Exodus 20:1
And God spoke all these words:
Sermons
The Decalogue: -- Man and GodAlexander MaclarenExodus 20:1
The Moral Law - PreliminaryJ. Orr Exodus 20:1
Weighed in the BalancesDwight L. MoodyExodus 20:1
Characteristics of the DecalogueJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
Comprehensive Summary of the Ten CommandmentsL. O. Thompson.Exodus 20:1-2
For Whom is the Law IntendedF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:1-2
God's Deliverance of His PeopleH. Crosby, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
I am the Lord Thy God -- a Word to Rest on in DeathExodus 20:1-2
Man's Religious Craving SatisfiedE. C. Wines, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
Negative CommandmentsU. R. Thomas.Exodus 20:1-2
Of the CommandmentsWatson, ThomasExodus 20:1-2
The Character of the DecalogueG. D. Boardman.Exodus 20:1-2
The CommandmentsD. C. Hughes, M. A.Exodus 20:1-2
The Composition of the Law of GodJoseph Cook.Exodus 20:1-2
The Inexhaustibility of the Law of GodLuther, Martin; Source:"Table Talk"Exodus 20:1-2
The Jewish Knowledge of GodR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
The Law Given from Mount Sinai Suited to the Circumstances of ManT. Binney.Exodus 20:1-2
The LawgiverF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:1-2
The PrefaceExodus 20:1-2
The PrefaceWatson, ThomasExodus 20:1-2
The Preface of the LawBishop Andrewes.Exodus 20:1-2
The Revelation of the Divine NameJ. B. Brown, B. A.Exodus 20:1-2
The Ten CommandmentsR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
The Ten Commandments - an Introductory ReminderD. Young Exodus 20:1, 2
The Ten Words of GodArchdeacon Farrar.Exodus 20:1-2
Usefulness of God's CommandmentsJ. Hamilton, D. D.Exodus 20:1-2
Utility of a Course of Teaching on the CommandmentsG.A. Goodhart Exodus 20:1-2
The Moral Law - General SurveyJ. Orr Exodus 20:1-18
The law given from Sinai is the moral law by pre-eminence. The principles which it embodies are of permanent obligation. It is a brief summary of the whole compass of our duty to God and man. It is a law of supreme excellence - "holy, just, and good" (Romans 7:12). God's own character is expressed in it; it bears witness to his unity, spirituality, holiness, sovereignty, mercy, and equity; truth and righteousness are visible in its every precept. Listening to its "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots," we cannot but recognise the same stern voice which speaks to us in our own breasts, addressing to us calls to duty, approving us in what is right, condemning us for what is wrong. These ten precepts, accordingly, are distinguished from the judicial and ceremonial statutes subsequently given -

(1) As the moral is distinguished from the merely positive;

(2) As the universally obligatory is distinguished from what is local and temporary;

(3) As the fundamental is distinguished from the derivative and secondary. The judicial law, e.g., not only draws its spirit, and derives its highest authority, from the law of the ten commandments, but is in its own nature, simply an application of the maxims of this law to the problems of actual government. Its binding force was confined to Israel. The ceremonial law, again, with its meats and drinks, its sacrifices, etc. bore throughout the character of a positive institution, and had no independent moral worth. It stood to the moral law in a triple relation of subordination -

(1) As inferior to it in its own nature.

(2) As designed to aid the mind in rising to the apprehension of the holiness which the law enjoined.

(3) As providing (typically) for the removal of guilt contracted by the breaking of the law. This distinctness of the "ten words" from the other parts of the law is evinced -

I. IN THE MANNER OF THEIR PROMULGATION.

1. They alone were spoken by the voice of God from Sinai.

2. They were uttered amidst circumstances of the greatest magnificence and terror.

3. They alone were written on tables of stone.

4. They were written by God's own finger (Exodus 31:18). The rest of the law was communicated privately to Moses, and through him delivered to the people.

II. IN THE NAMES GIVEN TO THEM, AND THE USE MADE OF THEM.

1. They are "the words of the Lord," as distinguished from the "judgments "or "rights" derived from them, and embraced with them in "the book of the covenant," as forming the statutory law of Israel (Exodus 24:3).

2. The tables on which they were written are - to the exclusion of the other parts of the law - called "the testimony" (Exodus 25:16), "the covenant" (Deuteronomy 4:13), "the words of the covenant" (Exodus 34:28), "the tables of testimony" (Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15), "the tables of the covenant" (Deuteronomy 9:9-11).

3. The tables of stone, and they only, were placed in the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:21). They were thus regarded as in a special sense the bond of the covenant. The deposition of the tables in the ark, underneath the mercy seat, throws light on the nature of the covenant with Israel. The law written on the tables is the substratum of the covenant - its obligatory document - the bond; yet over the law is the mercy-seat, sprinkled with blood of propitiation - a testimony that there is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared (Psalm 130:4), that God will deal mercifully with Israel under this covenant. It is obvious, from these considerations, how fallacious is the statement that the Old Testament makes no distinction between the moral, juristic, and ceremonial parts of the law, but regards all as of equal dignity. - J.O.







