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Upon the Commandments

I am the Lord thy God, Which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, &c.

O good Lord and dear Father, who brought thy people of Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched-out power, who gayest thy law upon Mount Sinai in great thundering, lightning, and fire; who spoke by the prophets, and did send thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, co-equal and co-substantial with thee in power, majesty, and glory, to take upon him our nature by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of whose substance he was made and born man, but pure, without sin; that we, by birth children of wrath, by him might be made thy children, children of grace communicating with him righteousness, holiness, and immortality, by the working of the Spirit, as he communicated with us flesh and blood (but not infected with sin, as ours is,) by the working of the same Holy Spirit; which Spirit, after his bitter death, resurrection, and ascension into the heavens, he sent plentifully, and by a visible sign, unto his apostles and disciples; by whom he published the gospel throughout the whole world, and so continually has done from age to age, does, and will do unto the end of the world, by the ministry of preaching. Thou would that we should know and believe that thou, this Almighty Lord and God, who hast thus revealed and opened thyself, art the one only, very true and eternal almighty God, who made and rules heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible, together with this thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit, con-substantial and co-eternal with thee, dear Father. And not only this, but also thou would that I should know and believe, that by the same, thy dearly beloved Son, thou hast brought me from the tyranny and captivity of Satan and this sinful world, whereof the captivity of Egypt under Pharaoh was a figure; and in his blood shed upon the cross thou hast made a covenant with me, which thou wilt never forget, that thou art and wilt be my Lord and my God; that is, thou wilt forgive me my sins, and be wholly mine, with all thy power, wisdom, righteousness, truth, glory, and mercy. Wherefore. although I might confirm my faith by the innumerable mercies hitherto poured upon me most abundantly, as thy children of Israel might have done, and did confirm their faith by the manifold benefits poured upon then in the desert; yet specially the seal of thy covenant, I mean thy holy sacrament of baptism, wherein thy holy name was not in vain called upon me (O dear Father, sweet Son and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and most gracious good Holy Ghost,) should most assuredly confirm, and even on all sides seal up my faith of this covenant, that thou art my Lord and my God. Even as Abraham and thy people of Israel did by the sacrament of circumcision, which as the apostle called the seal or signal of righteousness, so dost thou call it; being but the sign of thy covenant indeed, yet thy very covenant; because as thy word is most true and cannot lie, as thy covenant is a covenant of peace infallible and everlasting, even so the sacrament and seal of the same is a most true testimonial and witness thereof.

Thou, the Almighty God, of thine own goodness hast vouchsafed not only to make me a creature after thine own image and likeness, who might have made me a beast to give unto me a reasonable soul endued with memory, judgment, &c. who might have made me an idiot, without wit or discretion, &c. to endue me with a body beautified with right shape, limbs, health, &c. who might have made me a cripple, lame, blind, &c. graciously to enrich me concerning fortune, friends, living, name, &c. who might have made me a slave, destitute of all friends and helps for this life. But also thou hast vouchsafed that I, being a miserable creature, born in sin, conceived in iniquity, to whom nothing is due (more than to a Turk, Jews or Saracen) but eternal damnation, should be called into the number of thy people, enrolled in thy book, and now in thy covenant, so that thou, with all that ever thou hast, art mine; for which cause's sake hitherto thou hast kept me, cherished, defended, spared, and fatherly chastised me, and now graciously dost keep me and care for me, giving me to live, to be, and move in thee, expecting also and waiting how thou might show mercy upon me. (Isaiah xxx.) In consideration of this, most justly and reasonably thou requires that, as thou art my Lord God, so I should be thy servant and one of thy people. As thou hast given thyself wholly unto me, to be mine, with all thy power, wisdom, &c. (for he that gives himself gives all he has,) so should I be wholly thine, and give over myself unto thee, to be guided by thy wisdom, defended by thy power, helped, relieved, nod comforted by thy mercy.

First therefore to begin withal, thou commands that I should have none other gods in thy sight; that is to say, I should have thee for my Lord and God, and look for all good things most assuredly at thy hands, and therefore I should put all my trust in thee, be thankful unto thee, love thee, fear thee, obey thee, and call upon thy holy name in all my needs; and I should give this faith, love, fear, obedience, thankfulness and invocation, or prayer, to none other, no, not in my heart, but only to thee or for thee, where thou commands. To do all this, O Lord God, and that with most joyful heart, I have great cause.

For what a thing is it, that thou, Jehovah, would vouchsafe to make me, as thou hast done; to give thy Son for me, and to become my God! Oh! what am I, that thou would I should put my trust in thee? This thou does, that I might never be confounded, but might be most happy. What am I, that thou would I should fear thee, when the only cause why thou requires this of me, is not only because thou hast power to cast both body and soul into hellfire, and because they that fear thee not shall perish, but also that thou might give me thy wisdom, that it might go well with me in the evil day, that thou might reveal thy Son to me, and that thy mercy might be upon me from generation to generation. Oh! what am I, that thou would have me obey thee, not only that I should never perish with the disobedient, but that thou might give me thy Holy Spirit, and rewards innumerable? Oh! what am I, that thou would I should love thee? which thing thou dost that I might fully and wholly enjoy and possess thee; and therefore dost thou require my whole heart, that I might dwell in thee, and thou in me. What am I, that thou would I should call upon thee: Verily, because thou wilt give me whatsoever I shall ask of thee in the name of thy dear child Jesus Christ; even so thou would have me thankful, that thou might pour out upon me, yet more plentifully, all good things. So that I have great cause to put my trust in thee, to love, fear, and obey thee, to call upon thee, to be thankful unto thee, not only in respect of the hurt which else will ensue, but also in respect of the advantage which hereby comes unto me; but most of all, yea, alone for thy own sake, for thy goodness, wisdom, beauty, strength and power, truth and great mercies.

