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or the wit of man can supply, the worshipper may
still that God will give him his daily bread, as in this prayer he beseeches“ the giver of all good things” to bestow upon him that which is needful for the body, and by consequence necessary for the soul ; since the food that properly nutures the one may, in a secondary sense, be said to nurture the other; the physical and the moral being so nearly allied that where the one is diseased the other is but too apt to imbibe the contagion. In asking too for the simplest and most suitable aliinent, we petition against the influence of dissipation, of covetousness, of wealth, which are each apt to render us forgetful of God.
We know that every living creature owes not only his existence to the Creator, but likewise the means of supporting that existence. “The lions roaring after their prey do seek their meat from God;" and surely we who are the especial creatures of his love and beneficence, cannot be less the objects of his constant solicitude, or less indebted to bim for our daily nourishment, than the brutes in whom he takes no delight, because they never can form a part of that blessed community to which he desires to exalt us, but to which we only can be exalted by “patient continuance in well doing.”
Look only at the Israelites in the wilderness. What had been their condition but for the continual manifestations of Omnipotent mercy ? “Our
fathers did eat manna in the desert ; as it is written, he
gave them bread from heaven.” Suppose God had withheld this supply? They must have perished. And is not this a type of his dealings with all mankind ? Here the interpositions of his providence were more distinctly brought to the view of his creatures, but they were not in reality more positively employed than they are at this moment. He as much provides our daily bread now as he did then. Let us only cast our eyes abroad into the world, and observe the myriads of creatures who are supported by the divine benevolence. Are not the pastures covered with herbage and the fields with grain by God's gratuitous benefaction? Does not his rain nourish the one and his sunshine mature the other? Where would be our daily bread if either was withheld ? Can we for a moment suppose that we should receive the common boon of nutriment for a single day, if he were to think fit not to supply it? Impossible. If the harvest were to fail and famine to ensue, what would wealth avail us? Would it purchase bread if there were no corn or meat, if there were no pasture ? By trusting therefore in God for a provision, we at once trust to Him “who filleth all things living with plenteousness,” and beseech him to prevent any of those casualties from overtaking us which would cut us off from the necessaries of life, causing the rich and the poor man
to suffer bereavement together. As however, the Deity bids us ask that we may receive, it is clear that, unless we do ask we have no right to expect he will give.
Thus then it will, I think, be evident that in the words of our text, we pray not only for a supply of our own wants, but for those likewise of our neighbours; and this we do because, as I have already endeavoured to show, the individual profits by the good of the community; since we could not meet even the simplest demands of food and raiment if these necessaries were withdrawn from them. Besides, the expressions are not to be restricted to their mere literal meaning, for under the term bread is comprehended all our wants of nourishment; and as we could as well live without bread as with it, would it not be absurd to
pray for what the loss of could neither cause us unhappiness nor inconvenience.
The Almighty would never command us to petition him to provide what we could without detriment dispense with ; and we may rest assured that the obtaining of whatever he commands us to ask in prayer would be a positive blessing. In this petition, therefore, we supplicate that he will daily grant us “those things which are needful both for our souls and bodies,” wholesome food to nourish the one, and his holy Spirit to qualify the other for “that state of life” to which we all seek finally to be advanced in his everlasting kingdom.
In the Proverbs, there is a fine amplification of this petition of the Lord's prayer, which, although the prophet by whom it is spoken had never heard this prayer, shows nevertheless how beautifully the precepts of inspiration everywhere harmonize. It is as follows:-“remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me." In these words the pious son of Jakeh, who, in this respect at least, is a sufficient example to us, prays as well for the strengthening and refreshing of his soul,” as for the maintenance and support of bis body. His reason deserves our attention ; “lest I be full and deny thee, and say who is the Lord ? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Are not these good reasons why we should implore from God the regulation of our maintenance, in order that he may secure us as well from the perils of plenty as from the privations of want ?--for both are calamities, and therefore likely to become the concomitants of sin, if they are the cause of either moral or physical suffering. So that the wealthiest man has as much need of God's aid in providing for his daily necessities as the poorest beggar who asks to be fed with the crums which fall from his table.
However we may fancy that we can minister
to our own wants, it is certain that we cannot, for “ we are not sufficient of ourselves to do any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” If the Almighty left us to ourselves, the very food in which we indulged our appetites might be our bane. It is necessary he should provide for us every meal we consume, lest we should receive destruction instead of nourishment. And though he
And though he may not appear to direct, or to take any interest about, matters so ordinary and trifling, yet his influence operates unseen ; and of this indeed, we make an implied acknowledgment by the grace which we address to him before and after our meals. What would be the advantage of riches, if he who alone can render them beneficial were to withdraw from us and leave us to the guidance of our own dangerous impulses? The sun of righteousness would go down amid darkness and desolation. The moral world would be in extremity, in a state of expiring convulsion, and the triumph of Satan would be complete. “But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It cannot I imagine escape the perception of the most superficial reasoner that the object of the petition now under our consideration is to teach us to place our reliance solely upon God for every trifling benefit as well as for the commonest necessaries ; since if, under the most prosperous circumstances of