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Ghost.” (2 Pet. i. 21.) This also appears from the majesty of their style ; the truth, purity, simplicity, sublimity, and authority of their doctrines; the harmony of their parts ; and the accomplishment of their prophecies. The extraordinary manner in which God has sanctioned them ; in the signs and wonders, performed by those who spoke or wrote the things declared in them.-The evident excellency, and useful tendency of their contents, “ to make us wise unto salvation.” For they are profitable, for doctrine. All the great and important truths of religion, necessary to be known in order to salvation, are there taught, and that more clearly and fully than elsewhere ; and with an authority and in . fluence to be found in no other writings. There, then, we have doctrinal knowledge. For reproof, or conviction, as edzyxor rather signifies; and that not only of error in judgment, but of sin in practice, and of condemnation and wrath due to us on account of sin ; as also of the depravity of our nature; of our weakness and inability to save ourselves, and of righteousness and salvation for us in CHRIST; of danger and misery till we are in Christ, and of safety and happiness when in him. They contain the law, “a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,” and they hold the glass of it before the face of our souls. They awaken by their discoveries, convince by their commands, alarm by their threatenings, encourage by their promises. By them, therefore, we have experimental knowledge. For correction, or amendment, as ETABOR I wou may be properly rendered; showing us clearly what evils in temper, word, or work, must be avoided ; what graces and virtues must be possessed and practised; furnishing us, at the same time, with all proper and needful motives to holiness of heart and life,—the love of God in Christ, fear of punishment, hope of reward, the example of Christ, showing us where our strength lies. In the Scriptures, then, we have practical knowledge. For instruction, apos maidelay, or training and building persons up in righteousness, in all truth, and grace, and holiness, that they may continue, persevere, and grow from babes to young men, and to fathers, going on from one degree of piety and virtue to another ; and may increase with all the “ increase of God," till “ the man of God is perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,” having all the knowledge, experimental and practical, necessary for himself, and to enable him to instruct others.
Hence we may consider the provision which God has made for our understanding his will by raising up one holy man after another, to explain and enforce it. He himself, by his Spirit, opens the eyes of our “ understanding, that we may understand the Scriptures.” (Luke xxiv. 45, Eph. i. 17, 18.) And he evidently blesses them, and gives them power and efficacy on the minds of men.
But 6 These words which I command thee,” &c., seem especially to be intended of the words immediately preceding, (ver. 4, 5,) Hear, O Israel ; The Lord our God is one LORD : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” In this light the Jews have generally understood Moses ; and, accordingly, have reckoned these two verses as the choicest portions of Scripture. They wrote them on their phylacteries, and thought themselves not only obliged in duty to repeat them twice every day, but very happy in being so obliged; having this saying among them, “ Blessed
are we who, every morning and evening, say, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord !” And no wonder they should so prize this passage ; for it contains both the knowledge and love of God, which are the two great principles and springs of all religion and morality, of all piety and virtue.
