by James Usser
It is an absolute prayer in it self, and a Prayer giving a perfect direction to frame all other prayers by.
It is thought by some not to be a Prayer, but only a platform to direct all our prayers by;
It is both a Prayer, which we both may and ought to pray; and also a platform of Prayer, whereunto we are to conform, and by which we ought to square all ours. And therefore as St. Matthew biddeth us pray after this sort; (Mat. 6:9.) so St. Luke biddeth us say; Our Father, &c. (Luk. 11:2,) the one propounding it as the most perfect platform to be imitated; the other, as the most excellent form, to be used of all Christians.
What is the platform propounded in this Prayer, whereunto we ought to look?
It teacheth both the manner how to pray, and the matter for which to pray. It teacheth us in all our prayers to whom, and through whom, and for what to pray; also what difference to make of the things we ask, and with what affection we are to come unto God in Prayer.
What are the words of the Lord's Prayer?
They are thus set down in the sixth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew: After this manner therefore pray ye?
Our father which art in heaven, &c.
What do you observe here in general?
That Prayer is to be made in a language which we understand, for our Saviour Christ taught his disciples here in a tongue which they understood, and not in an unknown language. Which condemneth the practice of the Church of Rome, which teach the people to pray in an unknown tongue: contrary to Christ's practice here, and the will of God who commandeth us to serve him with all our hearts, and therefore with our understanding as well as our affection.
What are the parts of this Prayer?
They are three.
1. A Preface of compellation, for entrance into prayer; in the first words, Our Father which art in heaven?
2. A body of Petitions, containing the matter of Prayer in the words following.
3. A conclusion (or shutting up) for the confirmation and close of prayer; in the last words, For thine is the kingdom, &c.
What gather you of this, that there is a preface?
That Christian men are not to come malapertly or rashly, but with prepaparation. Eccl. 5:1; Psal. 26:6; Exod. 3:5. For the Angel of the Lord standeth at the entry, to strike with hardness and blindness, &c. those that come not with preparation. And if we make preparation before we come to an earthly Prince, and bethink us of our words and gesture: how much more ought we to do it, when we come before the Prince and Lord of heaven and earth?
How are we to prepare our selves?
Not only to put off our evil affections. (1 Tim. 2:8.) but even our honest and (otherwise in their due time) necessary cogitations; as the cares and thoughts of our particular vocations, as of house or family.
What doth the preface put us in mind of?
1. Of him to whom we pray. 2. Of our own estate in prayer: That we come unto God as to our Father, with boldness and yet with reverence of his Majesty that filleth the heavens.
What are we taught concerning him to whom we must pray?
That God and God only (not any Saint or Angel) is to be prayed unto. Psal. 73:25: For although there be other fathers besides God, and others in heaven besides him: yet there is none which is our father in heaven but God alone. Beside that this being a perfect platform and pattern of all prayers, it is evident that all prayers (as in other things so in this) must be framed unto it.
Why do you here name the Father?
Because discerning the persons, we pray to the Father secretly understanding that we do it in the mediation of his Son, by the working of the holy Ghost; and so come to the first person in the Trinity, by his Son, through the holy Ghost, which form is to be kept for the most part, although it be also lawful to pray unto Christ, or to his blessed Spirit particularly: (Act. 7:59; 2 Corin. 13:14.) if so be that in our understanding we do conjoyn them, as those which cannot be separated in any actions, either belonging to the life to come, or pertaining to this life.
Why must we pray to the Father in the mediation of Jesus Christ his Son?
Because God being displeased for sin, we can have no dealing with him, but only by the means of his Son, in whom he is well pleased; (Mat. 3:17.) and in whom alone we have liberty to call him Father. Gal. 4:5.
Why is it required that we pray by the working of the Holy Ghost?
Because the Holy Ghost assureth us that he is our Father: and whereas we know not what to pray, nor how to pray, the Holy Ghost doth teach us both.
Why doth our Saviour direct us to give such Titles unto God in the entrance of our Prayers?
That thereby we may encrease and strengthen our faith in God; considering what he is to us, to whom we are about to pray. Heb. 11:6.
What are we taught to consider from this, that we are taught to call God Father?
That God in Christ is become our Father, and giveth us both the privilege, (John 1:12.) and spirit of sons, (Gal. 4:6.) so to call him.
What ariseth from hence?
First confidence in his fatherly love and compassion towards us, as his children; (Psal. 103:13.) with assurance of obtaining our suits and desires. 1 Joh. 5:14, 15. For as young children desire to come unto their Fathers bosom or to sit upon the knee or in the Mothers lap, so we by prayer do creep into the Lord's bosom, and (as it were) do stand between the Lord's legs: [Deut. 33:3.] coming with boldness to him, as to our merciful Father, whose bowels are larger in pitiful affection than any parents, yea than the mothers towards the tenderest child; if we come with faith and affiance that he will grant what we require. For if parents will give good things to their children when they ask them; much more will the Lord give his spirit to them that ask it of him without doubting. Mat. 7:11; Luk. 11:13. And this doubting is the cause why many go away so often from prayer without profit and comfort. James 1:5. Which overthroweth the long and idle prayers of the Papists, who have not assurance of God's love towards them in the thing they demand.
Secondly, necessity of duty, on our parts; that we both reverence, (Mal. 1:6.) and imitate him, (Mat. 5:45.) as our Father. Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:17.
Thirdly; that to come in any other name than our Saviour Christ's, is abominable: which was figured in Moses, (Exod. 24:2 & 19, 20:21 & 20:19.) and Aaron, (Levit 16:17.) but is notably set forth of the Apostle, 1 Tim. 2:5. Therefore it is abominable to come by Saints, as in Popery they do.
What is to be considered by this, that we are directed to call him [our] Father?
The nature of faith, which is to apply it home to himself. Job, 20:28; Gal. 2:20; Mat. 27:46. Also that our Saviour Christ is the natural Son, as we his sons by grace and adoption.
May not a man say in his prayer, My Father?
Yes verily: and that with warrant of our Saviour Christ's example. Mat. 26:39, 42.
Why then are we taught here to say, Our Father?
As the word Father directeth us to meditate upon the relation between God and our selves: so the word Our directeth us to meditate upon the relation between our selves, and so many as are or may be the Children of the same Father with us.
What doth this put us in mind of?
First, that we must at all times maintain or renew, love and peace one with another: but especially when we make our prayers, we must come in love, as one brother loveth another; and therefore reconcile our selves, if there be any breach 1 Tim. 2:8; Esa. 1:15; Mat. 5:23. &c. Secondly, that we are bound to pray, and to be suitors to our God and Father one for another, as well as for our selves: (Jam. 5:16.) that every one praying for all, and all for every one, we may joyntly encrease and enjoy the benefit of the common stock of prayers laid in the hands of God.
Whereto do the words following direct us, when we say, Which art in Heaven.
To the meditation of the glory, powerful providence, wisdom, and holiness of God; in which regards he is said to dwell in the high and holy place: (Psa 11:4; Esa. 57:15.) not that he is excluded from earth, or included in heaven or any place, (who filleth all places. Jer. 23:24. yea, whom the heaven of heavens is not able to contain: 1 Kings 8:27.) but First, because his wisdom, power, and glory appeareth most evidently in the rule of the heavens, as of the most excellent bodily creatures by which inferiour natures are ruled. Psa. 19:1, & 8:3 & 104:1, &c.
Secondly, for that in heaven he doth make himself, and his goodness known to the Angels and blessed Spirits of men immediately, and without the helps and aids which we have.
Thirdly, because he communicateth himself and his goodness more powerfully to them than to us: and so God is said to be present in the Temple, and in the Elect.
Fourthly, because there, and not on earth, we should now seek him (Psal. 123:1, Col. 3:1, 2.) where also we hope, another day to dwell with him in the same happy fellowship, which now the holy Angels and blessed souls do enjoy: Which teacheth us not to have any fleshly conceit, but to have our cogitations above any worldly matter.
Fifthly, to teach us that as we are to come boldly unto him as to a Father, so we also are to come with humility, and reverence of his Majesty, who is so high above us: we wretched men being as worms crawling upon the earth and he sitting in great Majesty in the highest heavens. Eccl. 4:16 & 5:1.
Sixthly, to teach us to pray not only reverently, but also fervently before him, so directing and lifting up our hearts to Almighty God that our prayers may ascend into heaven. 2 Chron. 32:20.
Seventhly, to encrease our confidence in him, who is both ready and able to do all things for us. That acknowledging him to ride on the heavens for our help, able (as in heaven) to do for us whatsoever (as a father) he will; (Psa. 115:3.) we may with full confidence in his power and love, ask every good thing of him. Psa. 2:8; Luk. 11:13.
Thus mush of the Preface: now are we come to the prayer it self, What is general unto it?
That our affections, with zeal and earnestness ought to wait and attend on prayer: which appeareth by the shortness of all the petitions.
What is declared hereby?