God spake all these words.
I. Those Ten Commandments were to the Jews THE VERY UTTERANCE OF THE ETERNAL, and they hold in their grand imagination that the souls of all Jews even yet unborn were summoned to Sinai in their numbers numberless to hear that code; so that, in the East, to this day, if a Jew would indignantly deny the imputation of a wrong, he exclaims, "My soul too has been on Sinai." And not to Jews only but to all mankind there is this proof that the Ten Words were indeed the oracles of God, that, if they be written upon the heart, they are an "It is written" sufficient for our moral guidance — they are a great non licet strong enough to quell the fiercest passions. For the laws of the natural universe may mislead us. One tells us that they are just and beneficent; another that they are deadly and remorseless: but of these moral Laws we know that they are the will of God. No man has seen His face at any time. He seems far away in His infinite heaven; clouds and darkness are round about Him. Yes; but righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His seat. And this was the very idea which the Jews wished to symbolize in the building of their Tabernacle. They hung it with purple curtains; they overlaid it with solid gold; they filled its outer court with sacrifices, its inner chambers with incense; — but when the High Priest passed from the Holy into the Holy of Holies — when on the great Day of Atonement he stood with the censer in his hands, and the ardent Urim on his breast, before what did he stand? Not before Visible Epiphany; not before sculptured image. There was total darkness in the shrine; no sunlight streamed, no lamp shed its silver radiance; through the awful silence no whisper thrilled; but, through the dim gleam of the glowing thurible and the smoke of the wreathing incense, he saw only a golden Ark over which bent the golden figures of adoring Cherubim — and within that Ark, as its only treasure, lay two rough hewn tables of venerable stone, on which were carved the Ten Commandments of the fiery Law. Those stony Tables, that Ark, that Mercy-seat, those adoring Cherubim seen dimly through the darkness, were to him a visible symbol of all creation, up to its most celestial hierarchies, contemplating, with awful reverence, and on the basis of man's spiritual existence, the moral Law of God.

II. AND IS THAT LAW ABROGATED NOW, OR SHORN OF ITS SIGNIFICANCE? Nay, it remains for the Gentile no less than for the Jew — for the nineteenth century after Christ no less than for the fifteenth before Him — the immutable expression of God's will. God, as the Italian proverb says, does not pay on Saturdays. He is very patient, and men may long deny His existence or blaspheme His name, but more than in the mighty strong wind which rent the mountains, and more than in fire, and more than in earthquake, is God in that still small voice which is sounding yet. Oh, it is not in Exodus alone, or in Deuteronomy alone, but in all nature that we hear His voice. In scene after scene of history, in discovery after discovery of science, in experience after experience of life, have we heard these words rolling in thunder across the centuries the eternal distinction of right and wrong. Confidently I appeal to you, and ask, Have you not, at some time in your lives, heard the voice of God utter to you distinctly these Commandments of the moral Law? Is there one here who has ever disobeyed that voice and prospered? If there be one here who feels, at this moment, in the depths of his soul, a peace which the world can neither give nor take away, is it not solely because by the aid of God's Holy Spirit he has striven to obey it? Yes, its infinite importance is that it is as old not as Sinai, but as humanity, and represents the will of God to all His children in the great family of man; so that if in this life we be passing from mystery to mystery, it is our surest proof that we are passing also from God to God. What matters it that we know not either whence we came or what we are, if "He hath shown thee, oh, man! what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

III. And thus it is, lastly, THAT IF WE BE FAITHFUL THE LAW MAY LEAD US TO THE GOSPEL. For his must indeed be a shallow soul who thinks it an easy thing to keep the Commandments. When we observe that the summary of the first Table is that life is worship, and of the second that life is service; when we notice that the first Table forbids sin against God, first in thought, then in word, then in deed; while the second, proceeding in a reverse order, forbids sins against our neighbour first in deed, then in word, and then in thought; so that, unlike every other code that the world has ever known, the Commandments begin and end with the utter prohibition of evil thoughts, which of us is not conscious that we have utterly broken God's Law in this, that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts? And when we go from Moses to Jesus, from Sinai to Galilee, will Christ abolish the Law? will He teach us that we may keep both our sin and our Saviour, and that there is no distinction between a state of sin and a state of grace? There are no dim presences, no thundering clouds, no scorching wilderness, no rolling darkness around the trembling hill, but the sweet human voice of one seated in the dawn on the lilied grass that slopes down to the silver lake — but does that voice abrogate the Law? Nay, more stringently than to them of old time come the ten commandments now. Murder is extended to a furious thought; adultery to a lascivious look; and at first it might seem as if our last hope were extinguished, as if now our alienation from God be permanent, since admitted into a holier sanctuary we are but guilty of a deadlier sin. And when this has been indeed brought home to us, and we see the unfathomable gulf which yawns before a God of infinite holiness and a heart of desperate corruption, then indeed — and above all in the meeting of calamity with crime — then cometh the midnight. But after that midnight to the faithful soul there shall be light. With the personal conviction that the Law worketh wrath, come also the personal experience that Christ hath delivered us from its curse. In Him comes the sole antidote to guilt, the sole solution to the enigma of despair. True, He deepened the obligation of the Law, but for our sake He also fulfilled it. And thus by love, and hope, and gratitude, and help, He gives us a new impulse, a new inspiration, and this is Christianity; and this Christianity has redeemed, has ennobled, has regenerated the world. The "thou must" of Sinai becomes the "I ought," "I will," I can." "I can do all things through Him that strengtheneth me." And then for us the Law has done its work. It has revealed to us the will of God, it has revealed to us the apostacy of man, it has driven us to know and to embrace the deliverance of Christ.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

The Ten Commandments bold a conspicuous position in that prolonged revelation of Himself — His character, His will, and His revelations to mankind — which God made to the Jews. They can, therefore, never become obsolete.

