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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

Body of Divinity
Contained in
Sermons upon the Assembly's Catechism
by the
Rev. Thomas Watson


Use one. Let us not despair. What an encouragement we have here to serve God. He shows mercy to thousands. Who would not be willing to serve a prince who is given to mercy and clemency? God is represented with a rainbow round about him, as an emblem of his mercy. Rev 4:3. Acts of severity are forced from God; judgement is his strange work. Isa 28:21. The disciples, who are not said to wonder at the other miracles of Christ, did wonder when the fig-tree was cursed and withered, because it was not his manner to put forth acts of severity. God is said to delight in mercy. Mic 7:18. Justice is God's left hand: mercy is his right hand. He uses his right hand most; he is more used to mercy than to justice. Pronior est Deus ad parcendum quam ad puniendum [God is more inclined to mercy than to punishment]. God is said to be slow to anger (Psa 103:8), but ready to forgive. Psa 86:5. This may encourage us to serve him. What argument will prevail, if mercy will not? Were God all justice, it might frighten us from him, but his mercy is a loadstone to draw us to him.

Use two. Hope in God's mercies. 'The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.' Psa 147:11. He counts it his glory to scatter pardons among men.

But I have been a great sinner and sure there is no mercy for me!

Not if thou goest on in sin, and art so resolved; but, if thou wilt break off thy sins, the golden sceptre of mercy shall be held forth to thee. 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him.' Isa 55:7. Christ's blood is 'a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.' Zech 13:1. Mercy more overflows in God, than sin in us. His mercy can drown great sins, as the sea covers great rocks. Some of the Jews who had their hands imbrued in Christ's blood, were saved by that blood. God loves to magnify his goodness, to display the trophies of free grace, and to set up his mercy in spite of sin. Therefore, hope in his mercy.

Use three. Labour to know that God's mercy is for you. He is 'the God of my mercy.' Psa. 59:17. A man who was being drowned, seeing a rainbow, said, 'What am I the better, though God will not drown the world, if I am drowned?' So, what are we the better, though God is merciful, if we perish? Let us labour to know God's special mercy is for us.

How shall we know it belongs to us?

(1) If we put a high value and estimate upon it. He will not throw away his mercy on them that slight it. We prize health, but we prize adopting mercy more. This is the diamond ring; it outshines all other comforts.

(2) If we fear God, if we have a reverend awe upon us, if we tremble at sin, and flee from it, as Moses did from his rod turned into a serpent. 'His mercy is on them that fear him.' Luke 1:50.

(3) If we take sanctuary in God's mercy, we trust in it as a man saved by catching hold of a cable. God's mercy to us is a cable let down from heaven. By taking fast hold of this by faith, we are saved. 'I trust in the mercy of God for ever.' Psa 52:8. As a man trusts his life and goods in a garrison, so we trust our souls in God's mercy.

How shall we get a share in God's special mercy?

(1) If we would have mercy, it must be through Christ. Out of Christ no mercy is to be had. We read in the old law, that none might come unto the holy of holies, where the mercy-seat stood, but the high-priest: to signify that we have nothing to do with mercy but through Christ our High-priest; that the high-priest might not come near the mercy-seat without blood, to show that we have no right to mercy, but through the expiatory sacrifice of Christ's blood, Lev 16:14; that the high-priest might not, upon pain of death, come near the mercy-seat without incense, Lev 16:13, to show that there is no mercy from God without the incense of Christ's intercession. If we would have mercy, we must get a part in Christ. Mercy swims to us through Christ's blood.

(2) If we would have mercy, we must pray for it. 'Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.' Psa 85:7. 'Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me.' Psa 25:16. Lord, put me not off with common mercy; give me not only mercy to feed and clothe me, but mercy to pardon me; not only sparing mercy, but saving mercy. Lord, give me the cream of thy mercies; let me have mercy and loving kindness. 'Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.' Psa 103:4. Be earnest suitors for mercy; let your wants quicken your importunity. We pray most fervently when we pray most feelingly.

