The Reverential Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
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The REVERENTIAL Spirit of the Lord's Prayer.
"Hallowed be Your Name. " Matthew 6:9
Paternal as the Name of God is, it yet is HOLY. Instructing us in the most intimate and confiding communion possible for man to hold with God--the communion of a child--our Lord yet sought to invest it with the profoundest reverence of the saint. In teaching us that God was our Father, He would also remind us that, "holy and reverend is His name." That, while our access to Him may be filial and trustful, it must also be holy and reverential--hallowing the name we address as Father.
Who could teach us this truth as Christ taught it? He only could read the dreadful syllables of that divine name. It was essentially in Him. He had come from heaven with robes from which flowed the luster of holiness. Back to the confines of that heaven He would lead us, by teaching us that it was the metropolis of our Father, and the great center of purity. He knew how God's name was hallowed there. With what solemn strains it breathed from the harps of glorified saints! and with what trembling awe it dwelt upon the lips of Seraphim and Cherubim, as they cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" He had come down to make it as hallowed on earth as in heaven. Disarming our sinful mind of its natural dread of God, by teaching us to approach Him as our Father; and lest, through the depravity which taints and deforms all our holy things, there should arise a feeling or sentiment derogatory of the divine honor, our Lord touches as with a living ember from the altar of heaven's worship the lips of His disciples, and bids them say, "Hallowed be Your name." Thus did He unite in the act of prayer, reverence and love--reverence disarming love of undue familiarity, and love divesting reverence of servile awe. "Hallowed be Your name."
This petition may be considered as taking precedence in the Lord's Prayer, as it most properly should; since all other things must resolve themselves into the manifestation of the divine glory. The disciples are thus taught to pray that Jehovah's name might be hallowed. In other words, that His name might be glorified. It was worthy of the Great Teacher who had come to reveal His Father's glory, to place in the foreground of the blessings petitioned by the Church, the glorifying of God, as the first and the last great end we were to seek. As all things, all beings, and all events spring from the glory of God, so all terminate in His glory. It is a solemn truth that, saved or lost, all intelligent beings were made for God, and all shall result in the hallowing of His great and majestic name.
The NAME OF GOD is a word of dreadful and significant import. It is nothing less than GOD HIMSELF. It is frequently employed to signify His being, sometimes His authority, and at other times His word and worship; but always resolves itself in God Himself. The grand view here presented of God is--His holiness. Whatever perfections compose His name, those perfections are holy, and are to be hallowed and held in reverence by all His creatures. We are not, therefore, surprised to find with what solemnity of manner and emphasis of language God has revealed and guarded the sanctity of His name.
"Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me, says the Lord." What an impressive illustration of the holiness of God is this! Here we are taught, that so holy is the Name of God--so holy is God Himself-that even in the very act, and at the very moment, of hallowing, we may unwittingly profane it! This the children of Israel might do by eating, while ceremoniously unclean, the offerings which the priests had sanctified. And the priests themselves, who bore the vessels of the sanctuary and presented the offerings of the people, might be ceremoniously unclean, and so defile, by their unhallowed touch, the vessel and the sacrifice. So truly and solemnly has Jehovah declared, "I will be sanctified in those who come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified."
Is there no danger of our falling into a like sin? May we not wave before God a censer flaming with "strange fire," or present a sacrifice which our unwashed hands have tainted and marred? May we not offer to Him "the blind, and the lame, and the diseased?"--the dregs and drivellings of our talents, our property, and our time--offerings we would shrink from presenting to man--unholy sacrifices presented to the holy, and dead sacrifices to the living Lord God? "You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? And isn't it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!" says the Lord Almighty." Malachi 1:7-8
How pertinent and impressive the charge addressed by God to the ministers of Christ's gospel, and to all employed in His service, "Be holy, you that bear the vessels of the Lord!" Who can listen to these words of deep, solemn import--remembering the imperfections that have traced, the iniquities that have tainted, and the failures that have attended much that we have done for the Lord--the errors of judgment, the duplicity of heart, the self-seeking and man-pleasing; the languor of love, the lukewarmness of zeal, the admixture of unbelief; the unholy motive and idolatrous end which have attached to all our professedly holy doings; how little we have been influenced by love to Christ and actuated by glory to God--who, I ask, can review all this, and not place his mouth in the dust in the solemn consciousness of having polluted and profaned God's holy name? What a heart-searching consideration this for both ministers and people!