I. The Ten Commandments rest on the principle THAT GOD CLAIMS AUTHORITY OVER THE MORAL LIFE OF MAN.

II. There can be no doubt that GOD INTENDED THAT THESE COMMANDMENTS SHOULD BE KEPT. They are not merely to bring us to a sense of our guilt, as some seem to imagine.

III. These commandments DEAL CHIEFLY WITH ACTIONS, not with mere thought or emotion.

IV. Before God gave these commandments to the Jewish people, HE WROUGHT A MAGNIFICENT SERIES OF MIRACLES TO EFFECT THEIR EMANCIPATION FROM MISERABLE SLAVERY and to punish their oppressors. He first made them free, and then gave them the law.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

1. Its uniqueness: Compare this law with other so-called legislations — e.g., Lycurgus, Draco, Solon, the Twelve Tables. There is found no counterpart; there is a gulf betwixt them and it.

2. Its origin: What is it that makes this separation but its divinity? Said a lawyer of eminence, who was led to renounce his infidelity by the study of the Decalogue: "I have been looking into the nature of that law: I have been trying to see whether I can add anything to it, or take anything from it, so as to make it better. Sir, I cannot; it is perfect." And then, having shown this to be so, he concluded: "I have been thinking where did Moses get that law? I have read history. The Egyptians and the adjacent nations were idolaters: so were the Greeks and Romans: and the wisest and best Greeks and Romans never gave a code of morals like this. Where did he get it? He could not have soared so far above his age as to have devised it himself. It came down from heaven. I am convinced of the truth of the religion of the Bible."

3. Its scope: Were we to keep this law, we should need no other codes and edicts: — no courts and prisons. It would fill the sky with sunshine and the earth with righteousness.

4. Its simplicity: It is so easily interpreted.

5. But the attempt to keep the law in its spirit will lead to the revelation of self, and disclose both a disinclination and an inability; and, when this is the case, the law becomes a schoolmaster to lead to Christ.

(L. O. Thompson.)

The emphatic and repeated "Thou shalt not" from God teaches —

I.MAN'S CAPACITY FOR EVIL.

II.MAN'S TENDENCY TO EVIL.

III.GOD'S KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CAPACITY AND TENDENCY OF MAN.

IV.GOD, KNOWING THIS, NEVERTHELESS PROHIBITS SIN. This indicates —

1. The guilt of sin.

2. The care of God.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. THE ORIGIN OF THESE COMMANDMENTS.

1. The Bible thus commits itself unequivocally to the highest origin for these laws.(1) Their Divine origin bespeaks their holy and righteous nature, and their absolute authority.(2) Their Divine origin bespeaks the deep interest we should take in their study, as well as in obeying them.

2. Divine as they are in their origin, they were transmitted first by the ministry of angels to Moses, and by Moses to us. (Psalm 78:17; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Deuteronomy 5:5; Deuteronomy 10:1-4.)

II. THE NATURE OF THESE COMMANDMENTS. Lessons:

1. The awe-inspiring circumstances of the giving of the law suggest the solemnity of our relations to God.

2. Positive institutions of religion are a necessity.

3. They must be of God, or they are worse than worthless.

4. Those which bear the evidence of their Divine origin are alone worthy of obedience.

5. The only worthy obedience is that which is hearty and complete.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. THE DECALOGUE IS IN FORM PROHIBITIVE. A solemn witness to the Fall. A bell to awaken conscience.

II. Although the Decalogue is in form prohibitive, yet IN SPIRIT IT IS AFFIRMATIVE. A negative pole implies a positive. The Ten Words are divinely covenantal, rather than divinely statutory. Law is never as imperial as love.

III. The Ten Words or Commandments are in their character GERMINAL AND SUGGESTIVE, RATHER THAN UNFOLDED AND EXHAUSTIVE. They are the rudimental principles of morality, the germs of ethics, the seminary, or seedplot, of religion.

IV. But although the Ten Commandments are rudimental in their form, they are also ELEMENTAL IN THEIR MEANING, AND THEREFORE UNIVERSAL AND IMMORTAL IN THEIR APPLICATION. Just because they are germs, they are capable of all growth, or unfolding along the lines suggested in the embryo. In brief, the Ten Commandments are the axioms of morals, the summary of ethics, the itinerary of mankind, the framework of society, the vertebral column of humanity.

(G. D. Boardman.)

The Law of the Ten Words constitutes the very heart or kernel of the entire Mosaic system. It was the Law which lent to Mosaism its peculiar character as a temporary interlude in the history of revelation.

I. In the first place, EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE ATTENDING ITS PROMULGATION WAS ADJUSTED SO AS TO LEND TO IT A SOLEMN AND AWFUL EMPHASIS.

II. THE SANCTION OF THE DECALOGUE WAS FEAR. In the infancy of the individual, when as yet the immature, conscience lacks the power to enforce its convictions of duty upon the untutored passions, the first step in moral training consists in impressing upon the child's mind a wholesome dread for the constituted authorities of the home. Love is a preferable impulse to law-keeping, no doubt; but love cannot be wholly depended on till the habit of obedience has been formed and principle has come to the aid of affection.

