« ZurückWeiter »
The reason or argument made use of to enforce this petition is, as we forgive our debtors; or, as Luke has it, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us; pecuniary debts are to be forgiven when the debtor is unable to pay: and criminal debts or sins, and injuries committed by one christian against another, are to be forgiven, as Christ has forgiven them: not that our forgiveness of others, is the cause of God's forgiveness of us ; for the moving cause of God's forgiveness is his free favour, grace, and mercy; it is according to the multitude of
his ten ler mercies, and according to the riches of his grace; and not the deserts J of men': the meritorious cause of it is the blood of Christ; shed for the reinis
sion of sins; and the satisfaction of Christ, for the sake of which they are forgiven. Nor is our forgiveness of fellow-creatures the model of God's forgiveness of us; there is no perfect comparison between them, much less an equality. God forgives as Lord of all, and who has an absolute power so to do; but men forgive those who are their equals, and sinners like themselves; God forgives for Christ's sake, and upon a satisfaction made ; but men without, and at most upon repentance, God forgives great sins, and, indeed, all manner of sin; but what man forgives are trivial offences, injuries to their persons or properties but nor sins committed against God. Bat this is an argument taken from God's own grace, in the hearts of his people, and as an evidence of it; that if he has given them such grace as to forgive their fellow-creatures and christians, then they may hope and expect, that he who is the God of all grace, and from whom they have received theirs, will forgive their sins, of his rich grace, and for Christ's sake; the reasoning is much the same with that in Luke xi. 13. Nor is it to to be expected, that God should forgive us our sins without our forgiving the sins of others; nor can we put up such a petition without forgiving others.
The sixth petition is, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, which some make to be a sixth and seventh ; but they seem to be two parts and branches of the same.
1. Lead us not into temptation. There are various sorts of temptation. 1. Some are of God, as, by enjoining things hard, difficult, and trying; so God tempted Abralan, by ordering hiin to take and offer up his son, on one of the mountains he should she'w him, whereby he tried his faith in him, his love and obedience to him, and his fear and reverence of him, Gen. xxii ?-12. and sometimes by laying afflictions upon his people; which, though they cause heaviness, should be accounted joy ; because they try and prove faith and patience, whereby they becoine more illustrious and precious, 1 Pet. . 6, 7. James i. 2, 3. but not by soliciting any to sin, James i. 13. yec there is a sense in which God inay be said to lead into temptation, or there would be no occasion to deprecate it; and that either providentially, as Christ himself was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the de vil, Matt. iv. 1. and as when things oceur in providence, and objects are presenteda
which, though good and lawful in themselves, yet meeting with the corruptions of nature, are incentives to, and occasion of sin; as the Babylonish garment, the shekels of silver and wedge of gold spied and found by Achan, were to him; and as a train of circumstances, by meeting together in providence, which led on to David's sin with Bathsheba, or however permissively; so Satan was suffered to tempt and beguile Eve, and to move and to provoke David to number the people, and to sitt Peter, and put himn on denying his Lord and Master, for which he desired to have him; and God may be said to lead into temptation, when he withdraws the influence of his grace, which only can keep from it ; leaves men to the corruptions of their own hearts, as he did Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. — 2. Others are inore immediately from Satan himself; hence he is called the tempter, Matt. iv. 3. 1 Thess. iii. 5. hc solicits to sin, as he did our first parents, and does all men, both good and bad; he tempts by suggesting evil things into the mind, as he did into Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira; in the one to betray his Lord, and in the other to lie against the Holy Ghost; and by filling good men with doubts and fears, with unbelieving and desponding thoughts about their interest in the love, favour, and graces of God, and even with things blasphemous and atheistical, contrary to the dictates and sentiments of their own minds; all which are very distressing and afflictive, and therefore expressed by buffetings, siftings, and fiery darts; and his temptations with all sorts of persons are managed with great art and cunning, and are suited to the age, circumstances, conditions, constitutions, and tempers of men. - 3. There are other temptations, which are from