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Evan. In this first commandment, "The Lord requireth the duty of our hearts or
souls," (Prov 23:26); that is to say, of our understandings, wills, and affections,
and the effects of them.
Neo. And what is the duty of our understandings?
Evan. The duty of our understandings is to know God, (2 Chron 28:9). Now the
end of knowledge is but the fullness of persuasion, even a settled belief, which is
called faith, so that the duty of our understandings is, so to know God, as to
believe him to be according as he has revealed himself to us in his word and
works, (Heb 11:6).
Neo. And how has the Lord revealed himself to us in his word?
Evan. Why, he has revealed himself to be "most wise," (Rom 16:27); "most
"most merciful," (Psa 145:8).
Neo. And how has he revealed himself to us in his works?
Evan. He has revealed himself in his works to be "the Creator of all things," (Exo
20:11); and "the Preserver of all things," (Psa 26:6); and "The Governor of all
Neo. And how must our knowledge of God, and our belief in him, be expressed
by their effects?
Evan. We must express, that we know and believe God to be according as he has
revealed himself in his word and works, by our remembering and acknowledging
him whensoever there is occasion for us so to do.
As, for example; when we read or hear those judgments that the Lord in his word
has threatened to bring upon us for our sins, (Deut 28:16), we are to express that
we do remember and acknowledge him to be most mighty, true, and just, by our
hear of blessings, that the Lord in his word has promised to bestow upon us for
our obedience, (Deut 28:2), then we are to express, that we do remember and
acknowledge him to be more true, and merciful, by our obedience unto him, and
by our trusting in him, and relying upon him, (Gen 32:9). And when we behold
the excellent frame of heaven and earth, and the creatures contained therein, then
we are to express, that we do remember and acknowledge the Lord to be the
Creator and Maker of them all, by our praising and magnifying his name, (Psa
106:5, 139:14). And when the Lord does actually inflict any judgment upon us,
then we are to express that we do remember and acknowledge him to be the
Governor of all things, and most mighty, wise, and just, by humbling ourselves
under his mighty hand, (1 Peter 5:6). And by judging ourselves worthy to be
destroyed, for our iniquities, (Eze 36:31). And by bearing the punishment thereof,
(Lev 36:41), with willing, patient, contented submission to his will and pleasure,
(Psa 39:9). And when the Lord does actually bestow any blessing upon us, then
we are to express, that we do remember, and acknowledge him to be the most
merciful Giver of every good gift, by our humble acknowledging that we are
unworthy of the least of his mercies, (Gen 32:10); and "in giving him thanks for
all things," (1 Thess 5:18). And thus have I showed unto you what is the duty of
Neo. I pray you, sir, let us, in the next place, hear what is the duty of our wills.
Evan. The duty of our wills is to choose the Lord alone for our portion, (Psa
Neo. And how must we express that we have chosen the Lord for our portion?
Evan. "By our loving him with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our
might," (Deut 5:6).
Neo. And how must we express that we do thus love the Lord?
Evan. We must express that we do thus love the Lord by the acting of our other
affections, as by our desire of most near communion with him, (Phil 1:23), and
by our delighting most in him, (Psa 37:4); and by our rejoicing most in him, (Phil
4:4); and by our fearing most to offend him, (Matt 10:28); and by our sorrowing
most for offending him, (Luke 22:62); and by being most zealous against sin, and
for the glory of God, (Rev 3:19). And thus have I showed you what the Lord
requires in the affirmative part of this commandment.
Neo. I pray you, sir, proceed to the negative part, and show us what the Lord
forbids in this commandment.
Evan. In this first commandment is forbidden, "ignorance of God," (Jer 4:22); so
also is unbelief, or doubting of the truth of God's word, (Isa 7:9). And so also is
the want of fearing the threatenings of God, (Deut 28:58), and the fearing the
threatenings of men, either more, or as much as the threatenings of God, (Isa
51:12,13); and so also is the want of trusting unto or relying upon the promises of
God, (Luke 12:29), and the trusting or relying upon ourselves, men's promises, or
any other thing, either more, or as much as we do upon God, (Jer 17:5, Luke
12:20). And so also is the want of acknowledging the hand of God, in the time of
affliction, (Isa 26:11); and acknowledging that the rod can smite without the hand
of God, (Job 19:11); and so also is the want of humbling ourselves before the
discontentedness under the chastising hand of God, (Exo 17:2); and not returning
unto him that smiteth us, (Isa 9:13); and so also is our forgetfulness of God in not
acknowledging his merciful and bountiful hand in reaching forth all good things
sacrificing to our own nets, (Hab 1:16), in ascribing the coming in of our riches to
our own care, pains, and diligence in our callings, (Deut 8:17); and so also is
unthankfulness to the Lord for his mercies, (Rom 1:21); and so also is our want
of love to God, (1 Cor 16:22); and our loving any creature either more than God,
or equal with God, (Matt 10:37); and so also is our want of desiring his presence,
(Job 21:14); and our desiring the presence of any creature either more or so much
and our rejoicing either more, or as much in anything as in God, (Luke 10:20);
and so also is our want of fearing to offend God, (Jer 5:22); and our fearing to
offend any mortal man, either more or as much as to offend God, (Prov 29:25);
and so also is our want of sorrow and grief for offending God, (1 Cor 5:2); and
our sorrowing more, or as much, for any worldly loss or cross, as for our sinning
against God, (1 Thess 4:15); and so also is our want of zeal, or our lukewarmness
in the cause of God and his truth, (Rev 3:16); and our corrupt, blind, and
indiscreet zeal, (Luke 9:55). And thus have I showed unto you what the Lord
requires, and what he forbids in this commandment. And now, neighbour
Nomologista, I pray you, tell me whether you think you keep it perfectly or no.
