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to redeemed sinners : and therefore mercy is mentioned in the second commandment; not indeed as communicated by the law, but as shewn by God to his obedient people.The remainder of this Essay will consist of a compendious exposition of the ten commandments, as introductory to a further consideration of the divine government.

The great Lawgiver prefaced his injunctions, by proclaiming his own essential and immụtable glory and perfection; “ I am Jehovah.”

" I am Jehovah.” As the source of existence, and consequently of all power, wisdom, justice, truth and goodness, He is the standard of excellence and beauty; from whom all created amiableness is an emanation ; of whose glory it is a feeble reflection. To Him alone the throne belongs. He only is qualified to be the universal lawgiver and judge; and he has the sole and unalienable title to that love and service which his law demands. To this he added, “ Thy God,” to express Israel's relation and obligation to him. We are all his rational creatures, and every benefit which he bestows binds us more forcibly to love and obedience. We, like Israel, are his professed worshippers ; if we be what we profess, he is our portion and everlasting felicity: and this still enhances our obligations to devote ourselves to his service. The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage was typical of our redemption by Jesus Christ from sin and misery: and, though all men ought to obey the law of God, yet none do render any spiritual obedience to it except his redeemed people.

After this solemn introduction, Jehovah first



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added, “Thou shalt have no other gods before

me.' The commandments are addressed in the singular number to each person ; because every one is concerned in them on his own account: and each prohibition implies a positive duty. This first command requires a disposition and conduct suited to the relation in which we stand to the “ Lord our God.” He alone is the adequate object of our love, and able to satisfy our capacity of happiness; all we have and are belong to him; and he has an unalienable right to prescribe the use which we should make of his gifts. He has so clear a title to our love, gratitude, reverence, adoration, submission, confidence, and obedience; that we cannot withhold them from him without the most manifest injustice. Considering who he is, and what he has done for us; except we love him to the full extent of all our natural powers, we do not render him his due : and, if we did thus love him, all contrary affections would be excluded, all inferior affections subordinated. Admiring his excellency, desiring and delighting in him and his favour, being grateful for his kindness, and zealous for his glory, with all the energy of our souls; it is evident that we should love other objects only for his sake, and according to his will. No creature could then rival him in our affections, or prevail with us to neglect his service : and, whilst we rendered him the tribute of adoring love and praise, and so glorified him, we should possess unalloyed felicity in the enjoyment of his favour. This is the reasonable state in which things ought to be; and all that deviates from it is sin, and the effect of apostacy from God.

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In the preceding Essay some thoughts have been offered on man's propensity to idolatry. To the disgrace of the human understanding, the grossest species of it have been almost universal in the world : and a more refined and plausible kind of idolatry has often supplanted them, in those few places where something more rational has prevailed. We need not, however, enlarge on this violation of the first commandment; or shew particularly how the pagans, and Israel, and some parts of the professing church of Christ, by worshipping creatures, have ascribed to them the glory of those attributes, which Jehovah incommunicably, possesses. These practices constitute the grand transgression of this law: and all pretences to witchcraft, fortune-telling, charms, or incantations, partake in a measure of the same guilt; as by them information, or assistance, is professedly sought from creatures, where God should be wholly depended on, and submitted to.

But this spiritual precept reaches much further. To love, desire, delight in, or expect good from, any forbidden indulgence, even in the smallest degree, is evidently a violation of it; and to suffer the most excellent or amiable of creatures to rival God in our affections must be a proportionable contempt of him. By atheism and irreligion men set

up themselves as Gods, aspire to independence, reject subordination, and refuse to render homage or worship to any superior being: as if they had created themselves, and were sufficient for their own happiness! The proud man idolizes himself, and offers incense to his own deity; and therefore “ God resisteth him” as his rival. The ambitious

pay homage to the opinions of men, and seek happiness in their applause, or in such honourable distinctions as they can bestow. The revengeful usurp the throne of God, and invade the

prerogative of Him“ to whom vengeance belongeth.” The covetous man deifies his wealth, the sensualist his vile appetites, and the rapturous lover his mistress; he lives on her smiles, his heaven is placed in her favour, and her frown would make him the most wretched of all creatures. Nay the doating husband, and fond parent, may deify the objects of their affections; for, though they ought to love them tenderly, yet this affection, and the manner in which it is exercised, should be absolutely subordinated to the will and glory of God.

But no comment can equal the extent of the command. Whatever consists not with the most perfect love, gratitude, reverence, submission, and devotedness of the whole heart to God, is a transgression of it: and it requires us to love the Lord and all his creatures, according to their real worthiness; not more, nor less; except as finite beings cannot love infinite excellence in an adequate man

Obedience to it would enthrone God in our judgment and affections; and, the whole of our love being thus given to him, 'we should love all others for his sake, and according to the measure that he has enjoined: whilst the violation of it destroys this regular subordination, and gives the creatures the throne in our hearts. Well, therefore, may it stand foremost in the decalogue; for our obedience in all other things depends on it. Other transgressions injure the subject, and affront the Sovereign ; but the violation of this law is high



treason against the majesty of heaven; and at the same time is entirely destructive to the happiness of all who are guilty of it.—The expression, “ be“fore me,” implied that idolatry could not be kept so secret but that it must be known to the heartsearching God; it would at all times affront him “ to his face;” but especially when committed by Israel, who had his glory continually displayed before their eyes.

II. The second commandment requires us to render to the Lord our God a worship and service suited to his perfections, and honourable to his

His incomprehensible nature cannot be represented by any similitude. The most exquisite painting or sculpture can only give an external resemblance of a man: even animal life with its several functions cannot be thus exhibited; much less can a likeness be made of the soul and its operations. How dishonourable then must every attempt be to represent the infinite God” by silver

or gold graven by art and man's device !” The general disposition of mankind to form such similitudes of the Deity proves that low apprehensions of him are congenial to our fallen nature; and the practice has exceedingly increased the grossness of men's conceptions concerning him. The more stupid of the heathen alone worshipped the picture or image itself; others used it as a visible

representation of the invisible Numen, or Deity: and all that ingenious papists have urged in behalf of their images is equally applicable to Israel's worship of the golden calves, or to that rendered by the Ephesians to the image of Diana, “ which fell “ down from Jupiter.”—A material image of the

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