St. Paul willeth that 'all things' in the Church 'be done orderly,' which no doubt he took from Christ, Whose answer to John the Baptist was, Sic enim decet for so it becometh, whereby we see that both Christ and his Apostles have always observed a decorum or decency in all things.
So touching prayer, our Saviour Christ, to shew that it is an indecent thing for any having done his petitions to break off suddenly, or to begin his prayer without any introduction, hath not only made an entrance to his prayer wherein He acknowledged God's goodness, but also addeth a conclusion wherein He confesseth His 'Kingdom, Power and Glory,' which the Fathers call doxologa, and He took the pattern of this conclusion out of the Old Testament, where King David acknowledgeth, 'Thine, O Lord, is greatness, power and glory, and victory, and Thine is the Kingdom.'
In the beginning we heard that all prayer and invocation is nothing else but a testimony and confession. The petitions that are severally made in this prayer are, confession of our weakness, want, need, and unableness to do any thing that may please God. The beginning and end of it are, an acknowledgement of God's riches, power and goodness, whereby He is inclined to supply our wants, for that He is not only willing as a Father but able as a King; so that whatsoever prayer we make, whether Techinah or Tehillah, whether we pray that we may receive, it is a confession, and [458/459] both these confessions make for God's glory; not only to him that was made to make confession of his sin, it was said, Da gloriam Deo, 'Give God the glory,' but the blind man that had received a benefit by the recovery of his sight was said 'to give glory to God.'
The beginning of this prayer was a confession of God's goodness; the end, of His power, for unto doing of good is required not only willingness but power and ability.
To shew that God is willing, we are taught to call upon Him by the name of 'Father,' for any father is willing to do his child good; but with this willingness there must concur am ability to do good, which howsoever it be wanting in earthly Fathers, yet it is not wanting in our heavenly Father; for whereas nothing doth more express power than the name of a king, Christ acknowledged God to be such a Father as hath 'Kingdom, Power and Glory,' and therefore is able to do us whatsoever good He will. So God Himself affirmeth of himself, 'I am a great King,' He is called 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords;' so that if we will pray to God the Father, we have cause to conceive hope that He will hear our petition and help us, because He is not only willing as a Father, but able as a mighty, glorious and powerful Prince.
Secondly, if to God the Son, His dying for us doth assure us of His good will and readiness to do us good; and His rising again from the dead, when He hath broken the iron bars, doth assure us of His power.
Thirdly, if to the Holy Ghost, we shall not need to doubt of His willingness, for He is the essential love of God 'which is shed in our hearts.' Besides, He is the Spirit operative, by Whom God worketh all good things in the hearts of His people, and therefore able to do whatsoever good for us; and those two, to wit, the assurance of God's goodness and power, are the two parts of 'the anchor' of our hope, and they give us not only audiciam petendi, but also fiduciam impetrandi, 'not only boldness to ask but also assurance to obtain.' To make requests in our own behalf, and acknowledgement to God of His love and power, are both confessions, but the principal is the acknowledgement of His goodness and Kingdom and power; for to make request to God for good things that we want concerns men, but to confess God's power and [459/460] goodness is that wherein the heavenly Angels are occupied; they feel no want of any good thing, and therefore they have no need to make petition to God as we on earth, and therefore all the confession that they make is of God's goodness and power, whereof they cry continually, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, the earth is full of His glory.' The same is done by the saints in heaven: 'Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanks, and honour, and power and might be unto our God for evermore.
Whereby we learn that we, concerning whom Christ saith, that we shall be "s£ggeloi, 'equal or like to the Angels,' ought while we live on earth not to speak only with the tongue of men but of Angles, not only to confess our own wants and to crave a supply from God, but to acknowledge God's riches, goodness and power.
Again, the petitions that we make for ourselves is a taking; but the sanctification of His name, by ascribing 'Kingdom, Power and Glory' unto God, is a giving, and therefore as the Apostle saith, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive,' so the confession of God's goodness and power is a better confession than that which we make of our own weakness and poverty, and this is the only thing which God receives from us for the manifold benefits and acknowledgement from Him.