III. It belongs to the same juvenile or primary character of this code, as designed for an infant people, THAT ITS REQUIREMENTS ARE CONCRETE, AND EXPRESSED IN A NEGATIVE OR PROHIBITORY FORM. When you have to deal with children, you do not enunciate principles but precepts. You do not bid a child revere all that is venerable in the social order; but you say: "Honour thy father and mother." You do not tell a rude populace that hatred drives God out of the soul, but you say simply: "Do not kill!" Everything must be, at such a stage of moral education, concrete, portable, and unmistakable. For the same reason, it will usually take the shape of a prohibition rather than of a command: a "Do not rather than a Do."

IV. While these remarks must be borne in mind if we would understand the archaic mould in which this code is cast, there is at the same time AN ADMIRABLE BREADTH AND MASSIVENESS ABOUT ITS CONTENTS. In Ten Words it succeeds in sweeping the whole field of duty.

V. I have assumed above — what is indeed apparent to every careful reader — THAT THE DECALOGUE WAS DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO BE THE CODE OF A COMMONWEALTH. In the ancient world, and perhaps in the infancy of all societies, the idea of the community takes precedence over the idea of the individual. The family, the clan, the tribe, the nation: these are the ruling conceptions to which the interests of the private individual are subordinated. Then, each man exists as one of a larger body — heir of its past and parent of its future.

VI. It is when one views the Decalogue under this aspect, that one can best see how it came to include two parts, A SACRED AND A CIVIL. In a theocracy there can be no such sharp distinction as we make between Church and State. Indeed, such a distinction would have been unintelligible to any ancient people. So far from comprehending the modern ideal of "a free Church in a free State," every people of antiquity took for granted that the Church and the State were one. Every public function was discharged, every expedition undertaken, every victory gained, under the immediate counsel and patronage of the Deity. All this was just as strongly felt by the devotees of Bel or Nebo, of Osiris, Chemosh or Baal, of Athene or Jove, as by the Hebrew worshippers of Jehovah. So that, again, when it pleased God to throw into the form of a theocracy His peculiar relationship to Israel as a vehicle for teaching to the world a world-wide revelation of grace, He was simply accommodating His gracious ways to the thoughts of men and the fashions of the age that then was.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

I. SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

1. Man is a being possessed of a religious capacity.

2. Man is a moral agent.

3. It is possible for the reason the understanding, and the moral sense of man to be brought to such a state, that he can have a right to have an opinion both upon morals and religion.

II. THE LAW ITSELF (vers. 3-17). There are two parts of this law — that relating to —

1. Religion. Here are four things —

(1)The object of worship.

(2)A mode of worship.

(3)The inculcation of habitual reverence with respect to sacred things.

(4)An appointed season for the cultivation and perfection of the religious capacity.

2. Morals. Here is —

(1)Filial "honour."

(2)Respect for life.

(3)Reverence for purity.

(4)Respect for property.

(5)Respect for reputation.

(6)Respect and regard to the source of all virtue — thine own heart.

III. A few observations tending to show THAT THIS LAW, AS WE HAVE IT HERE, IS SUITED TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF MAN, AND OF UNIVERSAL ADAPTATION. It is suited to humanity —

1. In that it meets the essential capacities and elements of human nature.

2. In its accidents; that is, not only in its principles, but also in the mode in which these principles are to be carried out.

3. In spite of some of the accidental and peculiar topics which are here and there introduced into it.

4. If we consider what the world would be were this law universally obeyed; and what if it were universally disobeyed.

IV. The preceding point being made out, then I think THE PRESUMPTIONS ARE IN FAVOUR OF THIS LAW HAVING BEEN GIVEN BY GOD.

1. The history of man and the tendencies of human nature show that, if the original state of man had been barbarism, he never would have risen out of it by his own efforts, and never would have discovered such principles as are here put forth.

2. In the most refined ages of ancient times, no moral system equal or even approaching in rationality, purity, and simplicity to this was ever taught either by philosopher, statesman, or priest.

3. Even in our own times our philosophers, they who have rejected revelation and have given us moral systems, have taught principles subversive of these — Bolingbroke, Blount, Hume.

4. This law unquestionably was given about the time it was said to be. We find that it must have been given by Moses. From whom did he obtain it?

5. We now have the fact — "God spake all these words."

V. PRACTICAL REMARKS.

1. Reflect on the internal evidence of the superhuman character of the Bible.

2. Notice that infidelity is always associated with impurity and blasphemy.

3. Meditate deeply how you stand in relation to the Law.

4. Accept, in addition to the law of judgment, the gospel of mercy.

(T. Binney.)