Nom. Sir, before I tell you that, I pray you tell me how you prove that the Lord
in this commandment requires all these duties, and forbids all these sins.
Evan. First, I know that the Lord in this commandment requires all these duties,
because no man can truly have the Lord for his God, except he have chosen him
for his portion; and no man can truly choose the Lord for his portion, before he
truly know him; and he that does truly know God, does truly believe both his
threatenings and his promises; and he that does truly believe the Lord's
threatenings, must needs fear and tremble at them; and he that does believe the
Lord's promises, must needs truly love him, for faith always produces and brings
forth love; and whosoever does truly love God, must needs desire near
communion with him; yea, and rejoice in communion with him; yea, and fear to
offend him; yea, and sorrow for offending him; yea, and be zealous for his glory.
Secondly, I know that all these sins are forbidden in this commandment, because
that whatsoever the mind, will, and affections of a man are set upon, or carried
after, either more or as much as after God, that is another god unto him; and
therefore, if a man stand in fear of any creature, or fear the loss of any creature,
either more than God, or equal with God, he makes that creature his god: and if
he trust unto, and put confidence in any creature, either more than God, or equal
with God, that creature is his god; and hence it is that the covetous man is called
an idolater, (Eph 5:5); for that he makes his god his hope, and says to the fine
gold, "Thou art my confidence," (Job 31:24). And if any man be proud of any
good thing he has, and do not acknowledge God to be the free giver and bestower
of the same, or if he be impatient and discontented under the Lord's correcting
hand, he makes himself a god; and if a man so love any creature as that he
desires it being absent, or delights in it being present, either more than God, or
equal with God, that creature is another god unto him. And hence it is, that
voluptuous men are said to make their belly their god, (Phil 3:19). In a word,
whatsoever the mind of man is carried after, or his heart and affections set upon,
either more, or as much as upon God, that he makes his god. And therefore we
may undoubtedly conclude, that all the sins before mentioned, are forbidden in
Nom. Then believe me, sir, I must confess that I come far short of keeping this
Evan. Yea, and so we do all of us, I am confident; for has not every one of us
sometimes questioned in our hearts, whether there be a God or no? and as
touching the knowledge of God, may we not all three of us truly say with the
apostle, (1 Cor 13:9), "We know in part"? And which of us has so feared and
trembled at the threatenings of God, and at the shaking of his rod, as we ought?
Nay, have we not feared the frowns, threats, and power of some mortal man
more than the frowns, threats, and power of God? It is well if it have not
appeared by our choosing to obey man rather than God: and which of us has so
trusted unto, and relied upon the promises of God in time of need, as he ought?
nay, have we not rather trusted unto and relied upon men and means, than upon
God? Has it not been manifested by our fearing of poverty, and want of outward
things, when friends, trading, and means begin to fail us; though God has said, "I
will not fail thee, nor forsake thee"? (Heb 13:5). And which of us has so humbled
ourselves under the chastening and correcting hand of God as we ought: nay,
have we not rather expressed abundance of pride, by our impatience and
discontentedness, and want of submitting to the will of God; and by our
quarrelling and contending with his rod? And which of us has so acknowledged
God in the time of prosperity, and been so thankful unto him for his blessings, as
we ought? Nay, have we not rather at such times forgotten God, and sacrificed to
our own nets, saying in our hearts, if not also with our mouths, "I may thank
mine own diligence, care, and pains-taking, or else it had not been with me as it
is"? And which of us hath so manifested our love to God, by our desire of near
communion with him in his ordinances, and by our desire to be dissolved and to
be with him, as we ought? Nay, have we not rather expressed our great want of
love to him, by our backwardness to prayer, reading, and hearing his word, and
receiving the sacrament, and by our little delight therein, and by our unwillingness
to die? Nay, have we not manifested our greater love to the world, by our greater
desires after the profits, pleasures, and honours of the world, and by our greater
delight therein than in God? Or which of us have so manifested our love to God,
by our sorrow and grief for offending him, as we ought? Nay, have we not rather
manifested our greater love to the world, by our sorrowing and grieving more for
some worldly loss or cross, than for offending God by our sins? Or which of us
have so manifested our love to God, by being so zealous for his glory as we
ought? Nay, have we not rather expressed greater love to ourselves, in being more
hot and fiery in our own cause than in God's cause? And thus have I endeavoured
to satisfy your desires concerning the first commandment.
Neo. I beseech you, sir, proceed to do the like concerning the second
commandment, and first tell us how the first and second commandments differ
the one from the other.
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