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and on earth is given into his hands who was dead | every real believer, that God is good and graand is alive again, and who liveth for evermore. cious, and therefore that he teaches sinners in the May I behold thee, blessed Jesus, by the revelation of faith, that I may indeed be kept from the power of evil that God may be my God, in thee the Mediator, by union with thee. Let this be proven, as the condition and state of my soul, in my being saved from the power of those manifold iniquities that prevail against me.
way. In themselves they have but darkness, their unbelief makes them to doubt, and to be in uncertainty, and in fear. But light ariseth to them. The ministration of the Spirit is glorious; and it comes to the soul, in a way that it knew not, and which the blessed experience of it alone can reveal. This is from God in the channel of his everlasting covenant, through the mediation and intercession of him who is indeed the light of the world.
Darkness may be experienced, and yet not this confidence in the Lord. Thou wilt show me the path of life. It is here we are weak, prone to faint and fail. Alas, we seek the light
I would render thanks unto thee for the throne of thy grace being rendered accessible, and for the Spirit of grace and of supplications which thou hast promised to pour forth. May it be my portion to be visited with that Spirit, and under that guidance, waiting upon thee, though with groanings that cannot be uttered, let my waiting eyes be toward the hills from which cometh my aid-in ourselves, instead of looking to him the Father and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, lead me, and guide me, and so strengthen me, that I may have no other gods before thee, but be thine, and thou mine, as my everlasting portion.
of lights, from whom every good and perfect gift cometh down. And yet, blessed God, while thou givest me thine own word of truth, how dark and empty it is to my needy soul, till thy Spirit shine upon it, and with it, into my heart! O! let me be rebuked for the sin of my presumption, in trusting to my own understanding, and in not seeking thy guidance, in not looking to thee, and
not trusting in thee; in not seeking from thee pre-guide me, and to show me the path of life. I am thine own light with thy truth, to lead and to prone to trust in creature helps, in means, in duties, in ordinances, even in thy servants proclaiming thy truth, and not in thyself, as my God in covenant, from whom alone cometh the true light. I would confess to thee, this my sin, my natural proneness to it continually. It is thy showing, which will bring the path of life truly before me, and which alone has power to guide me to it, and to stablish me in it.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy sence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore,' Psal. xvi. 11. How slow to learn is the human heart, in all that belongs to the character of God, and to the marvellous grace that is with him, whereby sinners are saved! I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.' As the God of salvation, we behold him fulfilling this promise to his people; and they, receiving this gracious accomplishment of the promise, are And O! how glorious, how soul-satisfying that seen following after him, receiving him as their path is, when shown by the Spirit of God, by his God, and putting their trust in him, to perfect own word to the soul-the path and the way of all that concerneth them. How largely do we God coming to seek and to save that which was see this trust and confidence exercised and ex- lost! The Lord Jesus-he is the way he hath pressed by the psalmist! Thou wilt show me opened, perfected, and consecrated for ever, the the path of life.' He had experienced his own path of return to the sinner from death to life, slowness to learn, his proneness to forget, nay, even life for evermore. I feel, I acknowledge his incapacity, as of himself, to take knowledge of before thee, that the knowledge of him in my this glorious path, the path of life. Thou wilt soul, is indeed the path of life. I acknowledge show me! Here is filial confidence in God. The to thee, my proneness to lose that which thou psalmist addresses him as his own God. The givest of this light and knowledge concerning hope that maketh not ashamed is here-it is him. in lively exercise. He had experienced dark- I would trust in thee-I would renounce ness in his own mind; but he trusted in the Lord, renewedly now, before thee, my sinful confidences, that by his Spirit with the word of truth, this and cast myself upon thee for thy Spirit's guidpath should be shown him. 'Unto the upright ance to my soul, to reveal thy Son in me, and in the there ariseth light in the darkness.' Light is knowledge of him, I shall have safety and peace. sown for the upright.' It is the experience of Other means may give natural light and know
ledge, but with those merely, I have the witness, the sore witness in my soul, that I cannot glorify thee as God, and my God.
I am wearied and vexed with my deceitful heart, my abuse of privileges bestowed by thee. I would come unto thee for thy precious healing, and enlightening, and quickening power-the eye-salve, by which I may truly see. It is cheering and comforting to behold the experience of thy blessed. people. Under the burden of their toils and their conflicts, their wanderings and their errors, when thou causest thy face to shine upon them, they know the path of life; yea, and they understand the path of duty also they then trust in thee, with increase of filial confidence, and even in the midst of experienced darkness, still they are enabled to stay themselves upon thee as their God.
