Thomas Watson
The Ten Commandments
File 4
(... continued from file 3)

1.3 The Preface to the Commandments 
    'And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God,' 
&c. Exod 20: 1, 2. 
    What is the preface to the Ten Commandments? 
    The preface to the Ten Commandments is, 'I am the Lord thy 
    The preface to the preface is, 'God spake all these words, 
saying,' &c. This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn 
proclamation. Other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the 
mouth of the holy prophets (Luke 1: 70), but here God spake in his 
own person. 
    How are we to understand that, God spake, since he has no 
bodily parts or orgasms of speech? 
    God made some intelligible sound, or fanned a voice in the air, 
which, to the Jews was as though God himself was speaking to them. 
    (1) The lawgiver. 'God spake.' There are two things requisite 
in a lawgiver. [1] Wisdom. Laws are founded upon reason; and he must 
be wise that makes laws. God, in this respect, is most fit to be a 
lawgiver: 'he is wise in heart.' Job 9: 4. He has a monopoly of 
wisdom. 'The only wise God.' 1 Tim 1: 17. Therefore he is the 
fittest to enact and constitute laws. [2] Authority. If a subject 
makes laws, however wise they may be, they want the stamp of 
authority. God has the supreme power in his hand: he gives being to 
all; and he who gives men their lives, has most right to give them 
their laws. 
    (2) The law itself. 'All these words.' That is, all the words 
of the moral law, which is usually styled the decalogue, or ten 
commandments. It is called the moral law because it is the rule of 
life and manners. The Scripture, as Chrysostom says, is a garden, 
and the moral law is the chief flower in  it: it is a banquet, and 
the moral law is the chief dish in it. 
    The moral law is perfect. 'The law of the Lord is perfect.' Psa 
19: 7. It is an exact model and platform of religion; it is the 
standard of truth, the judge of controversies, the pole-star to 
direct us to heaven. 'The commandment is a lamp.' Prov 6: 23. Though 
the moral law be not a Christ to justify us, it is a rule to 
instruct us. 
    The moral law is unalterable; it remains still in force. Though 
the ceremonial and judicial laws are abrogated, the moral law 
delivered by God's own mouth is of perpetual use in the church. It 
was written in tables of stone, to show its perpetuity. 
    The moral law is very illustrious and full of glory. God put 
glory upon it in the manner of its promulgation. [1] The people, 
before the moral law was delivered, were to wash their clothes, 
whereby, as by a type, God required the sanctifying of their ears 
and hearts to receive the law. Exod 19: 10. [2] There were bounds 
set that none might touch the mount, which was to produce in the 
people reverence to the law. Exod 19: 12. [3] God wrote the law with 
his own finger, which was such an honour put upon the moral law, as 
we read of no other such writing. Exod 31: 18. God by some mighty 
operation, made the law legible in letters, as if it had been 
written with his own finger. [4] God's putting the law in the ark to 
be kept was another signal mark of honour put upon it. The ark was 
the cabinet in which He put the ten commandments, as ten jewels. [5] 
At the delivery of the moral law, many angels were in attendance. 
Deut 33: 2. A parliament of angels was called, and God himself was 
the speaker. 
    Use one. Here we may notice God's goodness, who has not left us 
without a law. He often sets down the giving his commandments as a 
demonstration of his love. 'He has not dealt so with any nation: and 
as for his judgements they have not known them.' Psa 147: 20. 'Thou 
gavest them true laws, good statutes and commandments.' Neh 9: 13. 
What a strange creature would man be if he had no law to direct him! 
There would be no living in the world; we should have none born but 
Ishmaels - every man's hand would be against his neighbour. Man 
would grow wild if he had not affliction to tame him, and the moral 
law to guide him. The law of God is a hedge to keep us within the 
bounds of sobriety and piety. 
    Use two. If God spake all these words of the moral law, then it 
condemns: (1) The Marcionites and Manichees, who speak lightly, yea, 
blasphemously, of the moral law; who say it is below a Christian, it 
is carnal; which the apostle confutes, when he says, 'The law is 
spiritual, but I am carnal.' Rom 7: 14. (2) The Antinomians, who 
will not admit the moral law to be a rule to a believer. We say not 
that he is under the curse of the law, but the commands. We say not 
the moral law is a Christ, but it is a star to lead to Christ. We 
say not that it saves, but sanctifies. They who cast God's law 
behind their backs, God will cast their prayers behind his back. 
