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EVANGELISTA, a Minister of the Gospel.
Neo. Sir, here is our neighbour Nomologista, who, as I suppose, is much mistaken, as touching a point that he and I have had some conference about; and because I have found you so ready and willing to inform and instruct me, when I came to you with my neighbours Nomista and Antinomista, I have presumed to entreat him to come along with me to you: assoring both myself and him that we shall be welcome to you, and that you will make it appear he is deceived.
Evan. You are both of you very kindly welcome to me, and as I have been willing to give you the best instruction, when you were formerly with me; even so, God willing, shall I be now; wherefore, I pray you, let me understand what the point is, wherein you do conceive he is mistaken.
Neo. Why, sir, this is the thing: he tells me, he is persuaded that he goes very near the perfect fulfilling of the law of God; but I cannot be persuaded to it.
Evan. What say you neighbour Nomologista, are you so persuaded ?
Nom. I. Yea, indeed sir, I am so persuaded; for whereas you know the first commandment is, “ I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other God before my face.” I am confident I have the only true God for my God, and none other.
II. And whereas the second commandment is, " Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image,” &c. I tell you truly, I do defy all graven images, and do count it a great folly in any man, either to make them, or worship them.
III. And whereas the third commandment is, “ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” it is well known that I am no swearer, neither can I abide to hear others swear by the name of God.
IV. And whereas the fourth commandment is, “Remember that thoa keep holy the Sabbath-day,” I am sure I do very seldom either york or travel on that day; but do go to the churoh both forenoon
and afternoon; and do both read, and hear the word of God read, when I come home.
v. And whereas the fifth commandment is, “ Honour thy father and mother,” &c. I thank God I was very careful to do my duty to my parents when I was a child.
VI. And whereas, the sixth commandment is, “ Thou shalt not kill," I thank God, I never yet either murdered man, woman, or child ; and I hope never shall.
VII. And whereas the seventh commandment is, “ Thou shalt not commit adultery,” I thank God I was never given to women, God has hitherto kept me from committing that sin, and so I hope he will do whilst I live.
VII. And whereas the eighth commandment is, “ Thou shalt not steal,” I do not remember that ever I took the worth of twelvepence of any man's goods in all my life.
IX. And whereas the ninth commandment is, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour," I thank God, I do abhor that sin, and was never guilty of it in all my life.
X. And whereas the tenth commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet," I thank God, I never coveted any thing but what was mine own, in all my life.
Evan. Alas! neighbour Nomologista, the commandments of God have a larger extent than it seems you are aware of; for it seems you do imagine that the whole moral law is confined within the compass of what you have now repeated; as though there were no more required or forbidden, than what is expressed in the words of the ten commandments; as though God required no more but the bare external, or actual performance of a duty: and as though he did forbid no more than the bare abstinence and gross acting of sin. The very same conceit of the law of God, the Scribes and Pharisees had; and therefore, it is no marvel though you imagine you keep all the commandments even as they did.
Nom. Well, sir, if I have been deceived, you may do well to instruct me better.
Evan. I shall endeavour to do it with all my heart, as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me. And because I begin to fear that it is not your case alone to be thus ignorant of the large extent, and the true sense and meaning of the law of God, I also begin to blame myself for that I have not taken occasion to expound the commandments in my public ministry since I came amongst you; and ther-fore I do now resolve, by the belp of God, very speedily to fall about that work; and I hope I shall then make it appear unto you that the ten commandments are but an epitome or an abridgment
of the law of God, and that the full exposition thereof is to be found in the books of the prophets and apostles, called the old and New Testament.
Neo. Indeed, sir, I have told him that we must not stick apon the bare words of any of the ten commandments, nor rest satisfied with the bare literal sense, but labour to find out the full exposition and true spiritual meaning of every one of them, according to other places of Scripture.
Evan. If you told him so, you told him that which is most true; for he that would truly understand and expound the commandments, must do it according to these six rules.
First, He must consider that every commandment has both a negative and affirmative part contained in it; that is to say, where any evil is forbidden, the contrary good is commanded; and where any good is commanded, the contrary evil is forbidden; for, says Ursinus' Catechism, page 329, “ The lawgiver does in an affirmative commandment comprehend the negative; and contrariwise, in a negative he comprehends the affirmative.”
Secondly, He must consider that under one good action commanded, or one evil action forbidden, all of the same kind or nature are comprehended, yea, all occasions and means leading thereunto; according to the saying of judicious Virel, “ The Lord minding to forbid divers evils of the same kind, he comprehendeth them under the name of the greatest."
Thirdly, He must consider that the law of God is spiritual, reaching to the very heart or soul, and all the powers thereof, for it charges the understanding to know the will of God; it charges the memory to retain, and the will to choose the better, and to leave the worse; it charges the affections to love the things that are to be loved, and to hate the things that are to be hated, and so binds all the powers of the soul to obedience, as well as the words, thoughts, and gestures.
