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THE SECOND ON THE LORD'S PRAYER.
PSALM XCIX. 3.
They shall give thanks unto thy name, which is great, wonderful, and holy.
my former Lecture I informed you (my brethren), that the Lord's Prayer consisted of six petitions. It may be useful, for the fuller explanation of the order and design of this holy form of words, to acquaint you, that this division will admit of a still further and necessary distinction; viz. that the three first petitions relate more immediately to the honour and glory of God, and therefore may, perhaps, be more properly styled pious wishes, than positive petitions; whereas the three last do particularly concern our own absolute wants.
The first of these petitions, or expressions of pious desire, with which this divine prayer presents us, is contained in these words: HAL
LOWED BE THY NAME. In the progress of these labours for the instruction and improvement of all who are desirous to be acquainted with the first principles of the religion they profess, I have judged it essentially conducive to that end, that you should have a clear understanding of any terms of difficult interpretation, that may occasionally present themselves; because ignorance of the meaning of one word may sometimes cause such obscurity in the understanding of a whole sentence, as to leave the notion of any particular duty very imperfect, should not the sense of the principal word be rendered perfectly familiar to the hearer and reader. For which reason, before I have proceeded to the explanation of any doctrine, I have generally thought proper to clear the way, by rendering the terms intelligible in which it is conveyed: I shall employ the same method in the case before us.-To HALLOW any thing, signifies to pay becoming reverence or honour to it, to consider or treat a thing or person as being HOLY: this is the true meaning of the word in the Saxon language, whence it is taken, and as it is always applied in Scripture. Thus, in Levit. xxii. 32, the Lord delivers this command: I will be HALLOWED; that is, I will be treated according to my holiness. Again, I am the Lord who HALLOW you, that is, by whom ye are made holy. In Jer. xvii. 22, it
is applied to the sabbath-day; as it is also in the 20th chapter of Exodus, where the express commandment respecting that day is recorded; HALLOW ye the sabbath-day; HALLOW my sabbaths, and they shall be a sign between me and you. The Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and HAL LOWED it; that is, appointed it to be kept holy. By hallowing God's name, you see, we understand the considering it in the most holy light, and that we are to pay all respect and veneration to it. A petition of this import deservedly requires the first place in a Prayer composed for the use of weak and needy creatures, because it supplies a necessary preparation of the mind, to make such humble applications as their dependent state requires.
In this address we separate the name of God to the holy use of prayer alone; and the more we indulge our meditation on the authority, power, and reverence due to this most holy name, the better we shall be qualified to present consistent and acceptable petitions to the throne of grace, since a previous contemplation of the great and awful Being in whose presence we are now appearing, should give us pause, and will serve to check all hasty and irreverent approach to him in our words or actions.
Our blessed Saviour began his Prayer with this very petition or desire, in order to direct us
that God's glory ought to be the first object of our prayers, as well as the principal end of all our actions; we may therefore justly paraphrase this first expression in the sublime language of the holy Psalmist, and say, O Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world, thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens! (Psa. viii. 1.) Correspondent to which address is the elevated description of Isaiah, in his vision of God's glory (vi. 3): And one cried, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. Again, in the 12th chapter and 4th verse, the Prophet pays equal honour to the Lord Jehovah in these words of solemn invocation: Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. And the Apostle St. Paul unites in recommending the same precaution to all professing a dependence on the Supreme Being; (1 Cor. x. 31), Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the GLORY of God. Consequently, when we pray to him, we must endeavour to be deeply impressed with the majesty of his NAME, so as to guard us from all unworthy designs of self-importance or private gratifications; but, on the contrary, to enable us to offer pure and becoming service to the Lord.
As, therefore, it is incumbent upon us to begin our prayer with such a sense of the
divine presence, and the majesty of God's name, as these words imply, we must recollect at the same time, that this desire is offered in general terms, not for ourselves only, but for all God's servants, according to the reason explained to you in the former Lecture, why we say OUR Father, and not My Father.
The further explanation of this passage will admit of the following comment or enlarging on the original words: We here pray, that all men may live in the true fear of the Lord, performing that honour to the divine Majesty that their subjection to him calls for-by ordering their lives according to the doctrine and example of his Son, Jesus Christ, and as becomes the children of so holy a Father, that others, being influenced by our devout and humble conduct in the article of solemn prayer, may be also led to glorify their Father who is in heaven, building sure hopes on this most gracious promise of the Almighty Lord himself, that whoso giveth HIM thanks and praise, him will God honour; or, in the religious language of a most pious Prelate * of our own Church, whose authority I ever quote with profit and delight, we may suppose the words, HALLOWED BE THY NAME, to import thus much: "Let us ever remember, O Lord God, that thou art our great Creator, our absolute Lord,
* Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man.