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tice of this duty, that, by the exercise of social worship here below, you may be gradually prepared for the more exalted worship of the triumphant society above, who all with one heart, and one voice, ascribe salvation to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever, Amen.
Preached before the Society in Scotland for propagating
Christian Knowledge, January 4. 1748.
MATTHEW vi. 10.
-Thy kingdom come.
THE correspondence between heaven and earth is preserved and conducted by Christ alone; “ For no man cometh," or can come, “ to the Father but by him.” (John xiv. 6.) It is he who presents all our homage to God; it is he who transmits to him all our petitions; and by his hands all mercy and grace are conveyed to us. Our most fervent prayers, the devoutest breathings of our souls, must not only be purged from that defilement which cleaves to them, but even in their greatest purity, they must be offered
in his censer, in order to their acceptance, and can only ascend by the incense of his sacrifice.
It should therefore be our first care, in all our approaches to the throne of grace, to solicit the
favour of this powerful Mediator, and to procure his friendly interposition in our behalf; and then we shall have no cause to dread a repulse ; for his intercession is, and must be, always prevalent. The dignity of his person, his relation to the Father, and especially the perfection of that sacrifice upon
which his intercession is founded, effectually secure acceptance to us; so that if once we are fully persuaded that our requests are framed according to his will, we need have no distrustful anxiety about their success, for he will enforce them with all the merit of his own blood; and therefore we may confidently hope to obtain what we ask, in that time and way which unerring Wisdom sees best for us : “ For this,” says the apostle John,“ is the confidence which we have in the Son of God, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he heareth us, we know that we have the petitions we desired of him," i John v. 14, 15.
This, my brethren, is an abundant source of consolation and joy; and though our desires are limited to such things as are agreeable to the will of our Redeemer; yet by this very limitation our comfort is extended, and prayer becomes a privilege of infinitely greater value than otherwise it would be. An unconfined liberty in our addresses to God would, in most cases (to such ignorant and unthinking creatures as we are), amount to nothing better than the
choice of the means and manner of our own de. struction. (Eccl. vi. 12.) “ For who knoweth what is good for a man in this ļife:" Whereas our glorious High Priest, who is perfectly acquainted with our state, can never be at a loss to know what is good for us ; and the costly proofs he hath already given of his mercy and love, leave us no room to suspect his concern for our welfare. The least reflection on his sufferings may easily convince us, that he sincerely intends our happiness, and can disapprove of nothing but what is hurtful to our interest. Neither hath he left it to the uncertain conjectures and doubtful reasonings of our own minds, to find out what isagreeable to him; this is clearly revealed to us in the holy Scriptures : and to render the discovery of it still more easy to us, he hath furnished us with a short but perfect model of devotion in this comprehensive prayer which he taught his disciples; by attending to which, we may learn from his own mouth after what manner we should address the throne of grace, and what ought to be the matter and order of our desires. Hereby the surest foundation is laid for our confidence and hope ; and whatever is according to this divine pattern, we may ask with full assurance of faith, being confident that he who hath secured for us all the blessings which we need, will certainly listen to those desires which he himself hath excited and authorised. « And if we know that he heareth us," we
may from thence certainly conclude, “ that we shall have the petitions we desired of him.”
I shall not detain you with any account of the several parts of this excellent prayer, nor the particular design for which our Lord introduced it in this sermon; Only, to make way for the instructions I propose to lay before you on this occasion, I shall observe in general,
That prayer is not only an acknowledgment of our dependence upon God for the blessings we ask, but it likewise imports a sincere resolution on our part to put ourselves in the way of those blessings, and to use all proper means for obtaining them. Thus, when we pray for daily bread, we do not mean, that God should indulge our idleness, and feed us in a miraculous way; but only, that he would countenance our honest en. deavours, and prosper them by his blessing, which alone maketh rich. In like manner, when we pray, as in my text, that the kingdom of God may come, we certainly intimate our own consent to be employed as instruments in carrying on this design, and must be understood as binding and obliging ourselves, by this petition, to do every thing in our sphere that may contribute to premote it.
Accordingly, I shall endeavour, in dependence upon the divine aid,
First, To explain and illustrate the petition itself. And,