In most holy engagements, in most spiritual services, in most close communion, in most costly offerings--what need of vigilance, and self-examination, and prayer, lest we profane rather than hallow--insult rather than honor the Name of the Most High God! And when all is done--when, from the holy altar of our God we retire to the solemn sanctuary of our chamber--what need have we to prostrate ourselves before Him in confession, and repair to the blood-sprinkling of that great and merciful High Priest who has made an Atonement for His people, as well for their holy as for their unholy things!
How strongly is this truth shadowed forth in the type of Aaron and the children of Israel. Speaking of the medallion of pure gold put upon the forefront of Aaron's mitre, upon which was engraved "Holiness to the Lord," this was the divine instruction, "Aaron will wear it on his forehead, thus bearing the guilt connected with any iniquity of the holy things of the people of Israel. He must always wear it so the Lord will accept the people." Solemnly instructive truth! The Lord Jesus Christ, our true Aaron, has in His own person made atonement for the "iniquity of the holy things" of His saints; and now in glory, upon that head once crowned with thorns, that "head so full of bruises," is still wearing the mitre which insures the purification from all taint, and the divine acceptance of our persons and offerings as holy sacrifices unto the most holy Lord God.
It is a most instructive view of the subject of this chapter to mark the profound sanctity in which God regards His own name--which is nothing less than a holy regard of Himself. He is said to be jealous of it. "Thus says the Lord God, I will be jealous for my holy name." Jealous of its divinity, jealous of its sanctity, jealous of its honor. Jealousy in the fallen creature is an infirmity and a sin; but jealousy in the holy Lord God is a divine and holy perfection. Think of this, you who despise that name, you who forget it, you who refuse to acknowledge it, you who lightly regard and profanely use it--remember that God is jealous of its honor, and will by no means clear the guilty who trample it beneath their unhallowed feet. "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God."
See, also, the MOTIVE-POWER with God which His great name supplies. "Thus says the Lord God, I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake." For the credit, for the glory of His holy name He does it. What will He not do for His name's sake? From what difficulty will He not deliver you, from what temptation save you, from what need rescue you, and what good thing withhold if we but plead in believing prayer the honor, the glory of His great and holy name? See how Joshua pleaded it--"And what will You do with Your great name?"
Such, also, is the power belonging to the NAME OF JESUS! Most imperfectly are we acquainted with its preciousness on earth, its prevalence in heaven. What suppliant will not the Father accept, what supplication will He not grant, presented in the name of Christ? What sinner will He not receive, and what sin will He not pardon, for the sake of that name which is above every name, the incense of which fills heaven with its fragrance? Jesus says, "Whatever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you."
How divinely and touchingly, also, has God associated His name with the lowliest grace in the soul. "Thus says the lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." Never did a soul shelter itself beneath the majestic name of God with a warrant more divine, or with a welcome more cordial, than he who approaches it in a penitent, contrite, and humble spirit. Never was its holy and solemn shield thrown around a sinner so completely and so lovingly as him. O Lord! withhold what gifts, refuse what blessing, or take away what good You may, grant me graciously the contrite and humble spirit, overshadowed by the love, the sanctity, and the power of Your paternal name!
And see how God notices the hallowing of His name by His people. Speaking of Levi, God says, "The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and this is what I gave them. This called for reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name." Malachi 2:5. Who that understands in any degree the solemn import, and realizes the divine holiness of God's name, will not fear and reverence it? But is this hallowing of God's name a sentiment deep and practical even among some who would startle at the charge of profaning it? Are we not often betrayed into the use of it thoughtlessly, irreverently, and needlessly? And may not in our ordinary, and even our religious phraseology sometimes be traced a degree of profanity, unintentional and unsuspected by ourselves, yet not the less chargeable with the sin of taking God's name in vain? What exclamations of surprise more common to many individuals than these--"God bless me!"--"My God!"--"Good God!"--"Good gracious!"--"A Godsend!"--"God knows!"--"Good heavens!"--all phraseology irreverent and undevout, infringing closely upon the third command of the divine decalogue, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain."
And will not this remark apply with equal appropriateness and force to the heedless and flippant manner in which the National Anthem of England is frequently quoted and sung? Do we not too frequently forget that this patriotic and spirit--stirring composition, unsurpassed for its sublimity and pathos, is a solemn prayer addressed to Heaven? that it is a nation's invocation to the Most High God, on behalf of its earthly sovereign, blended with that majestic Name which breathes in trembling awe from the lips of Seraphim and Cherubim? With what profound reverence, then, should it be ever quoted, and with what devout feeling should it be ever sung! When referring to it in ordinary conversation, would it not be more reverential to quote it as the "National Anthem," rather than be betrayed into a flippant and irreverent mention of that Divine Being with whose great name the prayer is associated? That subject's heart is the most loving and loyal to an earthly sovereign which enshrines the profoundest sentiment of affection and reverence for the Divine. From his heart of hearts will every true Christian in the realm send up to heaven his devout and fervent prayer in its widest compass of meaning, "God save the Queen!"
Examples of the solemn reverence in which God's name has been held by individuals and nations are not lacking. It is recorded of Locke, the great logician, that he never used the name of God without uncovering his head. And it is well known to those who have traveled in Turkey, that a Muslim will never tread upon a piece of paper lest perhaps the Divine Name should be imprinted upon it. A diviner philosophy than Locke's, and a purer faith than the Mohammedan's, teaches us reverentially to fear and devoutly to use the name of God Most High.
Under this head, the reverence for which I plead, constrains me to place all species of LEVITY on sacred subjects. Nothing more quickly or truly indicates an irreverent and undevout mind than this. The individual that can provoke a smile, or indulge in a cleverness, or shape a witticism at the expense of what is divine and sacred, is undevout indeed. He who can treat a light manner any religious subject, who can speak lightly of prayer, turn the Bible into a jest-book, and intersperse secular conversation with religious phraseology or Scripture language in sport, may well pause in heart-searching thought, before he breathe to Heaven the solemn petition--"Hallowed be Your name." Will the great God hold such an irreverent and profane mind guiltless?
Let me proceed to show IN WHAT WAY GOD HAS HIMSELF HALLOWED HIS OWN NAME. From the earliest revelation of His will, God has been intent upon this great matter--the vindication of the holiness and supremacy of His great name. His entire work of creation has been to make His name--which is Himself--known and renowned in the earth. All nature testifies to its existence, illustrates its power, and reflects its glory.
Bold unblushing atheist! you are rebuked and confounded by the heavens above you and by the earth beneath you. Creation, in its countless wonders and beauties, witnesses for its Maker and hymns His praise; while you, His intelligent and deathless creature, in the depravity of your heart do boldly declare, "There is no God!" or, in the deeper depravity of your life exclaim, "No God for me!" How will you tremble in the last dreadful day! As these heavens are rolled up in a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth passes away, they will do homage to the power and the fiat of their Creator; while you will stand at His dread bar convicted, sentenced, and condemned for the crime of having sought to efface His being, His name, His glory from the universe.
Believer in Christ! read the name of God in the works and wonders of creation! Your Father in heaven made them all, your Redeemer molded them all, the sanctifying Spiritquickened them all, and all testify to the power and wisdom and goodness of Him who permits you in filial love to call Him--"Father!"
God has hallowed His name in His revealed Word. I have already fortified this statement by quotations from inspired truth. It has been shown with what distinctness of revelation, and solemnity of manner, God has unveiled and guarded the holiness and greatness of His name. "You have magnified Your Word above Your name." That is, God has put a greater glory upon His Word because that Word is a clearer revelation of Himself, than He has upon any other manifestation of His name. Creation confounds atheism; but revelation, a clearer manifestation of God, resolves conjecture into certainty, and doubt into assurance. So that the revealed Word of God is a greater magnifying of His name than any other illustration of its divinity. This, clearly, is the meaning of the passage, "You have magnified Your Word above Your name"--that is, above every other manifestation of Your name.
