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fully by; that it be our own, not another's coming to us in an unjust way, 2 Thess. iii. 12. One had better want, than be sustained on the gain of injustice ; for upon that one can never expect God's blessing
(3.) That God would bless our lawful endeavours for bread. That is a promise of the covenant; and what God has promised we may pray for, Psal. cxxviii. 2. “Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands.' One must not think to get his bread by praying for it, with folded hands, Prov. x. 4. · He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand.' Nor is working for it without prayer to God, the way to obtain it, Hag. i. 6, 9. But God's blessing and man's industry must hand in hand towards it.
3. That our bread thus brought to our hands may be blessed of God to ns, 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5. As an ingenuous child loves rather to take his bread out of his father's hand, than to take it to himself; so the bread which is ours, as aforesaid, the children of God do by prayer put again into God's hand, that they may receive it out of his hand again with his blessing. Lord, do thou give us our bread.
Fourthly, What is the import of praying for daily bread ? It imports,
1. That we are to confine our desires of the good things of this life to a competency, and not extend them to wealth and riches, Prov. xxx. 8.'Give me neither poverty, nor riches.' We are to pray for daily, not weekly and yearly bread. Riches are a snare to our corrapt hearts, Matth. xix. 23. and they who are anxious for them, court their own harm, 1 Tim. vii. 9. If God lay them to your hand, as he has done to some of his own, ye are to be thankful for them; but beware the heart go not out after them, but use them for the honour and service of God.
2. That we are to be content to live from hand to mouth, haring daily bread, without anxiety for the time to come, Matth. vi. 34. Surely we have enough, if God provide for every day as it comes.
Fifthly, What is the import of praying, Give us this day our daily bread ? It is not, Give us to-morrow our daily bread. It teaches us,
1. That we are not to be anxious about to-morrow's provision, Matth. vi. 34.
2. That God will have us every day coming to him for the supply of our needs. He likes to have his people about his hand; and therefore never furnishes them so one day, but they need to come again another day.
3. That we are not sure of to-morrow. Every day may be our last. · For what is our life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,' Jam. iv. 14. We may
die this day, and need no more. So that there is no occasion for praying for any more than provision suitable to the day when it
I shall conclude this subject with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Let us be thankful to God for what we enjoy of the good things of this life. We owe it all to him; and therefore let us take all we have as out of his hand, whatever we do for it: for it is at his charges we live. Let us then he thankful to God, and own ourselves debtors to him, for all our mercies ; for he it is that giveth rain and fruitful seasons. That there is food for man and beast among us is the effect of his free bounty. And it is owing to the same cause that we have peace to enjoy the fruit of our labours, and that God has not put it into the hands of enemies to eat it up.
Let us admire his bounty to a sinful generation; and see and notice with wonder, how he does good to the unthankful and unholy, and how strictly he observes his promises, Gen. viii. ult.“ While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.' That year the general deluge happened, there was no seed-time, nor harvest; but since they have never failed.
2. Let us look to God, and depend by faith on him for future mercies; and particularly look to him, for his blessing on the winter and spring season, on which so much depends with us. Whatever strait he may be pleased to bring, let us accept it humbly off his hand, since he owes us nothing, and may do with his own what he will. Look to him for removing of it, and patiently wait his time. Pray for his blessing on your substance, and on the work of your hands. You see the petition is put in your mouths for it every day. And therefore being offered through Christ, it will be accepted.
3. Let us be content with the measure he sees meet for us. Though others may bave more than we, we have more than we can crave as debt? and it becomes as not to pretend to teach the ruler of the world, to whom he should give more, and to whom less, Matth. xx. 15.
5. Let us make God our friend through the mediation of his Son, Acts xii. 20. Repent, and turn from your sins; and reform yourselves and families. Sin is the only make-bate betwixt God and us: put that away, since ye depend entirely on him for all you have. It is a strange thing to be provoking him, and grieving his Spirit, by a course of sin, on whom we depend for all things.
5. Beware of abusing God's creatures to gluttony, drunkenness, sensuality, and luxury. Be not like the horse that kicks against him that feeds him: and fight not against the Lord with the bene
fits he puts into your hands. Many to whom the Lord has given plenty of worldly good things, look on themselves as entitled to a greater liberty than others : but know that the more ye have, ye are the more in God's debt; and as your receipts are more than others, your reckoning will be deeper.
6. Let us serve God joyfully with what he gives us. Let not men take God's gifts, and bestow them on their lusts, as those who use their worldly good things to the dishonour of the name of God, and the feeding of their pride, sensuality, and other brutal passious. Sobriety becomes us; and as our Lord has stinted us to ask no more than a day's provision, let us use what he gives for every day soberly, with thankfulness; and improve it to his honour, in doing his will.
7. Let us not be anxious about provision for this life, nor go ont of the road of duty or righteousness to get it. For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; and they that keep his way, he will see to their provision. Let us be diligent in our several callings to maintain ourselves in an honest way, without anxious solicitude and carking cares about the event; but leave the success to God, taking thankfully whatever he sends, and craving his blessing upon it.
