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THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH ALSO AS IN HEAVEN
Thy Will be done on Earth also as in Heaven. After the clause Thy Kingdom come Luke has passed over these words in silence and placed the clause Give us daily our Needful Bread. Let us therefore examine next in succession the words I have placed first as set down in Matthew alone. As suppliants who are still on earth, believing that the will of God is done in heaven among all the household of the heavens, let us pray that the will of God may be done by us also who are on earth in like manner with them, as will come to pass when we do nothing contrary to His will.
And when the will of God as it is in heaven has been accomplished by us also who are on earth, we shall inherit a kingdom of heaven as having, alike with them, worn the image of the Heavenly One, while those who come after us on earth are praying to become in turn like us who have come to be in heaven.
So far as Matthew alone is concerned the words on Earth also as in Heaven can be taken in common, so that what we are enjoined to say in prayer would run thus: Hallowed be Thy Name on Earth also as in Heaven: Thy Kingdom come on Earth also as in Heaven: Thy Will be done on Earth also as in Heaven. For alike the name of God has been hallowed among those who are in heaven, and the kingdom of God is risen in them, and the will of God has been done in their midst—things indeed which are all unrealized by us but which can be acquired by us through rendering ourselves worthy to obtain God’s hearing in reference to them all.
The words Thy Will be done on Earth also as in Heaven may raise the question how has the will of God been done in Heaven where the spiritual forces of evil are, by reason of which the sword of God shall drink deep even in heaven? If we pray thus that the will of God be done on Earth just as it is being done in heaven may we not thoughtlessly be praying that the very opposite may abide on earth where such things already come from heaven since much that is bad on earth is due to the overcoming spiritual forces of evil which are in the heavenly places?
Anyone who allegorizes heaven and asserts that it is Christ, and Earth the church—what throne so worthy of the Father as Christ? What footstool of the feet of God as the Church?—will easily solve the question by replying that everyone in the church ought to pray to receive the paternal will in such wise as Christ has done, who came to do the will of His Father and accomplished if completely. For it is possible by being joined to Him to become one spirit with Him and therefore receptive of the will to the end that, as it has been accomplished in heaven, so it may be accomplished on earth also; for he that is joined to the Lord, according to Paul, is one spirit. And I believe that one who carefully considers it will find this an interpretation not to be despised.
But someone may dispute it by citing what is said to the eleven disciples by the Lord after the resurrection at the close of the this gospel: There hath been given to me all authority on earth also as in heaven. That is, having authority over the things that are in heaven, He says that He has also received it over those on earth:
Whereas those that are in heaven have already been illumined by the Word, it is at the consummation of the world that those on earth are also, in imitation of those over which the Savior received authority, brought to a successful issue by reason of the authority given to the Son of God: accordingly His will is to receive those who are disciples under Him as in a sense cooperants through their prayers to the Father in order that, in like manner with the things in heaven that are subject to Truth and Word, He may lead the things on Earth, restored by reason of the authority which He has received on earth also as in heaven, to an end fraught with bliss for the objects of His authority.
On the other hand one who would take heaven to be the Savior and Earth the church, asserting that it is the firstborn of all creation, on whom the Father reposes as on a throne, that is heaven, would find that it is the man whom He put on after having been fitted for such power because He had humbled himself and having been obedient till death, who says after the resurrection There hath been given to me all authority on Earth also as in heaven—the man in the Savior having received His authority over the things in heaven, as the proper possessions of the Only-begotten, in order to be in communion with Him, mingling in His divinity and becoming one with Him.
But if this second thought does not yet solve the difficulty as to how the will of God can be in heaven when the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places wrestle against those who are on earth, it will be possible to solve the question from this consideration—It is not by virtue of place but of principle that one who is still on earth but has a commonwealth in heaven and lays up treasure in heaven and has his heart in heaven and wears the image of the Heavenly One, is no longer of the earth nor of the world below but of heaven and of the heavenly world that is better than this.
So, too, the spiritual forces of evil which still dwell in the heavenly places but have their commonwealth on earth and plot against men the means whereby they wrestle against mankind, and lay up treasure on Earth, and wear an image of the Earthly One who the beginning of the Lord’s fashioning made to be mocked by the angels, are not heavenly nor by reason of their vicious disposition do they dwell in the heavens. Accordingly when it is said: Thy will be done on Earth also as in Heaven, we are not to reckon those beings as in heaven at all, because through pride they have fallen along with Him who fell from heaven like a thunderbolt.
And it may well be that our Savior, in saying that we ought to pray that the Father’s will may be done on Earth also as in heaven, does not by any means order prayer for things spacially on earth that they may be made like things spacially in heaven, but His will in enjoining prayer is that all things on earth, that is things inferior and conformed to the earthly, be made like the better which have their commonwealth in heaven, which have all become heaven.
For he that sins, wherever he may be, is earth, and will turn into the like somehow, unless he repents, whereas he that does the will of God and does not disobey the spiritual laws of salvation is heaven. Whether therefore we are still earth because of sin, let us pray that the will of God may extend restoringly to us also as it has already reached those who have become or are heaven before us: or if we are already accounted not earth but heaven by God, let our request be that, in like manner with heaven, on earth also, in inferior things I mean, the will of God may be fulfilled unto what I may term earth’s heaven-making, so that there shall be no longer earth but all things become heaven.
For if, on this interpretation, the will of God be done on earth also as in heaven, earth will not remain earth, just as to make my meaning clearer with another illustration—if the will of God be done in the case of the wanton as it has been with the temperate, the wanton will be temperate, or if it should be in the case of the unrighteous as it has been with the righteous, the unrighteous will be righteous. If, therefore, the will of God be done on earth also as it has been in heaven, we shall all be heaven; for though flesh that helps not; and blood that is akin to it, are unable to inherit God’s kingdom, they may be said to inherit it if they be changed from flesh and earth and clay and blood to the heavenly essence.
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