There is a bell in the cathedral of Cologne, made by the melting together of French cannon. It would have been a very difficult task, indeed, to analyze the bell and determine whence the cannon came. Something like this, however, is the task before those who adopt the extreme theories of the rationalistic critics of the Pentateuch. You must be supposed to show in the minute literary traits of this series of documents the dates of their origin, the dates of their combination, and the dates of subsequent editorial supervisions. Even if it were to be granted that documents drawn from many polytheistic nations and ages were the original constituents of the Pentateuch, we have not touched the doctrine of the inspiration of the combined mass at all. The mass is strangely purified from all false doctrine. A Divine fire has burned all adulterate elements wholly out of it, and fused the constituents in a combination wholly new. These cannon are one set of objects; melted together into a bell, hung in a cathedral tower, they are another object altogether. Mere white dust is one thing; compacted into marble, in a vase, it has a ring, and is quite another. These cannon, melted and hung aloft in the form of a bell, are no longer cannon. They are an inspired work. It is our business, indeed, to know all we can as to the composition of this bronze; but our highest business is to ring the bell in the cathedral tower. The moral law, and the ethical monotheism of the Pentateuch, have proved their resonance as often as they have been put in practice, age after age. The Pentateuch hung in the cathedral tower of the world has uttered God's voice, and it is our business to ask how we can ring the bell in the heights of history, rather than how it originated by the melting together, of many fragments.

(Joseph Cook.)

I have many times essayed thoroughly to investigate the Ten Commandments, but at the very outset, "I am the Lord thy God," I stuck fast; that very one word, I, put me to a non-plus. He that has but one word of God before him, and out of that word cannot make a sermon, can never be a preacher.

( Luthers Table Talk.)

Reconciliation to God is like entering the gate of a beautiful avenue, which conducts to a splendid mansion. But that avenue is long, and in some places it skirts the edge of dangerous cliffs, and, therefore, to save the traveller from falling over where he would be dashed to pieces, it is fenced all the way by a quick-set edge. That edge is the Commandments. They are planted there that we may do ourselves no harm. But, like a fence of the fragrant briar, they regale the pilgrim who keeps the path, and they only hurt him when he tries to breakthrough. Temperance, justice, truthfulness; purity of speech and behaviour; obedience to parents; mutual affection; sanctification of the Sabbath; the reverent worship of God; all these are righteous requirements, and in keeping them there is a great reward. Happy he who only knows the precept in the perfume which it sheds, and who, never having kicked against the pricks, has never proved the sharpness of its thorns.

(J. Hamilton, D. D.)

1. Let us recognize that this Law has its source in God. It comes to us from His will whose authority is beyond question, and our obligation to obey is complete. Since "God spake all these words," we find in them the law of our being. The conscience hears His voice, acknowledges His rightful authority, and bows before Him.

2. There is great need of the "I ought" power being developed in our nature so that it controls our lives; a need at least as great in this age and in this country as it was in that early age and in the wilderness of Sinai. To be swayed not by impulse, nor by intense desire, nor by aroused wilfulness, but by a sense of obligation to God, insures a manhood which is a success in itself. What better start in life can the young have than a firm determination to obey God? Can there be a better guide in life, in the perplexities of society, of business or of politics, than this same principle of obedience to God?

3. While this law coming from God binds the conscience, it at the same time secures true liberty of conscience. Nothing can bind the conscience beyond or contrary to this law. It is the comprehensive and only law of the conscience.

4. This law coming from God repels many of the assaults of infidelity upon the Bible. Infidelity finds it impossible to account for the existence of this law in the Bible. Besides, infidelity is forced to honour the moral law in making it its standard of criticism. Much of its fault-finding of lives and measures is an unintended tribute to the law of God.

5. The fact that this law comes from God, carries with it another lesson and one of the utmost importance to us. His authority runs through all the divisions of the law.(1) Both tables must be fully observed, or the whole law is broken. We cannot be devoted to God, correct in matters of faith and zealous in His worship, while we neglect charity of feeling, word and act toward our brother. Neither can we truly love our neighbour while we neglect God, for we cannot keep any part of the law without supreme reverence for Him who commands. Neither can we truly love our neighbour with recognizing that we are both and equally creatures of God.(2) There is a tendency also to separate the commandments, and to claim virtue for keeping some while we make light of breaking others. Now, the violation of one precept is not an actual violation of another, but it is the breaking of the whole law in that it sets aside the authority of God. If he keeps other commandments, it must be from other considerations. By breaking one commandment he shows he has the spirit of breaking them all, for he does not submit to the authority of God.

(F. S. Schenck.)

? — In the preface to the Law, God describes Himself not only as the self-existing Creator, but as having entered into close personal relation with the Israelites through promises made to their fathers, some of which had just been faithfully fulfilled in conferring great blessings upon them. So He appeals not only to their respect for His authority, but to the relation to Him which they had inherited and accepted, and to the gratitude they should have for such benefits received. This preface does not limit the following law to the Israelites, but makes a special appeal to them. The law is general, for all mankind, the original law of their being, since it appeals to and arouses the universal conscience; but a special revelation of God and rich favours bestowed form a strong appeal for the most hearty obedience. God describes Himself to the full extent in which He had at that time revealed Himself. Whatever increase of revelation we have received strengthens the appeal. This shows the kind of obedience we should give: not reluctant, but eager; not forced, but spontaneous; not irksome, but with delight; not heartless, but with the enthusiasm of love. Created things obey the laws of their being joyously. Stars shine, flowers bloom, birds sing. Surely intelligent beings, recognizing the law of their being, should joyously obey it, especially when God reveals Himself fully and confers richest blessings upon them.

(F. S. Schenck.)

