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oracles which he has condescended to reveal for the spiritual edification of mankind, not in puerile and extravagant fictions which degrade him beneath the level of his degenerate worshippers; -so the Almighty requires that they, through the instrumentality of those to whom his revelations have been vouchsafed, should be made acquainted with himn as he desires to be known; that those benighted wanderers should be brought out of their spiritual perplexities, by being guided from the trackless mazes of error into the straight and perceptible way of truth. He therefore suggests to us, by the very words of the text, that we should use our best efforts to promote the accomplishment of his desire, else it must be worse than folly—it is a mockery to pray for it; since his will can only“ be done in earth as it is in heaven,” by uniting our best endeavours with those of others to advance so desirable a consummation.
The coming of God's kingdom, whether temporal or eternal, is inseparable from the
performance by us of what he desires; “ for we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God and doeth his will, him he heareth ;” and it is certain that his grace is never imparted to those whom he will not hear. He refuses however to hear none but persisting sinners; it is therefore desirable that the divine will should be done by every nation and by every
individual under heaven, in order to prepare for that reign of glory which shall illumine the earth when the natural branches shall be grafted into their own olive tree,” and “the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in."
It is not only, as I have just intimated, among Christian communities,—not only among the ardent worshippers of a Redeemer, that the Lord of the universe desires to see his name venerated and his laws obeyed : it is as well among those now wandering " as sheep going astray,” in the bewildering labyrinth of superstition, who know not God but as they apprehend him through so dense a perspective that they can behold none of his brightness. Even we see but “through a glass darkly ;" they however look through a medium so indistinct, that they can distinguish nothing intelligibly—“ through a glass” upon the surface of which there is nothing but “the blackness of darkness.” The smoke of that incense which rises from the altar of idolatrous superstition is an impervious cloud before the eye of the worshipper that hides from his view the revealed glories of the Godhead, and invests them in a gloom which affrights rather than conciliates, and makes humanity tremble.
Do not let us imagine that the divine mercies are exclusive. God's desires have a reference to all mankind; he is “not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance;" he therefore teaches us to pray for all, which at once shows the fulness of his mercy, and the universality of his love.
In the text we virtually pray for the spiritual regeneration of the whole human race, because none but such as have received the elements of spiritual and consequently of eternal life, could act towards their Creator, even in a remote degree, like the angels in Heaven; and it is certain that if the supplication offered in the text were realized, the primitive paradise would be restored to man upon earth, and he would be no longer an alien from the kingdom of God; the reign of grace would be universal, and this world a paradise of peace. Although there are yet no symptoms of such a glorious consummation among the signs of the times, it is not the less natural that we should pray for it. This is undoubtedly an event to be desired, it is undoubtedly an event to be hoped for; and to me, I confess, it does appear that through the confusion around us, caused by the sudden raising into activity of great moral elements, of which the effects will not be seen until the confusion subsides, there is a distant light, glimmering through the surrounding darkness, which will ultimately overspread the earth. “This is at least a laudable expectation, and through the dim vista of the future I look with no little fervour of hope, that in spite of the mimic thunders by which our ears are now so perpetually stunned, we shall, many of us at least, live to see changes that will ennoble humanity and make the name of Christ heard to the remotest regions of the earth, when they who have never known his name nor been made acquainted with the consolations of his divine religion, shall hear “ the spirit and the bride say, Come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
However the church may appear beleaguered, it is only by those impotent assailants who, though they may leave their slime upon her walls, and thus for the moment defile them, yet can they not cause the least vibration in her venerable fabric. The arm of Omnipotence encircles her towers, and will defend them as with a shield against the puny assaults of the scorner. Her foundations are indeed on the earth, but they are fixed upon the Rock of ages, whilst her pinnacles are in the skies, where the light of God's glory is upon them, a pledge of that final conquest over sin, when she shall lay aside the weapons of her warfare and change from a church militant to a church triumphant; when “ the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the seas." To pray for such a great spiritual change in the human condition is natural in creatures who profess to love their Creator, and to desire his
glory above all things ; and such a supplication becomes the more natural when we consider how essentially human interests are advanced by the manifestation of divine glory. All the benefit derived from obedience to the will of God is derived to ourselves ; we consequently only pray for ourselves when we pray that his will may be done.
Let us consider a moment what would be the consequence if we persisted in doing our own will in preference to that of God. As the Deity is a perfect being, he can desire nothing imperfect, so that nothing but good can arise from what he desires. Now as man is imperfect, imperfection must be the issue of his desires, since contraries cannot produce the same results, thus it is evident that the accomplishment of the human will would be a universal evil, whilst the accomplishment of the divine is a universal good, We are no doubt often sensible of entertaining good desires, but it behoves us to remember that these desires are derived to us from him “ who giveth to all men liberally:" as therefore they do not originate in our own self-wills, where they tend to good, "ours is not the praise, but the Lord's."
It will be manifest that, in the petition of the Lord's prayer under our consideration, we do not pray that God may do his own will, for this would be a superfluous-not to say a very