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therly love, Rom. xii. 10. Let brotherly love continue, Heb. xiii. I. Such love is a fure and infallible sign of your being the friends and followers of Chrift. By this, fays our Lord, fhall all men know that ye are my difciples, if ye have love one to another. Be at peace then among yourselves, and fhew that ye are fubjects of the Prince of peace, and heirs of the legacy of peace which he has left you.
The Preface to the ten Commandments.
EXODUS XX. 2.
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
OME take thefe words (which are the firft of that fpeech spoken immediately by God himself) to be a part of the firft commandment, fhewing who is the true God, that is to be our God. Our catechifm determines them to be a preface to all the commandments; and though they have a particular relation to the firft command, Thou shalt have no other gods, before me, viz. the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the houfe of bondage; yet feeing the first commandment has a common relation to all of them, and is interwoven with all the reft, and the words natively enforce obedience to the whole, they are fet here as a preface to all the commands, like a magnificent entry into a palace decorated with the arms of the owner. In the words confider,
1. The Speaker and Giver of thefe commandments. It is the Lord, particularly Jefus Chrift, who gave this law in name of the Trinity. This is plain from the fcripture, Acts vii. 38. Heb. xii. 24. 25. 26. It was he that brought the people out of Egypt, and that appeared in the bush that burnt with fire, and yet
was not confumed, giving commiffion to Mofes for their deliverance, Exod. iii. 2.-8.
2. The fpeech itself, wherein we have a defcription of the true God, bearing three reafons for the keeping his commands. (1.) From his fovereignty; he is the Lord. (2.) From his covenant-relation to his people, thy God. (3.) From the great benefit of redemp. tion and deliverance wrought for them.
DocT. "The preface to the ten commandments "teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and "our God and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to "keep all his commandments."
But it may be afked, Why does the Lord make use of arguments to induce us to obedience? Anf. Becaufe he loves to work on man as a rational creature, according to the principles of his nature. Hence he fays, Hof. xi. 4. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. And because he delights in no obedience but what is unconftrained and chearful. It is truly matter of wonder, that the infinitely-glorious God fhould be at fo great pains to incline man to pur fue his own happiness.
Here I fhall confider the feveral reafons of obe dience mentioned in the text and doctrine, and then draw fome inferences for application.
First, As to the firft reafon for obedience to thefe commandments, it is in these words, I am the Lord, or JEHOVAH; that is, an eternal, unchangeable one, having his being of himself, and from whom all being is derived, Exod. iii. 14. I AM THAT I AM. This is a very fignificant name, and denotes, (1.) The u nity of the Godhead, that he is one true God, having no partner, equal, or rival. (2.) The reality and certainty of his being. Idols are nothing; all their divinity is only in the fancies and opinions of men: but God is a real and true being. (3.) The neceffity, eternity, and unchangeablenefs of his being. All other things which have a being were once without
being; they had no exiftence till he gave it them; and if he please, they fhall be no more, but be reduced into their primitive nothing; and all their being was derived from, and wholly depends upon him. But he was from all eternity an independent and felf-existent being. (4.) The conftancy and perpetuity of his nature and will; I am that I am; i. e. I am the fame that ever I was, and will be the fame, without all mutability in my nature, will, and purpofes. This name includes these four reasons for our obeying his commandments.
1. The infinite excellency and perfection of his nature, whereby he is the natural Lord of all his creatures, Jer. x. 7. He is infinitely above us, and fo glorious in his fupereminent perfections, that the view of them muft natively caufe us poor worms to fall down at his feet, and receive his commands; and makes our rebellions monftrous, more than if a glowworm fhould contend with the fun in its meridian brightnefs.
2. He is Lord Creator to us, that gave us our being, and we are the workmanship of his hands, and are therefore to be at his difpofal, as the pots are at that of the potter, Pfal. c. 2. 3. Whatever we have, tongue, hands, foul, body, &c. all is from him; how, can we then decline his government?
3. He is Lord Rector, fupreme Governor and Lawgiver to us, whofe will is our law, Jam. iv. 12. There is one lawgiver. This he is as Jehovah, the fountain of all being, which gives him an abfolute and illimited dominion over us. So that disobedience to his commands is the higheft injuftice we are capable of.
4. He is Lord Confervator of us, the preferver of men, Rev. iv. 11. Every moment we have a continued creation from him, without which we could no more fubfift than the beams of the fun without the fun itself, but would immediately dwindle into nothing. Being then thus upheld wholly in our being by him, fhould we not wholly be for him?
Secondly, The fecond reafon is from his covenant-relation to us, thy God. The word denotes a plurality; and fo fhews that one God in three perfons to be the true God, and that all the three are the covenanted God of his people, If. liv. 5. Thy makers is thine bufband; for the word is plural in the Hebrew. Here I fhall fhew,
1. What this covenant is.
2. How this covenant bindeth to the obedience of the commandments.
I. What covenant is this? It is the covenant whereby he was Ifrael's God before the giving of the law on Sinai; for this plainly relates to a former relation betwixt them, by virtue of which they were brought out of Egypt. This was then no other but the covenant with Abraham and his feed, Gen. xvii. 7. & xv. 18. and by virtue of the covenant-promise to Abraham it was, that they were delivered out of Egypt, Gen. xv. 13. 14. &c. That was not the covenant of works, for it is ftill opposed to the law, Rom. iv. therefore it is the covenant of grace.
Under this covenant with Abraham all Ifrael according to the flesh were in an external manner, whereby God had a more special right over them than the reft of the world; and fo is it with all who are within the vifible church at this day. But Ifrael ac cording to the Spirit, the elect of God and believers, the fpiritual feed of Abraham, were and are most properly under this covenant, and that in a faving manner, Rom. iv. 11. 12. 13. So that this reafon is not general to all the world, but peculiar to the church.
2. I fhall fhew how this covenant bindeth to obedience to the commandments. Not as if obedience to the commands were conditions of that covenant; that is the nature of the covenant of works. For mark, God tells them he is their God before ever he propofes one commandment to them; and for God to be the God of a people in the fenfe of the promise made to Abraham, includes the affurance of their lete falvation, Matth. xxii. 32. But,
i. The confent to the covenant binds to the obedience of all the commands. The covenant is, I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they hall be to me a people, Heb. viii. 10. So confenting that God fhall be our God, we take on us the yoke of all his commands, to be for him only, wholly, and for ever, 2 Cor. viii. 5. If. xliv. 5.
2. The honour of the covenant. Thereby finners are advanced into a near relation to God. They be come his fervants, whofe honour it is to ferve him ; his friends, whofe honour it is to advance his interest in the world; his spouse, whofe honour it is to be for him, and obey him; his members, whofe honour it is to ferve himself of them.
3. The privileges of the covenant, Luke i. 74. 75. Such are regeneration, whereby a new nature is given, to be a principle of new life, 2 Cor. v. 17. Juftification, whereby the curfe is taken off the tree, that it may be no more barren. Sanctification, whereby they die unto fin, and live unto righteoufnefs; even as the curing of the lame and palfied man obliges him to beftir himself.
4. The great end of the covenant, which is no other but to reftore fallen man to his primitive integrity, and to bring him to a state of perfect affimilation to God, Cant. iii. 9. 10. The holiness required in the ten commandments is the kingdom and the throne, from which the devil had expelled and pulled man down. This covenant is entered into for the reftoring him again to that kingdom, and so binds to endeavours that way.
Thirdly, The laft reafon is drawn from the redemption and deliverance wrought for his people. The history is well known, and fome of the leading circumftances of it will be mentioned anon. Here I will fhew,
1. Why this deliverance is commemorated here.