To deny, then, the truth of the Bible, to throw suspicion upon its integrity, or to tamper in any degree, or with any part of revealed truth, is an act of profanity against Jehovah, the guilt of which is only paralleled by its punishment. Either the Bible is true, or it is not true. Either it is wholly inspired, or it is not at all inspired. "It is the Bible, or it is no Bible." To suppose that God, all whose works are finished and complete, would communicate an imperfect revelation of His mind and will to man; that He would construct and preserve, through all ages of the world and through all the changes of time, a book partly divine and partly human, partly apocryphal and partly gospel, in which falsehood and truth were closely and strangely intermixed, is to suppose that the only work He has left imperfect, is His master-work of all--that which was intended to be the most complete and finished revelation of Himself; and thus to weaken all our convictions of God's perfection, and to falsify all our belief of His goodness.
The modern assaults of skepticism upon the Bible have called forth a host of able and ardent defenders of its truth. I am, however, not a little apprehensive that even in the defense of the Bible some of its honest and zealous champions may not have started theories of inspiration as perplexing to the minds of the unlearned friends of the Bible, as involving unguarded and undesigned concessions to its foes. But, setting aside these various hypotheses--what inspiration is, and what it is not--how far the plenary, the dynamical, the human element extends--the humble believer will take his stand upon the divine averment, which no reasoning has yet been able to overthrow, that, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God;" that, "holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit;" and thus he will receive the Bible as divine, as the truth of God, as the whole truth of God, and as nothing but the truth of God.
This may be thought a short and easy method of disposing of the whole question, but we believe it to be a perfectly logical and safe one. There is no middle ground with regard to inspiration. It admits of no compromise, allows of no classification, submits to no analysis. The Bible is WHOLLY divine, or it is not divine at all. It is not enough to say that it contains the word of God; it IS the Word of God. To affirm that this part is inspired, and that the other is not; to teach that this book or chapter or verse is of man, and the rest is of God, is a solemn, a perilous trifling with that Book which Jehovah has exalted above all His name. If God smote the men of Bethshemesh, because that, with profane eye, they peered into the ark, do you think that He will hold him guiltless who denies the truth, impugns the integrity, or tampers with the sanctity of the divine ark of His revealed Word?
But even, where the truth of the Bible is fully received, may there not exist on some occasions a tendency to deal lightly with God's Word, closely approximating a profane handling of its contents? In this light must be regarded all flippant quotations of Scripture, all attempts to perpetrate a pun, or to give utterance to jest or witticism, at the expense of the dignity and sanctity of God's holy Volume. Not such was David's spirit. His language was, "My heart stands in awe of Your word." Princes were banded against him, but he heeded not their persecutions nor stood in awe of their power. But he had a high regard, and holy reverence, and a devout affection for God's Word. He stood in awe of it--in awe of its divinity, of its revelations, of its holiness, of Him whose word it was! How low must be the spiritual state of that religious professor, how irreverent the mind, how earthly the heart, that can deal lightly with the Bible, that can treat it as a common book, as the record of men, and not, as it is in truth, the Word of God! What says the Divine Author of the Scriptures? "To that man will I look, even unto him who is of a humble and a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word." It is a distinctive mark of the truly regenerate mind that it stands in awe of God's Word. "I would advise you all that come to the reading or hearing of this book, which is the Word of God, the most precious jewel and most holy relic that remains upon earth, that you bring with you the fear of God, and that you do it with all due reverence, and use your knowledge thereof, not to vain--glory of frivolous disputation, but to the honor of God, increase of virtue, and edification both of yourselves and others." Oh that the Word of God may be increasingly precious to our souls! All other writings in comparison are diluted and insipid, and fail to meet our case. The knowledge of sin sweetens it, the season of affliction explains it, the time of adversity endears it, the voice of the rod enforces it, the mercy, loving--kindness, and faithfulness of the Lord confirm our faith in its truth, while the assaults of its foes and the treachery of its friends but make it all the more precious to our hearts. "How sweet are your words unto my taste! yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" "Your word is very pure, therefore your servant loves it."
"Lord, I have made Your word my choice,
My lasting heritage;
These shall my warmest powers rejoice,
My warmest thoughts engage.
"I'll read the histories of Your love,
And keep Your laws in sight,
While through Your promises I roam
With ever fresh delight.
