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Holy Spirit convinces us of sin, and if of sin, then
of the need under which we ever stand for a · Mediator and Intercessor at the throne of grace.
It may indeed be that by mere human reason and reflection, we may discover in our souls a large catalogue of errors and vices, and gain a curious insight into our faults and follies. By such discernment we may admit, it may be with a smile, or it may be with a sigh, according to our tempers, that by nature we are frail, weak, and vain, but God's teaching will moreover make us feel painfully that by the same nature we are corrupt, wicked, and helpless. Such true self knowledge so far from puffing us up with pride, will sadden our spirits, will humble and mortify our vain imaginations. In this self abasement the mourner for sins and sinfulness is fitted to hear and obey the voice of the Lord Jesus, crying to him with gracious invitation, “Follow thou me,” if thou wilt both perfect holiness, and obtain forgiveness. “Come unto me,” he says, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” May it indeed be a present truth, that under the sense of our burdens, we are already with him in the outset of the Christian life, in repentance, faith, and the spirit of obedience. “Learn of me,” is his further direction ; let us then wait on his lessons, while in the remaining order of his church, he lays down line upon line ; and teaches us how to seek him in prayer and holy ordinances. If we have found out our own failings and infirmities, he, be sure, is touched with the feeling of them,—“let us then come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
ON THE CHURCH CATECHISM.
THE MEANS OF GRACE. PRAYER.
Luke xi, 1.
“One of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray.”
These are words which require no mere explanation: their plain and full meaning is simply that the followers of Jesus asked from him instructions for prayer, and this meaning is at once quite apparent. The occasion of the request is related to have been that he had himself been praying; the grant of it we have in the prayer which he graciously taught and enjoined, both then, and, with slight differences of a few words, at another time also, and which, from him the great and heavenly teacher, stands alone and sacred under the name of the Lord's Prayer. They who begged directions how to pray, may well be supposed to have been made by their Master's word, sensible of their need of God's grace, by his example they had just been reminded how grace is to be sought. They had believed in him, had forsaken all, and followed him; they were now learning of him, in hope of attaining to the promise that through his teaching they should find rest for their souls. He accordingly now assures them, that in every want, if they will ask, they shall receive; and at the same time he gives them knowledge and power to ask aright. Thus the church having built up in the faith the young members of Christ, and having taught them what they are bound to keep, that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, puts them in the way of finding grace and power to fulfil the obligation and tells them that prayer is the means by which to faith and knowledge may be added obedience.
The catechism, after the summaries of duty to God and our neighbour, proceeds in accordance with the baptismal instructions, to this further admonition and inquiry. “My good child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace; which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer : Let me hear therefore, if thou canst say the Lord's Prayer.” The child is here reminded, that though he must do the duties which he has learned, yet by nature he is unable to perform them, nevertheless that strength may be obtained for rendering him equal to the task. Such aid he is taught to seek in the words of prayer appointed by Jesus to his first disciples, those whom, in their simplicity and their wants, he was pleased to call his own little children. These words the church has ever used, according to the commandment of Jesus, as the sum, spirit, and fulness of all addresses to God, as the first prayer to come from the lips, and to be impressed on the soul, as the model and guide for all other petitions, as the correction and supplement for their errors and defects.
The exposition of this prayer given in the church catechism is as short and clear for its purpose as could well have been framed, yet it unavoidably is in its quantity apt to burden the memories of very young children, and it is apt too to be repeated by those of advancing growth without consideration, or reference to the matters expounded. For the sake therefore of those who seek to understand their catechism, I will discharge the easy and simple office of just classing for them under their proper heads, the members of this exposition, and after having secured this most really due and proper object, will venture my own further remarks. The Lord Jesus bids