But, alas! dear Father, what shall I say? As in times past I have horribly broken this thy law, by trusting in the creatures, calling upon them, loving, fearing, and obeying many things besides thee, and rather than thee; even so at this present time I am a most miserable wretch: I am blinded through unbelief and mine own wickedness; so that I see not firmly this thy power, wisdom, goodness, &c., but waver and doubt of it. I love thee little or nothing; I fear thee less, I obey thee least of all; thankfulness and prayer are utterly quenched in me; and therefore I deserve eternal damnation. If thou shalt deal with me only according to thy justice, I am, O Lord, condemned and lost for ever, for I am very wicked; but yet, inasmuch as thou hast given thy Son Jesus Christ to be a propitiatory sacrifice slain for the sins of the whole world, so that he which believes in him shall not perish, but be saved (for so thou hast promised,) thy truth now requires thee to save me. Howbeit, here thou may say to me, that I do not believe; and therefore, notwithstanding thy truth and promise, since I believe it not, thou may most justly, according to thy justice, condemn me. O Lord God, to this I cannot otherwise answer, (my unbelief is so great,) but because thy mercy is over all thy works, and all creatures most highly commend and magnify thy goodness and love, as wherefore thou art called God; because thou art right good, and love itself because of this thy mercy, gracious God, if thou wilt look thereon, and unite thy truth therewith then, good Lord, I shall be saved, and praise thy named for evermore.

Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven Image, &c.

As the first commandment teaches me, that thou art my God, and what God thou art, and therefore I ought to have none other gods but thee. That is, I should hang on thee alone, trust in thee, love thee, serve thee, call upon thee, obey thee, be thankful to thee, so because thou did reveal thyself visibly, that thou might visibly be worshipped, this commandment is concerning thy worship, that in worshipping thee, in no point I should follow the device or intent of any man, saint, angel, or spirit, but should consider all such to be idolatry and image-service, be it ever so glorious. And why? Forsooth because thou would I should worship thee, as thou hast appointed by thy word; for if service is acceptable, it must be done according to the will of him to whom it is done, and not of him who does it; but inasmuch as none knows the will and pleasure of a man but his spirit, except he reveal the same by word or sign; much more, O Lord, none knows thy will, except thy Spirit, and they to whom thou dost reveal the same. And therefore all those things which are abominable in thy sight, are in most force and estimation with men, because they are not according to thy word; so that the meaning of this precept is, that as in the first I should have none other gods but thee, so I should have no worship of thee, but such as thou appoints. Hereby therefore I see great cause of thankfulness for this commandment, since thou would have mine outward service, and that after thy appointment; lest I should busy my brain how best to serve thee. Good Lord, thou needs not my service: thou was perfect before I was in existence, therefore it is for my own advantage, that thou commands me, yea, even for my own wealth. Thou might have let me stand all day idle; but such is thy love, that thou would I should go into thy vineyard, that with thy servants I might receive the hire of blessedness. And how great a benefit is it, to deliver me from so great a burden, wherewith I should have been cambered, if I should have served thee in any point after my wit and reason, But, alas! I, not considering what a promotion thy service is, nor what an easy service it is, and (for one may well know what to do, and when he pleases thee, namely, when he serves thee as thou host appointed) simple as I am, and always have been unthankful; so I am, and always have been, a grievous transgressor of this thy law. For as in times past, when I did not know this commandment, I was an image-worshipper of stocks, stones, &c., yea, of bread and wine; so now I am a worshipper of mine affections, offering to them the service due unto thee, though not thereby to worship thee, as I thought when I kneeled to stocks and stones, bread and wine, &c., yet with no less transgression of thy law: for which I have deserved, and do deserve, everlasting damnation. Of thy goodness and great mercy, dear Father, I beseech thee forgive me, for Christ's sake, whom thou did give to be the fulfilling of the law, to all them that should believe. O Father, I believe, help mine unbelief. As thou hast of thy goodness hitherto spared me, though transgressing this thy holy precept; so of thy goodness forgive me, as well mine idolatry done in time past, as that which of late time I have committed, and do commit. And as thou by this commandment hast delivered me from the one, that is, from bowing myself to stocks and stones, so, dear Father, deliver me from all other bowing myself after mine oven will, to mine own affections; that I may have none other God in my heart but thee, nor do service to any other, but only to thee, and for thee, after thy word, as thou commands. Oh! open mine eyes, to see thy will in this thy gracious precept. Give me a will to love it heartily, and a heart to obey it faithfully, for thy dear Son's sakes Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

By this commandment I perceive, O Lord, that as, in the first, thou would that in the outward service of thee I should utterly abandon mine own will and reason, and all the reasons or good entreaties of man, and wholly give myself to serve thee, after thy will and word; so here thou dost begin to tell me, how thou wilt have my tongue to be exercised in thy service. And therefore thou bids me not to take thy name in vain; as by rash or vain swearing, by cursing; praying without sense, as those do that pray in a tongue they know not; praying without faith or consideration of the thing desired; without hearty desire and certain expectation of obtaining that which is to thy glory and my salvation; also by jesting or foolish abusing; or negligent reading or hearing of thy holy word; (by which thou, as by thy name, art known;) and in like manner, by denying thy truth and word, or concealing it when occasion is offered to promote thy glory, and confirm thy truth. By reason whereof I may well see that thou would have me use my tongue, in humbly confessing thee and thy word and truth after my vocation; in praying heartily, and calling upon thy name; in reading and hearing thy word, and speaking thereof, with all reverence, diligence, and attention; in thanksgiving and praising thee, for thy great mercy; in instructing my brother, and admonishing him when he errs, after my calling and vocation, with all humbleness, gentleness, and love.