The great affection we should have to the things we come for, which giveth a check to our cold prayers, where the understanding is without the affection, and (as it were) the sacrifice without the heavenly fire to lift it up and make it mount into heaven, both in publick and private prayers.
So much of the attention general to the Prayer. What are the parts thereof?
A form of Petition and of Thanksgiving.
What is taught hereby?
First, that whensoever we come unto God in Petition, we are also to give him thanks: (Phil 4:6; Luk. 17:17, 18.) things not to be severed, and means to make way for further graces and benefits to be obtained,
Secondly, that it is a fault of us (when we are distressed) in publick prayer to come unto God in Petition, but not to return thanksgiving for our benefits received.
How many Petitions are there in the Lord's Prayer?
Six (equally divided, as it were, into two Tables:) whereof three do concern God, as doth the first Table of the Law; three do concern our selves and our neighbours, as doth the second Table. For in the three first we make request for those things that concern God's Majesty, whose glory and service we are to prefer before our own good: (John 12:27, 28.) in the three latter, for those things that concern the necessity of man, and our own welfare, which we must refer to the former. (Psal. 50:15.) So that by the very order of the Petitions we learn this instruction; that we must and ought first to think upon God's glory before any thing that appertains or belongs to us: and that we should seek the service of God before our own good; (Joh. 12:27, 28.) yea, and prefer the glorifying of the name of God before our own salvation: (Rom. 9:3) as also by the order of the Commandment, which being divided into two Tables, the first concerneth the worship of God, the second our selves.
What observe you from this?
Our hypocrisie: for were it not for our selves, and our wants, we would not come to God at all in prayer: as in Popery, all their prayers are for themselves, and their salvation, &c. Whereas this word (thy) in all these Petitions, doth shut forth the consideration of our selves, to the end that we might have our minds altogether fastned upon the service of God.
What further observe you proper to those Petitions that concern the glory of God?
That as they must be begged in the first place, so must they likewise be performed with further zeal of spirit and earnestness of affection; as may be gathered, in that they are propounded without any band or coupling of one with another.
How are these three Petitions divided?
Thus: the first concerneth God's glory it self: the other two the things whereby God is glorified; as when this Kingdom cometh, and his Will is done.
What are the words of the first Petition?
Allowed be thy Dane. Mat. 6:9; Luke 11:2.
What is the sum of this Petition?
That in all things God may be glorified. That he, who in himself, his word and works, is most holy and glorious; may be acknowledged and honoured for such, by us. Psa. 96:8; 1 Pet. 2:9.
Why is this Petition set before all?
Because it is that which ought to be dearest unto us; and for that all things are to be referred unto it. Prov. 16:4; 1 Cor. 10:31.
What is to be considered for the further opening of this Petition?
First, the meaning of the words apart; then of them together.
What is meant by the word, Name?
By the Name of God, we are to understand God himself, (1 Kings 5:5; Isa. 26:8.) as he maketh known to us the fame and glory of his nature, otherwise unconceivable (Gen. 32:29) For the Name of God in the Scripture signifieth God himself (because the nature of a thing is taken for what it is the name of: as (Acts 1:15.) is Essence, and all things by which he is known unto us.
What are those Names, whereby God is made known unto us?
First, his Titles: as Jehovah, Elohim, the Lord of Hosts, and such like. Exod. 3:14 and 6:3.
Secondly, his Attributes and Properties; as his wisdom, power, love, goodness mercy, justice, truth (Exod. 33:18, 19, &c. & 34:5, 6, &c) which being essential in him, are for our capacity expressed under the name of such qualities in us and are called the names of God, because as names serve to discern things, by, so God is known by these things.
Thirdly, his memorials; signified by his name, because he getteth glory by them.
What are those Memorials?
First, the works and actions of God: as the Creation and Government of the world, (Psal. 104.) but especially, the work of Redemption. Psal. 19:14.
Secondly, the things that belong unto God: as his Worship, Word, Sacrament and discipline, but especially his Word (Psal. 138:2 & 19:7, &c.) which is the book of grace, and the box of ointment, out of which the sweet savour of his name is most effectualy powred. Can. 1:2, 3.
What is meant by the word; Hallowed?
Sanctified and reverenced. For to hallow, is to set apart a thing from the common use to some proper end: and therefore to hallow the name of God, is to separate it from all prophane and unholy abuse, to a holy and reverend use.
Can any man add any thing unto God's holiness?
No we cannot add any holiness unto God, or take any from him. But as God is holy in his Proprieties and Actions, and also in his Ordinances, both in the Church and Common-wealth; so we desire they may be (and that not only by our selves, but also by all men) acknowledged and reputed as they are worthy in themselves to be reputed and accounted. And in this respect only are we said to hallow his name, when we acknowledge it and honour it for such: (Psal. 96:7, 8.) thereby (as it were) setting the Crown of holines and honour upon the head of God. Contrariwise, failing so to do, we are guilty of the profanation of God's holy name: not that he can receive any pollution from us, but only as the man that lusteth after a chast woman, is said by our Saviour to be guilty of adultery with her, though she remaineth in her self spotless and undefiled. Mat. 5:28.
May none else be glorified but the name of God?
When it is said, Hallowed be thy name: there is noted, that no glory or honour should be given to any thing in the world, but to the name of God, (Esa. 42:8, 48:11) further then they are instruments, whereby we may arise to the glorifying of it: for God will not give his glory to any other thing, no not to the manhood of our Saviour Christ.
What is to be considered in the words together?
That it is a singular benefit of God to admit us to the sanctifying of his name and (as it were) to set the Crown (which is his glory) upon his head, and to hold it there: especially seeing he is able himself alone to do it; and when he would use others thereto he hath so many Legions of Angels to do it, yea, can raise up stones to do it.
What do you then ask of God in this Petition?
That as God is glorious in himself, so he may be declared and made known unto men. That therefore God would have himself known and acknowledged by all men, but especially by my self, to be most holy. That whether we speak, think, or any way use his name, properties works or Word, we may do it holily and with all reverence. That his Wisdom, power, goodness, mercy, truth, righteousness, and eternity, may more and more be imparted unto me and other of God's people. That he may be acknowledged just, wise, &c. in all his works, even in his ordaining of some to eternal life, and other some to everlasting damnation. That his infinite justice, and infinite, mercy over all his creatures (but espcially over his Church) may be reverenced and adored by all men, but specially by my self. That the name of God may be reverently and holily used of all men, but especially of my self. That when the glory of God cometh in question between my self and any thing that belongeth unto me, I may prefer that unto this. Finally, that God would vouchsafe to plant and increase in me and others such grace whereby his name may be glorified.
What are those graces for which we pray here in particular?
1. Knowledge of God: (Psal. 100:3 & 67:2.) that God would give us the knowledge of himself, his Word, and Works; for we cannot glorifie his name unless we know it.
2. Belief of his Word: that we and others may sanctifie God in believing his word, how unlikely soever. John. 3:33. Wherefore Moses and Aaron are said not to have sanctified the name of God, in that they believed not. (Num. 20:12.) Contrariwise Abraham glorified God in believing. Rom. 4:20.
3. Fearing the Lord alone, and not men. That the Lord be our fear, Esa. 8:12, 13; 1 Pet. 3:14, 18.
4. Humility (for our selves and others) without which we cannot glorifie God, as it is meet. Psal. 115:1; 2 Sam. 7:18; Psal. 8:4, 5 and 144:3; Luk. 1:48.
5. Patience, (arising from thence:) whereby we do willingly submit our selves unto the correcting hand of God, as Eli, (1 Sam. 3:18) and Hezekiah. (Esa. 39:8.)
6. Thankfulness: that we may praise him for his benefits more particularly. Where we are to hallow God's name, as well by praising it for the benefits we have received, as for the wonderful works in the creation, and government of the world, the Church especially.
7. Lips opened, and tongues tuned to speak of him with reverence. Psal. 51:15. &. 44:1 & 45:1.
8. A life so ordered, that men may say, he is a holy God, who by his grace maketh us an holy people. Mat. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:9; Tit. 2:10. That, according as we know the vertues of our good God, so the fruits of them may appear in ours and all God's peoples lives; that so his name may be honoured and praised, and he may get glory by the godly conversation of us and others.
What do we pray against in this Petition?
We pray against all ignorance of holy things we should know, (Hos. 8:13.) against infidelity and want of good works, whereby God wants of his glory. We pray against all lofty and high things, that hinder that God only cannot be exalted; (Esa. 2:11, 12, 13, 14, 15.) especially the pride of our hearts, which we are to confess and lament. (Prov. 8:13.) We pray against all false Religion, all Prophaneness, impatience, unthankfulness, (Rom. 1:21.) &c. those tongueworms of swearing, blasphemy, and unreverent speaking of God; (Exod. 20:7.) together with all wickedness and ungodliness, whereby God's name is dishonoured. In a word, we pray that God would remove, and root out of our hearts, tongues and lives, all such vices, by and for which his name is dishonoured, especially an evil and scandalous life, for which the name of God, and his religion, is evil spoken of in the world. Rom. 2:23, 24.