"Tis a broad land of wealth unknown,
Where springs of life arise
Seeds of immortal bliss are sown,
And hidden glory lies.
"The best relief that mourners have,
It makes our sorrows blest;
Our fairest hopes beyond the grave,
And our eternal rest."
But nowhere has God so hallowed His great and holy Name as in the LORD JESUS CHRIST. In the words addressed by Jehovah to the children of Israel, in reference to the Angel who guided their journeyings, there is a remarkable shadowing forth of this truth. Thus we read--"Behold, I send my Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him, and obey His voice, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your transgressions--for My name is in Him," (Exod. 23:20-21.) Of whom does God here speak, but of the Lord Jesus Christ, the uncreated Angel--the Angel of God's presence, who was with the Israelites at the receiving of the law in Mount Sinai--who saved and redeemed them, and carried them all the days of old, and against whom they rebelled, and whom they tempted in the wilderness.
That this Angel was no less a being than Christ, is manifest. He alone, as God, possessed the prerogative of pardoning sin, the exercise or the withholding of which this Angel possessed. It would be absurd to say that He would not pardon, were not the power held in His hands, of exercising this divine prerogative. Thus, then, this Angel whom the Israelites were to follow and obey, was none other than Christ. Now, God's Name was in Christ--His divine Name--His paternal Name--His pardoning Name--His gracious Name--His Name of "Love." It is in the light of this truth, that we understand the words of our intercessory High Priest's memorable prayer when on earth, "I have manifested Your name unto the men whom You gave Me out of the world. I have declared unto them Your name."
Nowhere has God made His Name so conspicuous, glorious, and precious as in Jesus. It is true, I breathe its fragrance in the scented air, see its beauty in the vernal landscape, adore its wisdom in the heavens above me; but I am conscious of its power, and taste its love, and behold its glory alone in Christ. I behold it in nature, but I feel it in Jesus. It is only by faith in Jesus I properly read the Name of God. The works of creation, multiform and beautiful, are but the syllables of God's Name--His Name abbreviated. But in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, His Name is written in full, and with His own hand--Jehovah-Jesus.
Our Lord's whole life was a continuous sanctifying of His Father's Name. Everywhere, and in every act, He acknowledged its divinity, upheld its authority, vindicated its sanctity, magnified and illustrated its greatness. God's Name was in Him--and the solemn consciousness of being the sacred depository of so great, holy, and awesome a treasure--invested with the beauty and perfumed with the fragrance of holiness, every thought, word, and act of His life. His obedience to God's holy law, His zeal for His Father's honor, His jealousy of His Father's glory, His full redemption of the Church, entrusted to His hands by God, was a living comment on the petition He daily taught, "Hallowed be Your Name."
Reader, beware of Him, and obey Him, for God's great and holy Name is in Him! You approach not a mere creature, you deal not with a finite being in your transactions with the Lord Jesus Christ. Beware of Him! It is not a human Name you profane, it is not a created being you deny, it is not a subordinate authority you denounce, when you deny His Deity, reject His Atonement, and trample His truth and claims to your love, faith and obedience, in the dust. You tear the robe of dignity from an infinite being; you pluck the crown of royalty from a kingly brow; you trample in the dust the sacrificial work of a Divine Redeemer. Oh, beware of His anger, beware of His power, lest, at last, you be numbered among those who will hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and exclaim, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
But you who are hidden in this Rock need not dread that day; for the Name of Jehovah Jesus will then be your strong tower, into which you shall run and be safe. Upon the Rock, and within the Rock, you need not fear that it will fall upon you and grind you to powder. You have contemplated God's great Name as it flashed in the lightning and reverberated in the thunder of Mount SINAI, and you have been petrified with fear. Approach Mount CALVARY, and read God's Name, written in crimson letters upon the cross, and you will dissolve into love. Believe in Christ, and the "peace of God, which passes all understanding," will diffuse its divine serenity through your soul. You have not come unto the mount that burns with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest; but you have come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, and grace will hide you there while His judgments pass you by.
