Thomas Watson
The Ten Commandments
File 2
(... continued from file 1)

1.1 Obedience 
    'Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the 
people of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of 
the Lord thy God, and do his commandments.' Deut 27: 9, 10. 
    What is the duty which God requireth of man? 
    Obedience to his revealed will. 
    It is not enough to hear God's voice, but we must obey. 
Obedience is a part of the honour we owe to God. 'If then I be a 
Father, where is my honour?' Mal 1: 6. Obedience carries in it the 
life-blood of religion. 'Obey the voice of the Lord God,' and do his 
commandments. Obedience without knowledge is blind, and knowledge 
without obedience is lame. Rachel was fair to look upon, but, being 
barren, said, 'Give me children, or I die;' so, if knowledge does 
not bring forth the child of obedience, it will die. 'To obey is 
better than sacrifice.' I Sam 15: 22. Saul thought it was enough for 
him to offer sacrifices, though he disobeyed God's command; but 'to 
obey is better than sacrifice.' God disclaims sacrifice, if 
obedience be wanting. 'I spake not unto your fathers concerning 
burnt offerings, but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my 
voice.' Jer 7: 22. Not but that God did enjoin those religious rites 
of worship; but the meaning is that he looked chiefly for obedience 
- without which, sacrifice was but devout folly. The end why God has 
given us his laws, is obedience. 'Ye shall do my judgements, and 
keep mine ordinances.' Lev 18: 4. Why does a king publish an edict, 
but that it may be observed? 
    What is the rule of obedience? 
    The written word. That is proper obedience which the word 
requires; our obedience must correspond with the word, as the copy 
with the original. To seem to be zealous, if it be not according to 
the word, is not obedience, but will-worship. Popish traditions 
which have no footing in the word, are abominable; and God will say, 
Quis quaesivit haec? 'Who has required this at your hand?' Isa 1: 
I2. The apostle condemns the worshipping of angels, which had a show 
of humility. Col 2: 18. The Jews might say they were loath to be so 
bold as to go to God in their own persons; they would be more 
humble, and prostrate themselves before the angels, and desire them 
to present their petitions to God; but this show of humility was 
hateful to God, because there was no word to warrant it. 
    What are the ingredients in our obedience that make it 
    (1) It must be cum animi prolubio, free and cheerful, or it is 
penance, not sacrifice. 'If ye be willing and obedient.' Isa 1: 19. 
Though we serve God with weakness, it may be with willingness. You 
love to see your servants go cheerfully about their work. Under the 
law, God will have a free-will offering. Deut 16: 10. Hypocrites 
obey God grudgingly, and against their will; facere bonum, but not 
velle [they do good but not willingly]. Cain brought his sacrifice, 
but not his heart. It is a true rule, Quicquid cor non facit, non 
fit; what the heart does not do, is not done. Willingness is the 
soul of obedience. God sometimes accepts of willingness without the 
work, but never of the work without willingness. Cheerfulness shows 
that there is love in the duty; and love is to our services what the 
sun is to fruit; it mellows and ripens them, and makes them come off 
with a better relish. 
    (2) Obedience must be devout and fervent. 'Fervent in spirit,' 
&c. Rom 12: 11. Quae ebullit prae ardore. As water that boils over; 
so the heart must boil over with hot affections in the service of 
God. The glorious angels, who, for burning in fervour and devotion, 
are called seraphims, are chosen by God to serve him in heaven. The 
snail under the law was unclean, because a dull, slothful creature. 
Obedience without fervency, is like a sacrifice without fire. Why 
should not our obedience be lively and fervent? God deserves the 
flower and strength of our affections. Domitian would not have his 
statue carved in wood or iron, but made of gold. Lively affections 
make golden services. It is fervency that makes obedience 
acceptable. Elijah was fervent in spirit, and his prayer opened and 
shut heaven; and again he prayed, and fire fell on his enemies. 2 
Kings 1: 10. Elijah's prayer fetched fire from heaven, because, 
being fervent, it carried fire up to heaven; quicquid decorum ex 
fide proficiscitur. Augustine. 
    (3) Obedience must be extensive, it must reach to all God's 
commands. 'Then shall I not be ashamed (or, as it is in the Hebrew, 
lo Ehosh, blush), when I have respect unto all thy commandments.' 
