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5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites
are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. 6 Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy 'closet, and when thou hast
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy 7 Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do ; for
thee openly. If never before, at ostentation might be avoided ; the least in that judgment when the other, that attention of mind might secrets of all hearts shall be laid be secured. It is not to be supposed open, and the great question will that Jesus forbade public worship, be, what good deeds we have done or family devotion, when he thus to the poor, the sick, afflicted, and rebuked the publicity of Jewish friendless. Matt. xxv. 34 - 36. prayers. His command is, that pri
5. When thou prayest. The sec- vate prayer should in private. ond topic is prayer. He warns his He authorized social prayer by his hearers against three errors and own example, and that of his discisins : verse 5, Hypocrisy ; verse 6, ples. John xvii ; Acts i. 24, iv. Distraction of mind : verse 7, Vain 24. — Is in secret. Is present, unRepetitions. Synagogues. There seen, in your chamber of devotion. was no harm in praying in a syna
Seeth in secret. A declaration of gogue. Here is
no prohibition his spirituality and omniscience. against social, public prayer. But Reward thee. An encouragement praying there to be seen by men, to faith and perseverance in devousing a public resort for private de- tion. Hundreds of precious asvotion, was ostentatious and cen- surances like this are scattered surable. We learn that such was throughout the Scriptures. the practice among the Jews.
7. Use not vain repetitions. Or, Corners of the streets. The Scribes babbling repetitions, or many idle and Pharisees had fixed hours of words. This is expressed by one prayer, as the Mahometans have word in Greek, which is derived now, and they took care to be in the from Battus, the name of a Lybian most conspicuous places at those king, who stammered ; or from the times, that their devotions might at- name of a Greek poet, who intract notice. In the Jerusalem Tal- dulged in tautologies. The sense mud is this sentence: “I observed is, that the worshipper should not Rabbi Jannai standing and praying needlessly repeat or amplify expresin the streets of Trippor, and going sions. This was done to a great four cubits, and then praying the extent, by both Jews and Pagans, additionary prayer.”
and carried the idea, that the Deity 6. Thy closet. The Jewish required to be informed particularly houses contained an upper apart of their wants, and was induced to ment for retirement, a kind of pri- supply them by reiterated supplicavate chapel. In Matt. xxiv. 26, the tions. Such maxims as these were same word is translated “ secret in the Jewish Schools : chambers." There were two rea- one that multiplies prayers shall sons for this injunction : one, that be heard." “ The prayer which
they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them ; for your Father knoweth 8 what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this 9 manner therefore pray ye : Our Father, which art in heaven, is long shall not return empty.”
The Jewish teachers were accusTheir practice was in accordance tomed to give their disciples forms with these sayings. — As the heathen of prayer. John the Baptist taught
As specimens of the vain his disciples how to pray. Luke repetitions of the heathen, see 1 xi. 1. It was natural therefore for Kings xviii. 26; and Acts xix. 34. the disciples to desire, and for the - They shall be heard. Or, more cor- Saviour to give a model of devorectly, shall make themselves heard. tion. This model has usually gone
Their much speaking. Their under the name of the Lord's Prayerror was, that they supposed that er, because our Lord composed it. the gods were altogether such as The sentences, however, are partly themselves ; that they must be in- drawn from the public liturgies of formed of the necessities of their the Jews. But the work of selectsupplicants, and wearied by impor- ing, combining, and arranging them tunity until they granted their re- exhibits as plainly the wisdom of quests. Our Lord, like Solomon, our Master, as if every word had Écc. v. 2, says,
“ Let thy words be been original. Here, as upon other few ;” and with the Son of Sirach, occasions, he hesitated not to weave Ecc. vii. 14, “ Make not much bab- into his instructions the holy saybling when thou prayest.' Yet it ings, and fitly spoken words, of is vain repetitions he especially prophets and priests before him; discountenances. Repetition may for they were embalmed in the sometimes express a higher fervor dearest associations of his auditors, of devotion. Matt. xxvi. 39, 42, 44. This prayer, rising above the nar
8. Your Father knoweth what rowness of Jewish notions, posthings ye have need of. Jesus does sesses that comprehensiveness and not by any means mention this as a adaptedness becoming a universal reason why men should not pray, religion, and forms an epitome of but as a reason why they should Christianity. It breathes the spirit not pray as the heathen did, with of filial faith in God, and fraternal long, reiterated, verbose expres- affection for man. It may be view sions. Prayer is not designed to ed as a compend of the leading inform God of any thing; not even topics of devotion ; suitable in all of our desires ; for they are known ages, places, and conditions of the to him better than we can express world. Every sentence is a text them. But it is communion of for a variety of subjects, which spirit with spirit. It is aspiration might be comprehended under it. towards heaven and heavenly things. From the practice of the disciples, It is homage, gratitude, confession, we learn that this form was not supplication from the finite child to given to them or us for exclusive the Infinite Father. On this ground and constant use, but as descriptive it is defensible, and with these views of the substance and spirit of true it should be performed. So Christ devotion. and his disciples taught and practised. 9. After this manner therefore
9- 13. For the parallel passage, pray ye. Take this as the pattern see Luke xi. 2-4.
