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2. By doing which we also do imply the sense we have of our total dependence upon God; avowing ourselves to subsist by his care and bounty; disclaiming consequently all confidence in any other means to maintain or support us; in any store we have laid up, or estate we pretend to; in any contrivance or industry we can use; in any succour of friends or relations; for that, notwithstanding all these, we do need our daily bread to be dealt to us by God, and must continually beg it as a gift from his hands.
3. We are by that word, onμepov, this day, taught our duty (signifying withal our performance thereof) of being willing continually to rely upon God; not affecting to be ever so much beforehand, as not to need God's constant assistance: we ask not, that God would give us at once what may serve us for ever, and may put us out of any fear to want hereafter; we ask not for that which may suffice for a long time, for many years, many months, many days; but that God would give us to-day, or rather day by Luke xi.3. day; (Tò κað ýμéρav, as it is expressed in St. Luke ;) that is, that he would continually dispense to us what is needful for us: we should not therefore desire to have an estate settled upon us; to live by ourselves, or on our own incomes; to be set out of God's house, or immediate protection and care; this in itself cannot be, (for God cannot alienate his goods from himself, nor can we subsist out of his hand,) nor must we desire it should be: it is a part of atheism, or infidelity, of heathenish profaneness and Matt. vi. 32. folly, to desire it, (these things, saith our Lord, do the Gentiles seek; that is, they are covetous of wealth, and careful for provisions, to live without dependence upon God;) but we must esteem God's
providence our surest estate, God's bounty our best treasure, God's fatherly care our most certain and most comfortable support; casting all our care on Matt.vi. 25. him, as being assured that he careth for us; will Heb. xiii. 5. not leave nor forsake us; will not withhold what is Phil. iv. 6. necessary for our comfortable sustenance.
1 Pet. v. 7.
4. It is here intimated, how sober and moderate our appetites should be, in regard both to the quality and quantity of the things we use: we are directed to ask Tρop, où тρupy, as St. Chrysostom says, necessary food, not luxurious plenty or delicacy: it is bread, (the most simple, homely, and common diet;) that is, such accommodations as are necessary to maintain our lives, and satisfy our natural desires; not superfluities, serving to please our wanton appetites, or humour our curious fancies; it is not variety, daintiness, elegancy, or splendour, we should affect to enjoy, but be content to have our necessities supplied with the coarsest diet and the meanest apparel, if our condition requireth it, or God's providence in an honest way allotteth no other to us: we may soberly and thankfully enjoy what God sends; but we should not presume to ask for or desire other than this.
And for the measure, we learn to ask only for so much as shall be fit to maintain us; not for rich, or plentiful store; not for full barns, or for heaps of treasure; not for wherewith to glut, or pamper ourselves; but for daily bread, a moderate provision, then to be dealt to us, when we need it.
And forgive us our Trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; our tres
passes; it is our debts (opeλýpara) in St. Matthew; our sins (áμaprías) in St. Luke; and they who trespass against us are in both Evangelists called our debtors: for he that injures another is obnoxious and in debt to him; owing him satisfaction, either by making reparation, or undergoing punishment.
AFTER the preservation of our beings, (the foundation of enjoying other good things,) our first care, we see, ought to be concerning the welfare of our better part and state; which chiefly consists in the terms whereon we stand toward God, upon whose favour all our happiness dependeth, and from whose displeasure all our misery must proceed: since therefore we all do stand obnoxious to God's wrath and justice; having omitted many duties which we owe to him, having committed manifold offences against him; it is therefore most expedient, that we first endeavour to get him reconciled to us, by the forgiveness of our debts and offences: concerning which remission, upon what account it is necessary, upon what terms it is granted, by what means it is obtained, in what manner it is dispensed by God, I have otherwhere touched, and it is not seasonable now further to insist thereon; only it may be pertinent here to observe,
1. That this being the first of petitions (formally such, and) purely spiritual; we are hereby admonished to lay the foundation of our devotions in humility; that we are obliged, before we presume to ask any thing of God concerning our chief happiness and well-being, to reflect upon, acknowledge, and
confess our unworthiness, (not coming to our prayers as the Pharisee did, doting upon our worthy qualities and good deeds; but like the poor Publican, with a sense of our infirmities and miscarriages; so as to be ready to acknowledge ourselves, as indeed we all are, guilty of many and great sins;) this is here implied; for in requesting pardon for our sins, we confess ourselves to be sinners, and to need God's mercy.
2. We may hence learn the necessity and the excellency of that benefit we here beg. When the Psalmist applied himself to praise God for his benefits, this he set in the first place, as most needful and considerable to him; Bless the Lord, O my soul, Ps. ciii. 2,3. said he, and forget not all his benefits, (or rather, not any of his benefits,) who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases; and answerably, it is the first particular benefit we pray for.
3. We must take notice, that we are obliged to go to our devotions with universal charity and goodwill toward others; to lift up, as St. Paul enjoineth, 1 Tim. ii. 8. holy hands, without wrath and doubting, (or without wrath and dissension,) to depose all enmity (as our Lord adviseth) before we bring our oblation to Matt. v. 23. the altar of God; reserving no spite or grudge toward any man, but having a heart clear of all ill-will and desire of revenge; being in affection of mind toward others, as we do wish, and hope, and pray that God would be toward us: such in all reason, equity, and ingenuity should our disposition be; and such God requires it to be; and such we do assert and promise it to be; implying also a compact with God, no otherwise to desire or expect his favour and mercy toward us, than as we resemble him in kind
and merciful intentions toward our brethren: it is implied on God's part, that he vouchsafes pardon only upon these terms; yea more, that he doth truly promise pardon upon our performing this condition; so our Saviour, purposely reflecting on this Matt. vi. 14. petition, doth afterward expound it; For, saith he, if you forgive to men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: it also implies a consent on our parts, and submission to this condition, as most equal and reasonable; so that if we break it, if we do retain any uncharitable inclinations, we deal falsely with God; we forfeit all pretence to favour and mercy from him; we are neither qualified for mercy, nor shall obtain it from God.
Lead us not into Temptation.
TEMPTATION is sometime taken, in a middle and indifferent sense, for any occasion by which the moral quality of persons (their virtue or vice) is Gen. xxii. 1. examined and discovered: so God is said to have tempted Abraham, when he propounded to him the offering up of his son; so he tempted the Israelites, by leading them in that long journey through the Deut. viii. 2. wilderness, that he might know what was in their ἵνα πειράσῃ heart, whether they would keep his commandments, or no so he likewise tempted them by permitting Deut. xiii.3. seducers to do wonderful things, that he might know whether they did love the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul: and because affliction is of such a nature, as to try the temper, disposition, and intentions of men, therefore temptation often is used for affliction. It seemeth also sometimes put in a good sense, for an occasion designed to exercise, or