« AnteriorContinuar »
Directions concerning prayer.
The Lord's prayer.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain || Father knoweth what things ye have An. Olymp. repetitions, as the heathen do: for need of, before ye ask him.
A. M. 4031.
A. D. 27. An. Olymp: CCI. 3.
9 After this manner therefore pray
they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for
ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
a Eccles. 5. 2. Ecclus. 7. 14.- b 1 Kings 18. 26, 29.
vices, and reckons to his subjects' account, even their trust and confidence in begging all things of him!
Verse 7. Use not vain repetitions] Mn Battoλoynonte. Suidas explains this word well; "moduλoyia, much speaking, from one Toλuλoysa, much speaking, from one Battus, who made very prolix hymns, in which the same idea frequently recurred.” "A frequent repetition of awful and || striking words may often be the result of earnestness and fervour. See Dan. ix. 3—20. but great length of prayer, which will of course involve much sameness and idle repetition, naturally creates fatigue and carelessness in the worshipper, and seems to suppose ignorance or inattention in the Deity; a fault against which our Lord more particularly wishes to secure them." See ver. 8. This judicious note is from the late Mr. Gilbert Wakefield, who illustrates it with the following quotations from the Heautontimorumenos of Terence,
Ohe jam desine Deos, uxor, gratulando OBTUNDERE, Tuam esse inventam gnutam: nisi illos ex TUO INGENIO judicas, Ut nil credas INTELLIGERE, nisi idem DICTUM SIT CENTIES. Pray thee, wife, cease from STUNNING the gods with thanksgivings, because thy child is in safety; unless thou judgest of them from thyself, that they cannot UNDERSTAND a thing, unless they are told of it a HUNDRED TIMES." Heaut. ver. 880.
Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. The eloquence of prayer consists in the fervency of desire, and the simplicity of faith. The abundance of fine thoughts, studied and vehement motions, and the order and politeness of the expressions, are things which compose a mere human harangue, not a humble and christian prayer. Our trust and confidence ought to proceed from that which God is able to do
in us, and not from that which we can say to him. It is abominable, says the HEDAYAH, that a person offering up prayers to God, should say, "I beseech thee, by the glory of thy heavens!" or, by the splendor of thy throne!" for a stile of this nature would lead to suspect that the Almighty derived glory from the heavens; whereas the heavens are created, but God with all his attributes is eternal and inimitable. HEDAYAH, vol. iv. p. 121.
This is the sentiment of a Mohammedan; and yet for this vain repetition, the Mohammedans are peculiarly remarkable; they often use such words as the following:
Psal. 33. 15. & 115. 3. Luke 11. 2, &c. Rom. 8. 14, 15.
O God, O God, O God, O God!--O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord!-O living, O inmortal, O living, O immortal, O living, O immortal, O living, O immortal!—O Creator of the heavens and the earth!—O thou who art endowed with Majesty and authority, O wonderful, &c. I have extracted the above from a form of prayer used by Tippo Sahib, which I met with in a book of devotion taken out of his pocket when found among the slain at the storming of Seringapatam; in which there were several prayers written with his own hand, and signed with his own name.
Of this vain repetition in civil matters among the Jews, many instances might be given, and not a few examples might be found among Christians. The heathens abounded with them : see several quoted by Lightfoot.-Let the parricide be dragged! We beseech thee, Augustus, let the parricide be dragged! This is the thing we ask, let the parricide be dragged Hear us, Cæsar; let the false accusers be cast to the lion! Hear us, Casar, let the false accusers be condemned to the lion! Hear us, Cæsar, &c. It was a maxim among the Jews, that if it only imply perseverance in supplication; but if it be used "he who multiplies prayer, must be heard." This is correct, to signify the multiplying of words, or even forms of prayer, it will necessarily produce the evil which our Lord reprehends: Be not as the heathen-use not vain repetition, &c.
hypocrites. Unmeaning words, useless repetitions, and comAs the heathen] The Vatican MS. reads Tongirai, like the plimentary phrases in prayer, are in general the result of heathenism, hypocrisy, or ignorance.
