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our merciful Saviour, and our all-seeing Judge. May we stand in awe of thine almighty power, thy universal providence, and thy rigid justice; may we love thy boundless goodness, and be always thankful for thine innumerable benefits; may we trust thy truth and wisdom, and call upon thy name as long as we live!"
We will now proceed to consider what is meant by the name of God, as it is here employed. It intimates, most clearly, a strict regard to the precept of the third commandment, that we cannot be too cautious, lest, even in prayer, we take this holy name in vain; for, by the NAME of God, is understood God HIMSELF, and whatsoever does in any wise relate to him. The Deity declares thus much in Exod. vi. 3, And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the NAME of God Almighty. It is also said (xxxiv. 5, 6), that the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with Moses; and, because it was not possible for man (as man) to see his face, and live, therefore he proclaimed the NAME of the Lord, even the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth-and thus (as David observes) has God magnified his NAME and his word above all things.
It may seem, at first sight, strange to some, that we should be liable to any danger of taking God's name in vain, when busied in so serious
an employment as solemn prayer to him; but we shall soon be ready to alter our opinion, upon due consideration of the nature and end of prayer, and the manifold infirmities to which our human nature is subject. Alas! we are too apt to incur the breach of this commandment, in an essential measure, both in the public and private worship of our Maker. Let any one but seriously examine his own heart, and he must confess, with pious sorrow, that it is frequently his own misfortune, if not his fault. Now, this transgression may be committed several ways; for, when we weigh the dignity of God's most holy NAME, by the scriptural evidence just now delivered, and the manifold deficiencies of our very best services, we must condemn ourselves as guilty, whenever we wilfully abuse the sacred privilege of calling upon him, in what degree or shape soever it be done; that is, when we apply to him for things that are quite incompatible with the spirit of pure religion for us to possess; when we offer him the sacrifice of our lips, without the tribute of our hearts; when we do not check those wanderings in prayer, or evil fancies, to which we are all more or less exposed, but, on the contrary, pursue them to the total neglect of what we are about; when we approach the courts of the Lord's house, or solicit him in our closets, merely for fair appearance, or from an acquired habit, confessing the form of godliness,
but denying the power of it; when, however solemn our words, or fervent our manner, our petitions are wanting in the essential quality to recommend them, viz. an humble but firm faith in HIM who is able to perform.
In all these and such-like instances we do most assuredly take God's name in vain, although the outward purpose of the act supposes a very different design.
Indeed, it is to this very error our blessed Lord alludes, when he says, Whatsoever ye ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive it: and St. James, after magnifying the power of faith. to qualify our prayers, attributes the inefficacy of all our petitions to the slender portion of this Christian grace; for the effectual prayer of a righteous man (saith he) availeth much, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, for whom we pray; but then he acquaints us, that we must ask in FAITH, not wavering.
In speaking further to the sacred signification of God's NAME, it may supply you with much valuable instruction, to be shown in how many places it is applied in Scripture to denote the Deity himself, and all his glorious works. -It is observable, in 1 Kings, v. 5, that when Solomon confers with King Hiram on his design of building the temple of the Lord, he expresses himself thus: And, behold, I purpose to build a house unto the NAME of the Lord my
God; by which he denotes the worship and service due to God. In abundant passages of the Psalms the name of God is used to represent God himself: the following will be sufficient. In Ps. xx. 1, The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the NAME of the God of Jacob defend thee. (lxi. 5), For thou, O Lord, hast heard my desires, and hast given an heritage unto those that fear thy NAME.
In short, to speak in God's NAME, or to call upon it, signifies the very same thing as to address the Deity HIMSELF, which has already been abundantly proved from the manner of speaking employed in Holy Scripture, and of which I will afford you some few more testimonies, before I conclude my purposed illustration of the words which compose the first petition.
Under this single term, God's NAME, is comprehended whatever can contribute to render his nature and will more level to our present confined capacities: it is not only used to express his general titles, as we read in Exodus, iii. 13, 14, where, when Moses consulted the Almighty, for a significant reply to the people who might ask, What is his NAME? God said, I AM THAT I AM; but it is used, also, as a sufficient declaration of the attributes or perfections of the Deity: and this is evident from God's speech to his servant Moses, upon his desiring him to manifest his glory to him (Exod. xxxiii.18,
19): And God said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee; which act he assures him was as completely fulfilled as possible by proclaiming his NAME before him. Nay, even his will and purpose upon so very momentous a point as the SALVATION of MANKIND by CHRIST, is also included by this expression in the words of Christ himself, John, xvii. 5, 6, which shows the sacred import of his holy name: And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self; for I have manifested thy NAME unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. By his NAME is understood his help and assistance, as in 1 Sam. xvii. 45, Thou camest to me with sword and spear, but I come unto thee in the NAME of the Lord of hosts; whereby David shows the virtue that dependence on that NAME supplies. The opening of the 76th Psalm manifestly shows that God's honour, renown, and glory, are all implied under this single word: In Jewry is God known, his NAME is great in Israel.
Again, his grace, love, and mercy to sinners in sending Christ to save them, is further set forth under this particular title, John, xvii. 26: And I have declared unto them thy NAME, and will declare it.
Secondly. By the NAME of God is not only implied every particular concerning the eternal Father, as his wisdom, power, and goodness, whether displayed in the work of creation, or provi