Having ended the first part of this prayer which was called invocation, consisting upon the power and goodness of God, we come to the petitions themselves, which are seven, of which the first concerneth God, the other concern ourselves: or they may be divided as the days of the week, whereof as one falleth out to God's portion, the other to be employed in our own affairs. So, of these petitions, the first doth immediately concern the glory of God, the other six the supply of our own necessities. In the beginning we heard that it is expedient to know not only what we are to ask, but in what order; what first, and what second; touching which point we are taught by this form of prayer, that that petition which concerneth the sanctification of God's name is caput votorum; and that all other things that we either desire or pray in our own behalf, ought to stand after it; and that we must both desire and pray for the sanctification of God's name before anything that we desire, either for ourselves or for our brethren, whether it be for the removing of evil, or for the obtaining of good; for as before we learned what His love is to us, in that He vouchsafed to be our Father, so hereby we shall express our love again to Him, if when we come to pray to Him for our necessities we be carried away with such a desire of the glory of our heavenly Father, that we forget our own selves and desire only that His name may be sanctified, which duly Christ doth by His own example commend unto us.
[381/382] In this form of prayer we are put in mind of that which before was required in the law of work; for, as there we learned that God is not honoured aright except He be loved above all things, because 'He created all things and for his will's sake they all were created,' so we cannot pray to Him aright, except above all things and in the first place we seek for the sanctification of His name.
In respect of God Himself there is no cause why we should make this petition on His behalf; for as the Prophet saith, 'Thou hast no need of any goods.' So He stands not in need of any thing that can come to Him by our means: if we would wish Him any profit, 'the earth is His, and all that is therein;' if pleasure, there is with Him torrens voluptatis, 'a river of pleasure.' Wherefore albeit that in His own essence and nature He be perfect, yet extrinsecus assumpsit sibi nomen, 'He took himself a name from without,' He calls Himself the Lord Almighty; not that any term can sufficiently express Him and His essence, but to the end that whilst we have a reverend regard of His name He might receive some service at our hands.
The account that men do make of their name is such as Solomon saith, 'A good name is more to be desired than great treasure; it is more worth than precious ointment.' God accounts that we do not only greatly profit Him but do procure great delight and pleasure to Him, when we reverence His holy name; which how precious it is it doth appear hereby, that He setteth the hallowing of His name before His kingdom.
Many of the king's subject that are in the farthest parts of the land never see his face all their life time, and yet in reverence to his name are ready to make long journeys to appear when they are commanded in his name; and so it fareth with us that live on earth, for Deum nemo vidit unquam. Nay, very few are admitted to see His 'back parts.' But though we cannot see His face, yet as those are counted dutiful subjects that do not only reverence the prince's person but obey such commandments as come in his name; so look, what duty we do to God's name here on earth, He reckons it to be as good service as that which is performed by the Angel in heaven that always behold His face.
[382/383] And reason it is that we should esteem of God's name, for as in time of trouble turris altissima nomen Domini, 'the name of the Lord us a strong tower,' so being delivered once of danger, yet we are sure of the salvation of our souls, and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Besides 'there is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved;' and therefore ought by good right to receive sanctification of us.
Howbeit we may not hereupon ground that error which some gather upon these words, where it is said that God 'hath chosen us in Christ to the praise of the glory of Hid grace.' Not that God is desirous of vain -glory, He is not to receive any thing from us (but contrawise as He is good, so He is desirous to communicate His goodness to us) but the care that He hath for the sanctifying of His name ariseth from the duty which man oweth unto Him; in which regard such as have been most religious in all times have reared up altars, and set up temples in honour of God's name.
The account of this petition is that which maketh the difference betwixt the papists and religious people, between heretics and the true worshippers of God, that the one esteemth highly of the name of God, the other doth not.
We usually account of men's names, according to the worth of their persons; but God Himself is holy, therefore He tells us, that 'His name also is holy,' as the Prophet saith, 'Holy and reverend is His name;' and it is not only holy in itself, but it gives holiness unto all things that are holy.
The word of God is holy, because it is published in nomine Dei: wherefore the name of God being holy in itself needs not be hallowed by us, that can neither add holiness to it nor take any from it; but when God willeth us to hallow His name it is to prove us, that by glorifying His name we may shew how we glorify God Himself and what reckoning we make of Him, that God may have proof how we do with the Virgin 'magnify God our Saviour,' and how we do 'glorify God in our bodies, and in our spirits.'
The name of God must be considered in two sorts, either as it expressed by the term of Lord, Father, Lord Almighty, or else as it is expressed in such things as bear His name, as He speaketh of Moses, 'Behold I will send my Angel before [383/384] thee, beware of him, and hear His voice,' &c. quia nomen Meum est in Eo.
Touching the expressed name of God, whether it be Father which importeth His goodness, or Lord which implieth His power, as we may not account basely of them, so we must not use them lightly and negligently but upon just occasion.
