Chapter 1.
Introduction

Obedience

'Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and do his commandments.' Deuteronomy 27:9-10.


What is the duty which God requireth of man?

Obedience to his revealed will.

It is not enough to hear God's voice, but we must obey. Obedience is a part of the honour we owe to God. 'If then I be a Father, where is my honour?' Malachi 1:6. Obedience carries in it the life-blood of religion. 'Obey the voice of the Lord God,' and do his commandments. Obedience without knowledge is blind, and knowledge without obedience is lame. Rachel was fair to look upon, but, being barren, said, 'Give me children, or I die;' so, if knowledge does not bring forth the child of obedience, it will die. 'To obey is better than sacrifice.' 1 Samuel 15:22. Saul thought it was enough for him to offer sacrifices, though he disobeyed God's command; but 'to obey is better than sacrifice.' God disclaims sacrifice, if obedience be wanting. 'I spake not unto your fathers concerning burnt offerings, but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice.' Jeremiah 7:22. Not but that God did enjoin those religious rites of worship; but the meaning is that he looked chiefly for obedience—without which, sacrifice was but devout folly. The end why God has given us his laws, is obedience. 'Ye shall do my judgements, and keep mine ordinances.' Leviticus 18:4. Why does a king publish an edict, but that it may be observed?


What is the rule of obedience?

The written word. That is proper obedience which the word requires; our obedience must correspond with the word, as the copy with the original. To seem to be zealous, if it be not according to the word, is not obedience, but will-worship. Popish traditions which have no footing in the word, are abominable; and God will say, Quis quaesivit haec? 'Who has required this at your hand?' Isaiah 1:12. The apostle condemns the worshipping of angels, which had a show of humility. Colossians 2:18. The Jews might say they were loath to be so bold as to go to God in their own persons; they would be more humble, and prostrate themselves before the angels, and desire them to present their petitions to God; but this show of humility was hateful to God, because there was no word to warrant it.


What are the ingredients in our obedience that make it acceptable?

(1) It must be cum animi prolubio, free and cheerful, or it is penance, not sacrifice. 'If ye be willing and obedient.' Isaiah 1:19. Though we serve God with weakness, it may be with willingness. You love to see your servants go cheerfully about their work. Under the law, God will have a free-will offering. Deuteronomy 16:10. Hypocrites obey God grudgingly, and against their will; facere bonum, but not velle [they do good but not willingly]. Cain brought his sacrifice, but not his heart. It is a true rule, Quicquid cor non facit, non fit; what the heart does not do, is not done. Willingness is the soul of obedience. God sometimes accepts of willingness without the work, but never of the work without willingness. Cheerfulness shows that there is love in the duty; and love is to our services what the sun is to fruit; it mellows and ripens them, and makes them come off with a better relish.

(2) Obedience must be devout and fervent. 'Fervent in spirit,' &c. Romans 12:11. Quae ebullit prae ardore. As water that boils over; so the heart must boil over with hot affections in the service of God. The glorious angels, who, for burning in fervour and devotion, are called seraphims, are chosen by God to serve him in heaven. The snail under the law was unclean, because a dull, slothful creature. Obedience without fervency, is like a sacrifice without fire. Why should not our obedience be lively and fervent? God deserves the flower and strength of our affections. Domitian would not have his statue carved in wood or iron, but made of gold. Lively affections make golden services. It is fervency that makes obedience acceptable. Elijah was fervent in spirit, and his prayer opened and shut heaven; and again he prayed, and fire fell on his enemies. 2 Kings 1:10. Elijah's prayer fetched fire from heaven, because, being fervent, it carried fire up to heaven; quicquid decorum ex fide proficiscitur. Augustine.

(3) Obedience must be extensive, it must reach to all God's commands. 'Then shall I not be ashamed (or, as it is in the Hebrew, lo Ehosh, blush), when I have respect unto all thy commandments.' Psalm 119:6. Quicquid propter Deum fit aequaliter fit [All God's requirements demand equal effort]. There is a stamp of divine authority upon all God's commands, and if I obey one precept because God commands, I must obey all. True obedience runs through all duties of religion, as the blood through all the veins, or the sun through all the signs of the zodiac. A good Christian makes gospel piety and moral equity kiss each other. Herein some discover their hypocrisy: they will obey God in some things which are more facile, and may raise their repute; but other things they leave undone. 'One thing thou lackest,' unum deest. Mark 10:21. Herod would hear John Baptist, but not leave his incest. Some will pray, but not give alms, others will give alms, but not pray. 'Ye pay tithe of mint and anise, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.' Matthew 23:23. The badger has one foot shorter than the other; so these are shorter in some duties than in others. God likes not such partial servants, who will do some part of the work he sets them about, and leave the other undone.

(4) Obedience must be sincere. We must aim at the glory of God in it. Finis specificat actionem; in religion the end is all. The end of our obedience must not be to stop the mouth of conscience, or to gain applause or preferment; but that we may grow more like God, and bring more glory to him. 'Do all to the glory of God.' 1 Corinthians 10:31. That which has spoiled many glorious actions, and made them lose their reward, is, that men's aims have been wrong. The Pharisees gave alms, but blew a trumpet that they might have the glory of men. Matthew 6:2. Alms should shine, but not blaze. Jehu did well in destroying the Baal-worshippers, and God commended him for it; but, because his aims were not good (for he aimed at settling himself in the kingdom), God looked upon it as no better than murder. 'I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.' Hosea 1:4. O let us look to our ends in obedience; it is possible the action may be right, and not the heart. 2 Chronicles 25:2. Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart. Two things are chiefly to be eyed in obedience, the principle and the end. Though a child of God shoots short in his obedience, he takes a right aim.

(5) Obedience must be in and through Christ. 'He has made us accepted in the beloved.' Ephesians 1:6. Not our obedience, but Christ's merits procure acceptance. In every part of worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of our faith. Unless we serve God thus, in hope and confidence of Christ's merits, we rather provoke him than please him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:20); So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up incense to him without a priest, and what can we expect but severe rebukes?

