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3. The weight of the matter we go upon. errand to the throne is, to worship God, who will be fanctified in them that come nigh him, and before all the people will he be glorified, Lev. x. 3. which is awful and folemn work, and gives ground for that quefiion, Wherewith fhall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Micah vi. 6. It is to prefent our iupplications for our needs for time and for eternity. And if he help us not, all the world cannot do it. Our fouls lie at stake, eternity is before us; and to treat with God on the business of eternity, is business that needs direction.
4. Our weakness and aptnefs to mistake and mifcarry in the approach, Job xxxvii. 19. Teach us what ve shall pray unto him: for we cannot order our Speech by reafon of darkness. We have no fkill to manage the weighty matter; and we will be perfuaded of it, if we know ourselves. We are ready to go wrong in the matter of prayer, Rom. viii. 26. to afk of God things not agreeable to his revealed will, being blinded with our own paffions and prejudices, Luke ix. 54. And we are apt to go wrong in the manner of prayer, by infincerity, formality, and carnality, Jam. iv. 3. If. lxiv. 7.
5. Lastly, The danger of miftaking and mifcarrying in prayer, either of the ways. It may provoke the Lord against us, and bring down a curfe inftead of a bleffing upon us, Mal. i. ult. Curfed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and facrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, faith the Lord of hofts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. Exod. xx. 7. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not bold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. leaft it will fruftrate our prayers, that they will be rejected and not heard, Jam. iv. 3. our petitions caft over the bar. Or what we feck not agreeable to his will, may be given us with a vengeance, Pfal. cvi. 15.
II. The fecond head is, What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer. Our gracious God has not left us without direction in that matter. We have from himself the rule which we are to walk by in our addreffes to the throne: and how elfe could we know it, who elfe could teach us how guilty creatures fhould prefent their fupplications to the most high God? And,
First, There is a general rule given us for that end; and that is the whole word of God, the fcriptures of the Old and New Teftament, in which God's will is revealed, as to all things to be believed or done by us, 1 John v. 14. By our Bible we may learn to pray; for there we are furnished with all forts of helps and directions for this duty, as to matter, manner, and words; and therefore it is a complete directory for prayer.
1. It furnishes us abundantly with matter of prayer, in all the parts of it, petition, confeffion, &c. Pfal. li. 4. 5. Phil. iv. 6. And whofo has the word of God dwelling richly in him, will not want of matter for prayer, for himself or for others. There is a ftorehoufe of it there, of great variety; and we are welcome to the ufe of it, agreeable to our own cafe.
2. It fully directs us as to the manner of prayer: as for inftance, that we must pray with fincerity, Heb. x. 22. with humility, Pfal. x. 17. in faith, Jam. i. 6. and with fervency, Jam. v. 16. And there is no qualification neceflary in prayer, but what we may learn from the holy word.
3. It furnishes us with the moft fit words to be ufed in prayer. Do ye want words to exprefs your defires before the Lord? He has given us his own words in the Bible, that we may use them according to our needs, Hof. xiv. 2.
Secondly, There is a fpecial rule given us by Jefus Chrift for that end, namely, that form of words which Chrift taught his difciples, commonly called the Lord's prayer: that excellent pattern and example
of prayer, compofed by Jefus Chrift himself for our direction, in the text, which every Christian is obliged to receive with the utmoft reverence, as the Lord's own word. But it was never impofed by Jefus Chrift or his apoftles, as a fet form to which his church is bound, to pray in thefe very words, and no other. It is true, in the year 618 the council of Toledo impofed it on the clergy under the pain of depofition; but then Antichrift had mounted the throne, and the Papifts fince have fuperftitiously abused it to this day. I would all Proteftants could plead, Not guilty. To clear this matter,
1. The Lord's prayer is given us as a directory for prayer, a pattern and an example, by which we are to regulate our petitions, and make other prayers by. This is clear from the text, After this manner pray ye, &c. And it is a most ample directory in few words, to be eyed by all praying perfons, if ftudied and understood. There we are taught to pray in a known tongue, and without vain repetitions, to God only, and for things allowed, to have chief refpect to the glory of God, and our own advantage.
