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JANUARY, 1829.

Keligious Communications.

LECTURES ON THE SHORTER CATE- ground whatever, for the notion




When God from mount Sinai, delivered the moral law, as comprehended in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments, he introduced it, as we are informed, Exodus xx. 2, with these solemn and emphatic words "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." These words our Catechism, with great propriety, denominates" the Preface of the Ten Commandments." A preface is something spoken introductory to the main design," and is intended to prepare the hearer or reader to receive what follows, with better understanding, and with more attention and regard, than he might otherwise do: And it will appear that the words with which the Decalogue was introduced are most admirably calculated to produce these effects, when we consider, as our Catechism affirms, that "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."

There seems to be no reasonable

• Johnson's Dictionary. VOL. VII.-Ch. Adv.


which some have entertained, that the words we consider were intended to be a preface to the first commandment only, and not to the Some special reference or application to the first, they may have; but they direct our attention to considerations which powerfully enforce every other precept which follows. Even the duties which we owe to each other, derive their highest sanction from the relation in which we stand to God, and from the requirements of his holy law.

The answer of the catechism under consideration, and the text of Scripture to which it relates, specify reasons, calculated to show that we are bound to keep all the commandments of God. The divine condescension in this matter, ought not to escape our notice. The great Lord of heaven and earth does not rest his requisitions on authority merely. He assigns the reasons why we should yield to his commands; the motives, in view of which we should feel obliged, and be persuaded to a cordial obedience; and thus he seeks to draw and urge us to our duty, by all the considerations that should influence rational beings-by all that can operate on the principles of gratitude and love, as well as on our sense of justice and propriety. He acts in this, not as an arbitrary sovereign, but as a tender and condescending father,


The preface of the ten commandments teaches us, 1.-That God is the Lord. I have heretofore had occasion to observe that the Hebrew word Jehovah is almost uniformly, by our translators, rendered Lord-It is so rendered in the present instance. Our Maker assigns it as the first and formal reason why we should keep all his commandments, that he is Jehovah; that is, as this name imports, "the eternal, immutable, and almighty God, having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works."* As he is then the source of all existence, and of all power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth, he must be seen and acknowledged, by every rational creature to have a right to command. There can be no such thing as rightful and reasonable authority, if it does not belong to the Being whose power is almighty; and who possesses every other attribute, which can give full assurance that the power possessed will be wisely, and equitably, and kindly exercised. The consideration, therefore, of the very nature and attributes of God, shows in the clearest manner, that we ought to love and obey him with all our hearts, and with the utmost promptitude and cheerfulness. This is, and always has been, the indispensable duty of every individual of the human race. Hence the preface to the Decalogue, as well as each of the commands which it contains-and this is worthy of particular notice-is directed to individuals, and not to communities-"I am thy God-Thou shalt have no other gods before me." It is a personal concern of every child of Adam, without any exception and without any excuse or delay, to yield unreserved obedience to God, in all that He commands.

2. The second reason or consideration which is assigned, why we

Larger Catechism.

should keep all the commands of Jehovah is, that he is our God-" I am the Lord thy God."

Every rational and moral being has his God. The object which he supremely loves, to whose authority he submits, and whose favour and approbation he most seeks and regards, is his God. The heathen have their idol gods, which receive their homage and their offerings: And all unsanctified men, even under the light of the gospel, have some creature objects which are really their idols-creature objects to which their hearts are given, from which they seek their supreme happiness, to which they do homage, and to which they are subservient even to abject devotion.

The ancient Israelites, to whom the words "I am the Lord thy God" were first addressed, were the descendants of Abraham, with whom, and his seed, Jehovah had entered into a solemn covenant, and given them the rite of circumcision as the sign and seal of that covenant. At this very time, they bore the evidence of the covenant in their flesh. They had moreover the special presence of Jehovah among them, and the overwhelming manifestation of his power and majesty before their eyes, in the burning mount, and had actually consented to enter, renewedly and formally, into covenant with Him who now uttered his voice from amidst the awful exhibitions of Sinai. To them, therefore, the words "I am thy God" were addressed with a peculiar emphasis. Jehovah was the covenant God of them and their fathers; he had been faithful to his covenant; he had been astonishingly compassionate and condescending to themselves, and they had anew and voluntarily consented to be his peculiar and obedient people: And to have the Almighty Sovereign of the universe thus pledged to them, provided they should prove faithful to their part of the covenant, ensured to them

privileges, advantages, and blessings innumerable, and of inconceivable value. By all these considerations and motives, then, he sought to secure their observance of the precepts he was about to deliver an observance which was to be the test of their fidelity in keeping the covenant, into which they were about to enter. It was not expected, indeed, that they would so observe the moral law as to be the ground of their justification before God, as a matter of merit; but it was required, that they should exhibit such a cordial obedience to the whole of this law, as to show their supreme love to its Author, and thus prove that they were interested in that efficacious atonement for sin by the promised Messiah, which was so strikingly prefigured in their sacrifices, and indeed in all their institutions. Such was the pregnant import of the words "I am thy God," to those to whom they were originally delivered.

