ON KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS
Consider first, that there is no salvation for us, without keeping the ten commandments. They are a short abstract of that natural and eternal law, which was imprinted in the heart of man from the beginning, before the written law was delivered to the people of God. They were published by the Almighty, in a most solemn manner, from Mount Sinai, in the Old Testament; and confirmed by the Son of God in the New Testament; declaring the observance of them to be a necessary condition to everlasting life. ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,’ Matt. xix. 17. The keeping of these he will have to be the test and proof of our love of him ‘if you love me, keep my commandments,’ John xiv. 15. and his beloved disciple assures us (1 John ii. 4,) that ‘he that saith he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him,’ chap. iii. 24. See then, my soul, that the most necessary of all devotions is to dedicate thyself to the love and observance of the commandments of God: no devotion can bring thee to God without this. This is that instrument with ten strings, so often recommended by the psalmist, which makes a most agreeable harmony in the ears of his divine majesty.
Consider 2ndly, the happiness, of every kind, that always accompanies the keeping of God’s holy law and commandments; as the same royal prophet witnesses in many places, particularly in Ps. cxviii., which is full of testimonies to this effect. And in Ps. xviii, ‘The law of the Lord,’ saith he, ‘is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones; the justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves: more to be desired than gold and many precious stones, and sweeter than honey and the honey-comb. For thy servant keepeth them, and in keeping them there is great reward.’ What encomiums are here heaped one upon another, of the law and commandments of God, under different denominations, and of the excellent fruits that grow from the observance of them! 1. The law of God is beautiful and pure, without spot, or blemish; and it has a wonderful efficacy to turn the soul from sin to God. 2. It is faithful to what it proposes and promises, and imparts the truest of all wisdom to little ones, that is to the humble, who willingly submit their necks to its sweet yoke. 3. It is right in every tittle, agreeable to the sovereign reason, and carries with it joy to the hearts that embrace it. 4. It is full of spiritual light, to enlighten the inward eyes of the soul with divine truths. 5. It is most holy in itself, and comes from the fountain of all holiness, and makes all them holy that observe it; and endures with them for ever and ever. 6. It is true and just, as being given by the eternal truth and justice, and justifies itself by its own evidence. 7. It is more amiable and desirable than all the treasures of the universe; and more sweet and delightful than anything this world can afford by reason of the spiritual riches of virtue, grace, and merit; and the manifold consolations and inward pleasures the observance of it brings to the soul; besides the reward hereafter, which is incomprehensible and eternal.
Consider 3rdly, that the observance of the commandments of God is not only essentially necessary to salvation and every way admirable in the fruits it produces, both for this world and the next, but is indeed very sweet, and easy to men of good will. Our Lord assures us, St. Matt. xi. 30, ‘that his yoke is sweet, and his burthen light:’ and that instead of oppressing us with its weight, it brings refreshment and rest to our soul. and St. John (1 John x. 3) tells us, ‘that this is indeed the charity, or love of God, that we keep his commandments, and that his commandments are not heavy.’ Love makes all things easy that are done for the sake of the beloved; and therefore the true lover of God finds no labour in the keeping his commandments: the grace of God makes them all sweet and agreeable to him. O teach us, dear Lord, to love thee, and command what thou pleasest: thy grace will make all things easy and pleasant that are to be done or suffered for the love of thee.
Conclude to seek thy happiness, both for time and eternity, in the observance of the law and commandments of God. Nothing else can ever make thee happy. Give ear to the apostle, Rom. ii. 9, 10: ‘Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil – but glory, honour, and peace to every one that worketh good.’