They who will not have the law to rule them, shall have the law to 
judge them. (3) The Papists, who, as if God's law were imperfect, 
and when he spake all these words he did not speak enough, add to it 
their canons and traditions. This is to tax God's wisdom, as if he 
knew not how to make his own law. This surely is a high provocation. 
'If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the 
plagues that are written in this book.' Rev 22: 18. As it is a great 
evil to add anything to a man's sealed will, so much more to add 
anything to the law which God himself spake, and wrote with his own 
    Use three. If God spake all the words of the moral law, several 
duties are enjoined upon us: (1) If God spake all these words, then 
we must hear all these words. The words which God speaks are too 
precious to be lost. As we would have God hear all our words when we 
pray, so we must hear all his words when he speaks. We must not be 
as the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears: he that stops his ears 
when God cries, shall cry himself, and not be heard. 
    (2) If God spake all these words, then we must attend to them 
with reverence. Every word of the moral law is an oracle from 
heaven. God himself is the preacher, which calls for reverence. If a 
judge gives a charge upon the bench, all attend with reverence. In 
the moral law God himself gives a charge, 'God spake all these 
words;' with what veneration, therefore, should we attend! Moses put 
off his shoes from his feet, in token of reverence, when God was 
about to speak to him. Exod 3: S, 6. 
    (3)If God spake all these words of the moral law, then we must 
remember them. Surely all God speaks is worth remembering; those 
words are weighty which concern salvation. 'It is not a vain thing 
for you, because it is your life.' Deut 32: 47. Our memory should be 
like the chest in the ark where the law was kept. God's oracles are 
ornaments, and shall we forget them? 'Can a maid forget her 
ornaments?' Jer 2: 32. 
    (4) If God spake all these words, then believe them. See the 
name of God written upon every commandment. The heathens, in order 
to gain credit to their laws, reported that they were inspired by 
the gods at Rome. The moral law fetches its pedigree from heaven. 
Ipse dixit. God spake all these words. Shall we not give credit to 
the God of heaven? How would the angel confirm the women in the 
resurrection of Christ? 'Lo (said he), I have told you.' Matt 28: 7. 
I speak in the word of an angel. Much more should the moral law be 
believed, when it comes to us in the word of God. 'God spake all 
these words.' Unbelief enervates the virtue of God's word, and makes 
it prove abortive. 'The word did not profit, not being mixed with 
faith.' Heb 4: 2. Eve gave more credit to the devil when he spake 
than she did to God. 
    (5) If God spake all these words, then love the commandments. 
'Oh, how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.' Psa 119: 
97. 'Consider how I love thy precepts.' Psa 119: 159. The moral law 
is the copy of God's will, our spiritual directory; it shows us what 
sins to avoid, what duties to pursue. The ten commandments are a 
chain of pearls to adorn us, they are our treasury to enrich us; 
they are more precious than lands of spices, or rocks of diamonds. 
'The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and 
silver.' Psa 119: 72. The law of God has truth and goodness in it. 
Neh 9: 13. Truth, for God spake it; and goodness, for there is 
nothing the commandment enjoins, but it is for our good. O then, let 
this command our love. 
    (6) If God spake all these words, then teach your children the 
law of God. 'These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in 
thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.' 
Deut 6: 6, 7. He who is godly, is both a diamond and a loadstone: a 
diamond for the sparkling of his grace, and a loadstone for his 
attractive virtue in drawing others to the love of God's precepts. 
Vir bonus magis aliis prodest quam sibi [A good man benefits others 
more than himself]. You that are parents, discharge your duty. 
Though you cannot impart grace to your children, yet you may impart 
knowledge. Let your children know the commandments of God. 'Ye shall 
teach them your children.' Deut 11: 19. You are careful to leave 
your children a portion: leave the oracles of heaven with them; 
instruct them in the law of God. If God spake all these words, you 
may well speak them over again to your children. 
    (7) If God spake all these words, the moral law must be obeyed. 
If a king speaks, his word commands allegiance; much more, when God 
speaks, must his words be obeyed. Some will obey partially, obey 
some commandments, not others; like a slough, which, when it comes 
to a stiff piece of earth, makes a baulk; but God, who spake all the 
words of the moral law, will have all obeyed. He will not dispense 
with the breach of one law. Princes, indeed, for special reasons, 
sometimes dispense with penal statutes, and will not enforce the 
severity of the law; but God, who spake all these words, binds men 
with a subpoena to yield obedience to every law. 