VI. Of them that love me.

God's mercy is for them that love him. Love is a grace that shines and sparkles in his eye, as the precious stone upon Aaron's breastplate. Love is a holy expansion or enlargement of soul, by which it is carried with delight after God, as the chief good. Aquinas defines love - Complacentia amantis in amato; a complacent delight in God, as our treasure. Love is the soul of religion; it is a momentous grace. If we had knowledge as the angels, or faith of miracles, yet without love it would profit nothing. 1 Cor 13:2. Love is 'the first and great commandment.' Matt. 22:38. It is so, because, if it be wanting, there can be no religion in the heart; there can be no faith, for faith works by love. Gal 5:6. All else is but pageantry, or a devout compliment. It meliorates and sweetens all the duties of religion, it makes them savoury meat, without which God cares not to taste them. It is the first and great commandment, in respect of the excellence of this grace. Love is the queen of graces; it outshines all others, as the sun the lesser planets. In some respects it is more excellent than faith; though in one sense faith is more excellent, virtute unionis, as it unites us to Christ. It puts upon us the embroidered robe of Christ's righteousness, which is brighter than any the angels wear. In another sense it is more excellent, respectu durationis, in respect of the continuance of it: it is the most durable grace; as faith and hope will shortly cease, but love will remain. When all other graces, like Rachel, shall die in travail, love shall revive. The other graces are in the nature of a lease, for the term of life only; but love is a freehold that continues for ever. Thus love carries away the garland from all other graces, it is the most long-lived grace, it is a bud of eternity. This grace alone will accompany us in heaven.

How must our love to God be characterized?

(1) Love to God must be pure and genuine. He must be loved chiefly for himself; which the schoolmen call amor amicitiae. We must love God, not only for his benefits, but for those intrinsic excellencies with which he is crowned. We must love God not only for the good which flows from him, but for the good which is in him. True love is not mercenary, he who is deeply in love with God, needs not be hired with rewards, he cannot but love God for the beauty of his holiness; though it is not unlawful to look for benefits. Moses had an eye to the recompense of reward (Heb 11:26); but we must not love God for his benefits only, for then it is not love of God, but self-love.

(2) Love to God must be with all the heart. 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.' Mark 12:30. We must not love God a little, give him a drop or two of our love; but the main stream must flow to him. The mind must think of God, the will choose him, the affections pant after him. The true mother would not have the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided. We must love him with our whole heart. Though we may love the creature, yet it must be a subordinate love. Love to God must be highest, as oil swims above the water.

(3) Love to God must be flaming. To love coldly is the same as not to love. The spouse is said to be amore perculsa, 'sick of love.' Cant 2:5. The seraphim are so called from their burning love. Love turns saints into seraphim; it makes them burn in holy love to God. Many waters cannot quench this love.

How may we know whether we love God?

(1) He who loves God desires his presence. Lovers cannot be long asunder, they soon have their fainting fits, for want of a sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love with God desires the enjoyment of him in his ordinances, in word, prayer, and sacraments. David was ready to faint away and die when he had not a sight of God. 'My soul fainteth for God.' Psa 84:2. Such as care not for ordinances, but say, When will the Sabbath be over? plainly discover want of love to God.

(2) He who loves God, does not love sin. 'Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.' Psa 97:10. The love of God, and the love of sin, can no more mix together than iron and clay. Every sin loved, strikes at the being of God; but he who loves God, has an antipathy against sin. He who would part two lovers is a hateful person. God and the believing soul are two lovers; sin parts between them, therefore the soul is implacably set against it. By this try your love to God. How could Delilah say she loved Samson, when she entertained correspondence with the Philistine, who were his mortal enemies? How can he say he loves God who loves sin, which is God's enemy?

(3) He who loves God is not much in love with anything else. His love is very cool to worldly things. His love to God moves swiftly, as the sun in the firmament; to the world it moves slowly, as the sun on the dial. The love of the world eats out the heart of religion; it chokes good affections, as earth puts out the fire. The world was a dead thing to Paul. 'The world is crucified unto me and I to the world.' Gal 6:14. In Paul we may see both the picture and pattern of a mortified man. He that loves God, uses the world but chooses God. The world is his pension, but God is his portion. Psa 119:57. The world engages him, but God delights and satisfies him. He says as David, 'God my exceeding joy,' the gladness or cream of my joy. Psa 43:4.

