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'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 obligaTherefore, 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 repre sentation 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 Mos 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

monies and representations in use are employed In meditating on the words of this text, to use as helps, that they are fitted to make divine the words of a late writer, let us guard against worship more intelligible and pleasing to the every corruption and neglect in God's worship; young, more impressive to the common people, and against yielding to the spirit of the world, the more attractive to all. Under this impression they influence of fancy, the power of superstition in have acted; and thus, as has been stated by an religion. Let us guard against a blind veneraeloquent writer, do they foolishly imagine that 'the tion for what is old, a childish fondness for what is more pomp they can lavish on the rites of worship splendid, a restless pursuit of what is new. Let the more is their devotion to God manifested; and us continue stedfast in the apostle's doctrine and by engaging the outward senses the homage of fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers. the heart is gained.' But what is the meaning Let us stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, of such language and conduct? Why, it is just striving together for the faith of the gospel. Let this, that the great God hast not been sufficiently us take heed to the things which we have heard, explicit and full in revealing his will to his crea- and beware lest our minds should be drawn away, tures, in declaring how he is to be worshipped; or corrupted from the simplicity that is in that man is to utter what God has left untold, and Christ.' to eke out what is defective in the divine communications. In every thing relative to divine worship, God alone must dictate; we are not left to our own views of expediency in subjects of this nature, and we call upon any one to examine carefully the multiplied and varied declarations of the Almighty here and elsewhere, and to say what verdict he can bring in regard to the usages and worship of the popish church, but that it is guilty of the grossest idolatry. No one can reconcile their practices with the plain and unambiguous language of the word of God. The words of the Eternal are peculiarly solemn and emphatic, Take good heed lest ye corrupt your


Could a greater insult be offered to God, or more daring impiety be manifested by man, than when the Israelites fashioned the golden calf, prostrated themselves before it, sacrificed unto it, and said, 'These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt?' Yet not more daring, not more profane was the conduct of Israel then, or in her times of grossest idolatry, than is that of our modern Christian idolaters. It is not merely a setting aside the positive, the unalterable command of God, but it is an extinction of that light that the Almighty Creator has kindled in the bosom of those whom he formed after his own image. How grievously have they corrupted and defiled themselves; they have changed the glory of God into an image made like unto corruptible man. No wonder that ignorance, and profligacy, and vice prevail to such a degree in those countries that are purely popish; no wonder that vital godliness has decayed, and that morality is at the lowest ebb. They have dishonoured their God and Redeemer, they have corrupted themselves. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!'

Ever let us distrust our own vain reasonings, and our gross imaginations in regard to the divine nature and worship. By faith and prayer let us draw our knowledge from revelation alone. And in our acts of worship let us ever draw near through Christ, and trust in his blood, and derive from his fulness the wisdom, the grace, and the strength that are needful.


The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God,' Deut. vii. 25.

How very jealous is God of his own honour and glory, and especially in what regards the worship he demands of his creatures. In reading the books of Moses and the prophets, one cannot fail to notice how the sin of idolatry is singled out, forbidden, denounced, threatened, and punished. It is compared to spiritual adultery, by which the marriage covenant is violated, and that love and faith which unite parties is extinguished and broken. One would almost say from what is recorded respecting it, that it is the sin of sins, a sin above all others, and the sin which above all others God abhors.

Israel had lived amongst idolaters in Egypt, and they were soon to be brought into contact with idolaters in Canaan. Their passion for idolatry had been already felt and manifested, and therefore it was to be feared that when they entered Canaan, unless they exercised the strictest vigilance over their own hearts, they might be induced to follow the abominable practices of that idolatrous country. The Lord, therefore,

in mercy cautions them and charges them. They were to be the executioners of the divine vengeance against the inhabitants of that land, because of their gross wickedness, and they are peremptorily commanded, not merely to destroy the people of Canaan, but to destroy their graven images to abhor and put away from them the precious metals of which they were fashioned, and not to allow the smallest vestige of idolatry to be admitted into their dwellings, lest they should be contaminated thereby.

The images of the heathen deities were made of the most costly and valuable materials-nothing was reckoned too precious for their adornment; and the temples of modern idolatry are adorned in the same manner. The whole aim of popery, the whole tendency of its worship, is to fascinate the outward man, to please the eye, and to gratify the ear. It endeavours to strike the senses, it appeals to the imagination in every possible way; but alas! alas! all that is spiritual, godly, and sanctifying is neglected. When and where does it appeal to and let in light to the understanding? When and how does it captivate and purify the heart? "The church of the Escurial,' says an eloquent writer, 'is one mass of marble, gold, and precious stones, relieved by admirable pictures, and rendered holy by the presence of some four or five hundred vases, containing relics of every possible saint or saintly object. The rapacity of the French disturbed the identity of these fancied treasures, for while they carried off many of the golden vases, they scattered their unlabelled contents in confusion on the ground, to the great perplexity of the blinded devotees. How long will men worship the offal of the charnel house?"

Can there be life and spirituality in that church, which, in defiance of God's word, in contempt of all that God can promise or threaten, pretends to worship a pure and holy Being by such abominations? Can there be vitality in that church, which in its worship degrades the everblessed Redeemer, the Emmanuel, God with us, by ranking him in his mediatorial character and advocateship with the very creatures of his own power; yea, in the court of heaven advancing the influence of saints above that of the Lord Jesus Christ?