God hallows His Name in HIS DEALINGS WITH HIS SAINTS. In some of those dealings clouds and darkness may veil the brightness and tenderness of His name. "Verily, you are a God that hides yourself." Nevertheless, profoundly dark and inexplicably mysterious as His way often is with His people, His gracious Name of "Father," remains unchanged and unchangeable. His very Name is a pledge of covenant faithfulness, "The Lord will not forsake His people, for His great Name's sake." He might find ample reason to justify His abandonment of them in their own inconstancy and unfaithfulness, rebellions and backslidings; but because of His own name He will never cast them off. That name binds Him to the fulfillment of every covenant promise, to the protection of His Church in all her history; to His presence with His people in all their sufferings, trials and needs.
So great, so holy, so sacred to Jesus is it, that for His honor and glory He will never leave nor forsake His people. Plead this truth in believing prayer when His providences appear to contravene His promises; when He hides Himself, and you cannot perceive Him; when His frowns veil His smiles; when the waters come in upon your soul, and you cry, "Lord! save me--I am perishing." Then cling to this divine, this potent name; for its holiness, its faithfulness, its honor, pledge Him never to forsake you. "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it, and is safe."
Speak we of God's dealings in the forgiveness of His people's sin? Again, His Name is hallowed--"I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for my own sake." In other words, for His Name's sake, which stands for His whole being. Thus may the saints, burdened with guilt, stricken with sorrow for sin, approach God with holy boldness, suing out their renewed forgiveness, since, not for their sakes, but for His own sake--for His great Name's sake--God will blot out their sins, and will remember their transgressions no more.
Speak we of the dreary path the children of the light often tread? Still is God's Name hallowed by their trust in it. "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the Name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." What a strong staff to lean upon--what a sure lamp to trust to in one's dreary way, is the Name of Jehovah! expressive of every divine perfection, and filling the soul with ineffable delight.
But the question now occurs, How is God's name to be hallowed? Before, however, we supply the answer, let there be a deep and solemn conviction of the fact, that our Father's great and holy Name is everywhere dishonored. The sin of profanity is one of the great social evils of society. The irreverent and undevout use of God's awesome Name confronts us everywhere, and on all occasions. It may truly be said that, "because of swearing the land mourns." What place is entirely exempt from the existence and guilt of this sin? In the pulpit, occupied by the prophet who prophesies lies in God's Name--His Name is profaned. In the sanctuary, where heartless prayer, and vain repetitions, and ritualistic forms take the place of pure, spiritual, and holy worship--God's Name is profaned. By the press, in much of the popular literature of the day--the story, the narrative, the song--God's Name is profaned. On the boards of the theater, in the orchestra of the opera, in the "tuneful choir" of the sacred oratorio, in which divine worship is mimicked, and the majestic Name of the Divine Object of worship is undevoutly, and even defiantly used--God's Name is profaned. In the witness box, where stands the man who calls the God of truth and justice to sanction his deception and perjury--God's Name is profaned. In the desecration of His holy day--the Sunday newspaper, the Sabbath-train, the selling and the buying, the casting of accounts, the writing of letters, the making of calls, the forsaking of God's sanctuary, and lightly regarding the ministry of His word--God's Name is profaned. In view of these willful and flagrant breaches of His law, may not God, in truth, exclaim--"My Name continually, every day, is blasphemed!" How should the children of God sigh and cry for this great sin! But we turn to a brighter view of the subject.
HOW MAY THE CHILDREN OF GOD HONOR AND HALLOW THEIR FATHER'S NAME? That we cannot make it more holy is obvious; and yet we may hallow it. First, bya deepening sense of its holiness. We cannot grow in a knowledge of God without growing in a conviction of His holiness. And it is no small attainment in our spiritual training for heaven. Superficial views of the divine holiness irresistibly lead to superficial views of sin. What an exceeding sinful thing does sin appear when placed in the searching light of God's infinite holiness! "You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance."--"The light of Your countenance!" Terrible mirror! seen through this divine medium, how real, how dark those hidden sins of the heart appear, of which no being but God is cognizant! Faithful glass! reflected from its divine lens--the infinitely holy perfections of Jehovah--we startle at that, the sin of which we had not seen, the very existence of which we had not suspected. And but for the cleansing of Christ's blood, and the shelter of His arms, where could we fly? Thus we hallow our Father's Name by a growing sight of its infinite purity, and by a deepening hatred and abhorrence of our sin.