What doth this teach us?
Our dulness is hereby condemned; who by nature are so ill disposed to glorifie God, and to use his name holily and reverently.
What is to be considered in the second Petition?
Let thy kingdom come. Mat. 6:10; Luke. 11:2.
One of the means how to have the name of God sanctified; which is a dependance of the former Petition.
What is the sum of this Petition?
That God may reign in our hearts and not sin: and that the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, both by the inward working of his spirit, and also by the outward means, may be enlarged dayly until it be perfected at the coming of Christ to judgment. That the Kingdom of sin and Satan being more and more abolished, (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13.) Christ may now reign in our hearts by grace, (Col. 3:15, 16.) and we with him for ever in glory. 2 Tim. 2:12.
What is meant here by Kingdom?
That government which our Saviour Christ exerciseth, first in this world, then in the last day, both in the whole Church and in every member thereof. For by the Kingdom of God we must understand here, not so much that universal soveraignty which, as Creator, he exerciseth over all creatures, disposing them all to their proper ends for his glory: (Esa. 6:5; Psalm. 95:3. &c. as) the spiritual regiment (Psalm. 110:2; 1 Cor 15:25.) of the Church (and of all things for the good of the Church) wherein God hath appointed Christ to be the King (Psal. 2:6; Hos. 3:5) the Saints his Subjects, (Revel 15:3.) the word his Law, (Job. 22:22.) the Angels and all creatures his servants, (Heb. 1:6) the Ministers his Heralds and Ambassadors; (2 Cor. 5:20.) finally, the Devils kingdom. (Matth. 12:26.) that is, wicked Angels and men (enemies to the Kingdom of Christ, Luk. 19:17.) his footstool. Psalm. 110:1.
How is this Kingdom said to come?
1. In regard of means, where the word of the Kingdom is published. Mat. 12:28 & 13:19; Mark. 4:15.
2. In regard of efficacy, where from the heart obedience is yielded. Rom. 6:17.
What do we then desire concerning the Kingdom of God, in this Petition?
We pray either for that he exerciseth in this world, or for that he exerciseth in the world to come, called the kingdom of glory.
How many sorts are there of that Kingdom he exerciseth in this world?
Two. First, that he exerciseth over all men, and other creatures, called the Kingdom of power. Secondly, that he exerciseth over the Church; called the Kingdom of grace.
What desire we of God concerning the government he exerciseth over all Creatures?
That he would govern all the creatures, both in the natural course of things, and in the civil and domestical government of men, yea, in the rule of the Devils themselves, in such sort as they may serve for the good of his Church. Psal. 97:1; Mat. 6:13; John 17:2.
What desire we concerning his government in the Church?
That it may be here in this world inlarged, and that it may be accomplished in the last day. Psal. 122:6; Isa. 62:7.
What do we desire for the inlargement of it in this world?
That by Christ the head of the Church, God would govern his people to the perfect salvation of the elect, and to the utter destruction of the reprobate, whether open rebels, or feigned and hollowed-hearted Subjects.
What great need is there that we should pray for the Kingdom of God?
For that being taught that we should pray that the Kingdom of God may come, hereby we are put in mind of another Kingdom of Satan and darkness, which opposeth strongly against his Kingdom Mat. 14:24, 25; 1 Cor. 6:14, 15, 16.
Why, all men do naturally abhor Satan, even to the very name of him.
They do in words and shew: but when they do his will, live under his laws, delight in his works of darkness, subject themselves to the Pope and other his instruments, they are found indeed to love him as their father, and honour him as their Prince, whom in words they would seem to abhor. For as the same men are affirmed by our Saviour Christ to approach unto God with their lips and to have their hearts far from him: (Mat. 15:8.) so are they in their lips far from Satan, but near him in their hearts.
What other oppositions are there against God's Kingdom?
The flesh, and the world. Gal. 5:16, 17.
What be the means we ought to pray for, that our Saviour Christ may govern his Church in this world thereby?
Inward, and outward.
What inward things do we pray for?
That God would give his holy Spirit, as the chief and principal means whereby our Saviour Christ gathereth and ruleth his Church, conveying his Spirit of knowledge and good motions into his people: and consequently, we pray against the motions and temptations of Satan and of our own flesh.
What are the outward things we pray for?
The means whereby the Spirit is conveyed: namely, the Word, and the dependance thereof, the Sacraments and Censures.
What pray we for concerning the Word?
That it being the scepter of Christ's Kingdom, the rod and standard of his power (Psal. 110:2; Isa. 14:4, 10.) and called the word of the kingdom, (Mar. 1:14) and the kingdom of heaven; (Mat. 13.) may have free passage every where, (2 Thes. 3:1.) and be gloriously lifted up and advanced: and, it only having place, all not greeable thereunto, all traditions and inventions of men may be rejected.
What pray we for concerning the Sacraments?
That as they are the Seals of God's promises and the whole Covenant of grace: so they may be both ministred and received in that pureness and sincerity, which is according to this Word; and all false Sacraments and sacrifices put under foot.
What pray we for concerning the Censures?
That not only private persons, but the whole Church may be ruled by the line of God's Word; that so well doers may be advanced, and evil doers censured and corrected, according to the degree of their fault: and therefore that all either impunity or tyrannous tortures of conscience, may be taken away.
What further do we pray for?
That God would furnish his Church with all such Officers as he approveth; that being indued with special gifts may be both able and willing to execute their charge diligently and faithfully.
What further desire you in this Petition?
That where these things are only begun, they may be perfected; and that every Church may be polished and garnished, that Sion may appear in her perfect beauty; and so the Jews may be called, and so many of the Gentiles as belong unto Christ; and the contrary enemies may be either converted or confounded.
What do we pray for, in respect of every member of the Church?
Even as poor captives are always creeping to the prison door, and labouring to get off their boults; so we, out of a sorrowful feeling of the spiritual bondage we are in to Satan and sin, pray that the kingdom of Christ may come, and be advanced in every one of our hearts, in justice, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost: (Rom. 14:17.) that as Kings unto God, we may subdue within us all those either opinions or affections that rise up and rebel against God.
What then are the particulars concerning the kingdom of grace, that we do crave of God, in this Petition?
1. That Satans kingdom may be abolished, (Act. 26:18.) the bands of spiritual captivity loosed, (2 Tim. 2:26; Col. 1:13) the power of corruption that maketh us like well of our bondage, abated, (Gal, 5:24) the instruments of Satans tyranny (as the Turk, and Pope, and all such out-laws from Christ) defeated. 2. Thes. 2:8.
2. That it would please God to gather out of every part of the world those that belong to the election.
3. That God for the gathering of them would raise up faithful and painful Ministers in every part of the world where there are any which belong to his election. That all loyterers, and tongue-tyed Ministers being removed. (Esa. 56:10; 11.) faithful and able watchmen may be set over the flock of Christ, (Mat 9:38.) with sufficient encouragement of maintenance, countenance, protection, &c. and the word of God may be freely preached every where. 2. Thes. 3:1.
4. That it would please God with the blessing of his Spirit to accompany the word; so that it may be of power to covert those that belong unto him.
5. That it would please God every day more and more to increase the holy gifts, and graces of his holy Spirit in the hearts of those whom he hath already called effectually.
6. That the Lord, by his Word and Spirit, would rule in the hearts and lives of his Saints, (Col. 3:15, 16) making them Kings, in part, by overcoming the corruption, which is in the world through lust. 2 Pet 1:4.
7. That God would raise up godly and religious Magistrates, which should further and countenance his worship as much as in them lyeth.
8. That the eyes of all men, especially Princes, may be opened to see the filthiness of the whore of Babylon, (Rev. 17:16.) and the true beauty of pure Religion, and of the Spouse of Christ, Isa. 60:3.
9. That God would banish and root out of his Church all those things which may hinder the proceeding of his kingdom in the heart of those that belong unto him.
10. Finally that he would finish the Kingdom of grace, calling his elect uncalled, (Gen. 9:27; Rom. 9:25, 26.) confirming such as stand, (2 Thes. 2:17.) raising the fallen, (Jam. 5:15, 16) comforting the afflicted, (Isa. 61:3.) and hasten the kingdom of glory.
What do we desire of God in this Petition concerning the Kingdom of glory, and our good in the world to come?
1. That God would be pleased to take us in due time (so soon as he doth see it to make for his glory and our good) out of this sinful and conflicting life, into peace with Christ, and translate us unto the kingdom of heaven. Phil. 1:23.
2. That the number of the elect being accomplished, the final dissolution of all things may come: That God would hasten the second coming of his Son to judgment for the elects sake, who with singular love and affection long for it, saying Come Lord Jesus, come quickly: Revel. 22:20; 2 Tim. 4:8.) that we, and all his chosen, may obtain; full salvation; and injoy the fruition of that glory prepared for us before the beginning of the world.
3. That God would get himself glory by the final confusion of his enemies.
What are the words of the third Petition?
Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. Mat. 6:10; Luke 11:2:
What is the sum of this Petition?
That God would grant us that we may voluntarily and willingly subject our selves unto him, and his providence: that renouncing the will of Satan, and our own corrupt inclination, 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 Pet. 4:2.) and rejecting all things that are contrary to the will of God, we may do his will; not as we will, nor grudgingly, but readily. (Psal. 119:60.) and heartily, (Col. 3:23.) following in our measure the example of the Angels and Saints that are in heaven: (Psa. 103:20.) finally, that obedience may be given to Christ, in rulingus, until we be as the holy Angels.
What is meant by this word [Thy:]
Here by we exclude all wills opposed to, or diverse from the will of God; whether the will of Satan, (2 Tim. 2:26.) or our own (1 Pet. 4:2.) naturally corrupt and inthralled to Satan; yea, whatsoever lawful intentions or desires, repugnant to the secret will of God. (2 Sam. 2:7; James 4:15.) For when we pray for obedience to God's will, we pray that all wills of wicked Angels (Zac. 3:3.) and men. (Psa. 140:8.) as contrary to the will of God, may be disappointed: we desire also the suppression of our own will, as that which being prone to all sin, as a match to take fire, is naught and repugnant to the will of God; so far are we from having any free-will naturally to do that which is good (Psa. 86:11 & 119:37; Ge. 6:5 & 8:21; Rom. 8:6 & 7:24.) Which we must bewail both in our selves and others: (2 Pet. 2:7; Ezek. 9:4.) freely acknowledging, that we cannot of our selves do the will of God but by his assistance; and desiring grace, that we may obey his will, and not the lusts of our flesh.
How manifold is the will of God?
Twofold: (Deut. 29:29.)
1. His secret and hidden will; whereof the Scripture speaketh thus, If so be the will of God, (1 Pet. 3:17.) Whereunto are to be referred his eternal counsel, the events of outward things, (Prov. 27:1.) times and season, &c. Acts 1:7.
2. His manifest will, which is revealed and made known unto us in the Word; both in his Promises, which we are to believe, and in his Precepts and Commandments, which (as conditions of obedience, in way of thanksgiving annexed unto the promises) we are to perform.
What will are we to understand in this Petition?
Not so much that part, which God keepeth secret from us, as that part hereof, which he hath revealed in his Word, wherein is set down what we ought to do, or leave undone.
How doth that appear?
1. Because it is unlawful to search or enquire into the secret will of God, and impossible for man to know it until it come to pass: whereas to the doing of this will, knowledge is requisite.
2. No man can resist or withstand God's secret will, neither is it any thank for us to accomplish it. Act. 4:28.
3. There are no promises for the performing the secret will of God: seeing a man may do it and perish; as Pilate, &c.
4. God purposeth many things in his secret will, for which it is not lawful for us to pray.
What then must we especially pray for in the secret will of God?
That when God bringeth any thing to pass by his secret will, which is grievous to our natures, we may with patience and contentment submit our wills to his will. Acts 21:14.
What do we ask of God in this Petition, concerning his revealed will?
1. That we may know his will; without the which we cannot do it.
2. That we may do his will, being known, and shew our selves obedient to our heavenly Father and Lord.
3. That he would bestow upon us the gifts and graces of his Spirit; that so our hearts being by grace set at large, strengthened, and directed, (Psa. 119:32, 36.) we may be inabled to do his will.
4. That he would remove from us all things that shall hinder us from knowing his will and putting it in execution: as ignorance of the revealed will of God, (Psa. 119:18.) rebellion, disobedience murmuring, &c. (1 Sam. 15:22, 23.) all pretences and dispensations, or powers presuming to dispence with the will of God. In a word, that so many as are subjects in the kingdom of Christ may do the duty of good subjects, and be obedient to the revealed will of God, seeking his kingdom and his righteousness. (Mat. 6:33.) so that there is a mutual relation of this petition to the former, where we pray that God may rule; as here, that his rule may be obeyed.
What understand you in this petition by Doing?
Not a good intent only in the heart, or profession of obedience in word and pretence: (Mat. 21:30.) but an actual and thorough performance of what is required of us. James 1:25. And therefore we pray here, that the will of God may not only be intended and indeavoured, but also accomplished, although it be with grief and smart. Phil. 2:13; Acts 20:24.
What is here meant by Earth and Heaven?
By Earth, those that are in earth; and by Heaven, those that are in heaven. For here we propound to our selves the patterns of the Angels and blessed souls, who being freed from all mixture of corruption, do in their kind perfectly obey God. (Psal. 103:20, 22.) Whereby we learn, that our obedience should be done most humbly, willingly, readily, cheerfully, and wholly; (not doing one, and leaving another undone) even as the will of God is done by the Angels: (Mat. 18:10.) who therefore are set forth winged, to shew their speediness. Isa. 6:2 and round footed, to express their readiness to all and every Commandment of God. Ezek. 1:7.
But seeing we are sinful and the Angels; holy how can we imitate them?
We desire to imitate them in the manner, though we know we cannot equal them in measure and degree of obedience. And hereby we are taught that we should endeavour to the like holiness, and so grow therein daily more and more till we be like unto them: not that we can perform it to the full as they do. As also in this regard God himself faith; Be ye as I am holy: (Levit. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16.) and yet it to were absurd to say or think, that any man could come to the holiness of God, whose holiness he is commanded to follow. And this answerteh to our desire of hastening the Lord's comming in the former Petition.
What then do we desire here for the manner of performance of God's will?
That we may (after the heavenly pattern aforementioned) willingly without constraint or repugnancy, (Psal. 110:3.) speedily without delay, (Psal. 113:6,) sincerely without hypocrisie, (Deut. 5:28, 29.) fully without reservation (Psa. 119:6.) and constantly without intermission (Psal. 119:112.) believe the promises of mercy, and obey the precepts of holiness. And so all unwilling, and by law only inforced obedience is here condemned: and we enjoyned to perform our service with delight, Joy and alacrity.
Thus far of the three first Petitions, for things concerning God. To come to the three latter, that concern our selves, and our neighbours: what are we generally to note in them?
First, the order and dependance they have from the former three concerning God: whereby we are taught, that there is no lawful use of these Petitions which follow, or any of them, unless we first labour in the former Petitions concerning the service of God. For we are then hallowed, and not till then, (Luk. 17:7. &c.) to seek good things for our selves, when we have first minded and sought those things that concern the glory of God: because unto godliness only the promises of this life and that which is to come, are entailed. 1 Tim. 4:8.
That as in the former the word [Thy] did only respect God: so in these following, by these words [Our and Us] we learn to have a fellow-feeling of the miseries and necessities of others; and therefore in care to pray for them; which is one tryal of the true spirit of prayer.
Is there any else common to them all.
That in all these Petitions, under one thing expressed, other things are figuratively included; and under one kind all the rest, and all the means to obtain them, are comprehended: as shall appear.
How are these petitions divided?
The first concerneth mans body and the things of this life: the two last concern the soul and things pertaining to the life to come. For all which we are taught to depend on God: and namely, according to the order observed in the Creed, (called the Apostles,) 1. On the providence of God the Father, our Creator, for our nourishment, and all outward blessings.
2. On the mercy of Christ, our Saviour, for pardon of our sins.
3. On the power and assistance of the holy Spirit, our sanctifier, for strength to resist and subdue all temptations unto evil.
What observe you out of the order of these Petitions?
That we have but one Petition for outward things, as less to be esteemed: but for spiritual things two, as about which our care is to be doubled: (Mat. 6:33.) To teach us how smally earthly things are to be accounted in regard of heavenly: and therefore that our prayers for the things of this life should be short, and further drawn out for the things that belong to the life to come.
Why then is the Petition for the temporal things put before the Petitions for the spiritual?
The first place is given to outward things, not because they are chiefest: but because,
First, it is the manner of the Scriptures, commonly to put things first that are soonest dispatched.
Secondly, that outward things may be helps to enable us to spiritual duties: (Gen. 28:20, 21.) and that in having aforehand earthly things, we may be the more ready and earnest to intreat for heavenly things: so our Saviour Christ healed the bodily diseases, to provoke all men to come unto him for the cure of the spiritual.
Thirdly, that outward things may be as steps or degrees, whereby our weak faith may the better ascend to lay claim and hold on spiritual graces: (Act. 17:27, 28.) that by experience of the smaller things, we may climb up to higher. Whereby their hypocrisie is discovered, which pretend great assurance of forgiveness of sins, and of the keeping from the evil one; whereas they are distrustful for the things of this life.
Fourthly, God hath a consideration of our weakness; who are unapt to perform any duties or service to God, if we want the things of this life and that which is requisite to sustain and suffice nature.
To proceed in order: What are the words of the fourth Petition, which concerneth the things of this life?
Give us this day our dayly bread. Mat. 6:11; Luke 11:3.
What is the sum of this Petition?