(6) Obedience must be constant. 'Blessed [is] he that does righteousness at all times.' Psalm 106:3. True obedience is not like a high colour in a fit, but it is a right complexion. It is like the fire on the altar, which was always kept burning. Leviticus 6:13. Hypocrites' obedience is but for a season; it is like plastering work, which is soon washed off; but true obedience is constant. Though we meet with affliction, we must go on in our obedience. 'The righteous shall hold on his way.' Job 17:9. We have vowed constancy; we have vowed to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world, and to fight under Christ's banner to death. When a servant has entered into covenant with his master, and the indentures are sealed, he cannot go back, he must serve out his time; so there are indentures drawn in baptism, and in the Lord's Supper the indentures are renewed and scaled on our part, that we will be faithful and constant in our obedience; therefore we must imitate Christ, who became obedient unto death. Philippians 2:8. The crown is set upon the head of perseverance. 'He that keepeth my works unto the end, I will give him the morning star.' Revelation 2:26, 28.

Use one. This condemns those who live in contradiction to the text, and have cast off the yoke of obedience. 'As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.' Jeremiah 44:16. God bids men pray in their family, but they live in the total neglect of it; he bids them sanctify the Sabbath, but they follow their pleasures on that day; he bids them abstain from the appearance of sin, but they do not abstain from the act; they live in the act of revenge, and in the act of uncleanness. This is a high contempt of God; it is rebellion, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

Whence is it that men do not obey God? They know their duty, but do it not.

(1) The not obeying God is for want of faith. Quis credidit? 'Who has believed our report?' Isaiah 53:1: Did men believe sin were so bitter, that hell followed at the heels of it, would they go on in sin? Did they believe there was such a reward for the righteous, that godliness was gain, would they not pursue it; but they are atheists, not fully brought into the belief of these things; hence it is that they obey not. Satan's master-piece, his draw-net by which he drags millions to hell, is to keep them in infidelity; he knows, if he can but keep them from believing the truth, he is sure to keep them from obeying it.

(2) The not obeying God is for want of self-denial. God commands one thing, and men's lusts command another; and they will rather die than deny their lusts. If lust cannot be denied, God cannot be obeyed.

Use two. Obey God's voice. This is the beauty of a Christian.


What are the great arguments or incentives to obedience?

(1) Obedience makes us precious to God, his favourites. 'If ye will obey my voice, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people;' you shall be my portion, my jewels, the apple of mine eye. Exodus 19:5. 'I will give kingdoms for your ransom.' Isaiah 43:3.

(2) There is nothing lost by obedience. To obey God's will is the way to have our will. [1] Would we have a blessing in our estates? Let us obey God. 'If thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord, to do all his commandments, blessed shalt thou be in the field: blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.' Deuteronomy 28:1, 3, 5. To obey is the best way to thrive in your estates. [21 Would we have a blessing in our souls? Let us obey God. Obey, and I will be your God.' Jeremiah 7:23. My Spirit shall be your guide, sanctifier, and comforter. Christ 'became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' Hebrews 5:9. While we please God, we please ourselves; while we give him the duty, he gives us the dowry. We are apt to say, as Amaziah, 'What shall we do for the hundred talents?' 2 Chronicles 25:9. You lose nothing by obeying. The obedient son has the inheritance settled on him. Obey, and you shall have a kingdom. 'It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.' Luke 12:32.

(3) What a sin is disobedience! [1] It is an irrational sin. We are not able to stand it out in defiance against God. 'Are we stronger than he?' Will the sinner go to measure arms with God? 1 Corinthians 10:22. He is the Father Almighty, who can command legions. If we have no strength to resist him, it is irrational to disobey him. It is irrational, as it is against all law and equity. We have our daily subsistence from him; in him we live and move. Is it not just that as we live by him, we should live to him? that as he gives us our allowance, so we should give him our allegiance?

[2] It is a destructive sin. 'The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel.' 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8. He who refuses to obey God's will in commanding, shall be sure to obey his will in punishing. While the sinner thinks to slip the knot of obedience, he twists the cord of his own damnation, and he perishes without excuse. 'The servant which knew his lord's will, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.' Luke 12:47. God will say, 'Why did you not obey? you knew how to do good, but did not; therefore your blood is upon your own head.'


What means shall we use that we may obey?

(1) Serious consideration. Consider, God's commands are not grievous: he commands nothing unreasonable. 1 John 5:3. It is easier to obey the commands of God than sin. The commands of sin are burdensome—let a man be under the power of any lust, how he tires himself! what hazards he runs, even to endangering his health and soul, that he may satisfy his lusts! What tedious journeys did Antiochus Epiphanies take in persecuting the Jews! 'They weary themselves to commit iniquity;' and are not God's commands more easy to obey? Chrysostom says, virtue is easier than vice; temperance is less burdensome than drunkenness. Some have gone with less pains to heaven, than others to hell.

God commands nothing but what is beneficial. 'And now, Israel, what does the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to keep his statutes, which I command thee this day, for thy good?' Deuteronomy 10:12, 13. To obey God, is not so much our duty as our privilege; his commands carry meat in the mouth of them. He bids us repent; and why? That our sins may be blotted out. Acts 3:19. He commands us to believe: and why? That we may be saved. Acts 16:31. There is love in every command: as if a king should bid one of his subjects dig in a gold mine, and then take the gold to himself.

(2) Earnest supplication. Implore the help of the Spirit to carry you on in obedience. God's Spirit makes obedience easy and delightful. If the loadstone draw the iron, it is not hard for it to move; so if God's Spirit quicken and draw the heart, it is not hard to obey. When a gale of the Spirit blows, we go full sail in obedience. Turn his promise into a prayer. 'I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.' Ezekiel 36:27. The promise encourages us, the Spirit enables us to obey.

Love

The rule of obedience being the moral law, comprehended in the Ten Commandments, the next question is:


What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?

The sum of the Ten Commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves.

'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' Deuteronomy 6:5. The duty called for is love, yea, the strength of love, 'with all thy heart.' God will lose none of our love. Love is the soul of religion, and that which constitutes a real Christian. Love is the queen of graces; it shines and sparkles in God's eye, as the precious stones on the breastplate of Aaron.