Our God.—The only proper object of worship is JEHOVAH ; a Being infinitely and eternally perfect, self-existent, and self-suficient, who was, and is, and is to come. This is intended in opposition to all idolatry, whether it be worshipping imaginary beings, or images, or creatures, as the host of heaven, or heroes, &c.--He is one JEHOVAH, one living and true God. (1 Tim. ii. 5, John xvii. 3, Mark xii. 32, Gal. iii. 20.) This is spoken in opposition to all polytheism. (1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.)—But it is not opposed to the Christian doctrine of the FATHER, Son, and Holy Ghost, as the last quoted Scripture shows, and also, 1 Cor. xii. 4-6, and Eph. iv. 4–6. The text, in the original, signifies this, being literally, Jehovah our Gods. Compare Gen. i. 26, and iii. 22.--We must know and believe in the Father in (John xiv. 9, 10) and through the Son, (Eph. ii. 18, John xiv. 6,) and by the Spirit. (Eph. i. 17, 18.)—Hence arise reverence and fear, humility and self-abasement, (Job xl. 4, 5, and xlii. 5, 6, Isai. vi. 5,) confidence, (Psal. ix. 10,) but also and especially love. (1 John iv. 8, 9.) – Thus, “ Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart.” (ver. 5.) Consider the NATURE of this love. It implies, that we esteem him highly, even as the greatest and best of beings; that we rejoice there is such a being, and take pleasure in all his perfections, and in the relations in which he stands to us, as our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Redeemer, Lawgiver, and Judge; that our desire be to him for his favour, his image, and communion with him; that we delight and rest in him as our portion; that we be zealous for and devoted to his glory. As to the PROPERTIES of this love; it must be sincere and internal, in the heart; not only professed but possessed ; not in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth, delighting ourselves with him. It must be a strong love ; “ with all the heart;” which must be carried out after him with great ardour, fervency of affection, and resolution of will. We should not do, or say we do any thing else but this, “ with all our heart.” It must be superlative and predominant in the heart. We must love this infinitely amiable, perfect, and loving Being, unspeakably above any and every creature whatsoever. Nay, what we love beside should be loved not only in subordination to him, but for his sake. It must not be a blind impulse, but a rational and intelligent affection, proceeding from knowledge; or “ with all the understanding.” (Mark xii. 33.) We must know him, and therefore love him, as those that see good reason for loving him. This love should engage and occupy all our faculties. Our understanding should think, upon him, contemplate and know him ; our conscience witness for him ; our memory recollect him, his word and faithfulness, his goodness and power ; our will choose him, and intend his glory; our affections follow after, and embrace him, and be united in his love. This is to be done with all our might; our love, obedience, and service is to be rendered to the uttermost of our power. This is the religion of the Bible. It implies and draws after it, the love of our neighbour, and the whole of our duty to mankind and ourselves.
II. THE COMMAND GIVEN CONCERNING THESE THING$g--They
shall be in thine heart ; thou shalt teach them, &c.—AND THE
MANNER IN WHICH THIS MAY BE BEST DONE.
They shall be in thine heart.
We must not be indifferent, but deeply impressed with, and concerned about, these things; that is, about Divine Revelation in general, its truth, its importance, its contents; and about that religion set forth in this passage, as above explained, consisting in the knowledge and love of God.
We must see that this is religion, and this alone; and that if we rest short of this, we rest short of religion.-We must be concerned to have proper views of, to experience and to practise this religion.
But how must these things 6 be in our hearts ?”—They must be known, believed, approved, remembered, loved, marked, learned, digested, fed upon.--They must operate upon, and influence the heart; they must enlighten the understanding, rectify the judgment, inform, awaken and direct the conscience, subdue and guide the will; they must win and inflame the affections, regulate the passions, restrain the appetites. They must be in the heart as seed in the earth, as leaven among meal, as a candle or as fire in a
Thou shalt teach them diligently, &c.
The supposing we shall or can teach them successfully to our children, or others, unless they he in our own hearts.- None, hired to teach in SundaySchools, will teach like those who do it gratis.*--
Thinking it is sufficieut that we have them in our own hearts, though we do not teach them.
This is “ faith without works,” which is dead.
Moses thought, says Bishop Patrick, the things of his law to be so very plain and easy, that every father might be able to instruct his sons in it, and every mother her daughters. And, surely, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is as plain as Moses's law.
But who are to be instructed ? Our children; to whom we have been instrumental in communicating not only a visible, corporeal, and mortal nature, but,, what is indeed very strange, and would be incredible, did not matter of fact prove it!-an invisible, spiritual, intelligent and immortal nature. Surely, if we love the LORD God ourselves, and know the importance of loving him, we shall
* This Sermon was preached in behalf of the Sunday-School Society.
do what we can to engage the affections of our children to Him, and so preserve the entail of religion in our families from being cut off. That good thing which is committed to us, we shall carefully transmit to those that come after us, that it may be perpetuated.
But not only the children of our own bodies, say the Jews, are here included, but all that are any way under our care.
