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and looking at me, exclaimed, “ I could not say thy will be done, because of my poor bird.” I took him by the hand, and pointing to his school-fellows, “ mark this observation," said I, " from the youngest present, only six years old, for it explains the nature of prayer, which perhaps some of you are ignorant of. Many persons repeat words who never prayed in their lives. My dear boy, I am very glad to find you were afraid to say to God what you could not say truly from your heart, but you may beg of him to give you submission to his will. And you may try to forget the loss of your sparrow, and find another to supply his place, for that is what all wise persons do, when they lose one good thing, instead of fretting and vexing they consider how they can make up their loss in other ways.” As each of my hearers looked as though they perfectly understood my meaning, I was encouraged to pursue the subject in nearly the following terms.
"The Lord's prayer is so plain that you find the youngest here can understand it, now let us think over the different parts. Our Father which art in heaven. You that have good fathers have great reason to be thankful, and 'tis your duty to honour and obey them; and if you feel as you ought, you will love them too: just so should you act towards your heavenly Father, for the first commandment is to love God with all our heart, and then to
reflect on the great love he shews for us, to condescend to look down from heaven upon us, and give us leave to call him Our Father. Hallowed be thy
Now one would think no one would dare to take God's holy name in vain, yet how many
wicked boys and men do so; but as the commandment says, “ he will not hold him guiltless, who taketh his name in vain." To hallow or reverence the name of God, is also to respect every thing called by his name, that is, his church, his day, and his people. You have read how God punished those youths who mocked his prophet Elisha. It is wicked to mock any body's deformity, for all are made as it pleases God, and is neither the more or less to be respected by their fellow-creatures on account of their good or ill looks. But when any deride God's ministers, their wickedness is still more, as committed against God's ambassadors, as ministers are called, that is, his servants sent by him to teach his will, and instruct us in the way which leads to heaven. Thy kingdom come. Now, my dear children, you know that God is the great King of all the earth, being King of kings, and Lord of lords, so that in that sense, his kingdom is already come, for he cannot be made greater than he is. But you must understand that he has another kingdom, which is to last for ever and ever, and is called in the holy Scriptures the kingdom of grace and glory. Now all good people who love God and obey his laws, belong to this kingdom of
you must pray
that their numbers may increase, and especially that you may be one of them, for if you are not, you can never belong to the kingdom of glory, which is laid up for the righteous after they are re oved from this world.
“ The next petition your little school-fellow has explained, and you will observe, that all the saints and angels in heaven obey the will of God, and if they did not, they could not be happy even in heaven, any more than disobedient and unholy people
upon earth. You know you do not feel happy, while you are wishing and doing contrary to the will of your parents and teachers, how much less can you expect to be so, while you are wishing and doing contrary to God's will, who like them will punish you for your obstinacy and disobedience, and that in a much severer manner than they can possibly do. Perhaps the petition Give us this day our daily bread, is felt by no one so strongly as by the number of poor persons, who rise in the morning without a certainty that they shall have sufficient food to support them through the day. This is a sad case, indeed, for the
who are not Christians, but for those who are, there are promises that they shall have a supply of their daily wants, and this prayer which they are commanded to use may be cailed one, for God would not tell them to ask of him what he was not able or willing to give. Those who have enquired of
poor people, who are real Christians, how their wants have been supplied, have been frequently astonished at the wonderful interference of the good providence of God on their behalf. But the richest persons will find this petition suitable, for "riches make themselves wings and fly away,” and sometimes those who have been high born are brought low; but even if this should not be the case, we need the blessing of God on our daily bread, since without that it would not nourish and strengthen our bodies, for the most wholesome food we eat might, if it pleased God to afflict us, be turned into unhealthy provision.
And remember, my dear children, that you need not only a daily supply of food for your bodies, but also for your souls, for the grace of God must constantly be sought to renew the good dispositions he may have given you. Your having been good yesterday is no security that you will be so to-day, if you have neglected to ask for daily grace, most likely you will not. Therefore never forget your dependance for every supply on the bounty of your heavenly Father,
“ In the next petition we are directed to ask for the forgiveness of our sins; and it is sad indeed to think, that there should be occasion every day to ask for it; but though you may hardly know what your daily offences are, God is so all-seeing that he knows them all, even the evil thoughts and desires of the heart. And you must observe, that while
you pray for your own forgiveness, you are instructed to forgive those who may have offended or injured you, and that too under a most awful condition, for only think what a sad case you must be in, if you harbour revengeful dispositions after asking of God that he would forgive you, as you have forgiven your enemy! O think upon this whenever you are angry, before you dare to repeat the Lord's prayer. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. You are not to understand that God ever leads his creatures into temptation, for as the Apostle James says, “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. man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.” This petition then means to be kept from the power of temptation, and God will always give strength to resist and overcome all temptation to those who look to him and depend on his grace: but then remember those who do so,must also be careful to avoid the occasions, which may lead them into temptation, such as bad company, improper places, the harbouring evil thoughts, which must be the beginning of sinful actions. Our Saviour told his disciples to watch as well as pray, lest they entered into temptation. “And what I say unto you,"
"I say unto all, watch.” The conclusion of the Lord's prayer is giving glory and praise to God, whose is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever ; and the saying, Amen, or so be