What is love?

It is a holy fire kindled in the affections, whereby a Christian is carried out strongly after God as the supreme good.


What is the antecedent of love to God?

The antecedent of love is knowledge. The Spirit shines upon the understanding, and discovers the beauties of wisdom, holiness, and mercy in God; and these are the loadstone to entice and draw out love to God; Ignoti nulla cupido: such as know not God cannot love him; if the sun be set in the understanding, there must needs be night in the affections.


Wherein does the formal nature of love consist?

The nature of love consists in delighting in an object. Complacentia amantis in amato. [The lover's delight in his beloved] Aquinas. This is loving God, to take delight in him. 'Delight thyself also in the Lord' (Psalm 37:4), as a bride delights herself in her jewels. Grace changes a Christian's aims and delights.


How must our love to God be qualified?

(1) If it be a sincere love, we love God with all our heart. 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.' God will have the whole heart. We must not divide our love between him and sin. The true mother would not have the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided; it must be the whole heart.

(2) We must love God propter se, for himself, for his own intrinsic excellencies. We must love him for his loveliness. Meretricius est amor plus annulum quam sponsum amare: 'It is a harlot's love to love the portion more than the person.' Hypocrites love God because he gives them corn and wine: we must love God for himself; for those shining perfections which are in him. Gold is loved for itself.

(3) We must love God with all our might, in the Hebrew text, our vehemency; we must love God, quod posse, as much as we are able. Christians should be like seraphim, burning in holy love. We can never love God so much as he deserves. The angels in heaven cannot love God so much as he deserves.

(4) Love to God must be active in its sphere. Love is an industrious affection; it sets the head studying for God, hands working, feet running in the ways of his commandments. It is called the labour of love. 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Mary Magdalene loved Christ, and poured her ointments on him. We think we never do enough for the person whom we love.

(5) Love to God must be superlative. God is the essence of beauty, a whole paradise of delight; and he must have a priority in our love. Our love to God must be above all things besides, as the oil swims above the water. We must love God above estate and relations. Great is the love to relations. There is a story in the French Academy, of a daughter, who, when her father was condemned to die by hunger, gave him suck with her own breasts. But our love to God must be above father and mother. Matthew 10:37. We may give the creature the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. The spouse keeps the juice of her pomegranates for Christ. Canticles 8:2.

(6) Our love to God must be constant, like the fire which the Vestal virgins kept in Rome, which did not go out. Love must be like the motion of the pulse, which beats as long as there is life. 'Many waters cannot quench love,' not the waters of persecution. Canticles 8:7. 'Rooted in love.' Ephesians 3:17. A branch withers that does not grow on a root; so love, that it may not die, must be well rooted.


What are the visible signs of our love to God?

If we love God, our desire will be after him. 'The desire of our soul is to thy name.' Isaiah 26:8. He who loves God, breathes after communion with him. 'My soul thirsteth for the living God.' Psalm 42:2. Persons in love desire to be often conferring together. He who loves God, desires to be much in his presence; he loves the ordinances: they are the glass where the glory of God is resplendent; in the ordinances we meet with him whom our souls love; we have God's smiles and whispers, and some foretastes of heaven. Such as have no desire after ordinances, have no love to God.

The second visible sign is, that he who loves God cannot find contentment in any thing without him. Give a hypocrite who pretends to love God corn and wine, and he can be content without God; but a soul fired with love to God, cannot be without him. Lovers faint away if they have not a sight of the object loved. A gracious soul can do without health, but cannot do without God, who is the health of his countenance. Psalm 43:5. If God should say to a soul that entirely loves him, 'Take thy ease, swim in pleasure, solace thyself in the delights of the world; but thou shalt not enjoy my presence:' this would not content it. Nay, if God should say, 'I will let thee be taken up to heaven, but I will retire into another room, and thou shalt not see my face;' it would not content the soul. It is hell to be without God. The philosopher says there can be no gold without the influence of the sun; certainly there can be no golden joy in the soul without God's sweet presence and influence.

The third visible sign is that he who loves God, hates that which would separate between him and God, and that is sin. Sin makes God hide his face; it is like an incendiary, which parts chief friends; therefore, the keenness of a Christian's hatred is set against it. 'I hate every false way.' Psalm 119:128. Antipathies can never be reconciled; one cannot love health but he must hate poison; so we cannot love God but we must hate sin, which would destroy our communion with him.

The fourth visible sign is sympathy. Friends that love, grieve for the evils which befall each other. Homer, describing Agamemnon's grief, when he was forced to sacrifice his daughter, brings in all his friends weeping with him, and accompanying him to the sacrifice, in mourning. Lovers grieve together. If we have true love in our heart to God, we cannot but grieve for those things which grieve him; we shall lay to heart his dishonours; the luxury, drunkenness, contempt of God and religion. 'Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,' &c. Psalm 119:136. Some speak of the sins of others, and laugh at them; but they surely have no love to God who can laugh at that which grieves his Spirit! Does he love his father who can laugh to hear him reproached?

The fifth visible sign is, that he who loves God, labours to render him lovely to others. He not only admires God, but speaks in his praises, that he may allure and draw others to be in love with him. She that is in love will commend her lover. The lovesick spouse extols Christ, she makes a panegyrical oration of his worth, that she might persuade others to be in love with him. 'His head is as the most fine gold.' Canticles 5:11. True love to God cannot be silent, it will be eloquent in setting forth his renown. There is no better sign of loving God than to make him appear lovely, and to draw proselytes to him.

The sixth visible sign is, that he who loves God, weeps bitterly for his absence. Mary comes weeping, 'They have taken away my Lord.' John 20:13. One cries, 'My health is gone!' another, 'My estate is gone!' but he who is a lover of God, cries out, 'My God is gone! I cannot enjoy him whom I love.' What can all worldly comforts do, when once God is absent? It is like a funeral banquet, where there is much meat, but no cheer. 'I went mourning without the sun.' Job 30:28. If Rachel mourned greatly for the loss of her children, what vail or pencil can shadow out the sorrow of that Christian who has lost God's sweet presence? Such a soul pours forth floods of tears; and while it is lamenting, seems to say thus to God, 'Lord, thou art in heaven, hearing the melodious songs and triumph of angels; but I sit here in the valley of tears, weeping because thou art gone. Oh, when wilt thou come to me, and revive me with the light of thy countenance! Or, Lord, if thou wilt not come to me, let me come to thee, where I shall have a perpetual smile of thy face in heaven and shall never more complain, 'My beloved has withdrawn himself.'"

