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corrections inflicted on Lot, David, and other of fending believers, whose sins were eventually par. doned, display the same attributes, and authorize the same conclusions ; so that the Psalmist might well say, “ My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments."

On the other hand, the Lord's patience, compassion, mercy, and grace, are exhibited in all his deal. ings with fallen man: "he endureth with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath;" he hath ever appeared ready to forgive the penitent, to pity the wretched, to relieve the distressed, to lift up the selfabased, and comfort the broken-hearted. “ His mercy is on those that fear him from generation to generation :” his dealings with Israel, and with individuals of that favoured nation, prove, this ; nor did any sinner ever humbly seek his face in vain. The faithfulness of God is so illustrated in the accomplishment of his promise concerning the Seed

" of the woman,” four thousand years after it was given, that other instances need not be adduced. His judgments coincided with his threatenings, except as repentance intervened ; and a reserve of mercy was in that case implied in all of them. The manifold wisdom of God is also most conspicuous, in so arranging these displays of justice and mercy, as to secure the glory of all his attributes, and to leave no one any ground to presume, or to despair. And the discoveries made to us of the future judgment,

and the eternal state of happiness or misery, most e perfectly coincide with the declarations relative to

his harmonious perfections. But of this, and of redemption by the incarnation of Emmanuel and his

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atoning blood, we must forbear to speak further in this place. We may observe, however, concerning this last, which is doubtless the greatest of all the discoveries God hath given of himself, that it una. voidably leads us to fix our special attention upon those mysteries of the Deity, which are so peculiar to revelation, that they, who “ lean to their own understanding,” would represent them as contradictory and impossible. Yet it will be shown, that they are certainly revealed in Scripture; and thence it will follow, that they are appropriated to the true Object of all adoration, and distinguish him from every idol : so that those who reject the mysteries which it reveals, and adore not the One" Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," which Christians are baptized, cannot be said to worship that God, whose nature and perfections are declared in the sacred Scriptures. And as all the divine attributes are seen, in perfect harmony, only “ in the face of Jesus Christ;" they " whose eyes are blinded, that they should not see the light of his glory,'* certainly worship the invention of their own hands, and not the God who hath revealed him. self to man, in the person of Jesus Christ. Indeed this is manifest, from the imperfection of the object of their worship, whom they delineate as so clement, that he cannot hate and punish sin according to its desert; and by the blasphemies which they often utter against the justice and holiness of God, and the judgments which he has executed, and threatens to execute. Let us then regard this, as a matter of

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* 2 Cor. iv. 3.6.

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greatest possible importance, and seek the knowledge of God, from his word and the teaching of his Spirit, as the fundamental concern in all our religious inquiries : that so we may be engaged, above all things, to fear, love, trust, worship, and serve him; and to seek all our happiness in enjoying his favour, and glorifying his name.

ESSAY IV.

A brief Exposition of the Ten Commandments, as com

prising the substance of the Moral Law.

From the scriptural character of God, we proceed to the consideration of his moral government, as made known to us by revelation : and the clear knowledge of his holy law is peculiarly requisite, in forming our judgment on this subject. This was delivered to Israel by Jehovah himself, from mount Sinai, with most tremendous displays of his majesty, power, and holiness; and though other parts of Scripture must be adduced, as a divinely inspired comment; yet the decalogue may properly be taken for our text, in examining the demands of the moral law.

It is evident that there is a distinction between moral precepts and positive institutions. Some things are in themselves so indifferent, that the same authority, which commanded, might have forbidden them; as the use of bread and wine in one ordinance, and that of water in another: but it is absurd to suppose, that God could have required his creatures to despise him, or to hate one another; or have forbidden them to speak truth and to do justice.

Some traces of the moral law are discoverable by our natural reason, and the whole of it is highly reasonable : it has its foundation in the nature of God and man, in the relations which men bear to Him and to each other, and in the obligations that result from these relations; on which account, it is immutable in its requirements, and demands obedience from all mankind, as far as they have opportunity of becoming acquainted with it. Different circumstances may indeed occasion a coincident variation; as the entrance of sin has rendered patience, and forgive. ness of injuries, exercises of our love to God and our neighbour : but, though there is no need of these in heaven, yet the grand principles from which they are deduced, will continue the same to eternity.

The law is also spiritual : that is, it takes cognizance of our spirits, or our most secret thoughts, desires, and dispositions; and demands the exact regulation of the judgment, will, and affections, in conformity to the holy excellencies of the Lord our God. It principally requires love, or the entire affection of the soul, without which the best external obedience

is condemned as hypocrisy. This is peculiar to the law of God, who alone can search the heart; but in common with other laws, it demands entire, and uninterrupted, and perpetual obedience; for no law can tolerate the transgression of itself. From the commencement to the close of life, the Lord enjoins upon us exact conformity to every precept; the least deviation from this perfect rule, whether by omission or commission, excess or defect, is sin ; and every sin deserves wrath, and needs forgiveness.*

The ten commandments are divinely commented upon in all the preceptive parts of Scripture; and the substance of them is summed up, in the two great commands of " loving God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength;" and of “ loving our neighbour as ourself;" and we are authorized by our Lord's ex. ample, to interpret every one of them in the strictest, most spiritual, and most extensive sense, of which it is capable. Even repentance, faith in Christ, and all other evangelical graces and duties, are exercises of this entire love to God, and are required of a sinner as placed under a dispensation of mercy ; though originally the law had nothing to do with re. demption, but lay at the foundation of another covenant. We may, therefore, wave the controversy concerning the rule of duty ; whether that be the ten commandments, or the whole word of God : for the one, properly understood, will be found as broad as the other; seeing we cannot love God with all

* Rom. iii. 19-23.

† Mat. y. 21-41.

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