(4) He who loves God cannot live without him. Things we love we cannot be without. A man can do without music or flowers, but not food; so a soul deeply in love with God looks upon himself as undone without him. 'Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like them that go down into the pit.' Psa 143:7. He says as Job, 'I went mourning without the sun;' chap. 30:28. I have starlight, I want the Sun of Righteousness; I enjoy not the sweet presence of my God. Is God our chief good, and we cannot live without him? Alas! how do they show they have no love to God who can do well enough without him! Let them have but corn and oil, and you shall never hear them complain of the want of God.

(5) He who loves God will be at any pains to get him. What pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich return from the Indies! Extremos currit mercator ad Indos [The merchant races to the farthest Indies]. Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might enjoy her. A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of him. 'My soul followeth hard after thee.' Psa 63:8. Love is pondus animae [the pendulum of the soul]. Augustine. It is as the weight which sets the clock going. It is much in prayer, weeping, fasting; it strives as in agony, that he may obtain him whom his soul loves. Plutarch reports of the Gauls, an ancient people of France, that after they had tasted the sweet wine of Italy, they never rested till they had arrived at that country. He who is in love with God, never rests till he has a part in him. 'I will seek him whom my soul loveth.' Cant 3:2. How can they say they love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain him? 'A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom.' Prov 19:24. He is not in agony, but lethargy. If Christ and salvation would drop as a ripe fig into his mouth, he would be content to have them; but he is loath to put himself to too much trouble. Does he love his friend, who will not undertake a journey to see him?

(6) He who loves God, prefers him before estate and life. [1] Before estate. 'For whom I have suffered the loss of all things.' Phil 3:8. Who that loves a rich jewel would not part with a flower for it? Galeacius, marquis of Vico, parted with a fair estate to enjoy God in his pure ordinances. When a Jesuit persuaded him to return to his popish religion in Italy, promising him a large sum of money, he said, 'Let their money perish with them who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day's communion with Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit.' [2] Before life. 'They loved not their lives unto the death.' Rev 12:2: Love to God carries the soul above the love of life and the fear of death.

(7) He who loves God loves his favourites, the saints. 1 John 5:1. Idem est motus animi in imaginem et rem [The mind reacts to the likeness of an object just as it does to the object itself]. To love a man for his grace, and the more we see of God in him, the more we love him, is an infallible sign of love to God. The wicked pretend to love God, but hate and persecute his image. Does he love his prince who abuses his statue, or tears his picture? They seem indeed to show great reverence to saints departed; they have great reverence for St. Paul, and St. Stephen, and St. Luke; they canonise dead saints, but persecute living saints; and do they love God? Can it be imagined that he loves God who hates his children because they are like him? If Christ were alive again, he would not escape a second persecution.

(8) If we love God we cannot but be fearful of dishonouring him, as the more a child loves his father the more he is afraid to displease him, and we weep and mourn when we have offended him. 'Peter went out and wept bitterly.' Matt 26:75. Peter might well think that Christ dearly loved him when he took him up to the mount where he was transfigured, and showed him the glory of heaven in a vision. That he should deny Christ after he had received such signal tokens of his love, broke his heart with grief 'He wept bitterly.' Are our eyes dropping tears of grief for sin against God? It is a blessed evidence of our love to God; and such shall find mercy. 'He shows mercy to thousands of them that love him.

Use. Let us be lovers of God. We love our food, and shall we not love him that gives it? All the joy we hope for in heaven is in God; and shall not he who shall be our joy then, be our love now? It is a saying of Augustine, Annon poena satis magna est non amare te? 'Is it not punishment enough, Lord, not to love thee?' And again, Animam meam in odio haberem. 'I would hate my own soul if I did not find it loving God.'