    This condemns the church of Rome, which, instead of obeying the 
whole moral law, blots out one commandment, and dispenses with 
others. They leave the second commandment out of their catechism, 
because it makes against images; and to fill up the number of ten, 
they divide the tenth commandment into two. Thus, they incur that 
dreadful condemnation: 'If any man shall take away from the words of 
this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.' 
Rev 22: 19. As they blot out one commandment, and cut the knot which 
they cannot untie, so they dispense with other commandments. They 
dispense with the sixth commandment, making murder meritorious in 
case of propagating the Catholic cause. They dispense with the 
seventh commandment, wherein God forbids adultery; for the Pope 
dispenses with the sin of uncleanness, yea, incest, by paying fines 
and sums of money into his coffer. No wonder the Pope takes men off 
their loyalty to kings and princes, when he teaches them disloyalty 
to God. Some of the Papists say expressly in their writings, that 
the Pope has power to dispense with the laws of God, and can give 
men license to break the commandments of the Old and New Testament. 
That such a religion should ever again get foot in England, the Lord 
in mercy prevent! If God spake all the commandments, then we must 
obey all; he who breaks the hedge of the commandments, a serpent 
shall bite him. 
    But what man can obey all God's commandments? 
    To obey the law in a legal sense - to do all the law requires - 
no man can. Sin has cut the lock of original righteousness, where 
our strength lay; but, in a true gospel-sense, we may so obey the 
moral law as to find acceptance. This gospel obedience consists in a 
real endeavour to observe the whole moral law. 'I have done thy 
commandments' (Psa 119: 166); not, I have done all I should do, but 
I have done all I am able to do; and wherein my obedience comes 
short, I look up to the perfect righteousness and obedience of 
Christ, and hope for pardon through his blood. This is to obey the 
moral law evangelically; which, though it be not to satisfaction, 
yet it is to acceptation. 
    We come now to the preface itself, which consists of three 
parts: I. I am the Lord thy God'; II. 'which have brought thee out 
of the land of Egypt'; III. 'out of the house of bondage'. 
    I. I am the Lord thy God. Here we have a description of God; 
(1) By his essential greatness, 'I am the Lord;' (2) By his relative 
goodness, 'Thy God.' 
    [1] By his essential greatness, 'I am the Lord:' or, as it is 
in the Hebrew, JEHOVAH. By this great name God sets forth his 
majesty. Sanctius habitum fuit, says Buxtorf. The name of Jehovah 
was had in more reverence among the Jews than any other name of God. 
It signifies God's self-sufficiency, eternity, independence, and 
immutability. Mal. 3: 6. 
    Use one. If God be Jehovah, the fountain of being, who can do 
what he will, let us fear him. 'That thou mayest fear this glorious 
and fearful name, Jehovah.' Deut 28: 58. 
    Use two. If God be Jehovah, the supreme Lord, the blasphemous 
Papists are condemned who speak after this manner: 'Our Lord God the 
Pope.' Is it a wonder the Pope lifts his triple crown above the 
heads of kings and emperors, when he usurps God's title, 'showing 
himself that he is God'? 2 Thess 2: 4. He seeks to make himself Lord 
of heaven, for he will canonise saints there; Lord of earth, for 
with his keys he binds and looses whom he pleases; Lord of hell, for 
he frees men out of purgatory. God will pull down these plumes of 
pride; he will consume this man of sin 'with the breath of his 
mouth, and the brightness of his coming.' 2 Thess 2: 8. 
    [2] God is described by his relative goodness; 'thy God.' Had 
he called himself Jehovah only, it might have terrified us, and made 
us flee from him; but when he says, 'thy God,' it allures and draws 
us to him. This, though a preface to the law, is pure gospel. The 
word Eloeha, 'thy God,' is so sweet, that we can never suck all the 
honey out of it. 'I am thy God,' not only by creation, but by 
election. This word, 'thy God,' though it was spoken to Israel, is a 
charter which belongs to all the saints. For the further 
explanation, here are three questions. 
    How comes God to be our God? 
    Through Jesus Christ. Christ is a middle person in the Trinity. 
He is Emmanuel, 'God with us.' He brings two different parties 
together: makes our nature lovely to God, and God's nature lovely to 
us; by his death, causes friendship, yea, union; and brings us 
within the verge of the covenant, and thus God becomes our God. 
    What is implied by God being our God? 
    It is comprehensive of all good things. God is our strong 
tower; our fountain of living water; our salvation. More 
particularly, being our God implies the sweetest relations. 