Neither is this confession and acknowledgement left to our own choice as a thing indifferent, but we must account of it as of necessary duty which may in no wise be omitted, seeing God enters into covenants that He will hear us and deliver us out of trouble, 'when we call upon Him.' Therefore God challengeth this a duty to himself by his servants, 'Ascribe unto the Lord worship and strength, give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name. All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship Thee, and glorify Thy name.'
Therefore our Saviour commends the Samaritan because he returned to give glory to God for the benefit received, wherein He blames the other nine that being cleansed of their leprosy were not thankful to god in that behalf. For God for this cause doth hear our prayers and grant our petitions that we should glorify and honour His name.
But this is not all that we are to consider in these words, for they are not only doxologia, but a"tiologa, not only an a stipulation but an allegation, wherein as we acknowledge [460/461] God's goodness and power That hath heard and granted our requests, so we allege reasons why He should not only hear us but also relieve and help us with those things that we crave for at His hands; we do not only say, Hear our petition for so shalt Thou shew Thyself to be a King, a mighty and glorious King, and we for our parts shall acknowledge the same; but we use this confession as a reason why our former requests are to be granted, for it is in effect as much as if we should say, Forgive Thou our sins, Deliver Thou us from evil; Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; For Kingdom, Power and Glory is Thine, and not ours.
The reason why we would have our requests granted, is drawn from God Himself in two respects: first, that we may by this humble confession make ourselves capable of the graces of God, which do not descend to any but those that are of an humble spirit, 'For He giveth grace to the humble.'
If we would have our desires granted because it is the nature of God to be good and gracious, to b e of power to do what He will for the good of His people, we must desire Him to be gracious propter Semt Ipsum, 'for His own sake;' our motive unto God must be, 'For thy loving mercy and thy Truth's sake. Help us for the glory of Thy name, deliver us, be merciful unto our sins for Thy names' sake.' Be these motives we must provoke and stir up God to hear us, This is the difference that is betwixt the prayers of profane men and those that are sanctified. Heathen and profane men refer all to their own glory: so saith Nebuchadnezzar, 'Is not this great Babel which I have built by my great power, and the honour of my majesty?' Such a man thinketh himself to be absolute and will say, 'Who is the Lord over us?' Therefore are they called the sons of Belial. But the Patriarchs that were sanctified, frame their prayers otherwise: Jacob acknowledged, 'I am not worthy of the least of Thy mercies;' by which humility he made himself capable of mercy. 'To us belongeth shame,' saith Daniel, 'but to Thee belongeth compassion and forgiveness, though we have offended.' So Christ Himself in this place doth teach His disciples to pray that God will give them the things they desire, not for any thing in themselves, but for His name's sake: 'For Thine is [461/462] the Kingdom, Power and glory;' whereby we perceive that humility is the means to obtain at God's hand our suits
The other respect is in regard of God, for He maketh His covenant with us 'that He will be our God, and we His people.' And when the Prophet [Jeremiah] stirreth up the faithful 'to worship the Lord, and to fall down before the Lord our Maker,' he addeth this as a read on, 'For He is the Lord our God, and we are His people, and the sheep if His Pasture.' Wherefore one saith, Commemoratio est quædam necessitas exaudiendi nos, quia nos Ipsius sumus, Ipse noster est; 'It is a necessary motive to God to hear us, because we are His and He ours.'
Therefore in all the prayers and psalms which the saints of God makes, they ground their petitions upon this: in regard of God the Father Who is the Creator, they say, We are Thy workmanship created by Thee; therefore 'despise not the works of Thy own hands.' Besides, we are the 'likeness' of God's 'image;' therefore suffer not Thine own image to be defaced in us, but repair it.
Secondly, in regard of Christ we are the price of Christ's blood.Empti estis pretio, 'Ye are bought with a price;' therefore suffer not so great a price to be lost, but deliver us and save us. Again we carry His name, for as He is Christ, so we are of Him called Christians. Seeing therefore that 'Thy name is called upon us, be gracious to us, and grant our request.'
Thirdly, in respect of the Holy Spirit, the breath of His Spirit is in our nostrils, which is 'the breath of life' which God breathed in us at our creation. Again, the same spirit is to us a Holy Spirit, and sanctifieth us; we are not only vaginæ Spiritûs viventis the sheaths of the living spirit, but templa Spirit Sancti, 'the temples of the Holy Spirit.' And therefore for His sake we are to entreat Him to be gracious to us.
