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world; but, that thou shouldest keep them from the evil;" that is, from the evil one, and from all real evil.
If we present this petition aright, we must do so in the recollection of our exposed condition, in an humble sense of our own weakness, and in a conviction of God's ability and willingness to keep us from falling. And all these feelings should lead us to avoid, as much as possible, all dangerous and tempting situations, and all incentives to sin, and, when we are unavoidably exposed to temptation, to use all means in our power to overcome it. "Watch and pray," says our Lord, that ye enter not into temptation." If we attend to these rules, we may expect that the Lord "will deliver us from every evil work, and preserve us unto his heavenly kingdom."
The conclusion, or doxology, which we find in Matthew, is entirely omitted in Luke. It is an ascription of praise to God, somewhat similar to that in 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 the heaven and the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all." The conclusion, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever," is not only a sublime act of adoration, but an encouragement to prayer, inasmuch as God's being possessed of the kingdom, and of all power, is a proof that he is the proper object of prayer, and able to grant what we
The word, "Amen," with which this, like almost every other prayer, concludes, signifies both verily, and so be it. In the sense of verily, it signifies that we assent to the truth of all that has been said;-and in the sense of so be it, it signifies an earnest wish that the whole prayer may be granted. From the use of this word at the close of prayers, the apostle draws an argument to prove that all public religious services should be carried on in a language understood by the people who are present, and, of course, condemns the use of the Lord's Prayer, or any other prayer, in the Latin language, where that language is not the common language of the people:* :*"When thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say, Amen, at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" Think well, my friends, of the vast and solemn import of this single word, Amen, when it
* 1 Cor. xiv. 16.
comes to be pronounced at the end of our prayers. In this one word, you, as it were, pray the whole prayer over again, however long it may have been. And when you consider the importance of the subjects introduced into a scriptural prayer, and the unspeakable value of the deliverances and of the blessings implored, what an emphasis of feeling should you throw into this word, whether pronounced audibly, or breathed inwardly to yourselves!
Such is that admirable form and model of prayer, which our Lord has prescribed, for our occasional use, and constant imitation. How comprehensive, and yet how compendious! There are several things which might now be very appropriately added, but the subsequent verses, if God give us an opportunity of considering them, will again bring the same subject of prayer before us. In the meantime, may the Lord bless what has been said; and to his name be praise. Amen.
LUKE XI. 5-13.
"And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6. For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 11. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12. Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
HAVING, in the foregoing part of the chapter, furnished the disciples, at their own request, with a form and model of prayer, our Lord proceeds, in the verses now read, to urge them to persevering importunity in prayer. Of these nine
verses, the first four are peculiar to Luke, and the last five are nearly the same with a part of the sermon on the mount, as given by Matthew. The first four verses contain a supposition of circumstances which might occur in any part of the world, but which are more likely to occur in the East; for, in hot climates, it is not unusual, when it can be done with safety, to travel in the cool of the night.* In the case before us, a traveller, wearied with his journey, and standing in need of refreshment, is supposed to arrive unexpectedly, and at midnight, at the house of a friend, who, having no provisions, is quite unprepared to entertain him. He who is thus visited, is then supposed to go out to apply to a neighbouring friend for the loan of some provisions. In such a case, it is likely enough, as here supposed, that he who, with his family, was thus disturbed in his repose by
so untimely a visit, would endeavour to put off his friend with a variety of excuses: but, if his friend should persevere in pleading with him, he would be at last prevailed on, and would yield, though it were only to get rid of his importunity.* All this is here so naturally and plainly stated, as not to require any explanation. Let us proceed, then, without further remark, to the practical application of the supposition.
Besides the leading lesson here taught, to which we shall soon more particularly advert, there are several other things taught, more or less directly. We are taught the duty of hospitality, and that not grudgingly, or of necessity, but cheerfully shown: and we are taught, in connexion with this, the duty of friendly and neighbourly accommodation. And then, as this is a parable, in which spiritual things are shadowed forth, under a comparison drawn from common life, we are reminded that we ourselves are destitute of all temporal and spiritual good, and should apply to God for whatever we need, either for body, or for soul. We are especially taught to apply to him for "loaves"-for bread, for the necessaries of life; and for supplies of grace-for the bread of life that cometh down from heaven, for the bread that endureth unto life everlasting. We are taught to go to God with confidence, as to a friend who knows and loves, and is inclined to help us. We are taught to apply to him for others, as well as for ourselves; for this man came for his friend, and not for himself. Pray one for another," saith the apostle James. We surely come to God on a good errand, when we come to him for the means of enabling us to do good to others, and to entertain and edify those that come to us. We are here taught, also, to apply to God in the time of difficulty and straits. "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." But the chief lesson here read to us, is a lesson of importunity; that is, of earnestness and perseverance in prayer. It is necessary, indeed, to beware of running the parallel too
*Martial's Epigram, lib. iv. 15, though much surpassed by this parable in variety and beauty of imagery, cannot fail to interest the classical scholar:
Mille tibi nummos hesterna nocti roganti
Non habeo, dixi; sed tu causatus amici
close; we must be contented with the outline of the meaning, and not imagine that anything of the infirmity and indisposition to help, which appeared in one of these men, is to be found in God. But then, this difference only renders still more obvious the delightful conclusion to which the parable is intended to lead: for, if importunity proves so effectual with men, notwithstanding all their selfish indolence, how much more will it prevail with God, whose benevolence is so vast to prompt his aid, and whose energy is so powerful to impart actual help with the utmost ease! My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." The Lord, instead of being offended, is pleased with our importunity; he is more ready to hear than we are to speak, and to give than we are to ask. That he sometimes delays to answer is only a particular illustration of his love; he only waits till he can answer in the best possible way, and at the best possible time. However, from these delays arises, in part, the need of persevering importunity. Intending to press this point more fully on your consideration in a subsequent part of. this exercise, let us proceed to offer a few remarks on the remaining five verses, in which, as formerly, in the sermon on the mount, our Lord follows up the same subject in the way of express commands and encouraging promises.
"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." In this passage, asking, seeking, and knocking, just stand for praying: but the words have a strong sense, and seem to increase in intensity of meaning. "Ask," as a beggar asks for alms; or, as one petitions for some great favour. " Seek," as one seeks for something valuable that has been lost; or, as a merchantman seeketh goodly pearls. This implies that we should add to our petitions our endeavours in the use of the appointed means. Knock," as one that desires admission into a house. Sin has, as it were, shut against us the door of admittance into God's favour and presence, and we are called on to pray, and to pray earnestly, that be would graciously open that door to us, in order that we may escape from our exposed and wretched condition, and enter