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THE CONCLUSION OF THE LORD's PRAYER.
MATTH. vi. 13.-For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.
E come now to the conclusion of the Lord's prayer,
which teacheth us, to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.'
In this conclusion three things are to be considered.
1. The connection thereof with the petitions.
1. Let us consider the connection of this conclusion with the petitions in the particle for; which shews it to contain arguments to be used in prayer for hearing : q. d. Lord, hear us, for the kingdom is thine, the power is thine, and the glory is thine; and teaches us, that when we pray, we should plead and pray, press our prayers, and enforce our petitions, with arguments and reasons, to be heard. I shall
1. The truth of it. 2. The reason of it.
First, I shall shew you the truth of this pleading. And that it is so, appears from;
1. The Lord himself's teaching us so to do, which shews it to be acceptable to him, since he himself directs us to it. We have the Mediator's direction for it in this pattern of prayer, petition 5. and conclusion. See also Luke xi. 5,-9. And the more of the Spirit that one has in prayer, he will have his mouth the more filled with arguments.
2. The practice of the saints. See how Moses pleads and reasons with God in prayer, Exod. xxxii. 11,-13. Lord why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, for mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against chy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of, will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. See also how Asa pleads, ? Chron. xiv, 11. 'Lord it is nething with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power; help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude : 0 Lord, thou art our God, let not man prevail against thee.' Job thought it a good way of praying, and longed to be at it, Job xxiii. 4. • I would fill my mouth with arguments,' says he. The woman of Canaan recovered her arguments, when they seemed to be answered, Matth, xy, 22, 27. Have mercy on me,' says she, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But hé answered her not a word. And his disciples came and be. sought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us, But he answered and said, I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord ; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.'
3. The nature of the thing. In prayer men are upon business of the greatest weight, and outmost necessity, and should be in deep earnest in it; and ordinarily the Lord does not answer but to importunity. Is it not very natural in such a case to plead? Yea, what case can men be in that requires more importunate pleading, than that which relates to God's glory, and their everlasting felicity?
Secondly, I come to shew the reason of this pleading, why we should do so.
1. It is not to more, persuade, or bring over the Lord, to give us what we desire. Force of argument may prevail with man to change his mind, but the unchangeable God cannot be turned about with any reason or thing whatsoever. For should say,
« with himn there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,' Jam. i. 17. He is in one mind, and who can turn him ?? Job xxiii. 13.
2. But it is to exercise and strengthen our own praying graces, faith and fervency, &c. So that the effect of the pleading is on ourselves, not on God, though the consequent of it, by the divine purpose, is prevailing in prayer. It is true, the design of the pleading person is not on himself, though the effect is; neither ought it to be upon God, to move him, but upon the thing itself, to lay it out before the Lord, in the necessity and reasonableness of it. It is as if a hungry child should apply to his father for bread and the father
s Child, wherefore should I give you bread?" and thereupon the child should say, " Alas! I am pained with hunger, and who will give it me if you refuse? will it not be a reflection on your name, to say your children faint for lack of bread?' While the child pleads thus, the tear strikes in his eye, and his earneștness increases: whereupon he is answered. Here it is evident, that the effect of the pleading is not on the father; it would be but the child's weakness to think that the father is overcome with his arguments, though the consequent of the pleading is the child's getting bread: But the effect of it is plainly on the child himself, though the child designs it not so: And suppose the child to have so much wit, as to know that his arguments are not needed to persuade his father, his design of pleading in that case is on the thing itself, to hold out the necessity and reasonableness of it.
II. Let us consider the concluding sentence, Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Here I shall shew,
1. What is meant by the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.
2. What is the import of this sentence.
FIRST, I am to shew what is meant by the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.
1. By the kingdom is meant, not the kingdom of grace, nor the kingdom of glory either; but God's essential kingdom, bis universal sovereignty over all persons and all things whatsoever.
2. The power is not authority whereby God may do, but
the ability whereby he can do what he will, in that kingdom.
3. The glory is not God's essential glory, but the declarative glory, arising from what he doth in that kingdom, which will shine forth for ever through eternity.
SECONDLY, I am co shew, what is the import of this sentence. It is twofold, praise, and pleading arguments.
First, Praise. Hereby we praise him in our prayers, expressing high and honourable thoughts of him : Thine is the kingdom, &c. Thus we exalt himn above ourselves, and all creatures whatsoever.
1. As the universal and absolute Monarch of all the crea. tion, and the only one, 1 Chron. xxix. 11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in the earth, is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art
exalted as head above all.' Universal and absolute sovereign· ty are the flowers of the imperial crown of heaven, and be.
long to no other. They are many kings on earth, but they are all limited monarchs, and vassals to the King of heaven, who can have no competitor: Lord, thine is the kingdom.
2. As the Omnipotent, and only Omnipotent, ibid. The power of men and angels is but a shadow of power, weakness in comparison with God's. None of them all are capable to do what they are capable to will. But his power and will are of equal extent.
3. As the chief end of all things, ibid. and the only chief end. It is the peculiar prerogative of God to say, For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it,' Isa. xlviii
. 11. All persons and things are for God, God is for himself; and the glory of all redounds to him, and will do for evermore.
This teaches ys, That in our prayers we should praise God, as well as petition him. Praise is a comely mixture in all the parts of divine worship. It is most directly tending to God's honour; and it is the piece of worship that will last longest; when prayers, &c. are laid by in heaven, praise will be there for ever,
Observ. This pattern of prayer begins with praise, and ends with it too. For it is necessary, in the entrance, that we have our hearts awed with the divine glory, that so we may be the fitter to pray oq: and in the end, that we may
earry away high thoughts of God, for the better regulating of our life, in the intervals of duty.
Secondly, Let us consider the pleading arguments in prayer: and they are all taken from God himself. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.
Observ. This teaches us to take our encouragement from God only in prayer, to draw our arguments from the con. sideration of what God is. This is a large field to fill our mouths with arguments, and to furnish us with suitable pleas in prayer.
Quest. May we not plead with God upon any thing in ourselves? Ans. (1.) We may not plead upon any worthiness in ourselves or any other creature, Dan. ix. 18. . We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 1 Tim. ii. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (2.) Though in our pleading we may bring in both our evil and our good, yet the force of the plea or argument is not to be laid on either of them, but on something in God himself answerable thereto. David, brings in the greatness of his sin, in his plea for pardon; but the stress of the plea lies not there, but on God's own name, to be magnified greatly by the pardon of great sin, Psal. xsv. 11. For thy name's sake, O Lord, parilon mine iniquity : for it is great.' Hezekiah brings in his upright walking in the plea for prolonging his life, Isa. xxxviii. 3. . Remember now, O Lord,' says he, ' I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.' But the stress of it lay on God's faithfulness in that promise, 1 Kings viü. 25. « Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David, my father, that thou 'promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me, as thou hast walked before me.'
Now, the plea for hearing, here put in our mouths, is threefold.
1. The kingdom is the Lord's. The stress of the argument from this is, Therefore thou mayest do it, thou hast full authority to grant us whatsoever thou wilt, Matth. XX. 15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”