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"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 VOL. IV.
the idea of a king connotes subjects, over whom his dominion 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 to 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 become 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
"blished of old: Therefore, we are encouraged to hope, that "thou wilt not forsake thy people, who are called by thy name, nor suffer thine interest to be trampled on, nor thy name profaned by those who say, Who is the Lord, that we should 66 obey him? Thine arm is not shortened, that thou canst not "save, since thine is the power; and therefore nothing is too "hard for thee. Thou hast given us ground to expect, that "thou wilt shew thy people marvellous things; and thou hast promised, that all nations shall bow down before thee and "serve thee; and that the kingdoms of this world shall become "the kingdoms of Christ: This thou canst easily accomplish "by thine almighty power, though it be too hard for man."Thou art never at a loss for instruments to fulfil thy plea66 sure; for all things are in thy hand: Neither, indeed, 'dost "thou need them; for, by thy powerful word, thou canst cause "light to shine out of darkness, and revive thy work in the "midst of the years, that thy people may rejoice and be glad "in thy salvation. Take the work, therefore, into thine own "hand, and, thereby, give us occasion to admire and ascribe "to thee the glory that is due to thy name."
(2.) We are to consider, how we may plead for temporal or spiritual blessings, as making use of this argument, that the kingdom, power, and glory, belong to God; accordingly, we pray, that he would give us that portion of the good things of life, that he sees necessary for us, and that we may enjoy his blessing with it, in order to our being prepared for a better, q. d. "Give us daily bread; for the earth is thine, and the fulness thereof: Thou hast subdued us to thyself, and hast "told us, that thou wilt surely do us good, and bring us, at "last, to thy heavenly kingdom: Therefore we humbly wait <6 upon thee, that we may not be suffered to faint by the way, "or be destitute of those blessings that are needful for us in
our present condition. Thou art able to supply all our wants: "We have hitherto been upheld by thy power, and thou hast "sometimes done great things for us, that we looked not for, "and hast been our refuge and strength, a very present help "in every time of trouble. Thou hast granted us life and "favour, and thy visitations have preserved our spirits; what "thou hast given us we have gathered; thou hast opened thy "hand, and filled us with good. And, as the treasures of thy "bounty are not exhausted, nor thy power diminished; so we "desire to exercise a constant dependence on thee, and to "hope in thy mercy; that, as thou hast given us those better "things that accompany salvation, thou wilt also bestow upon "us what thou seest needful for us in our way to it; which "will not only redound to our comfort, but thy glory; who "givest food to all flesh; for thy mercy endureth for ever."
As for those spiritual blessings that we stand in need of, we encourage ourselves to hope for them; and accordingly, when we pray for forgiveness of sin, we consider God as sitting upon a throne of grace, and inviting us to come and receive a pardon from his hand: Therefore we say, "Lord, thou art "ready to forgive, and thereby to lay eternal obligations on "thy subjects, to love and fear thee; if thou shouldst resolve "to display thy vindictive justice in punishing sin, according "to the demerit thereof, thy kingdom of grace would be at an "end; but thou encouragest us to hope for forgiveness, that "hereby grace may reign through righteousness unto life "eternal. And, as thou art a God of infinite power, we beg "that thou wouldst thereby work in us those graces that flow "from, and are the evidences of our having obtained forgive"ness, that being delivered from the guilt of sin, we may walk "before thee in newness of life. We also ask this privilege, "as what thou bestowest for Christ's sake, that hereby he may "be glorified as the purchaser of this blessing, and we laid "under the highest obligations to love him, as being con"strained hereunto by his love, expressed to us in washing "us from our sins in his own blood."
When we pray to be kept from temptation, or recovered, when fallen by it, we consider ourselves as the subjects of Christ's kingdom, and his enemies as endeavouring to draw us aside from our allegiance to him; and, as dreading the consequence thereof, we address ourselves to him, to secure us from the danger we are exposed to from them; and accordingly, when we say, Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, we are furnished with arguments adapted to our present exigencies, q. d. "The power of our spiritual enemies is great, "and much more formidable, because of the treachery of our "own hearts; yet we are encouraged to implore thine assist"ance against them, O our God and King, that we may be "kept in the hour of temptation; inasmuch as all the attempts "that are made against us, carry in them an invasion on thy "sovereignty and dominion over us. We desire always to "commit ourselves to thy protection, and hope to find it, since "there are no snares laid for us, but thou art able to detect "and prevent our being entangled by them, and also canst "bruise our enemies under our feet, and, if we are at any "time overcome by them, recover us from the paths of the "destroyer: Do this for us, we beseech thee, that thou mayest "have all the glory: We have no might, but our eyes are upon "thee, who art able to keep us from falling, and to present us "faultless, before the presence of thy glory, with exceeding " joy."