Psa 119: 6. Quicquid propter Deum fit aequaliter fit [All God's 
requirements demand equal effort]. There is a stamp of divine 
authority upon all God's commands, and if I obey one precept because 
God commands, I must obey all. True obedience runs through all 
duties of religion, as the blood through all the veins, or the sun 
through all the signs of the zodiac. A good Christian makes gospel 
piety and moral equity kiss each other. Herein some discover their 
hypocrisy: they will obey God in some things which are more facile, 
and may raise their repute; but other things they leave undone. 'One 
thing thou lackest,' unum deest. Mark 10: 21. Herod would hear John 
Baptist, but not leave his incest. Some will pray, but not give 
alms, others will give alms, but not pray. 'Ye pay tithe of mint and 
anise, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, 
mercy and faith.' Matt 23: 23. The badger has one foot shorter than 
the other; so these are shorter in some duties than in others. God 
likes not such partial servants, who will do some part of the work 
he sets them about, and leave the other undone. 
    (4) Obedience must be sincere. We must aim at the glory of God 
in it. Finis specificat actionem; in religion the end is all. The 
end of our obedience must not be to stop the mouth of conscience, or 
to gain applause or preferment; but that we may grow more like God, 
and bring more glory to him. 'Do all to the glory of God.' 1 Cor 10: 
31. That which has spoiled many glorious actions, and made them lose 
their reward, is, that men's aims have been wrong. The Pharisees 
gave alms, but blew a trumpet that they might have the glory of men. 
Matt 6: 2. Alms should shine, but not blaze. Jehu did well in 
destroying the Baal-worshippers, and God commended him for it; but, 
because his aims were not good (for he aimed at settling himself in 
the kingdom), God looked upon it as no better than murder. 'I will 
avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.' Hos 1: 4. O let 
us look to our ends in obedience; it is possible the action may be 
right, and not the heart. 2 Chron 25: 2. Amaziah did that which was 
right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart. Two 
things are chiefly to be eyed in obedience, the principle and the 
end. Though a child of God shoots short in his obedience, he takes a 
right aim. 
    (5) Obedience must be in and through Christ. 'He has made us 
accepted in the beloved.' Eph 1: 6. Not our obedience, but Christ's 
merits procure acceptance. In every part of worship we must present 
Christ to God in the arms of our faith. Unless we serve God thus, in 
hope and confidence of Christ's merits, we rather provoke him than 
please him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a 
priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with leprosy (2 Chron 
26: 20); So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we 
offer up incense to him without a priest, and what can we expect but 
severe rebukes? 
    (6) Obedience must be constant. 'Blessed [is] he that does 
righteousness at all times.' Psa 106: 3. True obedience is not like 
a high colour in a fit, but it is a right complexion. It is like the 
fire on the altar, which was always kept burning. Lev 6:13. 
Hypocrites' obedience is but for a season; it is like plastering 
work, which is soon washed off; but true obedience is constant. 
Though we meet with affliction, we must go on in our obedience. 'The 
righteous shall hold on his way.' Job 17: 9. We have vowed 
constancy; we have vowed to renounce the pomps and vanities of the 
world, and to fight under Christ's banner to death. When a servant 
has entered into covenant with his master, and the indentures are 
sealed, he cannot go back, he must serve out his time; so there are 
indentures drawn in baptism, and in the Lord's Supper the indentures 
are renewed and scaled on our part, that we will be faithful and 
constant in our obedience; therefore we must imitate Christ, who 
became obedient unto death. Phil 2: 8. The crown is set upon the 
head of perseverance. 'He that keepeth my works unto the end, I will 
give him the morning star.' Rev 2: 26, 28. 
    Use one. This condemns those who live in contradiction to the 
text, and have cast off the yoke of obedience. 'As for the word that 
thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not 
hearken unto thee.' Jer 44: 16. God bids men pray in their family, 
but they live in the total neglect of it; he bids them sanctify the 
Sabbath, but they follow their pleasures on that day; he bids them 
abstain from the appearance of sin, but they do not abstain from the 
act; they live in the act of revenge, and in the act of uncleanness. 
This is a high contempt of God; it is rebellion, and rebellion is as 
the sin of witchcraft. 
    Whence is it that men do not obey God? They know their duty, 
but do it not. 
    (1) The not obeying God is for want of faith. Quis credidit? 
'Who has believed our report?' Isa 53: 1: Did men believe sin were 
so bitter, that hell followed at the heels of it, would they go on 
in sin? Did they believe there was such a reward for the righteous, 
that godliness was gain, would they not pursue it; but they are 
atheists, not fully brought into the belief of these things; hence 
it is that they obey not. Satan's master-piece, his draw-net by 
which he drags millions to hell, is to keep them in infidelity; he 
knows, if he can but keep them from believing the truth, he is sure 
to keep them from obeying it. 
