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“It is the abridgment and epitome of the whole Bible, compendiously containing the whole Law and the Gospel. Not one proposition in the Scripture, but hath its common place in the Ten Commandments : and he that understandeth them well is a good Christian man, if he follow them. He that understandeth them not can be no Christian man. There, is every man's office and duty described, what is to be done, whether it be towards God or man: and whether he be minister in the church, or in the civil-wealth, of what condition soever he be, there may he learn how to follow his vocation.”—BISHOP HOOPER. 1546.
OLY Scripture, like its Divine Giver, is in
exhaustible in riches. The same words and
sentences we learned by rote in childhood, recur to the memory in mature years, and ever with renewed interest. The promises that encouraged us, the warnings that alarmed, the exhortations that awakened us at that early period, yet remain stamped on those blessed
like the voices of familiar friends, with associations of their own to win our eager listening. Nay! more than this, the longer we commune with them, the deeper seems to grow our knowledge of their import. Often we find, after the lapse of years, a new flood of light sent down from heaven on passages that were used of old, in daily recurrence, as household words. The
teacher, the Holy Spirit, may keep us long in His school as learners of God's Word; but He always sets before us new lessons—until, through His instruction in righteousness, the man of God is perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, and given from Mount Sinai through Moses to the children of Israel, the Moral Law presents us with the most satisfying evidence of its Divine origin. As a legislative code it is perfect; for it embodies, in a few words, the whole duty of man.
On the one table appear Four Commandments, setting forth all that we rightfully owe to our Creator; and on the other table are further given Six Precepts, declaring our duties to our fellow-creatures. Each table, or section, may be looked upon as, in itself, an "exceeding broad” Commandment, for the keeping of which love to the parties concerned is the true, constraining motive. (Romans, xiii. 10.) Thus did the Saviour Himself regard the Decalogue. In reply to the lawyer's enquiry, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said unto him:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.'
neighbour as thyself.'
“The second [table] is Like unto it [the first]," saith the Lord; yet the correspondence of the twain
1 commonly passes unnoticed, because of our arranging the Ten Commandments consecutively, in numerical order. When we place the divine and human obligations side by side, as they stood originally in their two tables, a systematic parallelism is made apparent. We see that, modified as they must be on account of the essential differences in the Beings to whom they relate, they start from the same principles, proceed on the same line of injunctions, and conclude with the same, or similar, spiritual requirements. The duties respectively are arranged in a specified order; and, setting out with the authorities to which in heaven and earth we must bow, they close their words of warning with precepts intended to make us keep our hearts diligently, knowing that out of them are the issues of life.
A considerable discrepancy must, indeed, exist between the commandments that have God for their end, and those which refer to the human race; and the Two Tables, therefore, can only be expected to forbid analogous transgressions, and prescribe analogous duties. The
same offences cannot be committed against God and man.
The Creator may have His Worship denied, and His being ignored; but He cannot be killed, like the creature. The creature has no “day of rest,” that he has sanctified and set apart to be hallowed, like the Creator. Allowing for this necessary distinction, we shall find in the Two Tables the strongest similitude, not only in the precepts, but in their ordering, such as could not have proceeded from chance. In each Table, the Divine legislator advances from fundamental principles to practical duties; and, adapting His laws (as they referred to Himself or to His creatures) to man's necessities, He delivers His compendious Code, according to a set form.
It will be found, as we carry on our investigation, that the First Commandment corresponds with the Fifth; the Second, with the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth; the Third, with the Ninth; and the Fourth, with the Tenth. I proceed to show this :
I. THE FIRST COMMANDMENT CORRESPONDS THE FIFTH.
I shall place them in parallel columns, according to the text in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, and shall so arrange the others also. The analogy will, in this way, be more readily perceived: FIRST COMMANDMENT.
FIFTH COMMANDMENT. “Thou shalt have no other “Honour thy father and thy Gods before Me."
mother ; that thy days may be long upon the land which the
Lord thy God giveth thee.” Here is the commencement of duty, the well-spring out of which the whole river take its rise. On the one hand, we have our heavenly Father claiming the full service of our hearts; on the other hand, we hear His voice, commanding filial obedience to those from whom came our earthly being. Upon the similitude of the heavenly and the human relationship, I need not dwell. The Scriptures pre-suppose it continually, and upon such foundation rest their most solemn appeals. The name of “Father” is God's fittest designation, as He is the Creator of all things.
“ Have we not all one Father?
Hath not one God created us?”
is the Prophet's searching enquiry, (Malachi, ii. 10,) when rebuking the evil doings of his people. Thus, too, doth repentant Israel seek the Lord's mercy, (Isaiah, lxiv. 8, 9,) and plead with Him :
“But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father ;
We are the clay and Thou the potter ;
We might almost imagine, when man sees how he derives his bodily frame, through generation, from another, and forms it not himself, that he would conclude from this circumstance that of his unseen and undying spirit there was also a Giver, whom he might address with the same reverent appellation. The unity, moreover, of earthly fatherhood should teach him the Oneness of the Lord on high. “There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him.” When thus considered, the First Commandment receives illustration from the Fifth : so that we might find in Jehovah's appeal to us, forbidding a plurality of gods, something of this forceful meaning: “Think over the nature of your being. Whose hand formed and fashioned you? Mine, and mine alone. Is there a god beside Me? Yea, there is no god; I know not any. As for all the gods of the heathen, they are but idols : it was I, the Lord, that made the heavens.” Creation is the proof of Divinity, and is the source of God's authority over all His works: even, as the birth of children establishes