This warfare with darkness, with sin, with the power of darkness, shall soon have an endthe time is drawing on, when though now we see as through a glass darkly, we shall see face to face, and that which is imperfect shall be done away. There is joy even now, when thou causest thy light to shine into the soul-and soon the shadows shall flee away-and when this mortal shall have put on immortality, there shall be darkness no more-all will be light; we shall know, even as we are known. In thy presence there is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. O my soul, look forward. Behold now the path of life-it is opened up to thee by him who cannot fail, and who maketh thy life, thine eternal life sure: Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.' I would commit my spirit into thy hands, to be taught by thy Spirit, blessed God, that receiving thee daily as my God, bringing salvation, I may walk in thy light, and as it becometh the children of the light and of the day, glorifying thee, in my spirit and in my body which are thine, waiting for thy salvation, and kept by thy power through faith, expecting the glory that is to be revealed at thy coming.
'Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments,' Exod. xx. 4-6.
THE Lord uttered his voice from mount Sinai, and gave laws and ordinances to Israel. Some of these being ceremonial were intended for the Israelites exclusively, and to be of temporary endurance, others were designed for mankind generally, and to be of universal and perpetual obligation; of this description are the ten commandments, which were written by the finger of God, and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. Whoever reflects on these statutes, must be persuaded that they are at once worthy of God to inculcate, and man to observe. They are founded on the divine nature and character, and they are fitted to promote the prosperity and happiness of mankind.
The first commandment respects the object of worship, the second the form of worship which the Almighty claims; the first maintains the stability and glory of Jehovah's throne, the second preserves the purity of the ark in which he dwells and the temple in which he is worshipped. It sets itself against the very semblance of idolatry in the worship of God, and hereby inculcates the service that is suitable to his perfections, and becoming his great name. The language of the Eternal is so unambiguous and authoritative in regard to idol worship; and there is in it what is evidently so dishonouring to God, as well as debasing to man, that one can scarcely account for its being countenanced or practised by rational beings. And yet the very issuing of the precept bespeaks the tendency of the human mind to it, while the history of the world records its universal prevalence. It is well known that idolatry has, in all ages, prevailed in heathen countries, and that not merely among savage and rude tribes, but amongst people the most civilized and refined, verifying the truth of the apostle's declaration, Rom. i. 21-23, 'Because that when they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools;
and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.' The Egyptians were notoriously addicted to all sorts of idolatry—and hence it is that the Israelites, though taught of God, though a distinct, and separated, and chosen people, by commingling with the inhabitants of Egypt, became familiarized with their corruptions, and acquired that deep-rooted propensity to this condemned and irrational practice.
This commandment consists of two parts: 1. The precept. 2. The sanction or enforcement of
God knows the perversity of the human heart, and therefore in issuing this injunction he has guarded against all misconception. The language of the precept is so very particular and minute, that nothing but a determined unwillingness not to be taught, would lead men to misinterpret it, and so authoritative is it, that nothing but a determined opposition to the authority of God would lead them to evade and set it aside.
Thou shalt not make. Thou shalt not invent or imitate the invention, thou shalt not make, or cause to be made-thou shalt in no way whatever be accessary to the corrupting of divine worship by any resemblance, image, or device that would tend to lower the Creator, or degrade the homage that is due to God.
There is a gradation in the language that is employed. Thou shalt not thyself make such images for worship-thou shalt not bow down to them though made by others, however tempted or solicited so to do, nay, thou shalt not pay them any kind of respect, much less worship them, or offer sacrifices unto them.
We have next the sanction, or enforcement of the precept. In this sanction Jehovah addresses both men's fears and their hopes, and thereby plainly manifests his abhorrence of this sin. As it is a violation of that covenant relation that God held with the people of Israel, it is not wonderful that he guards this commandment with the strongest and most fearful sanctions. Not merely is the existing generation of idolaters threatened with personal destruction, but by their sin they involve their posterity in their crime, and of necessity in their punishment. A fearful consideration this to any parent who feels for his offspring.
Though God will not punish children with eternal destruction for the iniquities of those who gave them birth, yet the history of his providence proves that temporal distresses are often the
*s of parent's sins. And when children, as
was the case with the Jews, make parent's sins their own, the judgment falls more heavily upon them. All the righteous blood that was shed from Abel downwards, our Lord says, came upon the men of his generation, Matt. xxiii. 35. And to this hour the Jews are, in the righteous administration of God, experiencing the curse and suffering for the sins of their fathers, who put the Lord of glory to death.