The seventh visible sign is, that he who loves God is willing to do and suffer for him. He subscribes to God's commands, he submits to his will. He subscribes to his commands. If God bids him mortify sin, love his enemies, be crucified to the world, he obeys. It is a vain thing for a man to say he loves God, and slight his commands. He submits to his will. If God would have him suffer for him, he does not dispute, but obeys. 'Love endureth all things.' 1 Corinthians 13:7. Love made Christ suffer for us, and love will make us suffer for him. It is true that every Christian is not a martyr but he has a spirit of martyrdom in him; he has a disposition of mind to suffer, if God call him to it. 'I am ready to be offered.' 2 Timothy 4:6. Not only the sufferings were ready for Paul, but he was ready for the sufferings. Origin chose rather to live despised in Alexandria, than with Plotinus to deny the faith, and be great in the prince's favour. Revelation 12:11. Many say they love God, but will not suffer the loss of anything for him. If Christ should have said to us, 'I love you well, you are dear to me, but I cannot suffer for you, I cannot lay down my life for you,' we should have questioned his love very much; and may not the Lord question ours, when we pretend love to him, but will endure nothing for his sake?

Use one. What shall we say to those who have not a drachm of love in their hearts to God? They have their life from him, yet do not love him. He spreads their table every day, yet they do not love him. Sinners dread God as a judge, but do not love him as a father. All the strength in the angels cannot make the heart love God; judgements will not do it; omnipotent grace only can make a stony heart melt in love. How sad is it to be void of love to God. When the body is cold, and has no heat, it is a sign of death; so he is spiritually dead who has no heat of love in his heart to God. Shall such live with God that do not love him? Will God lay an enemy in his bosom? They shall be bound in chains of darkness who will not be drawn with cords of love.

Use two. Let us be persuaded to love God with all our heart and might. O let us take our love off from other things, and place it upon God. Love is the heart of religion, the fat of the offering; it is the grace which Christ inquires most after. 'Simon lovest thou me?' John 21:15. Love makes all our services acceptable, it is the musk that perfumes them. It is not so much duty, as love to duty, God delights in; therefore serving and loving God are put together. Isaiah 56:6. It is better to love him than to serve him; obedience without love, is like wine without the spirit. O then, be persuaded to love God with all your heart and might.

(1) It is nothing but your love that God desires. The Lord might have demanded your children to be offered in sacrifice; he might have bid you cut and lance yourselves, or lie in hell awhile; but he only desires your love, he would only have this flower. Is it a hard request, to love God? Was ever any debt easier paid than this? Is it any labour for the wife to love her husband? Love is delightful. Non potest amor esse, et dulcis non esse [Love must by definition be sweet]. Bernard. What is there in our love that God should desire it? Why should a king desire the love of a woman that is in debt and diseased? God does not need our love. There are angels enough in heaven to adore and love him. What is God the better for our love? It adds not the least cubit to his essential blessedness. He does not need our love, and yet he seeks it. Why does he desire us to give him our heart? Proverbs 23:26. Not that he needs our heart, but that he may make it better.

(2) Great will be our advantage if we love God. He does not court our love that we should lose by it. 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.' 1 Corinthians 2:9. If you will love him, you shall have such a reward as exceeds your faith. He will betroth you to himself in the dearest love. 'I will betroth thee unto me for ever, in loving kindness and in mercies.' Hosea 2:19. 'The Lord thy God will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.' Zephaniah 3:17. If you love God, he will interest you in all his riches and dignities, he will give you heaven and earth for your dowry, he will set a crown on your head. Vespasian the emperor gave a great reward to a woman who came to him, and professed she loved him; but God gives a crown of life to them that love him. James 1:12.

(3) Love is the only grace that shall live with us in heaven. In heaven we shall need no repentance, because we shall have no sin; no faith, because we shall see God face to face; but love to God shall abide for ever. 'Love never faileth.' 1 Corinthians 13:8. How should we nourish this grace which shall outlive all the graces, and run parallel with eternity!

(4) Our love to God is a sign of his love to us. 'We love him because he first loved us.' 1 John 4:19. By nature we have no love to God; we have hearts of stone. Ezekiel 36:26. And how can any love be in hearts of stone? Our loving him is from his loving us. If the glass burn, it is because the sun has shone on it; so if our hearts burn in love, it is a sign the Sun of Righteousness has shone upon us.


What shall we do in order to love God aright?

(1) Wait on the preaching of the word. As faith comes by hearing, so does love. The word sets forth God in his incomparable excellencies; it deciphers and pencils him out in all his glory, and a sight of his beauty inflames love.

(2) Beg of God that he will give you a heart to love him. When king Solomon asked wisdom of God, it pleased the Lord. 1 Kings 3:10. So, when thou criest to God, Lord give me a heart to love thee, it is my grief I can love thee no more; surely this prayer will please the Lord, and he will pour out his Spirit upon thee. His golden oil will make the lamp of thy love burn bright.

(3) You who have love to God, keep it flaming upon the altar of your heart. Love, like fire, is ever ready to go out. 'Thou hast left thy first love.' Revelation 2:4. Through neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, our love to God will cool. O preserve your love to him. As you would be careful to preserve the natural heat in your body, so be careful to preserve the heat of love to God in your soul. Love is like oil to the wheels, it quickens us in God's service. When you find love abate and cool, use all means to quicken it. When the fire is going out, you throw on fuel; so when the flame of love is going out, make use of the ordinances as sacred fuel to keep the fire of your love burning.

Preface to the Commandments

'And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God,' &c. Exodus 20:1, 2.


What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?

The preface to the Ten Commandments is, 'I am the Lord thy God.'