    (2) The not obeying God is for want of self-denial. God 
commands one thing, and men's lusts command another; and they will 
rather die than deny their lusts. If lust cannot be denied, God 
cannot be obeyed. 
    Use two. Obey God's voice. This is the beauty of a Christian. 
    What are the great arguments or incentives to obedience? 
    (1) Obedience makes us precious to God, his favourites. 'If ye 
will obey my voice, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above 
all people;' you shall be my portion, my jewels, the apple of mine 
eye. Exod 19: 5. 'I will give kingdoms for your ransom.' Isa 43: 3. 
    (2) There is nothing lost by obedience. To obey God's will is 
the wav to have our will. [1] Would we have a blessing in our 
estates? Let us obey. God. 'If thou shalt hearken to the voice of 
the Lord, to do all his commandments, blessed shalt thou be in the 
field: blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.' Deut 28: 1, 3, 5. 
To obey is the best way to thrive in your estates. [21 Would we have 
a blessing in our souls? Let us obey God. Obey, and I will be your 
God.' Jer 7: 23. My Spirit shall be your guide, sanctifier, and 
comforter. Christ 'became the author of eternal salvation unto all 
them that obey him.' Heb 5: 9. While we please God, we please 
ourselves; while we give him the duty, he gives us the dowry. We are 
apt to say, as Amaziah, 'What shall we do for the hundred talents?' 
2 Chron 25: 9. You lose nothing by obeying. The obedient son has the 
inheritance settled on him. Obey, and you shall have a kingdom. 'It 
is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.' Luke 12: 
    (3) What a sin is disobedience! [1] It is an irrational sin. We 
are not able to stand it out in defiance against God. 'Are we 
stronger than he?' Will the sinner go to measure arms with God? 1 
Cor 10: 22. He is the Father Almighty, who can command legions. If 
we have no strength to resist him, it is irrational to disobey him. 
It is irrational, as it is against all law and equity. We have our 
daily subsistence from him; in him we live and move. Is it not just 
that as we live by him, we should live to him? that as he gives us 
our allowance, so we should give him our allegiance? 
    [2] It is a destructive sin. 'The Lord Jesus shall be revealed 
from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking 
vengeance on them that obey not the gospel.' 2 Thess 1: 7, 8. He who 
refuses to obey God's will in commanding, shall be sure to obey his 
will in punishing. While the sinner thinks to slip the knot of 
obedience, he twists the cord of his own damnation, and he perishes 
without excuse. 'The servant which knew his lord's will, neither did 
according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.' Luke 12: 
47. God will say, 'Why did you not obey? you knew how to do good, 
but did not; therefore your blood is upon your own head.' 
    What means shall we use that we may obey? 
    (1) Serious consideration. Consider, God's commands are not 
grievous: he commands nothing unreasonable. 1 John 5: 3. It is 
easier to obey the commands of God than sin. The commands of sin are 
burdensome - let a man be under the power of any lust, how he tires 
himself! what hazards he runs, even to endangering his health and 
soul, that he may satisfy his lusts! What tedious journeys did 
Antiochus Epiphanies take in persecuting the Jews! 'They weary 
themselves to commit iniquity;' and are not God's commands more easy 
to obey? Chrysostom says, virtue is easier than vice; temperance is 
less burdensome than drunkenness. Some have gone with less pains to 
heaven, than others to hell. 
    God commands nothing but what is beneficial. 'And now, Israel, 
what does the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, 
and to keep his statutes, which I command thee this day, for thy 
good?' Deut 10: 12, 13. To obey God, is not so much our duty as our 
privilege; his commands carry meat in the mouth of them. He bids us 
repent; and why? That our sins may be blotted out. Acts 3: 19. He 
commands us to believe: and why? That we may be saved. Acts 16: 31. 
There is love in every command: as if a king should bid one of his 
subjects dig in a gold mine, and then take the gold to himself. 
    (2) Earnest supplication. Implore the help of the Spirit to 
carry you on in obedience. God's Spirit makes obedience easy and 
delightful. If the loadstone draw the iron, it is not hard for it to 
move; so if God's Spirit quicken and draw the heart, it is not hard 
to obey. When a gale of the Spirit blows, we go full sail in 
obedience. Turn his promise into a prayer. 'I will put my Spirit 
within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.' Ezek 36: 27. The 
promise encourages us, the Spirit enables us to obey. 

Watson, The Ten Commandments
(continued in file 3...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: wat10-02.txt