ON THE WORSHIP OF GOD ENJOINED BY THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
Consider first, that preface to the ten commandments, delivered Exodus xx. 2, ‘I am the Lord thy God,’ who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ and learn from thence who it is that enjoins these commandments; by what authority; and what urgent motives we have to oblige us to obey his law. It is the Lord himself, who is our lawgiver, the eternal, immense, infinite deity; the great creator of heaven and earth; who made us and all things, our God, our first beginning and our last end. And who shall dare refuse his commandments, or question his authority, or any of the manifold titles he has to our obedience? In these words he particularly inculcated the obligation the people of Israel had to keep his commandments, because he had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt; how much more pressing motives have we Christians to oblige us to a strict observance of all his divine laws, because we have been redeemed by him from a slavery infinitely worse than that of Egypt, viz., the slavery of Satan, sin, and hell, and that by the precious blood of his only Son?
Consider 2ndly, that those words, ‘I am the Lord thy God,’ though not expressed in the form of a command, insinuate nevertheless the whole duty of man with regard to his God; by which he is bound to worship him, 1st, by faith, which bows down and adores God’s truth; brings into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 5, and cast down every proud thought or imagination that raiseth itself up against his divine word. 2ndly, by hope, which worships the almighty power, the infinite goodness and mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and the veracity of all his divine promises, by a firm and constant reliance upon him, by building entirely on this rock, and fastening the anchor of the soul in him. 3rdly, by divine charity, by which we offer to God the sacrifice of our heart, which he chiefly calls for, by loving him in all things, and above all things. 4thly, by the virtue of religion, which considering God as our first beginning and our last end, daily worships him in spirit and truth, by adoration, praise, and thanksgiving; by an oblation of ourselves to his holy will, and of all things else to his glory; by joining in the offering of the great sacrifice of the death and passion of his Son; and by frequent and fervent prayer. See, my soul, thou never neglect any part of this Christian worship which thy God expects at thy hand.
Consider 3rdly, that by this commandment, ‘Thou shalt not have strange gods before me,’ we are not only called upon to turn away from all false gods to the true and living God, and to renounce all that kind of ungodliness, which may any way corrupt his worship with superstition or error, but also to make it the great business of our lives to be truly godly, by a serious application of our whole souls to the love and service of our maker. For what will it avail to know God, if we do not glorify him as God, nor serve him? Will not this be detaining the truth of God in injustice? Rom. i. 6. The great end of our creation was to glorify God, and to dedicate our whole lives to his service – we have, properly speaking, no other business upon earth; if we discharge ourselves well of this great duty, we are truly godly, and fulfil the first commandment. But alas! how many thousands are there that call themselves Christians, who live and die in a notorious breach of this great commandment, by neglecting and forgetting their God, and giving to everything else the preference before him and his service!
Conclude to have always before thy eyes the worship thou owest to thy God by this first commandment; and in consequence of it, to consecrate the days of thy pilgrimage to his divine love and service. This is the whole duty of man.