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of “Our Father," is excellently fitted to remind us, both of the dutiful regard which we ought to have for him, as he himself pleads, “If I be a father, 66 where is mine honour ?"2 and also of the kindness which we may expect from him, according to our Saviour's reckoning,—“ If ye, being evil, “ know how to give good gifts unto your children, 6 how much more shall your heavenly Father “ give his holy Spirit to them that ask him ? "3 Nor is this expression less fitted to admonish us of copying the goodness which we adore ; and exercising mercy and bounty towards all our fellow-creatures, so far as we can, “ that we may “ be in this excellent sense) the children of our “ Father, which is in heaven : for he maketh his
sun to rise on the evil and the good ; and send“eth rain on the just and on the unjust."4 And this admonition is greatly strengthened, as each of us is directed to address himself to “Our Father," the common parent of mankind. For, there is inexpressible force in that argument,-—“Have we s not all one Father ? Hath not one God created “ us! Why do we deal treacherously,” or in any respect unjustly, or unkindly, “every man against “ his brother ?" 5 and yet, with greater force, still doth it hold, to prevent mutual injuries, or unkindnesses amongst Christians: who being, in a much closer, and more endearing sense, children of God, and brethren one to another, than the resť of the world; surely ought never to be, what they are too often, remarkably deficient in that reciprocal affection, which was intended as the token whereby “ all men should know them."6
Then, at the same time, the consideration, that this our Father is in heaven, possessed of infinite power and glory, tends greatly to inspire us with
(2) Mal. i. 6. (3) Luke xi. 13. (4) Matt. v. 45. (5) Mal. vii. 10.
(6) Johnı xiii. 35.
reverence towards him at all times, and in all places, but in our devotions peculiarly. And to this end it is pleaded by the wise king: “Keep
thy foot, when thou goest to the house of God; “ be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine “ heart be hasty to utter any thing before God ; “ for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth."7 It also tends no less to remind us what the great end of our prayers and our lives should be: to obtain admittance into that blessed place, where God is, and “ Christ sits on his right hand." “ For, in his presence is the fulness of joy; and “at his right hand, there is pleasure for ever
You see, then, how many important truths and admonitions these few words, which begin the Lord's Prayer, include: every thing, indeed, which can encourage us to pray, or dispose us to pray as we ought.
The petition, which immediately follows, “ Hal“ lowed be thy name,” is, perhaps, more liable to be repeated without being understood, than any of the rest : but when understood, as it easily may be, appears highly proper to stand in the very first part of a Christian's prayer. The name of God means here God himself, his person
and attributes: as it doth in many other places of Scripture, where fearing, or blessing, or calling upon the name of the Lord, is mentioned. And to “ hallow his name” signifies, to think of him as a holy being, and behave towards him accordingly. Now, the word "holy," hath been already more than once, in the course of these Lectures, explained to mean whatever is worthy of being distinguished with serious respect. And, therefore, all such persons, places, things and times, as are set apart from vulgar uses, and devoted to religi
(7) Eccl. v. 1, 2.
(8) Col. iji. 1.
(9) Ps. xv. 12.
ous ones, are said in Scripture to be holy, and commanded to be hallowed. Now, these being generally preserved with great care, as they always ought, from whatever may defile and pollute them; hence the term “holy," came to signify what is clean and pure. And the most valuable purity, beyond comparison, being that of a mind untainted by sin, and secure from tendencies towards it; holiness more especially denotes this; and may, in various degrees, be ascribed to men and angels; but in absolute perfection, to none but God. For he, and he alone, is infinitely removed from all possibility of doing, or thinking, or approving evil.
This, then, is the sense in which we are to acknowledge, that "holy and reverend is his name:"l this conception of him is the manner in which we are to hallow it, and “sanctify the Lord “God in our hearts :"? a matter of unspeakable importance, and the very foundation of all true religion. For, if we are not fully persuaded, that he is “of purer eyes than to behold evil”3 with indifference; if we imagine, that he can ever act unrighteously himself, or allow others to do so; that he is in any case the author of sin; or esteems and loves any thing in his creatures, but uprightness and goodness; or shows himself to be other than a perfectly great, and wise, and just, and gracious Being: so far as we do this, we mistake his nature, and dishonour him; and set up an idol of our own fancy, instead of the true God. The consequence of which will be, that in proportion as our notions of him are false, our worship, imitation, and obedience, will be erroneous also; our piety and our morals will both be corrupted: we shall neglect what alone can recommend us to him: we shall hope to please him by performances of no
(1) Ps. cxi. 9.
(3) Hab. i. 13.
(2) 1 Pet. iii. 15.
value; perhaps, by wicked deeds; and “the light, “ that is in us, will become darkness."
No wonder, then, if we are directed to make it our first petition, that we, and all men, may - hallow God's name,” as we ought : that so right a sense of his nature and attributes, especially his wisdom, justice, and goodness, may prevail through the world, as may banish at once both profaneness and superstition, and engage us all' to fear and love him equally: that we may entertain such notions of Christianity, as will promote its honour; and allow ourselves in nothing that may bring disgrace upon it, or tempt any to blaspheme, instead of sanctifying, that worthy, name, by 6 whieh we are called :"5 but that each of us, in our stations, may, with all diligence, and all prudence, propagate the belief of “pure religion and “ undefiled before God and the Father."6 This is the way, and the only way possible, for us truly to honour him, and be truly good and happy : happy in ourselves, and in each other : in the present world, and that which is to come. With this petition, therefore, our blessed Lord most rationally directs us to begin. And let us all remember, that what he bids us to pray for in the first place, he will expect that we should endeavour after in the first place; and as we acknowledge “him, who “ hath called us, to be holy," that we should “be
holy also in all manner of conversation.”7
(4) Luke xi. 35.
(6) James i. 27.
(5) James ii. 7. (7) 1 Pet. i. 15.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
THE second petition of the Lord's Prayer, “thy “ kingdom come,” follows very naturally after the first, “hallowed be thy name. For hallowing the name of God, that is, entertaining just notions, and being possessed with a deep sense, of the holiness of his nature, his abhorrence of sin, his justice and goodness; is the necessary preparative for submit. ting to, and being faithful subjects of the kingdom, for the coming of which we are directed to pray.
God, indeed, is, ever was, and cannot but be, Lord and King of the whole world, possessed of all right and all dominion over all things; as the plainest reason shows, and the conclusion of this very prayer, in conformity to the rest of Scripture, acknowledges. In this sense, therefore, we cannot pray for his kingdom, as something future, but only rejoice in its being actually present; for what can be greater joy, than to live under the government of infinite mercy, wisdom, and power!
66 The Lord reigneth ; let the earth rejoice-let the multitude “ of isles be glad thereof."
But besides this natural kingdom of God, there is a moral and spiritual one, founded on the willing obedience of reasonable creatures to those laws of righteousness, which he hath given them. Now this, we have too plain evidence, is not yet come amongst men, so fully as it ought. The very first of the human race revolted from their Maker; and their descendants, as both Scripture and other history shows, grew, age after age, yet more and
(1) Psalm xcvii. 1.