An Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism

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An Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism

A HANDBOOK FOR THE CATECHETICAL CLASS:
AN OUTLINE AND ANALYSIS FOR THE PASTOR’S ORAL INSTRUCTION,
AND A SUMMARY FOR THE CATECHUMENS’ STUDY AND REVIEW AT HOME

BY JOSEPH STUMP, D.D.

1910

 


CONTENTS

PREFACE

LUTHER’S PREFACE

THE SMALL CATECHISM

PART I. – THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

PART II. – THE CREED

PART III. – THE LORD’S PRAYER

PART IV. – SACRAMENTS

PART V.- THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR

AN EXPLANATION

CHAPTER I. – THE BIBLE

CHAPTER II. – THE CATECHISM

PART I. – THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

CHAPTER III. – THE LAW

CHAPTER IV. – THE LAWGIVER

THE FIRST TABLE OF THE LAW.

CHAPTER V. – THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER VI. – THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER VII. – THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

THE SECOND TABLE OF THE LAW.

CHAPTER VIII. – THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER IX. – THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER X. – THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER XI. – THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER XII. – THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

CHAPTER XIII. – THE NINTH AND TENTH COMMANDMENTS

CHAPTER XIV. – THE CONCLUSION OF THE COMMANDMENTS

PART II. – THE CREED

CHAPTER XV. – CREEDS OR CONFESSIONS

CHAPTER XVI. – THE FIRST ARTICLE

CHAPTER XVII. – THE SECOND ARTICLE

CHAPTER XVIII. – HIS LIFE

CHAPTER XIX. – CHRIST’S WORK OF REDEMPTION

CHAPTER XX. – THE THIRD ARTICLE

CHAPTER XXI. – THE HOLY GHOST

CHAPTER XXII. – THE FRUITS OF HIS WORK

PART III. – THE LORD’S PRAYER

CHAPTER XXIII. – PRAYER

CHAPTER XXIV. – THE LORD’S PRAYER

CHAPTER XXV. – THE FIRST PETITION

CHAPTER XXVI. – THE SECOND PETITION

CHAPTER XXVII. – THE THIRD PETITION

CHAPTER XXVIII. – THE FOURTH PETITION

CHAPTER XXIX. – THE FIFTH PETITION

CHAPTER XXX. – THE SIXTH PETITION

CHAPTER XXXI. – THE SEVENTH PETITION

CHAPTER XXXII. – THE CONCLUSION

CHAPTER XXXIII. – THE MEANS OF GRACE

PART IV. – THE SACRAMENTS

CHAPTER XXXIV. – THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM

CHAPTER XXXV. – THE GIFTS OF BAPTISM

CHAPTER XXXVI. – BAPTISM’S SIGNIFICANCE

CHAPTER XXXVII. – THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR


PREFACE

This book aims to present both an analysis of Luther’s Small Catechism and a clear, concise, yet reasonably full explanation of its contents. It is an attempt, upon the basis of twenty years’ experience and a study of the literature of the subject, to meet the peculiar wants of the catechetical class in our Lutheran Church in America. The object of the book is twofold: first, to furnish an outline of teaching which the pastor may use as a guide in his oral explanation and questioning; and secondly, to furnish a sufficiently complete summary by means of which the catechumens may review the lesson and fix its salient points in their minds. No text-book can, of course, adequately supply the parenetical side of the catechetical instruction or take the place of the living exposition by the pastor. But it can and should support his work, so that what he explains at one meeting may not be forgotten before the next meeting, but may be fixed in the minds of the catechumens by study at home.

Since the task of the pastor in catechization is not only to impart religious instruction, but to impart it on the basis of that priceless heritage of our Church, Luther’s Small Catechism, the explanation here offered follows the catechism closely. The words of the catechism are printed in heavy-faced type and are used as headings wherever possible; and thus the words of the catechism may be traced as a thread running through the entire explanation.

Wherever he deemed it necessary, the author has added a fuller explanation of the text of the catechism than that which Luther gives, and has supplemented its contents with such additional matter as the needs of our catechumens require. He does not agree with those catechetical writers who maintain that the pastor, in his catechization, must confine himself to an explanation of Luther’s explanation. Such a principle would exclude from the catechetical class much which our catechumens should be taught. But all such additional matters are introduced under an appropriate head as an organic part of the whole explanation, thus preserving its unity.

