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God is acquainted with our inmost desires and most private thoughts! “Thou God seest me.” “O Lord, thou hast searched me out, and known me; thou knowest my downsitting and mine up-rising ; thou understandest my thoughts long before. Thou art about my path, and about my bed, and spiest out all my ways;" Ps. cxxxix. 1, 2.-And how encouraging the assurance that the supplications of the faithful, offered even in retirement and in solitude, find a ready access to the throne and the ears of our heavenly Father and friend ! “ The Lord is nigb unto all them that call upon him; yea, all such as call upon him faithfully. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will help them;" Psalm cxlv. 18, 19,
(PRAYER.) Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Utter'd or unexpress'd; The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
The falling of a tear;
When none but God is near. Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try; Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high. Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air; His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters heaven with prayer. Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice
Returning from his ways; While angels in their song rejoice,
And cry, “Behold he prays." The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, and deed, and mind;
Sweet fellowship they find.
The Holy Spirit pleads;
For sinners intercedes.
O Thou, by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way! The path of prayer thyself hast trod : Lord, teach us how to pray!
All powerful from above,
The image of thy love.
That generous pleasure know;
And weep for others' woe.
In low distress are laid,
And swift our hands to aid.
Enthron'd above the skies;
Felt his compassion rise.
On wings of mercy flew,
§ XIX. CHAP. VI. 9–15. Christ teacheth to pray.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. 9 Thy | circumstance that constitutes the will be done in earth, "as it is in perfection of prayer, and the excelheaven.
lence of that species of composition. 11 Give us this day our daily
It is concise, it is perspicuous, it is bread.
solemn, it is comprehensive, it is
adapted to all ranks, conditions, and 12 And *forgive us our deb
classes of men; it fixes our thoughts as we forgive our debtors.
on a few great important points, and 13 'And lead us not into | impresses on our minds a deep sense temptation, but "deliver us from of the goodness and the greatness of evil : * For thine is the kingdom. | that Almighty Being to whom it is
addressed. and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
“It begins with acknowledging Him
to be our most gracious and merciful 14 For if ye forgive men
Father; it begs that his name may their trespasses, your heavenly
everywhere be reverenced, that his Father will also forgive you : religion may spread over the earth,
15 But P if ye forgive not men and that his will may be obeyed by their trespasses, neither will your men with the same ardour and alacFather forgive your trespasses.
rity and constancy that it is by the
angels in heaven. It next entreats Luke xi. 2, &c.-9 ch. xxvi. 39, 42. Acts xxi. 14.
the supply of all our essential wants, both temporal and spiritual ; a sufficiency of those things that are absolutely necessary for our subsistence; the forgiveness of our transgressions,
on condition that we forgive our breREADER. Our Saviour, having thren; and, finally, support under given us some general rules concern- the temptations that assault our viring prayer, now prescribes a form tue, and deliverance from the various and model of devotion, for the use evils and calamities that everywhere of his people in all ages. How pre- surround us; expressing at the same cious this portion of his great le time the utmost trust and confidence gacy to the church! The more in the power of God, to grant whatfaithfully and fervently we use this ever he sees it expedient and proper form of supplication, the more we | for his creatures to receive. shall understand its value. And let | “The full meaning, then, of this us remember that the fulfilment of admirable prayer, and of the several the petitions it contains is the sum petitions contained in it, may perand substance of all our happiness | haps be not improperly expressed in on earth and in heaven.
the following manner :“This prayer,” says Bishop Por-1 “thou great Parent of the Uniteus, “ stands unrivalled in every verse, our Creator, our Preserver
and continual Benefactor, grant that cour we cannot always stand upright. we and all reasonable creatures may Take us then, O gracious God, unentertain just and worthy notions of der thy almighty protection ; and thy nature and attributes, may fear amidst all the danger and difficulties thy power, admire thy wisdom, adore of our Christian warfare, be thou our thy goodness, rely upon thy truth; refuge and support. Suffer us not may reverence thy holy name, may to be tempted above what we are bless and praise thee, may worship able to bear; but send thy Holy and obey thee.
Spirit to strengthen our weak en“Grant that all the nations of the deavours, and enable us to escape or earth may come to the knowledge to subdue all the enemies of our saland belief of thy holy religion: that vation. it may everywhere produce the bless I “Preserve us also, if it be thy ed fruits of piety, righteousness, cha- | blessed will, not only from spiritual, rity, and sobriety; that by a constant but from temporal evil. Keep us endeavour to obey thy holy laws, we ever by thy watchful providence, may approach, as near as the infirm both outwardly in our bodies, and ity of our nature will allow, to the inwardly in our souls; that thou more perfect obedience of the angels being in all cases our ruler and that are in heaven; and thus qualify guide, we may so pass through things ourselves for entering into thy king- temporal as finally to lose not the dom of glory hereafter.
things eternal. "Feed us, we beseech thee, with "Hear us, O Lord our Governor, food convenient for us. We ask not from heaven thy dwelling-place; and for riches and honours ; give us only | when thou hearest, have regard to what is necessary for our comfortable our petitions. These are offered up subsistence in the several stations to thee in the fullest confidence that which thy providence has allotted to thy goodness will dispose, and thy us; and, above all, give us contented | power enable thee to grant whatsominds.
ever thy wisdom sees to be conve“We are all, O Lord, the very best | nient for us, and conducive to our of us, miserable sinners. Be not ex final happiness.'” treme, we beseech thee, to mark what we have done amiss, but pity our infirmities, and pardon our offences. Yet let us not dare to implore for
Our heavenly Father, hear giveness from thee, unless we also
The prayer we offer now; from our hearts forgive our offending Thy name be hallow'd far and nearbrethren.
