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened, and we may be preserved blameless to the coming of Christ in his kingdom. 3. That his will may be done; by which the preceptive rather than the providential will of God, is to be understood: we are to obey the former universally, and to submit to the latter very cheerfully. It intimates, that it ought to be the prayer and care, the study and endeavour, of every christian, that the commanding will of God may be so done by men upon earth, as it is by the glorified saints and glorious angels done in heaven; namely, with that alacrity and cheerfulness, with that speed and readiness, with that constancy and diligence, that the imperfection of human nature will admit of; imitating the blessed angels, who execute the divine commands without reluctancy or regret. Observe, 4. The three last petitions respect ourselves, as the three former did Almighty God. The first of which is a prayer for temporal blessings: give us this day our daily bread. Where note, The mercy prayed for, bread, which comprehends all the comforts and conveniences of life, and whatever is necessary for the supporting human nature. Also the qualification; it must be our own bread, not another's, what we have a civil right to as men, and a covenant right to as christians. Note farther, The kind of bread we ask and desire; it is daily bread. Hereby we are put in mind of our continual dependence upon God for our lives, and for all the supports of life which we enjoy, and also kept
in mind of our mortality. And mark the way and manner of conveying all good things to us, it is in a way of free-gift. Give us our daily bread, we cannot give it ourselves; and when we have it of God, we receive it not as a debt, but as a free gift. The next petition is for spiritual blessings, Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Where note, 1. Some things supposed, namely, That we are all sinners, and, as such, stand in need of pardon and forgiveness. 2. That our sins are debts, wilful debts, repeated debts, innumerable debts, inexcusable debts, debts difficultly discharged, and yet, if undischarged, undoing debts. 3. That we are obliged to pray every day for daily pardon, as we do for daily bread, for our sins are many and daily. 4. It is here supposed, that since we are to pray for forgiveness of sin, it is impossible ever to satisfy the justice of God for sin. Lastly note, The condition or qualification required, forgive as we forgive: This requires, 1. That our minds be full of charity, free from rancour and ill-will, and all desires of revenge, and a secret grudge against another. 2. That we stand ready to help them, and to do any office of love and service for them that have offended us. 3. That we admit our offending brother into friendship and familiarity, which is called a forgiving him from the heart our heart must be towards him as formerly it was. The sixth and last petition follows, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Here note, A double mercy prayed for; namely, preventing mercy, and delivering mercy. 1. Preventing mercy, lead us not into temptation. Hereby it is supposed, 1. That we are unable to keep ourselves from temptation, partly through our natural depravity, partly through carnal security. 2. That it is God that must keep us from Satan's assaults, his traps and snares, which every where he lays in ambush for us. 3. That it is our own daily duty to be earnest and instant with God in prayer, not to suffer us by the subtraction of his grace, or in a way of punishment for sin, to run into the circumstances which may prove snares to us, but daily to afford us such a measure of his grace, as may keep us from falling by temptation, and not leave us falling under the temptation, but recover us speedily by his power, and enable us to stand more firmly for the future. 2. We here pray for delivering mercy. Deliver us from evil; by which may be understood Satan the evil one, but especially the evil of sin.
We pray here that God would graciously preserve us from those vicious inclinations of our minds, and evil dispositions of our hearts, which render us so prone to yield to the temptations of Satan. Here we sec the ugly and deformed face of sin: it is evil evil in its author and original, it is of the devil, the evil one; evil in its effects and fruits, it doth debase and degrade us, pollute and defile us, befool and deceive us, and, without repentance, damns and destroys us.
Observe lastly, The conclusion
of the Lord's Prayer, which contains a complication of arguments to urge Almighty God with, for obtaining the mercy prayed for. 1. For thine is the kingdom; thou art the only absolute and rightful Sovereign, and all men are concerned to honour thee, and obey thy laws; thou art the supreme Governor of the world, and King of thy church, therefore let thy kingdom come, and thy will be done. 2. Thine is the power, therefore give us daily bread, and forgive our daily sins; for thou hast power to supply the one, and authority to pardon the other. The power of God is a mighty encouragement to prayer, and faith in the power of God has a mighty prevalency in prayer with God. 3. Thine is the glory, that is, thine will be the glory; as if we should say, “Lord! by enabling us to hallow thy name by owning thy kingdom, by doing thy will, and by thy providing for us, and pardoning of us, thou wilt have much glory by us and from us.” It teaches us, that as our prayers in general ought to be argumentative; so an argument in prayer drawn from the glory of God, is a mighty encouragement to hope for audience and acceptance. 4. For ever and ever, that is, thy kingdom is eternal, thy power eternal, thy glory eternal; the God whom we pray to is an eternal God, and this attribute of God is improvable in prayer, as an encouragement to expect the same blessings from God which others have done before us; for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Amen; a word used in all languages, denoting an hearty assent to our own prayers, and an hearty desire to receive the mercies prayed for, and an humble assurance that we shall be heard and answered.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
There being no duty to which our corrupt natures are more backward, than this of forgiving injuries, our Saviour repeats that duty over and over, and frequently inculcates it in the holy Gospels; assuring us, that forgiving others is the indispensable condition upon which we are to expect forgiveness from God. Learn thence, That every time we go to God in prayer, and beg forgiveness of him, as we forgive others; if we do not forgive them heartily and sincerely, fully and freely, readily and willing ly, we fly in the face of God, and our prayers are a sort of imprecations against ourselves. Note farther, That although God promises us forgiveness if we forgive others; yet it is with this limitation, if no other condition of salvation be wanting, for this, virtue alone cannot obtain favour with God, unless other duties are performed.