I. QUESTIONS.

1. What is the difference between the moral law and the gospel?(1) The law requires that we worship God as our Creator; the gospel requires that we worship God in and through Christ. God in Christ is propitious; out of Christ we may see God's power, justice, holiness, in Christ we see His mercy displayed.(2) The moral law requires obedience, but gives no strength, as Pharaoh required brick, but gave no straw, but the gospel gives strength.

2. Of what use, then, is the moral law to us? A glass to show us our sins, and drive us to Christ.

3. Is the moral law still in force to believers? In some sense it is abolished to believers.(1) In respect of justification; they are not justified by their obedience to the moral law. Believers are to make great use of the moral law, but they must trust only to Christ's righteousness for justification; as Noah's dove made use of her wings to fly, but trusted to the ark for safety.(2) The moral law is abolished to believers, in respect of the malediction of it; they are freed from the curse and damnatory power of it (Galatians 3:13).

4. How was Christ made a curse for us? As our pledge and surety. Though the moral law be not their saviour, yet it is their guide; though it be not a covenant of life, yet it is a rule of living; every Christian is bound to conform to the moral law, and write, as exactly as he can, after this copy: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid." Though a Christian is not under the condemning power of the law, yet he is under the commanding power.

II. RULES FOR THE RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF THE DECALOGUE.

1. The commands and prohibitions of the moral law reach the heart.

2. In the commandments there is a synecdoche, more is intended than is spoken. Where any duty is commanded, there the contrary sin is forbidden, etc.

3. Where any sin is forbidden in the commandment, there the occasion of it is also forbidden.

4. There one relation is named in the commandment, there another relation is included.

5. Where greater sins are forbidden, there lesser sins are also forbidden.

6. The law of God is copulative. The first and second tables are knit together, — piety to God, and equity to our neighbour; these two tables which God hath joined together must not be put asunder.

7. God's law forbids not only the acting of sin in our own persons, but being accessory to, or having any hand in the sins of others.

8. The last rule about the commandments is this, that though we cannot, by our own strength, fulfil all these commandments, yet doing what we are able, the Lord hath provided encouragement for us. There is a threefold encouragement.(1) That though we have not ability to obey any one command, yet God hath, in the new covenant, promised to work that in us which He requires: "I will cause you to walk in My statutes." The iron hath no power to move, but when the loadstone draws it, it can move; "Thou also hast wrought all our works in us."(2) Though we cannot exactly fulfil all the moral law, yet God will, for Christ's sake, mitigate the rigour of the law, and accept of something less than He requires.(3) Wherein our personal obedience comes short, God will be pleased to accept us in our surety: "He hath made us accepted in the beloved."

( T. Watson.)

I am the Lord thy God
In this style or authority are three parts, according to three titles.

1. The first title, of His name — "Jehovah."

2. Secondly, the title of His jurisdiction — "thy God."

3. Thirdly, the title of that notable act He did last — "which brought thee out of the land of Egypt," etc.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

I. THE SPEAKER AND GIVER OF THESE COMMANDMENTS.

1. It is the Lord, particularly Jesus Christ, who gave this Law in the name of the Trinity. This is plain from the Scripture (Acts 7:38; Hebrews 12:24-26).

2. The speech itself, wherein we have a description of the true God, bearing three reasons for the keeping His commands.

(1)From His sovereignty; He is the Lord.

(2)From His covenant-relation to His people — thy God.

(3)From the great benefit of redemption, and deliverance wrought for them.

I. I begin with the first, THE PREFACE TO THE PREFACE: "God spake all these words, saying," etc. This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn proclamation, "God spake"; other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the mouth of the holy prophets, but here God spake in His own Person.

1. The Lawgiver: "God spake." There are two things requisite in a lawgiver.(1) Wisdom. Laws are founded upon reason; and he must be wise that makes laws. God, in this respect, is most fit to be a lawgiver: "He is wise in heart"; He hath a monopoly of wisdom: "the only wise God."(2) Authority. God hath the supreme power in His hand; and He who gives men their lives hath most right to give them their laws.

2. The Law itself: "all these words"; that is, all the words of the moral Law, which is usually styled the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments. It is called the moral Law, because it is the rule of life and manners. St. compares the Scripture to a garden, the moral Law is a chief flower in it; the Scripture is a banquet, the moral Law the chief dish in it.(1) The moral Law is perfect: "The Law of the Lord is perfect." It is an exact model and platform of religion; it is the standard of truth, the judge of controversies, the polestar to direct us to heaven.(2) The moral Law is unalterable; it remains still in force.(3) The moral Law is very illustrious and full of glory. See Exodus 19:10, 12; Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 32:1.Use 1. Here we may take notice of God's goodness who hath not left us without a Law: therefore the Lord doth often set it down as a demonstration of His love in giving His Commandments. See Psalm 147:20; Nehemiah 9:13; Romans 7:14. The Law of God is a hedge to keep us within the bounds of sobriety and piety.Use 2. If God spake all these words, viz., of the moral Law, then this presseth upon us several duties:(1) If God spake all these words, then we must hear all these words. The words which God speaks are too precious to be lost.(2) If God spake all these words, then we must attend to them with reverence.(3) If God spake all these words of the moral Law, then we must remember them. Those words are weighty which concern salvation.(4) If God spake all these words, then we must believe them. Shall we not give credit to the God of heaven?(5) If God spake all these words, then love the Commandments: "Oh, how love I Thy Law! it is my meditation all the day."(6) If God spake all these words, then teach your children the Law of God: "These words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children." He who is godly, is both a diamond and a loadstone; a diamond for the sparkling of his grace, and a loadstone for his attractive virtue in drawing others to the love of God's precepts; a good man doth more good to his neighbours than to himself.(7) If God spake all these words, then the moral Law must be obeyed.

