« PreviousContinue »
with this almighty Sovereign; for he can easily conquer all his enemies, as easily as he caused the Red Sea swallow up Pharaoh and all his host. He can baffle all the machinations and plots of his adversaries, disconcert their best-laid projects, and make them retreat with shame and confusion. These are great encouragements for this concern.
Secondly, Be concerned that the kingdom of the gospel may come. For motives, consider, 1. That it is not a universal kingdom, but a narrow one,
and that it is to be enlarged. For Christ has declared, that this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, Matth. xxiv. 14. Though now this kingdom be confined within narrow bounds, yet it shall, according to Christ's promise, have a more diffusive spread : and the time will come when the Jews shall be brought in with the fulness of the Gentiles, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ.
2. It is a moveable kingdom. It may be taken from them that have it. Christ may remove his throne, as he did from the Jews, Matth. xxi. 43. and as he has done in many once famous churches. Where are now the seven churches in the Lesser Asia ? and where are many of those churches that were planted by the apostle of the Gentiles ? Alas! their candlestick has been long ago removed out of its place, and the delusions of Mahomet prevail in those places where once the pure doctrines of the gospel were preached. Though Christ will always have a church on earth, yet it is confined to no particular country or place. And therefore, we in this land should earnestly pray, that the kingdom of the gospel may come more illustriously among us, and that it may continue with us to the end of time, that we may still see many days of the Son of man, and that the candle of gospel-light may ever shine brightly among us. These considerations should influence us always to pray, that Christ's gospel-kingdom may come among us, and be spread through the world.
Thirdly, Be concerned, that the kingdom of grace may come. Consider,
1. It is a kingdom that easily gets a back-set, Cant. ii. 15. It may be thriving in a soul this moment, and the next going to decay. There is need of much faith and watchfulness for preserving and maintaining it. A multitude of formidable foes are still opposing it, and all the subjects of it have no power to resist them. They must look to their Captain-General, and be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. It is only through him that they can do valiantly: for it is he alone who treads down their enemies under
their feet. And through him they shall be more than conquerors. Trust ye then in the Lord for ever; for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Be sober, then, and watch unto prayer, lest ye fall into temptation. Cry unto your King, for he will save you, and gradually overcome all your enemies.
2. Yet this is a kingdom that can never be overturned, never removed, Heb. xii. 8. It is a spark of fire in the midst of an ocean, that can never be quite drowned or extinguished. The bruised reed shall not be broken, and the smoking flax shall never be quenched. All the combinations of adversaries, however formidable, shall never overturn this kingdom ; for the gates of hell shall never prerail against it. It is built on the Rock Christ, and all the surges and waves of the dragon's flood shall never overturn the edifice. The name of the city is, ' The Lord is there. Of this kingdom of grace, it may well be said, ' Associate yourselves, 0 ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries : gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand : for God is with us,' Isa. viii. 9, 10. These are powerful considerations for inducing you to a hearty concern for the coming of this kingdom of grace.
Fourthly, Be concerned that the kingdom of glory may come. Consider,
1. Sin and trouble will have an end put to them there. The stage of sin and vanity will then be put down for ever, and none of the scenes that have so much vexed the righteous here, will ever be exhibited again. All corruptions, temptations, and backslidings from God, will then come to a final period. All bodily trouble and spiritual distress shall cease, and never more be heard of.
2. Grace and happiness will then arrive at their full perfection. The mystery of God will then be finished. Then will God's kingdom of power, of the gospel, and of grace, fully obtain their end; and all the subjects of Christ shall be completely blessed in the full enjoyment of him for evermore. Let us all then say, Let the kingdom of glory be hastened. Amen.
THE THIRD PETITION,
Matth. vi. 10.-Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
This third petition relates to the will of God, the doing of which is desired by all the children of God. And as by the coming of his
kingdom his name is hallowed, so by doing his will his kingdom comes, or is advanced, and we own him to be King, Heb. xiii. 21. So all these three petitions meet in one great desirable point, viz. the glory of God. This is the scope of them all.
Observe here, by the by, that we are directed to speak to God in prayer as to one. Hallowed be thy name, not your name : Thy will be done, not your will. Wherefore then, should any forsake such a form of sound words, for such a harsh one, as speaks to God by ye and your, your Majesty, ye know all things, &c.? I will not insist on what may be said to defend it, from the plurality of persons in the Godhead, the manner of speaking to kings, and from common conversation, (those who use it, I suppose, doing it rather from custom than judgment.) But it is not the scripture-way of speaking to God; it is not the way of this pattern of prayer; it is offensive to, and grating in the ears of the most part of Christians, as savouring of the opinion of the plurality of Gods, and therefore ought to be forsaken. I may well say in this case, ‘But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God,' 1 Cor. xi. 16.
In discoursing from this petition, I shall shew,
IV. The reasons why the saints have such a concern, that the will of God may be done in earth as it is in heaven.
1. I am to shew what is meant by the will of God. By it we are to understand the will of his commands, and the will of his providence.