That God would provide for us competent means, and such a portion of outward blessings, as he shall see meet for us; (Pro. 30:8.) not only for our necessities, but also for our Christian and sober delight, according to our calling, and his blessing upon us. Likewise, that he would give us grace to rely our selves upon his providence for all the means of this temporal life, and to rest contented with that allowance which he shall think fit for us. Phil. 4:11, 12.
What is meant by Bread?
All outward things, serving both for our necessity, and sober delight: (Pro. 27:27 & 31:14.) as health, wealth, food, physick, sleep, raiment, house, &c. together with all the helps and means to attain them; as good Princes, Magistrates, Peace, seasonable weather, and such like: as also the removal of the contrary; as war, plague, famine, evil weather, &c. and the blessing of God upon those creatures which he bestoweth upon us.
What is here to be observed?
That we must desire Bread: not Quails or delicates, not riches and superfluity; (James 4:3; Num. 11:4, 5, 6.) but a proportion of maintenance, credit, liberty, &c. convenient for us: (Prov. 30:8; 1 Tim. 6:8.) and that with condition; If God shall see it good for us, or so be his good pleasure: (Mat. 8:2; Jam. 4:15; 2 Sam. 7:27.) which exception is a caution proper to this petition for outward things.
What need is there of asking these things?
The frailty of our nature, not able to continue in health scarce one day without these helps, and as it were props to uphold this decayed and ruinous cottage of our mortal bodies; less able to forbear them than many beasts. For seeing there was a necessary use of our meat in the time of innocency, the necessity by our fall is much greater.
What learn you from the word [Give?]
First, that from God all things come: (Psal. 104:27, 28, 29, 30; Act. 14:17.) which we are ready to ascribe, either to the earth, called the nurse; or to our money, wherewith we buy them; or to our friends, that give them us. As if we should look upon the Steward only, and pass by the Master of the Family; or upon the breast that giveth suck, and neglect the nurse and bottle we drink of, and pass by the giver.
That although in regard of our labour or buying any thing, it may be called ours: yet we say, Give Lord, both because we are unable by any service or labour to deserve the least crum of bread or drop of water, (much less the kingdom of heaven and salvation) at the hands of God; (Luk. 17:10; Gen. 32:10.) and because our labour and diligence cannot prevail without God's blessing.
What learn you further?
That seeing God giveth to whom he will, and what he will; we learn to be content with whatsoever we have received. Moreover to be thankful for it; seeing all things in regard of God are sanctified by the Word and in regard of our selves by prayer and thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:5.) And last of all, not to envy at other mens plenty, being God's doing. Mat. 20:15.
What reason is there that they should pray for these things of God, which have them already in their Garners, Cellars, &c. in abundance?
Very great. Because. 1. our right unto the creatures being forfeited in Adam, we have now nothing to plead, but only God's Deed of gift made unto us in Christ, the second Adam, and heir of all things; in whom and with whom all things are conveyed to us; (Psal. 8:7, 8, 9; Heb. 1:2; Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 3:22.) so that although we possess them, yet are we not right owners of them but by faith, which is, declared by prayer for them.
2. The things we do possess, we may easily a hundred ways be thrust from the possession of them, before we come to use them: according to the proverb, that many things come between the cup and lip. 1 Sam. 30:16, 17; Dan. 5:5; 2 Kings 7:17.
3. Although we have the use of them, yet will they not profit us, neither in feeling nor cloathing us, unless we have the blessing of God upon them; yea, without the which they may be hurtful and poisonable unto us. Esa. 3:1; Haggai 1:6; Prov. 12:22; Dan. 1:13, 14, 15; Psal. 78:30, 31. By all which reasons it may appear, that the rich are as well to use this petition as the poorer: praying therein, not so much for the outward things as God's blessing upon them.
Why do we say give [Us?]
Hereby we profess our selves petitioners for all men, especially the houshold of faith: that for the most part every one may have sufficient, and where want is, others may be enabled to supply it out of their abundance. 2 Cor. 8:14.
Why do we say, This day, or For this day?
That we are to pray for bread for a day and not for a month, or year, &c. it is to teach us to restrain our care, that it reach not too far: but to rest in God's providence, and present blessing; and therefore not to be covetous. Exod. 16:19, 20, 21; Prov. 30:8. So that hereby we profess the moderation of our care, and desire of earthly things: (Mat. 6:34) with our purpose every day, by labour and prayer, to seek these blessings at the hands of God.
Is it not lawful to provide for children and family?
Yes verily, not only lawful, but also needful. Gen. 41:34, 35; Act. 11:28, 29, 2 Cor. 12:14, 1 Tim. 5:8. But here our affections are only forbidden to pass measure; as to have a carking and troubling care, seeing the vexaation of the day is enough for itself: (Mat. 6:34.) but to commit our ways unto the Lord, and to roll our matters upon him, who will bring them to pass. Psal. 37:5; Prov. 16:3.
Why is bread called ours; seeing that God must give it us?
To teach us, that we must come unto it by our own labour, (Gen. 3:17; Psal. 128:1, 2; 1 Thes. 4:11.) in which respect, he that will not labour, should not eat, (2 Thes. 3:8; 9, 10.) For that is called our bread, which cometh to us by the blessing of God on our lawful labours, (2 Thes. 3:12.) so that neither God, nor man can justly implead us for it.
What is the reason of the word Daily?
By daily bread, or bread instantly, or such as is to be added to our substance we understand such provision, and such a proportion thereof, as may best agree with our nature, charge and calling. Prov. 30:8. For this word in the Evangelists, (Mat. 6:11; Luk. 11:3.) and in the proper language of the spirit of God, is the bread fit for me, or agreeable to my condition. Which is a special lesson for all estates, and callings, to keep them within their bounds not onely of necessity, but of Christian and sober delight, and not to ask them for the fulfilling of our fleshly desires. Psal. 104:15; Prov. 30:8; 1 Tim. 6:8; Rom. 13:14; Jam. 4:3. Hereby also we are taught, that every day we must require these blessings at God's hands.
What do we beg of God in this Petition?
1. That it would please God to preserve this mortal life of ours, so long as he seeth good in his wisdom that it maketh for his glory and our good.
2. That he would bestow upon us all good things needful for the preservation of this life.
3. That he would give us care and conscience to get those needful things by lawful means. Which condemneth: First those that use wicked and unlawful means towards men. Secondly those that go to the Devil.
4. That he would give us grace to use painfulness and faithfulness in our callings: that labouring with our hands the thing that is good, we may eat our own bread. Eph. 4:28; 2 Thes. 3:12.
5. That we may add unto our labour prayer, (that it would please God to bless our labours in getting those things) and thansgiving, (for them being gotten;) as whereby, on our part, all God's blessings are assured and sanctified unto us. 1 Tim. 4:4, 5.
6. That we may put our confidence not in the means, but in God's providence, and contain our selves within the care for the means, leaving events unto God's only disposition. Phil. 4:6; Psa. 37:5.
7. That it would please God to give us faith and grace, as well in want as in abundance, to depend on his providence for outward things. Phil. 4:12.
8. That we may be contented with, and thankful for, that portion of temporal blessings which it shall please the Lord to measure out unto us, as his gift; (Heb. 13:5; Psa. 16:6.) not envying such to whom he giveth more.
So much of the Petition for things belonging to this life. What do we desire in those two which belong unto the life to come?
Perfect salvation: standing in the deliverance from the evils past, contained in the former, and those to come, comprized in the latter. By the former we pray for Justification, and by the latter for Sanctification.
To begin then with the former: What are the words of the fifth Petition?
And forgive us our debts, as even me forgive them that are debters unto us Mat. 6:12; Luk. 11:4.
Where we are to observe:
1. The Petition for the forgiveness of our sins.
2. The reason added for the confirmation thereof, or, a reason of the perswasion that they are forgiven.
What is the sum of this Petition?
That we may be justified, and be at peace with God. That God giving us a true knowledge and feeling of our sins, would forgive us freely for his Son's sake; and make us daily assured of the forgiveness of our sins, as we are privy to our selves of the forgiveness of those trespasses which men have offended us by. Job 33:24; Psal. 35:3; Jer. 14:7; Col. 3:13.
What is meant here by Debts.
The comparison is drawn from debtors, which are not able to pay their creditors to whom all we are compared, for that we have all sinned. Therefore by debts we must understand sins (as Saint Luke expoundeth the Metaphor:) and that not in themselves, as branches of the Law of God, (for who would say that we ow and are to pay sin unto God?) but with respect to the punishment, and satisfaction due to God's justice for the offence of sins. For our debt being properly obedience, whereto we are bound under penalty of all the curses of the Law, especially eternal death; (Rom 8:12 & 13:8; Gal. 5:3.) we all in Adam forfeited that bond, whereby the penalty became our debt, and is daily increased in us all by sinning. Luk. 13:4; Mat. 18:24 &c. Rom. 6:23.
What learn you from hence?
Here hence two things are implyed: One, a frank and humble confession, that we have sinned both originally and actually; Another that there is no, power in us to make satisfaction for our sins.
