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labyrinths and furious whirlpools threaten : "Lead us not into temptation.” Here dark gulfs and abysses open beneath us : “ Deliver us from evil.”
But if we look upon the whole, a beautiful and symmetrical order presents itself; for after we have raised the eyes of our spirit upwards to the Father of lights, from whom alone every good gift cometh, we confess before all other things, that we prefer His honour and glory to every thing else, and even to ourselves, in the unconditional petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” in which the following petitions are contained, as means to an end. For that God may be glorified in His external revelations, we pray, first, for those goods by which the above-named principal object may be obtained ; and we pray that those evils may be averted which are opposed to this end. These goods are threefold, and in order and dignity they are heavenly, spiritual, and temporal. For the heavenly, the most exalted, we should pray without conditions, “Thy kingdom come;" for the spiritual, or the gifts of grace, we should pray relatively, as for gifts which conduct to the heavenly, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven ;" for the temporal, in a manner much more confined, inasmuch as they may be not prejudicial, but conducive to our spiritual welfare, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Opposed in hostile array to these goods is a like number of evils, for the averting of which we earnestly pray. The first and principal petition is indeed without a contrary; for the glory, the sanctity, and absolute beatitude of God can in nowise be contracted; and however creatures may conduct themselves, His name shall be for ever glorified, whether it be by His mercy or by His justice, which are both revelations of His one eternal love. We pray, therefore, only that we may be guarded from those evils which impede our own welfare. And as in the attainment of heavenly goods or beatitude, only sin opposes, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses.” And as spiritual goods, the effects of divine grace, can be frustrated or darkened by nothing so much as by the many allurements and occasions of evil, which are not less unavoidable than dangerous to the earthly pilgrim, we supplicate, “ Lead us not into temptation.” Finally, as temporal evils are opposed to temporal goods, and eternal evils to eternal goods, so, to be preserved from both, we pray, “Deliver us from evil.” And since in this series of petitions all is marked that we, as spiritual beings, should spiritually ask and pray for, we conclude the whole with the expression of holy desire, of confidence, and of sure expectation, with that short word, “Amen,” which is the closing point of all the petitions which the Lord's Prayer contains, in that number, full of signification, seven ; a number which was prefigured by the seven ears of fruit which sprung from one stem, and by the seven seals of that mysterious book which no one but the Lamb could open.
Shall we now distinguish this sevenfold number according to our earthly time ; the seven petitions according to the seven days of the week ? If so, to the Sunday belongs the first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name.” For this day, sacred to the service of God, and called by the Pagans the day of the sun (of Phoebus), was consecrated by the Church to the spiritual sun of truth, to our risen Saviour, of whom the Psalms sing,
“He hath placed His tabernacle in the sun.” Monday was known in ancient times as the day of the moon ; and the Scripture admonishes us, by a similitude of the ever-changing moon, of the mutability of a foolish mind, and of the instability of this earthly world, to exhort us to keep a heavenly object before our eyes in all our works and employments, which we commence anew every Monday, in order that we may be ever turned towards the kingdom of heaven; and that the first amongst the days of our labours may in truth be to us a serene Monday, corresponding to the petition, “Thy kingdom come."
Tuesday was sacred of old to Mars, the god of war; and we are thereby reminded of the words of Job, “That the life of man is a warfare upon earth.” Again, as this word signifies (in German] the day of service, we are admonished of our duty to the invisible Lord and Ruler of the universe, whom we are bound to serve with willing obedience. Both significations, the spiritual warfare against evil, and the worship of God by our virtuous actions, are contained in the petition, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
As, moreover, Wednesday, or mid-week, stands in the midst of the days of the week, and represents the present, between the past and the future, so may be applied to it the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread.” Anciently it was known as the day of Mercury, the god of buyers and sellers. So this petition admonishes us, in the midst of our labours, to be content with a suffi, ciency which is grounded upon integrity.
Thursday, as the name declares, is the day of Jupiter, or of the northern Thor; and points out to us, in contrast to the menacing and terrible deity of the unredeemed and pagan tribes, that monument of the eternal sin-offering, the sacred banquet of Jesus, the gift of Divine love, which the hatred and perversity of men can never prevent; and incites us to the serious meditation of the petition, “ Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.”
Friday was formerly the day of Venus, or of the northern goddess Freea, and was devoted to licentiousness, to false freedom, or libertinism ; but it now brings to our mind the bloody sacrifice of Divine love, which liberated us from the slavery of our passions, and exalted us to spiritual freedom. Hence corresponds to it the petition which prays that we may be preserved for ever from this slavery, “Lead us not into temptation."
Saturday was, in the old law, the Sabbath, or day of rest ; amongst the Pagans it was the day of Saturn, the god of all-destroying time. The tomb, in which our Redeemer on this day reposed, points out to us the entrance into true rest, the exchange of time for eternity, of appearance for the joyful reality, for which we pray in that word of conclusion—thus may it be — “ Amen."
HEN, in any necessity, we wish to secure
the favour and assistance of a powerful and influential man, what is the first thing
with which we engage ourselves ? Certainly to acquaint ourselves with his name, his rank, and the title which it is proper to use in our address, or in the superscription, lest we injure our cause in the very commencement: for he whose favour we seek may reasonably require of us that we should know of him two things : first, that he exists and lives; and secondly, what rank he occupies. Shall this condition hold only within the limits of this world of men, and not also when we turn ourselves to one who is infinitely above this world—to the absolute Lord of the universe ? The apostle answers: “Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he who would come to God, must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him.” God, on His part, does not, indeed, stand in need of our acknowledgment and adoration, but this confession of the existence of God, and this