Imagini ale paginilor

1 Thess. ii. 13. that we may esteem it as the only infallible rule of faith and duty; that we may be enabled to hide it our hearts, that we may not sin against him, Psal. cxix. 11. And when we should draw nigh to him in prayer, in which he requires, that we should sanctify his name as a God all-suffcient, on whom we depend for the supply of our wants; a when we bless and praise him for what we have received, the the frame of our spirits may be suited to the spirituality and importance of the duty we are engaged in, that we may not be like those whom our Saviour speaks of, who draw nigh to him with their mouths, and honour him with their lips, while their heart is far from him, Matt. xv. 8.

3. As God makes himself known to us by his works, we are to beg of him, that in the work of creation, we may see and admire his eternal power and Godhead, and in his works of common providence, as upholding and governing all things, we may take occasion to adore the manifold wisdom of God, his almighty power, and the inexhaustible treasure of his goodness which appears therein: But more especially when he discovers himself in the gracious dispensations of his providence, in those things which have an immediate reference to our salvation, we are to beg of him, not only that he would enable us to look on them with admiration; but, particularly, to express our love and thankfulness to Christ our great Mediator and Advocate, as those who humbly trust and hope that we have an interest in him by faith. Thus concerning our requesting these things for ourselves.

We might here observe something concerning our doing it for others, for whom we are to pray, that they may have the highest esteem for God in all those respects and consequently that his name may be known throughout the whole world, not barely as the God of nature, but as he has revealed himself in his word; and therefore we are to pray, that the way of salva tion, by Christ, may be known, and his name adored and magnified as a Redeemer and Saviour in those parts of the world, which are, at present, destitute of gospel-light; and that, where the word is preached, it may be received with faith and love, that they who are called Christians may walk more becoming that relation which they stand in to the blessed Jesus. Thus concerning the subject-matter of our requests in this petition, respecting God's enabling us and others, to glorify him in every thing by which he makes himself known.

There are two things inferred from hence in the close of this


(1.) That when we pray, that God it is, in effect, to desire that he would thing which is dishonourable to it.

would sanctify his name, prevent and remove every Some things tend to cast

so great a reproach on the name of God, that sinners are hereby hardened in their opposition to him; as David, by his sin, is said to have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, 2 Sam. xii. 14. And God is highly dishonoured by those open and scandalous sins which are committed by such as make a profession of religion; whereby it appears that they are strangers to the power thereof, and lay a stumbling-block in the way of those who are too ready to take an estimate of the ways of God, from the conversation of them, who in words profess, but in works deny him. Some deny the very being, perfections and providence of God, or being ignorant of him, worship they know not what; and there are others who treat things sacred with profaneness and scurrility; and, instead of sanctifying the name of God, openly blaspheme and cast a contempt on all his sacred institutions. Therefore,

[1] We are to pray, that God would prevent and remove atheism. When persons not only act as though there were no God, but, with blasphemy, and daring insolence, express this in words: These are generally hardened in their iniquities, and bid defiance to his justice; as though they were, as it is said of the Leviathan, made without fear, Job xii. 33. and were not apprehensive of any ill consequences that will ensue hereupon. These are not to be convinced by arguments, though there is nothing that occurs in the works of creation and providence, but what might confute and put them to silence, did they duly attend to it: Therefore we are to pray, that God would assert his divine being and perfections, and give them some convincing proof thereof, by impressing the dread and terror of his wrath upon their consciences, that hereby they may learn not to blaspheme; or that he would give them that internal light, by which they may be brought to adore and sanctify his name. And whereas there are multitudes of practical atheists, who behave themselves as though there were no God to observe what they do, or punish them for it, therefore they presumptuously conclude, that they may rebel without being called to an account; we are to pray, that God, by his grace, would prevent and fence against prevailing impiety, by working a thorough reformation in the hearts of men, to the end that practical godliness may be promoted, and thereby he may be glorified.

[2.] We are to pray, that God would prevent and remove that ignorance which is inconsistent with persons sanctifying This respects, more especially the not knowing or enquiring into those great doctrines, which are of the highest importance, and more directly tend to the advancing the glory of God, and the obtaining eternal life. In these who are destitute of divine revelation, this ignorance is invincible; there

fore, with respect to such, we are to pray, that God would grant to them the means of grace, by sending his gospel among them; that they who sit in darkness, and in the region and sha dow of death, may have a glorious light shining about them, whereby they may be made acquainted with the way of salva tion by Jesus Christ: But there are others who sit under the sound of the gospel, and yet remain strangers to the great doc trines thereof, who have no love to the truth, and act as though it did not belong to them, to study the scriptures; these are wilfully ignorant, like those who are said to hate knowledge, and not to choose the fear of the Lord, Prov. i. 29. We are to pray, with regard to such, that in order to their sanctifying the name of God, they may be led into the knowledge of those great doctrines, in which the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is set forth, as it is in the work of redemption by Christ, together with the way in which righteousness and life may be attained; and that they may know what are those graces which are inseparably connected with, and necessary to sal


[s.] We are to pray, that God would prevent or remove idolatry; and that either such as is more gross and practised by the Heathen and others, who give that worship to creatures, that is due to God alone; or else, that idolatry which may be observed in the hearts and lives of many, who though they abhor the grosser acts thereof, are, nevertheless, guilty of this sin, in that they love the creature more than God. This is what we all are either chargeable with, or in danger of, which is directly contrary to our sanctifying the name of God: Therefore we are to pray, with respect to the former, that he would convince them what they falsely call worship, is a dishonour to, and abhorred by him; and, with respect to the latter, that he deserves our supreme love, and will not admit of any thing to stand in competition with him; and that he would enable us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength: And, in order hereunto, that he would deliver us from the iniquity of covetousness, or those inordinate affections, whereby we are inclined immoderately to pursue after the world, which is inconsistent with an heavenly conversation; and that we may be kept from self-seeking, or trusting to our own righteousness for justification, or giving that glory to any other which is due to God alone.