8. Lastly, Let us, from the same God, through Jesus Christ, look for eternal life, and the means leading thereto. Be concerned for your souls, and for the bread of life to them. Little bread will serve us till we will need no more. Many of us have eaten most of our bread already, and less may serve us than we are aware of. Our souls must have food too, and live for ever; therefore be especially concerned for them.
THE FIFTH PETITION.
Matth. vi. 12.-And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Tuis petition concerns our souls, as the former did our bodies, and relates to the pardon of sin, which we are here taught to pray for.
In discoursing from this subject, I shall consider,
I. I shall consider the order of this petition, and the connection of it. Concerning the order of it, two things may be observed.
1. That it follows the petition for daily bread. Not that bread
is comparable, far less preferable to pardon; but that the time of this life is the season of pardon, Heb. ix. 27. Now or never we must be pardoned. When we have no more ado with bread, death taking away the necessity of it, we have no more ado with pardon.
2. That is the first of the petitions for spiritual blessings. Because pardon of sin is a leading benefit, and while sin remains unpardoned, the communication betwixt God and the sinner is stopped, Amos iii. 2. Can two walk together, except they be agreed ?' While God has a controversy with the sinner, he pursues it in greater or lesser measure, Psal. lxvi. 18. And the reinoval of guilt is the opening of the spring of spiritual blessings, to run abundantly; it is the taking the stone off the mouth of the well.
As to the connection, this petition is knit to the former by the particle 'and, Give us this day,' &c. 'And forgive us,' &c. which speaks this, that, in giving bread without forgiving sin, there is death in the pot, Psal. iv. 6, and xvii. 14. There can be little sap or sweet in the bread of the condemned, though, alas ! many eat it cheerfully. Like the rich man, Luke xii. they eat, they drink joyfully, while the sword of Justice hangs over their head by a hair. It is because they see it not. The looks of an angry Judge, the frowns of a Father, in giving the bread to us, will make it very sapless, to those who discern them. A pardon is the best seasoning to any meal, Eccl. ix. 7. Compare Acts ii. 37, 46.
II. Let us consider the petition itself, wherein we pray, “That God, for Christ's sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.' In which we may speak of two things.
1. The thing petitioned.
First, Let us consider the petition itself, Forgive us our debts. This is the petition, strictly speaking. Upon which I am to enquire,
1. What is meant by debts.
First, What is meant by debts ? Sins are the debts here prayed to be forgiven, Luke xi. 4. the worst debts in the world.
1. Why is sin called a debt? Not because it is a non-payment of God's dues, a non-performance of duty, as some say; these things answer not the notion of debt : far less because we owe it to God.
But sin is called debt, because it is a taking away from God some thing for which we owe him an equivalent, Psal. Ixis. 4. “Then I restored that which I took not away.' This notion is the common notion of debts. By sin we rob God of his honour, and owe him reparation.
So in sin as a debt four things are to be considered. (1.) The debtor which is the sinner. Every sinner is a debtor, owing more than he is able to pay. (2.) The creditor is God, at whose meres the sinner lies. (3.) The valuable thing which the sinner has got away from God for his own use, or rather abuse, is God's honour. (4.) The equivalent which the sinner owes on that account to God, is the reparation of God's honour.
2. What sort of a debt is sin ?
(1.) It is a drowning debt, a debt so great as no mortal is able to pay, Matth. xviii. 24, 25. And all mankind had died in it, if a cantioner able to pay it had not been found, Psal. Ixxxix. 19. (2.) It is a disheartening debt for the presence of God.
As an insolvent debtor has no will to come in his creditor's sight; so the sinner has no will to come into God's sight till he be brought, Matth. xviii. 24. This is the reason why many otherwise jovial and merry, when they come into God's presence in duties, are quite heartless.
(3.) It is a debt that the sinner is very ready to diminish, Lake xvi. 6. As he is unable to pay, so naturally he is unwilling to confess it, and make fair count.
(4.) It is a debt that in the end will be fairly and exactly stated, and not the least article forgotten or miscounted. The creditor has given his oath upon it, Amos viii. 7. “The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely, I will never forget any of their works.' And the debtor, whether he will or not, shall be convinced of the justness of the accounts.
(5.) It is a debt that must be paid one way or other. The debtor has but three choices, Pay, Find a cautioner, or Go to prison, Matth. v. 25. None can pay, few will employ the cautioner, therefore must go to prison.
(6.) It is a growing debt. While its growth is not arrested, the interest runs on, and the great sum to-day becomes greater to-morrow, Rom. ii. 5.
Lastly, When it is pursued, on the debtor's expence. The pursuit is at the sinner's cost, and he is made to bear the weight of it.
Secondly, What is meant by our debts, or sins ? All sins which we are any manner of way chargeable with, and accountable for, before the Lord. Now sin becomes ours four ways.
1. By imputation. So Adam's sin is our sin, Rom. v. 19. and