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their waters shall be sure, Isa. xxxiii. 16. And elsewhere, I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread, Psal. cxxxii. 15. This is what we are taught to pray for in this petition; in which we may observe,

I. That there are some things supposed, namely,

1. That, by our sins, we have forfeited a right to the outward blessings of this life. This was the consequence of the forfeiture of life itself; and it was a part of the curse, that we were exposed to by our rebellion against, and apostacy from God. If he should deprive us of all the conveniences of life, and thereby imbitter it to us; so that we should be almost inclined to make that unhappy choice that Job did, of strangling and death, rather than life, Job vii. 15. there would be no rea son to say, there is unrighteousness with God.

2. It is farther supposed, that outward blessings are God's free gift to us. Whether we have a greater or a smaller portion thereof, they are to be acknowledged as the fruits of divine bounty: It is God that spreads a table for us; to some he gives a small measure, and to others a larger share of temporal good things; but, whatever we enjoy, it is to be owned as the effect of his providential goodness. This, indeed, does not exclude the use of those means that are ordained for the preserving of life, and our obtaining the good things thereof; but we must, at the same time, acknowledge, that all that wisdom, industry, and success that attends our endeavours, is from God; it is he that giveth power to get wealth, Deut. viii. 18. or, as it is elsewhere said, The rich and poor meet together; thst is, they both agree in this, that the Lord is the Maker of them all, Prov. xxii. 2. that is, whatever be their circumstances in the world, it is he that provides, what they have, for them. And if what we enjoy is sweetened and sanctified to us for our good, so that we have not only the conveniences of life, but a blessing with them, and are enabled to make a right use and improvement of them, to the glory of God and the advantage of ourselves and others; this must also be reckoned an instance of divine favour, or the gift of God.

3. It is farther supposed, that temporal good things may lawfully be prayed for. As the providence of God does not, as was before observed, exclude the use of means; so it is not inconsistent with, but rather an inducement to prayer; and, indeed, prayer is an ascribing glory to God, as the fountain of all we enjoy; without which, it would be an affront to the divine Majesty, to expect any blessing from him. This is applicable to prayer in general, and, in particular, to our making supplication for outward blessings.

I. We shall consider the subject-matter of the petition, or

what we are to understand when we say, Give us this day our daily bread.

1. The thing prayed for, is bread; whereby our Saviour intimates, that we are to set due bounds to our desires, when we are pressing after outward blessings. He does not order us to importune with God for the great things of this life; but rather for those things which are necessary, in the enjoyment whereof, we may the better be enabled to glorify him: He does not put his followers upon asking for crowns and sceptres, as though his kingdom were of this world, as some, who were influenced by carnal motives, fondly imagined, being ready to expect that many worldly advantages would accrue from their adhering to him; and, when they found themselves mistaken, shamefully deserted his cause, and relinquished the profession that they once made of him: But Christ never gave his people ground to expect that their secular interest should be promoted by embracing the gospel: Accordingly, when any one seemed desirous of being his disciple, he generally put this trying ques→ tion to him; whether he was content to leave all, and follow him, or to lead a mean life in the world, and be hated of all men for his name's sake? His disciples, indeed, were sometimes filled with toe great solicitude about their future cir cumstances in life; but he encourages them to hope for necessary provisions, when he says, Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things, Matt. vi. 32. and it is always found, that where there is the greatest degree of faith, it tends to moderate our affections as to the things of this world; and if at any time, they are apt to exceed their due bounds, it gives a check to them, as the prophet says to Baruch: Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not, Jer. xlv. 5. We have an admirable instance of this in Jacob; who, when he was in a most destitute condition, flying from his father's house, to Padan-aram, did not know what entertainment he should meet with there. The principal thing which he desires, together with the divine presence and protection, is, that he might have bread to eat, and raiment to put on, Gen. xxviii. 20. He does not ask, that people and nations might bow down to him; or that God would take away the life of his brother Esau, whose malicious design against him, occa sioned his present hazardous journey; he is not anxiously concerned for the great things of this world, but only desires that he may have the necessaries of life. And Agar's prayer is not unlike this, who says, Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, Prov. xxx. 8. Such a frame of spirit our Saviour supposes them to have, who thus address themselves to God in prayer for bread, or the outward accommodations of life.

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2. It is called, our bread; the meaning of which is, that there is a distinct property which every one has, by the allot ment of providence, in those outward blessings which God has given him, whatever be the measure or proportion thereof: This we are taught to acknowledge with thankfulness, q. d. Thou didst not design that one man should take possession of the whole world, or engross to himself all its stores, and that the rest should starve and perish for want of the necessaries of life; herein thy wisdom and sovereignty appears, and to this it is owing, that there are some things which we have a right to, distinct from others: not without, but by the gift and blessing of providence. And therefore, whatsoever God thinks fit that we should receive, we call our own, and as such, pray for it; otherwise we are not in the least to desire or covet it, inasmuch as we are taught to pray only for that which we may call ours, as having a natural or civil right to it, which we have not to that which belongs to another.

Now there are two ways by which we are said to receive outward blessings, which we may call our own from the hand of God, which are more especially included in this petition.