To thee all nations bow. “We are surrounded, on every side, with temptations to sin; and such is
Thy kingdom come, thy will
On earth be done in love; the corruption and frailty of our na
As saints and seraphim fulfil ture, that without thy powerful suc
Thy perfect law above.
Our daily bread supply
When the mind is greatly oppressed While by thy word we live ;
or occupied with any subject, espeThe guilt of our iniquity Forgive, as we forgive.
cially one of a painful nature, our
appetite for food is diminished, or From dark temptation's power, From Satan's wiles defend ;
altogether lost. Hence a voluntary Deliver in the evil hour,
abstinence from food becomes a naAnd guide us to the end.
tural expression or token of sorrow; Thine then for ever be
and it has been sanctioned as a reliGlory and power divine ;
gious exercise, denoting grief, conThe sceptre, throne, and majesty
trition, or shame on account of sin. Of heaven and earth are thine. MONTGOMERY.
The expression of our Saviour, in this place, when ye fast, clearly implies, that believers are permitted to
express their sorrow for sin before § XX.
God by fasting, whenever their feelCHAP. VI. 16–18. ings, or sense of duty, may prompt
them to this exercise. Of Fasting.
“Religious fasting,” says Burkitt,
“is a devoting of the whole man, 16 | Moreover when ye fast, | soul and body, to a solemn and exbe not, as the hypocrites, of a traordinary attendance upon God, in sad countenance: for they disfi- a particular time, set apart for that gure their faces, that they may purpose, in order to the deprecating appear unto men to fast. Ve
of his displeasure, and for the suprily I say unto you, They have
plicating of his favour, accompanied
with an abstinence from food and their reward.
sensual delights, and from all secular 17 But thou, when thou fast
affairs and worldly business." est,' anoint thine head, and wash | When ye fast, be not, as the hypothy face;
crites, of a sud countenance.-Our Sa18 That thou appear not unto viour directs his discourse against men to fast, but unto thy Father one particular abuse of this religious which is in secret : and thy Fa
exercise; namely, a spirit of osten
tatious and affected piety. And he ther, which seeth in secret, shall
instructs us that our fasting must be reward thee openly.
sincere, and unto the Lord, in order q Is. Iviii. 5.-—Ruth iii. 3. Dan. x. 3. to its being in any measure success
ful and useful. Let us receive this
heavenly lesson with all humility READER. Our blessed Lord and spiritual obedience. Whenever here gives some needful instruction we fast, or exercise any acts of respecting the use of fasting, or ab- religious abstinence or humiliation, stinence, as a religious exercise. "let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father God's unmerited mercy, to be freely who is in heaven; to express our bestowed on us for Christ's sake, sorrow and shame for our manifold and not for anything we can do. transgressions of his holy law; to The case of the hypocrites, to whom wait for an increase of purifying our Lord refers, affords a proof of grace, drawing our affections to the lamentable fact, that many men things above; to add seriousness and who are able to overcome the allureeamestness to our prayers,” in which ments of sensual pleasure are yet we deprecate “the wrath of God," held captive under the no less fatal and sue for the fulfilment of “the influence of spiritual pride. In the great and precious promises which history of the early apostasy of the he hath made to us in Christ Jesus." Christian church, we find that acts
"Let us beware of mocking God, of bodily austerity and mortification and of turning our fast as well as were very soon erected into grounds our prayers into an abomination of false dependence; and the misunto the Lord, by the mixing of any takes of some of the ancient doctors temporal view—particularly by seek- on this point became greatly instruing the praise of men."
mental in destroying the simplicity Thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy of the Christian faith. We must head and wash thy face.—“Do as keep close to Scripture in all things thou art accustomed to do at other affecting either our faith or practice. times.” That thou appear not unto If we give heed to human speculamen to fast; “let this be no part of tions or fables, we shall certainly be thy intention: if men know it with misled. The errors of the Christian out any design of thine, it matters “ Fathers" concerning almsdeeds, not; thou art neither the better nor and fasting, exactly resemble those the worse;" but unto thy Father which of the Jewish “Rabbies” on the is in secret; and thy Father, which same subject. seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. May we not only apprehend the “Not that we are to imagine that | meaning, but imbibe the spirit, of the performing the bare outward act our Saviour's injunction ! " Let will receive any blessing from God. every season, either of public or And if we desire the reward of which private fasting, be a season of exerour Saviour speaks, let us beware of cising all those holy affections which fancying that we merit anything of are implied in a broken and contrite God by our fasting. We cannot be heart. Let it be a season of devout too often warned of this, inasmuch | mourning, of godly sorrow for sin; as a desire to establish our own such a sorrow as that of the Corinthrighteousness, to procure salvation of ians, concerning which the Apostle debt, and not of grace, is so deeply saith, that “it worketh repentance rooted in all our hearts." In our to salvation, not to be repented of.” acts of religious humiliation, let us (See 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11). “Let our remember that we are waiting for sorrowing after a godly sort work in