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troubles that tend to depress the spirits. Sometimes he is unexpectedly surprized with a fit of sickness, which gives him a near view of death and another world, and then the violence of the temptation, for the present, ceases, or at least, he is deterred from complying with it; and it may be, his spirits are decayed, his constitution weakened, and his natural vigour abated hereby, so that he has no inclination to commit some sins which he was formerly addicted to. Others want leisure to pursue those lusts which they are habitually prone to, being engaged in a hurry of business, or conflicting with many difficulties for the subsisting of themselves and families: These are not exposed to those temptations that often attend a slothful and indolent way of living: Or it may be, they are separated from their former associates, who have been partners with them in sin, and tempters to it. And sometimes there is a sudden thought injected into their minds, which fills them with an inward fear and dread of the consequence of committing those sins which are more gross and notorious. This is. the result of an awakened conscience; whereby persons are kept from the commission of many sins, by the restraints of common providence, though they are, notwithstanding, in a state of unregeneracy, and sin in general remains unmortified.
But, on the other hand, the believer is preserved from it by the power of sanctifying grace, whereby an habitual inclination is wrought in him, to detest the sin that he is tempted to; and the Spirit of God, by his immediate interposure, internally disposes him to exercise the contrary graces; which proceed from a principle of filial fear and love to God, together with a sense of gratitude for all the benefits that he has received from him; so that in repelling a temptation, he says, with Joseph, How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God, Gen.
2. We are also to pray, that God would prevent those evil consequences, which very often attend such-like temptations; that our hearts may not be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that we may not willingly yield ourselves bond-slaves to Satan, or take pleasure in those sins which we have been tempted to commit: and that we may not be exposed hereby to divine desertion, how much soever we have deserved it.
3. We are likewise to pray, that God would recover, or bring us out of the pit, into which we are fallen, that hereby Satan may not take occasion, after he has overcome, to insult us, that we may not be given to a perpetual backsliding; but that our souls may be restored, and we led in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake, Psal. xxiii. 3.
4. If we have fallen by a temptation we are farther to pray, that God would over-rule it to his own glory, and our spiritual advantage. Though there be nothing good in sin, yet God can bring good out of it; and this he does when he humbles the soul for it, and makes him afraid of going near the brink of the pit, into which he fell, inclines him to be more watchful, that, by indulging some sins, he may not lay himself open to those temptations that would lead him to the commission of many others. This will also induce him to depend on Christ by faith, as being sensible of his inability to resist the least temptation without him. And it will excite in him the greatest thankfulness to God, who has found a way for his escape out of the snare wherein he was entangled, by which means he will receive abundant advantage, and God will be greatly glorified.
Thus we have considered God's people as exposed to various temptations, and how they are to direct their prayers to him, . agreeably thereunto, pursuant to what our Saviour has taught us in this petition; which, that we may farther enlarge upon in our meditations, we may express ourselves to God in prayer to this purpose; "We draw nigh to thee, O our God and "Father, as those who are exposed to many difficulties, by "reason of the snares and temptations that attend us. We find "it hard to pass through the world without being allured and
drawn aside from thee, by the vanities thereof, or discou"raged and made uneasy by those afflictions which are inse"parable from this present state: But that which gives us the "greatest ground of distress and trouble, and makes us an "easy prey to our spiritual enemies, is, the deceitfulness and "treachery of our own hearts, whereby we are prone to yield "ourselves the servants of sin and Satan. Every age and con"dition of life has been filled with temptations, which we "have been very often overcome by. We therefore implore "the powerful aids of thy grace, that we may be kept in the " hour of temptation. Enable us to overcome the world, to "mortify and subdue our corrupt inclinations, and to stand "against all the wiles and fiery darts of the Devil. Let us "not be tempted to presume of being happy without holiness, "or enjoying the benefits that are purchased by Christ, with"out faith in him. May we also be freed from all unbecom"ing thoughts of thy divine perfections, and not give way to "any temptations that may lead us to despair of thy mercy, "which thou art pleased to extend to the chief of sinners. "We farther beg, though with submission to thy will, that we "may be kept from the temptations of our grand adversary, "because we are sensible of our own weakness and inability to "resist him; nevertheless, we are confident that we can do all
"things by thine assistance: Therefore, if thou sufferest us to "be tempted, appear in our behalf at that time, that we may "be made more than conquerors; and when we fall by temp"tation, let us not be utterly cast down, but upheld with thine "hand, and let thy strength be made perfect in our weakness; "and, in the end, bring us safely to that happy state, where "there is neither sin nor temptation; when we shall be deli"vered from all the evils of this present state, that thou mayest "have the glory, and we may praise thee throughout the ages " of eternity."
QUEST. CXCVI. What doth the conclusion of the Lord's prayer teach us?
ANSW. The conclusion of the Lord's prayer, [which is, For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever, Amen] teacheth us to enforce our petitions with arguments, which are to be taken, not from any worthiness in ourselves, or in any other creature, but from God; and with our prayers, to join praises, ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency; in regard whereof, as he is able and willing to help us, so we, by faith, are emboldened to plead with him that he would, and quietly to rely upon him that he will fulfil our requests, and to testify this our desire, and assurance, we say, Amen.
