Page images

ance of sons. But it is observable, that Christ, here speaking concerning private prayer, does describe it in a form of plural signification; to tell us, that we are to draw into the communication of our prayers all those who are confederated in the common relation of sons to the same Father. "Which art in heaven"," tells us, where our hopes and our hearts must be fixed, whither our desires and our prayers must tend. Sursum corda; "Where our treasure is, there must our hearts be also."

4. "Hallowed be thy name." That is, Let thy name, thy essence, and glorious attributes, be honoured and adored in all the world, believed by faith, loved by charity, celebrated with praises, thanked with eucharist; and let thy name be hallowed in us, as it is in itself. Thy name being called upon us, let us walk worthy of that calling; that "our light may shine before men, that they, seeing our good works, may glorify thee, our Father, which art in heaven." In order, also, to the sanctification of thy name, grant that all our praises, hymns, eucharistical remembrances, and representments of thy glories, may be useful, blessed, and effectual, for the dispersing thy fame, and advancing thy honour over all the world. This is a direct and formal act of worshipping and adoration. The name of God is representative of God himself, and it signifies: Be thou worshipped and adored, be thou thanked and celebrated, with honour and eucharist.

5. "Thy kingdom come." That is: As thou hast caused to be preached and published the coming of thy kingdom, the peace and truth, the revelation and glories, of the Gospel; so let it come verily and effectually to us, and all the world; that thou mayest truly reign in our spirits, exercising absolute dominion, subduing all thine enemies, ruling in our faculties, in the understanding by faith, in the will by charity, in the passions by mortification, in the members by a chaste and right use of the parts. And as it was more particularly, and in the letter, proper at the beginning of Christ's preaching, when he also taught the prayer, that God would hasten the coming of the Gospel to all the world: so now also, and ever it will be, in its proportion, necessary and pious, to pray that

b Nihil nos delectet in infimis, qui Patrem habemus in cœlis.— Leo. Ser. de Ascens.

it may come still; making greater progress in the world, extending itself where yet it is not, and intending it where it is already; that the kingdom of Christ may not only be in us, in name and form, and honourable appellatives, but in effect and power. This petition, in the first ages of Christianity, was not expounded to signify a prayer for Christ's second coming; because, the Gospel not being preached to all the world, they prayed for the delay of the day of judgment, that Christ's kingdom upon earth might have its proper increment: but since then, every age, as it is more forward in time, so it is more earnest in desire, to accomplish the intermedial prophecies, that the kingdom of God the Father might come in glories infinite. And, indeed, the kingdom of grace being in order to the kingdom of glory, this, as it is principally to be desired, so may possibly be intended chiefly: which, also, is the more probable, because the address of this prayer being to God the Father, it is proper to observe, that the kingdom of grace, or of the Gospel, is called the kingdom of the Soni; and that of glory, in the style of the Scripture, is the kingdom of the Father. St. German, patriarch of Constantinople, expounds it with some little difference, but not ill: "Thy kingdom come," that is, let thy Holy Spirit come into us; for "the kingdom of heaven is within us," saith the holy Scripture and so it intimates our desires, that the promise of the Father, and the prophecies of old, and the Holy Ghost the Comforter, may come upon us. Let that " anointing from above" descend upon us, whereby we may be anointed kings and priests, in a spiritual kingdom and priesthood, by a holy chrism.

6. "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." That is, the whole economy and dispensation of thy providence, be the guide of the world, and the measure of our desire; that we be patient in all accidents, conformable to God's will, both in doing and in suffering; submitting to changes, and even to persecutions, and doing all God's will: which because without God's aid we cannot do, therefore we beg it of him by prayer; but by his aid we are confident we may do it, in the manner of angelical obedience; that is, promptly, readily, cheerfully, and with all our faculties. Or thus: As the

Colos. i. 13. Revel. i. 9. Matt. xiii. 41. Luke, vi. 20. Matt. xvi. 28.

angels in heaven serve thee with harmony, concord, and peace; so let us all join in the service of thy majesty, with peace and purity, and love unfeigned; that as all the angels are in peace, and amongst them there is no persecutor, and none persecuted, there is none afflicting or afflicted, none assaulting or assaulted, but all, in sweetness and peaceable serenity, glorifying thee; so let thy will be done on earth, by all the world, in peace and unity, in charity and tranquillity; that with one heart, and one voice, we may glorify thee, our universal Father; having in us nothing that may displease thee, having quitted all our own desires and pretensions, living in angelic conformity, our souls subject to thee, and our passions to our souls; that "in earth," also, "thy will" may " be done,” as in the spirit and soul, which is a portion of the heavenly substance. These three petitions are addressed to God, by way of adoration. In the first, the soul puts on the affections of a child, and divests itself of its own interest, offering itself up wholly to the designs and glorifications of God. In the second, it puts on the relation and duty of a subject to her legitimate prince, seeking the promotion of his regal interest. In the third, she puts on the affection of a spouse, loving the same love, and choosing the same object, and delighting in unions and conformities. The next part descends lower, and makes addresses to God, in relation to our own necessities.

