These few words contain the first petition of the Lord's prayer: the other words which go before this be no part of this petition, but rather an introduction unto these petitions and they be like a preface, or learned entrance to the matter, that the petitions might be the sooner and with more favour heard. For our Saviour being a perfect schoolmaster, as a learned and an expert orator, teacheth us how we should begin our prayer that we might be speedily heard, and how to get favour at God's hand.
I have a manner of teaching, which is very tedious to them that be learned. I am wont ever to repeat those things which I have said before, which repetitions are nothing pleasant to the learned: but it is no matter, I care not for them; I seek more the profit of those which be ignorant, than to please learned men. Therefore I oftentimes repeat such things which be needful for them to know; for I would speak so that they might be edified withal.
I spake some things this day in the commendation of this prayer: and first I told you, that it was our Saviour's own making and handwork, which is a perfect schoolmaster, put in authority by God the heavenly Father himself, which saith, Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacitum est; ipsum audite: "This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I have pleasure; hear him."
This prayer is a perfect prayer, an abridgment and compendious sum of all other prayers. There is nothing that we have need of, neither to our souls or bodies, but it is contained in some of these petitions; nor nothing that God promiseth in his word to give us, but it is expressed in one of these seven petitions.
I shewed you this day why we call God "Father;" namely, because he beareth a loving and fatherly heart towards us. It is a sweet word, "Father;" and a word that pleaseth God much when it is spoken with a faithful heart, which above all things God requireth. This word "Father" moveth God's affection, in a manner, towards us, so that he, hearing the word "Father," cannot choose but shew himself a Father indeed. So that it is a word profitable to us in God's behalf, and, again, for our ownselves: for it moveth God to pity, and also helpeth our faith; so that we doubt not, but that we shall find him a Father, which will grant our requests and petitions made unto him in the name of Christ. Now what crafts and conveyances the devil useth to withdraw and let us from prayer, I told you today aforenoon. If you exercise prayers, you shall find the temptations of the devil, for he sleepeth not: he ever intendeth to withdraw us from prayer. But I told you what remedy you shall use against him; how you shall strive against him, namely, with faith; believing that our Saviour hath taken away our sins, so that they cannot hurt us. For they be no sins in the sight of God; for he hath taken away both the guiltiness of sins, and the pains and punishments which follow sins. Christ hath deserved that those which believe in him shall be quit from all their sins. These benefits of Christ are set out in scripture, in many places; and these be the weapons wherewith we must fight against the devil and his illusions; not with holy water: for I tell you, the devil is not afraid of holy water. It is Christ that hath gotten the victory over him; it is he that vanquisheth the serpent's head, and not holy water.
Further, in that we call him "Father," his will and fatherly affections are expressed: that we call him "heavenly Father," his might and power, his omnipotency, is expounded unto us. So that you perceive that he is both loving and kind towards us; that he beareth a goodwill, and also is able to help, able to defend us from all our enemies, spiritual, and temporal. Therefore let us put our trust and confidence in him: let us not despair of his help, seeing he is so loving, kind, and gentle towards us; and then so mighty, that he hath all things in his hands. This affection and love towards us passeth all motherly affections.
And here I brought in today a woman which was accused that she should have killed her child. I told you what business good Master Bilney and I had with her, afore we could bring her to a good trade. For she thought herself to be damned, if she should suffer before her purification. There I told you, that purification is continued in the church of God for natural honesty's sake, that man and wife should not company together afore that time; and not to that end, that it should cleanse from sin: for there is nothing that cleanseth from sin, neither in heaven nor in earth, saving only the blood of out Saviour Jesu Christ. For how can a woman having company with her husband, and bringing forth children according unto God's injunction, how can she be made an heathen woman, doing nothing but that God hath commanded her to do? Therefore against such foolish opinions that women have, thinking themselves out of the favour of God, lying in childbed, I spake today, and told you how that is no offence afore God; only let every man and wife take heed and use themselves honestly: for a man may sin deadly with his own wife, if he, contrary to God's order, misuse her.