What use is there of confession?
Great: for that we have naturally a senslesness of sin; or else being convinced thereof, we are ready to lessen it, and make it light: the contrary whereof appeareth in the Children of God. 1 Joh. 1:8, 9; Psal. 32:3, 4; Prov. 28:13; Job 31:33; 1 Sam. 15:19, 20; Psa. 51:3, 4, 5:6; Act. 22:3, 4, 5; 1 Tim. 1:13, 15,
How can a man confess his sins, being not known, and without number?
Those that are known we must expresly confess; and the other that are unknown, and cannot be reckoned, generally, Psal. 19:12.
How appeareth it that we are not able to pay this debt?
Because by the Law, as by an obligation, every one being bound to keep it wholly and continually, (Deut. 27:16; Gal. 3:10.) so that the breach thereof even once, and in the least point, maketh us debtors presently; (as having forfeited our obligation) there is no man that can either avoid the breach of it, or when he hath broken it, make amends unto God for it: considering that whatsoever he doth after the breach, is both imperfectly done; and if it were perfect, yet it is due by obligation of the Law, and therefore cannot go for payment, no more than a man can pay one debt with another.
What doth it draw with it, that causeth it to be so impossible to be satisfied.
The reward of it, which is everlasting death, both of body and soul, Rom. 6:23. The greatness, and also number whereof, is declared by the parable of ten thousand talents, which no man is able to pay, being not able to satisfie so much as one farthing.
But are we not able to satisfie some part of it, as a man in great debt is sometimes able to make some satisfaction, especially if he have a day given him?
No. And therefore we are compared to a child new born, red with blood, and not able to wash himself, nor to help himself: (Ezek. 16:4, 5.) and to captives close shut up in prison and fetters, kept by a strong one; (Luk. 4:18; Mat. 12:29.) so that there is as small likelihood of our deliverance out of the power of Satan as that a poor Lamb should deliver it self from the gripes and paws of a Lyon.
What is the means to free us from this debt?
By this petition Christ teacheth us, that being pressed with the burden of our sin, we should flee unto the mercy of God, and to entreat him for the forgiveness of our debt, (Mat. 11:28; Esa. 55:1.) even the cancelling of our obligation, that in Law it be not available against us. In which respect, the preaching of the Gospel is compared to the year of Jubilee, when no man might demand his debt of his brother, Luk. 4:19.
How shall we obtain this at God's hands?
By the onely blood and suffering of Christ, as the only ransome for sin. Contrary to the Papists, who confessing that original sin is taken away by Christ in Baptism, do teach that we must make part of our satisfaction for our actual sins: and therefore some of them whip themselves, as if their blood might satisfie for sin; which is abominable to think.
What do you then understand here by forgiveness?
Such remission, as may agree with God's justice, which will not endure him to be a loser. Wherefore it is forgiveness of us, by taking payment of another. (Job. 33:24.) even of our surety Jesus Christ, in our behalf. 1 Joh. 2:2.
What mean you by saying, Us, and Ours?
We include with our selves, in this petition, as many as are in Christ enabled by a true faith to lay hold on him, and to plead his payment and satisfaction. Psal. 130:7, 8 & 51:18.
Do we here pray for the sins of this day, as before for the bread of this day?
Not only for them, but also for all that ever we have done at all times before; to the end, that we might be the further confirmed in the assurance of the remission of all our sins.
What is further to be considered in this Petition?
That as in the former by Bread more was understood, so here under one part of our Justification, to wit, the Remission, or not imputation of sins unto death, by means of the satisfaction of Christ's sufferings, we do also conceive the other part, which is the imputation of his holiness unto life eternal, implyed under the former, and inseparably annexed thereto. For as Christ hath taken away our sins by suffering, so he hath also cloathed us with his righteousness, by fulfilling of the Law for us. Dan. 9:24; 2 Cor. 5:21.
What do we then ask of God in this Petition?
Six things. viz.
Grace feelingly to know and frankly and tremblingly to confess without excuse or extenuation, the great debt of our sins, (Psal. 51:3.) and our utter inability to satisfie for the same, or for the least part thereof. Psal. 103:3 & 143:2.
2. That God would bestow upon us Christ Jesus; and for his sake remove out of his sight all our sins, and the guilt and punishment due unto us for the same.
3. The power of saving faith (Luk. 17:5.) to lay hold on the meritorious sufferings and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ unto our full Justification Esa. 53:5.
4. The spirit of prayer: that with grief and sorrow for our sins, we may crave pardon for sins and increase of faith. Zach. 12:10; Mark. 9:24.
5. An assurance of the forgiveness of our sins: by the testimony of the spirit of Christ, (Ro. 8:15, 16.) exemplifying, and applying the general pardon of sins, once for all granted unto us at our conversion, unto the several sins and debts of every day and moment of our life.
6. We pray for remission of sin, not as intending, our selves, to undergo the punishment, or any part thereof, (Jer. 14:7) but contrariwise, the whole debt (which is properly the punishment, as hath been shewed) may be accepted at the hands of Christ our surety, and we fully discharged and accquitted; so that nothing may remain on our account, but the righteousness of Christ (Phil 3:8, 9.) whereby the favour and kingdom of God is purchased for us.
So much of Petition: What is set down in the reason?
A true note to certifie us, whether our sins are forgiven us, or not; by that we forgive, or not forgive others that have offended us.
Doth this reason bind God to forgive us?
No otherwise than by his gracious and true promise: this being a necessary consequent and fruit of the other, and not a cause. For when we say, As we, or, for we also forgive. &c. we argue with the Lord, not from merit, but from the model of God's grace in us; (Mat. 6:14, 15.) which being incomparably inferiour to the mercy and love of God, and yet disposing us to forgive and let fall (in regard of hatred, or private revenge,) (Rom. 12:19.) any wrongs and injuries of our brethren against us, may both stir up the compassion of the Lord toward us his children, (Neh. 5:19.) and assure us of the attaining of this our request. Jam. 2:13. And therefore that we may not be destitute of so important an argument, (Mar. 11:25; 1 Joh. 3:14.) both to plead for mercy with God, and to assure our selves of success; we desire of God a portion of that mercy, which is so abundant in him, that we may be tenderly affected one towards another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake forgiveth us. Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13.
But seeing God alone forgiveth sins, (Mat. 9:2; Mat. 2:7; Job. 14:4; Esa. 43:25.) here understood by the word Debt: how is it said that we forgive sins?
We forgive not the sin so far as it is sin against God, but so far as it bringeth grief and hinderance unto us, we may forgive it.
Are we hereby bound to forgive all our debts?
No verily; we may both crave our debts of our debtors, and if there be no other remedy, go to law, in a simple desire of Justice; (yea, in lawful war we may kill our enemies, and yet forgive them) being free from anger and revenge: yet so, that if our debtors be not able to pay, we are bound in duty to forgive them, or at least to have a conscionable regard to their inability.
How is the reason drawn?
From the less to the greater, thus. If we wretched sinners upon earth can forgive others; how much more will the gracious God of heaven forgive us? Mat. 5:7 & 6:14, 15. If we, having but a drop of mercy, can forgive others, how much more will God, who is a sea full of grace? 1 Joh. 2:10 & 3:14. especially when we by forgiving, sometimes suffer loss; whereas from God by forgiving us nothing falleth away.
Wherein appeareth the inequality between our debt unto God, and mans debt unto us?
First, in the number: our debts to God's being compared to ten thousand; mens debts to us, to one hundred.
Secondly, in the weight: our debts to God being compared to ten thousand talents, mens debts to us to an hundred pence.
How riseth this great inequality in the weight?
From the great inequality between God and man. For if to strike a King be much more hainous than to strike a poor boy: what is it then to strike God, who is infinitely greater than all the Kings of the earth?
What is to be gathered out of this reason?
That we should daily pray unto God, that he would work in us a merciful affection, and give us loving and charitable hearts towards all men, free from malice and revenge, and make us desirous of their salvation. And that as this is a testimony to our hearts, that God will forgive us, if we for his sake can heartily forgive such as have offended us: so on the other side, if we can shew no favour unto others, we can look for none at the hands of God. And therefore to pray without forgiving such as have offended us, were not only a meer babling, but also a procuring of God's wrath more heavily against us. Which condemneth the hypocrisie of many which assuring themselves in great confidence of the forgivenes of their sins, yet cannot find in their hearts to forgive others; and so by mocking the Lord, bring a curse upon themselves instead of a blessing: seeing heart, hand, and mouth should go together.
What further learn we by this reason?
That as our forgiveness is nothing, unless the danger of imprisonment be taken away, which inability of paying the debt doth draw with it; so it availeth us nothing to have our sins forgiven us of God, unless the punishment also be forgiven. Contrary to the Papists, who teach that sin and the guilt thereof is taken away by Christ; but that we must satisfie for the temporary punishment of it. Wherein they make God like unto those hypocrites (here also condemned,) who will seem to forgive, and yet keep a picque and quarrel in their hearts, watching all occasions of advantage; which say, they will forgive, but not forget.