Thus would thou have me exercise my tongue, and not think that the exercising of it in this manner is vain and unprofitable; but what pleases thee, and profits myself and others.

And forasmuch as thou knows that our tongue is a slippery member, and we very negligent over it, and of the great advantage that might come to us and others by using it in thy service; thou hast added a fearful and most true communication, that though men find no faults or punish us therefore, yet wilt not thou hold him guiltless that takes thy name in vain, (Lev. xxiii.,) as by many examples we are taught, in thy holy word, and by daily experience, if we would consider the same.

And therefore I have great cause to give praise and thanks to thy most holy name, for many great benefits, which by this commandment I receive, and ought with thankfulness to consider. First, that it pleased thee, not only to give me a tongue, whereas thou might have made me speechless; but also that thou would have it sanctified to thy service. Again, chat thou would not only reveal thy name unto us, but also would give me leave to call upon it, and praise and publish it; yea, thou hast commanded me so to do, and not only commanded but hast promised that thou wilt hear my prayer; and that my praising of thee, and confessing thy word and truth, shall not be in vain.

Thirdly, thou would all men should use their tongue so that thereby I might be the better instructed, admonished, and occasioned to use myself well, and in the obedience of this thy holy precept. But why go I about to reckon the causes of thanks for this commandment, seeing that they are innumerable, if a man should but look upon thy word, by which, as by thy name, thou art most truly known. Which word thou commands unto us in this commandment, as thou dost preaching, private admonishing, thanksgiving, and prayer; than which, nothing is more profitable to us, in this vale of misery. But, gracious good Lord, I acknowledge myself not only to be a most unthankful wretch, for this thy holy precept, and the great mercy which herethrough I perceive thou hast most graciously poured upon me, and dost yet still offer unto me; but also that I am a miserable transgressor of this thy most holy, good, and blessed commandment, as I have always been in times past. Horribly have I abused thy name in swearing, cursing, and jesting wickedly. I have called upon other names than thither as the names of Peter, Paul, Mary, &c., yea, of some whose salvation is to be doubted of (he means the Romish saints, editor). I have foolishly prayed in such a tongue as I knew not what I prayed and said; with many other transgressions of this precept, wherein yet I am conversant; as in seldom praying, and when I pray I am not intent, nor very desirous of the thing I ask with my tongue. After prayer I do not earnestly look for the good things asked and prayed for; and therefore, when I obtain my request, I am most unthankful; thy word I read little, and most negligently, forgetting forthwith what I read; I admonish not others when I hear them abuse thy holy word; I am afraid, for fear of loss of friends, name, or life, to confess thy truth, gospel, and name, which was called upon me in baptism, and not in vain, if I did not thus make it in vain. But, alas! I can in no wise comprehend the multitude of my transgressions concerning this thy law. But this is a sin above other sins, that under thy name, word, and gospel, I play the hypocrite, having more care for mine own name, than for thine; for if my name were evil spoken of, it would grieve me, and I should defend it; but, alas! I hear thine daily evil spoken of, and see it profaned by false doctrine and evil living, but it grieves me not. I seek not, and do not endeavour to redress these things in myself and in others, according to my duty. And why? because, good Lord, I love myself better than thee, and not thee with my whole heart. Thy first commandment has no place with me, as it should have; it possesses not my heart, mind, and will, as thou requires, most to my own advantage; by reason whereof I am worthy of eternal condemnation. Oh! what shall I do, gracious God, who not only have been so grievous and filthy a swearer, curser, &c., so great a caller upon dead creatures (he means the Romish saints, editor), and so heinous a transgressor of this law; but also at this present time do so horribly and hypocritically offend thee, in taking thy name in vain, and that in so many ways, in praying and not praying; in reading and not reading; in speaking and not speaking; and not confessing simply, and from my heart, thy doctrine, truth, and name; but regarding mine own name far above it. Shall I fly from thee? then undoubtedly I am more guilty, and shall more disobey this thy holy precept, adding sin to sin; whereas, thou would I should call upon thy holy name, dear Lord, who hast given thy dear Son Jesus Christ to be a Mediator for us; that through him we might find, not only grace for the pardon of our sins past, but also for the obtaining of thy Holy Spirit; as well the better to understand, as also the better and more frankly to obey this thy holy precept for ever. For his sake, therefore, dear God, pardon my sins, past and presents whereof this law accuses me, and grant, most gracious Father, that I may be endued with thy Holy Spirit, to know and love thy holy name, word, and truth in Jesus Christ; that I may be zealous, wise, and constant; and that my tongue may be sanctified henceforth, and guided by thy Holy Spirit and grace, to publish, confess, and teach thy truth and gospel, after my vocation, to others, as occasion is offered; to call upon thy name in all my need, to give thanks unto thee, praise thee, magnify thee, and to sanctify thy holy name, as a vessel of thy mercy, for ever and ever.

Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day, &c.

