« PreviousContinue »
may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.” But to me this appears to be a mere scruple, without reason. For we may wish and pray for the same blessings for others, which we ask for ourselves. A writer at the end of an epistle, or a speaker at the end of a discourse, does properly express a prayer or wish of good for those to whom he has been writing or speaking. And if they will return the like prayer or wish, it will be very acceptable. You know very well that the apostles of Christ did often entreat the prayers of their fellow-christians, both for temporal and spiritual blessings, needful for them, and suited to their work, office, and particular circumstances.
X. The solemn salutations at the beginning, and valedictions at the end of the apostolical epistles, are not to be made use of upon common occasions. They are suited only to the solemnity of public worship, or some other occasions of great moment.
Upon the whole it seems to me, that the salutations at the beginning of the apostolical epistles may help us to understand the benedictions at the end. And if "grace and peace from God, and from Christ," at the beginning, imply a wish, or prayer of favour and blessing and all happiness; in like manner the same is the import of all the valedictions, or farewell-wishes, at the conclusion. And I apprehend, that as to the sense, meaning, and design, when applied to christians, there is little difference whether the form be, "Grace be with you," or, may the God of peace be with you," or, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," or the form in the text. For in each, and all, is intended to be desired and asked the best of blessings, and all needful blessings; that men may have, and keep themselves in the favour of Christ, and the comfortable persuasion of it; that they may always enjoy the love of God, and do all that lies in their power to secure it: that they may grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and his gospel, and that the protection of Providence may be over them. In a word, that they may prosper in all things; that, if their soul prospers, which is the principal thing, they may be in health also; and that, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the power of his spiritual and heavenly doctrine, their whole soul and body may be preserved blameless unto his coming. APPLICATION. I shall now mention a thought or two by way of application.
The use of these benedictions at the conclusion of our public worship, may be reckoned to hold forth two instructions, both to ministers and people.
1. One is, that they ought to bear good will to each other, and sincerely to desire each other's welfare. So much certainly is implied in him who offers these prayers. And, as before hinted, it may be considered whether they ought not also to be sincerely returned.
2. These prayers and wishes teach us, in a summary way, what we ought all to desire and seek after, even the favour of Christ, the love of God, the knowledge of the gospel, and the evidences of its truth, and all the spiritual blessings attending it.
. If from time to time sincere wishes and prayers are expressed, that these blessings may be your portion, should you not desire and endeavour to obtain them?
And if these blessings are commonly wished and desired at the end of our religious services, does not this intimate that our public performances ought to be suited to promote the great ends of men's spiritual improvement, and their comfort and happiness here and hereafter? May these ends be always proposed by us! And may they be obtained! that our profiting may be apparent to ourselves, and to others.
OF PRAYING IN THE NAME OF CHRIST.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John xvi. 24.
OUR Lord is speaking to the disciples of his being soon to be taken from them, and of his seeing them again, though not to abide any long time personally with them. Ver. 22, 23, And ye now therefore have sorrow. But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."
that time, after my removal, you will not be able to ad'dress yourselves directly to me, as you now do. But that ' needs not to give you much concern; for whatever petitions you present to the Father in my name, they will be heard and answered.'
Ver. 24-27," Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs. The time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs; but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name. And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God."
Our Lord speaks of praying in his name, in some other places, to which I now only refer. As John xiv. 13, 14. and xv. 16.
In order to illustrate this point, I would first show in general how that phrase, doing any thing in the name of another, is used in the scriptures. Secondly, I shall endeavour to show distinctly what it is to pray in the name of Christ. After which I intend to mention some remarks, both instructive and practical.
I. Let us observe in general the meaning of the phrase, acting in another's name.
To do any thing in the name of another is to act by his authority, and according to his directions, and as his disciples.
John v. 43, Our Lord says to the Jews: "I am come in my Father's name," that is, with authority from him; and I act, as by commission, under him. "But ye receive me not." John x. 25," The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness of me."
When our Lord made his public entrance at Jerusalem, his character as the Messiah, the anointed and sent of God, was acknowledged by the people in this manner: Matt. xxi. 9, "The multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosannah to the Son of David. Blessed is be that cometh in the name of the Lord." Or, as in St. Luke xix. 38, "Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord." And John xii. 13," Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Our Lord Jesus Christ therefore acted in the name of God, by whom he was sent. Christ's disciples in like manner taught in his name, and wrought miracles in his name, that is, with his authority, and a commission from him, by virtue of powers derived from him. Mark xvi. 17, 18, "And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out demons. They shall speak with new tongues. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." St. Peter says to the lame man at the tem
ple, Acts iii. 6," In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Afterwards, Acts iv. 1–9. Peter and John were summoned before the Jewish council, who "asked: By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" that is, by whose power and authority?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them:-Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God has raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand before you whole." That a miracle was wrought they could not deny but that the doctrine taught by the apostles might not spread, they judged it expedient to " charge them, that they speak henceforth to no man in that name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus," ver. 16-18.
When St. Peter healed Eneas at Lydda," who had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy, he said unto him: Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. Arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately," Acts ix. 33, 34. When Paul intended to cure the young woman at Philippi, who had a spirit of divination," he said to the spirit: I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her," Acts xvi, 18.
Our blessed Lord, the more effectually to convince men of the importance of real holiness, expresseth himself in this manner. Matt. vii. 22, 23, "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Acting as under authority from thee we have done all these things: nevertheless, if they have been workers of iniquity, they will be rejected by him.
James v. 10, " Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." The same phrase occurs frequently in the Old Testament, in speaking of the prophets. Jer. xxvi. 9, "Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, this house shall be as Shiloh ?" Ver. 16, "Then said the princes of Judah, This man is not worthy to die for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord." See there also ver. 20, and ch. xliv. 16.
St. Paul directs, Col. iii. 17, " And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus:" that is, according to his command and appointment.
We will observe a few more instances of the use of this phrase, where the meaning is somewhat different. Matt. x. 41, "He that receiveth a prophet, in the name of a prophet,
shall receive a prophet's reward. And he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward." To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, or a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, is to receive them as such. Accordingly, to pray in the name of Christ will be to pray as his disciples. It follows at ver. 42," And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple," that is, as a disciple of mine, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." In like manner Mark ix. 39-41, " But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name," that is, as by authority from me, or as a disciple, though he does not follow me with you, "that can lightly speak evil of me; for he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name," as a disciple of mine," because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." And see Matt. xviii. 5; Luke ix. 48.
All these several instances of the use of this phrase are sufficient to show, that to do any thing in the name of another, and particularly in the name of Christ, is the same as to do it by his authority, according to his directions, and as his disciples, or as belonging to him.
There may be other uses of this phrase, or of a phrase resembling it. But those already mentioned are very common, and seem most suited to the point which we are considering.
Sometimes the name of a person is the same as himself. Ps. xliv. 20, " If we have forgotten the name of our God," that is, if we have forgotten our God. Ps. Ixix. 30, "I will praise the name of God with a song," that is, I will praise God in a psalm. John iii. 18," He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God:" that is, because he has not believed in the only-begotten Son of God, or the Messiah. 1 John iii. 23, " And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." And ch. v. 13," These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God:" that is, who believe in Jesus Christ, or the Son of God.
In other places the phrase is somewhat different, not “in the name," but " into the name." Such is the most exact and literal version of Christ's general commission to his apostles, after his resurrection, in Matt. xxviii. 19, " Go ye therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the