So much of the former Petition belonging to the life to come. What are the words of the latter; which is the sixth and last Petition of the Lords prayer?
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Mat. 6:13; Luk. 11:4.
What is the sum of it?
In it we pray for Sanctification, and strength against our sins. That sin may not only be pardoned unto us but daily mortified in us: (Rom. 6:1, 2.) and we either kept by the providence of God from temptations, (Pro. 30:8; 2 Cor. 12:8.) or preserved by his grace from being hurt thereby: (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor 12:9.) And as we pray, that by the power of God we may be strengthned against all temptations: so do we also pray, that by the same power we may be raised up to new obedience. For under one part of sanctification, that is, the avoiding and mortifying of sin, is implyed the other part also, which is ability unto new obedience. 2 Cor. 7:1; Rom. 6:11.
What is here to be observed in regard of the order; that this Petition consequently followeth upon the former?
That therefore to strengthen our faith for the obtaining of this Petition, we must be assured of the former. That seeing God hath forgiven us our sins. he will be pleased also to mortifie our flesh, and quicken our Spirit: which are the two parts of Sanctification, and never severed from true Justification.
What learn you of this?
That we cannot rightly desire God to forgive us our sins, unless we crave also power to abstain from the like in time to come: else our prayer is but babling. So that here we would be stirred to pray for strength to avoid those sins whereof we craved pardon for before: so far is it, that men should think that they are justified, when they have not so much as a purpose to leave their sin. For who being delivered from a great disease will return to it again, and not rather desire a diet whereby he may escape it? Swine indeed after they are washed, and dogs after their vomit, return, the one to their mire the other to their vomit; (Pro. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22.) as do also the Papists, who after auricular confession being discharged in their opinion, will go to their sins afresh: but those that are truly washed with the blood of Christ, will never give themselves over to their sins again.
If they cannot return to their vomit, what need have they to pray?
Yes, very great: because God hath ordained prayer one means of keeping them from revolt. And they ought to be so much the more earnest in prayer as they are more subject to be beaten and buffeted with temptations, then others Zach. 1:11; Luk. 11:21,
What learn you from hence?
Much comfort in temptations; in that it is a token of God's favour and of pardon of our sins, that we are subject to temptation.
What other cause is there to pray, that we be not led into temptation?
For that the condition of them that are called to the hope of life, will be worse than the state of those that never tasted of the good word of God, if they give themselves to evil: as a relapse in diseases is more dangerous than the first sickness was. Joh. 5:14; 2 Pet. 2:22; Mat. 12:43.
May we pray simply and absolutely against all temptations?
For first, the best men that ever were (yea, the Son of God himself) were subject to temptations.
Secondly, all temptations are not evil, but some are tryals of our faith and hope, and oftentimes make for our good. In which regard, they are pronounced blessed that fall into divers temptations. And therefore ought we not to pray simply and without exception to be delivered from them; (Jam. 1:2; Deut. 8:2 & 13:3.) but only from the evil of them.
What then do we pray for concerning them?
That if the Lord will be pleased to take tryal of the grace he hath bestowed upon us, either by afflictions, or by occasion of temptation to sin offered us; that we be not given over to them, or overcome by them; but that we may have a good issue, and escape from them: (1 Cor. 10:13.) and that if either we must go under trouble, or offend the Lord, we may rather chuse affliction than sin: Job 36:21.
Why are they called Temptations?
Because by them God trieth our obedience, to notifie our faith and patience, both to our selves and others, whether we will follow him or not: and therefore we may be assured, that so often as we beat back or overcome the temptations, we have as many undoubted testimonies of his love.
What is here meant then by the word Temptation?
Sin, and whatsoever things, by the corruption of our nature, are occasions to lead us into sin; as prosperity, adversity, &c. (Prov. 30:9.) which otherwise simply are not to be numbred among these temptations we desire here to be delivered from.
How many wayes may a man be tempted?
1. By God.
2. By Satan and his wicked instruments.
3. By a man's own corruption.
How may God be said to tempt?
Though God tempteth no man unto evil, as he is tempted of none, (James 1:13.) yet sometimes he leadeth men into temptations of probation: (Mat. 4:1 & 6:13.) and that first, by unusual probatory precepts: as when he commanded Abraham to kill his son. Gen. 22:1. &c. Secondly, by sending an extraordinary measure of prosperity or adversity. Deut. 8:16. Thirdly, by letting loose Satan (his band-dog) to buffet and molest the godly, as Saint Paul, (2 Cor. 12:7.) or to seduce the wicked, as Ahab's Prophets. 1 King. 22:22. Fourthly, by desertion, leaving men to themselves: whether for a time, (Hos. 5:15.) as Ezechias in the business of the King of Babels Embassage; (2 Chr. 32:31.) or utterly, as those whom he justly giveth up to their own lusts. (Rom. 1:26, 28.) and the power of Satan. Act. 5:3.
How agreeth it with the goodness of the Lord, to lead thus into temptation?
When all things are of him and by him, it must needs follow, that the things that are done are provided and governed of him; yet in such sort, as none of the evil which is in the transgressors cleaveth unto him.
But how can that be without stain of his righteousness?
It is a righteous thing with God to punish sin with sin, and to cast a sinner into further sins by way of just punishment. Therefore we desire God not to give us over to our selves, by withdrawing his spirit from us. As when men do delight in lye, he giveth them over to believe lies: (2 Thes. 2:11.) and for idolatry, he justly punisheth them with corporal filthiness in the same degree. (Hos. 4:14; Rom. 1:24.) Now being naturally prone to sin when by the just judgment of God we are left to our selves, we rush into all evil, even as a horse into the battle to whom we put the spurs, or as an Eagle flyeth to her prey.
May not earthly Magistrates thus punish sin;
No verily: it were a cursed thing in Magistrates so to do. But God is above all Magistrates; who even for our natural corruption may justly give us over to all naughty affections.
Why do the Papists say? [And suffer us not to be led into temptation?]
In a vain foolish fear of making God to be guilty of sin, if he should be said to lead us into temptation: and therefore they lay the Lords words (as it were) in water, and change his tongue, and set him to the Grammar School to teach him to speak, which teacheth all men to speak. Whose folly is so much the greater, as it is the usual phrase of Scripture. Exod. 4:21 & 9:16; 1 Kings 22:20, 21, 22; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28; 2 Thes. 2:11.
What inconvenience followeth upon this addition?
Very great. For by this bare permission of evil they rob God of his glory, (working in the most things that are done of men) yea even of the best things, the doings whereof is attributed to his permission. Heb. 6:3.
May we not offer our selves unto temptation, as Christ did?
In no wise. For he was carryed extraordinarily by the power of his God-head into the desart, to be tempted for our sakes; that in his victory we might overcome.
What learn you of this?
1. That no godly man should chuse his dwelling among those of a sinful profession; as a chast man among stews, or a temperate man among drunkards, belly-gods, &c.
2. If we fall into such companies or occasions at unaware; (as did Joseph, Gen. 39:12. and David, 1 Sam. 25:13, 22.) that we pray God for his assistance, to carry our selves godly, and in no wise to be infected by them.
What is meant by [deliver us from evil?]
This expoundeth the former by a flat contrary, as thus; [Lead us not into Temptation] but pull us out of it (even when we fall into it by our own infirmity) and that with force. For by delivering here is meant a forcible rescuing of our nature, (Rom. 7:24) neither able nor willing to help it self out of these dangers,
What doth this teach us?
That men are deeply plunged into sin, as a beast into the mire, which must be forcibly pulled out: although a beast will help it self more, than we can do our selves of our selves. Not that there is not a freedom and willingness in that which is well done: but, as that force cometh from that which is without, so the grace cometh not from us, but from God. Therefore the Church saith, Cant. 1:4. Draw me, we will run; and Christ, Joh. 6:44. No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. Whence we learn, that to have this desire of being drawn out, is a singular favour of God.
What is God's hand to pull us out of this evil?
The Ministery of the Word, whereby he frameth our wills through the power of his Spirit to yield to his work.
What gather you of this?
That we kick not at the Ministers for reproving our sins, seeing that they strive to pluck us out of the mire; but that we rejoyce and yield to their exhortation.
What is meant here by Evil?
First, that evil one, (1 John 5:18, 19.) Satan, (who pretendeth to have power over us) and in him, all his instruments and provocations to sin. Then secondly, the effects of temptation, which without the special grace of God is extreamly evil; to wit, sin and damnation. 1 Tim. 6:9.
Is not the Devil the author of all evil?
Yes, he is the first Author: but properly those evils are called his, which in his own person he suggesteth.
From how many kinds of evils then desire we deliverance?
1. The inward concupiscences of our hearts, which are our greatest enemies; James 1:14, 15.
2. The outward, as the Devil, and the World, which do work upon us by the former: and therefore if we can subdue the inward, these outward cannot annoy us.