7. "Give us this day our daily bread." That is, give unto us all that is necessary for the support of our lives, the bread of our necessity; so the Syriac interpreter reads it:

ETIQUσIOs, ab imovσa, quod diem posterum significat. Nazarenorum Evangelium (referente S. Hieronymo) legit panem crastinum; S. Lucas panem diurnum, sive indies necessarium, τὸ καθ ̓ ἡμέραν. πλοῦτός ἐστι κτῆσις σύμμετρος πρὸς εὐδαιμονίαν.

Vivitur parvo bene, cui paternum
Splendet in mensa tenni salinum,
Nec leves somnos timor aut cupido
Sordidus aufert.

Horat. lib. ii. Od. 16.
Fructibus Agrippa Siculis, quos colligis, Icci,
Si rectè frueris, non est ut copia major
Ab Jove donari possit tibi; tolle querelas :
Pauper enim non est cui rerum suppetit usus.
Si ventri bene, si lateri est pedibusque tuis, nil
Divitiæ poterunt regales addere majus.

Horat. ad Iccium, lib. ii. Ep. 12. Μὴ μόνον τοῦ ζῆν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦ ἀποθνήσκειν, τὴν τροφὴν εἶναι ἐφόδιον, --- Plutarch.

"This day give us the portion of bread, which is day by day necessary." Give us the bread or support which we shall need all our lives; only this day minister our present part. For we pray for the necessary bread or maintenance, which God knows we shall need all our days; but, that we "be not careful for to-morrow," we are taught to pray, not that it be all at once represented or deposited, but that God would minister it as we need it, how he pleases: but our needs are to be the measure of our desires, our desires must not make our needs; that we may be confident of the Divine providence, and not at all covetous: for therefore God feeds his people with extemporary provisions, that by needing always, they may learn to pray to him; and, by being still supplied, may learn to trust him for the future, and thank him for that is past, and rejoice in the present. So God rained down manna, giving them their daily portion; and so all fathers and masters minister to their children and servants, giving them their proportion as they eat it, not the meat of a year at once; and yet no child or servant fears want, if his parent or lord were good, and wise, and rich. And it is necessary for all to pray this prayer: the poor, because they want the bread, and have it not deposited but in the hands of God:


mercy ploughing the fields of heaven," (as Job's expression is,) brings them corn; and "the cattle upon a thousand hills are God's," and they find the poor man meat. The rich also need this prayer; because, although they have the bread, yet they need the blessing; and what they have now may perish, or be taken from them; and as preservation is a perpetual creation, so the continuing to rich men what God hath already bestowed, is a continual giving it. Young men must pray, because their needs are like to be the longer; and old men, because they are present. But all these are to pray but for the present'; that which, in estimation of law, is to be

Lætus in præsens animus quod ultrà est
Oderit curare; et amara læto
Temperet risu.

Horat. lib. ii. Od. 16.

quid æternis minorem
Consiliis animum fatigas? Horat. lib. ii. Od. 11.
Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam :
Jam te premet nox, fabulæque manes,

Et domus exilis Plutonia.

Horat. lib. i. Od. 4.
̓Αναγκαιότατον ἐφόδιον. -- Conc. Nicen.

reckoned as imminent upon the present, and part of this state and condition. But it is great improvidence, and an unchristian spirit, for old men to heap up provisions, and load their sumpters still the more, by how much their way is shorter. But there is also a bread which came down from heaven, a diviner nutriment of our souls, the food and wine of angels, Christ himself, as he communicates himself in the expresses of his word and sacraments; and if we be destitute of this bread, we are miserable and perishing people. We must pray, that our souls also may feed upon those celestial viands, prepared for us in the antepasts of the Gospel, till the great and fuller meal of the supper of the Lamb shall answer all our prayers, and satisfy every desire.


8. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Not only those sins of infirmity, invasion, and sudden surprise, which, like excrescencies of luxuriant trees, adhere to many actions by inadvertency, and either natural weakness or accidental prejudice; but also all those great sins, which were washed off from our souls, and the stain taken away in baptism; or when by choice, and after the use of reason, we gave up our names to Christ, when we first received the adoption of sons: for even those things were so pardoned, that we must for ever confess and glory in the Divine mercy, and still ascertain it, by performing what we then promised, and which were the conditions of our covenant. For although Christ hath taken off the guilt, yet still there remains the disreputation; and St. Paul calls himself" the chiefest of sinners," not referring to his present condition, but to his former persecuting the church of God, which is one of the greatest crimes in the world; and for ever he asked pardon for it: and so must we, knowing that they may return; if we shake off the yoke of Christ, and break his cords from us, the bands of the covenant evangelical, the sins will return so as to undo us. And this we pray, with a tacit obligation to forgive: for so only, and upon that condition, we beg pardon to be given or continued respectively; that is, as we from our hearts forgive them that did us injury in any kind, never entertaining so much as a thought of revenge, but, contrariwise, loving them that did us wrong;

« PreviousContinue »