After thou hast told me, how in the external service of thee, gracious Lord, thou wilt have my tongue used, so dost thou now teach me, how thou wilt have mine ears and all mine whole body occupied, namely, in sanctification and holiness; that is, in those things, which thou peculiarly hast appointed, to be means immediately to help to that end. As in hearing thy word preached, and using the ceremonies appointed by thee, even as thou hast commanded; for which things to be exercised of thy people, thou at the first did appoint a certain day namely, the seventh day, which therefore thou calls thy sabbath, that thereby they with their children resting from all exterior labour, which hinders the meditation of the mind, might not only be more able to go on with their travail and labour (for without some rest, nothing can endure, in respect whereof thou would that the very beasts which were exercised in labour should have the privilege of this sabbath,) but also and much rather, that thy people with their families and children might be taught, first, by the ministry of thy word in preaching and catechising: secondly, by the using of thy sacraments appointed after thy commandment and institution, that they might be assured of thy promises; thirdly, by praying that they might be augmented in all godliness: and, last of all, by their meeting together and exercising all these thy works of sanctification, that they might increase in love and charity one towards another, as members of one body, and fellow heirs of one inheritance; and thus by meeting together, praying, and using thy sacraments, they might be instructed in thy law and of that sabbath, whereunto thou thyself did enter, after thou had made the world, ceasing from thy works, not of preservation, but of creation. Into which as after this life, and the works of this time, they should enter; so now they begin spiritually to enter, in resting from their own works, which the old man moves them unto. Not that, good Lord, thou would these works, appointed for the sabbath day, should not be exercised at any other time, but only on the seventh day; but because thou did as well ordain them for a policy (an observance, or a method of governance, editor), to endure till the coming of Christ, as also according to the revelation of thee in that time, did open thyself, beginning them in figures and shadows, whose verities at thy time were to be opened. Therefore it pleased thee to appoint then the seventh day, which seventh day, although by reason of the policy being by thee destroyed, and by reason of Christ, the verity and body of all shadows, it is abrogated from us; yet this commandment stands in force; as well for the works of sanctification, that is, for preaching thy word, coming to hear it, for praying, using thy sacraments, and coming together to that end; as also for those days which by common order, and on good ground are ordained and received;: howbeit with this liberty, that necessity of our faith, and sanctification and charity, may dispense therewith, occasion of wilful and witty offence being avoided, &c. So, that hereby I perceive thy will and pleasure to be, that I should at all times, as much as charity and necessity will permit, give over myself, and cause all others over whom I have charge, so to do, especially on the Sundays, and other holy days received, and to that end appointed, to the resorting to the temple and places appointed to prayer; to hear with meekness thy holy word, and use thy sacraments and ceremonies as thou hast commanded; and to exercise all things which might be to the confirmation and propagating of thy holy religion, or make to the increase of love and charity; as giving to the poor, reconciling such as are at variance, visiting the sick, and even (as it were) beginning that sabbath whereof Isaiah speaks. (Isa. lvi.)

By reason whereof I have great cause to thank thee, most gracious Father, that thou would appoint me to be in this time, wherein thou hast more fully revealed thyself than thou did, not only before Christ's coming, but also since Christ's ascension. Never since England was England, did thou so manifestly reveal thy truth, as thou hast done in these days. Great cause I have to thank thee, that thou would institute the ministry of thy word and sacraments, as means whereby thy Holy Spirit is effectual to work sanctification in our hearts. Great cause have I to thank thee, that thou would preserve the books of the prophets and apostles until this time. Great cause have I to praise thee, that thou would give me such knowledge in them as thou hast done, of thy great mercy; great cause have to thank thee for the good and true ministers and preachers of thy word, which thou hast sent amongst us, and that thou hast given me grace to hear them.

Great cause have I to thank thee, that in this religion thou hast given such long quietness and harbourage (shelter, editor) to thy church; great cause have I to thank thee, for that thou would make me such a man, in whom thy Holy Spirit might work. Great cause I have to thank thee, who would call me into thine eternal sabbath and rest, full of all joy, such as the eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard. Great cause have I to thank thee, that so many days are appointed for this end, that we should meet together to hear thy word and receive thy sacraments; great cause have I to thank thee for the institution of thy sacraments, which thou hast ordained as thy visible and palpable words, to the obsignation (sealing, editor) and confirmation of the faith of all such as use the same after thy commandments. But infinite are the causes for which I ought to give thee thanks for this commandment.

But, alas! I am not only unthankful, but also a most miserable transgressor of it. I will not now speak of my past transgressions concerning this commandment; they are so many that I cannot. For thou knows how I do not only at convenient times, on the work day, keep myself away from common prayers in the congregation and assembly of thy people, and from hearing of thy word, but also on the sabbath-days. I am very ready to ride or go, about this or that worldly business; I am ready at the first bidding to sit down at the tavern, and to go to that man's table; but, alas! to resort to the table of thy Son, and receive with thankfulness the sacrament of his body and blood, for confirmation of my faith; that is, to learn spiritually to taste Christ's body broken, and his blood died, for the remission of my sins: to do this, oh! how unwilling am I! To go to mass and sacrings, with such like idolatry, I have often been far more ready than I am now to hear thy word, and use thy sacraments as I should do: thy ministers I pray not for; thy church I am not careful for; no, not now, good Lord, when wicked doctrine prevails, and idolatry, superstition, and abominations abound; when the sacrament and sacrifice of thy dear Son Jesus Christ are blasphemously corrupted: when for preaching there is nothing but massing; for catechising, censing; for reading of the Scriptures, bell-ringing; for singing of psalms and godly songs to our edification, all is done in Latin, with such notes, times, ditties, and descants, that the mind is utterly pulled from the consideration of the thing (if men did understand it) unto the melody. All which my wickedness has brought in, my profaning of this commandment, and my not praying. Thy ministers are in prison, dispersed in other countries, spoiled, burnt, and murdered. Many fall for fear of goods, life, name, &c. from the truth they have received, unto most manifest idolatry. False preachers abound among thy people; thy people, dearly bought, even with thy blood, are not fed with the bread of thy word, but with swillings; antichrist wholly prevails; and yet for all this, alas! I am too careless, nothing lamenting my sins, which are the cause of all this. O dear Father, forgive me, for Christ's sake, and be merciful unto me; and as of thy mercy thou gave me time to repent, so give me repentance. Grant me the Holy Spirit, to open to me this thy law; so that I may know thy will in it, love it, and always obey it. May thy good Spirit sanctify me, and work in me a true taste of eternal life and pleasure in the meditation of it. Give me, gracious, good Father one little mouthful of the bread that thou did feed Elijah with, (1 Kings xix.:) give it to me that with him I may come unto Mount Horeb. Help thy church, cherish it, and give it harbourage here and elsewhere, for Christ's sake. Purge thy ministry from corruption and false ministers; send out preachers to feed thy people; destroy antichrist and all his kingdom; give repentance to such as are fallen from thy truth; keep others from falling, and by their falling do thou the more confirm us; confirm the ministers and poor people in prison and exile; strengthen them in thy truth; deliver them, if it be thy good will; give them that with conscience they may so answer their adversaries, that thy servants may rejoice and the adversaries be confounded; avenge thou thy own cause, O thou God of hosts, and help all thy people, and me especially, because I have most need.