But these words, my dear youth, are as really addressed to us, as they were to the Israelites at Sinai. The moral law, then promulged, was intended to be as binding under the gospel, as under the Mosaick dispensation. It was sanctioned both by the words and by the example of the Saviour. It was indeed, to restore its honours, violated by our sins, by his obedience, and to endure its awful penalty in behalf of his people, that he came into our world. This law is therefore of everlasting and unchangeable obligation; and although, as you have frequently heard in these lectures, believers in Christ are not under it as a covenant of works, since, in that view of it, all its demands were answered by their Surety and in their behalf; yet their observance of it as a rule of life, is the test of their discipleship, and the evidence of their union with him as their spiritual head. Hence the words, "I am your

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God," apply with as much force to professing Christians as to the ancient Israelites; nay, since we have more light and richer blessings than were vouchsafed to them, our obligations are even more numerous, tender, and touching than theirs. Remember, I beseech you, my young friends, that you have been brought under the most solemn obligations to consider the God of Israel as your God. You have recognised these obligations in every act of religious worship in which you have professed to join; for whom do you worship, but Him whom you avow to be your God? and you who have been dedicated to God in holy baptism, have been formally and solemnly placed under the bonds of this covenant. You have been consecrated to Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. You are bound to be his, by every awful and endearing tie. He is emphatically your God, and you are bound to be his people-bound to be for him and not for another. Nor can you, without guilt and folly that has no parallel, regard these obligations as a burden. They are, on the contrary, connected with privileges and blessings beyond the power of language to describe. If you do not violate your obligations to be the Lord's, if you truly comply with the terms of the gospel covenant, a faithful and covenantkeeping God will, on his part, grant you all the blessings of that covenant. He will, so to speak, give you Himself. He will be to you all that the infinite Jehovah can be, to creatures of your limited capacity. As a pious writer expresses it" He will make over all his glorious attributes and excellences to be yours; his infinity to be the extent of your inheritance; his eternity to be the date of your happiness; his unchangeableness to be the rock of your rest; his wisdom to direct you; his power to protect you; his holiness to sanctify you; his justice to acquit you; his goodness to re

ward you, in the way of grace, not

of debt, and his truth to secure to you the accomplishment of all his promises. Who can express or conceive all the obligations, by which we are bound to regard Jehovah as our God, and as such to keep all his commandments!

3. God is our Redeemer. "I have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." The claims which Jeho vah, the God of Israel, had on the gratitude, confidence, and obedience, of his ancient chosen people, in consideration of his freeing them from their grievous bondage in Egypt, were no doubt of the strongest kind. Their oppression and sufferings had been extreme; and the interposition of their Omnipotent deliverer was marked by miracle, at every step. Not only had he completely emancipated them from the most cruel and abject slavery, when they were utterly unable to do any thing for their own relief, but he had destroyed their proud oppressor and all his armed host, and had given their spoil to them-his liberated and joyful people. That this people should willingly and unreservedly obey all the commands of a Deliverer, of such unbounded wisdom, power, and goodness, and to whom they were under such peculiar obligations, was what common sense and common gratitude would instantly enforce and urge, in the most decisive manner. It needed only to be mentioned-yet it was peculiarly proper that it should be mentioned -when a code of moral laws was about to be enacted by this Almighty Benefactor, for the obedience of the people who owed him so many obligations.

This deliverance from Egyptian bondage, however, was typical of a far greater deliverance--the deliverance of the people of God from the slavery of sin and Satan, by the

• Fisher.

Lord Jesus Christ, their divine Redeemer. How much of this spiritual deliverance was apprehended by the ancient Hebrews, we cannot precisely tell. Something of it must have been perceived, by those who had spiritual discernment. That Christ was typified by the Passover instituted in Egypt, and that the Rock which supplied them with water in the wilderness was emblematical of Christ, and indeed that nearly the whole of their institutions were symbolical of his character and work, we learn from the unerring oracles of God. Zacharias also appears to allude to the Egyptian, as well as to other deliverances, which his people had experienced, when, in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah, then near at hand, he said "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath visited and redeemed his people ;" and he goes on to recognise in that event the fulfilment of all the prophecies, and the oath of God to Abraham-"that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." There is therefore no force put on the words, when the authors of our Catechism consider them as pointing to the redemption of Christ

and as teaching us to consider God as our Redeemer from a thraldom, infinitely worse in its nature and consequences, than that which the Hebrews suffered in the land of Egypt.

Meditate for a few moments, my dear youth, on the state in which you and all mankind were placed by sin, and on what was done and suffered by our blessed Redeemer -the eternal Son of God-to deliver us from our fearful situation, and to bring us into the light, and liberty, and privileges, of God's peculiar people. Consider, that the whole human family, having lost the image and apostatised from the love, service, and obedience, of

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