The things that have the name of God impressed and imprinted in them, are either those persons which have their denomination of God, either jointly as the Church which is called Sancta Ecclesia Dei, or severally as the priest of whom Moses saith, 'Let thy Urim and thy Thummim be with Thy holy one.'
The priests are called holy, because they are consecrated to the Lord; in which respect as in the Old Testament they are called viri Dei, so in the New they are vasa nominis Dei, 'vessels of the name of God,' as the Lord speaks in a vision touching Saul to Ananias, that 'he was a chosen vessel to bear the name of God among the Gentiles.'
Secondly, those places are said to be God's which are consecrated to holy uses, as the sanctuary which is domus Dei, and all those places where He puts the remembrance of His name, and whither He promiseth that He will come to bless His people that are assembled there for His worship.
Thirdly, those times which are kept holy to the Lord, as the Sabbath, which is dies Domini.
Fourthly, the word of God preached in God's name.
Fifthly, the elements consecrated in the Sacrament for a holy use, called therefore panis Dei.
In all these there is an impression of God's name, and therefore we must not lightly account of them but shew great reverence to them, that thereby we may testify the high and reverend regard and estimation we have of God Himself, for sanctification is when God is said to magnify or glorify.
It signifies to make great and glorious. So when sanctification is given to Him, it betokeneth to make holy; when we magnify God, that magni facere Deum, 'to esteem greatly of God,' and our glorifying of God is to account Him glorious. So that when we pray 'Hallowed be Thy name,' our desire is [384/385] that God's name which is holy of itself, may be so accounted of us, and be holily used by us.
And whereas He saith not, Glorificetur, orMagnificetur Nomen Tuum, Glorified, 'or Magnified be Thy Name,' but Sanctificetur. 'Hallowed or sanctified be Thy name,' it is to the end that we receiving the sanctification of God's spirit might have a holy regard of His name; for things may be accounted great and glorious by those which are accounted neither great nor glorious, but Sanctificetur, cannot come from any person that are profane but only such persons as are holy; therefore the Angels in heaven cry not, 'Glorious, Glorious, but Holy, holy, Holy.'
The title that Aaron wore upon his breast was not 'Glory,' but 'holiness unto the Lord.' And the four beasts ceased not to cry day and night, 'Holy, holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.'
The duties which pertain to the sanctifying of God's name, are two: first, that against which we deprecari, or prayer to be removed; secondly, that for which we do pray, or desire to be granted.
First, we are to pray that we may not use the name of God, which is wonderful and holy, either contemptuously to magic or cursing, or negligently abuse it upon any slight occasion; because that holy things are to be separated from a common use, and are not to be used but when necessity requireth.
We see by experience that the holy name of God hath not that reverence which it ought, and therefore the persons which do take it in vain do often times pull upon themselves the plagues and vengeance of God by that sin; for God doth in justice punish such offenders, not because the name of God can receive any pollution by men's default, but because we do, quantum in nobis est, 'as far as in us lieth,' pollute the holy name of God, even as he that 'looketh after a woman to lust after her, hath already committed the sin of uncleaness,' although she be not a whit the less chaste for his lust.
The heathen fail in this duty, because they do so appropriate the name of God to 'four-footed beasts,' and change the glory of God Who is incorruptible into the similitude of mortal man.
The Jew sinneth because he contemns the name of Jesus, 385/386] which is a name above all names, and despiseth the name of Christ, the preciousness whereof appeareth herein, by that that it is oleum effusuman ointment poured out
But as we are to pray against the contemptuous abuse of God's name, so we are to pray that we do not negligently or carelessly use it without that reverend estimation and regard that is due to it; that we 'tread not under feet the Son of God, nor account of the blood of the Testament, whereby we are sanctified, as a common thing.'
Secondly, Moses and Aaron were debarred from entering in to the land of Canaan, not because they polluted God's name, but for that they did not 'sanctify the Lord among the children of Israel at the waters of strife.
Therefore as we pray against the contempt and negligent use of God's name, so we must pray that we may have a due regard of it; first, that we 'sanctify' God's name 'in our hearts.' Secondly, we must not use the name of God with our tongues but seriously, and therefore we are forbidden to take ir in vain in the third Commandment. Thirdly, in all our actions we must not begin any thing that is extra-ordinary but in the 'name of the Lord that made heaven and earth,' and men must refer the end of them to the 'glory' of his name.
God, Whose name is called upon by us, is holy, and Christ of Whom we are called Christians, is holy: therefore we must sanctify God in our actions.
Neither do we pray that we ourselves only may sanctify God's name, but that others also may do the same; for Christ saith not, Sanctificemus , 'Let us sanctify,' but Sanctificetur, 'Let thy name be sanctified.'
This is it whereunto Prophet exhorteth, Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, Laudate Dominum omnes populi, 'Praise the Lord all ye nations, praise Him all ye people:' that is for persons.