This book is written in the thetical form instead of the traditional form of questions and answers. There is nothing in the nature of catechization which would require the use of the interrogative form in such a text-book, and accordingly the thetical form has for years been employed by numerous writers of text-books for the catechetical class in Germany. While questions have an important place in catechetical instruction, the matter and not the form is the vital thing. Catechization is not a method of instruction by means of questions and answers. Neither the original meaning of the word nor the history of catechization justifies such a definition. (See my article, “A Brief History of Catechization,” in the Lutheran Church Review, January, 1902; comp. v. Zezschwitz: System der christl.-kirchl. Katechetik, vol. i. pp. 17 seq., and vol. ii., 2. 1., pp. 3 seq.) And since Christian truth is not something to be brought forth from the mind of the child by means of questions, but something divinely revealed and hence to be communicated to the child, the most natural form in which to set it before him in a text-book is the thetical. Luther’s catechism itself is, indeed, in the form of questions and answers. But his catechism is confessional as well as didactic, and its words, memorized by the catechumen, are to become a personal confession of faith. The explanations of a text-book, on the other hand, are not to be memorized, but are meant to aid the catechumen in grasping the thoughts of the catechism. For this purpose, the thetical form is better than the interrogative, because the explanation is not continually broken by questions, and is thus better adapted to give the catechumens a connected idea of the doctrines taught.

Each chapter of this explanation is followed by a number of questions. After the pastor has explained a lesson at one meeting, the catechumens should prepare themselves to give an answer to the printed questions in their own words at the next meeting. The pastor may, of course, substitute other questions, assign additional ones, or eliminate some. The proof passages for the teachings set forth are cited in the margin. The more important passages, particularly those which the catechumens may be expected to memorize, are specially indicated by a dagger (+), and are printed in full at the end of the chapter. The use of a Scripture lesson is, of course, optional with the pastor. One is indicated, however, for each chapter, and may be read in class or be assigned to the catechumens to be read at home. The Scriptural illustrations are cited for the convenience of the pastor in his oral exposition. The division into chapters has been regulated by the subject-matter, and will, it is hoped, aid in the survey of the contents of the book as a whole. It is not intended that each chapter shall necessarily constitute one lesson. Some lessons will doubtless include only a part of a chapter, while others will include several chapters, as the pastor may determine.

While the author, in the preparation of this explanation of Luther’s catechism, has gone his own way, careful consideration has been given to the voice of those whose study of the problems involved entitled them to be heard. Luther’s other catechetical writings, the standard theoretical works on Catechetics, and numerous monographs have been constantly at hand. Explanations of the catechism for the use of pastors and teachers have been freely consulted,—among others, those of Schuetze, Fricke, Mehliss, Kahle, Zuck, Kaftan, v. Zezschwitz, Palmer, Harnack, Nissen, Hempel, Schultze, Th. Hardeland, O. Hardeland, Nebe, Buchrucker, and Cremer. Acknowledgment is due also to the authors of numerous American and German text-books and helps for the catechetical class, whose works have been carefully scanned, in order that the fruits of past experience and the best results of former labors in this field might, if possible, be embodied in this work.

May the Lord bless this explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism to the upbuilding of His kingdom and the glory of His name.

JOSEPH STUMP.
PHILLIPBURG, N. J.,
REFORMATION DAY, 1907.

 

 

 

 

LUTHER’S PREFACE

Martin Luther to all faithful and godly Pastors and Preachers: Grace, Mercy and Peace, in Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The deplorable condition in which I found religious affairs during a recent visitation of the congregations, has impelled me to publish this Catechism, or statement of the Christian doctrine, after having prepared it in very brief and simple terms. Alas! what misery I beheld! The people, especially those who live in the villages, seem to have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are ignorant and incompetent teachers. And, nevertheless, they all maintain that they are Christians, that they have been baptized, and that they have received the Lord’s Supper. Yet they cannot recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments; they live as if they were irrational creatures, and now that the Gospel has come to them, they grossly abuse their Christian liberty.

Ye bishops! what answer will ye give to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people, and paid no attention to the duties of your office? I invoke no evil on your heads. But you withhold the cup in the Lord’s Supper, insist on the observance of your human laws, and yet, at the same time, do not take the least interest in teaching the people the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any other part of the word of God. Woe unto you!