What are the incentives to provoke and inflame our love to God?

(1) God's benefits bestowed on us. If a prince bestows continual favours on a subject, and that subject has any ingenuity, he cannot but love his prince. God is constantly heaping benefits upon us, 'filling our hearts with food and gladness.' Acts 14:17. As streams of water out of the rock followed Israel whithersoever they went, so God's blessings follow us every day. We swim in a sea of mercy. That heart is hard that is not prevailed with by all God's blessings to love him. Magnes amoris amor [Love attracts love]. Kindness works even on a brute: the ox knows his owner.

(2) Love to God would make duties of religion facile and pleasant. I confess that to him who has no love to God, religion must needs be a burden; and I wonder not to hear him say, 'What a weariness is it to serve the Lord!' It is like rowing against the tide. But love oils the wheels, it makes duty a pleasure. Why are the angels so swift and winged in God's service, but because they love him? Jacob thought seven years but little for the love he bare to Rachel. Love is never weary. He who loves money is not weary of telling it: and he who loves God is not weary of serving him.

(3) It is advantageous. There is nothing lost by love to God. 'Eye has not seen, &c., the things which God has prepared for them that love him.' 1 Cor 2:9. Such glorious rewards are laid up for them that love God, that as Augustine says, 'they not only transcend our reason, but faith itself is not able to comprehend them.' A crown is the highest ensign of worldly glory; but God has promised a 'crown of life to them that love him,' and a never-fading crown. James 1:12. 1 Pet 5:4.

(4) By loving God we know that he loves us. 'We love him because he first loved us.' 1 John 5:19. If ice melts, it is because the sun has shone upon it; so if the frozen heart melts in love, it is because the Sun of Righteousness has shone upon it.

What means should be used to excite our love to God?

(1) Labour to know God aright. The schoolmen say truly, Bonum non amatur quod non cognoscitur; 'we cannot love that which we do not know.' God is the most eligible good; all excellencies which lie scattered in the creature are united in him; he is Optimus maximus. Wisdom, beauty, riches, love, all concentrate in him. How fair was that tulip which had the colours of all tulips in it! All perfections and sweetnesses are eminently in God. Did we know God more, and by the eye of faith see his orient beauty, our hearts would be fired with love to him.

(2) Make the Scriptures familiar to you. Augustine says that before his conversion he took no pleasure in Scripture, but afterwards it was his chief delight. The book of God discovers God to us, in his holiness, wisdom, veracity, and truth; it represents him as rich in mercy, and encircled with promises. Augustine calls the Scripture a golden epistle, or love-letter, sent from God to us. By reading this love-letter we become more enamoured with God; as by reading lascivious books, comedies, romances, &c., lust is excited.

(3) Meditate much upon God, and this will promote love to him. 'While I was musing, the fire burned.' Psa 39:3. Meditation is as bellows to the affections. Meditate on God's love in the gift of Christ. 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,' &c. John 3:16. That God should give Christ to us, and not to angels that fell, that the Sun of Righteousness should shine in our horizon, that he is revealed to us, and not to others; what wonderful love is this! 'Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?' Prov 6:28. Who can meditate on God's love, who can tread on these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love? Beg a heart to love God. The affection of love is natural, but not the grace of love. Gal 5:22. This fire of love is kindled from heaven; beg that it may burn upon the altar of your heart. Surely the request is pleasing to God, and he will not deny such a prayer as 'Lord, give me a heart to love thee.'

VII. And keep my commandments.

 

Love and obedience, like two sisters, must go hand and hand. 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' John 14:15. Probatio delectionis est exhibitio operis [We show our love by performing the work]. The son that loves his father will obey him. Obedience pleases God. 'To obey is better than sacrifice.' 1 Sam 15:22. In sacrifice, a dead beast only is offered; in obedience, a living soul; in sacrifice, only a part of the fruit is offered; in obedience, fruit and tree and all; man offers himself up to God. 'Keep my commandments.' It is not said, God shows mercy to thousands that know his commandments, but that keep them. Knowing his commandments, without keeping them, does not entitle any to mercy. The commandment is not only a rule of knowledge, but of duty. God gives us his commandments, not only as a landscape to look upon, but as his will and testament, which we are to perform. A good Christian, like the sun, not only sends forth light, but makes a circuit round the world. He has not only the light of knowledge; but moves in a sphere of obedience.

