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ciple of our minds, and his glory the end and object of our words and our works. Then follow the Commandments from the twentieth Chapter of the book of Exodus. They were delivered to the children of Israel assembled with a solemnity of the most impressive kind, with thunders, and lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud ; and Mount Sinai was altogether in a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the “Mount,” and the people removed and stood afar off and said unto Moses, “ speak thou with us and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die.”* And the children of Israel saw that Moses talked with the Lord of Heaven. He stood between the Lord and them at that time, to shew the word of the Lord, and that word was the THÉ TEN COMMANDMENTS. These, Moses afterwards by special direction wrote on two tables of stone, and the ark of the Covenant in which they were deposited, was distinguished by peculiar honor and hallowed regard. The waters of Jordan separated for it to pass over, the walls of Jericho fell down when it compassed the city; the men who laid on it unholy hands received immediate punishment, and Solomon, when he built the temple, set out a particular place for its reception, in which, as we read, it was laid up with great solemnity. Thus did the Jews keep up the remembrance of the Divine origin and delivery of the Commandments: happy had it been for the nation, had they treasured up their contents in their hearts! Happy had, they shewed them due respect in their deeds as well as in their temples !
* Exodus xx. 19.
It is true that the Mosaic dispensation is now at an end, and that the Jewish law has been abrogated by our Lord; but yet, my brethren, not one tittle of these Commandments has passed away. While man shall continue a rational creature, while the nature of things shall continue as it is, while states and nations have the same common measure of good and evil, they never will—they never can pass away. For, on general principles, what government could be safe without restraint on individual violence, without a test of truth, and a denunciation against perjury? What common sense could justify idolatry? What permission could neutralize robbery or adultery? What religion could subsist without a season of public worship? What license can give comfort to the murderer’s conscience ? What sufficient defence could be brought forward for neglect and dishonour of parents? Let policy, or let fashion, or let a temporary interest, or let a capricious love of innovation admit or encourage what is contrary to these Commandments, and he who opposes them will feel no internal, no conscientious confidence in the justice of his acts, and the triumph of the innovator will be a short one. The world, as man is constituted, cannot subsist without them : the voice of unprejudiced reason in every man will approve them. They were therefore obligatory on the Gentiles; they were the law within themselves, to those who had never heard of the Jewish Establishment, and they bind the Christian world after that Establishment has been done away. For look into your Gospel and you will find, that our Lord, so far from abolishing them, has insisted on their observance : he freed them from the traditions which had made them of no effect: he explained them in their true spirit, as in his numerous observations on the Sabbath : and he restored the purity of their principle to its greatest extent, as in his comments upon several of them in his Sermon on the Mount. He abolished indeed the Ceremonial Law of the Jews, for he was the sum and substance of what it shadowed out, but what words can more strongly enforce the moral law than the words of the text? When called on publicly by a ruler of the Jews, who asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life, our Lord's answer was, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments. **
Here is a greater than Moses to promulgate them, and a greater sanction than Moses promised, even the rewards of eternal life, held out to enforce their observance. The Apostles frequently refer to them as of obligation indispensable; and if in the Old Testament they are considered as resting on the authority of him, who brought the Jews out of the house of bondage in the land of Egypt, into the fair and goodly land of Canaan, in the New Testament we are taught, that the same Lord hath brought us from a bondage more deplorable, the bondage of sin, to a land of promised rest more glorious, even a throne incorruptible in the Heavens. To the Jews, the mention of these circumstances in their recent history was an important incentive to obedience: to us, they may serve as allusions to what that history foreshewed, and to which it was a preparation: evincing thus, that the voice of God is uniform throughout the whole book of Revelation, and that Jesus of Nazareth is the consummation of the whole.
The Commandments admit a general division, and are called the laws of the first and second tables: the first comprising our duty to God, the second our duty to our neighbour. In our division of them, our duty to God occupies the four first, and our duty to our neighbour the six last. I say in our division, for you should be apprized that another sect of Christians divides them differently. The Church of Rome makes the second of our Coinmandments but a part of the first, and in order to maintain the number ten, divides our tenth into two. Their use of images in their houses of worship, whatever they may say in explanation of it, having given occasion to much objection, as a violation of the second Commandment, has led to their delivering our second in a manner which takes away from its importance. They make it but an explanatory addition to the precept of the first, and availing themselves of the comparatively trivial nature which it would thus appear to have, many of their books of devotion wholly omit the insertion of it. Now, it cannot be an explanation of the first, the subject matter of the two being so different: for while the first commands us to worship only the one true God, the second prohibits our worshipping him under visible resemblance. And subdividing the tenth into two, to prohibit two different objects of desire, would have equally answered a subdivision into six, as six different objects of coveting are prohibited in it. St. Paul certainly looked on the tenth but as one Commandment, when he gives the words, “thou shalt not covet,"* as he elsewhere does, " thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,”+ as distinct and complete Commandments.