Wherefore I beseech you in the Name of God, my beloved brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to engage heartily in the discharge of the duties of your office, to have mercy on the people who are entrusted to your care, and to assist us in introducing the Catechism among them, and especially among the young. And if any of you do not possess the necessary qualifications, I beseech you to take at least the following forms, and read them, word for word, to the people, on this wise:—

In the first place; let the preacher take the utmost care to avoid all changes or variations in the text and wording of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc. Let him, on the contrary, take each of the forms respectively, adhere to it, and repeat it anew, year after year. For young and inexperienced people cannot be successfully instructed, unless we adhere to the same text or the same forms of expression. They easily become confused, when the teacher at one time employs a certain form of words and expressions, and, at another, apparently with a view to make improvements, adopts a different form. The result of such a course will he, that all the time and labor which we have expended will be lost.

This point was well understood by our venerable fathers, who were accustomed to use the same words in teaching the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. We, too, should follow this plan when we teach these things, particularly in the case of the young and ignorant, not changing a single syllable, nor introducing any variations when, year after year, we recur to these forms and recite them anew before our hearers.

Choose, therefore, the form of words which best pleases you, and adhere to it perpetually. When you preach in the presence of intelligent and learned men, you are at liberty to exhibit your knowledge and skill, and may present and discuss these subjects in all the varied modes which are at your command. But when you are teaching the young, retain the same form and manner without change; teach them, first of all, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., always presenting the same words of the text, so that those who learn can repeat them after you, and retain them in the memory.

But if any refuse to receive your instructions, tell them plainly that they deny Christ and are not Christians; such persons shall not be admitted to the Lord’s Table, nor present a child for baptism, nor enjoy any of our Christian privileges, but are to be sent back to the pope and his agents, and, indeed, to Satan himself. Their parents and employers should, besides, refuse to furnish them with food and drink, and notify them that the government was disposed to banish from the country all persons of such a rude and intractable character.

For although we cannot, and should not, compel them to exercise faith, we ought, nevertheless, to instruct the great mass with all diligence, so that they may know how to distinguish between right and wrong in their conduct towards those with whom they live, or among whom they desire to earn their living. For whoever desires to reside in a city, and enjoy the rights and privileges which its laws confer, is also bound to know and obey those laws. God grant that such persons may become sincere believers! But if they remain dishonest and vicious, let them at least withhold from public view the vices of their hearts.

In the second place; when those whom you are instructing have become familiar with the words of the text, it is time to teach them to understand the meaning of those words, so that they may become acquainted with the object and purport of the lesson. Then proceed to another of the following forms, or, at your pleasure, choose any other which is brief, and adhere strictly to the same words and forms of expression in the text, without altering a single syllable; besides, allow yourself ample time for the lessons. For it is not necessary that you should, on the same occasion, proceed from the beginning to the end of the several parts; it will be more profitable if you present them separately, in regular succession. When the people have, for instance, at length correctly understood the First Commandment, you may proceed to the Second, and so continue. By neglecting to observe this mode, the people will be overburdened, and be prevented from understanding and retaining in memory any considerable part of the matter communicated to them.

In the third place; when you have thus reached the end of this Short Catechism, begin anew with the Large Catechism, and by means of it furnish the people with fuller and more comprehensive explanations. Explain here at large every Commandment, every Petition, and, indeed, every part, showing the duties which they severally impose, and both the advantages which follow the performance of those duties, and also the dangers and losses which result from the neglect of them. Insist in an especial manner on such. Commandments or other parts as seem to be most of all misunderstood or neglected by your people. It will, for example, be necessary that you should enforce with the utmost earnestness the Seventh Commandment, which treats of stealing, when you are teaching workmen, dealers and even farmers and servants, inasmuch as many of these are guilty of various dishonest and thievish practices. So, too, it will be your duty to explain and apply the Fourth Commandment with great diligence, when you are teaching children and uneducated adults, and to urge them to observe order, to be faithful, obedient and peaceable, as well as to adduce numerous instances mentioned in the Scriptures, which show that God punished such as were guilty in these things, and blessed the obedient.