But while Jehovah threatens, he also promises. Whatever temporal judgments may be inflicted on children on account of their parents' sins, if improved they shall redound to their spiritual advantage, and end in their everlasting happiness. And then if parents eschew evil, if they do love God, and keep his commandments, the mercy of God, even to thousands of generations, shall follow their children. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children, and the influence of his piety is felt, and the favour of that God whom he worshipped as his God, and the God of his seed, is experienced to a distant period, even to latest generations. God has not forgotten the faith of Abraham, nor the covenant with the father of believers. There is a most striking illustration of the promise that is made to repentant Israel in Ezek. xxxvii. 25: 'They shall dwell in the land which I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt, and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children's children for ever.'
In meditating on this precept of the law, let us lay to heart, and be deeply humbled on account of the fearful depravity of man in his natural state. When left to himself, and unaided by divine light and grace, he acts in opposition to the plainest dictates of reason and conscience; and even with God's word in his hand, he, in spite of all the divine threatenings and promises, sets himself in opposition to the positive will of God, and that too in the very homage which he pretends to offer to him. O how debased, how sinful, how miserable a being is man in a state of nature!
In meditating on this precept of the law, let us always bear in mind the spiritual import of the commandment. Ever let us remember that all formality and hypocrisy in worship are prohibited—that it is ours to conceive of God according to the revelation he has given of himself—to realize his presence by faith, not by fancy-to tremble at the thought of low and carnal conceptions of him-to fall before him with the most profound reverence of his awful majesty, and the most fervent gratitude for his divine mercy in Christ Jesus to worship him who is a spirit in spirit and in truth.
'Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law,' Deut. xxxii. 46. MOSES, the Jewish lawgiver, had now nearly executed his commission, and was about to resign his trust into other hands. He was not to be allowed to cross the Jordan and take possession of the goodly land. He was merely permitted to take a view of it from the top of mount Pisgah, and then to be gathered to his people. But his zeal for Jehovah's glory, and his desire for Israel's weal, were manifest to the last. In this book we find him contrasting the goodness of God with his people's ingratitude, denouncing the dread vengeance of heaven in case of disobedience, and then in the name of Jehovah pressing upon them an uniform and steadfast adherence to all that had been revealed and commanded.
In meditating on the words of this verse, we cannot fail to notice the extent of the requirement that is therein expressed. All the words which I testify'all the words of this law.'Limited to the period when Moses spoke, the field was wide; but carried down to New Testament times, it is much more enlarged. While we have a clearer, we have an additional, word of prophecy, and although the issue of our research is the same with that of Old Testament believers, yet much has been revealed to us of which they were ignorant, and therefore the ground over which we have to travel is much more extensive. But the desire of Moses here is to guard those whom he addressed against narrowing God's revealed word, whether in faith or practice it is to teach them to have respect to all God's commandments, and to regard them as all alike binding. The requirement bears upon all that Jehovah has uttered and recorded by his servants, from the dawn of revelation, whether in the form of doctrine or precept, faith or practice, duty or privilege, promise or threatening, the blessing or the curse, all that respects his duty to God and man, his hope and his destiny. Oh what an immense, what an immeasurable field stretches out before us!
Though a child of God will not complain of the extent of the divine requirements, regarding all that the Almighty says and commands to be good and right, rejoicing in the extent of its disclosures, the breadth of its requisitions, the comprehensiveness of its obligations, exclaiming, 'Oh how love I thy law, it is my meditation,
all the day; yet it is not so with all, there are many who would cast into the shade some parts of the divine Record. There are certain doctrines which they would keep out of view, as mysterious and unintelligible; certain precepts which they consider as less obligatory; certain hard sayings which they would have either softened or explained away. 'God writes the great things of his law, but by many they are counted as a strange thing.' It is to be noticed, however, that the Almighty makes no difference respecting his communications. His revelation of them shows the importance of all, bearing, as they do, the divine stamp, they all become essential; having I will written over them, they all become obligatory. Who would cancel what the Lord has written! who would discredit what the Lord has revealed! who would disobey what the Lord has commanded!
'Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you.' Much is included in the exhortation, here urged with such affectionate earnestness. It intimates that all the words of this life should be studied with care, rooted in the judgment, treasured up in the memory, and should reign in the affections to the exclusion of every subject of an inferior nature, and that we should cleave to them with full purpose of heart. And, surely, when the vast extent of the ground over which we have to travel, in studying the divine record, is taken into account, the depth of these subjects that do present themselves for investigation, and the importance attaching to the knowledge and reception of them, we may well set our hearts upon them, summon all our faculties, stir up all the energies of our mind to the attaining a practical knowledge of them. There are depths there, which it will require. an eternity to explore; treasures there, which it will require an eternity to disclose; and enjoyments there, which it will require an eternity to exhaust.
'Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you.' Though the words without the things signified by them, whether the declarations of the law, or the promises of the gospel, will be of very little importance; yet we are in danger of falling short of the object, if we neglect the words. The revelation of God is not more essential than that we set our heart upon it— Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear.' It is ordinarily by the words that Jehovah utters; that light, and power, and peace, and purity, and comfort, are conveyed to the heart; and, therefore, we must set our hearts upon God's words, they must be laid up in the heart, that
our thoughts may be daily conversant with them, may be employed about them, and thus the whole soul may be brought to feel and to act under their influence and impression. May we constantly be crying out with the Psalmist, Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.'
The object of Moses is not merely to instruct and impress those to whom he now spoke, but that the great things of the divine law should be handed down from father to son, and should be observed to latest generations, even while sun and moon should endure. As they are of universal benefit, so they are of perpetual obligation. Therefore, he says, 'Ye shall command your children to observe to do all the words of this law.' As the law of God is immutable and eternal, not shifting and varying like the institutions of man, and accommodated to the change of circumstances and of times, so whatever in the form of belief and practice was obligatory on parents, was also binding on their posterity: and as there was no more effectual way of perpetuating the knowledge and the fear of God than parental instruction, the divine lawgiver calls upon parents to impart to their children the knowledge that has been communicated to themselves. Every one who reads his Bible, must be convinced that there is no duty more generally and more solemnly inculcated than parental tuition. It is what is due to their offspring from their natural guardians, and no godly parent, no father or mother, who feels the power of religion, and who is animated with a proper affection for his child, will neglect it.
The good seed ought to be sown, religious knowledge ought to be imparted, divine principles ought to be implanted, a holy example ought to be set, fervent prayers should be raised to heaven, and every means should be employed to pre-occupy and impress the tender mind of the young with the love and the fear of God. Would that this course were pursued in the domestic circle, and that parents were fully alive to the eternal salvation of the young immortals committed to their charge! Grace is not hereditary; but parents may confidently anticipate, that, if they perform their duty, God will perform his part; that if they train up their child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.' And oh, what legacy can be bequeathed equal to the knowledge and the fear of God! and, surely, of all entails, the entail of family religion and piety is the most invaluable, the most to be coveted.
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire,) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image,' Deut. iv. 15, 16. HERE Jehovah urges his own conduct as a dissuasive to all idolatry and image worship. When God gave the law on mount Horeb, the people heard the voice of words, but they saw no similitude, no manner of similitude. Indeed what representation can God give of himself, or of any spiritual intelligence to creatures encompassed with sense? How is it possible that what is purely spiritual, and therefore not visible by the eye of sense, can be represented by any thing that is sensible? No man hath seen God at any time: he dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can see. whom then can ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto him?' Although Moses was favoured with a fuller revelation of God's will, and held more intimate communion with him than any other man or prophet, still it was spiritual communications that he enjoyed; and when this eminent servant of the Lord, longing for closer access to Deity, more bright and engaging displays of the divine perfections, and a stronger pledge of divine favour, earnestly said, 'I beseech thee, show me thy glory,' what did Jehovah say? Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live.' No where, but as reflected in his works, or revealed in his word, can we, in this world, see the glory of God. To see him as he is, is reserved for the beatific vision in the world of spirits.
Although the people of Israel were solemnly warned never to forget the awful solemnities they witnessed on mount Sinai, to take heed lest they should allow to depart from their hearts the things which they had seen all the days of their life, yet we find that with equal solemnity, and in words nearly similar, they are warned and interdicted against fashioning any graven image, or the similitude of any thing whatever, such as the carnal fancy might suggest, through the medium, or by the aid of which they might offer homage to the great Majesty of heaven and earth. "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image.'
It is often urged in vindication of this practice by those who countenance the monstrous absurdities of the church of Rome, that these images are not worshipped, but that the cere