This deep conviction of its holiness will constrain us to guard its sanctity with the most jealous vigilance. How fearful and widespread is the sin of profanity! Do not multitudes, many professing and calling themselves Christians, "blaspheme that worthy Name by which you are called?" Are we duly affected by this fact? Do we stand up in vindication of God's honor? With what filial affection and wakeful jealousy a loving, dutiful child will shield the honor of his father, and vindicate the purity of his mother's name--that name bequeathed to them in death--an unsullied and precious legacy. Could such a child listen, but with burning indignation, and with almost murderous resentment, to the slander and the insult which envy and revenge, falsely and maliciously, should cast upon a memory so sacred and so dear? And shall the name of an inferior and erring parent be more sacredly reverenced and vigilantly guarded than the worthy Name by which we are called--the Name of our Father in heaven?
Let us see that we be ever faithful to God, loyal to Christ, by vindicating our Father's honor, by meekly yet firmly rebuking the swearer and checking the profane. Remind them that God will not regard as venial lapses the unhallowed intermixture with our conversation and our literature His Name, in that day when He shall arraign the world He once made and will then judge. You profane ones! you guard with the most jealous and sleepless care the integrity and the honor of your own sinful, paltry name, while in your story and your jest, your falsehood and your frivolous talk, you profane and dishonor the dread Name of the Father in heaven--the holy Lord God Almighty. How shall you escape the damnation of hell?
We may hallow God's Name by bringing it into the daily exercise of faith. It is our Father's Name, carved in the humanity of His Son. In the daily walk and battle of faith, we are to make constant use of it. The knowledge of it is to deepen our reverence, inspire our love, encourage our trust, comfort our hearts, and embolden our supplications at the throne of grace. We are constantly, and in everything, with godly fear and filial confidence, to deal with the Name of our Father in heaven. "Those who know Your Name will put their trust in You." "Do for me, O God, for Your Name's sake." "For Your Name's sake, pardon my iniquity, for it is great." "Quicken me, O Lord, for Your Name's sake." "Unite my heart to fear Your Name." "For Your Name's sake, lead me and guide me." "I have remembered Your Name in the night." "Bring my soul out of prison, that I might praise Your Name." "Your Name [Jesus] is as ointment poured forth." Thus do the children of God hallow their Father's Name by running into it, pleading it, casting themselves upon it in all times of trial and difficulty and need. By pureness, by faith, by sincere love, ever remembering that God's divine and holy Name is in us, we are to move amid the darkness and the taint of the world as a living, flaming censer, shedding around us the light, and wafting above us the sweet odor, of our sanctity--so hallowing God's great Name.
By a meek, submissive spirit, under the discipline of our Father's correcting hand, we hallow His Name. So long as there is any collision of our will with His; so long as we cherish the secret feeling of rebellion and hostility to His dealings, we cease to sanctify it. I believe that the highest honoring of God's Name, on the part of the children of His adopting grace and love is, in saying from the heart, "Your will, not mine, be done." Suffering child of God! afflicted saint of the Most High! in what a favorable position are you now placed for magnifying and hallowing your Father's great Name! Oh, what luster the meek and humble, quiet and silent yielding of your spirit to Him may shed upon its paternal holiness! How may you glorify God in these fires! How may you magnify Christ's Name before the world, endear it to the saints, and glorify it in the eyes of angels, by meekly bowing your head in the storm, exclaiming, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?"
And, most surely, we hallow it by a full, implicit, believing trust in the Name, and person, and work of Jesus. There can be no proper hallowing of God's Name, while there is any slighting of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father will have us honor the Son, the most beloved of His heart, even as we honor Him. "He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father, who has sent Him." We cannot entertain too exalted views of the Lord Jesus. Our great danger is, the reverse of this. In honoring the Son, we hallow the Name of the Father. To Jesus we are to repair, as to the great Depositary of the Father's fullness--divine and mediatorial. "In Him dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily"--Essentially. "It pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell"-- Mediatorially. Now, we glorify God by living a life of faith upon this supply, by drawing largely from this fullness, by heavy drafts upon this infinite sufficiency of merit and grace and strength and love.