First, The will of God's comma Heb. xiii. 24. . Make you perfect in every good work to do his will.' Matth. vii. 21. · He that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' His is the kingdom over all creatnres; he sits on the throne of his power, and gives out his will to all the rational world, which they are bound to obey, as the King's law, and laws of his kingdom, determining what they ought to do, and what to forbear. The church has that will of the King in all points in the Bible. In heaven, all do it; in hell, none do it; in earth, some do it, others not; and those who do it, do it but imperfectly. So we pray, Thy will be done.
The will of God's commands, is exceedingly comprehensive, Psal. cxix. 96. • Thy commandment is exceeding broad. It is but one will of God; but the objects of it, the things willed are many : but as many as they are, sincere Christians do sincerely fulfil them,
though not perfectly, Acts xiii. 22. 'I have found David,-a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will,' Gr. 'all my wills. This whole will of God, however, may be reduced to two heads, viz. faith, and holiness.
1. Faith, 1 John iii. 23. This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.' And this is comprehended in that, Matth. vii. 21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' Ye are to look on it as the Father's will, the will of God, that ye believe in his Son, 2 Cor. viii. 5. 'They gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.' It is the great thing which he wills you to do, John vi. 29. ` This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. His dinner is prepared, he wills you to come to the marriage, Matth. xxii. 2. This answers all the objections, I may not, I dare not, I will not be welcome. It is God's will that ye come forward. And ye have the prayers of all the saints to help you forward, Thy will be done. And the crossing of this will of God will ensure your ruin, more than any thing else, John iii. 18. ' He that believeth not is condemned already.' Mark xvi. 16. · He that believeth not shall be damned.'
(1.) Faith is the first leading will of God, el John iii. 23. forecited. If ye would do any part of the will of God, believe : for ye can do none of it, if ye do not this, Heb. xi. 6. ' For without faith it is impossible to please God.' Jolin xv. 5. ' Without me ye can do nothing. If ye do not begin with believing, all that ye do is no
' thing. As in arithmetic, if a thousand cyphers be set in a line, they are nothing, but if begun with a figure, they are all something; so believe, and the rest will be the obedience of faith.
(2.) Faith is the last will of God. It is the Lord's last will, that ye believe in Christ, Mark xvi. 16. “He that believeth shall be saved.' John iii. 16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' The Lord's will to man at first was, 'Do this and live. Now he cannot do that: but that he may not perish, his will now in the second covenant is, 'Believe, and ye shall be saved.' The first not being complied with, the second came for man's help: but this second is the last. If ye do not believe, there is no third to be looked for, but fiery indignation, Heb. x. 26, 27.
2. Holiness, 1 Thess. iv. 3. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.' God is a holy God, and cannot will unholiness. It is Satan's will and your own corrupt will, that ye be unholy. But
therein ye contradict the will of God, Rom. viii. 7. 'Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Every unholy thought, word, or action, is a going cross to the will of God, and therefore sinners are said to ' vex his holy spirit,' Isa. Ixiii. 10. as men are vexed when their will is still contradicted and crossed. Holiness is,
(1.) The will of God's nature, 1 Pet. i. 16. •Be ye holy, as I am holy.' God has willed man to be holy; and it was inconsistent with his nature to have willed them to be unholy. Faith in a crucified Redeemer is God's will of free choice. He did not will innocent Adam to believe in a Mediator. He might, if he had pleased, never have provided that object of faith, and so there might never have been such a thing as faith in a Redeemer. But having once made man, he could not but will him to be a holy man. And fire and water may sooner agree than God's will and unholiness.
(2.) The will of his whole law. It is all pure, Psal. xix. 8. A vein of holiness runs through the whole of it, and through every part. All the ten commandments are so many laws of holiness; all the enlargements on them in the Bible are so many directions and instructions for holiness of heart and life. There the Lord has parcelled out his will in so many particulars, but holiness is the scope of them all.
(3.) The will of God to all men, yea, all the rational creatures. That reason, ‘Be ye holy, as I am holy,' 1 Pet. i. 16. reaches all. The devils will not be condemned because they do not believe in Christ; they have no warrant to believe in him, the gospel-offer is not made to them, Heb. ii. 16. Prov. viii. 4. but because they are unholy. The pagans will not be condemned neither for their unbelief, Rom. ii. 12. for the gospel is not revealed to them, but because they are unholy, Rom. i. 8. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.'
Secondly, The will of God's providence, Psal. cxxxv. 6. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He sits in heaven universal monarch of the world, and has the disposal of all his creatures, and all that concern them in his hand, and is accountable to none for his disposals, Dan. iv. 35. forecited. They are all his own, as being created by him, and for him; and he
do with them as the potter with his own clay, Matth. xx. 15. Now this will of God's providence may be considered two ways.
1. As directing to duty, Psal. xxxii. 8. 'I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go. God speaks by his works as well as by his word. The whole world have this sort of speech