of your devotions. - Our Father. 10 hallowed be thy name ; thy kingdom come ; thy will be done, 11 in earth as it is in heaven ; give us this day our daily bread ;
It has been observed that the word The Jews were accustomed to say: our, beginning this prayer, beauti- “He prays not at all in whose fully intimates, that in our private prayer there is no mention of the supplications love to man and love kingdom of God.” — Thy will be to God should be inseparable. In done, in earth as it is in heaven. the secret chamber we should not Better, on earth. Religion may forget our social condition.
By have spread the knowledge of God the endearing appellation of Father, everywhere, and yet his will may the infiniteness and awfulness of not be perfectly obeyed. This is a the Deity are brought down to a supplication that the diffusion of level with our finite minds and truth may be followed by the prevatimid faith. From Jesus we have lence of a heavenly obedience to received the spirit of adoption, the truth, and to God. In' using whereby we can cry, Abba, Father, these words, we pray that men, like before the dread majesty of the angels, may submit their wills to Sovereign of the universe. - Which the will of God; obey his laws; art in heaven. Boundless, pure, and yield, and yield cheerfully, to tranquil, glorious, like the spread the wholesome chastenings of his ing skies above us, is the Being Providence. “ This comprehensive whom we worship. But more than petition is the most humble, as well this. He dwells not peculiarly in as the most prudent, that can be the material heavens any more than offered up from the creature to the elsewhere. He dwells in the spirit- Creator; as it supposes the Supreme ual heaven, of which the sky is but Being will do nothing but what is an emblem ; the heaven of spiritu- for our good, and that he knows ality, holiness, love, and mercy. better than we ourselves what is Those who imitate him, as dear so. children, are entering into the same 11. Give us this day our daily heaven of blessedness. - Hallowed bread. The first three petitions are be thy name. May thy name be for the world; that the true worsanctified, or mayest thou be rever- ship of God, the knowledge of his ed. This is the first petition. It will, and obedience to his comis a prayer that idolatry, profane- mands, may be universal. The last ness,
and blasphemy may come to three petitions of the Lord's Prayer an end, and that the true worship relate to the temporal and spiritual of God may be established through- wants of ourselves. The first is out the world. 1 Peter iii. 15 ; for temporal good, and decides the John iv. 21, 23.
question, whether it is right to pray 10. Thy kingdom come. The for any such blessing. Bread stands kingdom of God, the kingdom of here for food, clothing, and whatheaven, the kingdom or reign of ever we need in the flesh. This the Messiah, are equivalent terms. prayer reminds us that our daily This second petition means, there- blessings, as well as the sublime fore, May the reign of truth, the promises of eternity, descend from sway of the Christian religion, be the Father on high. The prevalent extended everywhere ; may Jesus anxiety and worldliness with which Christ rule as the moral King, the men labor for riches and renown are spiritual sovereign of the globe. rebuked here ; for only one petition
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors ; and lead 12 us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil ; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
relates to temporal favors, and that, need of our mercy that we have of to good of the humblest, though the divine mercy. most necessary kind, daily bread; 13. Lead us not into temptation. whilst the other five requests are This is a Hebraism, meaning, suffer for spiritual objects. Prov. xxx. us not to fall into trials that will 8. This day. Or, according to lead us into transgression. The Luke, xi. 3, day by day. - Daily. trials of life are the school of virThe original word is not used in tue. . But the spirit of this petition the Classics, or the Scriptures, ex- is, that we may not encounter temp. cept here and in the parallel place tations too strong for our virtue ; in Luke, and its meaning is therefore may not be abandoned, unprotected, doubtful. The most probable sense to the assaults of evil ; may not run is either necessary or sufficient. recklessly and needlessly into any
12. Forgive us our debts. Remit occasion of sin. 1 Cor. x. 13. How our offences. Faults and transgres- beautiful and appropriate is such a sions are called debts. The same supplication for those hemmed in figure of speech in some particulars on all sides by moral dangers and prevails in our language. One man difficulties, and liable at every mois said to owe another a favor, or an ment to overstep the sacred limits apology. It is observable here, of virtue! The sense of our exthat our sins are forgiven directly posed moral situation will render by God, upon the fulfilment of the this a hearty, frequent, and earnest conditions he has imposed, and that petition. But deliver us from evil. nothing is said, or anticipated, rela- Or, the evil one ; as it is customary tive to their being forgiven by any in the Scriptures to personify evil, intervention of the blood of an in- and call it a person. This is a nocent being, shed to placate the prayer that we may be emancipated divine wrath. — As we forgive our from sin and its miseries, and that debtors. This is stated as the con- the natural evils of life, sickness, dition on which we may trust to misfortune, bereavement, may rebe forgiven. Not that repentance dound to our spiritual good. How and reformation are not necessary great a petition! It is that we may for forgiveness, but that a merciful attain spotless virtue and perfect disposition in us qualifies us preëm- happiness. — For thine is the kinginently for the reception of mercy dom, fc. The for implies, that as from God. With what face can à God is all-powerful and glorious, harsh and unforgiving man pray for the King over all, he is able and pardon, when by the very act he disposed to grant the foregoing pebecomes, as it were, his own accu- titions.