We are God's kingdom, and therefore it belongeth to Him to seek our good. All the world is His kingdom by right of inheritance, but we that are His Church are His kingdom by right of purchase; we are laÕj e"j peripohsin, 'a people peculiar,' or gotten by purchase; He hath redeemed us to be laÕj perioÚsioj, 'a peculiar people,' and the price whereby [462/463] we are purchased 'is his own blood.' He saith 'He will be our God and we His people.' He will be our Father and we His children, He is our Lord and we His servants, Therefore we may challenge at His hands that favour which kings vouchsafe to their subjects, which fathers shew to their children; that is, to love them, to defend them, and to wish them all the good things they need.
If he have purchased us to Himself by His blood, then we pertain to Him, and we may say to Him as His disciples said to Christ, 'Carest Thou not for us' that pertain to Thee, 'but sufferest us to perish?'
These words, 'Kingdom, power, and Glory, being jointly considered, are a representation of the Trinity.
As Moses, speaking of the Author of our creation, reckons up the name of God thee times; as in the blessings of the Law the name of God is thrice repeated; and as the Angels cry there, 'Holy, Holy, Holy' to teach that there are three Persons in the Godhead, which the heathen themselves have compassed, so Christ in the New Testament doth by these words, King, Power & Glory signify those three Persons, Which afterwards He expresseth by the name of Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
If we consider them severally, although they may all be ascribed to any Person of the Deity, yet 'the Kingdom' is to be ascribed unto Christ, 'Power' to the Holy Ghost. and 'Glory' to the Father; that we setting ourselves in Christ's 'Kingdom,' that is His Church, by the 'Power' of the Holy Ghost, may be partakers of that 'Glory' which God the Father hath prepared for us.
Again, these words are set to distinguish God's kingdom from earthly kingdoms. Each king hath not power, as the king of Israel saith: 'If the Lord do not succour thee, how can I help Thee? But God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of power.
Secondly, there are kingdoms of might, but not of glory: such was the kingdom of David, he had a kingdom of might but not of glory, for he spent all his time in troubles; but the kingdom of Solomon his son was both as powerful and a glorious kingdom, and there was a figure of the perfect Kingdom of Christ.
[463/464] Wherefore we are taught by these words, that as the Kingdom is the Lord's, so He hath not only a Kingdom of power whereby He is able to defend, but of glory whereby He can also reward His servants and subjects. Moses desired of God that He would 'shew him his glory,' but he that is of Christ's kingdom shall see the glory which Christ had from the beginning with the Father.
To consider these words severally. Upon these words of the Prophet, 'Knit my heart unto Thee,' one saith Religio dicitur a religando, as there is a mutual bond between the king and his people, so there is between God and us. The king's duty is to defend his subjects from injury and wrong, and to bestow on them all manner of benefits. The duty of subjects is to be dutiful, and yield all ready service to their prince: so God for His part is ready not only to defend us from all danger, but to bestow all good things upon us; and therefore we are bound to be religious and dutiful to Him, as to our King and Sovereign; we must not only love Him as a Father, but fear Him as our Lord and King. And this mixture shall keep us in the way of salvation, we shall neither too much despair, nor presume of His goodness; this fear we must testify both by a reverend regard of His Law and of His officers. He is no good subject that rebelleth against the laws of his prince, no more are we when no more can be gotten at our hands but by 'the precepts of men' when 'the statutes of Omri are kept' for fear of temporal punishment, and the laws of God are had in no price, then it is a sign that we are not so dutiful and loyal to our heavenly Prince as we ought to be..
Secondly, we must testify our fear of God by a reverend regard of His prophets and priests, which are the ministers and officers in His kingdom. When the Jews 'mocked the messengers of God, and misused His prophets,' they shewed their contempt of God Himself and therefore 'the wrath of the Lord arose against that people.' Contrariwise, if we have an honourable conceit of them, and 'receive them as the angels of God,' then we shew ourselves to be dutiful vassals to our heavenly Lord and King.