II. THE PREFACE ITSELF.

1. "I am the Lord thy God." Here we have a description of God —(1) By His essential greatness: "I am the Lord" — Jehovah. Let us fear Him (Deuteronomy 28:58).(2) By His relative goodness: "Thy God." How? Through Jesus Christ — Emmanuel.(3) How may we come to know this covenant union, that God is our God?(a) By having His grace planted in us. Kings' children are known by their costly jewels: it is not having common gifts which shows we belong to God, many have the gifts of God without God, but it is grace gives us a true genuine title to God. In particular, faith is the grace of union; by this we may spell out our interest in God.(b) We may know God is our God, by having the earnest of His Spirit in our hearts. God often gives the purse to the wicked, but the Spirit only to such as He intends to make His heirs. Have we had the consecration of the Spirit?(c) We may know God is our God, if He hath given us the hearts of children. Have we obediential hearts? do we subscribe to God's commands, when His commands cross our will? A true saint is like the flower of the sun: it opens and shuts with the sun, he opens to God and shuts to sin. If we have the hearts of children, then God is our Father.(d) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in Him, by our standing up for His interest.(e) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in Him, by His having an interest in us: "My beloved is Mine, and I am His."

Use 1. Above all things, let us get this great charter Confirmed, that God is our God. Deity is not comfortable without propriety. Use

Use 2. To all such as can make out this covenant union, it exhorts to several things.(1) If God be our God, let us improve our interest in Him, cast all our burdens upon Him, the burden of our fears, wants, sins.(2) If God be our God, let us learn to be contented, though we have the less of other things. Contentment is a rare jewel; it is the cure of care. If we have God to be our God, well may we be contented.(a) God is a sufficient good. Not only full as a vessel, but as a spring. The heart is a triangle, which only the Trinity can fill.(b) God is a sanctifying good. He sanctifies all our comforts, and turns them into blessings. He sanctifies all our crosses; they shall polish and refine our grace. The more the diamond is cut it sparkles the more. God's stretching the strings of His viol, is to make the music the better.(c) God is a choice good. All things under the sun are but the blessings of the footstool; but to have God Himself to be ours is the blessing of the throne.(d) God is the chief good. In the chief good there must be, first, delectability. "At God's righthand are pleasures." Secondly, in the chief good there must be transcendency, it must have a surpassing excellency. Thus God is infinitely better than all other things; it is below the Deity to compare other things with It. Who would go to weigh a feather with a mountain of gold? Thirdly, in the chief good there must be not only fulness, but variety; where variety is wanting we are apt to nauseate; to feed only on honey would breed loathing; but in God is all variety of fulness.(3) If we can clear up this covenant union that God is our God, let this cheer and revive us in all conditions. To be content with God is not enough, but to be cheerful. What greater cordial can you have than union with Deity?(4) If God be our God, then let us break forth into doxology and praise (Psalm 118:28).(5) Let us carry ourselves as those who have God to be their God. Live holily.

2. The second part of the preface: "which have brought," etc. God mentions this deliverance, because of

(1)Its strangeness.

(2)Greatness.

3. The third part of the preface: "out of the house of bondage."(1) God's children may sometimes be under sore afflictions.(a) For probation, or trial. Affliction is the touchstone of sincerity.(b) For purgation; to purge our corruption. "God's fire is in Zion." This is not to consume, but to refine; what if we have more affliction, if by this means we have less sin.(c) For augmentation; to increase the graces of the Spirit. Grace thrives most in the iron furnace; sharp frosts nourish the corn, so do sharp afflictions grace: grace in the saints is often as fire hid in the embers, affliction is the bellows to blow it up into a flame.(d) For preparation: to fit and prepare us for glory.(2) God will in His due time bring His people out of their afflicted state. The tree which in the winter seems dead, in the spring revives: after darkness cometh sunshine. Affliction may leap on us as the viper did on Paul, but at last this viper shall be shaken off.

( T. Watson.)

I. GOD IN COVENANT WITH MAN IS THE CONDITION OF THE EXISTENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF MAN'S SPIRITUAL LIFE. The despair of the sinner, but for God's mercy, would crush him. And what know we of God's mercy? For ages our forefathers have been living consciously in a covenant, and all our ideas of God have been formed by it. But ask that agonized father, plunging the bare knife into the throat of his daughter, or flinging his tender infant into that seething cauldron of fire, what man, ignorant of the covenant, knows of the mercy and forgiveness of God. Man lives on the covenant; he builds his life on the promises; it is the condition of his living at all in the sense in which a man may live.

II. GOD WAS SEEKING THE COVENANT, NOT MAN. It is God who acts, man who accepts; God who gives, man who receives; and thus the hope of man has its strong resting-place, not on the strivings of his own weak will, not on the searchings of his own too easily bewildered and blinded intellect, but on the eternal purpose and love of God. God cannot dispense with man's heart, will, and intellect; He led that people there that He might engage them in His service. Refuse Him that service, and the covenant is worthless to you, nay, is a witness against you to condemnation; yield them to Him, and rest in the assurance that your salvation depends not on your own weak work but on the strong arm of God.