(1.) As God, by his distinguishing hand, gives us that measure of outward blessings which he sees convenient for us, and that either, by succeeding our endeavours, or by supplying our wants in some way which was altogether unexpected by us, and thereby making provision for the comfort of our lives.There is sometimes a chain of providences concurring hereunto; as God speaks of his hearing the heavens, Hos. ii. 21, 22. that, when they want store of water, he may furnish them therewith, and they may hear the earth, so as to moisten it with showers, when parched, and becoming unfruitful; and that the earth may hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, so as to produce them; and that these may hear, that is, may be distributed among God's people, as he sees they want them; and the Psalmist says, He watereth the hills from his chambers: The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man; that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart, Psal. civ. 13-15. So that there are various causes and effects, subservient to each other, which are all owing to the blessing of providence, whereby we come to possess that portion of the good things of this life, which are allotted for us.

(2.) The outward blessings of this life may be called ours when God is pleased to make them blessings to us, and give us the enjoyment thereof. He must add his blessings to all the mercies he bestows, or else they will not conduce to our

happiness; nor can the general end, designed hereby, be answered; without this, the bread we eat, would no more nourish us, than husks or chaff; our garments, without this, could no more contribute to our being warm, than if they were put upon a statue; and the air we breathe, would rather stifle than refresh us. Thus it is said, Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God, Deut. viii. 3. that is, not barely by second causes, or the means we use, in order to the maintaining life and health, or any of the comforts thereof; but, by the blessing of God, or his power and providence, that these ends are answered.

And it is he alone who can give us the comfortable enjoyment thereof: This all have not; their tables are plentifully furnished, but they want that measure of health which is necessary for their taking in, or receiving advantage from them; as it is said of the sick man, that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat, Job xxxiii. 20. Such do, as it were, starve in the midst of plenty. And there are others, who, though they have a great deal of the world, and are not hindered from the enjoyment of it by the weakness or decays of nature; yet they are made unhappy by the temper of their minds; as there are some that abound in riches, who may, nevertheless be said to be poor, because they want an heart to use what they have, which is God peculiar blessing: Thus the wise man says, Every man to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour, this is the gift of God, Eccl. v. 19. For these things we are dependent on him; and this is what we intend, when we pray that God would give us our bread.

3. We are farther taught to pray, that God would give us our bread this day, thereby denoting that we are to desire to have our present necessities supplied, as those who cannot be certain that we shall live till to-morrow. How often does God break the thread of our lives in an instant, without giving us any notice of it beforehand? And therefore we may truly say in the midst of life, we are in death, and are advised to take no thought for the morrow, but to leave that entirely to the providence of God: Food nourishes but for a day, so that what we now receive will not suffice us to-morrow. Nature is always craving supplies, and therefore we are taught to have a continual recourse to God by prayer for them: And, if we look farther than this present time, it is to be with this condition, that the Lord has determined to prolong our lives, and thereby renders it necessary for us to pray for those things that will be needful for the support thereof: This seems to be the meaning of that variation of expression, which the evangelist Luke

makes use of, when he says, Give us day by day our daily bread, Luke xi. 3. And it may obviate an objection, as it will be inferred by some, that if we are not to pray for what respects our future condition in this world, we are not to make provision for it: Whereas, this is contrary to what we are exhorted to do, by being led to consider the provision which the smallest insects make for their subsistence; The ant provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest, Prov. vi. 8. And the apostle says, If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, 1 Tim. y. 8. This therefore we ought to do; and accordingly we are to pray, that God would succeed our lawful endeavours, in order thereunto; though we must do it with this limitation, as maintaining a constant sense that our times are in his hand, so that if he should be pleased to grant us a longer or shorter lease of our lives, which to us is altogether uncertain, we are to beg of him, that we may never be destitute of what is necessary for our glorifying him therein.

4. This petition is to be considered as respecting others as well as ourselves; Give us, &c. whereby we express a concern for their advantage in what respects the good things of this life. The blessings of providence flow from an inexhaustible fountain; and therefore we are not to think that, by desiring that others may have a supply of their wants, there will not be enough remaining for us.

And this should always teach us to bear our part in relieving others, that they may not, through our neglect, perish for want of the necessaries of this life: Thus we are exhorted to deal our bread to the hungry, to bring the poor that are cast out to our houses, and when we see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide ourselves from our own flesh, Isa. lviii. 7. And Job having been severely accused by his friends, as though all those afflictions that befel him, were in judgment for his having oppressed and forsaken the poor, and violently taken away an house which he builded not, as Zophar insinuates, Job xx. 19. vindicates himself from the charge in the strongest terms, when he says, I have not withheld the poor from their desire, nor caused the eyes of the widow to fail; nor eaten my morsel myself alone, so that the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; nor seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering, chap. xxxi. 16-19. This is not only to pray, that God would give others their daily bread; but to help them, so far as it is in our power, which is very agreeable to what we pray for in their behalf, as well as our own, when we say, as in this petition, Give us this day our daily bread.

Thus concerning the matter of this petition, as explained in

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