While God has most unequivocally prohibited, and by his denunciations testified his displeasure against idolatry in every form, he has also most signally punished it. Israel was taught what a bitter thing it was, in the judgments, which, by their own hands, were executed on the Canaanites. Themselves, though the covenant people of

God, suffered most grievously on account of this sin, and the heaviest visitations of Heaven that overtook them were for their idolatry. And God will not allow this sin to remain, this engine of Satan to be employed for ever in any church, or in any quarter of the globe-the curse of God rests upon it, and the blight of heaven shall fall upon it. What measures God in his providence may take for its subversion—when or how it shall be finally overthrown, he alone to whom all time is alike, knows; but overthrown it shall be, uprooted it shall be. "The Lord shall consume it with the Spirit of his mouth, he shall destroy it with the brightness of his coming.' In surveying the hideous mass of heathen idolatry, and popish superstition that overspreads such a vast portion of the globe, the heart may well sicken, and in anguish of spirit we may bewail the fearful desolation, but there is no room for despair. God shall send forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and the triumphant shout shall be raised, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen.' Yes, every stronghold of Satan shall be overthrown-the idolatry of benighted Gentile nations, the impositions of the false prophet in the East, and the corruptions of the man of sin in the West, shall all be subverted and fall before the light of truth. Aye, the churches of the Reformation, many of which retain still some of the rubbish of popery, and all of which retain less or more of the rust of corruption that adheres to every institution that is human, shall be purged. It may be by a fiery trial, it may be by severe judgments, by the fan in the Almighty's hand, for Zion has invariably been redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness; but it shall be accomplished, and they shall be stripped of the garment spotted by the flesh. Oh that our own church, the church of our fathers, which has much to bewail on account of past unfruitfulness, barrenness, and apostacy, may in God's good time be delivered from all her difficulties, purified from all her defilement, and be rendered more eminently instrumental in advancing the Redeemer's kingdom and plucking brands from the burning.

In meditating on these words, let us regard them as a warning against spiritual idolatry, against every thing that would displace the Almighty from the throne of our affections. An image for worship we are not likely to fashion; before an image, however costly, we are not likely to fall prostrate: but is it not possible to transfer our affections from the Creator to the creature; may we not be ambitious to lay up silver as the

dust, to make gold our hope, and to say to the is denied.
fine gold, Thou art my confidence.' Covetous- necessary.
ness is idolatry-and that man who is the slave
of this world, who is fired with the lust of the
flesh, or the lust of the eye, and makes the world
his portion, is as much an object of aversion to
the pure mind of Jehovah-is as far from the
kingdom of heaven as is the vilest idolater: the
blind deluded worshipper of a false God.


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O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand,' Ps. xcv. 6, 7. GOD abhors all idolatry and image-worship, and he every where denounces it in his word as the accursed thing. O do not,' says he, this abominable thing that I hate. Still he does not liberate man, or relax his obligation in the least degree from paying homage to his name. Jehovah has a righteous claim to the homage of his rational offspring, and he demands it. Universal creation is summoned to show forth his praise. The seraphs cease not day or night to extol him who sits upon the throne. Inanimate creation, in mute expressive silence, proclaims his wonders; and shall man, the representative of his Maker on earth, of all the creatures of God the most indebted, be silent? No. All thy works, O Lord, shall praise thee, and thy saints shall bless thee.' And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.' Spiritual worship, the homage of the heart, is what God specially demands; and without this, no oblation, however magnificent, is of any avail. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me, saith the Lord? But man being possessed of powers of body as well as mind, and these, being alike the gift of God, and having a mutual influence the one upon the other, must all be consecrated to his service. As it will not do for any man to satisfy himself with the outward form of worship, while the spirit is wanting, so neither may any one flatter himself that he is a true worshipper, under the pretext, were the thing possible, that the heart is taken and the feelings engaged while the outward homage

Both are demanded, and both are O come, let us worship, and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.' Still let us bear in mind, that external homage is no longer valuable and important, than while it is the handmaid to devout feeling; that the outward form, be it what it may, must be sanctified by the veneration, and awe, and affection of the heart; by the holy, and exalted, and sublime thoughts of God which are cherished. Let this consideration influence us in all our approaches to God; and oh, let us beware of drawing near to him with our mouth, and honouring him with our lips, while our hearts may be removed from him.'

While every act of worship must be pure and simple, removed from all that is superstitious, befitting the majesty and glory of him whom we adore, it must also be in perfect accordance with his will. By the law and the testimony we must be guided here, as in every thing that enters into our duty to God. Every religious observance must be engaged in, not because it has the sanction of public authority-not because it is of long established usage-not because it comports with our ideas of fitness and propriety, but because it has the approval of the King of Zion-because it has Thus saith the Lord. written over it-the Amen of heaven establishing it. It is because men have departed from this course, because they have lost sight of the divine enactment, and ceased to listen to the voice of the Eternal, that they have been led into those gross absurdities in worship by which individuals and churches have been characterised.

That worship that we render to Jehovah under the Christian dispensation, if we listen to the great Head of the Church, is, to a mind that seeks for light, improvement, and comfort, simple, affecting, and deeply interesting. The reading of the word of life in private, and the preaching of the gospel in public, the praying to God in the closet and the family, and the praying to him in the sanctuary, the expressing of our thankfulness and joy in the song of praise, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, are the leading acts of worship which the Head of the Church has instituted. And when these are engaged in with the spirit that their nature and importance bespeak, without those accompaniments of human invention by which they are corrupted, and which actually tend to distract and lead away the mind from God, when the Lord alone is sought in them, and when the Spirit of God accompanies and blesses them, how pleasing and

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