The preface to the preface is, 'God spake all these words, saying,' &c. This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn proclamation. Other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the mouth of the holy prophets (Luke 1:70), but here God spake in his own person.


How are we to understand that, God spake, since he has no bodily parts or orgasms of speech?

God made some intelligible sound, or fanned a voice in the air, which, to the Jews was as though God himself was speaking to them. Observe:

(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.' Job 9:4. He has a monopoly of wisdom. 'The only wise God.' 1 Timothy 1:17. Therefore he is the fittest to enact and constitute laws. [2] Authority. If a subject makes laws, however wise they may be, they want the stamp of authority. God has the supreme power in his hand: he gives being to all; and he who gives men their lives, has 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. The Scripture, as Chrysostom says, is a garden, and the moral law is the chief flower in it: it is a banquet, and the moral law is the chief dish in it.

The moral law is perfect. 'The law of the Lord is perfect.' Psalm 19:7. It is an exact model and platform of religion; it is the standard of truth, the judge of controversies, the pole-star to direct us to heaven. 'The commandment is a lamp.' Proverbs 6:23. Though the moral law be not a Christ to justify us, it is a rule to instruct us.

The moral law is unalterable; it remains still in force. Though the ceremonial and judicial laws are abrogated, the moral law delivered by God's own mouth is of perpetual use in the church. It was written in tables of stone, to show its perpetuity.

The moral law is very illustrious and full of glory. God put glory upon it in the manner of its promulgation. [1] The people, before the moral law was delivered, were to wash their clothes, whereby, as by a type, God required the sanctifying of their ears and hearts to receive the law. Exodus 19:10. [2] There were bounds set that none might touch the mount, which was to produce in the people reverence to the law. Exodus 19:12. [3] God wrote the law with his own finger, which was such an honour put upon the moral law, as we read of no other such writing. Exodus 31:18. God by some mighty operation, made the law legible in letters, as if it had been written with his own finger. [4] God's putting the law in the ark to be kept was another signal mark of honour put upon it. The ark was the cabinet in which He put the ten commandments, as ten jewels. [5] At the delivery of the moral law, many angels were in attendance. Deuteronomy 33:2. A parliament of angels was called, and God himself was the speaker.

Use one. Here we may notice God's goodness, who has not left us without a law. He often sets down the giving his commandments as a demonstration of his love. 'He has not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgements they have not known them.' Psalm 147:20. 'Thou gavest them true laws, good statutes and commandments.' Nehemiah 9:13. What a strange creature would man be if he had no law to direct him! There would be no living in the world; we should have none born but Ishmaels—every man's hand would be against his neighbour. Man would grow wild if he had not affliction to tame him, and the moral law to guide him. The law of God is a hedge to keep us within the bounds of sobriety and piety.

Use two. If God spake all these words of the moral law, then it condemns: (1) The Marcionites and Manichees, who speak lightly, yea, blasphemously, of the moral law; who say it is below a Christian, it is carnal; which the apostle confutes, when he says, 'The law is spiritual, but I am carnal.' Romans 7:14. (2) The Antinomians, who will not admit the moral law to be a rule to a believer. We say not that he is under the curse of the law, but the commands. We say not the moral law is a Christ, but it is a star to lead to Christ. We say not that it saves, but sanctifies. They who cast God's law behind their backs, God will cast their prayers behind his back. They who will not have the law to rule them, shall have the law to judge them. (3) The Papists, who, as if God's law were imperfect, and when he spake all these words he did not speak enough, add to it their canons and traditions. This is to tax God's wisdom, as if he knew not how to make his own law. This surely is a high provocation. 'If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.' Revelation 22:18. As it is a great evil to add anything to a man's sealed will, so much more to add anything to the law which God himself spake, and wrote with his own fingers.

Use three. If God spake all the words of the moral law, several duties are enjoined upon us: (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. As we would have God hear all our words when we pray, so we must hear all his words when he speaks. We must not be as the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears: he that stops his ears when God cries, shall cry himself, and not be heard.

(2) If God spake all these words, then we must attend to them with reverence. Every word of the moral law is an oracle from heaven. God himself is the preacher, which calls for reverence. If a judge gives a charge upon the bench, all attend with reverence. In the moral law God himself gives a charge, 'God spake all these words;' with what veneration, therefore, should we attend! Moses put off his shoes from his feet, in token of reverence, when God was about to speak to him. Exodus 3:5-6.

(3)If God spake all these words of the moral law, then we must remember them. Surely all God speaks is worth remembering; those words are weighty which concern salvation. 'It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life.' Deuteronomy 32:47. Our memory should be like the chest in the ark where the law was kept. God's oracles are ornaments, and shall we forget them? 'Can a maid forget her ornaments?' Jeremiah 2:32.

(4) If God spake all these words, then believe them. See the name of God written upon every commandment. The heathens, in order to gain credit to their laws, reported that they were inspired by the gods at Rome. The moral law fetches its pedigree from heaven. Ipse dixit. God spake all these words. Shall we not give credit to the God of heaven? How would the angel confirm the women in the resurrection of Christ? 'Lo (said he), I have told you.' Matthew 28:7. I speak in the word of an angel. Much more should the moral law be believed, when it comes to us in the word of God. 'God spake all these words.' Unbelief enervates the virtue of God's word, and makes it prove abortive. 'The word did not profit, not being mixed with faith.' Hebrews 4:2. Eve gave more credit to the devil when he spake than she did to God.

(5) If God spake all these words, then love the commandments. 'Oh, how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.' Psalm 119:97. 'Consider how I love thy precepts.' Psalm 119:159. The moral law is the copy of God's will, our spiritual directory; it shows us what sins to avoid, what duties to pursue. The ten commandments are a chain of pearls to adorn us, they are our treasury to enrich us; they are more precious than lands of spices, or rocks of diamonds. 'The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.' Psalm 119:72. The law of God has truth and goodness in it. Nehemiah 9:13. Truth, for God spake it; and goodness, for there is nothing the commandment enjoins, but it is for our good. O then, let this command our love.