Further, you have heard how the goodwill of God towards us is set out by this word "Father," and his power and omnipotency by this word "heavenly": but I would have you to consider well this word "our"; for it is a great help unto us, and strengtheneth much our faith, so that we may be assured that every good man in the whole world will pray for us and with us, whilst we have one Father and one manner of prayer. And this word "our" putteth us in remembrance that we be brethren in Christ where we be admonished to despise no man, be he never so miserable or poor; for we have all ore Father, which hath made us all of one metal of earth. So that the highest prince in the world is made as well of earth as the poorest; and so shall turn into the same again, as well as the poorest shepherd. Let these proud persons mark this well, which be ever ready to despise every man. Such proud persons say never the Lord's prayer with good mind: yea, God is not their Father, for he abhorteth all proudness. Therefore such stubborn fellows when they will pray, they should not say, "Our Father which art in heaven"; but rather, "Our Father which art in hell." God is their father, as concerning their substance, for he giveth them souls and bodies; but they make themselves the members of the devil, contrary unto God's will and pleasure. Therefore set aside all arrogancy and proudness; likewise all superstitious and hypocritical babbling, speaking many words to little purpose: as I heard say of some lawyers, which babble and prate, and pretend a great diligence and earnest desire to defend the poor man's cause; but in their hearts they be false, they seek money and nothig else; so that their hearts and mouth disagree. Let us, I say, not follow such lawyers; let us not make a shew of holiness with much babbling, for God hath no pleasure in it; therefore away with it: yea, not alone with this, but with all that may let us in our prayer. Set it aside, and come reverently to talk with God. Like as when you go to the communion, you must be prepared unto it, you must be in charity with your neighbour; so likewise, when you will talk with God, and pray to him, you must be prepared.
Here you may perceive, that all those persons that will not be corrected for their faults, that cannot bear godly admonitions, they talk never with God to his pleasure; they be not ruled by God's Spirit, and so not meet for him. All rebellious persons, all bloodthirsty persons, all covetous persons, all lecherous persons, all liars, drunkards, and such like, be not in the case to talk with God. God will not hear them; he cannot abide them; they stink before his face, as long as they come before him with such abominable sins, not intending to leave them. Remember now what a doctrine is contained in this preface. Weigh it; for it is better to say it sententiously one time, than to run it over an hundred times with humbling and mumbling.
Now, when we have begun as we ought to do, what shall we desire? Sanctificetur nomen tuum, "Hallowed be thy name." Thy name, "Father," be hallowed, be sanctified, be magnified. What is this? What meant our Saviour, when he commandeth us that we shall desire that God's name be hallowed? There is a great number of people which speak these words with their mouth, but not with their hearts, contrary to that saying, Quiquid petimus ardenter petamus, tanquam cupientes habere. But they say it without knowledge; therefore they say it not, ut oportet, as they ought to do. "Thy name": we require not that his name may be hallowed in him; for this is already done without our prayer: but we desire that he will give us grace, and assist us, that we in all our doings throughout our life may sanctify his name. And here we are admonished again of love and charity: for when we say, "Hallowed be thy name," we ask in all men's names. Where we may perceive what communion and fellowship is between the faithful flock of God; for every faithful man and woman requireth that the whole church may hallow and sanctify God's word.
What is it to be "hallowed"? We desire that the name of God may be revealed, opened, manifested, and credited throughout all the world. What is God's "name"? Marry, all that is spoken of him in holy scripture, that is his name. He is called Clemens, "Gracious"; Misericors, "Merciful"; Justus, "Righteous"; Puniens iniquitatem, "A punisher of wickedness"; Verax, "True"; Omnipotens, "Almighty"; Longanimis, "Long-suffering, patient"; Fortis, "Hardy"; Ignis consumens, "A consuming fire"; Rex omnis terrae, "the King over the whole earth"; Judex, "A Judge"; Salvator, "A Saviour". These and such like are the names of God. Now when I make my petition unto him, saying, "Hallowed be thy name"; I desire that his name may be revealed, that we may know what scripture speaketh of him, and so believe that same, and live after it. I do not desire that his name be hallowed of himself, for it needeth not; he is holy already: but I desire that he will give us his Spirit, that we may express him in all our doings and conversations; so that it may appear by our deeds, that God is even such one indeed as scripture doth report him. We are tried many times whether his name be hallowed amongst us or no. He sendeth us trouble and adversities to prove us, whether we will hallow his name or no. But he findeth us clean contrary. For some of us, when we be in trouble, do run hither and thither to sorcerers and witches, to get remedy. Some, again, swear and curse; but such fellows hallow not the name of God. But God is vindex severus, "a sharp punisher": he will punish sin, and those which blaspheme his holy name.