[1] We should keep the commandments from faith. Our obedience ought, profluere a fide 'to spring from faith.' It is called, therefore, 'the obedience of faith.' Rom 16:26. Abel, by faith, offered up a better sacrifice than Cain. Heb 11:4. Faith is a vital principle, without which all our services are opera mortua, dead works. Heb 6:1. It meliorates and sweetens obedience, and makes it come off with a better relish.

But why must faith be mixed with obedience to the commandments?

Because faith eyes Christ in every duty, in whom both the person and offering are accepted. The high-priest under the law laid his hand upon the head of the slain beast, which pointed to the Messiah. Exod 29:10. So faith in every duty lays its hand upon the head of Christ. His blood expiates their guilt, and the sweet odour of his intercession perfumes our works of obedience. 'He has made us accepted in the beloved.' Eph 1:6.

[2] Keeping the commandments must be uniform. We must make conscience of one commandment as well as of another. 'Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.' Psa 119:6. Every commandment has jus divinum, the same stamp of divine authority upon it; and if I obey one precept because God commands, by the same reason I must obey all. Some obey the commands of the first table, but are careless of the duties of the second: some of the second and not of the first. Physicians have a rule that when the body sweats in one part, and is cold in another, it is a sign of a distemper; so when men seem zealous in some duties of religion, but are cold and frozen in others, it is a sign of hypocrisy. We must have respect to all God's commandments.

But who can keep all his commandments?

There is a fulfilling God's commands, and a keeping of them. Though we cannot fulfil all, yet we may be said to keep them in an evangelical sense. We may facere, though not perficere [build, though not complete]. We keep the commandments evangelically: (1) When we make conscience of every command, when, though we come short in every duty, we dare not neglect any. (2) When our desire is to keep every commandment. 'O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!' Psa 119:5. What we want in strength we make up in will. (3) When we grieve that we can do no better; weep when we fail; prefer bills of complaint against ourselves; and judge ourselves for our failings. Rom 7:24. (4) When we endeavour to obey every commandment, elicere conatum. 'I press toward the mark.' Phil 3:14. We strive as in agony; and, if it lay in our power, we would fully comport with every commandment. (5) When, falling short, and unable to come up to the full latitude of the law, we look to Christ's blood to sprinkle our imperfect obedience, and, with the grains of his merits cast into the scales, to make it pass current. This, in an evangelical sense, is to keep all the commandments; and though it be not to satisfaction, yet it is to acceptation.

[3] Keeping God's commandments must be voluntary. 'If ye be willing and obedient.' Isa 1:19. God required a free-will offering. Deut 16:10. David will run the way of God's commandments, that is freely and cheerfully. Psa 119:32. Lawyers have a rule that adverbs are better than adjectives; that it is not the bonum, but the bene; not the doing much, but the doing well. A musician is not commended for playing long, but for playing well. Obeying God willingly is accepted. Virtus nolentium nulla est [Righteous deeds done unwillingly are worthless]. The Lord hates that which is forced; which is paying a tax rather than an offering. Cain served God grudgingly; he brought his sacrifice, not his heart. To obey God's commandments unwillingly, is like the devils who came out of the men possessed, at Christ's command, but with reluctance, and against their will. Matt 8:29. Obedientia praest and adest non timore poenae, sed amore Dei [Obedience is the chief thing, and this not through fear of punishment, but for love of God]. God duties must not be pressed nor beaten out of us, as the waters came from the rock, when Moses smote it with his rod, but must drop freely from us as myrrh from the tree, or honey from the comb. If a willing mind be wanting, the flower is wanting to perfume our obedience, and to make it a sweet-smelling savour to God.

