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REMARKS. First, It is dangerous to trust to commentators; it is better to attend to our divine Master, who never teaches his disciples to do injury to any individual on any pretence. Secondly, The religion of Jesus Christ, is a religion of love, and that not in word only, but in deed and in truth ; nor only to the meritorious as friends, but to the unworthy as enemies. Thirdly, We are thus taught, that it is injurious to charge the transgressions of men to the truth of God. Fourthly, An attention to the teaching of the Spirit will point out to us the difference between the doctrines of the Jews, of many who are styled christians, and the doctrine of God our Saviour. Both Jews and professing christians distinguish between the righteous and the unrighteous, exhibiting the one, as the object of the affection of God and all good men, and the other, as cursed even by God himself.
Lastly, Where are the christians, where is the moralist, who is, in every particular, conformed to these divine precepts? If an unerring individual is not to be found, are not these precepts a letter of condemnation to the whole mass of mankind ?
MATTHEW v. 45–48.
First, I we conduct as we are directed in the preceding verses, we are the children of our Father which is in heaven.
Secondly, “ God maketh his sun to shine on the evil, and sendeth his rain on the unjust."
Thirdly, The love which we bear to them who love us, and the salutations which we render to our brethren, do not entitle us to thanks.
Fourthly, “ Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Ephesians v. 1, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” Colossians i. 28, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
First, Does the Redeemer teach us to love our enemies, thus proving ourselves the children of our Father who is in heaven? and will our divine Master give a precept which he will not enforce by example ? Assuredly not. And most incontrovertibly hath Jesus Christ proved his love to his enemies. But, secondly, Our Saviour directs us to be perfect, as our Father who is in heaven is perfect. Thirdly, Is it possible that we can, while we continue in this imperfect state, be thus perfect ? Fourthly, The perfection inculcated is the perfection of God. Fifthly, Where doth this perfection exist? It exists only in Christ Jesus, who is, however, the head of every man. But, sixthly, For this perfection we were individually made, and to this perfection we shall individually be brought : for Emmanuel being the head of every man, is God our Saviour, and this God, this Saviour, this Redeemer, was manifested to take away the sin of the world, and to cleanse us from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.
Reflections upon the Lord's Prayer.
Our divine Master points out in the sixth section of St. Matthew's gospel the absurdity of the common practice of long prayers, cautions his disciples against expecting to be heard for their much speaking, and directs them, when they pray, to enter into their closets, and having shut their doors, to pray to their Father who seeth in secret.
The God-man also directs the manner of the prayer, which he wished his followers to adopt.“ After this manner, therefore, pray ye. Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” | It is observable, that although the disciples were commanded to enter into the closet and shut the door, to pray alone and in secret, yet they were directed to say, Our Father. The christian is not to consider himself alone when he addresses the throne of grace. He is not to say my Father, but, as we have the adoption of sons by Christ
Jesus, we should ever keep in devout and grateful recollection, this mighty blessing, this mysterious union, especially when addressing the divine Nature, the Sire of angels and of men, the creating God.! If we ask not in the name of Emmanuel, we ask nothing ; but thus asking, we do truly ask. It is an indubitable truth, that we are, and we ought always to believe we are, ever together with our common Head. And it is in this view that we cannot safely call any man Father, upon earth, for one is our Father, who is in heaven. But God doth not become our Father consequent upon our supplications. Certainly not; he was our Father before a single cry of distress passed our supplicating lips;
and why, because he was, and is the Father of Christ Jesus ; and, as the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God; so every man is allowed to view himself as a member of his glorious body (who for our sakes was numbered with transgressors) and thus to say, Our Father which art in heaven. Hence, although as descended from the first Adam, we are from beneath, yet as allied to the second Adam, we are from above. But for this grace we are indebted to Jesus Christ, without the shadow of merit resulting from our individual selves; and accordingly we are instructed, when entirely secluded from every other individual, to say, Our Father.
This our Father is in heaven, where nothing which defileth can enter. The accuser of the brethren cannot enter there. Heaven is a seat of peace and love, among the denizens of heaven no baleful spirit can obtain a place, no boisterous passion can find harbour there; much less can fury dwell in him who filleth the throne of mercy, who is the source of love, and from whom is derived never ending, still augmenting felicity. Thus, although Christ is in heaven, and we upon earth, distance is annihilated by an intimate union and combination of character, for Jesus Christ is ever with us.
“ Hallowed be thy name.” This name was hallowed in the dress of Aaron, when on the emblematic mitre, was placed that plate, upon which was engraved, “Holiness to the Lord.” Jesus Christ is our head ; the hallowed name of the divine Nature resting upon him, is God with us. His name is holy. But we have nothing to fear from a holy name, although this be but a shadow ; how much less then have we to fear from a Father whose name is holy. But his name is hallowed, and it is that
hallowed name, which constitutes Christ Jesus, the Holy One of Israel. Reverend and holy is his name, and his only.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
First, What is the kingdom of God ? Christ Jesus is the kingdom of God ? Luke xvii. 21, “Neither shall they say, lo here ! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." John the Baptist, as the immediate harbinger of Jesus Christ, preached or proclaimed the Redeemer as the kingdom of heaven. How vast is the magnitude of this kingdom. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty : for all that is in heaven and in the earth is thine ; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. The kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the Governor among the nations. The durability of this kingdom is equal to its magnitude. The iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, were broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing foor; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them : and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. “Thy kingdom come,” in the final descent of the Redeemer, in like manner as he ascended, blessing his inheritance ; Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. It is not the will of God that any should perish. It is not the will of our Father, which is in heaven, that one of his little ones should perish. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness: but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It is the will of God that all men should come unto the knowledge of the truth, and be sa ved. For the will of God is our sanctification ; God willeth that we should perform every good work, and abstain from every evil, and this will of God, Jesus Christ was appointed to execute. Then said I, lo I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, o God. By the which will, we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And, saith the world's Saviour, this is the Father's will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life ; and I will raise him up at the last day. We are directed to pray, that this will of God may be accomplished, that it may be fully accomplished in earth as it is in heaven. The will of God is already done in heaven, in the divine Nature ; our Head hath ascended up on high, immaculate, without the iniquity of his heels'; we are not, therefore, taught to pray that the will of God may be done in heaven, but that it may be done in earth as it is in heaven; that it may be done in the whole of human nature, in the whole human family, in every individual ; that the will of God may be done in every individual, precisely as it is already done in their head, so that every man may be holy, even as God is holy. Hence, we are commanded, by the holy Spirit, to pray for all men. / “ I exhort, therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. This one Mediator, this glorious Redeemer, assures us, that whatsoever we ask, according to the will of God, we shall receive; and hence, when the genuine believer supplicates for the salvation of all men, he asks in faith, nothing doubting."
“Give us this day our daily bread.” It is not said, give us this day our yearly bread. It is good that man continues a dependent being. I “Give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full and deny thce, and say who is the Lord? Or, lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. The bread which perisheth is a figure of the bread of life. The daily bread, for which we are taught to pray, is spiritual bread. “He gave them bread from heaven to eat. / Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him LORD, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life : he that cometh to me shall never hunger. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said I am the bread which came down from heaven. I am the bread of life. Your
fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is ; the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat