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social duties, belongs the avowal of obligation, “ To love, honour, and succour my father and mother: To honour and obey the sovereign ruler of the people and all that under the sovereign are put in authority: To submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters: To order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters.” Instructed by all those commandments which tell me what I am not to do, I declare that I am bound “ To hurt nobody by word or deed :" by the sixth I am specially taught, “ To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart:” by the seventh, “To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity:" by the eighth, “To be true and just in all my dealings, to keep my hands from picking and stealing:" and by the ninth, "(To keep) my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering.” The tenth, the finish of the whole, bids me, “Not to covet nor desire other men's goods: but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me.” I should not have made this very common-place and simple application, had I not known, that children, for whose use in a great measure I would just now speak, oftentimes require to be guided to the perception of these very points.
The various duties are not here described in the exact terms of the commandments themselves, or entirely in scriptural phrases, but in plain expressions of the sense of scripture when speaking on these several branches of man's obligations.
A few of the plain principles for interpreting the ten commandments are these. When in their letter they denounce what is not to be done, then in their spirit they require the forbidden sin to be avoided, as best it may, by the full practice of the contrary deeds of righteousness; so when they positively bid us to perform what is just and holy, they imply that the opposite action is evil, and an offence against God. Whatever they forbid, though spoken of only in the last or greatest degree, is, because of the well known fact that evil desire gradually ripens into deeds of sin, condemned not only in what we may think less acts of offence of the same kind, but also in word and in thought, and in whatever may produce or cherish an evil inclination. Thus too in whatever is right in the sight of God, we are directed to promote it by all things that may aid its growth.
When you are thus spoken to with but little of particular application, there may be fear that but little of present profit is administered to your souls, yet though in what may seem a confined and crowd
way, I trust it may on the whole be for your benefit that we are thus pursuing this subject of our catechism. It may be something, if your attention be awakened, and you be gained to meditate on what is so ready in your hands for your
Were ‘it now my purpose to enlarge and dwell on any commandments in particular, I might be led to insist on the universal and lasting authority and uses of the sabbath, or on the positive nature and other peculiarities of the fifth commandment, and on the place which duty to parents occupies as the fountain and foundation of all the obligations of man to man, or on the spiritual interpretation of the commandments altogether arising from the prohibition, which says “ Thou shalt not covet ;” and thus fixes in the heart the issues of life and death. But these matters are now only suggested to your consideration, I would trust that for them and other good fruits, the self-same manual of instruction, to the use of which I am now attempting to direct you, will supply you with fitting aids towards the reception of future pastoral lessons. The present branch of our subject may fairly lead to some serious reflections, which we may now pursue. In order to strengthen the feeling that these commandments are of perpetual and universal obligation, is it not profitable
and also scriptural to notice, that as God first delivered them when he was forming to himself a people of those who had been slaves and bondmen in Egypt, so Jesus took occasion to confirm and establish them for ever, when he was proceeding to deliver his followers from the servitude and bondage of sin, and to take them to himself for a peculiar people, zealous of good works? You surely remember the principles of large and spiritual interpretation which he gave in several instances, when he extended the meaning of what had been said to those of old time, and when he furnished examples of his purpose in declaring that “till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." He, and his apostle Paul, either plainly mean, or actually name, these commandments, when they exhort to all the duties required of man; moreover when they make the fulfilling of the law consist in love to God and love to our neighbour, they supply a great, positive, and living principle, for discharging the very same obligations, as had previously for the most part been guarded rather by denouncements of wrath and prohibitions of transgression. That these rules are for all people, times, and circumstances, is confirmed by their directly fitting, in the shortest, clearest, and most complete manner, the constitution and universal frame of human nature. They lay hold of the main points, in which, according to the ideas and language in the minds and mouths of us all, we regard ourselves as having sacred rights, in the matters of life, property, feelings, and affections. In these branches of man's native character, the commandments go at once to the root. This force and directness recommend them to right reason, and when received as God's eternal word, they in turn give just and secure views of those principles in our nature which had helped to explain them. If these observations are not yet plain to you all, I hope they will be made clear, on the mention of the case, with some reference to which they have been made, and to which I will apply them. (I now address myself chiefly to those of fuller years and information.) Some of you at least must know, that there are those in our land, who, in the many
afflictions and miseries of human life, profess to see, not the trial of our faith, not the test of our obedience, not the loving correction of a heavenly Father, not the deserved and necessary consequences of corruption and sin, but, according to their estimation, nothing more than needless and avoidable troubles, mistakes, and delusions, hy which mankind have without cause made them