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Chapter VIII.—The Seventh or Final Clause.

For the completeness of so brief a prayer He added—in order that we should supplicate not touching the remitting merely, but touching the entire averting, of acts of guilt—“Lead us not into temptation:” that is, suffer us not to be led into it, by him (of course) who tempts; but far be the thought that the Lord should seem to tempt,88168816    See James i. 13. as if He either were ignorant of the faith of any, or else were eager to overthrow it. Infirmity88178817    Implied in the one hypothesis—ignorance. and malice88188818    Implied in the other—wishing to overthrow faith. are characteristics of the devil. For God had commanded even Abraham to make a sacrifice of his son, for the sake not of tempting, but proving, his faith; in order through him to make an example for that precept of His, whereby He was, by and by, to enjoin that he should hold no pledges of affection dearer than God.88198819    i.e. no children even. The reference is apparently to Matt. x. 37 and Luke xiv. 26, with which may be compared Deut. xiii. 6–10 and xxxiii. 9. If Oehler’s reading, which I have followed, be correct, the precept, which is not verbally given till ages after Abraham, is made to have a retrospective force on him. He Himself, when tempted by the devil, demonstrated who it is that presides over and is the originator of temptation.88208820    See Matt. iv. 10; Luke iv. 8. This passage He confirms by subsequent ones, saying, “Pray that ye be not tempted;”88218821    Luke xxii. 40; Matt. xxvi. 41; Mark xiv. 31. yet they were tempted, (as they showed) by deserting their Lord, because they had given way rather to sleep than prayer.88228822    Routh refers us to De Bapt. c. 20, where Tertullian refers to the same event. [Note also his reference to De Fuga, cap. ii.] The final clause, therefore, is consonant, and interprets the sense of “Lead us not into temptation;” for this sense is, “But convey us away from the Evil One.”

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