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SERM. ship, to which the nations, who lived in
and round about the country which the Jews were going to inhabit, paid their ignorant and wicked adorations ;-the sun, the moon, the stars, stocks, stones, animals, and deceased men, they either joined with the Supreme Being, or worshipped instead of him. To keep the people of Israel from this absurdity and wickedness, God says to them, “ Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.”-I allow neither of substitute nor partner, to me only shall you offer up your prayers, praises, and adorations. We Christians are, I hope, in no danger of offending against this law, in the same manner as the nations above. mentioned, but we may break it in other instances, and incur no small portion of guilt for so doing. We may, and alas ! too many of us do, give a preference to the pleasures, honours, riches of this world, above God: now when we do this they are
to us in the place of gods; it is them s ERM. which we love with all our hearts, with a all our mind, with all our soul, and with all - our strength; it is them which we worship; it is in them that we trust, and, too often, it is them which we truly serve all the days of our life. Now, when this is the case, we certainly violate the first commandment: those who dedicate their whole time, and set their whole affections either on worldly honours or pleasures, are (as the apostle expressly tells us, with respect to the covetous) Idolaters. Thou " shalt have none other gods but me.” The precept is delivered in negative terms, but it has a possitive meaning; we are not only required by it not to worship what is not God, but we are required heartily to worship what is God.
As Protestants we are, I trust, in little danger of infringing the prohibition contained in the second commandment; but
C4 . there
SERM. there are one sect of Christians, the Ro
man Catholics, who appear to infringe it grievously; they certainly make to themselves images, and bow down before them. Some parts, however, of this commandment deserve our notice : God says—" I “ am a jealous God;” i.e. 'I am very ten• der of my honour; I bear neither partner
nor competitor in those duties which pro* perly belong to me.' This jealousy does not only imply a strong dislike, but a fierce displeasure, against the breakers of this law : what reason, then, is there to guard against it! “ Who can stand in God's sight “ when he is angry!” Who can support the effects of his displeasure !
The conclusion of this commandment is remarkable ; God represents himself as “ visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him, and shewing mercy unto thousands in them that love
him and keep his commandments.” Men SERM.
II. have usually a great affection for their posterity, and a great anxiety about them, and therefore, the more to deter them from gross sins, God affirms here that he will not confine his rewards and punishments to the good man or sinner himself, but extend them likewise to his descendants. This seems particular, perhaps, and almost unaccountable, but yet in fact it is what is constantly happening. Do we not every day see children, and even children's children, enjoying the rewards of their ancestors'prudence and virtues, or suffering grievously in consequence of their ancestors' crimes ? This, indeed, is the course of nature ; but remember, that the course of nature is under the direction of God. Observe, however, the difference between God's proceeding in the way of severity and in the way of favour! He only threatens to visit the iniquities of disobedient parents on the third
SERM. The fourth commandment enjoins the
exact observance of the Sabbath ; all kinds of labour were prohibited to the Jews on that day. We are not so strictly bound, but that we may attend, as occasion de. mands, to works of absolute necessity : let us not, however, abuse this Christian liberty, by carrying it too far; let the hours of divine service in particular be esteemed sacred; and let us, from charity and humanity, as well as reverence to God's laws, grant every reasonable and possible remission from their labours to those who depend upon us. The poorer part of mankind, forced to incessant and uninterrupted toil, to procure themselves the necessaries of life, have little time, during six days in the week, for the consideration of religious subjects; and if they perform their morning and their evening sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving, it is all, perhaps, which they are able to do: but on Sunday, if they