Here, too, let it be your great aim to urge magistrates and parents to rule wisely, and to educate the children, admonishing them, at the same time, that such duties are imposed on them, and showing them how grievously they sin if they neglect them. For in such a case they overthrow and lay waste alike the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, acting as if they were the worst enemies both of God and man. And show them very plainly the shocking evils of which they are the authors, when they refuse their aid in training up children to be pastors, preachers, writers, etc., and set forth that on account of such sins God will inflict an awful punishment upon them. It is, indeed, necessary to preach on these things; for parents and magistrates are guilty of sins in this respect, which are so great that there are no terms in which they can be described. And truly, Satan has a cruel design in fostering these evils.

Finally; inasmuch as the people are now relieved from the tyranny of the pope, they refuse to come to the Lord’s Table, and treat it with contempt. On this point, also, it is very necessary that you should give them instructions, while, at the same time, you are to be guided by the following principles: That we are to compel no one to believe, or to receive the Lord’s Supper; that we are not to establish any laws on this point, or appoint the time and place; but that we should so preach as to influence the people, without any law adopted, by us, to urge, and, as it were, to compel us who are pastors, to administer the Lord’s Supper to them. Now this object may be attained, if we address them in the following manner; It is to be feared that he who does not desire to receive the Lord’s Supper at least three or four times during the year, despises the Sacrament, and is no Christian. So, too, he is no Christian, who neither believes nor obeys the Gospel; for Christ did not say: “Omit or despise this,” but “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it,” etc. He commands that this should be done, and by no means be neglected and despised. He says: “This do.”

Now he who does not highly value the Sacrament, shows thereby that he has no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no danger, no hell; that is to say, he does not believe that such evils exist, although he may be deeply immersed in them, and completely belong to the devil. On the other hand, he needs no grace, no life, no Paradise, no heaven, no Christ, no God, no good thing. For if he believed that he was involved in such evils, and that he was in need of such blessings, he could not refrain from receiving the Sacrament, wherein aid is afforded against such evils, and, again, such blessings are bestowed. It will not be necessary to compel him by the force of any law to approach the Lord’s Table; he will hasten to it of his own accord, will compel himself to come, and indeed urge you to administer the Sacrament to him.

Hence, you are by no means to adopt any compulsory law in this case, as the Pope has done. Let it simply be your aim to set forth distinctly the advantages and losses, the wants and the benefits, the dangers and the blessings, which are to be considered in connection with the Sacrament; the people will, doubtless, then seek it without urgent demands on your part. If they still refuse to come forward, let them choose their own ways, and tell them that those who do not regard their own spiritual misery, and do not desire the gracious help of God, belong to Satan. But if you do not give such solemn admonitions, or if you adopt odious compulsory laws on the subject, it is your own fault if the people treat the Sacrament with contempt. Will they not necessarily be slothful, if you are silent and sleep? Therefore consider the subject seriously, ye Pastors and Preachers! Our office has now assumed a very different character from that which it bore under the Pope; it is now of a very grave nature, and is very salutary in its influence. It consequently subjects us to far greater burdens and labors, dangers and temptations, while it brings with it an inconsiderable reward, and very little gratitude in the world. But Christ himself will be our reward, if we labor with fidelity. May He grant such mercy unto us who is the Father of all grace, to whom be given thanks and praises through Christ, our Lord, for ever! Amen.

WITTENBERG, A.D. 1529.

 

 

 

 

THE SMALL CATECHISM

 

 

 

 

PART I.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

In the plain form in which they are to be taught by the head of a family.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.

I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

[Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments.]

What is meant by this Commandment?

Answer. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to curse, swear, conjure, lie, or deceive, by His Name, but call upon Him in every time of need, and worship Him with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.

Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.

[Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.]

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to despise His Word and the preaching of the Gospel, but deem it holy, and willing to hear and learn it.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.

Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to despise nor displease our parents and superiors, but honor, serve, obey, love, and esteem them.

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not kill.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to do our neighbor any bodily harm or injury, but rather assist and comfort him in danger and want.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as to be chaste and pure in our words and deeds, each one also loving and honoring his wife or her husband.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not steal.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to rob our neighbor of his money or property, nor bring it into our possession by unfair dealing or fraudulent means, but rather assist him to improve and protect it.

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not deceitfully to belie, betray, slander, nor raise injurious reports against our neighbor, but apologize for him, speak well of him, and put the most charitable construction on all his actions.