Honour thy father and mother, that thou mayest live long, &c.

After thou hast told me, good Lord, thy will concerning thy service which thou requires inwardly and outwardly to be driven unto thee, now thou dost begin to tell me what thy will is that I should do and leave undone, for thy sake, unto man. And first thou sets before mine eyes those who for order's sake and the better advantage of man in this life, thou hast set in degree and authority above me; comprehending them under the names of father and mother, that I might know that as they are commanded by thee, to bear towards me a faithful love and a motherly care, in the very names of father and mother, wherewith thou honours them; so I am commanded of thee to do that which is most equal and just, as the very brute beasts teach us that with childlike affection and duty I should behave myself towards them. That is, I should honour them; which comprehends love, thankfulness, reverence, and obedience; and that not so much because they are my parents, and in their offices are careful for me, for it may be they will neglect the doing of their duty towards me, but because thou commands me so to do, howsoever they do to me. So that by this commandments I perceive that thou would I should consider them whom thou hast placed in authority and superior degree; as parents, magistrates, masters, or such-like; and accordingly behave myself toward them honour them, that is to say, love them, be thankful unto them, reverence them, and obey them, for thy sake, so long as they pass not their bounds; that is, so long as they require not otherwise than thou hast given them commission or permission to do.

And forasmuch as thou sees their care and office is great, and my corruption (unwillingness, editor) to obey is very much; so to encourage them to he diligent in their vocation, and to inflame me to humble obedience unto them, therethrough to make them more willing to sustain cares for me, thou adds a promise, that is, long life; which, so far as it is a blessing from thee, thou wilt endue us withal. Whereby we may gather, that a civil (obedient in civil concerns, editor) life much pleases thee, and receives rewards here, especially if we lead it for conscience to thy law. And on the contrary, a disobedient life to them that are in authority, will bring the sooner thy wrath and vengeance in this life. All which works much to the commendation of the state of political and civil magistrates. By reason hereof, dear Father, I see myself much bound to praise thee, and heartily to obey this thy commandment; for in it and by it thou declares thy great love toward us, who even in this present life, our pilgrimage and passage to our home, would have us to enjoy the benefit of peace, and most seemly quietness and order, and by this order so unite us, that none should contemn or despise another, but even high and low should be and account themselves as parents and children; particularly, for my part, I cannot but say that I have most cause, to thank thee for my parents, schoolmasters, and others, under whose tuition thou hast put me. No pen is able to write the particular benefits which I have hereby received in my infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, and always hitherto. Oh! how good a Lord hast thou declared thyself to me, who in them and by them hast nourished, fed, instructed, corrected, defended, and most graciously kept me! I could reckon innumerable behind me, and but few before me so much made of and cared for as I have been hitherto. No small token of thy love towards me is it, that thou would engrave in their hearts, and command them, under pain of condemnation, to be careful over me, to do me good, and provide for me, as they have done, or rather as thou hast done by them publicly. Also for the commonwealth, and such as thou hast placed in authority over me in both thy regiments (he means spiritual and temporal governors, editor), if I considered them that have been, and them that are, I could not but praise thee, good Lord; for no less praiseworthy art thou for thus chastening us, and admonishing us now at present by them that are in authority, for our ingratitude and unthankfulness; than by such as have been, for all kinds of good things. But infinite are the causes of thankfulness, which this commandment, being considered, should stir up in me; but, alas! most merciful Father, as I acknowledge myself most unthankful unto thee for all thy benefits poured upon me in this life by my parents, nurses, tutors, masters, magistrates, bishops, pastors, and good friends, even from my cradle unto this hour, so unto them have I always been and am unthankful in not loving them; as my coldness in praying for them, and my carelessness in helping them, declares. And also my not reverencing them, my contemning them, and my temerariousness (rashness, editor) in mistrusting, or too narrowly and too straitly looking at them and their duties shows; and in not obeying them, as by my contumacy appears, not only when any thing to me unpleasant or unprofitable, but also profitable and convenient, is required; and yet I speak not of evil and muttering reports, or the offences in transgressing the laws about apparel and meats, and other no small offences, which I have committed and given. Oh! this is a sin, dear Father, that I always have been a private more than a common weal man, always seeking for mine own advantage, and contemning that which made to the commodity of others. As for my disobedience and wicked behaviour towards my own parents, and all others whom thou hast set over me, dear Father, no tongue can express it, and therefore I am worthy of condemnation. But, gracious, good Lord and dear Father, I beseech thee, for thy Christ's sake, to have mercy upon me, and pardon me, as of thy goodness it pleased thee to pardon the patriarchs. Thou hast given this commandment as thy holy law, to open to us how corrupt we are, and how much we swerve from the pattern whereafter we were first made, and once agreed thereto before Adam's fall, that we might loathe ourselves, and even thereby be driven to seek and set by thy sweet mercies in Christ Jesus, whom therefore thou did send to fulfil the law in his flesh, that we might borrow of him the same, by true faith, which of thy goodness work in us by thy Holy Spirit; and open this law unto us, that we may more and more increase in the knowledge, love, and obedience of it to thy glory and our salvation. Amen. Dear Father, be merciful to our magistrates especially the Queen's highness, whose heart, with the residue of her counsellors, turn to thy testimonies; give them thy wisdom, and a zeal for the truth according to knowledge, that they may use the power they have received of thee to the cherishing of thy church, that with us here thy word may have free passage, and thy true worship may he maintained; and not only here, but also every where among those whom thou would we should pray for. Be merciful to my poor parents, gracious Lord, with my brethren, sisters, wife, children, family, servants, kinsfolks, neighbours, as thou knows they all have need. Give unto the hearts of all parents, magistrates, and such as are in authority here or elsewhere, that they may, according to that which thou hast entrusted them with, be faithful, diligent, careful, and happy. Grant unto children, servants, and subjects, that every one may render love, obedience, thankfulness, and reverence to all such as thou hast put in authority over them. Bless the church, and send it peace and harbourage (shelter, editor), here or elsewhere; bless the common weal, and send us peace; bless the dioceses and shires, and send them good bishops and justices; bless every household and family, that thy peace may be in the same continually. Finally, write thy law, and all thy laws, in our hearts, we beseech thee, that we may keep them. Amen.

