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Rule of obedience and life to man in his primitive state.
Q. 1. What rule of obedience and life did God give to our first Parents, in the state, in which they were created?
A. He gave them what is usually denominated the moral law, which has its foundation in the nature and relation of beings, discoverable by the light of nature. It arises solely from the character of God and mankind, and the relations He sustains to them, and they sustain to Him, and to one another.
Q. 2. What is the nature or character of this law?
A. It is spiritual and perfect;—extends to all the thoughts, affections, desires, purposes, words, and actions of men;-can never be abated, altered, or repealed; but is wholly immutable, and as durable as the existence of God and man.(a)
Q. 3. How was the moral law, at first, delivered to mankind?
A. It was written on their hearts—impressed upon their consciences. By the proper use of their rational and moral faculties, they could attain to a knowledge of their duties. The Creator may also have particularly instructed our first Parents in this respect.(b)
(a) Ps. 119. 96. I have seen an end of all perfection; but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
(b) Rom. 2. 14, 15. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,
Q. 4. What obedience to this law does God require?
A. He requires universal, perfect, perpetual and personal obedience.(*)
Q. 5. What are the sanctions of this law?
Ã. They are eternal happiness to the obedient, and eternal misery to the disobedient. The tenour of the law is, obey and live, disobey and die. This penalty was necessary in order to give force and efficacy to the law.(a)
Q. 6. Is every deviation from this rule of obedience and life sin?
A. It is. Whatsoever is transgression of this law, either in thought, word, or action, is sin, and exposes the transgressor to its penalty or threatnings.(0)
Q. 7. Does sin consist in the external action, or in the state of the heart, whence the action proceeds?
A. All sin proceeds from the heart. is good or bad, as is his heart. The reason, why wicked men and devils are criminal in their actions, is, that they flow from a sinful heart.)
Are all sins equally heinous or criminal?
these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another.
(c) Gal. 3. 10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law to do them. Ezek. 18. 4. The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
(d) Rom. 6. 23. For the wages of sin is death. Matt. 25.46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.
(e) 1 John 3. 4. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. Ezek. 18.4. The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
(f) 1 Sam. 16.7. For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. Matt. 15, 19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
A. They are not.
Some sins are more aggravated than others from their nature, from the character of the person offending or offended, and from other circumstances.
Q. 9. In what is the moral law summarily comprehended?
1. It is briefly comprised in the ten commandments, written by the finger of God upon two tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on mount Sinai with awful majesty, and solemnity, and glory.(5)
(8) Ex. 19. 18, 19. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake and God answered him by a voice. Ex. 31. 18. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him, upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
IV. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
V. Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth'thee.
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
Q. 10. What distinction is there in the two tables of this law?
A. The former contains the four first commandments, which comprise our duty to God;—the latter contains the six last commandments, which include our duty to ourselves, and to our fellow creatures.
Q. 11. What is the summary of these ten commandments
A. Supreme love to God, and love to mankind as to ourselves. This seems to be an exposition of the whole moral law, which is fulfilled in pure, disinterested benevolence.(h)
Q. 12. Did God give to our first Parents any test of their obedience, in addition to the moral law?
A. He did. He gave them a positive precept or law,* prohibiting them to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which stood in the midst of the garden of Eden.(i) Q. 13.
Was abstinence from partaking of the forbidden fruit a condition, on which was suspended their everlasting happiness?
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt .not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
(h) Matt. 22. 37–40. 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. This is the first and great commande ment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
(i) Gen. 2. 16, 17. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.
* The distinction between moral and positive laws and duties seems to be this, viz. moral laws or duties are founded in the nature or relation of beings, discoverable by the light of nature; positive laws or duties are founded in the relation of beings, discoverable by Divine revelation only. As good a reason, no doubt, exists in the Divine mind for the one as the other.
A. It was. God instituted this prohibition as a test of their conduct upon which was suspended their eternal future state.
(i) Gen. 2. 17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day, that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Rom. 6. 23. For the wages of sin is death.