Verse 8. Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of]
Prayer is not designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of
his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind that THERE is his Father, his country, and inheritance.
In the preceding verses we may see three faults, which our Lord commands us to avoid in prayer:
1st. HYPOCRISY. Be not as the hypocrites. ver. 5. 2dly. DISSIPATION. Enter into thy closet. ver. 6. 3dly. MUCH SPEAKING, OF UNMEANING REPETITION. like the heathens. ver. 7.
Verse 9. After this manner therefore pray ye] Forms of
prayer were frequent among the Jews; and every public || یا الله یا الله یا الله یا الله یا رب یا رب یا رب یا رب
teacher gave one to his disciples. Some forms were drawn out to a considerable length, and from these abridgements were
یا حي و قيوم يا حي و قيوم يا حي و قيوم يا
,made : to the latter sort the following prayer properly belongs || يا بديع السموات و الارض يا ذا الجلال و الكرام - وغيره
and consequently, besides its own very important use, it is a plan for a more extended devotion. What satisfaction is it to learn from God himself, with what words, and in what manner he would have us to pray to him, so as not to pray in vain! A king, who himself draws up the petition which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the fullest determination to grant the request. We do not sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and attention which it requires, the preference to be given to it, its fulness and perfection, the frequent use we should make of it, and the spirit which Lord, teach us how to pray!" is a we should bring with it. prayer necessary to prayer; for unless we are divinely instructed in the manner, and influenced by the spirit of true devotion, even the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ may be repeated, without profit to our souls.
Our Father] It was a maxim of the Jews, that a man should not pray alone, but join with the church; by which they particularly meant that he should, whether alone or with the synagogue, use the plural number, as comprehending all the followers of God. Hence, they say, Let none pray the short prayer, i. e. as the gloss expounds it, the prayer in the singular, but in the plural number. See Lightfoot on this place.
This prayer was evidently made in a peculiar manner for the children of God. And hence we are taught to say, not My Father, but our Father. The heart, says one, of a child of God, is a brotherly heart, in respect of all other christians: it asks nothing but in the spirit of unity, fellowship, and christian charity; desiring that for its brethren, which it desires for itself.
The word Father, placed here at the beginning of this prayer, includes two grand ideas, which should serve as a foundation to all our petitions: 1st. That tender and respectful love which we should feel for God, such as that which children feel for their fathers. 2dly. That strong confidence in God's love to us, such as fathers have for their children. Thus all the petitions in this prayer stand in strictest reference to the word father; the first three referring to the love we have for God; and the three last, to that confidence which we have in the love he bears to us.
The relation we stand in to this first and best of beings, dictates to us reverence for his person, zeal for his honour, obedience to his will, submission to his dispensations and chastisements, and resemblance to his nature.
11 Give us this day our 'daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
See Job 23. 12. Prov. 30, 8.
Which art in heaven] The phrase 'nwɔw wax, abinu sheboshemayim, our Father who art in heaven, was very common among the ancient Jews; and was used by them precisely in the same sense as it is used here by our Lord.
d ch. 18. 21, &c.
This phrase in the Scriptures, seems used to express : 1st. His OMNIPRESENCE. The heavens of heavens cannot contain thee. 1 Kings viii. 37. that is, Thou fillest immensity.
2dly. His MAJESTY and DOMINION over his creatures. Art thou not God in heaven, and rulest thou not over all the kingdoms of the heathen? 2 Chron. xx. 6.
3dly. His POWER and MIGHT. Art thou not God in heaven, and in thy hand is there not power and might, so that no creature is able to withstand thee! 2 Chron. xx. 6. Our Godis in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased. Psal. cxv. 3. 4thly. His OMNISCIENCE. The Lord's throne is in heaven, his eyes behold, his eye-lids try the children of men. Psal. xi. 4. The Lord looketh down from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of men. Psal. xxxiii. 13-15.