Next, for 'Power.' As St. Peter saith, God is able both to respect the righteous, and to shew vengeance upon the wicked, [464/465] so whether we respect the power of His grace inward whereby He worketh all good things in the hearts of His people, or the outward power whereby He defendeth them form evil: whether it be the power of His Holy Spirit or of His right hand, we must confess with the Saints that 'all power and strength and might' belong to God. And therefore whatsoever power we have, whether inward or outward, we must employ it all in His services. Fortitudinem meam ad Te servo, 'I will keep my strength,' or 'reserve it unto Thee.' So we must not spend our strength in thoughts of vanity, but employ it to His use and to the setting forth of His glory to Whom only all power belongeth.
Thirdly, Christ teacheth us to ascribe all glory to God, that whatsoever praise or commendation doth come unto us by anything we do, we should make a surrender of it to God, to Whom all glory is due, and say with the Church, Non nobis Domine etc, 'Not unto us, O Lord, but Thy name give all glory.' For, as the Prophet saith, the Church is a place wherein 'the voice of gladness' is heard and the voice of them that sing, Praise the Lord of Hosts, for He is loving, and His mercy endures for ever.'
The faithful are taught to return all glory to God, which is given to them. God Himself saith, Gloriam Meam alteri non dabo, 'My glory will I not give to another.' If He giveth His glory to any other, it is to such as deserve it, and have all power of themselves; but there is no creature which hath any power but what is given of God, and therefore God doth by right reserve His glory to Himself, and we ought willingly yield all glory to him alone, because He promiseth , 'Them that honour Me, I will honour;' that we glorifying Him here with a verbal glory, we may be 'glorified' of Him with a real glory, when He cometh to judge the world; and 'with an exceeding weight of glory.'
But yet we do no fully see wherein the glorious Kingdom of God differeth form the kingdoms of this world; for both power and glory may be ascribed to an earthly prince, and it is certain that Solomon had them all; and therefore as He is distinguished from earthly Fathers, for that He is said to be 'in heaven,' so He differeth from earthly kings, in that His Kingdom is said to endure 'for ever and ever.'.
[465/466] There is another difference implied in the article. Earthly princes have a kingdom, a kingdom of power, and a certain glory in this world, but it is not 'the kingdom.'
This prepositive article imports two things, a generality and a superiority: for the first point, he that hath but a piece of the earth to bear rule in, is not an universal king; but 'God is King over all the earth.' Therefore, if we be so careful to behave ourselves aright in the presence of an earthly king whose kingdom is limited within certain bounds, which if he exceed he is no more king, much more ought we to glorify Him Whose Kingdom is universal.
Secondly, for the superiority of God's kingdom, there are a great number of kings on earth; but of this King it is said, 'All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall worship Him. For He is said to be Kings of kings, and Lord of Lords.'
Touching the other difference, signified by the words 'for ever.' Though a man had all the earth for his kingdom, yet it could not be a kingdom 'for ever and ever.' No prince ever reigned the whole age of man, and so long time as a man naturally may live, which the philosophers say is the space of an hundred years; but His Kingdom endureth not only age of man, but in sæculum, for ever and ever. 'Thy King, Power, and Glory' endureth 'for ever and ever,' whereas man's kingdom, power and glory, lasteth but a few years and sometimes but a few days.
Jezebel had a glorious kingdom, but within a few years it was said of here, Ubi est illa Jezabel? 'Where is that Jezebel?' when it was fulfilled which the Prophet Jeremiah. foretold, 'Tell the king and Queen, Humble yourselves, for your dignity shall be taken away, and the crown of your glory shall fall down. And the like is the greatness of all earthly kingdoms; and therefore Chhrist teacheth us to direct our petitions to Him, 'Whose kingdom is everlasting,' Whose power enduretrh 'for ever and ever;' not to a mortal king, but to God Qui solus habet etc, 'Which only hath immortality;' Who being Himself an everlasting King and incorruptible, is able to bestow upon us both 'a crown,' and 'inheritance incorruptible that fadeth not.' This is our hope and the perfection of our desires, and therefore as the Creed hath his period in life everlasting, so last of all we are taught to pray for glory everlasting.