the world ; some from the better things in it, as from riches, which are deceitful, and draw men to set their hearts upon them, and to trust in them, and to covet after them, and to seek to gain thein in an illicit way; by which they fall into temptation and a snare, and into foolish and hurtful lusts, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows : and from the honours of it; seeking great things for themselves, honour from men, and not that honour which comes from God; and so are diverted from Christ, his gospel and interest, loving the praise of men more than the praise of God: and from the pleasures of it; the love of which detracts from the love of God; not only the pleasures of sin, to which few have the courage of Moses, to prefer afflictions with the people of God; but even lawful recreations men are tempted to carry to an excess ; nay, the very necessaries of life, table-mercies, prove a snare ; the good things of life are abused in their using. Some temptations arise from what may be called the evil things of the world; as poverty, which may be a temptation to steal, or to do things unwarrantable, either to prevent it, or to relieve under it. And afflictions of various sorts, under which even good men may be tempted either to neglect, overlook, and slight them; or to faint under them, and to murmur and repine at the hand of God upon them. The customs of the world, which are usually vain and sinful, are very ensnaring; and therefore the apostolical advice is, Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed; and it is no wonder that worldly and fleshly lusts,
or that the sinful things in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, should be inticing and insnaring, and which, by promising liberty, make men the servants of corruption. There are temptations to good men from the men of the world; by whom they are inticed to join them in things sinful, and whose conversation and evil communications corrupt good manners. Joseph, by being among Pharaoh's courtiers, learnt to swear by the life of Pharaoh. And the reproaches, men aces, and persecutions of the world, are temptations to men, either to make no profession of religion, or when made, to drop it; such a time is called, the time of temptation, Luke viii, 13. Rev. iii, 10. — 4. There are temptations from the Aesh, from indwelling sin, from the corruption of nature, which of all are the worst and most powerful; Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and cnticed, James i. 14. There is a deceitfulness in sin, in internal lust, which sadly entangles, insnares, and captivates; the flesh lusteth against the spirit.
Now in this petition, Lead us not into temptation, we pray to be kept from every occasion of sinning, and inclination to it, and appearance of it, and from every object which may allure to it; and that we might be kept from the sin which most easliy besets us, or we are most inclined to; and that God would not leave us to Satan and our own corruptions, but hold us up by his power, when only we shall be safe; and that he would not suffer us neither to enter into, nor to fall hy a temptation; and especially that we may not sink under it, and be overcome by it; but that we may be able to resist every temptation, and be victorious over all.
II. The other branch of the petition is, but deliver us from evil; either from the evil of afflictions, called evil things, because the effects of sin, and disagreeable to men, Luke xvi. 25, from these God has promised to deliver, and does deliver, and therefore may be prayed for in faith; or from the evil of sin, from committing it ; this was the prayer of Jabez, i Chron. iv. 10. and from the guilt of it on the conscience, by the blood of Christ, the same with the forgiveness of it; and from the dominion of it, that it might not reign in us; and from the being of it, and the sad effects of it; or from evil men, unreasonable and cruel; from falling into their hands, and being ill-used by them, 2 Thess. iii. 2. and especially from the evil one, Satan, and from his temptations; and agrees with the former part of the perition.
III. This prayer is concluded with a doxology, or ascription of glory to God; For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever; and these may be considered as so many reasons, pleas, and arguments for obtaining the things requested, and to encourage faith therein; For thine is the kingdom, of nature, providence, grace, and glory; and so all things appertaining thereunto, are at the dispose of God: and the power; to give daily bread, to forgive sin, to preserve from temptation, to support under it, and deliver out of it: and the glory; arising from all this, to whom alone it is due; and to be for ever given: Amen, a note of asseveration of the truth herein contained; and used as an assent to the petitions made, and as a wish for the fulfilment of them; and as expressive of faith and confidence, that they would be answered.