5thly. His infinite PURITY and HOLINESS. Look down from Thou art the high and thy holy habitation, &c. Deut. 26. 15. lofty One, who inhabiteth Eternity, whose name is holy. Isai. lvii. 15.
Hallowed] Ayao!now. ayaw from a negative, and y, the earth, a thing separated from the earth, or from earthly purposes and employments. As the word sanctified, or hallowed, in Scripture is frequently used for the consecration of a thing or person to a holy use or office, as the Levites, first-born, Tabernacle, Temple, and their utensils, which were all set apart from every earthly, common, or profane use; and employed' wholly in the service of God, so the Divine Majesty may be said to be sanctified by us, in analogy to those things, viz. when we separate him from, and in our conceptions and desires, exalt him above earth, and all things.
Thy name.] That is, GoD himself, with all the Attributes of his Divine Nature-his Power, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy, &c.
We hallow God's name, 1st. With our lips, when all our conversation is holy, and we speak of those things which are meet to minister grace to the hearers.
2dly. In our thoughts, when we suppress every rising evil, and have our tempers regulated by his grace and spirit.
3dly. In our lives, when we begin, continue, and end our works to his glory. If we have an eye to God in all we perform, then every act of our common employment will be an act of religious worship.
4thly. In our families, when we endeavour to bring up our children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord; instruct|ing also our servants in the way of righteousness.
5thly. In a particular calling or business, when we separate the falsity, deception, and lying, commonly practised, from it; buying and selling, as in the sight of the holy and just God.
13 And lead us not into tempta- the power, and the glory, for ever. An. Olymp. tion, but deliver us from evil: Amen.
For thine is the kingdom, and
14 For if ye forgive men their
The Lord's prayer
The universal sway of the sceptre of Christ :-God has promised that the kingdom of Christ shall be exalted above all kingdoms. Dan. vii. 14-27. That it shall overcome all others, and be at last the universal empire. Isai. ix. 7. Connect this with the explanation given of this phrase, ch. iii. 2.
Thy will be done] This petition is properly added to the preceding, for when the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit, is established in the heart, there is then an ample provision made for the fulfilment of the Divine will. The will of God, is infinitely good, wise and holy; to have it fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom, and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the counterpart of heaven.
Verse 10. Thy kingdom come.] The ancient Jews scrupled come one with the will of God. 7thly. How can any person
As it is in heaven.] The Jews maintained, that they were the angels of God upon earth, as those pure spirits were angels of God in heaven; hence they said, "As the angels sanctify "As the angels sanctify the Divine name in heaven, so the Israelites sanctify the Divine name upon earth." See Schaetgen.
A.M. 4031. A. D. 27. An. Olymp. CCI. 3.
Observe, 1st. The salvation of the soul, is the result of two wills conjoined the will of God, and the will of man. If God will not the salvation of man, he cannot be saved: If man will not the salvation God has prepared for him, he cannot be delivered from his sins. 2dly. This petition certainly points out a deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can consist with the divine will, and if this be fulfilled in man, surely sin shall be banished from his soul. 3dly. This is further evident from these words, as it is in heaven; i. e. as the angels do it: viz. with all zeal, diligence, love, delight, and perseverance. 4thly. Does not the petition plainly imply, we may live without sinning against God? Surely the holy angels never mingle iniquity with their loving obedience; and as our Lord teaches us to pray, that we do his will here, as they do it in heaven; can it be thought he would put a petition in our mouths, the fulfilment of which was impossible? 5thly. This certainly destroys the assertion: "There is no such state of purification to be attained here, in which it may be said, the soul is redeemed from sinful passions and desires," for it is on EARTH, that we are commanded to pray that this will, which is our sanctification, may be done. 6thly. Our souls can never be truly happy, till our wILLS be entirely subjected to, and be
Ecclus. 28. 1, &c. Mark 11. 25, 26. Eph. 4. 32. Col. 3. 13.
