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do not clearly, fully, and from the heart, forgive all men their trespasses, we so far cut short the forgiveness of our own: God cannot clearly and fully forgive us : he may show us some degree of mercy; but we will not suffer him to blot out all our sins, and forgive all our iniquities.
In the mean time, while we do not from our hearts forgive our neighbour his trespasses, what manner of prayer are we offering to God, whenever we utter these words? We are indeed setting God at open defiance; we are daring him to do his worst. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us!” That is, in plain terms, “Do not thou forgive us at all: we desire no favour at thy hands. We
pray that thou wilt keep our sins in remembrance, and that thy wrath may
abide upon us.” But can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? And hath he not yet cast you quick into hell ? O tempt him no longer! Now, even now, by his grace, forgive as you would be forgiven ! Now have compassion on thy fellow servant, as God hath had, and will have, pity on thee!
15.“ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”— “ And lead us not into temptation.' The word translated temptation, means trial of any kind. And so the English word temptation was formerly taken in an indifferent sense ; although now it is usually understood of solicitation to sin. St. James uses the word in both these senses; first, in its general, then in its restrained, acceptation. He takes it in the former sense when he saith, “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation : for when he is tried, [or approved of God,] he shall receive the crown of life," chap. i, 12, 13. He immediately adds, taking the word in the latter sense, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust,” or desire, eğer XOLEVOs, — drawn out of God, in whom alone he is safe,-"and enticed ;-' caught as a fish with a bait. Then it is, when he is thus drawn away and enticed, that he properly enters into temptation. Then temptation covers him as a cloud; it overspreads his whole soul. Then how hardly shall he escape out of the snare! Therefore, we beseech God "not to lead us into temptation,' that is, (seeing God tempteth no man,) not to suffer us to be led into it. “ But deliver us from evil:" rather, “—from the evil One,” ATO 98 Tongs. O longos is unquestionably the wicked One, emphatically so called, the prince and god of this world, who works with mighty power in the children of disobedience. But all those who are the children of God, by faith, are delivered out of his hands. He may fight against them; and so he will. But he cannot conquer, unless they betray their own souls. He may torment for a time, but he cannot destroy; for God is on their side, who will not fail, in the end, to " avenge his own elect, that
cry unto him day and night.” Lord, when we are tempted, suffer us not to enter into temptation ! Do thou make a way for us to escape, that the wicked One touch us not!
16. The conclusion of this divine prayer, commonly called the doxology, is a solemn thanksgiving, a compendious acknowledgment of the attributes and works of God. "For thine is the kingdom;"-the sove reign right of all things that are or ever were created; yea, thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominior endureth throughout als ages. “The power;"--the executive power whereby thou governest all things in thy everlasting kingdom, whereby thou dost whatsoever pleaseth thee, in all places of thy dominion. “And the glory;"—the praise due from every creature, for thy power, and the mightiness of thy kingdom, and for all thy wondrous works which thou workest from everlasting, and shalt do, world without end, "for ever and ever! Amen!” So be it!
I believe it will not be unacceptable to the serious reader to subjoin a Paraphrase on the Lord's Prayer.
FATHER of all, whose powerful voice
Callid forth this universal frame;
Through endless ages still the same :
Thy bounteous love to all is slow'd;
And fillest every mouth with good.
Nature's expanse beneath thee spread;
And hell's deep gloom, are open laid.
Prostrate before thy face we fall;
And hail Thee sovereign Lord of all !
That moves in earth, or air, or sky;
Tremble before thy piercing, eye.
In praise your every hour employ:
And shout, ye morning stars, for joy!
Take to thyself thy mighty power;
Let all thy bleeding grace adore.
And glory ends what grace begun.
Fountain of light and love below;
O'er all the nations let it flow.
In us the work of faith fulfil ;
'Than we on earth to do thy will.
Thý children's wants a fresh supply:
And hearest the young ravens cry:
Through thee, who know'st our every nood;
Our souls this day the living bread.
Eternal, spotless LAMB of GOD,
Before the world's foundation slain,
O cleanse and keep us ever clean,
Our bowels of compassion move :
God is in us; for God is love.
And guardian care for all are free ;
From sin and Satan let us flee.
In us be all thy goodness show'd;
With peace, and joy, and heaven, and God.
Co-equal, co-eternal THREE,
By all thy works be paid to thee.
The power omnipotent is thine ;
Thy never ceasing glories shine.
SERMON XXVII.-Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount.
“ Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance : for thoy disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
“ That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly,” Matt. vi, 16-18.
1. It has been the endeavour of Satan, from the beginning of the world, to put asunder what God hath joined together; to separate inward from outward religion; to set' one of these at variance with the other. And herein he has met with no small success, among those who were “ignorant of his devices."
Many in all ages, having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, have been strictly attached to the "righteousness of the law,” the performance of outward duties, but in the mean time wholly regardless of inward righteousness, " the righteousness which is of God by faith.” And many have run into the opposite extreme, disregarding all outward duties, perhaps even “speaking evil of the law, and judging the law," so far as it enjoins the performance of them.
2. It is by this very device of Satan, that faith and works have beer 80 often set at variance with each other. And manv who had a real zeal for God, have for a time, fallen into the snare on either hand. Some have magnified faith to the utter exclusion of good works, not only from being the cause of our justification, (for we know that a man is - justified freely by the redemption which is in Jesus,") but from being the necessary fruit of it, yea, from having any place in the religion of Jesus Christ. Others, eager to avoid this dangerous mistake, have run as much too far the contrary way; and either maintained that good works were the cause, at least the previous condition, of justification,-or spoken of them as if they were all in all, the whole religion of Jesus Christ.
