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CHISM OF THE WESTMINSTER AS
SEMBLY OF DIVINES-ADDRESSED
LECTURES ON THE SHORTER CATE- ground whatever, for the notion
which some have entertained, that the words we consider were intended to be a preface to the first commandment only, and not to the
rest. Some special reference or When God from mount Sinai, application to the first, they may delivered the moral law, as com- have; but they direct our attention prehended in the Decalogue or Ten to considerations which powerfully Commandments, he introduced it, enforce every other precept which as we are informed, Exodus xx. 2, follows. Even the duties which with these solemn and emphatic we owe to each other, derive their words—“I am the Lord thy God, highest sanction from the relation which have brought thee out of the in which we stand to God, and from land of Egypt, out of the house of the requirements of his holy law. bondage. These words our Cate- The answer of the catechism under chism, with great propriety, deno- consideration, and the text of Scripminates" the Preface of the Ten ture to which it relates, specify reaCommandments.” A preface is sons, calculated to show that we are "something spoken introductory to bound to keep all the commandthe main design, ,99* and is intended ments of God. The divine condeto prepare the hearer or reader to scension in this matter, ought not to receive what follows, with better escape our notice. The great Lord understanding, and with more at- of heaven and earth does not rest tention and regard, than he might his requisitions on authority mereotherwise do: And it will appear ly. He assigns the reasons why we that the words with which the 'De- should yield to his commands; the calogue was introduced are most motives, in view of which we should admirably calculated to produce feel obliged, and be persuaded to a these effects, when we consider, as cordial obedience; and thus he our Catechism affirms, that "'The seeks to draw and urge us to our Preface to the Ten Commandments. duty, by all the considerations teacheth us, that because God is that should influence rational bethe Lord, and our God, and Re- ings--by all that can operate on the deemer, therefore we are bound to principles of gratitude and love, as keep all his commandments." well as on our sense of justice and There seems to be no reasonable propriety. He acts in this, not as
an arbitrary sovereign, but . Johnson's Dictionary.
tender and condescendi
The preface of the ten command- should keep all the commands of ments teaches us, 1.—That God is Jehovah is, that he is our God—I the Lord. I have heretofore had am the Lord thy God.” occasion to observe that the He- Every rational and moral being brew word Jehovah is almost uni- has his God. The object which he formly, by our translators, rendered supremely loves, to whose authority Lord—It is so rendered in the pre- he submits, and whose favour and sent instance. Our Maker assigns approbation he most seeks and re. it as the first and formal reason gards, is bis God. The heathen why we should keep all his com- have their idol gods, which receive mandments, that he is Jehovah; their homage and their offerings: that is, as this name imports, “ the And all unsanctified men, even eternal, immutable, and almighty under the light of the gospel, have God, having his being in and of some creature objects which are himself, and giving being to all his really their idols-creature objects words and works."* As he is then to which their hearts are given, the source of all existence, and of from which they seek their supreme all power, wisdom, justice, good happiness, to which they do homness, and truth, he must be seen age, and to which they are subserand acknowledged, by every ra- vient even to abject devotion.
, tional creature to have a right to The ancient Israelites, to whom command. There can be no such the words “I am the Lord thy thing as rightful and reasonable God” were first addressed, were authority, if it does not belong to the descendants of Abraham, with the Being whose power is almighty; whom, and his seed, Jehovah bad and who possesses every other at entered into a solemn covenant, tribute, which can give full assur- and given them the rite of circumance that the power possessed will cision as the sign and seal of that be wisely, and equitably, and kind- covenant. At this very time, they ly exercised. The consideration, bore the evidence of the covenant therefore, of the very nature and in their flesh. They had moreover attributes of God, shows in the the special presence of Jehovah clearest manner, that we ought to among them, and the overwhelming love and obey him with all our manifestation of his power and hearts, and with the utmost promp- majesty before their eyes, in the titude and cheerfulness. This is, burning mount, and had actually and always has been, the indispen- consented to enter, renewedly and sable duty of every individual of formally, into covenant with Him the human race. Hence the pre- who now uttered his voice from face to the Decalogue, as well as amidst the awful exhibitions of Sieach of the commands which it nai. To them, therefore, the words contains and this is worthy of “I am thy God” were addressed particular notice-is directed to with a peculiar emphasis. Jehovah individuals, and not to communi. was the covenant God of them and ties"I am thy God--Thou shalt their fathers; he had been faithful have no other gods before me.” It to his covenant; he had been asto. is a personal concern of every child nishingly compassionate and conof Adam, without any exception descending to themselves, and they and without any excuse or delay, had anew and voluntarily consented to yield unreserved obedience to to be his peculiar and obedient peoGod, in all that He commands. ple: And to have the Almighty
2. The second reason or conside- Sovereign of the universe thus ration which is assigned, why we pledged to them, provided they
should prove faithful to their part Larger Catechism.