16 Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
The next duty which our Saviour instructs his disciples in, is that of religious fasting, which is a devoting of the whole man, soul and body, to a solemn and extraordinary attendance upon God, in a particular time, set apart for that purpose; in order to the deprecating of his displeasure, and for the supplicating of his favour, accompanied with an abstinence from bodily food and sensual delights, and from all secular affairs and worldly business. Now our Saviour's direction as to this duty of fasting is double: 1. He cautions us to beware of an abuse in fasting: Be not as the hypocrites are, of a sad countenance; that is, Do not affect a sullen sadness, ghastliness, and unpleasantness of countenance, like the hypocritical Pharisees, who vitiate and discolour their faces, and mar and abolish their native complexion. Hypocrisy can paint the face black and sable, as well as pride with red and white. 2. He counsels us to take the right way in fasting; to anoint the head and wash the face: that is, to look as at other times, using our ordinary garb and at
tire, and not to affect any thing that may make us look like mourners, when really we are not so. Where we may note, That though hypocrites, by their dejected countenances and mortified habits, do seek to gain an extraordinary reputation for piety and devotion, yet the sincere christian is to be abundantly satisfied with God's approbation of his services, and with the silent applause of his own conscience.
treasures upon earth, where moth 19 Lay not up for yourselves and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Observe here, 1. Something implied, namely, That every man has his treasure;
and whatsoever or wheresoever that treasure
is, it is attractive, and draws the heart of a man unto it for every man's treasure is his chief good. 2. Something permitted; namely, the getting, possessing, and enjoying, of earthly treasure, as an instrument enabling us to do much good. 3. Something prohibited; and that is, the treasuring up of worldly wealth, as our chief treasure: Lay not up treasures on earth; that is, take heed of an inordinate affection to, of an excessive pursuit after, of a vain confidence and trust in, any earthly comfort, as your chief treasure. 4. Here is something commanded; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven: treasure up those habits of grace, which will bring you to an inheritance in glory: be fruitful in good works, laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may lay hold of cternal life. Observe, 5. The reasons assigned, 1. Why we should not lay up our treasure on earth; because all earthly treasures are of a perishing and uncertain nature, they are subject to moth and rust, to robbery and theft; the perishing nature of earthly things ought to be improved by us, as an argument to sit loose in our affections towards them. 2. The reason assigned why we should lay up our treasure in heaven, is this: because heavenly treasures are subject to no such accidents and casualties as earthly treasures are, but are durable and lasting. The things that are not seen are eternal. The
treasures of heaven are inviolable, incorruptible, and everlasting. Now we may know whether we have chosen these things for our treasure, by our high estimation of the worth of them, by our sensible apprehension of the want of them, by the torrent and tendency of our affection towards them, and by our laborious diligence and endeavours in the pursuit of them. Where the treasure is, there will the heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! In the foregoing verses our Saviour acquainted us what in our affections and judgments we should esteem as our chief treasure: now this judgment, concerning our chief treasure, is by our Saviour here compared to the eye; as the eye is the candle of the body, that enlightens and directs it, so our understanding and judgment of the excellency of heaven and the things above, will draw our affections towards them, and quicken our endeavours after them. Note thence, That such as our judgment is concerning happiness, such will our desires and endeavours be for the attainment of that happiness. Our affections are guided by our apprehensions: where the esteem is high, endeavours will be strong.
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
Observe here, A two-fold master spoken of, God and the world. God is our Master by creation, preservation, and redemption; he has appointed us our work, and secured us our wages. The world is our master by intrusion, usurpation, and a general estimation; too many esteeming it as their chief good, and delighting in it as their chief joy. Observe, 2. That no man can serve these two masters, who are of contrary interests, and issue out contrary commands; when two masters are subordinate, and their commands subservient each to other, the diffi
culty of serving both is not great: but where commands interfere, and interests clash, it is impossible. No man can serve God and the world, but he may serve God
with the world: no man can seek God and Mammon both as his chief good and ultimate end; because no man can divide his heart betwixt God and the world. Learn, That to love the world as our chief good, and to serve the world as our chief and sovereign commander, cannot stand with the love and service which we bear and owe to God. The world's slaves, whilst such, can be none of God's freemen.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
The next sin which our Saviour cautions his disciples against is, immoderate care for the things of this life, such a solicitous and vexatious care for food and raiment, as is accompanied with diffidence and distrust of God's fatherly providence over us, and provision for us; and the arguments which our Saviour uses to dissuade from this sin, are many and cogent, laid down in the following verses. Learn here, 1. That Almighty God will provide for every servant of his, food and raiment, and a competency of the comforts and conveniences of life. Learn, 2. That want of faith in God's promise, and a distrust of his fatherly care, is a God-provoking, and a wrath-procuring sin. Learn, 3. That notwithstanding God's promising to supply our wants, we not only may, but must, use such prudential and provident means as are in our power, in order to the supply of our wants. Dr. Hammond's Practical Catech.
27 Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature ? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow ; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall