Images de page
PDF
ePub

NOWELL'S CATECHISM.

Of the Law and Obedience.

Master. Forasmuch as our obedience whereof we have first to speak, is to be tried by the rule of the Law of God, it is necessary that we first search out the whole substance and nature of the Law, which being found and known, it cannot be unknown, what and of what sort our obedience ought to be. Therefore begin to tell what thou thinkest of the Law.

Scholar. I think that the Law of God is the full and in all points perfect rule of the righteousness which is required of man, which commandeth those things that are to be done, and forbiddeth the contraries. In this Law God hath restrained all things to his own will and judgment, so as no godliness toward him nor dutifulness toward inen, can be allowed of him but that only which doth in all things agree with the straitness of this rule. Vainly, therefore, do mortal men invent to themselves forms of godliness and duty after their own fancy; for God hath set forth to us his Law written in two tables, as a most sure rule both of our worshipping of God and of our duties to men, and therewith also hath declared that there is nothing on earth more pleasant and acceptable to him than our obedience.

Mast. Whereof treateth the first table?
Scho. It treateth of our godliness toward God,

and containeth the first four Commandments of

the Law. Mast.

Whereof treateth the second?

Scho. Of the duties of mutual charity or love among men, which containeth Six Commandments. And so in a sum Ten Commandments make up the whole Law; for which cause the Law is called the Ten Commandments.

CHAPTER II.

The First Commandment.

SECTION I.

The sum and substance of the precepts contained in the First Table of the Law, is the Love of God. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, is comprehensively and emphatically "the First and Great Commandment," because it is the only sound motive and secure foundation of all duties, whether religious or moral, whether immediately or mediately to be performed to God;-and because God, the object of the First Table, is infinitely superior to man the object of the Second. The Second Commandment, or rather the summary of the Second Table,— to love our neighbour as ourselves,-is, however, like unto the First, because it proceeds from the same authority,—is established upon the same principles, -forms a part of the same covenant,—and cannot be separated from its congener, nor perfectly and acceptably observed, without the observance of the former fundamental precept.

§2. The Four Commandments of which the First Table consist, respect either the object of divine

faith and worship, or the mode of worthy adoration. The First points out the Supreme Being to whom alone religious homage is to be paid; and the other Three, the particular methods in which it has pleased him that this service shall be performed.

To each Commandment is annexed its peculiar sanction, principle, or reason for obedience: but to the First alone is this reason prefixed, because it serves not only as a distinct ground of submission to that one Commandment, but as a general preface and sanction for all the precepts expressed and implied in the Moral Law.

§3. The Preface, "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," is applicable to the whole Decalogue, because the Commandments were all equally imposed by the Lord God, who manifested himself to the children of Israel in mighty wonders, and a powerful arm stretched out for their preservation;-by that Almighty Being whom they were bound by covenant to take as their God, because he had chosen then as his peculiar people, and as the especial subjects of his paternal regard and miraculous protection.

The Supreme Promulgator of the Law demanded obedience from the Hebrews, inasmuch as he was the Lord their God, and had brought them out of the house of bondage: but the Preface with which the Commandments are solemnly introduced, is addressed in effect no less to Christians than to Jews, and renders the obligation equally imperative on both for we, no less than the sons of Jacob, are admitted into covenant with him who is the Lord our

:

God; and by the covenant of grace, the same God who is our Creator and Preserver, is also our Saviour, our Deliverer from the bondage of sin and Satan, from those great evils both spiritual and temporal, to which we were subjected by the fall of Adam. Of this our deliverance the liberation of the Israelites from the tyranny of their Egyptian task-masters, was a remarkable type and pledge. We are now the true Israel of God who receive, through Christ Jesus our Lord, that spiritual freedom which was indeed but faintly represented in the Exodus of the Hebrews, under the heaven-directed guidance of Moses, the minister of the Law at Sinai : we, therefore, as God's adopted children, are constrained by the same arguments, and by still stronger ties of gratitude, to pay implicit obedience to the WORD, which is given to us as a rule of life, and as the measure of holiness required by the Christian covenant.

In the phraseology of the Preface may be noted, -the name LORD, or Jehovah, signifying that He who gives the Law is the great, eternal, spiritual, and incomprehensible Source and Ruler of all things;-the word GOD, which, being in the plural number in the original language, may designate the Trinity or three Persons in the Unity of the Godhead ;—and the implied assertion of Omnipotence in the execution of the divine will, and of benevolence, demonstrated by the liberation of God's people from the hands of their oppressive enemies.

§ 4. The First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," or "but me,” is expressed negatively, but contains a positive injunction, as well as a literal prohibition; it enjoins the acknowledge

« PrécédentContinuer »