Every sin you take to Christ's blood--every corruption you take to His grace--every need you take to His supply--every sorrow you take to His heart--every burden you hang upon His arm--you impart a deeper emphasis to this sublime petition, "Hallowed be Your Name."
How endeared to our heart should the Savior be, since the Father's Name is revealed and glorified through Him, and by us in Him! We must ever keep in mind the grand central truth of the Bible, that Christ is the great Revealer of God. All other religion but this is sentimental and unsaving. It is not seeing the glory of God in the panorama of nature that will save, but seeing the "glory of God in the face of Jesus." It is not even seeing God through Christ, but it is seeing God in Christ, "God manifest in the flesh." By creation, I know that there is a God; but in the God-man, the man Christ Jesus, I see what God is--how holy, how gracious, how merciful, how compassionate, how loving! How near does this bring God to us, and us to God, and by a medium that links Him in sympathy with all that I am as human; while it unites me in grace and glory with all that He is as Divine! We see what the life of the believer should be--a daily magnifying the Name of the Lord Jesus; for in doing we hallow the Name of our Father in heaven.
It is a solemn thought that the Name of Christ is in every child of God. Our character is more sacred, our position more responsible, our dignity more exalted than the angels' in heaven. We are temples of God, through Christ and by the Spirit. How closely entwined, then, should the Lord Jesus be with our every thought, and feeling, and act! How should we hallow His illustrious and precious Name, by conformity to His precepts, obedience to His commandments, consecration to His service. Christ should be associated with all we are, with all we have, and with all we do. For us to live should be Christ. The oneness of Christ and the believer admits of no divided interests. Christ has taken us into union with His person, identifying us with all the blessings of His grace, and with all the glories of His kingdom.
We should, therefore, be jealous and watchful lest any object, or creature, or self-seeking, should insinuate itself between Christ and our unreserved dedication. If Christ maintains intact this undivided supremacy in our souls, all other objects will subordinate themselves to Him, and He will be all in all. Our talents, our property, our rank, our time, our whole being, will be the spontaneous offering of love laid at His feet; and the "name of our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in us, and we in Him," and so God's great Name will be hallowed.
Nor will it terminate here. There awaits every disciple and confessor of Christ, the reward of grace. At the glorious appearing of our Lord, the imperfect service we did for His cause--the little suffering we endured for His Name--the short period we bore His cross, will brighten into a crown of life, and deepen into a sea of joy, and bloom into a paradise of glory, and expand into an eternity of bliss. "Unto you who fear My Name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings."
It is a truth as inevitably certain as it is overwhelmingly solemn, that God's great Name will be hallowed by all beings, either in mercy or in vengeance. It must be so! Not the shadow of a shade will rest upon the divine glory of that majestic, that holy Name. The love it expresses, the holiness it contains, the justice it embodies, the power it wields, will be displayed either in the salvation or in the condemnation of every being of the human race. It will be glorified in its mercy or in its justice, by every saint in paradise, and by every sinner in Tophet. The voluptuous Dives, sitting in state and feasting on his good things; and the ulcerated Lazarus, pining in poverty at his gate, fed with the crumbs that fell from his table, will wake the echoes of that Name through eternity--the one in groans of despair piercing the dark regions of hell, the other in anthems of praise, floating in sweetest music over the sunlight plains of heaven. JUSTICE or MERCY must be the doom, and will be the theme of all.
What, my reader, will yours be? Deem it not difficult to decide. Emigrants to a foreign land know to what port they are bound. The voyagers to eternity may know, to an appropriate certainty, where they are going. Heaven and Hell commence on earth. Are you among those who do not hallow God's Name? Responding to this petition, it may be, in the heartless devotions of each Sabbath, do you yet, in the transactions of daily life, regard it with indifference, or in social communion breathe it with profanity? Do you think that that tongue which has taken His great and holy Name in vain; that those lips which impurity has defiled, and oaths have blistered, can unite in the holy music of heaven? Impossible! There remains but one doom for the profane--he goes "to his own place!" Decide scripturally, decide solemnly, decide now. Heaven or Hell await the issue!
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