Fourthly, He must consider, that the law of God must not only be the rule of our obedience, but it must also be the reason of it: we must not only do that which is there commanded, and avoid that which is there forbidden, but we must also do the good, because the Lord requires it, and avoid the evil, because the Lord forbids it; yea, and we must do all that is delivered and prescribed in the law, for the love we bear to God, though love of God must be the fountain, the impulsive and efficient cause of all our obedience to the law.
Fifthly, He must consider, that as our obedience to the law must arise from a right fountain, so must it be directed to a right end,
and that is, that God alone may be glorified by us; for otherwise it is not the worship of God, but hypocrisy, says Ursinus' Catehchism; so that according to the saying of another godly writer, the final cause or end of all our obedience must be, God's glory, (1 Cor. x. 13); or, which is all one, that we may please him, for in seeking to please God, we glorify him, and these two things are always co-incident.
Sixthly, He must consider, that the Lord does not only take notice of what we do in obedience to his law, but also after what manner we do it; and therefore we must be careful to do all our actions after a right manner, viz. humbly, reverently, willingly, and zealously,
Neo. I beseech you, sir, if you can spare so much time, let us have some brief exposition of some, if not of all the ten commandments before we go hence, according to these rules.
Evan. What say you, neighbour Nomologista, do you desire the same?
Nom. Yea, sir, with all my heart, if you please.
Evan. Well then, although my occasions at this time might justly plead excuse for me; yet seeing that you do both of you desire it, I will for the present dispense with all my other business, and endeavour to accomplish your desires, according as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me: and therefore, I pray you understand and consider, That in the first commandment there is a negative part expressed in these words: “Thou shalt have none other gods before my face.” And an affirmative part included in these words : “But thou shalt have me only for thy God;" for if we must have none other for our God, it implies strongly, that we must have the Lord for our God.
Neo. I pray you, sir, begin with the affirmative part, and first tell us what the Lord requireth of us in this commandment?
Evan. In this first commandment, “ the Lord requireth the duty of our hearts or souls,” Prov. xxiii. 26; that is to say, of our understandings, wills, and affections, and the effects of them.
Neo. And what is the duty of our understandings ?
Evan. The duty of our understandings is to know God, 2 Chron. xxviii. 9. Now the end of knowledge is but the fulness of persuasion, even a settled belief, which is called faith, so that the duty of our understandings is, so to know God, as to believe him to be according as he has revealed himself to us in his word and works; chap. xi. 6.
Neo. And how has the Lord revealed himself to us in his word ?
Evan. Why, he has revealed himself to be “most wise,” Rom. xvi. 27; "most mighty,” Deut. vii. 21; “ most true,” Deut. xxxii. 4; ”
Veo. And how has he revealed himself to us in his works?
Neo. And how must our knowledge of God, and our belief in him, be expressed by their effects ?
Evan. We must express, that we know and believe God to be according as he has revealed himself in his word and works, by our remembering and acknowledging him whensoever there is occasion for us so to do.
As for example; when we read or hear those judgments that the Lord in his word has threatened to bring upon us for our sins, (Deut. xxviii. 16.) we are to express that we do remember and acknowledge him to be most mighty, true, and just, by our fearing and trembling thereat, Psalm cxix. 120. Hab. iii. 15. And when we read or hear of blessings, that the Lord in his word has promised to bestow upon us for our obedience, (Deut. xxviii. 2.) then we are to express, that we do remember and acknowledge him to be most true, and merciful, by our obedience unto him, and by our trusting in him, and relying upon him, Gen. xxxii. 9. And when we behold the excellent frame of heaven and earth, and the creatures contained therein, then we are to express, that we do remember and acknowledge the Lord to be the Creator and Maker of them all, by our praising and magnifying his name, Psalm cvi. 5. and cxxxix. 14. And when the Lord does actually inflict any judgment upon us, then we are to express that we do romember and acknowledge him to be the Governor of all things, and most mighty, wise, and just, by humbling ourselves under his mighty hand, 1 Pet. v. 6. And by judging ourselves worthy to be destroyed, for our iniquities, Ezek. xxxvi. 31. And by bearing the punishment thereof, (Lev. xxvi. 41.) with willing, patient, contented submission to his will and pleasure, Psalm xxxix. 9. And when the Lord does actually bestow any blessing upon us, then we are to express, that we do remember, and acknowledge him to be the most merciful Giver of every good gift, by our humble acknowledging that we are unworthy of the least of his mercies, Gen. xxxii. 10; and “jn giving him thanks for all things," 1 Thess. v. 18. And thus have I showed unto you what is the duty of our understandings.