I heard of late that there be some wicked persons, despisers of God and his benefits, which say, "It is no matter whatsoever we do; we be baptized: we cannot be damned; for all those that be baptized, and be called Christians, shall be saved." This is a false and wicked opinion; and I assure you that such which bear the name of Christians, and be baptized, but follow not God's commandments, that such fellows, I say, be worse than the Turks and heathen: for the Turks and heathen have made no promise unto Christ to serve him. These fellows have made promise in baptism to keep Christ's rule, which thing they do not; and therefore they be worse than the Turks: for they break their promise made before God and the whole congregation. And therefore such Christians be most wicked, perjured persons; and not only be perjured, but they go about to make God a liar, so much as lieth in them. There be some again, which when they be in trouble they call upon God, but he cometh not by and by, minding to prove their patience; they, perceiving he cometh not at the first call, give over by and by, they will no more call upon him. Do they believe now, think ye? Do they sanctify God's holy name? God promiseth in his holy word, Omnis qui petit, "Every one that calleth or that desireth help of me shall have it." Item, Invoca me in die tribulationis, et exaudiam te, et glorificabis me; "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee, and thou shalt praise me." Likewise St Paul saith, Fidelis est Deus, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id quod potestis; "God is faithful, which will not suffer you to be tempted above it that ye be able." Now, when we give over prayer being in trouble, do we sanctify the name of God? No, no; we slander and blaspheme his holy name we make him a liar, as much as lieth in us. For he saith, Eripiam te, "I will deliver thee, I will help thee": we will call no more; for we say, he will not help. So we make him and his word a liar. Therefore God saith to Moses and Aaron, Quandoquidem non credidistis mihi, ut sanctificaretis me coram filiis Israel, non introducetis coetum istum in terram quam dedi eis; "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the sight of the children of Irsael, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Where it appeareth, what it is to hallow God's name; that is, to believe his words, to shew ourselves that he is true in his doings and sayings. He saith further, A terrore ejus ne formidetis, neque animo frangamini, quin potius Dominum exercituum ipsum sanctificate; "Fear them not, neither be afraid of them, but sanctify the Lord of hosts." Here you see what it is to sanctify his name; that is, to believe that all things be true that be spoken of him; that is, to believe that our enemies be not able to go further than it pleaseth God. And so did the apostles, when they suffered for God's sake: they believed that God would do with them according to his word and promise; and so they sanctified God; that is, they declared with their acts and deeds, that God is a true and faithful God. This did the martyrs of God; this did the three young men which would not worship the idol set up by the king, and therefore were cast into the burning oven, to which pain they were willing to go. "We know," said they, "that God is able to help and defend us, when it pleaseth him." So must we likewise offer ourselves unto the .cross, content to suffer whatsoever he shall lay upon us. We may call upon him, and desire his help; but we may not appoint unto him the manner and way, how he shall help, and by what means. Neither may we appoint him any time, but only sanctify his name; that is, to call upon him for deliverance, not doubting but when it is to his honour and our profit to be delivered, that he will help. But if he help not, but let us suffer death, happy are we; for then we be delivered from all trouble. And so these three young men sanctified the name of God; they believed that God was a helper: and so, according to their belief he helped them, marvellously shewing his power, and defending them from the power of the fire.
In such wise did Achior, that good man, when Holophernes, that sturdy captain, made great brags what he would do, and how he would handle the Jews. This Achior, knowing God, and believing him to be ruler over heaven and earth, stepped forward, and said to Holophernes: "If this people have done wickedness in the sight of their God, then let us go up against them; but if this people have not displeased their God, we shall not be able to withstand them; for God shall defend them." Here this Achior shewed himself to believe that which was spoken of God in scripture; namely, that God would be a deliverer and defender of those which believe in him. But for all that he suffereth: being before a great and mighty captain, he was now handled like a wild beast. But what then? Happy are those that suffer for God's sake. The prophet saith, Commenda Domino viam tuam, et ipse faciet; "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he shall bring it to pass": that is to say, When thou art in trouble, call upon the Lord, believe in him; and if it be good for thee, he will deliver thee. So to sanctify God's name is to believe in him.