3. In the same manner have the end and the means of religion been set at variance with each other. Some well meaning men have seemned to place all religion in attending the prayers of the church, in receiving the Lord's supper, in hearing sermons, and reading books of piety; neglecting, mean time, the end of all these, the love of God and their neighbour. And this very thing has confirmed others in the neglect, if not contempt, of the ordinances of God, --so wretchedly abused, to undermine and overthrow the very end they were designed to establish.
4. But of all the means of grace there is scarce any concerning which men have run into greater extremes, than that of which our Lord speaks in the above mentioned words, I mean religious fasting. How have some exalted this beyond all Scripture and reason ;-and others utterly disregarded it; as it were, revenging themselves, by undervaluing, as much as the former had overvalued it! Those have spoken of it, as if it were all in all; if not the end itself, yet infallibly connected with it: these, as if it were just nothing, as if it were a fruitless labour, which had no relation at all thereto. Whereas it is certain the truth lies between them both. It is not all, nor yet is it nothing. It is not the end, but it is a precious means thereto; a means which God himself has ordained, and in which therefore, when it is duly used, he will surely give us his blessing.
In order to set this in the clearest light, I shall endeavour to show, First, What is the nature of fasting, and what the several sorts and degrees thereof: Secondly, What are the reasons, grounds, and ends of ic: Thirdly, How we may answer the most plausible objections against it: and Fourthly, In what manner it should be performed.
I. 1. I shall endeavour to show, First, What is the nature of fasting, and what the several sorts and degrees thereof. As to the nature of it, all the inspired writers, both in the Old Testament and the New, take the word, to fast, in one single sense, for not to eat, to abstain from food. This is so clear, that it would be labour lost to quote the words of David, Nehemiah, Isaiah, and the prophets which followed, or of our Lord and his apostles; all agreeing in this, that to fast, is, not to eat for a time prescribed.
2. To this, other circumstances were usually joined by them of old, which had no necessary connection with it. Such were the neglect of their apparel; the laying aside those ornaments which they were accustomed to wear ; the putting on mourning; the strowing ashes upon their head; or wearing sackcloth next their skin. But we find little mention made in the New Testament of any of these indifferent circumstances. Nor does it appear, that any stress was laid upon them by the Christians of the purer ages; however some penitents might voluntarily use them, as outward signs of inward humiliation. Much less did the apostles, or the Christians cotemporary with them, beat or lear their own flesh: such discipline as this was not unbecoming the priests or worshippers of Baal. The gods of the heathens were but devils; and it was doubtless acceptable to their devil god, when his priests, 1 Kings xviii, 29, “ cried aloud, and cut themselves after their
manner, till the blood gushed out upon them :" but it cannot be pleasing to him, nor become his followers, who “ came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.”
3. As to the degrees or measures of fasting, we have instances of some who have fasted several days together. So Moses, Elijah, and our blessed Lord, being endued with supernatural strength for that purpose, are recorded to have fasted without intermission, " forty days and forty nights.” But the time of fasting, more frequently mentioned in Scripture, is one day, from morning till evening. And this was the fast commonly observed among the ancient Christians. But beside these, they had also their half fasts (Semijejunia, as Tertullian styles them) on the fourth and sixth days of the week, (Wednesday and Friday,) throughout the year; on which they took no sustenance till three in the afternoon, the time when they returned from the public service.
4. Nearly related to this, is what our church seems peculiarly to mean by the term abstinence; which may be used when we cannot fast entirely, by reason of sickness or bodily weakness. This is the eating little; the abstaining in part; the taking a smaller quantity of food than usual. I do not remember any scriptural instance of this. But neither can I condemn it; for the Scripture does not. It may have its use, and receive a blessing from God.
5, The lowest kind of fasting, if it can be called by that name, is the abstaining from pleasant food. Of this, we have several instances in Scripture, besides that of Daniel and his brethren, who from a peculiar consideration, namely, that they might "not defle themselves with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank,' (a daily provision of which the king had appointed for them,) requested and obtained, of the prince of the eynuchs, pulse to eat and water to drink, Dan. i, 8, &c. Perhaps from a mistaken imitation of this migut spring the very ancient custom of abstaining from flesh and wine, during such times as were set apart for fasting and abstinence ;-if it did not rather arise from a supposition, that these were the most pleasant food, and a belief that it was proper to use what was least pleasing, at those times of solemn approach to God.
6. In the Jewish church, there were some stated fasts. Such was the fast of the seventh month, appointed by God himself to be observed by all Israel, under the severest penalty: “ The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, On the tenth day of this seventh month, there shall be a day of atonement: and ye shall afflict your souls,—to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it shall be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he small be cut off from among his people," Lev. xxiii, 26, &c. In after ages, several other stated fasts were added to these. So, mention is made, by the prophet Zechariah, of the fast not only " of the seventh, but also of the fourth, of the fifth, and of the tenth month," chap. viii, 19.
In the ancient Christian church, there were likewise stated fasts, and those both annually and weekly. Of the former sort was that before Easter ; obseryed by some for eight and forty hours; by others, for an entire week; by many, for two weeks; taking no sustenance till the evening of each day. Of the latter, those of the fourth and sixth days of the week, observed, (as Epiphanius writes, remarking it as an undeniable fact,) ev onnan qoxgjevn,—in the whole habitable earth; at least