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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LXXXII THE LORD'S PRAYER, III

FATHER AND SON

Galatians iii.26; iv.6.

The fatherhood of God has become so familiar a phrase that we hardly realize what a revolution of thought it represents. In the whole Old Testament, so the scholars say, God is spoken of but seven times as Father; five times as Father of the Hebrew people, once to David as the father of his son Solomon, and once as a prediction that sometime men would thus pray. And so when Jesus at the beginning of his prayer says: |After this manner pray, Our Father,| he is opening the door into a new conception of God's relation to man.

And what is this conception? It is the recognition of kinship. It is the conviction that the spiritual life in man is of the same nature as the spiritual life in God. The child's kinship to the parent involves the natural inheritance of capacity and destiny. |If children,| says St. Paul, |then heirs, heirs of God, and {206} joint heirs with Christ.| |Because we are sons we cry, Abba, Father.| We are not Greek philosophers interpreting the causes of nature or the world of ideas; we are not Hebrew prophets representing a sacred nation; we are children, with the rights and gifts of children, and the assurance of a father's confidence and love. All this great promise the humblest Christian claims when he begins to pray the Lord's Prayer. He says, |I am not a brute, I am not a clod, I am a partaker of the Divine nature; I claim the promise of a child. And that sense of kinship summons me to my best. I pray as my Father's son, and as his son I bear a name which must not be stained. Noblesse oblige. There are some things which I cannot degrade myself to do because my position forbids them. There are some things to which I could not attain of myself, but which are made possible to me as my Father's son. I accept the unearned privilege of my descent; I claim the great inheritance of the kinship of God, and out of my self-distrust and weakness I turn to self-respect and strength, when I pray: 'Our Father.'|

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