Lady Judith, that good, godly, and holy woman, sanctified the name of the Lord. For she and her people being in great distress and misery, she put her hope in God. She fasted and prayed devoutly, and afterward, being moved or monished by a secret admonition, was not afraid to put herself in great danger, insomuch that she took in hand, being a woman, to kill the great captain of whom all men were afraid, Holophernes. I say, she was not afraid of him. I trow, she rebuked the priest, which would appoint God a time; as who say, "He shall be no more my God, except he come by that time": which was very wickedly done of them. For we ought to be at his pleasure: whensoever and whatsoever he will do with us, we ought to be content withal. If we were earnest and zealous as we should be, O how hot we should be in promoting God's honour and sanctifying his name! We would nor could not suffer that any body should go about to dishonest the holy name of God. But we be very cold, we care not for his honour. We ought to be patient in our own quarrels; when any body doth us wrong, we ought to bear and forbear it: but in God's behalf we ought to be hot and earnest to defend his honour, as much as lieth in us to do. But it is clean contrary with us: for in our own quarrel we be as hot as coals; but in God's cause, for his honour, we care not, we regard it as nothing, whereas it ought most above all to be regarded: for God he is just, righteous, faithful, and kind; and therefore we ought to take his part. But nothing maketh more for the sanctifying of God's holy name, than to be thankful for such gifts as we receive at his hands.
And this hallowing standeth in all things that may make for the furtherance of God's honour. To hear God's word, and highly to esteem the same, that is a hallowing of God's name. How hallow now they the name of God, which refuse to hear the word of God, or for lack of preachers cannot hear it? And how can they believe, when they hear it not? Therefore they that do somewhat for the furtherance of learning, for maintaining of schools and scholars, they sanctify God's holy name. At for those preachers which have been in my time, they go away. How shall now this office of preaching, the office of salvation, how shall it be maintained, except there be made some provision for the same? Here I could say much against those which let that office, which withdraw the goods wherewith schools should be maintained, and take it to themselves; but my audience is not thereafter. This office of preaching is the office of salvation; for St Paul saith, Visum est Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes: "It hath pleased God to save the believers by the foolishness of preaching." How can men then believe, but by and through the office of preaching? Preachers are Christ's vicars: legatione funguntur pro Deo. "They are Christ's ambassadors." St Paul saith, Evangelium est potentia Dei ad salutem omni credenti; "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for every believer." It is the mighty instrument of God.
When we say, "Hallowed be thy name"; we desire God that he, through his goodness, will remove and put away all things that may let and stop the honour of his name. But I fear me there be many which would not that it should be so. We desire here that God will remove all infidelity. We require that all witchcrafts be removed; that art, magic, and sorcery, be pulled out, necromancy taken away; and so nothing left but his holy word, wherewith we may daily praise the name of God. For I fear me there be a great many in England which use such sorceries, to the dishonour of God and their own damnation. We require here further, that all heresy, all popery may be abolished and extinguished. Further we require here, that all wicked living may be amended and reformed. Next, we require that all magistrates may do their duties. Finally, we require that every man in his vocation may do the work whereunto God hath called him. There be many vocations. The magistrates' vocation is to see that the commonwealth be well ordered; to see that the schools be maintained; to see that universities be well furnished; to see that justice be executed; that the wicked be punished, and the good rewarded; finally, to keep every one in good order. This is their duty. Further, we pray that the priests, the spirituality, or the churchmen, as they call them, do their duties: to preach God's word, to live godly, and to give a good ensample by their conversation; else they do against the honour of God, and their own honesty. Likewise, we pray that servants may do their duties: for to be a servant is an honest estate, and much commended in scripture; and scripture speaketh much to the comfort of them. And truly, those that live in the fear of God, considering that they serve not only their carnal masters, but God himself, they be in a good case: but they may not be eye-servants. St Paul noteth this fault, and saith, that they shall not be murmurers, nor froward answerers. St Paul would have them to live so, that they may ornate and sanctify the name of God. For that servant that doth the thing whereunto he is called, he doth adorn his estate. That servant is a good gospeller, that will not be an eye-servant. There be some servants, which do their duties as long as their master is in sight; but as soon as their master is gone, they play the lubbers. Unto such fellows I say, "Beware." For though your bodily master see you not, yet your great Master, God, seeth you, and will punish you. Quod agis, toto pectore agito; "What thou doest, do it from the bottom of thy heart," with a good will. Go not away with the devil's Paternoster, as some do. Do all things with a good mind. For I tell you, you be not forgotten in scripture; you are much commended in the same. St Paul speaketh very honourably of you, saying, Domino Christo servitis; "You serve the Lord Christ." It becometh not you to put a difference what business you be commanded to do. For whatsoever it be, do it with a good will, and it is God's service. Therefore you ought to do it, in respect that God would have you to