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The First Petition in the Lord’s Prayer
‘Hallowed be thy name.’ Matt 6: 9.
Having spoken of the introduction to the Lord’s prayer, ‘After this manner therefore pray ye,’ and the preface, ‘Our Father which art in heaven;’ I come, thirdly, to the prayer itself, which consists of seven petitions. The first petition is:
‘Hallowed be thy name.’ In the Latin it is, sanctificetur nomen tuum, ‘Sanctified be thy name.’ In this petition, we pray that God’s name may shine forth gloriously, and that it may be honoured and sanctified by us, in the whole course and tenor of our lives. It was the angels’ song, ‘Glory be to God in the highest;’ that is, let his name be glorified and hallowed. This petition is set in the forefront, to show that the hallowing of God’s name is to be preferred before all things. It is to be preferred before life. We pray, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ before we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ It is to be preferred before salvation. Rom 9: 23. God’s glory is more worth than the salvation of all men’s souls. As Christ said of love in Matt 22: 38, ‘This is the first and great commandment;’ so I may say of this petition, ‘Hallowed be thy name:’ it is the first and great petition; it contains the most weighty thing in religion, which is God’s glory. When some of the other petitions shall be useless and out of date, as we shall not need to pray in heaven, ‘Give us our daily bread,’ because there shall be no hunger; nor, ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ because there shall be no sin; nor, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ because the old serpent is not there to tempt: yet the hallowing of God’s name will be of great use and request in heaven; we shall be ever singing hallelujahs, which is nothing else but the hallowing of God’s name. Every Person in the blessed Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must have this honour, to be hallowed; their glory being equal, and their majesty co-eternal. ‘Hallowed be thy name.’ To admire God’s name is not enough; we may admire a conqueror; but when we say, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ we set God’s name above every name, and not only admire him, but adore him; and this is proper to the Deity only. For the further explanation, I shall propound three questions.
I. What is meant by God’s name?
 His essence. ‘The name of the God of Jacob defend thee’ (Psa 20: 1); that is, the God of Jacob defend thee.
 Anything by which he may be known. As a man is known by his name; so by his attributes of wisdom, power, holiness, and goodness, God is known as by his name.
II. What is meant by hallowing God’s name?
To hallow, is a communi separare, to set apart a thing from the common use, to some sacred end. As the vessels of the sanctuary were said to be hallowed, so, to hallow God’s name, is to set it apart from all abuses, and to use it homily and reverently. In particular, hallowing God’s name is to give him high honour and veneration, and render his name sacred. We can add nothing to his essential glory; but we are said to honour and sanctify his name when we lift him up in the world, and make him appear greater in the eyes of others. When a prince is crowned, there is something added really to his honour; but when we crown God with our triumphs and hallelujahs there is nothing added to his essential glory. He cannot be greater than he is, only we may make him appear greater in the eyes of others.
III. When may we be said to hallow and sanctify God’s name?
 When we profess his name. Our meeting in his holy assembly is an honour done to his name. This is good, but it is not enough. All that wear God’s livery by profession are not true servants; there are some professors against whom Christ will profess at the last day. ‘I will profess I never knew you.’ Matt 7: 23. Therefore, to go a little further:
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we have a high appreciation and esteem of him, and set him highest in our thoughts. The Hebrew word to honour, signifies to esteem precious: we conceive of God in our minds as the most super excellent and infinite good; we see in him a constellation of all beauties and delights; we adore him in his glorious attributes, which are the several beams by which his divine nature shines forth; we adore him in his works, which are bound up in three great volumes — creation, redemption, and providence. We hallow and sanctify his name when we lift him highest in our souls; we esteem him a supereminent and incomprehensible God.