2. It may also be used as a prayer, fo that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other praying graces. So we own the very words may lawfully be ufed, Matth. vi. 9. compared with Luke xi. 2. See Larger Cat. queft. 187. and the Directory for public worship, under the title, Of prayer after fermon, parrag. 5. Who can refufe this, fince it is a piece of holy fcripture, of the Lord's own word? And they who are fo weak, as that they cannot conceive prayer, do well to use this holy form, though they should endeavour to make further progrefs in prayer. And fometimes knowing Chriftians, under great defertions, not able to conceive prayer, have used it with good fuccefs. But,
3. Our Lord hath not tied us to this very form of words, when we pray to God. This is evident,
(1.) Because the prayers afterwards recorded in the
vio mi fcripture, were neither this form of words, nor yet concluded with it. Chrift himself ufed it not in his prayer at Lazarus's grave, John xi. 41. nor in his laft prayer, John xvii. Nor did his apoftles, Acts i. 24h nor the church, Acts iv. 24. c.
(2.) This prayer is diverfely fet down by Matthew and Luke, the only two evangelifts that make men tion of it. And though it is obvious, that there is an entire harmony between them, as to the matter and fenfe of the words; yet it is equally obvious, to all who compare them together, that there is fome dif ference as to the mode or manner of expreflion; par ticularly as to the fourth and filth petitions; which certainly there would not have been, had it been defigned for a form of prayer. In Luke the fourth petition runs thus, Give us day by day our daily bread; but in Matthew it is thus expreffed, Give us this day our daily bread. The latter contains a petition for the fupply of present wants; and the former for the fupply, of wants as they daily recur upon us: fo that both ac counts being compared together, we are directed to pray for thofe temporal bicffings which we want at prefent, and for a fupply of thofe we ftand in need of as they daily recur: which fhews a confiderable dif ference in the expreffions. In Luke the fifth petition is, Forgive us our fins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us; whereas in Matthew the expreffion is very different, viz. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Again, Luke leaves out the doxolo gy, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen; which Matthew adds. From whence it may be juftly inferred, that our Lord's defign, in furnishing his difciples with this prayer, was not, that they fhould confine themfelves folely to the manner of expreffion uted therein, without the leaft variation; for then undoubtedly the two evangelifts would have recorded it in the very fame, words; but he rather intended it as a directory refpecting the mater of prayer. So that it is impoffible to keep by the
form of words precifely, fince it is not one. It is faid, Luke xi. 2. When ye pray, fay, &c. Here we are tied to the form of words, fay our adversaries. Anf. By this phrafe is to be understood the manner, viz. Say this on the matter, pray after this manner. Compare Matth. vi. 9. If it is to be understood otherwise, then, 1.) According to Matth. x. 7. Go, preach, faying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, the difciples preaching was confined to these very words, which we are fure it was not. 2.) It would be unlawful to pray in any other words, which no Chriftian dare affert. 3.) Neither Papists nor Epifcopalians ftick to these words in Luke, but use the words in Matthew; by which they give up the cause.
Further, it may be obferved, that our Saviour chiefly intended this prayer as a directory, refpecting the matter of our petitions, rather than a form; because it does not explicitly contain all the parts of prayer, particularly confeffion of fin, and thankful acknowledgement of mercies. Again, there is no explicit or direct mention of the Mediator, in whofe name we are to pray; nor of his obedience, fufferings, and interceffion, on which the efficacy of our prayers is founded, and their fuccefs depends: which things are to be fupplied from other parts of scripture; all which, taken together, give us a complete directory for prayer.
From the whole, I think it is evident, that a prayer formed upon the model of this excellent pattern, having the fubftance of the feveral petitions interfperfed through it, though expreffed in other words, is a true fcriptural prayer, and that there is no neceffity to conclude with the Lord's prayer. And therefore I cannot but think, that Papifts and many Proteftants who conclude their prayers with the very words of the Lord's prayer, make a very fuperftitious ufe of it; caufing people imagine that the bare recital of the words of the Lord's prayer fanctifies their other prayers; and thatVOL. III. 3 P