(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 unto thy children.' Deuteronomy 6:6, 7. 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. Vir bonus magis aliis prodest quam sibi [A good man benefits others more than himself]. You that are parents, discharge your duty. Though you cannot impart grace to your children, yet you may impart knowledge. Let your children know the commandments of God. 'Ye shall teach them your children.' Deuteronomy 11:19. You are careful to leave your children a portion: leave the oracles of heaven with them; instruct them in the law of God. If God spake all these words, you may well speak them over again to your children.

(7) If God spake all these words, the moral law must be obeyed. If a king speaks, his word commands allegiance; much more, when God speaks, must his words be obeyed. Some will obey partially, obey some commandments, not others; like a slough, which, when it comes to a stiff piece of earth, makes a baulk; but God, who spake all the words of the moral law, will have all obeyed. He will not dispense with the breach of one law. Princes, indeed, for special reasons, sometimes dispense with penal statutes, and will not enforce the severity of the law; but God, who spake all these words, binds men with a subpoena to yield obedience to every law.

This condemns the church of Rome, which, instead of obeying the whole moral law, blots out one commandment, and dispenses with others. They leave the second commandment out of their catechism, because it makes against images; and to fill up the number of ten, they divide the tenth commandment into two. Thus, they incur that dreadful condemnation: 'If any man shall take away from the words of this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.' Revelation 22:19. As they blot out one commandment, and cut the knot which they cannot untie, so they dispense with other commandments. They dispense with the sixth commandment, making murder meritorious in case of propagating the Catholic cause. They dispense with the seventh commandment, wherein God forbids adultery; for the Pope dispenses with the sin of uncleanness, yea, incest, by paying fines and sums of money into his coffer. No wonder the Pope takes men off their loyalty to kings and princes, when he teaches them disloyalty to God. Some of the Papists say expressly in their writings, that the Pope has power to dispense with the laws of God, and can give men license to break the commandments of the Old and New Testament. That such a religion should ever again get foot in England, the Lord in mercy prevent! If God spake all the commandments, then we must obey all; he who breaks the hedge of the commandments, a serpent shall bite him.


But what man can obey all God's commandments?

To obey the law in a legal sense—to do all the law requires—no man can. Sin has cut the lock of original righteousness, where our strength lay; but, in a true gospel-sense, we may so obey the moral law as to find acceptance. This gospel obedience consists in a real endeavour to observe the whole moral law. 'I have done thy commandments' (Psalm 119:166); not, I have done all I should do, but I have done all I am able to do; and wherein my obedience comes short, I look up to the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ, and hope for pardon through his blood. This is to obey the moral law evangelically; which, though it be not to satisfaction, yet it is to acceptation.

We come now to the preface itself, which consists of three parts: I. I am the Lord thy God'; II. 'which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt'; III. 'out of the house of bondage'.

I. I am the Lord thy God. Here we have a description of God; (1) By his essential greatness, 'I am the Lord;' (2) By his relative goodness, 'Thy God.'

[1] By his essential greatness, 'I am the Lord:' or, as it is in the Hebrew, Jehovah. By this great name God sets forth his majesty. Sanctius habitum fuit, says Buxtorf. The name of Jehovah was had in more reverence among the Jews than any other name of God. It signifies God's self-sufficiency, eternity, independence, and immutability. Malachi. 3:6.

Use one. If God be Jehovah, the fountain of being, who can do what he will, let us fear him. 'That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, Jehovah.' Deuteronomy 28:58.

Use two. If God be Jehovah, the supreme Lord, the blasphemous Papists are condemned who speak after this manner: 'Our Lord God the Pope.' Is it a wonder the Pope lifts his triple crown above the heads of kings and emperors, when he usurps God's title, 'showing himself that he is God'? 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He seeks to make himself Lord of heaven, for he will canonise saints there; Lord of earth, for with his keys he binds and looses whom he pleases; Lord of hell, for he frees men out of purgatory. God will pull down these plumes of pride; he will consume this man of sin 'with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming.' 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

[2] God is described by his relative goodness; 'thy God.' Had he called himself Jehovah only, it might have terrified us, and made us flee from him; but when he says, 'thy God,' it allures and draws us to him. This, though a preface to the law, is pure gospel. The word Eloeha, 'thy God,' is so sweet, that we can never suck all the honey out of it. 'I am thy God,' not only by creation, but by election. This word, 'thy God,' though it was spoken to Israel, is a charter which belongs to all the saints. For the further explanation, here are three questions.


How comes God to be our God?

Through Jesus Christ. Christ is a middle person in the Trinity. He is Emmanuel, 'God with us.' He brings two different parties together: makes our nature lovely to God, and God's nature lovely to us; by his death, causes friendship, yea, union; and brings us within the verge of the covenant, and thus God becomes our God.


What is implied by God being our God?

It is comprehensive of all good things. God is our strong tower; our fountain of living water; our salvation. More particularly, being our God implies the sweetest relations.

(1) The relation of a father. 'I will be a Father unto you;' 2 Corinthians 6:18. A father is full of tender care for his child. Upon whom does he settle the inheritance but his child? God being our God, will be a father to us; a 'Father of mercies,' 2 Corinthians 1:3; 'The everlasting Father.' Isaiah 9:6. If God be our God, we have a Father in heaven that never dies.

(2) It imports the relation of a husband. 'Thy Maker is thine husband.' Isaiah 54:5. If God be our husband, he esteems us precious to him, as the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8. He imparts his secrets to us. Psalm 25:14. He bestows a kingdom upon us for our dowry. Luke 12:32.


How may we know that by covenant union, God is our God?

(1) 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 that gives us a true genuine title to God. In particular, faith is vinculum unionis, the grace of union, by which we may spell out our interest in God. Faith does not, as the mariner, cast its anchor downwards, but upwards; it trusts in the mercy and blood of God, and trusting in God, engages him to be our God. Other graces make us like God, faith makes us one with him.

