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towards the verge of sin, (which is the transgression of the law,) without actually committing it: but accounting his yoke easy and his burden light, we shall feel a pleasure in submitting even to the most restrictive of them, and labour continually to work the works of God. And
This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John vi, 28, 29.
Have you thus obeyed all the commandments of the law, and felt this faith working in you by love? Judge yourselves, that you be not judged of the Lord.
Can man, in his natural state, thus love God and keep his commandments?
No: he must be brought out of his natural state into a state of grace, and obtain strength from above, to do that which he cannot do of himself.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Matt, vi, 24; Luke xvi, 13.
Me [the world] hateth, because 1 testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. John vii, 7.
John viii, 42.
If God were your Father, ye would love me. The lusts of your father, [the devil] ye will do. Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John xv, 19. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. Rom. v, 5.
for it is not subject to the So, then, they that are in
The carnal mind is enmity against God;
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. ii, 14.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha. 1 Cor. xvi, 22.
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. 2 Cor. iii, 5.
As then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Gal. iv, 29. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:-- hatred, &c. but the fruit of the Spirit is love, &c. Gal. v, 19-22. By nature the children of wrath, even as others. Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 1 Thess. iv, 9. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John ii, 15.
Eph. ii, 3.
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God; neither he that loveth not his brother. 1 John iii, 10.
Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John iv, 7, 8.
Did ever any man keep all the commandments?
None but Jesys. There is not a day nor a hour but we break them, if left to ourselves. It is only by loving God, that we can be enabled to keep his law. Have you obeyed the commandments by loving God? Can any man be saved by the works of the law?
No: the law requires perfect obedience; "This do and thou shalt live?" and no works of ours can be perfect in the sight of God.
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Isa. lxiv, 6.
By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. Rom. iii, 20.
A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. If righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Gal. ii, 16--21.
That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith. Gal. iii, 11.
The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Gal. iii, 22. By grace are ye saved, through faith. Eph. ii, 8.
Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph. ii, 9.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us. Titus iii, 5.
Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James ii, 10.
The law not only regards outward actions, but reaches to the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Thy commandment is exceeding broad. Ps. cxix, 96.
Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment. Matt. v, 22.
Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matt. v, 28.
Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matt. xii, 36.
The law is spiritual, Rom. vii, 14.
What then is the use of the law?
1. It shows us the nature of God. The law, like him, is holy.
The commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Prov. vi, 23.
The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Rom. vii, 12.
2. It shews us our state as
By the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom. iii, 20.
Where no law is, there is no transgression.
Rom. iv, 15.
The law entered that the offence might abound. Rom. v, 20.
I had not known sin, but by the law. Rom. vii, 7.
3. It shows our need of a Saviour.
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men.
Rom. i, 18.
Gal. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. Gal. iii, 24. 4. It is designed to be the rule of our conduct. According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall show thee, to the right hand nor to the left. Deut. xvii, 11. 5. It is intended to try our love.
As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse. iii, 10.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. John xiv, 15.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. John xiv, 21.
If the love of Christ were always in our hearts, we should not be so continually sinning as we are. If we at all times felt a sense of what he has done and suffered for us, of the misery from which he has saved us, and of the happiness to which he has procured us a title, we should not so often grieve and insult him, by doing what is so offensive to him.
2d Collect, Evening Prayer.-Grant that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments.
Litany.That it may please thee to give us a heart diligently to live after thy commandments.
4th Sunday after Easter.--Grant that thy people may love the thing which thou commandest.
1st Sunday after Trinity.---That in keeping thy commandments, we may please thee both in will and deed.
11th Sunday afer Trinity.---Grant that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises.
On the Commandments. No. 2.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.
What is the first Commandment?
Thou shalt have none other Gods but me-(before me.) This commandment is placed first, because our obedience to all the rest depends upon it: and observe, that it is addressed to each person individually,—“ Thou shalt have," &c.
What is forbidden in this commandment?
1. It forbids our forming any conceptions of God different from those discoveries which he has made of himself in the Bible.
Some men (the Psalmist calls them fools) say, There is no God. Ps. xiv, 1.
Others seem to fancy he is such an one as themselves. Ps. 1, 21.
Some men have denied the doctrine of the Trinity, that there are three persons in the one God.
Others have denied the divinity of Christ, 2 Pet. ii, 1. And others, again, have denied the influences of the Spirit. Heb. x, 29.
Many have thought God to be all mercy.
And others have imagined him to be all justice.
Too many worship God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him; or they pray to God without expecting to be heard only through the intercession of Jesus Christ.
Whereas we can know nothing of God, except as he is revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ.
Some have denied the way of salvation by faith in` Christ. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. 2 Cor. v, 19.
In short, men foilowing their own vain imaginations, and refusing to be guided by the light of revelation, have formed the strangest and most absurd notions of the Supreme Being. But if we attend to the discoveries made of him in the Bible, we shall be in no danger of forming wrong conceptions of him. His character
and attributes are there clearly and fully described and illustrated. Moses describes him as
Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. Exod. xv, 11.
He proclaimed his name to Moses, as
The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Exod. xxxiv, 6.
His attributes have been considered before, see Ch. 6, and may be divided into
Natural-which consist in his being Eternal, Infinite, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.
Negative-which refer to him as Unchangeable, Invisible, Unsearchable, Irresistible, and Unequalled. Moral-which reveal him to us as Holy, Just, Good, Merciful, True, "Love," Long-suffering, Jealous, Wise, and Faithful.
How precious is such a God to the good man! terrible must he be to the wicked! Indeed, they cannot but see that such a God must be against them, and therefore they endeavour to deceive themselves as to his character and attributes, saying,
I shall have peace, though I walk in the imaginations of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst. Deut. xxix, 19.
How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? Ps. lxxiii, 11.
Men dislike the holy character and spiritual worship of the true God, and therefore set up for themselves such Gods as suit their own taste, and ascribe to them the glory of the divine attributes, and seek from them those blessings which God alone can give. Thus idolatry entered the world, and soon became general. In many countries, at this day, the natives worship the sun, moon, and stars, and bow down to idols, the works of men's hands. The Jews were much given to idolatry. According to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah. Jer. xi, 13.
Besides the Golden Calves, (2 Kings x, 29.) we read in the Scriptures of many other Gods among the heathen nations.
Baalim, Judges x, 10.
Milcom, 1 Kings xi, 5.
Baalberith, Judges viii, 33. 1 Sam. v, 7. Ashtoreth Chemosh, 1 Kings xi, 7. Baal-zebub, 2 Kings i, 2 2 Kings v, 18. Succoth-benoth, 2 Kings xvii, 30. Ashima, 2 Kings xvii, 30. Nibhaz, Tartak, 2 Kings xvii, 31. Adrammelech, 2 Kings xvii, 31. Anammelech, 2 Kings xvii, 31.