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"cometh to God, must believe that he is."6 foundation on which this belief stands, I have shown in its proper place. And the great thing, in which it consists, is, that we fix firmly in our minds, recall frequently to our memories, and imprint deeply upon our hearts, an awful persuasion of the being and presence, the power and justice, the holiness and truth, of this great Lord of all. The consequence of this will be, Secondly, That we "fear him." "fear him." For such attributes as these, duly considered, must fill the most innocent creatures with reverence and selfabasement. But sinful and guilty ones, as we know ourselves to have been, have cause to feel yet stronger emotions in their souls from such a meditation. Apprehensions of his displeasure, and solicitude for his pardon; leading us naturally to that penitent care of our hearts and lives, on which he hath graciously assured us, that through faith in Christ Jesus, we shall be forgiven. And then gratitude for his mercy will prompt us to the
Third duty towards him, which our Catechism specifies, that we love him:" "the fear of the Lord being (as the Son of Sirach declares) the beginning of his love."7 For, whenever we come to reflect seriously on that goodness, which hath given us all the comforts that we enjoy; that pity which offers pardon, on most equitable terms, for all the faults that we have committed; that grace which enables us to perform every duty acceptably; and that infinite bounty which rewards our imperfect performances with eternal happiness : we cannot but feel ourselves bound to love such a benefactor," with all our heart, and with all our "mind, with all our soul, and all our strength;" to rejoice in being under his government; "make our boast of him all the day-long," and choose
(6) Heb. xi. 6.
(7) Ecclus. xxv. 12. (8) Psal. xliv. 8, 9.
him for "our portion for ever." A mind thus affected, would be uneasy, without paying the regard set down in the
Fourth place, which is, "to worship him :" to acknowledge our dependence, and pay our homage to him; both in private, to preserve and improve a sense of religion in ourselves; and in public, to support and spread it in the world. The first part of worship, mentioned in the Catechism, and the first in a natural order of things, is "giving him "thanks." God originally made and fitted all his creatures for happiness: if any of them have made themselves miserable, this doth not lessen their obligation of thankfulness to him: but his continuing still good, and abounding in forgiveness and liberality, increases that obligation unspeakably. With a grateful sense of his past favours is closely connected, "putting our trust in him" for the time to come. And justly doth the Catechism require it to be our "whole trust." For his power and goodness are infinite: those of every creature may fail us; and all they can possibly do for us, proceeds ultimately from him. Now, a principal expression of reliance on God is, petitioning for his help. For, if we "pray in faith," we shall live so too. And, therefore, trusting in him, which might have been made a separate head, is included in this of worship; and put between the first part of it, "giving thanks to him;" and the second, "calling upon him :" according to that of the Psalmist; "O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let 66 me never be confounded."2 To call upon God, is to place ourselves in his presence; and there to beg of him, for ourselves, and each other, with unfeigned humility and submission, such assistance in our duty, such provision for our wants, and
(9) Psal. lxxiii. 25, 26.
(1) James i. 6, 15.
(2) Psal. xxxi. 1.
such defence against our enemies, of every kind, as infinite wisdom sees fit for us all. After this evident obligation, follows a
Fifth, not less so: "to honour his holy name "and word :" not presuming, even, to speak of the great God in a negligent way; but preserving, in every expression and action, that reverence to him, which is due paying, not a superstitious, but a decent and respectful regard, to whatever bears any peculiar relation to him; his day, his church, his ministers; but especially honouring his holy word, the law of our lives, and the foundation of our hopes, by a diligent study and firm belief of what it teaches; and that universal obedience to what it commands, which our Catechism reserves for the
Sixth and last, as it is undoubtedly the greatest thing; "to serve him truly all the days of our life." Obedience is the end of faith and fear; the proof of love; the foundation of trust; the necessary qualification, to make worship and honour of every kind acceptable. This, therefore, must complete the whole, that "we walk in all the command"ments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,"3 not thinking any one so difficult, as to despair of it; or so small, as to despise it; and never be weary in well-doing; for we shall reap in due season, if we faint not ;"4 and he, alone, "shall "be saved, that endureth to the end."5 But we must now proceed to observe,
II. That, as this commandment requires us to acknowledge the one true God; so it forbids us to acknowledge any other.
Both before, and long after the law of Moses was given, the generality of the world entertained a belief, that there were many gods; a great number of beings, superior to men, that amongst
(3) Luke i. 6.
(5) Matt. xxiv. 13.
(4) Gal. vi. 9.
them governed the world, and were fit objects of devotion. To these, as their own fancy, or the folly or fraud of others led them, they ascribed more or less both of power and goodness; attributed to several of them the vilest actions that could be; supposed them to preside, some over one nation or city, some over another; worshipped a few or a multitude of them, just as they pleased; and that with a strange variety of ceremonies, absurd and impious-immoral and barbarous. Amidst this crowd of imaginary deities, the real one was almost entirely forgotten; false religion, and irreligion, divided the world between them; and wickedness of every kind was authorised by both. The cure for these dreadful evils must plainly be, restoring the old true notion of one only God, ruling the world himself; which, therefore, was the first great article of the Jewish faith, as it is of ours.
Christians can hardly, in words, profess a plurality of gods; but in reality they do, if they suppose the divine nature common to more than one being; or think our Saviour, or the Holy Spirit, mere creatures, and yet pay them divine honours. But, besides these, we apprehend the Church of Rome to sin against the present commandment, when they pray to angels, to the holy Virgin, and the saints, as being able every where to hear them; and having not only temporal relief, but grace and salvation in their power to bestow. Nay, were the plea which they sometimes make, a true one, that they only pray to them to intercede with God, yet it would be an insufficient one. For there is no reason to believe that they have any knowledge of such prayers; or if they had, as there is one "God," so there is "one mediator between God "and man."6 And we have neither precept, nor
(6) 1 Tim. ii. 5.
allowance, nor example, in the whole Bible, of applying to any other, amongst all the inhabitants of the invisible world.
But there are several ways more of transgressing this commandment. If we ascribe things which befal us, to fate, or to chance, or to nature; and mean any thing real by these words, different from that order which our Maker's providence hath appointed; we set up, in effect, other gods besides him. If we imagine the influence of stars, the power of spirits, in short, any power whatever, to be independent of him, and capable of doing the least matter, more than he judges proper to permit that it should; this, also, is having more gods than one. If we set up ourselves, or others, above him and obey, or expect any one else to obey, man rather than God; here, again, is in practice, though not in speculation, the same crime. If we love or "trust in uncertain riches," more than "the living God;"7 this is that "covetousness, "which is idolatry." If we pursue unlawful sensual pleasures, instead of delighting in his precepts; this is making a "god of our own belly."9 In a word, if we allow ourselves to practise any wickedness whatever, we serve, by so doing, the false "god of the world," instead of the true God of heaven, besides whom we ought not to have any other; and, therefore, to whom alone be, as is most due, all honour and obedience, now and for ever. Amen.
(7) 1 Tim. vi. 17.
(8) Col. iii. 5. (1) 2 Cor. iv. 4.
(9) Phil. ii. 19.