That we may keep God's commandments willingly, let these things be well weighed: (1) Our willingness is more esteemed than our service. David counsels Solomon not only to serve God, but with a willing mind. 1 Chron 28:9. The will makes sin to be worse, and duty to be better. To obey willingly shows we do it with love; and this crowns all our services.

(2) There is that in the law-giver which may make us willing to obey the commandments, which is God's indulgence to us. [1] God does not require the summum jus as absolutely necessary to salvation; he expects not perfect obedience, he requires sincerity only. Do but act from a principle of love, and aim at honouring God in your obedience, and it is accepted. [2] In the gospel a surety is admitted. The law would not favour us so far; but now God so indulges us, that what we cannot do of ourselves we may do by proxy. Jesus Christ is 'a Surety of a better testament.' Heb 7:22. We fall short in everything, but God looks upon us in our Surety; and Christ having fulfilled all righteousness, it is as if we had fulfilled the law in our own persons. [3] God gives strength to do what he requires. The law called for obedience, but though it required brick, it gave no straw; but in the gospel, God, with his commands, gives power. 'Make ye a new heart.' Ezek 18:31. Alas! it is above our strength, we may as well make a new world. 'A new heart also will I give you.' Ezek 36:26. God commands us to cleanse ourselves. 'Wash you, make you clean.' Isa 1:16. But 'who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?' Job 14:4. Therefore the precept is turned into a promise. 'From all your filthiness will I cleanse you.' Ezek 36:25. When the child cannot go, the nurse takes it by the hand. 'I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.' Hos 11:3.

(3) There is that in God's commandments which may make us willing. They are not burdensome.

[1] A Christian, so far as he is regenerate, consents to God's commands. 'I consent to the law that it is good.' Rom 7:16. What is done with consent is no burden. If a virgin gives her consent, the match goes on cheerfully; if a subject consents to his prince's laws because he sees the equity and reasonableness of them they are not irksome. A regenerate person in his judgement approves, and in his will consents, to God's commandments and therefore they are not burdensome.

[2] God's commandments are sweetened with joy and peace. Cicero questions whether that can properly be called a burden which is carried with delight and pleasure. Utrum onus appellatur quod laetitia fertur [Is a task performed with joy rightly so called]? If a man carries a bag of money that has been given him, it is heavy, but the delight takes off the burden. When God gives inward joy, it makes the commandments delightful. 'I will make them joyful in my house of prayer.' Isa 56:7. Joy is like oil to the wheels, which makes a Christian run in the way of God's commandments, so that it is not burdensome.

[3] God's commandments are advantageous. They are preventive of evil; a curb-bit to check us from sin. What mischiefs should we not run into if we had not afflictions to humble us, and the commandments to restrain us! God's commandments keep us within bounds, as the yoke keeps the beast from straggling. We should be thankful to God for precepts. Had he not set his commandments as a hedge or bar in our way, we might have run to hell and never stopped. There is nothing in the commandments but what is for our good. 'To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee for thy good.' Deut 10:13. God commands us to read his word; and what hurt is in this? He bespangles the word with promises; as if a father should bid his son read his last will and testament, wherein he makes over a fair estate to him. He bids us pray and tells us if we 'ask, it shall be given.' Matt 7:7. Ask power against sin, ask salvation, and it shall be given. If you had a friend who should say, 'Come when you will to me, I will supply you with money,' would you think it a trouble to visit that friend often? God commands us to fear him. 'But fear thy God.' Lev 25:43. There is honey in the mouth of this command. 'His mercy is on them that fear him.' Luke 1:50. God commands us to believe, and why so? 'Believe, and thou shalt be saved.' Acts 16:31. Salvation is the crown set upon the head of faith. Good reason then have we to obey God's commands willingly, since they are for our good, and are not so much our duty as our privilege.

[4] God's commandments are ornamental. Omnia quae praestari jubet Deus, non onerant nos sed ornant. Salvianus. 'God's commandments do not burden us, but adorn us.' It is an honour to be employed in a king's service; and much more to be employed in his 'by whom kings reign.' To walk in God's commandments proves us to be wise. 'Behold, I have taught you statutes: keep, therefore, and do them; for this your wisdom.' Deut 4:5, 6. To be wise is a great honour. We may say of every commandment of God, as Prov 4:9: It 'shall give to thy head an ornament of grace.'

