THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?

ANSWER: In the third petition, which is, "thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us both able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.


Q. 1. How many fold is the will of God?

A. TWOFOLD; his will of purpose, or disposing will; and his will of precept, or revealed will.

Q. 2. What is his will of purpose, or disposing will?

A. It is what he himself purposes to be done, as the final determination of the event of things, Isa. 46:10 -- "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."

Q. 3. How is this will commonly designated?

A. It is termed his will of providence, because he infallibly brings it about, or accomplishes it, in the course of his adorable providence, Psalm 135:6.

Q. 4. What is God's will of precept, or his revealed will?

A. It is the rule of our duty, prescribing what he would have us to do, or not to do, Matt. 26:39 -- "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Q. 5. Whether is it God's will of purpose or precept that is meant in this petition?

A. Both are included, but chiefly his will of precept.

Q. 6. When we say, "Thy will be done," for what do we pray with reference to God's will of purpose?

A. We pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing -- to submit to it, and acquiesce in it, so soon as it is discovered or made known to us, Acts 21:14 -- "And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done."

Q. 7. What does our praying for submission to God's will of purpose or providence, necessarily imply in it?

A. It implies that we are "by nature -- prone to repine and murmur against his providence,"[186] especially in afflictive dispensations, Num. 14:2.

Q. 8. When do we submit to afflictive dispensations?

A. When we justify God in them, Dan. 9:7; and acknowledge that he "hath punished us less than our iniquities deserve," Ezra 9:13.

Q. 9. For what do we pray, when we pray that God's will of precept may be done?

A. We pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know and obey the same.

Q. 10. Why do we pray that God would make us able and willing to know and obey his revealed will?

A. Because, "by nature, we and all men, are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God; but prone to rebel against his word, -- and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil."[187]

Q. 11. Why do we pray that God would make us able and willing by his grace?

A. Because it is wholly of his free love and sovereign grace, that he works in us either to will or to do, Phil. 2:13 -- "It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Q. 12. For what do we pray, when we pray that God would make us able and willing to know his revealed will?

A. We pray, that, by his Spirit, he would take away our natural blindness, and open our understanding, that we may "understand the scriptures," Luke 24:45.

Q. 13. For what do we pray, when we pray that God would make us able and willing to obey his will?

A. We pray, that he would remove the weakness, indisposedness, and perverseness of our hearts; and, by his grace, incline us to set about, and keep up the practice of every commanded duty, in the strength of that grace which is secured in the promise, Ezek. 36:27 -- "I will cause you to walk in my statutes;" 2 Cor. 12:9 -- "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Q. 14. Why is knowing the will of God mentioned before the obeying of it?

A. Because there can he no true and acceptable obedience, but what flows from that saving knowledge which is inseparable from the faith of God's operation, John 13:17 -- "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

Q. 15. Where should we desire that the will of God may be done?

A. We should desire that it may be done on earth, by all persons, and in all places on it, Psalm 150:6.

Q. 16. In what things should we pray that the will of God may be done on earth?

A. We should pray that it may be done in all things, Psalm 119:6.

Q. 17. Why in ALL THINGS?

A. Because we may be quite sure, that God's will, both of precept and providence, is perfectly, or in every respect, equal, and just, Ezek. 18:25.

Q. 18. Whom should we resemble in our obedience?

A. The holy angels: we should study to do the will of God as the angels do in heaven.

Q. 19. Can we know and obey the will of God as perfectly on earth, as the angels do in heaven?

A. No; but we should copy after them, as to the manner of their obedience.

Q. 20. What is it to copy after them as to the manner of their obedience?

A. It is to essay obedience "with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven."[188]


[186] Larger Catechism, Question 192.

[187] Ibid.

[188] Larger Catechism Question 192.


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