For places, 'the Lord's name be praised from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.'
Thirdly, for the time, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth for evermore.'
But because it cannot generally be sanctified except it be known, we must desire that all may know God, and pray with [386/387] the Prophet, 'Let Thy way be known upon earth, and Thy saving health among all nations.'
Secondly, not to know it only, but cheerfully to go forward in the profession of God's truth, and in the worship of His name; 'Thou hast multiplied the people, but not increased their joy. But we are to pray that as all nations know His name, so that they may so carry and profess it as that the heathen may not have occasion to say scoffingly, Populus Dei est iste. We must desire of God that all that profess His name may so carry themselves, that for their sakes, 'the name of God may not be evil spoken of among the Gentiles,' but contrawise that they may 'shine as lights in the world among a froward and crooked generation;' that they may 'by their good works' stir up all men to 'glorify our heavenly Father,' and 'by their good conservation, without the word, win those that obey not the word.
We are to desire that such as have not yet cared to perform this duty may now begin, that such as have begun to sanctify God's name may go forwards, and that such as are fallen away from God and pollute that holy name, which sometimes they did highly esteem, may resipiscere, that being renewed by repentance they may recover themselves out of relapses, that they may be of the society of Angels that cry continually, 'Holy, Holy, Holy.'
We must be careful not for ourselves only but for those over whom we have power, that they may sanctify God's name and account it joy; that the heathen may not take occasion to pollute the holy name of the Lord, saying, Are these the people of the Lord? but that while they behold our good conversation they may have occasion to say, 'Verily God is in you.'
Thirdly, Tuum Nomen, 'Thy Name.' Men are given generally to give a kind of honour to God, but in the mean time they will have themselves honoured; but here they are taught otherwise, It is our duty to ascribe all glory to God: Non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam, 'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the glory.' So that all men are no less desirous of their own honour and glory, than the builders that built Babel that said, 'Let us get us a name.'
But such as are thus affected, and carried with the love of [387/388] themselves, are not fit to sanctify the name of God; as our Saviour speaks, 'How can ye believe, seeing ye receive glory one of another, and seek not the glory which is of God.'
As we may not usurp God's honour for ourselves, so we may not deify princes; for we see how ill that voice was taken, Vox Dei et non hominis, 'The voice of God and not of man.' Neither may we give divine honour to the Apostles and Prophets of God. The heathen people said of Paul and Barnabas, 'Gods are come down to us in the shape of men,' and they would have sacrificed unto them; but then Apostles not willing to admit this sacrilege 'rent their clothes and cried, We are men subject to the same passions that you yourselves be.' For we are desirous to give honour, if not to ourselves, yet to others; but here Christ tells us that no other name is to be sanctified but the name of God, whereof we should be so careful that we ought to pray that God's name may be sanctified by others if not by ourselves; though we in our own persons cannot hallow it, yet santificetur Nomen Tuum, 'let Thy name, O Lord be sanctified.'
Hereby, as we pray for the gift of 'the fear of God,' which is one of the seven virtues which are set down because we do truly sanctify God when we make him 'our fear and dread,' so we pray against the vice of pride which is the contrary to the virtue of fear; so shall we obtain the blessings, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,' &c. And upon this petition is grounded not only whatsoever hymn or psalm is sung of the congregation, but even the end of all assemblies is to ascribe holiness to God, and to sanctify His name for His benefits bestowed upon us.
And in this they acknowledge, first, their own unworthiness; secondly, they bless Him for his goodness extended toward them; thirdly, they do not acknowledge it in themselves, but do tell it forth as the Psalmist speaketh, 'O come hither and hearken all ye that do fear God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul.' Fourthly, to this end they lift up their voices in singing, 'to the end they make the voice of His praise to be heard.'
And among other benefits, we are to praise and bless His name for the benefits of sanctification, which we have in the [388/389] name of the Lord Jesus; secondly, for the means whereby this sanctification is offered and wrought in us, which is the word, as Christ saith, 'O Father, sanctify them in Thy truth.' For the perfection of sanctification, that we shall have after this life, when we shall be 'partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,' when we shall continually sing with the heavenly angels, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.'
And howsoever, when we desire of God that His name may be sanctified, we seem like natural children to forget our own necessities in respect of the care we have to God's glory; yet even then we pray no less for ourselves than for God, for the Lord hath promised, Them that honour Me I will honour; and Christ saith, 'that if the name of the Lord Jesus be glorified in us, we also shall be glorified in Him.' Et sanctificando nomen adveniet regnum, 'In sanctifying His name His kingdom shall come,' as the next petition is.
If while we remain on earth our whole desire be to sanctify God's name, we shall at length come to the place where we shall say and night sing as the Cherubims do, and with the heavenly host of Angels sing, 'Glory to God on high;' we shall fall down before His throne, saying always, 'Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour and praise for ever.'