From what evils should we desire principally to be delivered?
Those whereunto we are most bent and naturally inclined, or wherein our Country especially, or our neighbours amongst whom we converse, (Mat. 8:28.) do most delight: that we make the hedg highest, where Satan striveth most to leap over; who, although he knoweth not our secrets, yet seeing his subtilty and sharpness of discovering us even by a beck or countenance is very great, we must desire wisdom of God to discern his temptations, and power also to resist them.
Shew now briefly, as you have done in the rest, what things we pray for in this last Petition?
1. That seeing we cannot be tempted without the will of God (Job 1:10) nor resist without his power; (2 Cor. 12:9.) if it be his blessed will, he would give us neither poverty nor riches, (Pro. 30:8.) nor any such thing as may endanger our spiritual estate, but remove those causes away which lead us into temptation.
2. That he would tye up Satan, and restrain his malice and power, (2 Cor. 12:8.) or else make us wise to know and avoid his stratagems: (2 Cor. 2:11.) preserve us from the evil that is in the world, (Joh. 17:15.) and abate the power of the corruption that is within us. Rom. 7:24, 25.
3. That in our tryals (if he see good to prove us) he would keep us from charging him with any injustice or hard measure: (Job 1:22.) and that he would give us grace to behold his holy hand therein, and to make that holy use of them for which he hath sent them. Esa. 27:9.
4. That he would not take his holy spirit from us in our trials, but give us sustentation in our temptations, and always stand by us with his grace, to keep us from falling, and not suffer us to be overcome by the temptations, 1 Cor. 10:13. Jude verse 24.
5. That, leaving us at any time to our own weakness for our humiliation, he would graciously raise us up again, with encrease of spiritual strength and courage. Psal. 51:12.
6. That he would keep us from all carnal security, from despair, and presumption of his mercies.
7. That he would put an end to all tryals, and to these daies of conflict, in his own good time, treading Satan, with his forces, for ever under feet. Rom. 16:20.
8. That he would encrease and perfect the work of his grace in us, enabling us to every good work, (Heb. 13:21.) and, instead of temptations to the contrary, affording us all helps unto well-doing, and all things that may further us in holiness; as good company, godly examples, holy counsel and encouragements, &c.
Hitherto of the Petitions. There remaineth the Conclusion; containing both the Thanksgiving, (Which is the second part of Prayer) and a Confirmation of the former requests. What are the words of this close of the Lord's Prayer?
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever: Amen. Mat. 6:13.
Which words, though they be not repeated by St. Luke, yet are expresly mentioned by St. Matthew: and therefore causelesly, and without warant omitted by the Church of Rome.
What observe you therein?
Their Sacrilege, who steal away this Thanksgiving from prayer, as if it were no part of it. So that it is no marvail that in Popery, all the whole body of their doctrine is of the salvation of men; God's glory being buried in a deep silence.
Whence is this form of Thanksgiving drawn?
Out of Daniel 7:14 and 1 Chron. 29:10, 11, 12, 13. where David useth the like phrase in prasing of God. But that which David enlargeth there, our Saviour shortneth here; and yet comprehendeth the marrow of all.
What is the sum thereof?
That we ground our assurance of obtaining our prayers in God; from whom all things we ask do come, and to whom therefore all glory must return.
What observe you in this?
That Christ maketh this Thanksgiving, consisting in the praise of God, to be a reason of all the Petitions going before; and therefore a further assurance of obtaining our fuits: for so good men in praying for new blessings, do always joyn thanksgiving for the former.
What do you here understand by [Kingdom ¿]
God's absolute Soveraignty and right over all things; 1 Chro. 29:11. which answereth to the second Petition. And therefore this reason, of God's right and authority over all, ought to move us to pray to him, and to him alone, as to one that hath only right to any thing we have need of.
What is meant by [Power?]
The omnipotency of God, whereby he is able to do all things. Luke 1:37. That besides his right, noted in the former word, he is also able to bring to pass whatsoever he will: both which concur in God, though not always in earthly Princes. Which seemeth to answer unto the third Petition, and ought to give us encouragement to pray unto him, who is able to effect any thing we pray for according to his will; and to strengthen us to any thing which in duty we ought to do, although there be no strength in us.
What is meant by [Glory?]
That due, which rising from the two former, of Kingdom and Power, doth rightly belong unto God, as following upon the concurrence of the other two. For if whatsoever we desire be granted unto us, in that he reigneth powerfully; it is reason, that from the establishing of his kingdom and power, all glory and praise should return unto him again, Therefore hereby we do thankfully refer and return all good things to the honour and service of God that giveth them. Psalm. 65:1, 2. otherwise we have nor comfort of our prayers. And it answereth to the first Petition, and ought to move us to pray unto him, and to assure us that our prayers are granted; seeing by our prayers duly made and granted, he is glorified. And it is one of the most powerful reasons that the servants of God have grounded their confidence of being heard, that the name of God therein should be glorified.
What mean you by the word [Thine?]
Here by these titles of Kingdom, Power, and Glory, are appropriated unto God, to whom they do belong; and all creatures excluded from fellowship with him in these attributes. For howsoever, Kingdom, Power and Glory, are communicated unto some creatures (namely Kings and Princes, Dan. 2:37.) as God's instruments, and Vice-gerents: Psalm 82:6. yet God alone claimeth them originally of himself, and absolutely without dependance or control; others have them not of themselves, but as borrowed, and hold them of him as Tenants at will. Rom. 13:1; Prov. 8:15; Job 33:13.
What is meant by the words, [for ever, or, for ages?]
By ages, he meaneth eternity: Dan. 2:4. and thereby putteth another difference between the Kingdom, Power, and Glory of God, which is eternal, without any beginning or end; 1 Tim. 1:17. and that in Princes, whose Kingdoms, powers and glory fade.
How is this a close of confirmation to our requests?
Because we do not only in general ascribe Kingdom, Power, and Glory unto God, as his due, but also with respect unto our prayers and suits believing and professing, that he, as King of heaven and earth, hath authority to dispose of all his treasures; Rev. 3:7. as omnipotent, is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think; Eph. 3:20. finally, as the God of glory, is interessed in the welfare of his servants for the maintaining of the honour of his name, Psa. 35:27. and truth of his promises. Psal. 119:49. Therefore there are here contained three reasons to move God to grant our Petitions. Because,
First, he is our King; and so tyed to help us, who are his Subjects.
Secondly, he hath power; and therefore is able to help us.
Thirdly, The granting of our Petitions will be to his glory and praise. Whereupon we firmly believe, that God the mighty and everlasting King, 1 Tim. 1:17. can, and for his own glory will grant the things we have thus demanded. Eph. 3:20; Jer. 14:7; Ezek. 36:22.
What is understood by the last word [Amen?]
Not only, So be it, as commonly men say; but also, So it is or shall be, as we have prayed. (Rev. 22:20, 21.) For it is a note of confidence and declaration of Faith, (without which our prayers are rejected: whereby we assure our selves, that God will grant those things which we have prayed to him for.
Why are we taught to conclude with this word?
There being two things required in prayer, a fervent desire, (James 5:17.) and Faith, (Jam. 1:6.) which is a perswasion, that these things which we truly desire, God will grant them for Christ's sake: this is a testimony both of our earnest affection of having all those things performed, which in this prayer are comprehended, and the assurance of our faith to receive our desires, at least so far forth as God seeth good for us. And so hereby we do not only testifie our earnest desire that so it may be, but also express our full assurance that so it shall be, as we have prayed, according to the will of God: and being already let in (Mat. 7:8.) by the key of faithful prayer into the rich treasure of his mercies, we also set our seal (John 3:11.) in the word of faith, Amen.
Is it lawful to use no other form of words, than that which is set down in the Lord's Prayer?
We may use another form of words: but we must pray for the same things, and with like affection, as is prescribed in that prayer.
This form being so absolute, what need we use any other words in praying?
Because, as to refuse this form savoureth of a proud contempt of Christ's ordinance, so to confine our selves to these words alone, argueth extreme idleness in this duty, wherein variety of words is required for the pouring out of our souls before the Lord, (Hos. 14:3.) and oftentimes according to the occasion some one Petition is more than the rest to be insisted on and importuned. (Mat. 26:44.) Wherefore our blessed Saviour hath commended this form unto us, as an excellent copy or lesson, to be both repeated, and imitated, or at the least, aimed at by us his Scholars: for which cause, both he himself, (Joh. 17:1, &c.) and his Apostles, (Act. 4:24, &c.) are recorded to have prayed in other words, which yet may be referred to these. Finally the liberty which the Lord affordeth us is not to be abridged, or despised, who admitteth all languages, words and forms, agreeable to this pattern, whether read, rehearsed by heart, or presently conceived; (2 Chron. 30:23. Psal. 90 & 92. in the Titles. Num. 10:35, 36.) so be it we pray both with spirit and affection, and with understanding also. 1 Cor. 14:15.
From A Body of Divinity