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widest sense :—Precepts and prohibitions are to be understood not only as the regulators of outward actions, or external compliance, but equally of inward motives, of the mind, of the affections and aversions of the heart:—Where any particular virtue is enjoined, there the vice immediately opposed to it is prohibited ; and where a vice is prohibited, the opposite virtue is enjoined :—Precepts which verbally enforce a certain defmed virtue, comprehend also, in spirit, all similar virtues, and all means of promoting them; and prohibitions which require a certain vice to be avoided, include all similar vices, and all occasions of them:—Although the masculine gender is alone adopted in the phraseology of the Decalogue, females as well as males, being equally of the human race, which is, without exception, the subject of the divine laws, are equally amenable to the precepts and prohibitions of the Decalogue; its terms
only being altered to suit their several obligations:
The Commandments being of two kinds, positive and negative, there is some difference between them in the extent of their application, though there be none in their authority and force; for the negative precepts, those which forbid, are obligatory at all times and in all cases; whereas the positive precepts, those which enjoin certain duties, do not require that these duties shall be constantly fulfilled, or actually performed at any but the proper seasons—they are not applicable to all persons, at all times:—Those things which are commanded or prohibited to each individual in the singular number, in which all the Commandments are addressed, each one is bound to promote or to discountenance to the utmost of his power in others:—As the Law is perfect in itself, so it cannot be performed by partial obedience, the breach of one commandment being an offence against the authority of the whole, and being incapable of compensation by obedience to the remainder: universal obedience is required, and therefore the slightest shade of sin is justly considered as a transgression of the Law: —The same duties and virtues are not unfrequently required by different Commandments, being in different ways subservient to each of them; and the same sins are forbidden by more than one division of the Law, when they tend to the breach of more than one precept :—An explicit Commandment of the Decalogue, whether positive or negative, supersedes the authority of all passages found in other parts of Scripture, which may be improperly understood, so as to con. flict with its obligations,—because the will of God is ever consistent with itself, and that which is doubtful or capable of misconstruction in bis Word, must be interpreted according to that which is plain and unequivocal.
§ 7. The Ten Commandments were given to Moses, written upon two tables of stone; the first table containing the four first precepts, which teach the duty of man towards his Maker,—the second table, the six last, which instruct him in his duty towards his fellow creatures. His duty towards himself is implied in, and inseparably connected with, his fulfilment of all the requisitions of the moral code; for every personal sin violates the first table, and almost every one the second.
§ 8. The following compendium will shew the substance of the Ten Commandments, extracted according to the above-mentioned rules of interpretation.
IMMEDIATE DUTY TOWARDS GOD.
The unfeigned acknowledgement of the one true God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Devotion of the whole heart to God above all things.
All thoughts, words, and actions, tending to the honour and glory of God.
The adoption of all means of acquiring and diffusing the knowledge and love of God.
Atheism, Polytheism, profaneness, and speculative superstition.
All affections which are inconsistent with supreme devotedness to God.
All thoughts, words, and actions derogatory to the character of God.
Every thing tending to obscure the light of nature and revelation, and to prevent the diffusion of religious knowledge.
The pure worship of God.
Idolatry, the paying of religious homage, or external worship, to any created being, or to any representation of the Deity.
All observances which tend to promote its design, and to engage others in the same duty.
Unworthy, or irregular manner of performance.
All occupations and amusements which interfere with sacred ordinances, and prevent ourselves or others from joining in them.
DUTY TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOUR, OR MEDIATE
DUTY TOWARDS GOD.
Reverence and submission to all superiors, whether seniors, parents, or guardians, magistrates, pastors, masters, or betters.
The exercise of all relative duties as superiors, equals, or inferiors.
Every thing which cherishes the graces of obedience, humility, and submission.
Want of respect and subordination to natural parents, and to all superiors in age, church, and state.
Disaffection, sedition* turbulence, insolence.
Neglect of relative duties.
All acts and expressions which may injure or bring into contempt any of those to whom honour is due.