Abraham C will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” (Gen. xviii. 19.) “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. xxiv. 15.) We are to instruct all others also whom we can, especially the children of the poor.
What must we teach them? These things.
To know and believe the truth, importance, and contents of Divine Revelation in general; and, in order hereto, we must take care that they can and do read the Scriptures.
The nature and necessity of the religion inculcated in the Scriptures,-the knowledge and love of God, here inculcated by Moses; and how to attain it.
66 Thou shalt
The manner in which this may be best done. teach them diligently unto thy children.”
The expression here used, in the Hebrew, is remarkable; 7JW ; thou shalt whet, grind, or sharpen. Si exacues ea, i. e. accuraté et commodissimé inculcabis. “ Thou shalt whet them diligently upon thy children ; repeat them frequently, try to instil'them into their minds, or, by whetting, aim to sharpen and put an edge on the minds of thy children.
66 Thou shalt talk of them.”
With reverence, seriousness, and sweetness; in a spirit of humility, meekness, patience, and affection.-When? “Sitting in thy house ; " at work ; at meat; at rest; to receive the visits of thy friends; “Walking by the way,” for relaxation, conversation ; On journeys ; When retiring to “ lie down” to rest ; and when “rising up.”—The subjects are not unrevealed mysteries, or matters of doubtful disputation, but the plain truths and duties of religion and morality; things belonging to our peace. The more we converse about them, the more shall we esteem and be affected with them.
" Thou shalt bind them for a sign,” &c.— As at that time, there were few written copies of the whole law, and the people had it read to them only at the feast of tabernacles; God seems to have appointed, at least for the present, that some select sentences of the law, which were most weighty and comprehensive, should literally be written on slips of parchment, to be worn about their wrists, or bound upon their foreheads ;-hence the Phylacteries, (Matt. xxiii. 5;)and upon their gates and walls. Hence it was well provided by
our Reformers, when Bibles were scarce, that some select portions of Scripture should be written on the walls and pillars of churches.
This was binding on the Jews even in the letter of it; on us, in the spirit and end. We should, by all means possible, endeavour to make the word of God familiar to us; that we may have it ready on all occasions for restraint from sin, and for our direction and excitement to duty. It must be always before our eyes, (Prov. vii. 244;) upon our forehead, to guide our way; upon our hands, to direct our work. It is here intended, that we must never be ashamed of our religion ; nor to own that we are under its government. Let it, as it were, be written on our gates, and let all that go by read that we believe Jehovah to be our God, and that we consider ourselves to be bound to love him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
III. THE OBLIGATIONS WHICH LIE UPON
US TO OBEY THAT
Gratitude ; for this Book lays us under great, yea infinite obligations. Consider what would have been our condition, had we not had the Bible,-how ignorant, sinful, and miserable! Ought we not then to be thankful for it? But, how are we to be thankful, if we do not acquaint ourselves with its truth, importance, and contents ?
The express command of God, who gave us the Scriptures, lays us under an indispensable obligation; He is our Creator, Benefactor, Redeemer, Lawgiver, and Judge. He solemnly enjoins us to have these things in our hearts.
The example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, &c. who all made these things the subjects of their chief study, and discourse from day to day. All will do the same, who are animated by the same spirit; who are not carnally, but spiritually minded. They will “ delight in the law of the LORD, and meditate therein day and night.” (Ps. i. 2.)
Compassion for and love to our children,-mortal and immortal beings; to whom, under God, we have given being, and who are committed to our care by Him, the great proprietor and governor of all, who says,
66 All souls are mine," Our own interest should influence us; and that for time and for eternity.
For if we have not God's Word in general, and the knowledge and love of God in particular, in our own hearts, we shall be miserable here, and perish everlastingly hereafter. But, if we have these things in our hearts, we shall be happy here and hereafter. (Rom. xv. 4.)-And if we do not inculcate these things on our children and dependants, and those on whom we might inculcate them, and they perish; God will require their blood,” their souls, at our hands.