Some see the mystery of the Trinity in the three preceding petitions. The first being addressed to the Father, as the source of all holiness. The second, to the Son, who establishes the kingdom of God upon earth. The third, to the Holy Spirit, who by his energy works in men to will and to perform.
To offer these three petitions with success at the Throne of God, three graces, essential to our salvation, must be brought into exercise; and, indeed, the petitions themselves necessarily suppose them. FAITH, Our Father for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.
HOPE, Thy kingdom comene-For this grace has for its object good things to come.
Love, Thy will be done-For love is the incentive to, and principle of all obedience to God, and beneficence to man.
Verse 11. Give us this day our daily bread.] The word Ovo has greatly perplexed critics and commentators. I find upwards of thirty different explanations of it. It is found in no Greek writer before the Evangelists, and Origen says expressly, that it was formed by them, 'EIXE Tetrastai urg TWY EUCYYEXIOTWY. The interpretation of Theophylact, one of the best of the Greek Fathers, has ever appeared to me to be the best, Αρτος επί τη ουσία και συστάσει ημών αυταρκης, Brcai, suficient for our substance or support, i. e. That quantity of food which is necessary to support our health and strength, by being changed into the substance of our bodies. Its composition is of and oura, proper or sufficient for support. Mr. Wakefield thinks it probable, that the word was originally written ovσay, which coalesced by degrees, till they became the ovo of the MSS. There is probably an allusion here to the custom of travellers in the East, who were wont to reserve a part of the food given them the preceding evening to serve for their breakfast or dinner the next day. But as this was not sufficient for the whole day, they were therefore obliged to depend on the providence of God for the additional supply. In Luke, xv. 12, 13. via signifies, what a person has to live on; and nothing can be more natural than to understand the compounds, of that additional supply which the traveller needs to complete the provision necessary for a day's eating, over and above what he had then in his possession. See Harmer.
The word is so very peculiar and expressive, and seems to
We must forgive those
A. D. 27.
trespasses, your heavenly Father will trespasses, neither will your Father An. Olymp. also forgive you: forgive your trespasses. 16 Moreover when ye fast, be not,
15 But if ye forgive not men their
a Ch. 18. 35. Jam. 2. 13.
have been made on purpose by the Evangelists, that more than merely bodily nourishment seems to be intended by it. Indeed, many of the primitive Fathers understood it as comprehending that daily supply of grace which the soul requires to keep it in health and vigour : He who uses the petition would do well to keep both in view. Observe, 1. God is the author and dispenser of all temporal as well as spiritual good. 2. We have merited no kind of good from his hand, and therefore must receive it as a free gift: give us, &c. 3. We must depend on him daily for support; we are not permitted to ask any thing for to-morrow: give us to day. 4. That petition of the ancient Jews is excellent: "Lord, the necessities of thy people Israel are many, and their knowledge small, so that they know not how to disclose their necessities: Let it be thy good pleasure to give to every man, what sufficeth for food!" Thus they expressed their dependance, and left it to God to determine what was best and most suitable. We must ask only that which is essential to our support, God having promised neither luxuries nor superfluities.
who trespass against us.
Verse 12. And forgive us our debts] Sin is represented here under the notion of a debt, and as our sins are many, they are called here debts. God made man that he might live to his glory, and gave him a law to walk by, and if, when he does any thing that tends not to glorify God, he contracts a debt with Divine Justice, how much more is he debtor when he breaks the law by actual transgression. It has been justly observed, "All the attributes of God are reasons of obedience to man; those attributes are infinite: every sin is an act of ingratitude, or rebellion against all these attributes, therefore sin is infinitely sinful."
