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nances which we cannot withstand, but against which we may rebel.
“ Remember this,” says the Prophet; “ remember the former age; for I am God, and there is no God beside, neither is there the like to Me ; who shew from the beginning the things that shall be at last, and from ancient times the things that as yet are not done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and all My will shall be done.” (Isaias xlvi.) To this will of God we should conform by a joyful obedience. When, therefore, we meditate upon this Divine will, which is revealed to us as a law, we pray, in the third petition, for the assistance of Divine grace, which may lighten and strengthen our will, that we may do that which is pleasing to God. Of this kind of prayer, there is contained in the Psalms a rich abundance. “ Direct, o Lord, my way, that I may observe Thy commands; direct my steps according to Thy words, that no injustice may rule over me; give me understanding, that I
may know Thy commands ; teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God.” In the same manner wrote St. Paul to one of the first Christian Churches : “I pray daily for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding : that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, fruitful in good works.” (Col. i.) As much, therefore, as we contemplate this Divine will, which reveals itself in the dispensations of His providence, we look upon our model, Jesus Christ, who prayed to His eternal Father, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt ;” and who taught us to meditate upon this as, when He taught us this prayer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
In records of antiquity worthy of credibility, it is related, that Epictetus, a priest of the oriental Church, whom Latronianus, duke of the Almaridians, cast into prison on account of his religion, held this discourse with Astion, a layman, and a companion in his sufferings. When we shall be called to-morrow to the interrogatory, let us answer nothing but these words : We are Christians ; this is our name, our family, and our country! But should God decree that we should be visited by tortures, our only words shall be: O Lord, Thy will be done.' True to their resolve, they answered every useless question that was put to them with these words: We are Christians; we adore Christ, and despise your idols. In the midst of their tortures, and as often as a new pang was added to their sufferings, they exclaimed, Thy will be done, O Lord, in us.' Unconquered, they were carried back to prison; but Vigilantius, who had assisted at the trial, could not banish these words from his memory; and frequently, and almost against his will, he found them on his lips. Whether he considered them as words of magic, by which, as the pagans believed, all power of torture was broken, or whether a higher interpretation of them were given to him, he appeared on the fourth day publicly before Latronianus, and said, 'I am a Christian ; the will of God be done in us. He was cast into prison with Astion and Epictetus, who instructed him and baptised him. On the thirtieth day they were conducted to execution, and met their death with songs of praise : * Blessed be the name of the Lord; for His will has been fully accomplished in us. Was there indeed a Divine power in those words, so that their repetition and meditation upon them could convert a persecutor of Christians into a martyr ? Certainly; and who can deny it? They are of Divine origin ; and he who would experience their power, need only repeat them frequently and fervently to impress them living upon his heart; as we read in the thirty-ninth Psalm : “My God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of my heart; Thy will I desire to obey, for it is the law and will of my will."
The Twill be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
F we compare the expressions of which the first three petitions of
the Lord's Prayer are composed, we shall find in them all the same general and impersonal form. Why do we not utter these petitions with greater precision, thus : · Hallow Thy name in us; may Thy kingdom come to us; fulfil Thy holy will in us? Or in this other form : We will hallow Thy name; we will enter into Thy
kingdom; we will fulfil Thy will ?' The reason is clear enough ; for if these petitions were expressed in the first form, it would seem that we intended and desired that God alone,
without our co-operation, should accomplish all these things. In the second form they would assume a tone of presumption, as if we lived in the rash confidence that we could attain to so great an end by our own private powers, and without assistance from on high. We have already seen that, although God be the sole Creator of man, man is nevertheless the co-creator of his ultimate existence. For although all being and existence, and all good things, come from God, yet they come in such a manner that God works no good in us, who are free creatures, without our consent and co-operation; and as we, on the other hand, to attain to good, must employ our will and our desire, it is in such a manner that all our efforts would be fruitless and vain, without the assistance of Divine grace. “He who remaineth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John xv.)
This, therefore, is the cause of the general and impersonal form of these three petitions; and thus we do not say, 'Fulfil and perfect Thy will in us,' nor, We are ready and prepared to do Thy will;' but we say, • Thy will be done, by Thee and by us; and as this Thy will in the uncreated heaven, in the sanctuary of Thy triune essence, exists as an eternal idea, and goeth forth from Thee as law, so shall it be obeyed, through love and reverence to Thee, by us Thy spiritual creatures on earth. May Thy will live and reign, as in Thee, so in us; as in heaven, so upon this earth. And as also in the created heaven of spirits the Divine will is fulfilled, as we read in the Psalm, “ Praise
the Lord, all His angels, who do His will ;" we pray that the same may be done with the same alacrity and joy by us on earth. And as in Christ, the God-Man and Mediator, His human will was ever and entirely subject and conformable to the Divine will, in the pure accordance of love, we pray also for the grace of a like conformity, which may unite us here upon earth with God; for “ he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”