« הקודםהמשך »
us thus address God in the opening words of prayer--"Our Father, which art in heaven," and when it is asked in the catechism of any one thus using the words, “ What desirest thou of God in this prayer ?” he answers, in respect to the act of praying and the above call to God, “I desire my Lord God our heavenly Father, who is the giver of all goodness, to send his grace unto me, and to all people.” We then begin with this petition, “Hallowed be thy name,” that is “that we may worship him ;" “Thy kingdom come," that is “that we may serve him;" “ Thy will be done,” that we may obey him, “in earth, as it is in heaven,” which is, “as we ought to do.” We then ask, “Give us this day our daily bread :" which words are thus explained—“And I pray unto God that he will send us all things that be needful both for our souls and bodies." We proceed :-" And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us:" and this
passage ticed in the exposition—"and that he will be merciful unto us, and forgive us our sins :" Further and lastly we pray—“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” the meaning of which is thus given—"and that it will please him to save and defend us in all dangers, ghostly and bodily; and that he will keep us from all sin
is thus no
and wickedness, and from our ghostly enemy, and from everlasting death." Ghostly dangers you should understand mean spiritual dangers, and our ghostly enemy is the devil, the enemy of our souls or spirits. The prayer as taught in the catechism is here ended with the word Amen, which word Christ himself has taught us in this place to use. In prayer it means that we trust in him to whom we pray, and sincerely and faithfully wish that all we have said may be brought to pass, since then we have been praying according to the words and commandment of Christ, Amen answers to what now follows: “ And this I trust he will do of his mercy and goodness, through our Lord Jesus Christ: And therefore I say, Amen :" (that is) “ So be it."
I should shew myself too distrustful of your Christian feelings, were I to make long excuses for repetitions which may gain the attention and benefit the spirit of a child. It is with a view to the use of the most simple minded, that I have kept the exposition of the Lord's Prayer, given in the catechism, as clear as I well could, from mixture with any further words or thoughts. It is hazardous to overload and distract the almost infant understanding. I will now again pass through the same matter, with some additional observations which I mean to be plain, which probably are already familiar to you, but even if so, may not be past being useful. In considering the parts of the Lord's Prayer, we observe that at the head of it is placed an address or invocation to God, that then is a first set of petitions, three in number, all belonging to the worship and honour of him to whom we pray; then a second set of petitions, which
be taken as three or as four, according as we regard the not being led into temptation, and the deliverance from evil, as single or as separate matter for entreaty. This latter set of petitions relates to our own human wants, temporal, or spiritual. The prayer is affirmed and concluded with Amen, the solemn expression of faith and hope, before which is ordinarily used the doxology, or assignment of glory to God.
I wish at this point to call your attention to the remarkable agreement of plan, and sameness of principle through all the divine commandments and instructions. When Christ had spoken to his disciples of earthly wants and desires, he said “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and then shall all these things be added unto you.” He meant of course that they should be added according to God's wisdom, in just degree for his own service, and his people's
salvation, but the matters now to be observed are his kingdom and his righteousness as the first objects of care and pursuit. In the same order in which we are there taught to work, we are here taught to pray, our thoughts must be first with our heavenly Father, and then may be brought down to notice our earthly requirements. In the same order, love and duty to God form the first great commandment, by which is brought in the like, but second commandment, of love and duty
Thus too we are taught by our Creed, first to believe in and glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and then to apply to the purposes for which we are made, redeemed, and sanctified. Faith, duty, and prayer alike take root downwards from the source of all, and the principle of love to him, must be sought in that he first loved us.
The sentences composing the petitions in the Lord's Prayer are to be found scattered among prayers, the use of which among the Jews, is traceable to times before the appearance of our Saviour upon earth. This fąct which at first may create surprise, may on reflection justly inspire reverence and admiration for the ways of God, and the teaching of Jesus. The word of revelation in the Old Testament served as a gradually growing light, to prepare the way for the coming of the Just One, and so had it here and there been seen what men ought to ask of God. In the course of Jesus, while he was opening the way to the kingdom of heaven, there was nothing violent or startling; to all that was right he added authority; where the law was duly understood he gave his approbation, he referred to Moses and the prophets, for all that Moses and the prophets could teach. Thus when asked to give instruction for prayer, he prescribed no new and unheard of forms, he quietly chose from words which he had already allowed to be penned or spoken by man, and brought together expressions previously unconnected, into a whole so variously perfect, that it surpasses all we know of mere human aspirations, just as much, as if for our learning he had caused it to be written in the clouds of the firmament.
Let it be allowed us in reverence, and cautious explanation, to repeat and enlarge on the words which Christ himself has taught us, to paraphrase, or while preserving the meaning, to extend the expressions,—“Our Father which art in heaven." Oh God, thou art indeed our Father, for thou didst make us at first, and now thou hast begotten us anew to a lively hope, and granted us sonship and heirship through redemption and adop