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the fold, and in instant danger of destruction. He is an infant in the field, ready to perish ; defiled, floathsome, helpless, unpitied. He is a prodigal,—feeding swine, and would fain satisfy his hunger with the husks which he gives them. He is an outcast, a leper--vile in his nature, and polluting in his touch. Spurious, therefore, is that charity which has no melting pity for such wretchedness and sorrow, while it professes to sympathize with the wants of the body.
Patriotism dictates such petitions. Righteousness exalteth a nation;" and however some men may revile the efforts of Christian mercy, to enlighten the ignorant, and convert the wicked, yet such attempts are the best means of raising our beloved country to every thing noble and great. If the inhabitants of Judea had known “the things which belong to their peace,” they had never been destroyed by the Roman armies. If the fig-tree bear fruit—well, if not it must be cut down. When the kingdom of Christ shall come, and “his will be done” by any people according to their measure,
" as it is in heaven," it will, doubtless, be the happy means of securing the blessing of prosperity on all the labours of their hands. Thus it is promised, amidst the desolation which shall be poured out on other countries, “that the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”* Thus David, likewise, when he exhorts the people to praise God, adds this powerful inducement, — “then shall the
* Joel iii. 16-18.
he is just, and having salvation."* But the time would fail me to speak of Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Amos, John, Paul, and the angels of heaven themselves, “who rejoice over one sinner that repenteth.” The most perfect example, however, that we have on the page of inspired record is, the Saviour himself. Strictly speaking, He cannot now be affected with the feelings of joy and sorrow as in the days of his humanity; yet He is waiting above to
see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied :" and every thing that concerns his church is equally interesting to Him, as when on earth. And we know where it is recorded, that“ if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”+
Finally. Personal obligation should constrain us to it. “ How much owest thou unto my Lord?” is a question which the Redeemer requires us to put to ourselves, and to one another. What reply are you prepared this morning to make to it? I refer not to the temporal mercies of the Saviour, not because they are unworthy of acknowledgment, but because they have no glory in comparison with the spiritual blessings of his grace. Do you not owe to Him the obliteration of all your immense obligations to the law and justice of God—that vital life that flows through all your moral veins—the justification of your naked soul—the renovation of your carnal mind—the sanctification of your depraved nature -- the hallowed intercourse with heaven which you enjoy--the wells of salvation which are open for your refreshment--the comforts that soothe you, and the prospects of immortality which are disclosed for your consolation and hope amidst the ravages of disease? Then “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”* We owe him not only the homage of our beart, but the labour of our hands, and the fervent and unwearied prayer of our soul, for his matchless grace towards us. Having “ called us out of darkness into marvellous light, we should show forth his praises ;” and by walking worthy of our vocation, endeavour as much as possible to accelerate the reign of righteousness and peace on the earth.
But the time obliges me to bring these reflections to a close. I, therefore, request permission to make one remark, and I will then relieve your attention. That which we have too much painful reason to apprehend is, lest, having presented these petitions, we should in our own circle obstruct their fulfilment by walking according to the course of this world. The assurance of scripture on this point is most solemn and positive. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”+ Ah! how often prayer has been “hindered” by unpreparedness of heart—the entanglements of the affections by worldly objects—the prevalence of unbelief—the fatal influence of spiritual sloth, and the want of Christian love. As you value your own soul-as you prize the privilege of communion with God—as you deprecate separation from his smile, and, as you profess to count all things but loss for the successful diffusion of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord, I beseech you to “walk in wisdom towards them that are without,” and carefully guard against every appearance of evil by which its divine progress may be in the least arrested.
“ As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and on the whole Israel of God.” Amen.
MATTHEW vi. 11, 12.
" GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD; AND FORGIVE
US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.”
We now enter on the second part of this divine model of prayer. It has been already mentioned that the three first petitions are intercessory, and have respect to the manifestation of the divine glory throughout the world. Those which I have now read are of a personal nature, and regard our necessities both as creatures and sinners. Without farther introduction, permit me, therefore,
TO ILLUSTRATE THE NATURE OF THE BLESSINGS INCLUDED IN THESE PETITIONS - AND TO OFFER SOME OBSERVATIONS SEVERALLY UPON THEM.
I. OBSERVE THE TEMPORAL SUPPLY WHICH WE ARE COMMANDED TO ASK. “GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD."
And here we notice three things, namely, the quality of the good we desire; the particularity with which it is specified ; and the limitation affixed to the request. May light from above help us to understand their true meaning.
First. Observe the quality of the supply which we are directed to seek. It is called “bread,” which the Scripture describes as the staff of life,—the principal support of our frail bodies. But the expression in the text is most comprehensive, and includes whatever is necessary, both for existence and comfort, in the present state. In general, it imports the whole provisions of the table. Thus Abraham addressed the angels,-.“ I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort your hearts;" yet with this he brought several other articles of food proper to be used with it.* And when Joseph commanded his brethren to “set on bread,”+ it appears that his servants had slain cattle, and prepared various provisions, for their repast, by the express direction of their master. But more than this; it is evident that it here signifies raiment also, with whatever is necessary for the protection and convenience of man. These are the “ things which our Father knoweth we have need of;" and which are particularly specified in the latter part of this chapter. In this large acceptation the term is employed in the denunciation of Jehovah, by the mouth of the prophet: “Behold the
saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land ; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”#
Not that a scarcity of corn is the only thing intended by the first famine, or the removal of the privilege of hearing the gospel by the second ; but that, as in the one case, there would be a want of all things necessary to the comfortable subsistence of life, so in the other there should be the absence of all the means of grace, which is the evil threatened.
Some have, indeed, supposed that the expression reaches to the spiritual provisions of the gospel ; but I do not see