 We hallow and sanctify his name when we trust in it. ‘We have trusted in his holy name.’ Psa 33: 21. No way can we bring more revenues of honour to God, or make his crown shine brighter, than by confiding in him. Abraham ‘was strong in faith, giving glory to God.’ Rom 4: 20. Here was hallowing God’s name. Unbelief stains God’s honour and eclipses his name. ‘He that believeth not God has made him a liar’ (1 John 5: 10); So faith glorifies and hallows his name. The believer trusts his best jewels in God’s hands. ‘Into thine hand I commit my spirit.’ Psa 31: 5. Faith in a Mediator does more honour, and sanctifies God’s name more, than martyrdom or the most sublime acts of obedience.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we never make mention of it but with the highest reverence. His name is sacred, and it must not be spoken of but with veneration. When the Scripture speaks of God, it gives him his titles of honour. ‘Blessed be the most high God.’ Gen 14: 20. ‘Blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all praise.’ Neh 9: 5. To speak vainly or slightly of God is profaning his name, and is taking his name in vain. By giving God his venerable titles, we hang his jewels on his crown.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we love his name. ‘Let them that love thy name be joyful.’ Psa 5: 11. The love which honours God’s name must be special and discriminating love — the cream and flower of our love; such as we give to none besides; as the wife honours her husband by giving him such love as she gives to none else — a conjugal love. Thus we hallow God’s name by giving him such love as we give to none else — a love joined with worship. ‘He is thy Lord; and worship thou him.’ Psa 45: 2.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we give him a holy and spiritual worship. (1) When we give him the same kind of worship that he has appointed. ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me:’ that is, I will be sanctified with that very worship I have appointed. Lev 10: 3. It is the purity of worship that God loves better than the pomp. It dishonours his name to bring anything into his worship which he has not instituted; as if he were not wise enough to appoint the manner in which he will be served. Men prescribe to him and super add their inventions; which he looks upon as offering strange fire, and as a high provocation. (2) When we give to God the same heart devotion in worship that he has appointed. ‘Fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.’ Rom 12: 11. The word for fervent is a metaphor, which alludes to water that seethes and boils over; to signify that our affections should boil over in holy duties. To give God outside worship, and not the devotion of the heart, instead of hallowing and sanctifying him in an ordinance, is to abuse him; as if one calls for wine and you give him an empty glass. It is to deal with God as Prometheus did with Jupiter, who did eat the flesh and present Jupiter with nothing but bones covered over with skin. We hallow God’s name and sanctify him in an ordinance when we give him the vitals of religion, and a heart flaming with zeal.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we hallow his day. ‘Hallow ye the sabbath day.’ Jer 17: 22. Our Christian Sabbath, which comes in the room of the Jews’ Sabbath, is called the Lord’s day. Rev 1: 10. It was anciently called dies lucis, a day of light, wherein Christ the Sun of Righteousness shines in an extraordinary manner. It is an honour done to God to hallow his Sabbath. (1) We must rest on this day from all secular works. ‘Bring in no burden on the sabbath day.’ Jer 17: 24. As when Joseph would speak with his brethren he thrust out the Egyptians; so when we would converse with God on this day, we must thrust out all earthly employments. Mary Magdalene refused to anoint Christ’s dead body on the sabbath day. Luke 23: 56. She had before prepared her ointment and spices, but came not to the sepulchre till the Sabbath was past; she rested on that day from civil work, even the commendable and glorious work of anointing Christ’s dead body. (2) We must in a solemn manner devote ourselves to God on this day; we must spend the whole day with God. Some will hear the word, but leave all their religion at church; they do nothing at home, they do not pray or repeat the word in their houses, and so rob God of a part of his day. It is lamentable to see how God’s day is profaned. Let no man think God’s name is hallowed while his Sabbath is broken.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we ascribe the honour of all we do to him. ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.’ Psa 96: 8. Herod, instead of hallowing God’s name, dishonoured it by assuming that praise to himself which was due to God only. Acts 12: 23. We ought to take the honour from ourselves and give it to God. ‘I laboured more abundantly than they all;’ one would think this had savoured of pride: but the apostle pulls the crown from his own head and sets it upon the head of free grace: ‘Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ 1 Cor 15: 10. If a Christian has any assistance in duty, or victory over temptation, he rears up a pillar and writes upon it, Hucusque adjuvavit Deus. ‘Hitherto the Lord has helped me.’ John the Baptist transferred all the honour from himself to Christ; he was content to be eclipsed that Christ might shine the more. ‘He that comes after me is preferred before me.’ John 1: 15. I am but the herald, the voice of one crying; he is the prince. I am but a lesser star; he is the sun. I baptise with water only; he with the Holy Ghost. This is hallowing God’s name, when we transfer all honour from ourselves to God. ‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ Psa 115: 1. The king of Sweden wrote this motto on the battle at Leipsic, Ista a Domino facta sunt — the Lord has wrought this victory for us.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name by obeying him. How does a son more honour his father than by obedience? ‘I delight to do thy will, O my God.’ Psa 40: 8. The wise men showed honour to Christ, not only by bowing the knee to him, but by presenting him with gold and myrrh. Matt 2: 11. We hallow God’s name, not only by lifting up our eyes and hands to heaven and bowing the knee in prayer, but by presenting him with golden obedience. As the factor trades for the merchant, so we trade for God and lay out our strength in his service. It was a saying of Dr Jewel, ‘I have spent and exhausted myself in the labours of my holy calling.’ ‘To obey is better than sacrifice.’ The cherubim representing the angels are set forth with their wings displayed, to show how ready they are to do service to God. To obey is angelic; to pretend honour to God’s name, and yet not obey, is but a devout compliment. Abraham honoured God by obedience; he was ready to sacrifice his son, though the son of his old age, and a son of the promise. ‘By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee.’ Gen 22: 16, 17.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we lift up his name in our praises. God is said to sanctify, and man is said to sanctify. God sanctifies us by giving us grace; and we sanctify him by giving him praise. What were our tongues given for but to be organs of God’s praise? ‘Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.’ Psa 71: 8. ‘Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever.’ Rev 5: 13. Thus God’s name is hallowed and sanctified in heaven; the angels and glorified saints are singing hallelujahs. Let us begin the work of heaven here. David sang forth God’s praises and doxologies in a most melodious manner, and was, therefore, called the sweet singer of Israel. 2 Samuel 23: 1. Praising God is hallowing his name; it spreads his renown; it displays the trophies of his excellency; it exalts him in the eyes of others. ‘Whose offereth praise glorifieth me.’ Psa 123. This is one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels. Praise is the music of heaven, and a work fit for a saint. ‘Let the saints be joyful: let the high praises of God be in their mouth.’ Psa 149: 5, 6. None but saints can in a right manner thus hallow God’s name by praising him. As everyone has not skill to play on the viol and organ, so every one cannot rightly sound forth God’s harmonious praises; only the saints can do it; they only can make their tongue and heart join in concert. ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.’ Psa 111: 1. ‘He was extolled with my tongue.’ Psa 66: 17. Here was joining in concert. This hallowing God’s name by praise is very becoming a Christian. It is unbecoming to murmur, which is dishonouring God’s name; but it becomes the saints to be spiritual choristers, singing forth the honour of his name. It is called the ‘garment of praise.’ Isa 61: 3. How comely and handsome is this garment of praise for a saint to wear! ‘Praise is comely for the upright.’ Psa 33: 1. Especially is it a high degree of hallowing God’s name when we can speak well of him and bless him in an afflicted state. ‘The Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Job 1: 21. Many will bless God when he gives, but to bless him when he takes away, is in a high degree to honour him and hallow his name. Let us thus magnify God’s name. Has he not given us abundant matter for praising him? He has given us grace, a mercy spun and woven out of his bowels; and he intends to crown grace with glory. This should make us hallow his name by being trumpets for his praise.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we sympathise with him; when we grieve when his name suffers. (1) We lay to heart his dishonour. How was Moses affected with God’s dishonour! He broke the tables. Exod 32: 19. We grieve to see God’s Sabbaths profaned, his worship adulterated, the wine of truth mingled with error. (2) We grieve when God’s church is brought low, because his name suffers. Nehemiah lays to heart the miseries of Sion; his complexion begins to alter, and he looks sad. ‘Why is thy countenance sad?’ Neh 2: 2. What! sad, when the king’s cup-bearer, and wine is so near! Oh! but it fared ill with the church of God, and religion seemed to lose ground, and God’s name suffered; therefore Nehemiah grows weary of the court; he leaves his wine and mingles his drink with weeping. Such holy sympathy and grieving when God’s name suffers, he esteems as honouring and sanctifying his name. Hezekiah grieved when the king of Assyria reproached the living God. He went to the temple, and spread the letter of blasphemy before the Lord. Isa 37: 17. He no doubt watered the letter with his tears; he seemed not to be so much troubled at the fear of losing his own life and kingdom, as that God should lose his glory.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name when we give the same honour to God the Son that we give to God the Father. ‘That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.’ John 5: 23. The Socinians deny Christ’s divinity, saying that he is a mere man: which is to make him below the angels. The human nature, considered in itself, is below the angelic, and thus they reflect dishonour upon the Lord of glory. Psa 8: 5. We must give equal honour to the Son as to the Father; we must believe Christ’s deity; he is the picture of his Father’s glory. Heb 1: 3. If the Godhead be in Christ, he must needs be God; but the Godhead shines in him. ‘In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;’ therefore, he is God. Col 2: 9. How could these divine titles be given to Christ as omnipotence, in Heb 1: 3; ubiquity, in Matt 28: 20; a power of sealing pardons in Matt 9: 6; co-equality with God the Father, both in power and dignity, in John 5: 21, 23, if he were not crowned with the Deity? When we believe Christ’s Godhead, and build our hope of salvation on the corner-stone of his merit; when we see neither the righteousness of the law, nor of angels, can justify, but flee to Christ’s blood as to the altar of refuge; this is honouring and sanctifying God’s name. God never thinks his name hallowed unless his Son be honoured.
 We hallow God’s name by standing up for his truths. Much of God’s glory lies in his truths. His truths are his oracles. He intrusts us with his truths as a treasure; we have not a richer jewel to intrust him with than our souls, nor has he a greater jewel to intrust us with than his truths. His truths set forth his glory. When we are zealous advocates for his truths, it is an honour done to his name. Athanasius was called the bulwark of truth; he stood up in the defence of God’s truths against the Asians, and so was a pillar in the temple of God. We had better have truth without peace, than peace without truth. It concerns the sons of Zion to stand up for the great doctrines of the gospel; as the doctrine of the Trinity, the hypostatical union, justification by faith, and the saints’ perseverance. We are bid to contend earnestly, to strive as in an agony for the faith, that is the doctrine of faith. Jude 3. This contending for the truth, brings great revenues to heaven’s exchequer; and hallows God’s name. Some can contend for ceremonies, but not for the truth. We should count him unwise that should contend for a box of counters more than for his box of title-deeds.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name by making as many proselytes as we can to him; when, by all holy expedients, counsel, prayer, example, we endeavour the salvation of others. How did Monica, Augustine’s mother, labour for his conversion! She had sorer pangs in travail for his new birth than for his natural birth. It is hallowing God’s name when we diffuse the sweet savour of godliness, and propagate religion to others; when not only we ourselves honour God, but are instruments to make others honour him. Certainly when the heart is seasoned with grace, there will be an endeavour to season others. God’s glory is as dear to a saint as his own salvation; and that this glory may be promoted he endeavours the conversion of souls. Every convert is a new member added to Christ. Let us then hallow God’s name by labouring to advance piety in others; especially let us endeavour that those who are nearly related to us, or are under our roof, may honour God. ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ Josh 24: 15. Let us make our houses Bethels, places where God’s name is called upon. ‘Salute Nymphas, and the church that is in his house.’ Col 4: 15. Let the parent endeavour that his children may honour God, and the master that his servants may honour him. Read the Word, drop holy instruction, perfume your houses with prayer. The Jews had sacrifices in their families as well as in the tabernacle. Exod 12: 3. This is hallowing God’s name when we make proselytes to him, and endeavour that all under our charge should honour and sanctify his name.
 We hallow God’s name when we prefer the honour of his name before the dearest things. (1) When we prefer the honour of God’s name before our own credit. The saints of old have, for the honour of God, been willing to endure reproach. ‘For thy sake I have borne reproach.’ Psa 69: 7. David cared not what reproach he suffered, so God’s name might not suffer. The prophet Elijah was called in derision, the ‘hairy prophet;’ and the prophet Isaiah ‘the bearer of burdens;’ and the prophet Zephaniah, ‘the bitter prophet;’ but they wound these reproaches as a crown about their head. The honour of God’s name was dearer to them than their own honour. Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Heb 11: 26. The apostles went away rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ! that they were graced so far as to be disgraced for the name of Christ. Acts 5: 41. We hallow God’s name when we are content to have our name eclipsed, that his name may shine the more. (2) When we prefer the honour of God’s name before our worldly profit and interest. ‘We have forsaken all, and followed thee.’ Matt 19: 27. When these two, God and estate, come in competition, we would rather let estate go than God’s love and favour. Thus that noble Marquis of Vice parted with a fair estate, using these words, ‘Let their money perish with them, that count all the gold and silver in the world worth one hour’s communion with Jesus Christ.’ (3) When we prefer the honour of God’s name before our own life. ‘For thy sake we are killed all the day long.’ Rom 8: 36. The honour done to God’s name is not by bringing the outward pomp and glory to him as we do to kings, but it comes in another way, and that is by the sufferings of his people. When the world sees how entirely his people love him, that they will die in his service, it exalts and honours his name. God’s crown flourishes in the ashes of his martyrs. Basil speaks of a virgin, condemned to the fire, who having her life and estate offered her, if she would bow to the idol, answered, Valeat vita, pereat pecunia: Let life and money go, welcome Christ. When God’s glory weighs heaviest in the balance, and we are willing to suffer the loss of all rather than God’s name should suffer, we do, in a high degree, hallow God’s name.
 We hallow and sanctify God’s name by a holy conversation. ‘Ye are a royal priesthood, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you.’ 1 Pet 2: 9. As an unholy life dishonours God’s name, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you;’ Rom 2: 24, so by our holy and Bible conversation we honour God’s name. A holy life speaks louder than all the anthems and praises in the world. Though the main work of religion lies in the heart, yet when our light so shines, that others behold it, we glorify God. When our lives shine, his name shines in us. The Macedonians used one day in the year to wear the picture of Alexander set with pearl and costly jewels; so when we carry the picture of Christ about us in our holy example, we bring honour to God’s name.
