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duty, of interest, thou particularly dost owe most submissive attention and obedience.
Thy God: that supereminent being and power, to whom thou peculiarly dost owe worship and honour, love and affection, duty and service; who although he be indeed the Lord of all the world, yet beareth a special relation unto thee; as “having chosen” and avouched “thee to be a special people to himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth ;" having promised thee to “make thee high above all nations, which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour;” and having by many signal demonstrations of favour and mercy confirmed to thee the performance of his covenant and promise; thou also reciprocally having “avowed me to be thy God, to walk in my ways, to keep my statutes, my commandments, my judgments, and to hearken to my voice.”
WHO BROUGHT THEE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT;
OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE.
This is a particular and most remarkable instance, by which it appeareth what God it is that doth thus impose law upon them; and how they are obliged to entertain it: that God it is who in pursuance of his singular favour toward thee, and of his covenant made with thee, hath particularly obliged thee by so eminent a benefit, in a manner so full of wonder in itself, so full of grace toward thee, delivering thee from saddest oppression and slavery, bringing thee into a desirable state of present liberty and of sure tendency (not otherwise than by thy fault to be frustrated) toward enjoyment of rest, of plenty, of all joy and comfort in the promised land; declaring thereby, as his glorious and divine perfections of wisdom and power, so his exceeding goodness toward thee, his faithful care over thee, his readiness and sufficiency in all thy needs and exigencies to protect, preserve, and deliver thee.
· Deut. vii. 6; iv. 2.
2 Deut. xxvi. 16,
I then being such, Jehovah, the only true God; thy God, by particular engagement and endearment; thy gracious and bountiful benefactor not in will only, but in deed; do 'thus propound my will unto thee; and upon all accounts of general and special duty, of reason, of justice, of gratitude, require thy regard and observance of what follows.
Now what God in a direct and literal sense thus speaketh to the Jewish people, may, according to likeness of case and parity of reason, upon more considerable and effectual accounts, be applied unto us. The Lord Jehovah is such no less to us than to them; He is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" to him, as to the only, true, eternal, and Almighty God, the Author, Lord, and Governor of all things, our highest respect and observance are due. He also, in a stricter relation, founded on higher grounds, is our God, having chosen us and consecrated us more especially to himself; having received us into a closer confederacy (“ a new and better covenant,” as the apostle calls it," established upon better promises”)' having obliged us by granting nobler privileges and dispensing more excellent benefits to us: who likewise hath brought us up out of a spiritual Egypt and state of infinitely more wretched bondage; hath rescued us from the tyrannical dominion of Satan (a far more intolerably cruel and hard master than any Pharaoh), hath freed us from serving sin in our souls and bodies, a far harder service than making bricks or any bodily toil can be; who hath conducted us in the way, and conferred on us an assured hope of entering into the heavenly Canaan, a place of perfect rest and inconceivable bliss; who (as St Paul expresseth it) “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his most beloved Son;" who therefore here, according to spiritual intent, may be understood to speak in a higher strain to us; justly exacting a more punctual and accurate obedience to his commandments.
THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.
It is in the Hebrew—" There shall be to thee no other gods (or no strange gods) to my face,” that is, in comparison or competition with me; so as to be confronted to me, or together with me. “I am He”
Heb. viii, 6; vii. 22.
2 Coloss. i. 13.
(saith God elsewhere), "and there is no God with me; or beside me.'
But we need not criticise on the words, the sense being plain ; as containing a prohibition of assuming any other into partnership with the one true God; acknowledging in mind or in outward expression any other for God.
The precept, as most of the rest, is in form negative and prohibitive, but supposeth and implieth somewhat affirmative and positive; as the rest also may be conceived to do. It implies this affirmative precept, Thou shalt have me for thy God. Now to have him for our God, signifies, as to internal disposition of mind, a most high esteem, honour, dread, and love of that Being, as endued with attributes and perfections superlatively excellent; the admiring all his works, approving all his actions, acquiescing in all his proceedings and dealings with us; the reposing our hope and trust in him as most able and willing to help us and do us good; in outward expression to acknowledge, praise, and bless him as such; to yield all fitting demonstrations of respect to his name, and to whatever is specially related to him ; patiently to submit to his will and readily to obey his commandments. These principally and the like acts of internal devotion and external piety are comprised in the words, having him for our God, and we are to understand them here enjoined to us; the same, which is in Scripture called the “fearing," the “serving,” the “worshipping,” the “loving God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our
| Deut. xxxii. 39.
This is implied; and it is expressly prohibited us to yield to any other, beside him, the like esteem, acknowledgment, or service. That there is in truth but one such Being, to whom eminently those acts are due, nature, ancient tradition, general consent, and especially Divine revelation, do assure us; whereupon is consequent, that yielding them to any other being whatever, whether really existent in the world or merely formed by our imagination, is highly unreasonable, unbeseeming us, and unjust toward him.
1. It is highly unreasonable, as false and groundless in itself, as vain and unprofitable to us, as productive of many
bad effects. It is error in a matter of the highest nature and mainest consequence; and so, beyond any other mistake, hurtful to us, as reasonable and intelligent creatures; “ the transmuting the truth of God into a lie,"? St Paul calls it, reckoning it for a grievous folly and crime. It is a vanity of all most lamentable, a pursuance of shadows, an embracing of clouds, a building in air, a leaning upon that which hath no substance, or no strength to support us, a dreaming and doting upon mere nothing. Whence those false deities in Scripture are well termed vanities," for that as they have no truth, or substance, or efficacy considerable in
· Matt. xxii, 37 ; Luke x. 27 ;
Deut. vi. 5. ? Rom. i. 25.
Jer. ii. 13.