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ful servants, must be meant, his doing it by his particular providence; otherwise the terms [much more] anfwer no purpose to Christ's argument. This, I think, must be the argument of my opponent, because; otherwise, it makes nothing against me. Upon which, I observe, that in this, I think, my opponent was too bafty and inattentive, by his putting such a fense upon Christ's words, as is contradicted by universa! experience and fact. For it does not appear, that any one of Christ's disciples, either in, or fince his time, has been cloathed by a particular providence; that is, by a particular and special interposition of the Deity, but only by the general providence of God; or, at least, no fuch instance has come to my knowledge. And, if any such has come within the knowledge of my opponent, he is at full liberty to produce it. We have had no miraculous cloathing, that I have ever heard of; and as to any other way of cloathing mankind, it will answer no purpose to my opponent, because every other way comes properly under the denomination of God's general providence. And in this, I think, my opponent has not done justice to Christ, our common Master, nor fèrvice to his cause, but the contrary; because, the putting such a sense upon Christ's words, as is contradicted by universal experience and fact, (which is the present casa ;) as it is not the truth of the cale; so it gives too much countenance to unbelievers, and is paving the way to infidelity.
But farther, I observe, that our Lord, in the chapter referred to, forbad his disciples to take any thought for the things of this life. Thus, Take no thought for your life, what ye hall eat, or what ye mall drink; nor yet for the body, what ye shall put on. Again, Take no thought for the morrow; and such like. Now, the question arising from hence, is, What our Lord intended by these prohibitions? Whether he intended to bar his disciples from taking any kind of thought for the things of this world? or, Whether he only intended to bar them from all anxious and unnecessary thought and concern for the things of this life? And, whether it be one, or the other of these, I think, we ought, in justice to our Master, to suppose, that the reasons he urges to back his prohibitions, were suitable and proper to ground those prohibitions upon. This, I fay, ought to be supposed, because, otherwise, we consider our Lord as acting a childish part, by his afligning fuch a reason, as will not support what he makes it to be the ground or reason of.
If the former was the case, that is, if our Lord intended to bar his disciples from taking any kind or degree of thought, and care, for the things of this life, then, I readily grant, that by God's much more cloathing Christ's disciples than the grass of the field, must be meant, his doing it by a particular and special interposition of his power; because, God's doing it in the general course of his providence, would not be á proper ground for the aforesaid prohibition
when tåkeri in the sense under consideration. For if Christians were to take no kind nor dea gree of thought, nor eare; for food and raiment, then the consequence would be, that they would be destitute of both, except God supplied them with both; by a particular and special interposition of his power. But as such a prohibition would render man a useless part of the creation, and as Christians are not supplied with food and raiment in any such particular and extraordinary way, therefore, I think, we may fairly and justly conclude, that our Lord's prohibition is not to be understood in this sense. And if our Lord intended, in the forementioned prohibition, only to bar his disciples from all anxious and unnecesary thought and concern for the things of this world, then God's shewing a greater concern for the welfare of man, in the course of his general providence, than for the grass of the field, as he has provided the latter for the sake of, and as a means to, the former, this is a proper ground for such a prohibition, or it is a proper reason to a Chrifa tion, not to be anxious, as aforesaid; and therefore, I think, this was all that our Lord intended in those words, Shall be not (much more] cloath you, O ye of little faith ? As to God's clothing Christians by a particular and special interpofition of his power, this does not appear to have taken place in fact; and such an interposition would not only be a bar to all anxiety, but it would also be a reason against taking any kind or degree of thought, or care, for the things
of this world, which surely our Lord never intended; and therefore it cannot be the truth of the case. Again, • What prayer is, and what are the ends intended to be answered by it, I have already shewn, in a discourse on that subject * to which I refer my reader; in which he will plainly see, that all prayer is not a farce and a mockery upon my principles, as my opponent imagines it to be. Tho', by the way, I think, all arguments drawn from consequences are justly excluded out of the case. For, if what I have. advanced, is erroneous, let that be shewn, and the work is done, I am confuted; but, if what I have offered be the truth, then no consequences, whether imaginary or real, can pofsibly make it otherwise. But farther, I observe, that our Lord, in the prayer, commonly called the Lord's-Prayer, hath taught, or required us, to put up this petition, viz. that God would give us day by day our daily bread. And the questions are, What is it that we are taught, or required, to ask of God in this petition And what is it we are to expect by way of answer to it? Whether we are to defire, and expect, that God would, by a particular and Special interposition of his power, give us every day the food we are to feed upon, and supply every other want we may be exposed to ? Or, whether we are to desire, and expect, or rather hope, that he will do it, in the course of
his * See my Collection of Tracts.
his general providence ? Now, fuppofing the latter to be the case, and supposing, for argument sake, (tho'it is what I do not admit that all such kind of prayers are a farce, and a mockery; yet, why should the reproach of it be caft upon me? seeing it is what all Chrif tians are equally affected with. However, I think, the end designed, and which only can be answered, by prayer in general, is not to make any alteration or change in God, but only to influence and affect the perfon praying. And this, I think, will plainly appear to be the truth of the case, when I have examined the Lord's prayer, in its several articles, and have thewed, that it is in this view only, that it can be a rational and proper address to God. And, I the rather chuse the Lord's prayer, to exemplify the point in hand by, than any other prayer ; because, our Lord himself has given us this prayer, and has intended it to be, either a form of prayer to be used by us, or else to be a guide and direction to Christians, and to Christian societies, with respect to the object, and the subject, of their prayers, &c.
The first article in this form or guide to prayer, is expressed in those words, viz. Our father, which art in heaven. In this article, we take upon us, to inform God of two things; First, that he is our Father: Secondly, that he is in heaven. With respect to the first of these, I think, it is not to be supposed, that our Lord intended, that we, in the use of these words, should add to the divine knowledge and the divine