[5] The commands of God are infinitely better than the commands of sin, which are intolerable. Let a man be under the command of any lust, and how he tires himself! What hazards he runs to endangering his health and soul, that he may satisfy his lust! 'They weary themselves to commit iniquity.' Jer 9:5. And are not God's commandments more equal, facile, pleasant, than the commands of sin? Chrysostom says true, 'To act virtue is easier than to act vice.' Temperance is less troublesome than drunkenness; meekness is less troublesome than passion and envy. There is more difficulty in the contrivance and pursuit of a wicked design than in obeying the commands of God. Hence a sinner is said to travail with iniquity. Psa 7:14. A woman while she is in travail is in pain - to show what pain and trouble a wicked man has in bringing forth sin. Many have gone with more pains to hell, than others have to heaven. This may make us obey the commandments willingly.

[6] Willingness in obedience makes us resemble the angels. The cherubim, types representing the angels, are described with wings displayed, to show how ready the angels are to serve God. God no sooner speaks the word, but they are ambitious to obey. How are they ravished with joy while praising God! In heaven we shall be as the angels, and by our willingness to obey God's commands, we should be like them here. We pray that God's will may be done by us on earth as it is in heaven; and is it not done willingly there? It is also done constantly. 'Blessed is he who does righteousness at all times.' Psa 106:3. Our obedience to the command must be as the fire of the altar, which never went out. Lev 6:13. It must be as the motion of the pulse, always beating. The wind blows off the fruit; but the fruits of our obedience must not be blown off by any wind of persecution. 'I have chosen you that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.' John 15:16.

Use. They are reproved who live in a wilful breach of God's commandments, in malice, uncleanness, intemperance; and walk antipodes to the commandments. To live in a wilful breach of the commandment is:

(1) Against reason. Are we able to stand out against God? 'Do we provoke the Lord, are we stronger than he?' 1 Cor 10:22. Can we measure arms with God? Can impotence stand against omnipotence? A sinner acts against reason.

(2) It is against equity. We have our being from God; and is it not just that we should obey him who gives us our being? We have all our subsistence from him; and is it not fitting, that as he gives us our allowance, we should give him our allegiance? If a general gives his soldiers pay, he expects them to march at his command; so for us to live in violation of the divine commands, is manifestly unjust.

(3) It is against nature. Every creature in its kind obeys God's law. [1] Animate creatures obey him. God spake to the fish, and it set Jonah ashore. Jonah 2:10. [2] Inanimate creatures. The wind and the sea obey him. Mark 4:41, The very stones, if God give them a commission, will cry out against the sins of men. 'The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.' Hab 2:11. None disobey God but wicked men and devils; and can we find no better companions?

(4) It is against kindness. How many mercies have we to allure us to obey! We have miracles of mercy; the apostle therefore joins these two together, disobedient and unthankful, which dyes sin with a crimson colour. 2 Tim 3:2. As the sin is great, for it is a contempt of God, a hanging out of the flag of defiance against him, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, so the punishment will be great. It cuts off from mercy. God's mercy is for them that keep his commandments, but there is no mercy for them that live in a wilful breach of them. All God's judgements set themselves in battle array against the disobedient: temporal judgements and eternal. Lev 26:15, 16. Christ comes in flames of fire, to take vengeance on them that obey not God. 2 Thess 1:8. God has iron chains to hold those who break the golden chain of his commands; chains of darkness by which the devils are held ever. Jude 6. God has time enough, as long as eternity, to reckon with all the wilful breakers of his commandments.

How shall we keep God's commandments?

Pray for the Spirit of God. We cannot do it in our strength. The Spirit must work in us both to will and to do. Phil 2:13. When the loadstone draws, the iron moves; so, when God's Spirit draws, we run in the way of his commandments.

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