« ForrigeFortsett »
tion, in this and some future discourses, to examine each of the Ten Commandments separately, bringing them into as small a compass as the nature of the subject will permit
To trace the origin of these statutes, it will be necessary to have recourse to the Second Book of Moses, called Exodus; wherein we find it recorded, that it pleased the Almighty to enter into a covenant with His people Israel, whom He had rescued from the power of their enemies, the Egyptians, and was conducting to the promised land by the hand of Moses His servant.
To this purpose He delivered His coma mandments from Mount Sinai, in the most awful and solemn manner, sending forth His voice from a thick cloud of fire, acm companied with thunders and lightnings, and the sound of the heavenly trumpets; and He ordered them to be engraven on two tables of stone, the one containing their duty to God, the other their duty to their neighbour.
There is something so particular in the introduction to these statutes, so calculated to work upon their gratitude and entice them to obedience, that it deserves to be seriously attended to, and enlarged upon,
- God spake these words and said “ I am the Lord thy God, who brought “ thee out of the land of Egypt, out of 66 the house of bondage.”
The two great motives by which men are usually influenced in their dealings with each other are Love and Fear. To both of these passions the Almighty appeals in this preface to the Ten Commandments; and, first; He addresses their fears, by representing himself arrayed in all His glory, and armed with the thunder of His Majesty to engage their attention to what He was about to deliver. " the Lord thy God."
46 I am
This opening was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of the Israelites, as it not only conveyed a general idea of His
power as the great Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth, and, therefore, claim ing an absolute right to their obedience; but it seemed also to express that He was in a peculiar manner their God-reminding them of those singular proofs of His power so lately displayed in their favour, when He executed the vengeance of His wrath upon Pharaoh and the Egyptianse
But as fear is that kind of passion which is apt to subside, when the first impressions are past, and to lose its effect when the object of apprehension is no longer present, the Almighty, therefore, not relying entirely to build His covenant upon so weak a foundation, appealed se condly to their love--a nobler motive, which, as it penetrates the deepest recesses of the heart is less liable to be effaced by time or chance.
CG I am the “ Lord thy God, who brought thee out 66 of the land of Egypt, out of the house 66
of bondage,” The recollection of this deliverance so lately wrought, could not but be pleasing to their minds. Cruelly burthened as they were by their taskmasters, and still more oppressed by the severity of Pharaoh, their situation was truly deplorable.
To whom should they fly for redress? what earthly arm could exert itself in defence of the lowest of mortals, slaves in the land of Egypt; God alone, who is no respector of persons, ever ready to undertake the cause of the injured, and
punish the proud oppressor, heard their cry, pitied and relieved them in the day of their distress, and conducted them by force of miracles from the midst of their enemies.
To remind them of this singular instance of His compassion, was the most natural method of working upon their affection and gratitude ; they were bound to obey Him for this act of goodness, and had reason to hope that He would still deliver them in the time of trouble.
Having thus prepared His people, by the influence of these motives, to listen with attention to the terms of the covenant which he was about to propose, the Almighty then proceeds with the same solemnity, to
to declare. His commands in the most plain and positive style:-Ist. “Thou shalt have none other Gods but 66 Me."