of the covenant, ensured to them
privileges, advantages, and bless. God," apply with as much force to ings innumerable, and of incon- professing Christians as to the anceivable value. By all these con- cient Israelites; nay, since we have siderations and motives, then, he more light and richer blessings than sought to secure their observance were vouchsafed to them, our obliof the precepts he was about to gations are even more numerous, deliver-an observance which was · tender, and touching than theirs. to be the test of their fidelity in Remember, I beseech you, my keeping the covenarit, into which young friends, that you have been they were about to enter. It was brought under the most solemn obnot expected, indeed, that they ligations to consider the God of would so observe the moral law as Israel as your God. You have reto be the ground of their justifica- cognised these obligations in every tion before God, as a matter of act of religious worship in which merit; but it was required, that you have professed to join; for they should exhibit such a cordial whom do you worship, but Him obedience to the whole of this law, whom you avow to be your God? as to show their supreme love to its and you who have been dedicated Author, and thus prove that they to God in holy baptism, have been were interested in that efficacious formally and solemnly placed under atonement for sin by the promised the bonds of this covenant. You Messiah, which was so strikingly have been consecrated to Jehovah, prefigured in their sacrifices, and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. You indeed in all their institutions. are bound to be his, by every awful Such was the pregnant import of and endearing tie. He is emphatithe words “I am thy God,” to cally your God, and you are bound those to whom they were originally to be his people-bound to be for delivered.
him and not for another. Nor can But these words, my dear youth, you, without guilt and folly that are as really addressed to us, as has no parallel, regard these obligathey were to the Israelites at Sinai. tions as a burden. They are, on The moral law, then promulged, was the contrary, connected with priintended to be as binding under vileges and blessings beyond the the gospel, as under the Mosaick power of language to describe. If dispensation. It was sanctioned you do not violate your obligations both by the words and by the to be the Lord's, if you
truly comexample of the Saviour. It was ply with the terms of the gospel indeed, to restore its honours, vio- covenant, a faithful and covenantlated by our sins, by his obedience, keeping God will, on his part, grant and to endure its awful penalty in you all the blessings of that covebehalf of his people, that he came nant. He will, so to speak, give you into our world. This law is there. Himself. He will be to
all that fore of everlasting and unchangea- the infinite Jehovah can be, to creable obligation; and although, as tures of your limited capacity. As you have frequently heard in these a pious writer expresses it—" He lectures, believers in Christ are not will make over all his glorious attriunder it as a covenant of works, butes and excellences to be yours; since, in 'that view of it, all its his infinity to be the extent of your demands were answered by their inheritance; his eternity to be the Surety and in their behalf; yet date of your happiness; his untheir observance of it as a rule of changeableness to be the rock of life, is the test of their discipleship, your rest; his wisdom to direct and the evidence of their union you; his power to protect you; his with him as their spiritual head. holiness to sanctify you; his justice Hence the words, “ I am your to acquit you; his goodness to re
ward you, in the way of grace, not Lord Jesus Christ, their divine Reof debt, and his truth to secure to deemer. How much of this spirityou the accomplishment of all his ual deliverance was apprehended by promises.'* Who can express or
the ancient Hebrews, we cannot preconceive all the obligations, by cisely tell. Something of it must which we are bound to regard Je- have been perceived, by those who hovah as our God, and as such to 'had spiritual discernment. That keep all his commandments! Christ was typified by the Passover
3. God is our Redeemer. " I instituted in Egypt, and that the have brought thee out of the land Rock which supplied them with waof Egypt, out of the house of bon- ter in the wilderness was emblemati. dage."" The claims which Jeho. cal of Christ, and indeed that nearly vah, the God of Israel, had on the the whole of their institutions were gratitude, confidence, and obedi. symbolical of his character and ence, of his ancient chosen people, work, we learn from the unerring in consideration of his freeing them oracles of God. Zacharias also apfrom their grievous bondage in pears to allude to the Egyptian, Egypt, were no doubt of the strong- as well as to other deliverances, est kind. Their oppression and which his people had experienced, sufferings had been extreme; and when, in anticipation of the birth the interposition of their Omnipo- of the Messiah, then near at hand, tent deliverer was marked by mira- he said " Blessed be the Lord cle, at every step. Not only bad God of Israel, who hath visited and he completely emancipated 'them redeemed his people;' and he goes from the most cruel and abject sla- on to recognise in that event the very, when they were utterly un- fulfilment of all the prophecies, and able to do any thing for their own the oath of God to Abraham-—"that relief, but he had destroyed their he would grant unto us, that we, proud oppressor and all his armed being delivered out of the hand of host, and had given their spoil to our enemies, might serve him with. them-his liberated and joyful peo- out fear, in holiness and righteousple. That this people should wil- ness before him, all the days of our singly and unreservedly obey all life.” There is therefore no force the commands of a Deliverer, of put on the words, when the authors such unbounded wisdom, power, of our Catechism consider them as and goodness, and to whom they pointing to the redemption of Christ were under such peculiar obliga- -and as teaching us to consider tions, was what cominon sense and God as our Redeemer from a thralcommon gratitude would instantly dom, infinitely worse in its nature enforce and urge, in the most deci- and consequences, than that which sive manner. It needed only to be the Hebrews suffered in the land mentioned-yet it was peculiarly of Egypt. proper that it should be mentioned Meditate for a few moments, my -when a code of moral laws was dear youth, on the state in which about to be enacted by this Al. you and all mankind were placed mighty Benefactor, for the obedi- by sin, and on what was done and ence of the people who owed him suffered by our blessed Redeemer 80 many obligations.
- the eternal Son of God to deli. This deliverance from Egyptian ver us from our fearful situation, bondage, however, was typical of a and to bring us into the light, and far greater deliverance--the deliver- liberty, and privileges, of God's ance of the people of God from the peculiar people. Consider, that slavery of sin and Satan, by the the whole human family, having
lost the image and apostatised from • Fisber
the love, service, and obedience, of