[4] We are also to pray for the preventing and removal of that profaneness which is contrary to the sanctifying the name of God; that persons may not give themselves that liberty, which many do, to treat things sacred in a common way, or make religion the subject of wit and drollery; which is very disgustful to the ears of those who have an awe of God on

their spirits, and altogether unbecoming persons professing godliness. We are also to beg, that God would deliver us from engaging in religious duties in a formal way, as though his name were to be sanctified only by an external shew or appearance of religion, without that internal frame or disposition of heart which is required in all those who draw nigh to him in an holy manner; and also that we may be kept from making any innovation in the worship of God, and thereby profane it, while we pretend to add to the beauty thereof, and its acceptableness in his sight; which is so far from hallowing his name, that it is highly provoking to him.

(2.) Another thing inferred from the account we have had of those methods by which the name of God is said to be sanctified, is, that we are to beg of him, that, by his overruling providence, he would direct and dispose of all things to his own glory. This is his immediate work; without which his name would not be sanctified by his creatures. And it consists in his bringing a revenue of glory to himself, out of those things that seem to be subversive of it. It is one of the glories of providence, that hereby God brings good out of evil, and renders some things subservient to his interest, which, in themselves, have a tendency to overthrow it.

This may be observed in several things consequent upon the sins and persecutions of the church. Thus when Israel revolted from God, by making the golden calf in the wilderness, he first humbled them greatly for it, and then spirited them with zeal to execute judgment on those who did not repent of it; and afterwards, when, at Moses's intreaty, he forgave this sin, he filled them with a zeal for the establishing his worship equal to that which had been expressed before in profaning his name; so that, as they then parted with their golden earrings, to make the idol which they worshipped, Exod. xxxii. 2, 3. now they make a very large contribution for the building of the tabernacle, chap. xxxv. 21-29. and xxxvi. 5, 6. And when, by their abominable idolatry, they had provoked God to give them into the hands of those that carried them captive into Babylon: This was so far over-ruled by his providence, as that they were never guilty of idolatry afterwards, whatever temptations they had to it therein; so that when they were returned from captivity, how much soever they were chargeable with want of zeal for the building the temple, and setting up public worship in it, Hag. i. 9. or, for many other crimes, in that the priests sought their secular interest rather than the glory of God, in performing several branches of their office in a profane manner, and thereby rendering the public worship contemptible, and offering the refuse of the flock in sacrifice to God, for which they were reproved by him,

Mal. i. 10. & seq. yet we never find them reproved for idolatry after their captivity. This some think to be the meaning of that vision which the prophet Zechariah had of the woman who was called wickedness, sitting in the midst of Ephah; and this being born by two women that had wings like the wings of a stork into the land of Shinar, viz. Chaldea, to build an house for it, Zech. v. 7,-11. so that it might there be established, and set upon her own base, intimating that the idolatry of the Heathen should not spread itself among the Israelites as it had done, but be confined to those parts of the world which had set it up before; and therefore this is considered as what was the proper seat thereof, and not the church. And this seems also to be foretold by the prophet Hosea, when he says, that the children of Israel, after they had been many days without a king, without a priest, and without a sacrifice; adds, that they should be without an image, Hos. iii. 4. The former was an affliction, and denotes, that they should have their civil and religious state broken and discontinued; the latter seems to intimate, that providence would so far over-rule this, that they should be disinclined and averse to idolatry, as they are at this day, though, in other respects, altogether alienated from God. And all the persecutions which the church has met with from its enemies, with a design to bring about its ruin and destruction, have been over-ruled for the furtherance of the gospel. Thus when Saul, before his conversion, made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison; so that a great persecution was raised against it by his instigation; and the people of God could not meet safely at Jerusalem, but were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, Acts viii. 1,—5. this was ordered, by the providence of God, for the greater spread of the gospel, so that the Samaritans received the word of God. And in following ages, we may observe, that whatever attempts have been made against the interest of Christ in the world, they have, contrary to the design of his enemies, been made subservient to the promoting its greater advancement, as some have observed, that the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church; and herein the Psalmist's prediction has been fulfilled, Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain, Psal. Ixxvi. 10. and oftentimes, when the gospel has, like the sea, lost ground in one part of the world, it has gained it in another.

Moreover, we may observe, that God glorifies his holiness by over-ruling the falls and miscarriages of particular believers, as hereby they are made more humble, watchful, and circumspect for the future; and, when restored from their backslidings, put upon admiring his grace, and excited to thankfulness,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »