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and shew us what we are to avoid; as all the others of both tables.
10. Q. What do you observe from this distinction?
A. A great difference with respect to our obligation to obedience. For, first, the positive commands, though they are always in force, and therefore oblige all who have any concern with them; yet they do not extend to all persons, nor oblige at all times.
As for example: to honour our father and mother, is a duty of eternal obligation. But then, many there are who have no father nor mother; and therefore, neither can they lie under any obligation to honour them. Again, to observe the sabbath-day, to keep it holy, is a command that never ceases to oblige. But yet should a man be made a prisoner, or a slave, in a Pagan, or other country, where he had no means nor opportunity to observe it, whilst he lay under those circumstances he would not be guilty of any sin by not observing it. But now, the negative commands not only oblige always, but all persons, at all times, and in all circumstances. And therefore, to worship any other God, besides the Lord: to make any graven image, to bow down before it and worship it: to take God's name in vain; these, and the like prohibitions oblige men to a constant, uninterrupted observation of them, be their circumstances or conditions of life what they will. Nor can it, at any time, or upon any occasion be lawful for any one to worship another God; to make a graven image to worship it; to take God's name in vain; and the like.
11. Q. Have you any thing farther to observe from this division?
A. This only, that t/me two kinds mutually include one another: so that when God commands any duty to be performed, we are to understand that he does, by the very same command, forbid whatsoever is contrary thereunto to be done by us. And again, when he forbids any thing to be done, he does thereby require us to fulfil the opposite duty implied, as well as to avoid the sin which is expressly taken notice of. To clear my meaning in an instance of each kind: God commands us in the fourth commandment to keep holy the sabbath-day; and that, by sanctifying of it to a religious rest. And, by the same commandment, he forbids us to do any servile work upon it; or any thing, whereby this day may he unhallowed or profaned by us. And this would have been understood by the other part of the commandment, though God had not expressly taken notice of it.
In like manner, when in the sixth commandment God forbids us to commit murder, we are to understand that we are not only prohibited thereby to stab or poison our neighbour; but are required to do what in us lies to cherish and preserve his life; to help him if he be assaulted by another; to feed and clothe him, as far as we are able; aud to prevent, according to our ability, whatsoever may bring him in danger of losing it.
12. Q. Are there any other general rules that may be of use to us for the better understanding of the commandments here proposed to us?
A. There are several such rules; but those of most consequence seem to be these four: first, that in every commandment, the general thing expressed, comprehends under it all such particulars as either directly depend upon it, or may fairly and reasonably be reduced to it.
Thus the seventh commandment, though in express terms it forbids only the sin of adultery; yet, under that general, is to be extended to all manner of fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, not only to all unchaste actions, but to all wanton words, thoughts, desires; to all immodest behaviour, and indecent attire; to whatsoever, in short, may intrench upon that gravity and reservedness, which our religion requires of us; or may be apt to tempt us to such sins as are here forbidden: such as high and full diet, soft clothing, the company of wanton persons; from all which we must abstain by virtue of this commandment.
13. Q. What is the next general rule to be observed in the interpreting of these commandments?
A. That where any duty is required, or any sin forbidden; we are to reckon ourselves obliged thereby to use all such means as may enable us to fulfil the one, and to avoid the other. Thus, because in the eighth commandment we are required not to steal; therefore in order to our more constant and ready avoiding of it, we must account ourselves obliged not only to watch our actions, that we do not in any thing defraud our neighbour, but moreover to do what in us lies to keep ourselves out of such circumstances as may be likely to tempt us thereunto. We are, therefore, by virtue of this commandment, required, if need be, to work for the supply of our own wants, and of the wants of those who depend upon us. We are to live soberly and frugally; free from vice, and all extravagance. We are to avoid all lewdness, gaming, and the like occasions of excess: to abstain from all idle, dissolute, and dishonest conversation and acquaintance; and from whatsoever else may be apt to tempt us to, or engage us in the sin which is here forbidden to us.
14. Q. What is the third rule to be observed for the better understanding of these commandments?
A. That the last commandment is to be looked upon by us, not so much as a single commandment, as a general caution given to us, with relation to most of the duties of the second table; which ought to be governed and influenced by it.
Thus, because we must not steal from, or defraud our neighbour of his goods, neither must we covet them. Because we must not commit adultery, neither must we lust. Because we must do no murder, neither must we desire the hurt or death of our neighbour. For this is the first spring of evil in our hearts; by stopping of which, we shall the most effectually arm ourselves against the commission of it.
15. Q. What is the last general rule to be observed, for the better interpretation of these commandments?
A. That wheresoever we are forbidden to do any thing ourselves as sinful, there we are to take care that zee be not partakers of other mens guilt, who do commit what was so forbidden; by advising, assisting, encouraging, or otherwise aiding and abetting them in it. Nay, we must not so much as give any countenance to the evil which they do, by making excuses for, and extenuating their guilt, by hiding or concealing of it; lest, by so doing, we make ourselves accessary to it, and contract to ourselves a stain by it.
Sect. XXIII. Of the Worship of God, and of Him only. 1. Q. You said that the first table contained those commandments which concern our duty towards God. What is the first of these:
A. Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.
2. Q. Is this all that belongs to this commandment?
A. Yes, it is. - 3. Q. What then do you account that which goes immediately before it, and was also delivered by God himself; namely, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage ?
A. It is a general preface or introduction to the commandments; and represents to us the two great grounds, or motives, on which God required the Jews to obey those commandments which he was about to deliver to them; namely, first, a That he was the Lord their God: and, secondly, that he had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Deut. i. 30. The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt, before your eyes. vi. 21 to 25. Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondsmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt, with a mighty hand: and the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes : and he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in to give us the.