RPM, Volume 19, Number 49, December 3 to December 9, 2017

The Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism

By Dr. Zacharias Ursinus

FORTY-SEVENTH LORD'S DAY.

Question 122. Which is the first petition?

Answer. "HALLOWED BE THY NAME;" that is, grant us first rightly to know thee and to sanctify, glorify and praise thee in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and truth, are clearly "displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words and actions, as that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honored and praised on our account.

EXPOSITION

The second part of the Lord's Prayer now follows, containing six petitions. The petition, Hallowed be thy name, is placed first in order, because it comprehends the end and design of all the rest, inasmuch as the glory of God should be the end of all our affairs, actions and prayers. The end, too, is the first thing in the thoughts and intention of any one, and the last in execution. Therefore the end of the other petitions should be sought in the first place, if we would seek them aright, according to the command of Christ, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 7:33.)

We must consider, in reference to this petition:

I. What is the name of God?
II. What is holy, and what is it to hallow the name of God?

I. WHAT IS THE NAME OF GOD?

The name of God signifies: 1. God himself. "Let them that love thy name be joyful in thee." "I will sing praise to thy name." "I will call upon the name of the Lord." "I purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God." (Ps. 5:11; 9:2, 11; 116:13. 1 Kings 5:5.) 2. The attributes and works of God. "The Lord is his name." "The Lord, whose name is Jealous." (Ex. 15:3; 34:14.) 3. The command, will and authority of God. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts." "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (1 Sam. 17:45. Matt. 28:19.) 4. The worship, trust, praise and profession of God. "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." "Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ;" in which place, as also in Matt. 28:19, the name of God signifies both the command and profession of God. (Acts 21:13; 2:38.) Here the term is to be understood, according to the first and second signification, as being taken for God himself, and for all his attributes and works, in which his majesty shines.

II. WHAT IS HOLY, AND WHAT TO HALLOW.

The term holy signifies, 1. God himself, who is most holy and pure; or it signifies essential and uncreated holiness, which is God himself. For all the virtues and properties of God constitute his essential holiness. So the angels exclaim in reference to God, a Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts." (Is. 6:3.) 2. The holiness which is in creatures, which consists in their conformity with God, which, as it respects the godly, is merely begun, but is perfect in the angels. 3. The setting of anything apart to a holy use. In this sense, whatever is consecrated to a sacred purpose is called holy, as the temple in Jerusalem, the altar, the vessels, the priests, &c., &c.

The word to sanctify, or hallow, has these three significations: First to hallow or to sanctify means to acknowledge, to reverence and praise that as holy, which is already in itself holy. In this sense of the term, we are said to sanctify God who is holiness itself, 1. When we acknowledge him to be such as he has revealed himself in his word and works, or when we know and think concerning his essence, will, works, omnipotence, goodness, wisdom, and all his other attributes, what he commands us in his word to know and think respecting them. 2. When we do not only acknowledge God to be holy, but also profess and praise him, and that by our words and confession, as well as by our actions and purity of life. 3. When we refer the true doctrine, knowledge, and profession of the holiness of God, together with all our prayers and actions, to the end to which God will have them referred, which is to his glory and praise.

Secondly, to sanctify, is to separate that which in itself is not holy from all uncleanness, and make it holy. It was in this way that the Word sanctified that nature which he assumed, which in us is corrupt and unholy, preserving it in himself from all the contagion of sin, and at the same time adorning it with perfect holiness. So also God and Christ sanctify the church, by remitting unto us all our sins, and sanctifying us by the Holy Spirit, and at the same time keeping us in the enjoyment of this pardon and holiness. So we are commanded to sanctify ourselves, which is to keep ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." (1 Pet. 1:16.)

Thirdly, to sanctify is to ordain and to direct to a holy end that which in itself is either holy or indifferent. It was in this way that the Father sanctified the Son, that is, he ordained him to the office of mediator, and sent him into the world. So God sanctified the Sabbath day, the temple, the sacrifices, the priests, &c. Christ also sanctified himself in this way for his people, that is, he offered himself a sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. It is in this way also, that bread is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Of these significations the first and second are here in point, for when we pray, hallowed be thy name, we do not merely desire that the name of God be hallowed by us, but also in us, or in other words we desire, 1. That God would enlighten us with the knowledge of his holiness, and most holy name; or in the language of the Catechism, we desire that God will grant us rightly to know him, and to sanctify, glorify and praise him in all his works, in which his power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy and truth are clearly displayed. 2. That his name may be sanctified in us, and that he would regenerate us and make us more and more holy, so that in our whole life we may prevent his most holy name from being blasphemed, and may magnify and declare it with honor and praise in every conceivable way. In a word, we desire, 1. That God would enlighten us with the true knowledge of his holiness. 2. That he would grant us true faith and repentance, and renew us by his Spirit, that we may be holy as he is holy. 3. That he would give us a disposition to profess this holiness of his divine name in word and deed, to his own praise and glory, that we may in this way glorify him by acknowledging and professing him, and by conforming our lives to his holy will, so as to distinguish him from all idols and profane things.

Obj. 1. That which is holy in itself, cannot be sanctified. The name of God is holy in itself. Therefore, it cannot be hallowed. Ans. It cannot be sanctified according to the second signification of the term as above explained; but it may be sanctified according to the first and third signification of the term, according to which that which is holy or indifferent in itself, may be acknowledged, praised and celebrated, and directed to a holy end. It is in this way now that we desire the name of God to be hallowed, that that which is holy in itself may also be acknowledged and praised as holy. God sanctifies us by making us holy; we, on the other hand, sanctify God, not by making him holy, but by declaring and acknowledging concerning him what he desires us to know and declare.

Obj. 2. We ought not to desire another to do for us, what belongs to us to do. We now ought to sanctify and hallow the name of God. Therefore, we should not desire that God would hallow his name; for in so doing we seem to act like a scholar, who being commanded by his preceptor to apply himself diligently to his studies, desires his preceptor himself to do it for him. We reply to the major proposition by making a distinction; we should not desire another to do what is devolving upon us, provided we have the ability of ourselves to do it; but what we are unable of ourselves to perform, that we properly desire God to grant us the ability to do. But we cannot of ourselves sanctify and hallow the name of God. Therefore, we must needs pray to God to grant unto us the strength by which we may hallow the name of God; yea, that he himself would hallow his holy name in us.

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