Use 1. See the true note and character of a godly person: he is a sanctifier of God’s name. A true saint ambitiously endeavours to advance God’s name. The question he asks himself in everything he is going about is, Will this action tend to the honour of God’s name? Will it exalt God? It was Paul’s chief design that Christ might be magnified, that the crown upon his head might flourish. Phil 1: 20. A godly man thinks it scarce worth his while to live if he may not bring some revenues of honour to God’s name.
Use 2. I may here take up a sad lamentation, and speak, as the apostle Paul, weeping. Phil 3: 18. Consider how God’s name, instead of being hallowed and sanctified, is dishonoured. His name, which is worth more than the salvation of all men’s souls, suffers deeply. We are apt to speak of our sufferings; alas! what are all our sufferings! God’s name suffers most. His name is the dearest thing he has. How do men stand upon their name and honour! God’s name is this day dishonoured; it is like the sun in an eclipse. Theodosius took it heinously when they threw dirt upon his statue; but what is far worse, disgrace is thrown upon the glorious name of Jehovah. His name, instead of being hallowed, is dishonoured by all sorts; by heathens, by Turks, by Jews, by Papists, and by Protestants.
(1) By heathens; who have a knowledge of a godhead by the light of nature; yet dishonour him, and sin against the light of nature. Rom 1: 19. The Egyptians worship an ox; the Persian worship the sun; the Grecians and Romans, Jupiter; and the Parthians worship the devil.
(2) God’s name is dishonoured by the Turks, who adore Mahomet their great prophet, as one divinely inspired. Mahomet was of an impure, vicious nature. He plucked the crown from Christ’s head by denying his Deity.
(3) God’s name is dishonoured by the Jews, who give not equal honour and adoration to God the Son, as to God the Father. They expect a Messiah yet to come, saeculum futurum [an age to come]. They believe not in Christ; they blaspheme him; they reject imputed righteousness; they vilify the Christian Sabbath.
(4) God’s name is dishonoured by the Papists. Theirs is a God-dishonouring religion. They dishonour the name of God by their idolatry, which is spiritual adultery. Idolatry is to worship a false God, or the true God in a false manner. They dishonour God by their idolatry, in making graven images, and giving the same honour to them that is due to God. Images are teachers of lies. They represent God in a bodily shape. Hab 2: 18. They dishonour God by their idolatry in the mass; worshipping the host, and offering it up as a sacrifice for sin. The apostle says, ‘By one offering [Christ] has perfected forever them that are sanctified’ (Heb 10: 14); but as if his offering on the cross were imperfect, they offer him up daily in the mass, which is a dishonour to Christ’s priestly office. The Papist, instead of hallowing God’s name, dishonours it by locking up the Scriptures in an unknown tongue. Like the Philistine, they pluck out people’s eyes, and then make sport with them. The Bible is a shining light, but they draw a curtain over it; they take away the key of knowledge, and hinder God’s glory by hindering men’s salvation. Luke 11: 52. Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it by giving men indulgences. They say the Pope, as Peter’s successor, has power to grant indulgences, by virtue whereof men are set free in the sight of God. This is to steal a flower from the crown of heaven. The Pope assumes a power to pardon which is God’s royal prerogative. ‘Who can forgive sins but God only?’ Mark 2: 7. The Pope, by his indulgence, encourages men to sin. What need the Papists care what sins they commit, when they have a license and patent from the Pope to bear them harmless? Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it by their invocation to saints. We are to pray to God only. ‘Pray to thy Father;’ not pray to a saint or the Virgin Mary, but pray to your Father in heaven. Matt 6: 6. We may pray to none but whom we may believe in. Rom 10: 14. The saints in heaven are ignorant of our grievances. ‘Abraham is ignorant of us.’ Isa 63: 16. Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it, by their luxury and uncleanness. At Rome, fornication keeps open shop, and is in some cases preferred before honourable matrimony. Urbs est jam tota lupanar [The whole city is now a brothel]. Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it, by their blasphemies. They give equal, nay, more honour to the Virgin Mary than to Christ; they ascribe more to her milk than to his blood; they call her Scala Coeli, the ladder of heaven; Janua paradisi, the gate of Paradise. In their doxologies they say, ‘Praise be to the Virgin Mary, and also to Christ.’ What blasphemy is this, to set the creature above the Creator! They say to her, O felix puerpera, nostra piaris scelera! O happy Mother of a Son, who purgest away our crimes! Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it, by their lies. Their golden legend is an imposture, and is full of lying wonders. They show John Baptist’s forehead for a relic in Spain, yet his whole head they affirm to be seen in St. Sylvester’s in Rome. They show Peter’s shadow at Rome. We read of St Peter’s shadow in Acts 5: 15; but it is strange how the Papists could catch it, and keep it by them so long. Instead of hallowing God’s name, they dishonour it, by baptising sin with the name of virtue. Breach of oaths is with the Papists a virtue. If a man has bound his soul to God by an oath, to violate it is virtuous, if it may propagate the Catholic cause. Killing those who are of a different religion, is not only venial, but a virtue among Catholics. Destroying two hundred thousand of the Albigenses, who were Protestants, was commended as a glorious action, honoured with a triumph at Rome, and crowned with his holiness’s blessing. Is not this a high dishonour to God, to gild over the foulest crimes with the name of virtue and piety? Instead of hallowing God’s name they dishonour it, by their damnable assertions. The Papists affirm that the Pope is above Scripture; that he may dispense with it, and that his canon binds more then the Word of God. They teach merit by good works; but if a debtor cannot pay his creditor, how can he merit at his hands? They affirm that the Scripture is not a perfect rule of faith and manners; and therefore eke it out with their traditions, which they hold to be of equal authority. They teach that an implicit faith is saving; though one may have an implicit faith, and yet be ignorant of all the articles of religion. They say, that the inward act of the mind is not required in God’s worship. Diversion of the mind in duty, though one prays and never thinks of God, is no sin, as Angelus and Sylvester, and other Papists say. They make habitual love to God unnecessary. ‘It is not needful,’ says Bellarmine, ‘to perform any acts of religion out of love to God.’ Stapleton and Cajetan affirm, that the precept of loving God with all our heart is not binding; by which they cut asunder the sinews and soul of all religion. Thus, instead of honouring God’s name, the Papists dishonour it. Let us pray heartily, that this Romish religion may never again get footing in this nation. God grant that this poisonous weed of Popery may never be watered here; but that being a plant which our heavenly Father has not planted, it may be rooted up.
(5) God’s name is dishonoured by Protestants. How is his name this day dishonoured in England! Christians, instead of hallowing God’s name, preach and dishonour it by their tongues. They speak irreverently of his name. God’s name is sacred. ‘That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name: THE LORD THY GOD.’ Deut 28: 58. The names of kings are not mentioned without giving them their tides of honour, high and mighty; but men speak irreverently of God, as if he were like one of them. Psa 50: 21. This is taking God’s name in vain. They swear by his name. Many seldom mention God’s name but in oaths. How is he dishonoured, when men rend and tear his name by oaths and imprecations! ‘Because of swearing the land mourneth.’ Jer 23: 10. If God will reckon with men for idle words, shall not idle oaths be put into the account-book? ‘Oh! but,’ says one, ‘I cannot help it: it is a custom of swearing I have got and I cannot help it. I hope God will forgive me. Is the custom of swearing a good plea? It is no excuse, but an aggravation of sin; as if one who had been accused of killing a man should plead with the judge to spare him, because it was his custom to murder. That would be an aggravation of the offence; for would not the judge say, ‘Thou shalt the rather die’? So it is here.
As men dishonour God by their tongues, so by their lives. What is it to say, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ when in their lives they profane his name? They dishonour God by their atheism, Sabbath-breaking, uncleanness, perjury, intemperance, and injustice. Men hang out a flag of defiance against heaven. As the Thracians, when it thunders, shoot their arrows against heaven, so men shoot their sins as bearded arrows against heaven. Sinners are hardened in sin, they despise counsel, they laugh at reproof, they cast off the veil of modesty. Satan has taken such full possession of them, that when they sin, they glory in their shame. Phil 3: 19. They brag how many new oaths they have invented, how often they have been drunk, how many they have defiled; they declare their sin as Sodom. Such horrid impieties are committed that a modest heathen would blush at. Men in this age sin at that rate, as if either they did not believe there were a hell, or as if they feared hell would be full ere they could get there! Was God’s name ever so openly dishonoured? All our preaching will not make them leave their sins. What a black veil is drawn over the face of religion at this day? Vivimus in temporum faecibus. Seneca. ‘We live in the dregs of time,’ wherein the common sewer of wickedness runs. Physicians call it cachexia, when there is no part of the body free from distemper. England has such a disease. ‘The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint.’ Isa 1: 5. As black vapours rising out of the earth cloud and darken the sun, so the sins of people in our age, like hellish vapours, cast a cloud upon God’s glorious name. O that our eyes were rivers of water of holy tears, to see how God’s name, instead of being hallowed, is polluted and profaned! May we not justly fear some heavy judgements on this account? Can God put up with our affronts any longer? Can he endure to have his name reproached? Will a king suffer his crown- jewels to be trampled in the dust? Do we not see the symptoms of God’s anger? Do we not see his judgements hovering over us? Surely God is whetting his sword, he has bent his bow, and is preparing his arrows to shoot. Qualis per arva Leo fulvam miniaci fronte concutiens jubam [Like the Lion with threatening brows shaking his tawny mane over the land]. Seneca. The body politic is in a paroxysm, or burning fit; and may not the Lord cause a sad phlebotomy? Seeing we will not leave our sins, he may make us lose our blood. May we not fear that the ark should remove, the vision cease, the stars in God’s church be removed, and we follow the gospel to the grave? When God’s name, which should be hallowed, is profaned by a nation, it is just with God to write that dismal epitaph upon its tomb, ‘The glory is departed.’ It were well if the profane party only were guilty; but may not many professors be called to the bar, and indicted for having dishonoured God’s name? ‘Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?’ 2 Chron 28: 10. Are these the spots of God’s children? Deut 32: 5. If you are diamonds, have you no flaws? Have you not your vanities? If your discourse be not profane, is it not vain? Have you not your self-seekings, rash censures, indecent dresses? If the wicked of the land swear, do not you sometimes slander? If they are drunk with wine, are not you sometimes drunk with passion? If their sin be blaspheming, is not your sin murmuring? ‘Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord?’ The sins of God’s children go nearer to his heart than the sins of others. ‘When the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters.’ Deut 32: 19. The sins of the wicked anger God, the sins of his own people grieve him; he will be sure to punish them. ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.’ Amos 3: 2. O that our head were waters, that we could make this place a Bochim, a place of weeping, that God’s children might mix blushing with tears, that they have so little hallowed, and so much eclipsed, God’s name! Truly his own people have sinned enough to justify him in all his severe acting against them.
Use 3. For exhortation. Let us hallow and sanctify God’s name. Could we but see a glimpse of God’s glory, as Moses did in the rock, it would draw adoration and praise from us. Could we ’see God face to face,’ as the angels in heaven do, could we behold him sitting on his throne like a jasper-stone, at the sight of his glory we should do as the twenty-four elders, who ‘worship him that liveth for ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.’ Rev 4: 11. That we may be stirred up to this great duty of hallowing, adoring, and sanctifying God’s name, let us consider:
(1) It is the very end of our being. Why did God give us life, but that by living we may hallow his name? Why did he give us souls, but to admire him? and tongues, but to praise him? The excellence of a thing is the end for which it was made; as of a star to give light, and of a plant to be fruitful. So the excellence of a Christian is to answer the end of his creation, which is to hallow God’s name, and live to that God by whom he lives. He who lives, and of whom God has no honour, buries himself alive, and exposes himself to a curse. Christ cursed the barren fig-tree.
(2) God’s name is so excellent that it deserves to be hallowed. ‘How excellent is thy name in all the earth!’ Psa 8: 9. ‘Thou art clothed with honour and majesty.’ Psa 104: 1. As the sun has its brightness, whether we admire it or not, so God’s name is illustrious and glorious, whether we hallow it or not. In him are all shining perfections, holiness, wisdom, and mercy. He is ‘worthy to be praised.’ 2 Samuel 22: 4. God is dignus honore, worthy of honour, love, and adoration. We often bestow titles of honour upon those who do not deserve them; but God is worthy to be praised; his name deserves hallowing; he is above all the honour and praise which angels in heaven give him.
(3) We pray, ‘hallowed be thy name’; that is, let thy name be honoured and magnified by us. If we do not magnify his name, we contradict our own prayers. To say, ‘hallowed be thy name,’ yet not to bring honour to God’s name, is to take his name in vain.
(4) If men will not hallow God’s name, and bring revenues of honour to him, he will get honour upon them. ‘I will get me honour upon Pharaoh.’ Exod 14: 17. Pharaoh would not hallow God’s name; he said, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey him?’ Well, says God, if Pharaoh will not honour me, I will get honour upon him. When God overthrew him and his chariots in the sea, he got honour upon him. God’s power and justice were gloried in his destruction. There are some whom God has raised to great power and dignity, and they will not honour his name; they make use of their power to dishonour him; they cast reproach upon his name, and revile his servants. If they will not honour God, he will get honour upon them in their final ruin. Herod did not give glory to God, but God got glory upon him. ‘The angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory, and he was eaten of worms.’ Acts 12: 23.