1 Kings 21. 27. Isai. 58. 5.
As we forgive our debtors.] It was a maxim among the ancient Jews, that no man should lie down in his bed, without forgiving those who had offended him. That man condemns himself to suffer eternal punishment, who makes use of this prayer with revenge and hatred in his heart. He who will not attend to a condition so advantageous to himself, (remitting a hundred pence to his debtor, that his own creditor may remit him 10,000 talents) is a madman, who, to oblige his neighbour to suffer an hour, is himself determined to suffer everlastingly! This condition of forgiving our neighbour, though it can not possibly merit any thing; yet it is that condition without which God will pardon no man. See ver. 14 and 15.
Verse 13. And lead us not into temptation] That is, bring us not into sore trial. Пugaoμov, which may be here rendered sore trial, comes from Tug, to pierce through, as with a spear or spit, used so by some of the best Greek writers. Several of the primitive fathers understood it something in this way; and have therefore added quam ferre non possimus, “which we cannot bear." The word not only implies, violent assaults from Satan, but also sorely afflictive circumstances, none of which we have as yet, grace or fortitude sufficient to bear. Bring us not in, or, lead us not in.—This is a mere Hebraism: God is said to do a thing, which he only permits or suffers to be done.
The process of temptation is often as follows: 1st. A simple evil thought. 2ndly. A strong imagination, or impression made on the imagination, by the thing to which we tempted. 3dly. Delight in viewing it. 4thly. Consent of the will to perform it. Thus lust is conceived, sin is finished, and death brought forth. Jam. 1. 15. See also on chap. iv. 1. A man may be tempted without entering into the temptation: entering into it, implies giving way, closing in with, and embracing it.
Forgive us.-Man has nothing to pay if his debts are not forgiven, they must stand charged against him for ever; as he is absolutely insolvent. Forgiveness, therefore, must come from the free mercy of God in Christ: and how strange is it, we cannot have the old debt cancelled, without (by that very means) contracting a new one, as great as the old! but the credit is transferred from Justice to Mercy. While sinners, we are in debt to infinite Justice; when pardoned, in debt to endless Mercy and as a continuance in a state of grace, ne- || cessarily implies a continual communication of mercy, so the debt goes on increasing ad infinitum. Strange œconomy in the divine procedure, which by rendering a man an infinite debtor, keeps him eternally dependant on his Creator! How good is God! and what does this state of dependance imply? a union with, and participation of the fountain of eternal good-from a hard judgment, and a hard adversary." See Lightfoot. Dess and felicity!
But deliver us from evil] ATO тOU Tоvnçou, from the wicked. one. Satan is expressly called o Tovngos, the wicked one. Matt. xiii. 19 and 38. compare with Mark iv. 15. Luke viii. 12. This epithet of Satan comes from wɔvoç, labour, sorrow, misery, because of the drudgery which is found in the way of sin, the sorrow that accompanies the commission of it, and the misery which is entailed upon it, and in which it ends.
It is said in the MISHNA, Tit. Beracoth, that Rabbi Judah was wont to pray thus: "Let it be thy good pleasure_to deliver us from impudent men, and from impudence: from an evil man, and an evil chance; from an evil affection, an evil companion, and an evil neighbour; from Satan the destroyer,
Deliver us] Puoas nuas-a very expressive word-break.our
A.M.4081. A. D. 27. An. Olymp. CCI. 3.
concerning fasting. as the hypocrites, of a sad counte- || fast. Verily I say unto you, They A.M. 4031. An. Olymp. nance: for they disfigure their faces, have their reward.
A. M. 4031.
A. D. 27.
that they may appear unto men to
17 But thou, when thou fastest,
Gen. 4. 4. Psal. 55. 13. Matt. 14. 15.
chains, and loose our bands-snatch, pluck us from the evil,
and its calamitous issue.