Thou shalt do no Murder.

As in the commandment next before, thou, O Lord, sets before me the persons of all such as thou for the advantage, order, and peace of man in this life, hast placed in authority, and accordingly by us to be esteemed for thy sake, so dost thou in this commandment set before us to look on the persons of all men generally, high and low, over whom thou gives us a charge, that we shall not kill or murder them. In which word thou comprehends all kinds of hatred or malice, in word, thought, or deed, as thy dearly beloved Son, expounding this commandment, did teach. (Matt. v.) Yea, because thou would all men should be dear unto us, being all of one substance, of one similitude, coming of the same parents, Adam and Eve, made of one God, redeemed of one Christ, in whom we should be joined together as members of one body, and live to the aid, succour, and comfort one of another; because of this (I say) we may easily see that not only thou here forbids us to beware of all kinds of displeasure, but also thou commands us to bear and exercise all kinds of love and favour in heart, word, and deed, and that for thy commandment's sake; for else our hearts would arise towards our enemies, and be great, in that they, contemning their duties towards us, seem to deserve the like at our hands.

By reason hereof I have great cause to thank thee, dear Father; for hereby I see that thou dost much love my soul, who art so careful over my body, that he which hurts it displeases thee, and he that does it good pleases thee, if he does it for thy sake. By this commandment now I see that it is thou who hast kept me from doing many evils, which else I should have outrageously done, and hast stirred me up to do good to my brethren, if at any time I have done any, even as thou hast also kept and dost keep at present, others from doing me hurt, and best and dost stir up those that do me good, to do so unto me. Oh! how great is the multitude of thy benefits, good Lord, wherewith thou hast overwhelmed me, and which, through this commandment, I perceive myself to have received, at present do receive, and so long as I live am likely to receive; for thou commands all men everywhere to do me good, to love me, defend me, and cherish me; such is thy love to me in this present life, and that for my body. Oh! how great is thy love then to me in everlasting life, and that for my soul! If in a strange country so great is thy protection; how great is it at home! But, alas! dear Lord how unthankful have I been, and am still, for these thy fatherly benefits! Oh! mine ingratitude! Yea, Lord, horribly have I transgressed, and still do transgress, this thy gracious precept, in pride, envy, disdain, malice, hardness of heart, unmercifulness, and contemning thy children, saints, and servants. Self-love altogether reigns in me, and the desire of praise, rule, and fame. I am so far from love and mercy in heart, good Lord, that no man can hear it in my tongue, nor see it in my works; but rather quite the contrary, and that generally, and towards them to whom I am bound most particularly. By reason whereof I have deserved everlasting condemnation, and to be cast away from thy presence for ever. O most gracious Father, forgive me, for Christ's sake, I beseech thee; for to this end thou did give this commandment, that I, seeing my corruption and depraved nature by sin, might come to thy mercy deserved by Christ, and through faith in him might find not only pardon of that which is past, but also thy grace and Holy Spirit, to begin in me the obedience to this and all thy other holy precepts for evermore. So be it. For this thy Christ's sake, dear Father, I beseech thee therefore to take from me, and all others for whom thou would that we should pray, all envy, prides arrogance, disdain, hatred, and all suspiciousness; and grant unto us bowels of mercy, humility, patience, meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, peace, charity, and all kinds of brotherly love. Comfort the feeble, relieve the poor, help the fatherless, heal the sick, bless the afflicted; show thy great mercy upon all poor prisoners, and deliver them in thy good time; remember thy pity towards strangers, captives, widows, and such as are oppressed.

Thou shalt not commit Adultery.

Here, good Lord, thou commands unto me pureness and chastity and therefore thou says I should not commit adultery; in the which word thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ comprehends all uncleanness, yea, the very concupiscence and abusing of the heart in lusting after any man's wife, or otherwise unchastely. By which thou would have us to love in ourselves and others purity and cleanness, that we might he holy as thou our God art holy, and our bodies being temples of thy Holy Spirit might be kept pure; and accordingly we may easily see that as thou forbids all unclean deeds, words, looks, and thoughts, so dost thou command us to love and exercise all purity, chastity, cleanness, sobriety, temperance, &c.