can supply It becomes us ever to recol- every present and future want. His lect that we stand in the same rela- glory is to do good to his creatures. tion to God as offenders, as those We can therefore approach him in who trespass against us do to us ; a glad confidence that he hears and nay, rather, that none can have of- answers our prayers.
The word fended against us by any compari- Amen signifies so be it, being deson so deeply as we have offended rived from a Hebrew verb, meanagainst God, and none can have that ing to be true, faithful. The people
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father 15 will also forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their tres
passes, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad are supposed to have responded this Were I an informer, I should accuse word at the close of the prayers of you to the Calif. But I had rather the minister, in the Jewish syna- pray God to grant that in the Day gogues. The same custom appears of Judgment I may enter into heaven to have prevailed among the early with you.” – Your heavenly Father Christians. 1 Cor. xiv. 16. This will also forgive you. doxology, or ascription of praise, is not, however, to understand hereby not found in Luke xi. 4, appended that the practice of this or any other to the Lord's Prayer. The manu- single duty can obtain God's favor, scripts of the best authority, do not where other Christian virtues are contain it, and it is not cited by the neglected : for, though negative most ancient ecclesiastical writers. precepts are absolute, yet affirmative It occurs however in some of the promises admit of this limitation, early versions. Griesbach, in his if no other condition of salvation critical edition of the New Testa- be wanting.' ment, decides against its genuine- 15. To make the injunction more
The first English version, by impressive, he states here negatively William Tyndale, leaves it out; al- what he had laid down in the last so the French version of Sacy. On verse affirmatively. This is a comthe whole, it is probable that it was mon method in the Bible. Deut. ix. interpolated from the Jewish or 7; Is. iii. 9, xxxviii. 1 ; Jer. xxix. Christian liturgies. But it harmon- 11. We are all sinners against God, izes nevertheless with the preceding needing, and professing to desire prayer, and forms an appropriate forgiveness from him, and dependent and sublime conclusion.
on his mercy for pardon. How un14. Christ enforces this truth often suitable, then, that our fellow-men, and urgently. Matt. xviii
. 21 – 35; who may have done us wrong, and Mark xi. 25, 26 ; Luke vii. 40-48, who may be in our power, should xvii. 3, 4. He beautifully exem- find in us an unforgiving spirit! If plified his forgiving disposition to they implore mercy in vain from us, his enemies even on the cross. His how can we expect to receive mercy disciples breathed the same merciful from God? spirit. Acts vii. 60 ; Eph. iv. 32 ; 16. Jesus continues an application Col. iii. 13. The forgiveness of en- of the same principle to Fasting, emies is one of the surest tests of a Reality and sincerity alone could Christian character. And those who make this external observance of call themselves Christians might any value in the sight of God. In take a valuable lesson even from the this passage he neither enjoins nor followers of Mahomet; that with prohibits fasting, except so far as greater light they should not prove verse 17 may be viewed as sanctionto be of a worse temper. When a ing the observance. Christ does brutal man had struck an Arabian not refer here, probably, to the regphilosopher, instead of a blow he ular Jewish fasts, but to those volreceived from the good man this untary and frequent ones, in which melting appeal : "Were I vindictive, seekers after a reputation for piety I should return outrage for outrage. were accustomed to make a show