(2) We may know God is our God by having the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:22. 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? If we have not had the sealing work of the Spirit, have we had the healing work? 'Ye have an unction from the Holy One.' 1 John 2:20. The Spirit, where it is, stamps the impress of its own holiness upon the heart; it embroiders and bespangles the soul, and makes it all glorious within. Have we had the attraction of the Spirit? 'Draw me, we will run after thee.' Canticles 1:4. Has the Spirit, by its magnetic virtue, drawn our hearts to God? Can we say, 'O thou whom my soul loveth?' Canticles 1:7. Is God our paradise of delight? our Segullah, or chief treasure! Are our hearts so chained to God that no other object can enchant us, or draw us away from him? Have we had the elevation of the Spirit? Has it raised our hearts above the world? 'The Spirit lifted me up.' Ezekiel 3:14. Has the Spirit made us, superna anhelare, seek the things above where Christ is? Though our flesh is on earth, is our heart in heaven? Though we live here, trade we above? Has the Spirit thus lifted us up? By this we may know that God is our God. Where God gives his Spirit for an earnest, there he gives himself for a portion.

(3) We may know God is our God, if he has given us the hearts of children. Have we obediential hearts? Psalm 27:8. Do we subscribe to God's commands when his commands cross our will? A true saint is like the flower of the sun, which opens and shuts with the sun: he opens to God, and shuts to sin. If we have the hearts of children, God is our Father.

(4) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in him, by standing up for his interest. We shall appear in his cause and vindicate his truth, wherein his glory is so much concerned. Athanasius was the bulwark of truth; he stood up for it, when most of the world were Asians. In former times the nobles of Polonia, when the gospel was read, laid their hands upon their swords, signifying that they were ready to defend the faith, and hazard their lives for the gospel. There is no better sign of having an interest in God than standing up for his interest.

(5) 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.' Canticles 2:16. When God says to the soul, 'Thou art mine;' the soul answers, 'Lord, I am thine; all I have is at thy service; my head shall be thine to study for thee; my tongue shall be thine to praise thee.' If God be our God by way of donation, we are his by way of dedication; we live to him, and are more his than we are our own. Thus we may come to know that God is our God.

Use one. Above all things, let us get this great charter confirmed, that God is our God. Deity is not comfortable without propriety. Let us labour to get sound evidences that God is our God. We cannot call health, liberty, estate, ours; but let us be able to call God ours, and say as the church, 'God, even our own God, shall bless us.' Psalm 67:6. Let every soul labour to pronounce this Shibboleth, 'My God.' That we may endeavour to have God for our God, consider the misery of such as have not God for their God, in how sad a condition are they, when the hour of distress comes! This was Saul's case when he said 'I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me.' 1 Samuel 28:15. A wicked man in time of trouble, is like a vessel tossed on the sea without an anchor, which strikes on rocks or sands. A sinner who has not God to be his God, may make a shift while health and estate last, but when these crutches on which he leaned are broken, his heart must sink. It is with him as it was with the old world when the flood came. The waters at first came to the valleys, but then the people would get to the hills and mountains; but when the waters came to the mountains, then there might be some trees on the high hills, and they would climb up to them; ay, but the waters rose above the tops of the trees; and then their hearts failed them, and all hopes of being saved were gone. So it is with a man that has not God to be his God. If one comfort be taken away, he has another; if he lose a child, he has an estate; but when the waters rise higher, death comes and takes away all, and he has nothing to help himself with, no God to go to, he must needs die in despair. How great a privilege it is to have God for our God! 'Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.' Psalm 144:15. Beatitudo hominis est Deus [Man's happiness is God himself]. Augustine. That you may see the privilege of this charter:—

(1) If God be our God, then though we may feel the stroke of evil, yet not the sting. He must needs be happy who is in such a condition, that nothing can hurt him. If he lose his name, it is written in the book of life; if he lose his liberty, his conscience is free; if he lose his estate, he is possessed of the pearl of price; if he meets with storms, he knows where to put in for harbour; God is his God, and heaven is his heaven.

(2) If God be our God, our soul is safe. The soul is the jewel, it is a blossom of eternity. 'I was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body;' in the Chaldee, it is 'in the midst of my sheath.' Daniel 7:15. The body is but the sheath; the soul is the princely part of man, which sways the sceptre of reason; it is a celestial spark, as Damascene calls it. If God be our God, the soul is safe, as in a garrison. Death can do no more hurt to a virtuous heaven-born soul, than David did to Saul, when he cut off the skirt of his garment. The soul is safe, being hid in the promises; hid in the wounds of Christ; hid in God's decree. The soul is the pearl, and heaven is the cabinet where God will lock it up safe.

(3) If God be our God, then all that is in God is ours. The Lord says to a saint in covenant, as the king of Israel to the king of Syria, 'I am thine, and all that I have.' 1 Kings 20:4. So saith God, 'I am thine:' how happy is he who not only inherits the gift of God, but inherits God himself! All that I have shall be thine; my wisdom shall be thine to teach thee; my power shall be thine to support thee; my mercy shall be thine to save thee. God is an infinite ocean of blessedness, and there is enough in him to fill us: as if a thousand vessels were thrown into the sea, there is enough in the sea to fill them.

(4) If God be our God, he will entirely love us. Property is the ground of love. God may give men kingdoms, and not love them; but he cannot be our God, and not love us. He calls his covenanted saints, Jediduth Naphshi, 'The dearly beloved of my soul.' Jeremiah 12:7. He rejoiceth over them with joy, and rests in his love. Zephaniah 3:17. They are his refined silver (Zechariah 13:9); his jewels (Malachi 3:17); his royal diadem (Isaiah 62:3). He gives them the cream and flower of his love. He not only opens his hand and fills them, but opens his heart and fills them. Psalm 145:16.

(5) If God be our God, he will do more for us than all the world besides can. What is that? [1] He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, he will make music within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble. He will send the Comforter, who, as a dove, brings an olive-branch of peace in his mouth. John 14:16. [2] God will give us a crown of immortality. The world can give a crown of gold, but that crown has thorns in it and death in it; but God will give you a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5:4. The garland made of the flowers of paradise never withers.