III. You will find two grand features in that which was transacted there on the Mount of God: GOD REVEALING HIMSELF — GOD DECLARING HIS LAW. This was God's covenant; the people had but to say in heart and with voice "Amen."

1. Nature, circumstance, the currents of life, master us, till we know the Divine Name. We know ourselves in knowing Him, and find in ourselves the broken features of His likeness. The first step towards the establishment of the covenant was the revelation of the Divine name.

2. It was a merciful name which the Lord made known: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. I am the God of thy fathers." How tender, how blessed the assurance!

3. The Lord's name is holy. "The Lord thy God is a holy Lord." A sensual-hearted man will fashion gods like unto himself. A wise and earnest-hearted man will "give thanks at the remembrance of God's holiness."

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

To the Jews, Jehovah was not a mere idea or a system of attributes. They did not think of Him as the Necessary Cause of the universe, or as a Being inaccessible to human knowledge, but whom it was their duty to invest with whatever perfections could exalt and glorify Him: — infinite wisdom, infinite power, awful righteousness, inflexible truth, and tenderest love. It never occurred to them to suppose that they had to think out a God for themselves any more than it occurred to them that they had to think out a king of Egypt. They knew Jehovah as the God who had held back the waves like a wall while they fled across the sea to escape the vengeance of their enemies; they knew Him as the God who had sent thunder, and lightning, and hail, plagues on cattle, and plagues on men, to punish the Egyptians and to compel them to let the children of Israel go; they knew Him as the God whose angel had slain the firstborn of their oppressors, and filled the land from end to end with death, and agony, and terror. He was the same God, so Moses and Aaron told them, who by visions and voices, in promises and precepts, had revealed Himself long before to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We learn what men are from what they say and what they do. A biography of Luther gives us a more vivid and trustworthy knowledge of the man than the most philosophical essay on his character and creed. The story of his imprisonment and of his journey to Worms, his Letters, his Sermons, and his Table Talk, are worth more than the most elaborate speculations about him. The Jews learnt what God is, not from theological dissertations on the Divine attributes, but from the facts of a Divine history. They knew Him for themselves in His own acts and in His own words.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

Man's nature is religious. He instinctively worships some being, whom he regards as God. It is the nature of religious worship to assimilate the character of the worshipper to that of the being worshipped. The objects of worship, everywhere throughout the ancient world, were corrupt and corrupting. In order to man's moral improvement, he must have a holy object of worship. It is obviously impossible for an imperfect and sinful man to originate the idea of a perfect and sinless God. The gods whom men invented and set up were as imperfect and wicked as themselves; and from the nature of the case, they could not be otherwise. Moses, on the contrary, revealed a holy and a perfect God. How pure, how amiable, how sublime, how transcendently glorious the character with which this God is invested by the Hebrew lawgiver! How striking the contrast which his sublime delineation of Jehovah as the Maker, Proprietor, and Sovereign of the universe, invested with every conceivable excellence, presents to the grovelling mythology of the most enlightened portions of the ancient world, in which the objects of religious worship were pictured with the passions and vices of the fierce and licentious chieftains of the primitive ages! The publication of such a theology in such an age, when polytheism bad covered the earth with the temples and altars of its monster gods, cannot be satisfactorily accounted for without allowing, and is satisfactorily accounted for by allowing, the truth of the Mosaic history, and the establishment of the Mosaic constitution by Divine authority.

(E. C. Wines, D. D.)

When Ebenezer Erskine lay on his deathbed, one of his elders said to him, "Sir, you have given us many good advices; may I ask what you are now doing with your own soul? I am just doing with it," he replied, "what I did forty years ago: I am resting on that word — 'I am the Lord thy God.'"

Out of the land of Egypt
Bearing in mind the universality of the Decalogue, this "land of Egypt" and "house of bondage" must have a far deeper and wider signification than the valley of the Nile. Egypt is a synonym for an ungodly world, which captivates the heart of man, and from which the grace of God releases the renewed soul. The Law of God is, therefore, in its holiness, justice, and goodness, held up to those who have been delivered from the bondage of sin. It is not so held up to the ungodly — they cannot love it, they cannot see its beauty. By the Lord's telling us that He has already brought us out of Egypt and bondage, He does not say when He gives us the Law: "Do this and live," but "Since ye live, do this"; "Since My grace has redeemed you, and you rejoice in the liberty of the children of God, use My Law, the reflection of My perfections, as your beloved guide." There is one other expression in this preface which should be noted. It is the use of the second person singular, "which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt." There are two thoughts connected with this use.

1. The first is that God deals with all Israel as one man. He expects them to be one, of one mind and one heart, before Him. There must be no antagonisms among God's people. He has taken us out of the contentious world, not that we should be only another contentious world, but that we should show our distracted earth the harmony of heaven. He wishes to reconcile all things unto Himself. Sin divides men, grace unites them.

2. The other thought regarding the use of the second person singular here is this: God treats man individually. Man enters heaven or hell, not in companies or battalions, but in naked individuality. It was thyself personally that wert delivered from that dark Egypt of condemnation, was it not? And so you can say: "Who loved me and gave Himself for me."

(H. Crosby, D. D.)

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