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of their corrupt wills, the violence of their unruly passions and appetites ; letting them to fall into the manifold snares of false opinion, evil custom, and contagious example, which the world sets before them; the world, which by its fair promises and pleasing flatteries enticeth to sin, or by its angry frowns and fierce threats discourageth from goodness, permitting the devil, without control or impediment, by his wiles to delude and seduce them; which kind of proceeding of God with men is clearly represented in the eighty-first Psalm, where of the Israelites God says, that having signally declared his pleasure to them, and by promise of great benefits invited them to observe it; upon their wilful neglect he dealt thus with them: “But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me; so I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust; and they walked in their own counsels.”
In such manner, if God, provoked thereto by our heinous miscarriages, doth justly bring us into, or doth let us enter into temptation, (as our Lord elsewhere expresseth it, “pray,” saith he, “that ye enter not into temptation,”2) we shall infallibly run into many grievous sins and desperate mischiefs; no less surely than we shall wander and stumble in the dark, we shall slide and fall in the most slippery places, and sometimes be entangled, when we do walk in the midst of snares, surrounded with traps innumerable, most cunningly laid to catch us. “ It is not” (saith the
Psal. lxxxi. ii, 12.
2 Luke xxii. 40, 46.
prophet) "in man to direct his steps ; so as to go straight and upright; it is not in him to see his duty, to bend his inclinations to compliance therewith ; to restrain his appetites, when sensible objects forcibly. press on them; to govern his passions, when they are vehemently stirred to disorderly motion. We do continually need God's instruction to guide us, God's “ hand to uphold us,” ? God's care and help to guard us. When therefore, I say, our condition and circumstances do minister dangerous occasions of sin, when our vain and weak tempers do incline or betray us thereto, when the world would smile or frown us into it, when the devil violently solicits or thrusts on toward it; thus to be destitute of God's grace, thus to be left to ourselves, is the most horrible judgment that can be. In such cases and seasons God's interposal is necessary either to remove those temptations, or to support and defend us from the prevalence of them, “keeping us from stumbling and falling," as St Jude speaks,: “ not suffering us," as St Paul expresseth it,“ to be tempted above what we are able, but making with the temptation also a way to escape, so that we shall be able to sustain it."
That God would please to do this for us, we do here pray; and in pursuance of this petition we subjoin that which, in part, may pass for an illustration thereofimplying an antithesis serving to that purpose. For
delivering from evil importeth the same with being rescued from temptation; "The Lord," saith St Peter, “knoweth how to rescue the godly out of temptation," 1 and “to preserve from the time of temptation," in the Revelation;? which are opposed to bringing into temptation. Partly, it may be supposed an improvement thereof delivering from evil signifying perhaps somewhat more than not permitting us to incur occasions strongly inviting us to evil ; even the effectual keeping us from being overborne or complying with it. But let us consider that petition itself.
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.
From evil, από του πονηρού. St Chrysostom takes it for the devil, who is “ the evil one,” the tempter, who seduceth us to evil. But we shall take it, according to the more common acceptation, "from evil,” that is, principally, from sin or evil, moral and spiritual—the only evil, simply and in its own nature such, and the root of all other evil; from that, and consequently from all mischief (evil natural and temporal, or evil penal and afflictive) which may grow upon or sprout from thence. As for such evils as these, the want of things necessary or convenient for us, bodily disease and pain, disappointment in our designs and ill success in our undertakings, disgrace and reproach upon our good names, dangers, difficulties, and distresses concerning our outward estate,
distractions, vexations, and troubles of mind about temporal matters, with the like evils (in some sense, in some degree evils, or appearing such to our natural sense and fancy), we may indeed deprecate them, as even our Lord himself did, with submission, as He did, to the wisdom and will of God, in case it pleaseth him, and he thinketh fit to remove them. But all these things, being but names and empty sounds in comparison to spiritual and eternal evils (such as are vicious distempers of mind, indispositions to serve God, ill progress in our spiritual affairs, dissatisfaction concerning our state in respect to God, actual transgression of God's holy will and law, incurring God's displeasure and disfavour, being deprived of his grace and assistance, wanting thecommunion and comfort of his Holy Spirit, remorse of conscience and anguish of spirit for having violated or neglected our duty, blind. ness of mind, hardness of heart, want of love, reverence, devotion toward God, of charity and good will toward our neighbour, of sobriety, humility, regularity of passion and calmness of temper in respect to ourselves and the inward frame of our souls—these, I say, and such like evils), we should absolutely request of God that he in mercy would deliver and free us from them; they being irreconcileably repugnant to his will and glory, and inconsistent with our eternal welfare. Yet even these and all other things we do request only in general terms, leaving the distinct matter, and manner, and measure, according to which they should be dispensed, to the wisdom and goodness of God. who " doth,” as our Lord telleth
AN EXPOSITION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER.
us, “know what things we have need of before we ask him ;” and is not only “able," as St Paul says, but willing also, “to do for us superabundantly above what we can ask or think.” 2
We are hereby, it seems, taught this point of good manners in our devotion, not to be tediously punctual and particular in our prayers, as if God needed our information, or were apt to neglect the particulars concerning our good.
We shut up all with a doxology, most suitable to the nature of devotion, signifying our due faith, our affection, and our reverence toward God.
FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER, AND THE
GLORY, FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.
That is, for thou hast a perpetual and unmoveable authority whereby justly to dispose of all things; thou hast an indefectible and irresistible power, whereby thou canst effect whatever seems just and good to thee; wherefore we profess only to rely upon and seek help from thee: with hope and confidence we address ourselves to thee for the supply of our needs; “thine is the glory;" all honour and reverence, all love and thankfulness are due unto thee, therefore we render our adorations and acknowledgments to thee.
Even so to thee, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be for ever ascribed all glory and praise. Amen.
Matt. vi. 8. Eph. iii. 20.