(6) If God be our God, he will bear with many infirmities. He may respite sinners awhile, but long forbearance is no acquittance; he will throw them to hell for their sins; but if he be our God, he will not for every failing destroy us; he bears with his spouse as with the weaker vessel. He may chastise. Psalm 89:32. He may use the rod and the pruning-knife, but not the bloody axe. 'He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob.' Numbers 23:21. He will not see sin in his people so as to destroy them, but their sins so as to pity them. He sees them as a physician a disease in his patient, to heal him. 'I have seen his ways, and will heal him.' Isaiah 57:18. Every failing does not break the marriage-bond asunder. The disciples had great failings, they all forsook Christ and fled; but this did not break off their interest in God; therefore, says Christ, at his ascension, 'Tell my disciples, I go to my God and to their God.'

(7) If God be once our God, he is so for ever. 'This God is our God for ever and ever.' Psalm 48:14. Whatever worldly comforts we have, they are but for a season, and we must part with all. Hebrews 11:25. As Paul's friends accompanied him to the ship, and there left him (Acts 20:38), so all our earthly comforts will but go with us to the grave, and there leave us. You cannot say you have health, and shall have it for ever; you have a child, and shall have it for ever; but if God be your God, you shall have him for ever. 'This God is our God for ever and ever.' If God be our God, he will be a God to us as long as he is a God. 'Ye have taken away my gods,' said Micah. Judges 18:14. But it cannot be said to a believer, that his God is taken away; He may lose all things else, but cannot lose his God. God is ours from everlasting in election, and to everlasting in glory.

(8) If God be our God, we shall enjoy all our godly relations with him in heaven. The great felicity on earth is to enjoy relations. A father sees his own picture in a child; and a wife sees herself in her husband. We plant the flower of love among our relations, and the loss of them is like the pulling off a limb from the body. But if God be ours, with the enjoyment of God we shall enjoy all our pious relations in glory. The gracious child shall see his godly father, the virtuous wife shall see her religious husband in Christ's arms; and then there will be a dearer love to relations than there ever was before, though in a far different manner; then relations shall meet and never part. 'And so shall we be ever with the Lord.'

Use two. To such as can realise this covenant union we have several exhortations.

(1) If God be our God, let us improve our interest in him, let us cast all our burdens upon him: the burden of our fears, our wants and our sins. 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord.' Psalm 55:22. Wicked men who are a burden to God have no right to cast their burden upon him; but such as have God for their God are called upon to cast their burden on him. Where should the child ease all its cares but in the bosom of its parent? 'Let all thy wants lie upon me.' Judges 19:20. So God seems to say to his children, 'Let all your wants lie upon me.' Christian, what troubles thee? Thou hast a God to pardon thy sins and to supply thy wants; therefore roll your burden on him. 'Casting all your care upon him.' 1 Peter 5:7. Why are Christians so disquieted in their minds? They are taking care when they should be casting care.

(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. 'I know whom I have believed.' 2 Timothy 1:12. There was Paul's interest in God. 'As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.' 2 Corinthians 6:10. Here was his content. That such who have covenant-union with God may be filled with contentment of spirit, consider what a rich blessing God is to the soul.

He is bonum sufficiens, a sufficient good. He who has God has enough. If a man be thirsty, bring him to a spring, and he is satisfied; in God there is enough to fill the heaven-born soul. He gives 'grace and glory.' Psalm 84:11. There is in God not only a sufficiency, but a redundancy; he is not only full as a vessel, but as a spring. Other things can no more fill the soul than a mariner's breath can fill the sails of a ship; but in God there is a cornucopia, an infinite fulness; he has enough to fill the angels, therefore enough to fill us. The heart is a triangle, which only the Trinity can fill.

God is bonum sanctificans, a sanctifying good. He sanctifies all our comforts and turn them into blessings. Health is blessed, estate is blessed. He gives with the venison a blessing. 'I will abundantly bless her provision.' Psalm 132:15. He gives us the life we have, tanquam arrhabo, as an earnest of more. He gives the little meal in the barrel as an earnest of the royal feast in paradise. He sanctifies all our crosses. They shall not be destructive punishments, but medicines; they shall corrode and eat out the venom of sin; they shall polish and refine our grace. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles. When God stretches the strings of his viol, it is to make the music better.

God is bonum selectum, a choice good. All things, sub sole, are but bona scabelli, as Augustine says, the blessings of the footstool, but to have God himself to be ours, is the blessing of the throne. Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines, but he settled the inheritance upon Isaac. 'Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.' Genesis 25:5. God may send away the men of the world with gifts, a little gold and silver; but in giving us himself, he gives us the very essence, his grace, his love, his kingdom: here is the crowning blessing.

God is bonum summum, the chief good. In the chief good there must be delectability; it must have something that is delicious and sweet: and where can we suck those pure essential comforts, which ravish us with delight, but in God? In Deo quadam dulcedine delectatur anima, immo rapitur [In God's character there is a certain sweetness which fascinates or rather enraptures the soul]. 'At thy right hand there are pleasures.' Psalm 16:11: In the chief good there must be transcendence, it must have a surpassing excellence. Thus God is infinitely better than all other things. It is below the Deity to compare other things with it. Who would weigh a feather against a mountain of gold? God is fons et origo, the spring of all entities, and the cause is more noble than the effect. It is God that bespangles the creation, that puts light into the sun, that fills the veins of the earth with silver. Creatures do but maintain life, God gives life. He infinitely outshines all sublunary glory. He is better than the soul, than angels, and than heaven. 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. Colossians 1:19. He is a universal good, commensurate to all our wants. He is bonum in quo omnia bona [the good in which is every good], a son, a portion, a horn of salvation. He is called the 'God of all comfort.' 2 Corinthians 1:3. There is a complication of all beauties and delights in him. Health has not the comfort of beauty, nor beauty of riches, nor riches of wisdom; but God is the God of all comfort. In the chief good there must be eternity. God is a treasure that can neither be drawn low, nor drawn dry. Though the angels are continually spending what is his, he can never be spent; he abides for ever. Eternity is a flower of his crown. Now, if God be our God, there is enough to let full contentment into our souls. What need we of torchlight, if we have the sun? What if God deny the flower, if he has given us the jewel? How should a Christian's heart rest on this rock! If we say God is our God, and we are not content, we have cause to question our interest in him.

(3) If we can clear up this covenant-union, that God is our God, let it cheer and revive us in