(5) It will be no small comfort to us when we come to die, that we have hallowed and sanctified God’s name. Christ’s comfort a little before his death was, ‘I have glorified thee on the earth.’ John 17: 4. His redeeming mankind was hallowing and glorifying God’s name. Never was more honour brought to God’s name than by this great undertaking of Christ. Here was his comfort before death, that he had hallowed God’s name, and brought glory to him. So, what a cordial will it be to us at last, when our whole life has been a hallowing of God’s name! We have loved him with our hearts, praised him with our lips, honoured him with our lives; we have been to the praise of his glory. Eph 1: 6. At the hour of death, all your earthly comforts will vanish; to think how rich you have been, or what pleasures you have enjoyed upon earth, will not give one drachm of comfort. What is one the better for an estate that is spent? But to have conscience witnessing that you have hallowed God’s name, that your whole life has been glorifying him, what sweet peace and satisfaction will this give! How glad is that servant who has been all day working in the vineyard, when evening comes, that he shall receive his pay! How sweet will death be when they who have spent their lives in honouring God, shall receive the recompense of reward! What comfort was it to Hezekiah, when on his sick bed, that he could appeal to God, ‘Remember, Lord, how I have walked before thee with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.’ Isa 38: 3. I have hallowed thy name, I have brought all the honour I could to thee, ‘I have done that which is good in thy sight.’
(6) There is nothing lost by what we do for God. If we bring honour to his name, he will honour us. As Balak said to Balaam, ‘Am not I able to promote thee to honour?’ Num 22: 37. So if we hallow and sanctify God’s name, is he not able to promote us to honour? He will honour us in our life. He will put honour upon our persons: he will number us among his jewels. Mal 3: 17. He will make us a royal diadem in his hand. Isa 62: 3. He will lift us up in the eyes of others. ‘They shall be as the stones of a crown lifted up, as an ensign of glory.’ Zech 9: 17. He will esteem us as the cream and flower of the creation. ‘Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable.’ Isa 43: 4. God will put honour upon our names. ‘The memory of the just is blessed.’ Prov 10: 7. How renowned have the saints been in all ages, who have hallowed God’s name! How renowned was Abraham for his faith, Moses for his meekness, David for his zeal, Paul for his love to Christ! Their names as a precious ointment, send forth a sweet perfume in God’s church to this day. God will honour us at our death. He will send his angels to carry us up with triumph into heaven. ‘The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.’ Luke 16: 22. Amasis king of Egypt, had his chariot drawn by four kings, whom he had conquered in war; but what is this to the glory every believer shall have at his death? He shall be carried by the angels of God. God will put honour upon us after death. He will put glory upon our bodies. We shall be as the angels, not for substance, but quality; our bodies shall be agile and nimble. Now they are as a weight, then they shall be as a wing, moving swiftly from place to place; they shall be full of clarity and brightness, like Christ’s glorious body. Phil 3: 21. The bodies of the saints shall be as cloth dyed into a scarlet colour, made more illustrious; they shall be so clear and transparent, that the soul shall sparkle through them, as the wine through the glass. God will put glory upon our souls. If the cabinet of the body shall be so illustrious, of what orient brightness shall the jewel be! Then will be the great coronation day, when the saints shall wear the robe of immortality, and the crown of righteousness which fades not away. Oh, how glorious will that garland be which is made of the flowers of paradise! Who then would not hallow and glorify his name, and spread his renown in the world, who will put such immortal honour upon his people, ‘as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man to conceive’?
(7) If men do not hallow, but profane and dishonour God’s name, he will pour contempt upon them. Though they be ever so great, and though clothed in purple and scarlet, they shall be abhorred of God, and their name shall rot. Though the name of Judas be in the Bible, and the name of Pontius Pilate be in the Creed, yet their names stand there for infamy, as traitors to the crown of heaven. ‘I will make thy grave, for thou art vile.’ Nahum 1: 14. It is said of Antiochus Epiphanes, though he was a king, and his name signifies illustrious, yet God esteemed him vile. To show how base the wicked are in God’s esteem, he compares them to things most vile, to chaff (Psa 1: 4); to dross (Psa 119: 119); to the filth that foams out of the sea (Isa 57: 20). As God vilely esteems such as do not hallow his name, so he sends them to a vile place at last. Vagrants are sent to the house of correction; and hell is the house of correction to which the wicked are sent when they die. Let all this prevail with us to hallow and sanctify God’s name.
What should we do to honour and sanctify God’s name?
Let us get: (1) A sound knowledge of God. Take a view of his superlative excellencies; his holiness, his incomprehensible goodness. The angels know God better than we, therefore they sanctify his name, and sing hallelujahs to him. Let us labour to know him to be our God. ‘This God is our God.’ Psa 48: 14. We may dread him as a judge, but we cannot honour him as a father, till we know he is our God.
(2) Get a sincere love to God; a love of appreciation, and a love of complacency to delight in him. ‘Lord, thou knowest I love thee.’ John 21: 15. He can never honour his master who does not love him. The reason God’s name is no more hallowed, is because his name is no more loved.
So much for the first petition.
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