Question 8How may we sanctify the name of God in the use of gospel institutions?


[1]  a holy reverence of his sovereign authority appointing of them;

[2] a holy regard unto his special presence in them;

[3] faith in his promises annexed to them;

[4] delight in his will, wisdom, love, and grace, manifested in them;

[5] constancy and perseverance in obedience unto him in their due observation.

[1] Lev. 10:3; Mal. 1:6; Rom. 4:11; Exod. 20:6; James 4:12. [2] Matt. 28:20; Isa. 59:21; Exod. 29:43-45. [3] Gen. 15:6; Heb. 4:2,6; Exod. 12:27,28; 2 Cor. 6:16-18,7:1;. [4] Ps. 84:1,2,4,10,65:4,36:7,8. [5] Ps. 23:6,27:4; Rev. 2:3,10; Gal. 6:9; Heb. 10:23-25,12:3.

Explication— This is the first thing that God requireth us to attend unto in the celebration of the ordinances of his worship, — namely, that we herein sanctify his name, the greatest duty that we are called unto in this world. This he lays down as the general rule of all we do herein: Lev. 10:3, “I will,” saith he, “be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”

Whatever we do in his worship, we must do it that he may be sanctified, or whatever we do is an abomination to him.

Now, the principal ways how we may herein sanctify the name of God are expressed as; —

First, When in every ordinance we consider his appointment of it, and submit our souls and consciences unto his authority therein; which if we observe any thing in his worship but what he hath appointed we cannot do. Not formality, not custom, not the precepts of men, not any thing but the authority and command of God, is to be respected in this obedience. This is the first thing that faith regards in divine worship; it rests not in any thing, closeth not with any thing, but what it discerns that God hath commanded, and therein it eyes his authority as he requireth it: Mal. 1:6, “If I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?” Rom. 14:11, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Reverence, then, unto the authority of God appointing his worship is a principal means of sanctifying the name of God therein.

This was the solemn sanction of all his institutions of old: Deut. 6:4-7, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” And the observation of them he presseth on this account, that the people might fear that “glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD,” Deut. 28:58; which name he had so often engaged in his commands, saying, “Thou shalt do it; I am the LORD.” And in the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ proposeth his authority as the foundation of his commanding, and our observation of all the institutions of the gospel: Matt. 28:18-20, “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  And he is to be considered in all our obedience as the great and only lawgiver of his church; as the “one lawgiver, who is able to save and destroy,” James 4:12; the sovereign Lord over his “house,” Heb. 3:4-6, unto whom every knee is to bow and every conscience to be in subjection: and he who heareth not his voice is to be cut off from the people of God: Acts 3:23, “It shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

Secondly, God hath frequently promised his special presence in and with his instituted ordinances of old, both unto the things themselves and the places wherein they were according to his appointment to be celebrated, those places being also his special institution. Under the New Testament, all difference of and respect unto place is taken away: John 4:21,23, “The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” And we are commanded in all places equally to make our prayers and supplications.

But his presence is promised and continued with the due celebration of the things themselves by him appointed for his service: Matt. 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” In them is the “tabernacle of God with men,” and he “dwells among them, and they are his people,” Rev. 21:3; the promise of Christ being, that “where two or three are gathered together in his name, there he will be in the midst of them,” Matt. 18:19,20.

And this promised presence of God, or Christ, consisteth, —

1. In the power and efficacy which he by his Spirit implants upon his ordinances to communicate his grace and mercy unto his church, it being his covenant that his Spirit shall accompany his word for ever unto that purpose, Isa. 59:21.

2. In the special blessing which he gives his people in those duties, both in the acceptance of them and testifying his good-will unto them: Exod. 29:42,43,45, “At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God;” Zech. 2:10,11; Ezek. 20:40,41, “I will accept you with your sweet savour;” Ezek. 43:27; — in both giving them intimate communion with himself by Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3. By all these he gives that special presence, which he requires an especial reverence and regard of faith unto, whereby his name is yet farther sanctified.

Thirdly, God hath given special promises, or promises of his special grace, unto them that attend upon him in his worship in a due manner.  And hereunto also belongs that sacred relation which, by virtue of divine institution, is between the sacramental elements and the especial graces of the covenant which they exhibit and confirm; and the mixing of these promises with faith, according as they are appropriated unto any particular institution, belongs also to the right sanctification of the mind of God. So also, —

Fourthly, Doth our delight in them. Now, this delight in the worship of God, so much commended in the Scripture, and proposed unto our example, consists not in any carnal self-pleasing, or satisfaction in the outward modes or manner of the performance of divine worship; but it is a holy, soul-refreshing contemplation on the will, wisdom, grace, and condescension of God, in that he is pleased, of his own sovereign mere will and grace, so to manifest himself unto such poor sinful creatures as we are, so to condescend unto our weakness, so to communicate himself unto us, so to excite and draw forth our souls unto himself, and to give us such pledges of his gracious intercourse with us by Jesus Christ. By the contemplation of these things is the soul drawn forth to delight in God.

Lastly, Whereas great opposition lies oftentimes against the church’s obedience unto God in this matter, and much persecution befalls it on that account, — great weariness also being apt, from the remainders of unbelief, carnal wisdom, indwellling sin, weakness of the flesh in believers themselves, to arise in the course thereof, and many temptations also beset them on every hand, to turn them aside from the way of truth and holiness, — constancy and perseverance in the due and orderly celebration of all the ordinances of the gospel belongs unto this duty. And this perseverance respecteth both the things themselves and the manner of their performance, both which are of the highest concernment for us diligently to attend unto.

1. As to the things themselves. Herein do we principally glorify God and give due honour unto Jesus Christ, when we abide in our professed subjection unto him and observance of his commands against difficulties, oppositions, and persecutions. This he taketh notice of, Rev. 2:13, “Thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” And this he requireth of us indispensably if we will be his disciples, or ever hope to obtain the reward: Matt. 10:38,39, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me;” and it is “he that shall endure unto the end” that shall be “saved,” Matt. 24:13. And unto them who are “faithful unto death,” and them alone, doth he give the “crown of life,” Rev. 2:10; giving us caution not to lose those things which we have wrought,” that we may “receive a full reward,” 2 John 8.

2. And as to the manner of their performance, two things are to be regarded in this duty of perseverance, and the sanctification of the name of God therein: —

(1.) The inward principle of our obedience, our faith and love; which are to be preserved from decay: Rev. 2:4,5, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Rev. 3:3, “Remember how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.”

(2.) The outward manner of observance; which is to be kept entire, according to the primitive institution of Christ: 1 Cor. 11:23, “I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you,” — not admitting of any corruptions in it, to avoid the greatest trouble: Gal. 5:11, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?”

Owen, John. The Life and Works of John Owen Vol.15