For thine is the kingdom, &c.] The whole of this Doxology is rejected by Wetstein, Griesbach, and the most eminent critics. The authorities on which it is rejected may be seen in Griesbach and Wetstein, particularly in the second edition of Griesbach's Testament, who is fully of opinion, that never made a part of the sacred text. It is variously written in several MSS. and omitted by most of the Fathers, both Greek and Latin. As the Doxology is at least very ancient, and was in use among the Jews, as well as all the other petitions of this excellent prayer, it should not, in my opinion, be left out of the text; merely because some MSS. have omitted it, and it has been variously written in others. See various forms of this Doxology taken from the ancient Jewish writers, in Lightfoot and Schoetgen.
By the kingdom, we may understand that mentioned ver. 10. and explained chap. iii. 2.
By power, that energy by which the kingdom is governed
By glory, the honour that shall redound to God in consequence of the maintenance of the kingdom of grace, in the salvation of men.
For ever and ever.] Eis Tous asuvas, to the for evers. Well expressed by our common translation-ever in our ancient use of the word taking in the whole duration of time; the second ever, the whole of eternity. May thy name have the glory both in this world, and in that which is to come! The original word av comes from as always, and wy being, || or existence. This is Aristotle's definition of it. See the note on Gen. xxi. 33. There is no word in any language which more forcibly points out the grand characteristic of eternity--that which always exists. It is often used to signify limited time, the end of which is not known, but this use of it is only an accommodated one; and it is the grammatical, and proper sense of it, which must be resorted to in any controversy concerning the word. We sometimes use the phrase for evermore: i. e. for ever and more, which signifies the whole of time, and the more or interminable duration beyond it. See on chap. xxv. 46.
Amen. This word is Hebrew, 28, and signifies faithful or Some suppose the word is formed from the initial letters of 128: 772 273 adoni melech neeman, My Lord, the|| faithful king. The word itself implies a confident resting of the soul in God, with the fullest assurance that all these
petitions shall be fulfilled to every one who prays according to the directions given before by our blessed Lord.
The very learned Mr. Gregory has shewn that our Lord collected this prayer out of the Jewish Euchologies, and gives us the whole form as follows:
"Our Father who art in heaven, be gracious unto us! O Lord our God hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of Thee be glorified in heaven above, and in the earth here below! Let thy kingdom reign over us now, and for ever! The holy men of old said; remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me! And lead us not into the hands of temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing! For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore." Gregory's Works, 4to, 1671, p. 162. See this proved at large in the collections of Lightfoot and Schoetgenius.
Verse 14. If ye forgive men] He who shews mercy to inen, receives mercy from God. For a king to forgive his subjects a hundred millions of treasons against his person and authority, on this one condition, that they will henceforth live peaceably with him and with each other, is what we shall never see; and yet this is but the shadow of that which Christ promises on his Father's part to all true penitents. || A man can have little regard for his salvation, who refuses to have it on such advantageous terms. See Quesnel. Verse 15. But if ye forgive not] He who does not awake at the sound of so loud a voice, is not asleep, but dead. A vindictive man excludes himself from all hope of eternal life, and himself seals his own damnation.
Ruth 3. 3. 2 Sam. 12. 20. Eccl. 9. 8.
Trespasses] Παραπτωματα, from παρα and πίπτω, to fall off. What a remarkable difference there is between this word and punuara, debts, in verse 12! Men's sins against us, are only their stumblings, or fallings off from the duties they owe us; but our's are debts to God's justice, which we can never discharge. It can be no great difficulty to forgive those, especially when we consider, that in many respects we have failed as much in certain duties which we owed to others, as they have done in those which they owed us. "But I have given him no provocation." Perhaps thou art angry, and art not a proper judge in the matter: but, however it may be, it is thy interest to forgive, if thou expectest forgiveness from God. On this important subject I will subjoin an extract from Mason's Self-knowledge, page 248. 1755.
"Athenodorus, the philosopher, by reason of his old age, begged leave to retire from the court of Augustus, which the Emperor granted. In his compliments of leave, he said, Remember, Cæsar, whenever thou art angry, that thou say or do nothing, before thou hast distinctly repeated to thyself the twenty-four letters of the alphabet.' On which