Thursday, 21 May 2015

Holiness in our Approaches to God

“Hallowed be thy name. [Mat. VI. 9.]

“2. It notes that our chiefest care and affection should be carried out to the glory of God when we pray. We should rather forget ourselves than forget God. God must be remembered in the first place. There is nothing more precious than God himself, therefore nothing should be more dear to us than his glory. This is the great difference between the upright and the hypocrite: the hypocrite never seeks God but when his necessities do require it, not in and for himself; but when the upright come to seek God, it is for God in the first place—their main care is about God’s concernments rather than their own. Though they seek their own happiness in him, and they are allowed so to do; yet it is mainly God’s glory which they seek, not their own interests and concernments. See that: Ps.  cxv. 1, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.’ It is not a doxology, or form of thanksgiving, but a prayer; not for our safety and welfare, so much as thy glory; not to reek and satisfy our revenge upon our adversaries; not for the establishment of our interest; but for the glory of thy grace and truth, that God may be known to be a God keeping covenant; for mercy and truth are the two pillars of the covenant. It is a great dishonouring of God when anything is sought from him more than himself, or not for himself. Saith Augustine, it is but a carnal affection in prayer when men seek self more than God. Self and God are the two things that come in competition. Now there are several sorts of self; there is carnal self, natural self, spiritual self, and glorified self. Above all these God must have the pre-eminence.

            “[1.] Carnal self. By a foolish mistake we take our lusts to be ourselves: Col.  iii. 5, ‘Mortify your members here upon the earth.’ And these members he makes to be fornication, uncleanness, and the like. Our sins are as dear to us as any essential or integral part of the body; they are our members. Now, these should have no room in our prayers at all, though usually they have the first place: James iv. 3, ‘Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.’ Our prayers should be the breathings of the spirit, and usually they are but the belches and eructations of the flesh. And for these it is we are so instant and earnest with God. We would have God bless us in some revengeful and carnal enterprise. We deal with God as the thief that lighted his candle at the lamps of the altar. So many would make God a party in their carnal designs: Prov.  xxi. 27, ‘The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?’ It is an abomination when it is at the best; but when he hath an ill aim, then it is an abomination with a witness. Foolish creatures vainly imagine to entice heaven to their lure. Balaam builded altars and sacrificed, out of hope that God would curse his own people, and engage in Moab’s quarrel; like the man in the Gospel that would make no other use of Christ than to compose his civil difference: Luke  xii. 13. He comes to him as a man of authority, ‘Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.’ We all look upon God, tanquam aliquem magnum, as Austin said he did in his infancy, as some great power that would serve all our carnal turns. In this sense we make God to serve our sins, Isa.  xliii. 24, when we would have God to contribute to our lusts, to our pride, to our wantonness, revenge. This is such a foolish request, as if a wife should beg of her husband to give her leave to go on with her adulteries. Survey all the petitions which are in this present platform of prayer, there is not one that is calculated for such an evil purpose as our revenge, pomp, pride and pleasure. Carnal self surely must give way to God.”

-From The Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 1; (The Banner of Truth Trust). AN EXPOSITION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER. Pages 67 and 68.

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