By reason whereof I have great cause to be thankful unto thee, who not only for the help and advantage of man, but also for remedy of man's infirmity, hast made womankind, and ordained the state of matrimony, which in thy sight is so holy and pure, that thou accounts this state of matrimony to be an undefiled thing. And such care thou hast over the persons who are married and their condition, that those sin unto damnation, who not only go about to defile that bed, but wish or desire it within their hearts, yea, which do not endeavour themselves with thought, word, and deed, to help that purity and cleanness may be kept between married folks. But the great causes thou gives us to thank thee for this state and ordinance, and for thy defending us (forbidding us from evil, editor) by this commandment, are innumerable.

Full well I see, that it is thou who by this commandment not only restrains me, but also keeps my wife from impurity, which else we might both commit. Great is thy love O good Lord, and more than I am able to consider, who declares thyself to be thus careful over me, concerning the benefits which come unto me, both for the mind, body, and goods, by sobriety and temperance, which thou here requires: only this I cannot but see, that I have great cause to thank thee, who art so careful over me, as by this commandment I well see.

But, alas! good Lord, what shall I say, who am and have been so far from thankfulness, that I am to be accounted among the most unthankful; yea, thou knows it, good Lord. Grievously have I broken this law, and caused others so to do, of whose repentance I am uncertain; as also my tongue, alas! has often been shamefully exercised, mine eyes and thoughts too wickedly abused.

All this I have increased by mine intemperance in eating, drinking, cherishing my body, &c. I have also hurt my bodily health, diminished that which I and others should live on, and horribly hindered all good prayers and meditations; wherein, though I have time and place, yet, alas! I nothing exercise myself as I should do. By reason whereof I have deserved everlasting damnation.

O good Lord and gracious Father, do thou for thy name's sake, and in Christ's blood, pardon me and forgive me, I beseech thee; and as thou hast most mercifully hitherto spared me, so of thy mercy put away my trespasses, and the transgressions of those whom I have caused to sin; let that love which moved thee to pardon Judah, David, Bathsheba, and the great sinner of whom we read in Luke vii. move thee to pardon and forgive me also. Thou gave this commandment to this end, that I might know my sin and sinful nature, and so thereby be driven to thy Christ crucified, for whose sake I ask mercy; and also that thy good Spirit may be given unto me, to purify me, and work so in me and with me, that I may truly know, heartily love, and faithfully obey this thy holy precept, inwardly and outwardly, now and for ever. Amen. Gracious good Lord, grant to me and my wife, that we may dwell together according to knowledge, and may keep ourselves in holiness; grant, O Lord, that we may be pure and undefiled, and grant the same to all that are married; and to them which are unmarried, grant that they may live a pure, chaste, and undefiled life; and if they have not the gift of singleness of life, grant unto them mates with whom they may live holily to thy praise. Dear Father, give me the gift of sobriety and temperance, and grant the same to all them whom thou would I should pray for. As in times past I have fired my tongue and other members evil, so now, good Lord, grant that I may use them well, chastely and godlily. This I pray thee to grant, through Jesus Christ; and finally, O Lord, sanctify me both in soul and body, and as in thy temple dwell in me now and for evermore. Amen.

Thou shalt not Steal.

Now that thou hast taught me the service required of thee for me to observe towards the persons of all men and women, of every condition, thou begins to tell me what thou would I should do concerning their goods; and as in the commandment next before this thou did command unto me sobriety and pureness; so dost thou in this, command justice and righteousness; forbidding me to steal; under which word thou comprehends all kinds of deceit; which thou dost, because thou would that I should give over myself wholly to the study and exercise of justice; as in the precept going before, thou would I should give over myself wholly to the keeping of sobriety and pureness; so that I see thy good pleasure herein is not only that I should abstain from all theft, but also from all fraud and craft in word or deed, yea, tot I should earnestly follow and exercise all equity, truth, and justice.

By reason whereof, I see myself much bound to praise thee, who art so careful over my goods and substance, that if any man should go about to steal from me, or to defraud me in any thing, yea, whosoever goes not about to keep and care for that which I have, as he would do for his own, the same displeases thee.

O Lord, if thou hast such care for my goods, cattle, and such pelf, how great is thy care for my soul! If this commandment had not been given, I perceive, I for my own part should have done and should do much worse than I have done; and much worse would have been done to me and mine than has been done. It is thou, good Lord, I perceive, who hast both given all that I have, and also still preserves and keeps the same, and not my own polity, wisdom, and industry; for in vain were all this, except thou did vouchsafe to use and take it as a mean to work by. There is nothing therefore that I have, but whenever I look upon it, by this commandment, I learn thy goodness, strength, and power; for as thou gives it of thy mercy, so it speaks to me that at present thou still dost keep it for me, so that exceeding great cause have I to thank thee for this precept, dear God and most gracious Lord.

But, alas! I am for from thankfulness, and always have been so, for all thy care for me, and for all that ever thou hast given unto me, so that I have used subtlety and craft, yea, sometimes theft and bribery; and now, good Lord, I still exercise the same, when occasion is offered. I live also voluptuously upon that which thou hast given and lent me, and nothing consider, what equity requires; and what or how great the necessity of the poor is, whom I thus defraud by excess and prodigality. That which I borrow, I with unwillingness repay; I use it more negligently than I would do my own. Lack of justice, the great usury, robbery, oppression, and such like wickedness which are exercised among us, I lament not, I labour not after my vocation for the redress of the same, I pray not to thee thereabout, but neglect it altogether.

