Imatges de pÓgina

der with the greatest sincerity what you have said to him, and to pray earnestly that God would give his blessing, and so direct and rule his heart, that he may be truly prepared, through the merits and intercession of Christ, for life, or for death.


Helps for conversing with any one, whether in sickness or in health, (especially with a Formalist,) on the spirituality and extent of the Ten Commandments.

It may be very proper, on many occasions, in order to convince them of sin, to enquire whether they have rightly understood the spirituality and extent of God's Commandments, by which they will soon see whether they have ever considered the Commandments spiritually, as extending to the thoughts and intents of the heart, and whether, though they may not have broken them perhaps by notorious sins, they have kept them in the spiritual sense. But still they should be told that they have committed much sin, and done much injury, not only to others, but especially to their own souls, by great, numberless, and daily offences against the holy law of God; nay, that they have broken every one of them; and this indeed we all confess every Sunday; for, when we hear the Minister repeat the Commandments, we make answer after each of them, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline "our hearts to keep this law." Our calling for mercy is plainly acknowledging ourselves guilty.

The first Commandment. This Commandment requires a disposition and conduct suited to the relation in which we all stand to the Lord our God. Now whatever deviates from it is sin, and the effect of man's fall. Examine then whether you have never loved any worldly thing more than God and

"Keep thine heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues "of life." (Prov. iv. 23.)

See Ps. xiv. 3. 23. Matt. vi. 21.

Rom. iii. 10. to the same effect. Ps. cxxxix.
Matt. xv. 19.

his favour. Whether you have never feared any thing more than his displeasure, so as to neglect a known duty rather than draw on yourself some temporal inconvenience. If so, then this was a breach of the first Commandment; for our Lord's words are, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with "all thy mind." Matt. xxii. 37.

The second Commandment.] This Commandment respects the manner of expressing the devotion of the heart; and therefore whatever in this service has been unbecoming, such as wandering thoughts, carelessness, and ignorance, as well as using images, is a breach of this second Commandment. So also is a neglect of God's service. Here I suppose you cannot pretend to be not guilty. Consequently your coming to church and the sacrament in a careless and unthinking manner deserves rather to be reckoned among your sins, than trusted to for justification before God. This is a breach of the second Commandment. Who will pretend to assert that there is less guilt in loving gold, or preferring pleasure before God, than in bowing down to a graven image of wood or of stone? Whatever we love more than God is our idol; and unless we understand the Commandments as they are read every Sunday in this manner, how can we with any meaning join in the response after each Commandment, "Lord, have mercy upon us,' conscious as we must be, that we have never literally bowed down to a graven image, nor committed murder.

The third Commandment.] This Commandment forbids the use of God's name irreverently, profanely, or in fraud, dissimulation, or hypocrisy. It forbids all appeals to God in conversation with such expressions as "the Lord knows," &c. when the matter is neither true nor important: or when we use the words God, Lord, or Christ, without ne

Examine then

cessity, seriousness, or reverence. whether you have not frequently taken the Lord's name in vain, using it needlessly, and without an awful sense of his majesty, of whom you spake ! This you have done perhaps ten thousand times in your life. This therefore is a breach of the third Commandment.

The fourth Commandment.] Whenever you have. absented yourself from public worship on the Sabbath without a necessary hindrance, suffered worldly thoughts to unfit you for God's service; done or compelled others to do worldly business on that day, which might have been done on another; travelled unnecessarily, or spent the sacred day in idleness, vain recreations, trifling visits, or other actions of sin and folly; neglecting to instruct your children and servants, and not devoting the whole to God, by reading, hearing, prayer, meditation, and useful conversation, you have profaned the Lord's day. This is a breach of the fourth Commandment.

These four first Commandments contain our duty towards God, and make what is called the First Table. The substance of which is, "Thou shalt love "the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Matt. v. 28. But you come short of this whenever you have not acted to the glory of God. Now what can even the best of us think of his innocence, in regard to the duties of this First Table?

Hence it will appear, that what the moral law requires is extensive, spiritual, reasonable, and ber neficial; yet it must be acknowledged to be entirely contrary to the disposition of our hearts, and different from the tenour of our lives. We all therefore need mercy, redemption, and a renovation to holiness, that we may be induced to please God, and be made fit for heaven.

The other six Commandments make what is called the Second Table, and contain our duty to

wards our neighbour, as explained by our Lord in his Sermon on the mount. How can any of presume to say that we have obeyed them?


The fifth Commandment.] All the superior and inferior relations have their several reciprocal duties, which may be referred to this Commandment.、 All parts therefore of your behaviour which are unsuitable to the situation in which Providence has placed you, irreverence, and proud censuring of your superiors, and all unkind and injurious treatment of those who are beneath you, are certain breaches of the fifth Commandment.

The sixth Commandment.] This Commandment requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves, in regard to his person and life. What then shall we think of the accursed slave-trade, which will surely bring vengeance on this land if much longer tolerated! Want of compassion, causeless anger, and especially injurious language, is accounted by our Lord a degree of murder, Matt. v. 22. Duelling, on whatever occasion, is an atrocious breach of this Commandment. "Thou shalt do no murder" is a commandment, which to mention even on a suspicion that you were guilty of it, might at first. startle you, and rouse your indignation. But what says the Scripture? "He that loveth not his bro"ther abideth in death." John iii. 14. "Whoever hateth his brother is a murderer." Verse 15. See likewise Matt. v. 22. Consider the extensive meaning of this Commandment, and then say whence proceed quarrels, wrath, strife, and the like! whence but from murderous principles in the heart!


The seventh Commandment.] They sin against this Commandment who are adulterers or fornicators: they who by wanton gestures, lascivious looks, loose dress, obscene discourse, amorous. songs, &c. tempt or betray themselves, or others,

to sin.

Our Lord tells us, that wantonness in the

eye and heart is esteemed adultery (Matt. v. 28.) in the sight of God. Did you never know an impure desire? Did you never indulge a lascivious thought? How can purity of body and soul, in secret as well as before men, which is the end of this Commandment, preside in the heart, from which flow the impure streams of filthy communication and indecent jesting, though they may be conveyed in seemingly decent terms? These things are breaches of the seventh Commandment.

The eighth Commandment.] "Thou shalt not steal." Let us pause awhile, and consider its extent and spirituality. It is not only the robber and the thief, who take away something confessedly mine, who are guilty of the breach of this Commandment; but he is also guilty who takes an unjust advantage in buying and selling. He who uses a light weight, or a short measure, is a thief before God. He who borroweth, and payeth not again, when it is in his power to do it. He who buys or sells commodities, which have not paid the legal duties. In short, all sorts of conduct towards others in money matters, which we would not have others practise towards us, are the sinful fruits of a dishonest principle in the heart, which principle stands condemned in the spirit, though not in the letter, of the eighth Commandment..

The ninth Commandment.] Envy of others' praise runs counter to the spirit of this Commandment, which requires truth, fidelity, candour, and caution; with a disposition to honour what is honourable in all men, and to be as tender of their reputation as we would reasonably expect them to be of ours, and our feelings will instruct us how far this rule will carry us. Taking away another's good name, on which perhaps his interest, usefulness, trade, and livelihood may depend, is contrary to this Commandment; as are all evil-speaking, rash censuring, hinting faults, hesitating dislike, repeat

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