« PreviousContinue »
the name of God, according to the fecondary explication here given of it.
Was it in our power to make any addi, tion to the Holiness of God's Nature, or to add to his effential Glory in any respect whatsoever, certainly in point of gratitude we ought to do it, nay should be exceeding glad that we are able to make some return; for the mercies we have received at his hands, As there is no pleasure which is. more sincere, no virtue which conveys greater delight along with it than the res. turning of obligations, unless it is the conferring them, what a delightful piece. of service muft it be to a generous soul to indulge her gratitude to God, and in some measure acquit herself of her obligations, by hallowing his name. The fatisfaction arifing herefrom would be cheaply bought, tbough the performance was. .
laborious and difficult; and the delight resulting from the action, when accomplished, would amply overpay all the labour undergone in the accomplishment of it.
Supposing then, that to hallow God's name was a laborious task, whereas it is moft eafy and pleasant, and that it was profitable to God, but not in the least to ourselves, gratitude should even then be fufficient to induce us to perform it. Our sincere hallowing of God's name doth not render him one whit more holy, who is in himfelf holy above all that is called holy; doth not render him in the least more glorious, who is in himself great above all glory; our becoming faithful subjects of his kingdom doth not at all encrease his dominion, who in the right of his own essential pera fections ruleth over all; nor our zealous
performance of, and submission to, his will, make any addition to his authority who doeth whatsoever he will in Heaven and in earth. It is for our own fakes therefore that we are taught thus to pray, and required thus to act; that by so doing we may render ourselves proper objects of God's goodness, and partake of the blessed effects of his beneficence.
Notwithstanding all this, how few are there, if we look into the world, who are worthy repeaters of this petition, who hallow the name of God as they ought. Some, and those not a few in this right honourable age of infidelity, wholly deny the Being of a God; others allow him indeed a bare existence, but impiously strip him of his attributes, and deny his Providence; whilft
many who profess the Christian faith, and call themselves the Vol. IV.
children of God, dishonour him by their wicked and profligate life, and bring into contempt, and cause to be evil spoken of, that holy name whereby they are called.
Never did greater levity appear than in the present age. All things serious, folemn, and sacred are wantonly thrown by, or treated only as proper subjects of ridicule; and the religion of Christ, which ought to warm the hearts and influence the practice of its professors, is no more than skin-deep; it is made a plausible pretence to serve a turn, and is put off and on as easily as our cloaths. How thin is the church, how almost desolate is the altar of God? What wonder ? since a party of pleasure, the dropping in of a friend, a too luxurious meal, and indolence of disposition, in a word, any thing or nothing, is deemed a sufficient excuse for our staying from
church, and neglecting the publick worship of our Maker.
The Scriptures, those lively oracles of God, wherein is, contained our title to eternal falvation, which it is every man's duty and happiness to be acquainted with, how shamefully, how foolishly, how impiousy, are they neglected ? I doubt, though I am afraid it doth not admit of a doubt, whether any book is so little known as that which deserves and demands our stricteft attention. The Poor think themselves abfolved from consulting it because so much of their time is taken up by their necessary labour; and the Rich no doubt 'must be excused, some because they never read at all, and others because their medications are turned another way, and they are better employed in perusing and raising trophies to more modern Productions, where inde