S we are taught to begin our prayers with those expressions of reverence, becoming the Majesty of God, when we draw nigh to him; so we are to conclude them with a doxology, or an ascription of that glory which is due to his name; whereby praise is joined with prayer, and we encouraged to hope, that he will hear and answer our petitions.
In the conclusion of the Lord's prayer, we are directed to ascribe to God the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever; and to sum up all with that comprehensive word, Amen. This may be considered in two respects,
1. As we hereby express the due regard we have to the divine perfections: And,
2. As we improve or make use of them as so many arguments or pleas in prayer.
1. We shall consider this doxology as containing the sense we have of the divine perfections. Accordingly,
(1.) We say, Thine is the kingdom; whereby his sovereignty and universal dominion over all creatures, is acknowledged as he has a right to every thing that he gave being to And, as this is more especially a branch of his relative glory, since 3 N
the idea of a king connotes subjects, over whom his dominios is exercised; so it supposes in us an humble expression of subjection to him, and dependence on him for all things that we enjoy or hope for. We also consider him as having a right te make use of all creatures at his pleasure; inasmuch as the earth is his, and the fulness thereof: And, as we are intelligent creatures, we profess our obligation to yield obedience to his revealed will, and are afraid of incurring his displeasure by rebelling against him, with whom is terrible Majesty: And when we take a view of him; as seated on a throne of grace, and his government as extended to his church, upon which account he is adored as king of saints, Rev. xv. 3. we hope for his safe protection and for all the blessings which he bestows on those whom he governs in a way subservient to their everlasting salvation.
(2.) We adore him as a God of infinite power, Thine is the power. Dominion without power will not be sufficient to maintain its rights; therefore, since God is described as having the kingdom belonging to him, or being the governor among the nations; his attribute of power ought next to be considered, whereby he can, without the least difficulty, secure the welfare and happiness of his subjects, and bring to nought the designs of his enemies; or, as it is elegantly expressed, look on every one that is proud, and bring him low, and tread down the wicked in their place, hide them in the dust together, and bind their faces in secret, Job xl. 12, 13.
(3.) It is farther added, Thine is the glory. This may be taken in two senses; either as including in it all his perfections, whereby he is rendered glorious in the eyes of angels and men; so that there is nothing that we esteem beautiful or excellent in the whole system of created beings, but what is deformed, and, as it were, vanishes and sinks into nothing, when compared with him: Or else, the meaning of the expression is, that all the praise and honour that arises from every thing that is done in the world, which appears great and excellent, or has a tendency to raise our esteem and admiration, is to be ascribed to him; whereby we disclaim the least, shadow or appearance of divine honour, which we are ready, upon all occasions to acknowledge to be due to him alone: Thus we adore him as having all divine perfections, when we say, Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.
And it is farther added, that they belong to him for ever and ever; whereby it is intimated, that whatever changes there may be in the nature or condition of created beings, he is unchangeably the same, and therefore will remain glorious in himself, and be for ever admired and adored by all his saints, whose happiness depends upon it.
-2 We shall consider these divine perfections, as they afford us so many arguments, or pleas, in prayer, from whence we take encouragement to expect a gracious answer from him, as appears from that illative particle, FOR, which is prefixed to this doxology. Therefore we may consider it as subjoined to the foregoing petitions, as the strongest motive to induce us to hope, that the blessings we pray for, shall be granted us; accordingly we disclaim all worthiness in ourselves, and desire that our name or righteousness should not be mentioned; but that the whole revenue of glory may redound to God, as all our expectation is from him. We might here apply the several arguments or pleas contained herein, to every one of the foregoing petitions; which would tend very much to enforce them, and afford matter for our farther enlargement in prayer: But I shall rather chuse to reduce the subject-matter thereof to the two general heads, under which they are contained; and accordingly to shew how we may make use of those arguments that are taken from the kingdom, power, and glory, belonging to God, for ever and ever, in our praying for those things that concern his glory, agreeably to what we are directed to ask for in the three first petitions; or our temporal or spiritual advantage, as in the three last.
(1.) As to what respects the glory of God in the world, viz. that his name may be hallowed, his kingdom advanced, and his will be done: Therein we pray, that, as he is a great King, the blessed and only Potentate, the Governor of the world and the church, he would sanctify his glorious name; that his interest may be maintained, and prevail against every thing that opposes it, that he would take to himself his great power and reign; and, since the success of the gospel, and the advancement of his kingdom of grace, is a work surpassing finite power, and there are many endeavours used to weaken and overthrow it; we trust, we hope, we plead with him, for the glory of his name, that he would give a check to, and defeat the designs of his and our enemies, that the enlargement of his kingdom may not be obstructed, nor his subjects disheartened, whilst Satan's kingdom, that is set in opposition to it, makes such sensible advances, and prevails so much against it.
And, that his name may be sanctified by his people, and his kingdom advanced in this lower world, we farther pray, that his subjects may be inclined to obey, and submit to his will in all things; or, that it may be done on earth as it is in heaven: Therefore, when we ascribe the kingdom, power, and glory to him, we do, in effect, say, "Lord, what would be
come of this wretched world, if it were not under thy gra"cious government, which is its glory and defence? Thou "sittest on the throne of thy holiness, which thou hast esta