do so: for I am no more assured in my preaching that I serve God, than the servant is in doing such business as he is commanded to do; scouring the candlesticks, or whatsoever it be. Therefore, for God's sake, consider the matter. Some of you think, if Christ were here, you would go with him and serve him. I tell you, when you follow your service, and do such things as your master and mistress shall command you, you serve him as well as if he were here bodily. He is not here bodily now, but his word is here. Domino Christo servitis, saith St Paul: "You serve the Lord Christ." Therefore I desire you in God's behalf to walk uprightly and godly. Consider what God saith unto you: Maledictus qui facit opus Domini negligenter; "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently." This scripture pertaineth to you as well as to me. For when you do your business negligently, you be cursed before the face of God. Therefore consider the goodness of God, that he would have you as well saved as your masters. Surely, methinketh it is a great benefit of God, to be a servant. For those that keep houses must make account afore God for their family; they must watch and see that all things be well. But if a servant can discern what standeth with God's commandment, and what is against it, it is enough for him. But he must know that he ought not to obey his master or mistress when they would command him to do against God; in such a case he may refuse and withstand them. For it is written, "We must more obey unto God, than man": we should not do against God, to please our masters. Again, masters and mistresses are bound to consider their duties; to pay unto their servants their wages, and meat and drink convenient. For it is a great sin to defraud the labourer of his wages; for it is written, "The cry of the labourers shall come before the Lord." It is a great fault afore God to defraud them. But there be some servants which be so wicked, that they will complain without a cause, when they cannot have that that they would have, nor bear all the rule themselves. But I say, it is a great thing for a master to defraud his servant. And, again, the servant which hath his whole wages, and doth but half his work, or is a sluggard, that same fellow, I say, is a thief afore God. For like as the master ought to pay the whole wages, so likewise the servant ought to do his whole work.
Here I might have occasion to shew how man and wife ought to live together; how they ought to be faithful, loving, and friendly one to the other; how the man ought not to despise the wife, considering that she is partaker with him of everlasting life. Therefore the man ought cohabitare, "to dwell with her"; which is a great thing. Again, see how the woman ought to behave herself towards her husband; how faithful she ought to be. Now when they both yield their duties the one to the other, then they sanctify the name of God; but when they do contrary to their calling then they slander the holy name of God. Therefore let every man and woman walk in their vocations.
We must have a good and earnest mind and will to sanctify the name of God: for that person that prayeth, and desireth of God that his name may be hallowed, and yet hath no will nor pleasure, to do it indeed, this is not the right sanctifying of the name of God. St Peter teacheth us how we shall sanctify God's name, saying, Conversationem inter genies habentes bonam; "Have a good and holy conversation, live uprightly in your calling; so that your light may so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and so glorify God."
I will trouble you no longer. It is better a little well perceived and borne away, than a great deal heard and left behind. Consider wherefore our Saviour commandeth us to call God "Our Father"; then afterward weigh this "which art in heaven." Then come to the petition, "Hallowed be thy name;" weigh and consider this. For now is the time wherein the name of God should be hallowed: for it is a pitiful thing to see what rule and dominion the devil beareth, how shameless men be; how the name of God is brought in derision. Therefore let us say from the bottom of our heart, sanctificetur, "hallowed": that is to say, "Lord God, through thy goodness remove all wickedness; give us grace to live uprightly!" And so consider every word; for it is better one word spoken with good affection, than an hundred without it. Yet I do not say this to let you from saying the whole Paternoster; but I say, one word well said is better than a great many else. Read throughout all the scripture, and ye shall find that all faithful men have made but short prayers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Hezekiah. Our Saviour himself in the garden saith, Pater, si possible est, transeat a me calix iste, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." This was but a short prayer. Again he saith, Pater, ignosce illis, quia nesciunt quid faciunt: "Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do." The publican praying in the temple made but a short prayer, saying, Propitius esto mihi peccatori; "Lord, be merciful unto me a sinner." So the thief hanging upon the cross saith, Domine, memento mei cum veneris in regnum tuum; "Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom." Here was not much babbling. But I speak not this to dissuade you from long prayer, when the spirit and the affections do serve; for our Saviour himself spent a whole night in prayer.
Sanctificetur, "Hallowed be thy name": that is to say, "Lord, remove away thy dishonour; remove away sin; move them that be in authority to do their duties; move the man and wife to live rightly; move servants to do well." And so it should be a great grief unto us, when we should see any body dishonour the name of God, insomuch that we should cry out, "Our Father, hallowed be thy name." This one thing bear away with you above all others: consider that when we will come to God and talk with him, we must be penitent sinners, we must abhor sins, purpose to leave them, and to live uprightly; which grant us God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.