OF SINGING PSALMS,
AS A PART OF PUBLIC WORSHIP. Next to prayer may be considered, singing the praises of God, as a religious duty: this may be done in a private manner, by a person singly and alone, James v. 13. and between two or more; so Paul and Silas sang aloud praises to God in the prison, Acts xvi. 25. and in the family, between a man and his wife, with his children and servants : of this private singing of psalms in the family Tertullian" speaks, and makes use of this as an argument with christians to marry among themselves, that this duty may be the beiter and more harmio, niously performed; but I shall treat of it as an ordinance of divine and public service; and endeavour,
1. To shew what singing is, according to the common idea we have of it, as a natural act of the voice; and as a religious duty distinct from other acts of religion. Singing may be considered either in a proper or in an improper
When used improperly, it is ascribed to inanimate creatures; the heavens, earth, mountains, hills, forests, trees of the wood, the pastures clothed with flocks, and the vallies covered with corn, are said to sing and shout for joy, or are exhorted to it. Singing, taken in a strict and proper sense, and as a natural act, is an act of the tongue or voice; though not every action of the tongue, or sound of the voice, is to be called singing. Speech is an action of the longue; but all kind of speaking is not singing ; singing is speaking me. lodiously, musically, or with the modulation of the voice. These two sounds, speaking or saying, and singing, have not the same idea annexed to them; should we be told that such a man, as commonly expressed, said grace before and after meat, we should at once understand what is meant, that he asked of God a blessing upon his food, before eating, and returned thanks after it, according to the common use of speech, in prayer to God, and in conversation with men: but if it should be said, he sung grace before and after meat, we should not be able to form any other idea of it, but that he did it in a tonical, mușical way, with a modulation of the voice. It is not any clamour of the tongue, or sound of the yoice, that can be called singing; otherwise why should the tuneful voice and warbling noies of birds be called singing, Cant. ii. 12.
Ad uxorem, l. 3. c. 6. p. 190. c 8. p. 191.
any more than the sound of the voice of other animals; as the roaring of the lion, the bellowing of the ox, the bleating of the sheep, the neighing of the horse, ihe braying of the ass, the barking of the dog, or the grunting of the hog? The clamorous noisy shouts of conquerors, and the querulous notes, shrieks and cries of the conquered, are very different from the voice of singing: when Moses and Joshua came down from the mount, says Joshua, There is a noise of war in the camp; and he (Moses) said, it is not the voice of them that shout for mastery; neither is it the voice of thein that cry for being overcome; but the noise of them that sing do I hear; that sung and danced abouç the calf. And singing musically with the voice, as a religious action, is distinct from all other religious acts and exercises.
1. From prayer: James speaks of them as two distinct things in the place before quoted; and so the apostle Paul, when he says, I will pray with the Spirit, and I will sing with the Spirit also; or if he means the same, he must bọ guilty of a very great tautology, 1 Cor. xiv. 15. Paul and Silas in prison, boul prayed and sung praises, which are evidendy iwo dis inct exercises, Acts xvi. 25; – 2. It is distinct from giving thanks; Christ, in the institution of the supper, gave thanks, this he did as his own act and deed, singly and alone; but after supper he and his disciples sung an hymn or psalm together; and the apostle having directed the church-at Ephesus to sing psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, makes mention afterwards of giving thanks to God in the name of Christ, as a distinct duiy incumbent on them, Matt. xxvi. 26-30. Eph. v. 19, 20.
3. It is distinct from praising God; for though we do praise him in singing, yet all praising is not singing. Singing is only one way of praising God; there are others; as when we celebrate the adorable perfections of God, or speak well of them in preaching, or in common discourse; when we ruturn thanks to hin for temporal and spiritual mercies in prayer; when we shew forth his praise, and glorify him by our lives and conversations; in neither of which senses can we be said to sing ; if praising is singing, what then is singing of praise ! 4. It is different from inward spiritual joy, which is wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God, and arises from views of interest in the love of God, in the covenant of grace, in the person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ; and this indeed fits a person for singing the praises of God, but is distinct from it, Is any merry ? ev Juunni tis, is any of a good mind, or in a good frame of soul : let him sing psalms: but then the frame and the duty are different things; spiritual joy is not singing; but the cause and reason of it, and makes a man capable of performing it in the best manner. — 3. Though there is such a thing as mental prayer, there is no such thing as mental singing, or singing in the heart, without the voice. Speaking or preaching without the tongue or voice, are not greater contradictions, or rather impossibilities, than singing without a voice or tongue is. Such an hypothesis is suited for no scheme byc quakerism; and we may as well þave our silent meetings, dumb preaching, and mute prayer, as silent singing; singing and making melody in the heart,