Yea, even those things wherewith I am entrusted, or am hired to do, those (I say) I do with great negligence; so that my sin is great herein, and I am worthy of condemnation. But, merciful God, I beseech thee, for Christ's sake, to have mercy upon me, and to pardon me my unthankfulness, thefts, frauds, deceits, avarice, negligences, and great carelessness, for the lack of justice, and for the monstrous oppression, usury, excess, and riot, which are horribly exercised in the common weal. For thy mercy's sake in Christ Jesus, O Lord, whom thou has given to fulfil the law for them that do believe, give me true faith and thy Holy Spirit, to work in me the knowledge, love, and perpetual obedience of this thy holy precept, and all thy other commandments for ever.

Dear Lord, give unto me, and to all whom thou would I should pray for, the hatred of all craft, and love of all justice; grant to the oppressed thy comfort, to wrongers repentance; to thieves and deceivers, that they may make restitution; to justices of peace, landlords, and the rich of the world, that they may have thee before their eyes, love their poor tenants and brethren, and give to labourers and artificers, that they may be diligent in their work and labours, and that wherewith they are put in trust.

Thou shalt not bear False Witness against thy Neighbour.

Now dost thou, most gracious Lord, instruct me in this commandment, how I should use my tongue towards my neighbour, and behave myself concerning his name, forbidding me to bear false witness; in which thou forbids me all kinds of slandering, lying, hypocrisy, and untruth. And why? because, as members of one body, thou would we should speak truth one to another; and be careful, every one, to cover the other's infirmity, and with our tongue to defend the names of others, even as we would that others should defend ours; so that in this commandment, as thou forbids me all kinds of evil, calumnious and untrue speaking; thou dost command to me all kind of godly, honest, and true report and talk.

By reason whereof I have great cause to praise thee, since I see thee to be so careful over my name, that all men are commanded by thee to defend the same. O precious God, great is thy care over my soul, I now perceive. If this commandment were not, I see, I should have done and should do much worse with my tongue to others than has happened, and so should I have felt of others towards me.

Besides this, no small advantage is it to me, that thou would all men should use truth in all their words to me.

Oh! how great and how good a thing is this unto me: If we consider the hurt that comes by untruth and by deceitful words, easily may we see a wonderful benefit and care of thee for us in this commandment.

But, gracious Lord, I acknowledge my unthankfulness to be monstrous and great, and that it always has been so; and yet I continue in wonderful hypocrisy in all my conversation; often lying and speaking vainly, offensively, fleshly, subtlety, calumniously, and giving my ears to hear things slanderously spoken; not repining or admonishing others (as the slanderer) to do as he would be done by, to tell his tale where he should tell it, nor admonishing the party slandered of that which is reported of him, thereby to take better heed; but rather I augment it. By reason whereof I have deserved eternal condemnation.

But thou, good Lord, be merciful unto me, I beseech thee, for Christ's sake, whom thou hast ordained to be the end of the law to all them that do believe, as well for pardon of that which is past, as for not imputing the imperfection that remains. In his name therefore, good Lord, I beseech thee to pardon me, and give me thy Holy Spirit to open to me this law, and all thy other precepts; and so to understand them that I may heartily love them, and faithfully give myself to the obedience of them for ever. Grant me thy good Spirit to sanctify my tongue, that it may be kept from lying, slandering, and all such vices; and that it may be continually used in thy service, and speaking that which may be to edify, to thy glory and praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's House, thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's Wife, nor his Servant, nor his Maid, nor his Ox, nor his Ass, nor anything that is his.

Here, O most gracious Lord and God, thou gives me the last commandment of thy law, who having taught what outward actions I shall avoid, that I do not thereby offend or undo my neighbour, as murder, adultery, theft, or false witness: now thou teaches a rule for my heart, to order that well, from the abundance whereof all works and words proceed, that I covet not any thing that is my neighbour's.

I know hereby, that if he have a fairer house, I may not wish for it: if he have a more beautiful wife, I may not desire her: if he have an honest and faithful servant, such a one as helps to get his living. I must not think to myself, I would I had him from his master. I may not desire to take his ox, nor his ass, no not his dog, no not the meanest thing he has in his possession. So that in the other commandments; as thou has forbidden all injuries and evil practice against my neighbour, now thou charges me to beware of thinking any evil thought against him.

By reason whereof I have great cause to praise thee, in that I see thee to he so careful over mine estate, my house, my wife, my servants, and the beasts that drudge for my service: that all men are by thee commanded not once to wish them from me. Thy apostle said well, when he taught us, saying, "Cast all your care upon God, for he cares for you." It is true, I find it true, thus thou cares for us, and would have us so to care one for another.

But gracious Lord, I must needs confess, that I have forgotten and broken this commandment, and do so still every day. I am wishing and woulding (desiring, editor) every minute. I have gone about to take my neighbour's house over his head. Many times have I had unchaste thoughts in my heart. I have gone about to inveigle and entice his servants from him: I could have been content to have wrought his beast and spared my own: I always thought he had too much, and I have too little; the dregs of these things, O Lord, are not quite out of my heart. Wherefore I deserve to have thy law executed upon me with all severity.

But thou, good Lord, be merciful unto me in this point also, for Jesus Christ's sake: for otherwise, I am of all men most miserable. Good Lord, pardon me, consider the frailty of my flesh, the corruption of my nature, the multitude of temptations, how of myself, I am able to do nothing; how if left to myself, I shall come to nothing.

Set my heart straight in the case of religion, to acknowledge thee one God, to worship none other God, to reverence thy name, and to keep thy sabbaths. Set my heart right in matters of human conversation, to honour my parents, to obey rulers, and reverence the ministry of the gospel; to have hands clean from blood, true from theft, a body free from adultery, and a tongue void of all offence. But purge the heart first, O Lord, and then the hand, the eye, the tongue, the foot, and the whole body will be cleaner. Write all these thy laws in my heart, O Lord, and in the hearts of all the faithful people, that we may believe them and keep them all the days of our lives to thy glory and praise, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

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