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to desire by craftiness to gain possession of our neighbor’s inheritance or home, or to obtain it under the pretext of a legal right, but be ready to assist and serve him in the preservation of his own.

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

What is meant by this Commandment?

Ans. We should so fear and love God as not to alienate our neighbor’s wife from him, entice away his servants, nor let loose his cattle, but use our endeavors that they may remain and discharge their duty to him.

What does God declare concerning all these Commandments?

Ans. He says: I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep my commandments.

What is meant by this declaration?

Ans. God threatens to punish all those who transgress these commandments. We should, therefore, dread His displeasure, and not act contrarily to these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep them. We should, therefore, love and trust in Him, and cheerfully do what He has commanded us.

 

 

 

 

PART II.

THE CREED.

In the plain form in which it is to be taught by the head of a family.

FIRST ARTICLE.—OF CREATION.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What is meant by this Article?

Ans. I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that He has given and still preserves to me my body and soul with all my limbs and senses, my reason and all the faculties of my mind, together with my raiment, food, home, and family, and all my property; that He daily provides me abundantly with all the necessaries of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves me and guards me against all evil; all which He does out of pure, paternal, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I am in duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

SECOND ARTICLE.—OF REDEMPTION.

And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

What is meant by this Article?

Ans. I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord; who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, secured and delivered me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with silver and gold, but with His holy and precious blood, and with His innocent sufferings and death; in order that I might be His, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead, and lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

THIRD ARTICLE.—OF SANCTIFICATION.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; the Forgiveness of sins; the Resurrection of the body; and the Life everlasting. Amen.

What is meant by this Article?

Ans. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me by His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith; in like manner as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the true faith; in which Christian Church He daily forgives abundantly all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and will raise up me and all the dead at the last day, and will grant everlasting life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true.

 

 

 

 

PART III.

THE LORD’S PRAYER.

In the plain form in which it is to be taught by the head of a family.

INTRODUCTION.

Our Father Who art in heaven.

What is meant by this Introduction?

Ans. God would thereby affectionately encourage us to believe that He is truly our Father, and that we are His children indeed, so that we may call upon Him with all cheerfulness and confidence, even as beloved children entreat their affectionate parent.

FIRST PETITION.

Hallowed be Thy Name.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. The Name of God is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may be hallowed also by us.

How is this effected?

Ans. When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, lead holy lives, in accordance with it; to this may our blessed Father in heaven help us! But whoever teaches and lives otherwise than as God’s Word prescribes, profanes the Name of God among us; from this preserve us, Heavenly Father!

SECOND PETITION.

Thy kingdom come.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. The kingdom of God comes indeed of itself, without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.

When is this effected?

Ans. When our Heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word, and live a godly life here on earth, and in heaven for ever.

THIRD PETITION.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done by us also.

When is this effected?

Ans. When God frustrates and brings to naught every evil counsel and purpose, which would hinder us from hallowing the Name of God, and prevent His kingdom from coming to us, such as the will of the devil, of the world, and of our own flesh; and when He strengthens us, and keeps us steadfast in His Word, and in the faith, even unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.

FOURTH PETITION.

Give us this day our daily bread.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. God gives indeed without our prayer even to the wicked also their daily bread; but we pray in this petition that He would make us sensible of His benefits, and enable us to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is implied in the words: “Our daily bread”?

Ans. All things that pertain to the wants and the support of this present life; such as food, raiment, money, goods, house and land, and other property; a believing spouse and good children; trustworthy servants and faithful magistrates; favorable seasons, peace and health; education and honor; true friends, good neighbors, and the like.

FIFTH PETITION.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. We pray in this petition, that our Heavenly Father would not regard our sins, nor deny us our requests on account of them; for we are not worthy of anything for which we pray, and have not merited it; but that He would grant us all things through grace, although we daily commit much sin, and deserve chastisement alone. We will therefore, on our part, both heartily forgive, and also readily do good to those who may injure or offend us.

SIXTH PETITION.

And, lead us not into temptation.

What is meant by this Petition?

Ans. God indeed tempts no one to sin; but we pray in this petition that God would so guard and preserve us, that the devil, the world, and our own flesh, may not deceive us, nor lead us into error and unbelief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and that, though we may be thus tempted, we may, nevertheless, finally prevail and gain the victory.