    (1) The relation of a father. 'I will be a Father unto you;' 2 
Cor 6: 18. A father is full of tender care for his child. Upon whom 
does he settle the inheritance but his child? God being our God, 
will be a father to us; a 'Father of mercies,' 2 Cor 1: 3; 'The 
everlasting Father.' Isa 9: 6. If God be our God, we have a Father 
in heaven that never dies. 
    (2) It imports the relation of a husband. 'Thy Maker is thine 
husband.' Isa 54: 5. If God be our husband, he esteems us precious 
to him, as the apple of his eye. Zech 2: 8. He imparts his secrets 
to us. Psa 25: 14. He bestows a kingdom upon us for our dowry. Luke 
12: 32. 
    How may we know that by covenant union, God is our God? 
    (1) By having his grace planted in us. Kings' children are 
known by their costly jewels. It is not having common gifts which 
shows we belong to God; many have the gifts of God without God; but 
it is grace that gives us a true genuine title to God. In 
particular, faith is vinculum unionis, the grace of union, by which 
we may spell out our interest in God. Faith does not, as the 
mariner, cast its anchor downwards, but upwards; it trusts in the 
mercy and blood of God, and trusting in God, engages him to be our 
God. Other graces make us like God, faith makes us one with him. 
    (2) We may know God is our God by having the earnest of his 
Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor 1: 22. God often gives the purse to the 
wicked, but the Spirit only to such as he intends to make his heirs. 
Have we had the consecration of the Spirit? If we have not had the 
sealing work of the Spirit, have we had the healing work? 'Ye have 
an unction from the Holy One.' 1 John 2: 20. The Spirit, where it 
is, stamps the impress of its own holiness upon the heart; it 
embroiders and bespangles the soul, and makes it all glorious 
within. Have we had the attraction of the Spirit? 'Draw me, we will 
run after thee.' Cant 1: 4. Has the Spirit, by its magnetic virtue, 
drawn our hearts to God? Can we say, 'O thou whom my soul loveth?' 
Cant 1: 7. Is God our paradise of delight? our Segullah, or chief 
treasure! Are our hearts so chained to God that no other object can 
enchant us, or draw us away from him? Have we had the elevation of 
the Spirit? Has it raised our hearts above the world? 'The Spirit 
lifted me up.' Ezek 3:14. Has the Spirit made us, superna anhelare, 
seek the things above where Christ is? Though our flesh is on earth, 
is our heart in heaven? Though we live here, trade we above? Has the 
Spirit thus lifted us up? By this we may know that God is our God. 
Where God gives his Spirit for an earnest, there he gives himself 
for a portion. 
    (3) We may know God is our God, if he has given us the hearts 
of children. Have we obediential hearts? Psa 27: 8. Do we subscribe 
to God's commands when his commands cross our will? A true saint is 
like the flower of the sun, which opens and shuts with the sun: he 
opens to God, and shuts to sin. If we have the hearts of children, 
God is our Father. 
    (4) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in him, by 
standing up for his interest. We shall appear in his cause and 
vindicate his truth, wherein his glory is so much concerned. 
Athanasius was the bulwark of truth; he stood up for it, when most 
of the world were Asians. In former times the nobles of Polonia, 
when the gospel was read, laid their hands upon their swords, 
signifying that they were ready to defend the faith, and hazard 
their lives for the gospel. There is no better sign of having an 
interest in God than standing up for his interest. 
    (5) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in him, by 
his having an interest in us. 'My beloved is mine, and I am his.' 
Cant 2: 16. When God says to the soul, 'Thou art mine;' the soul 
answers, 'Lord, I am thine; all I have is at thy service; my head 
shall be thine to study for thee; my tongue shall be thine to praise 
thee.' If God be our God by way of donation, we are his by way of 
dedication; we live to him, and are more his than we are our own. 
Thus we may come to know that God is our God. 
    Use one. Above all things, let us get this great charter 
confirmed, that God is our God. Deity is not comfortable without 
propriety. Let us labour to get sound evidences that God is our God. 
We cannot call health, liberty, estate, ours; but let us be able to 
call God ours, and say as the church, 'God, even our own God, shall 
bless us.' Psa 67: 6. Let every soul labour to pronounce this 
Shibboleth, 'My God.' That we may endeavour to have God for our God, 
consider the misery of such as have not God for their God, in how 
sad a condition are they, when the hour of distress comes! This was 
Saul's case when he said 'I am sore distressed; for the Philistines 
make war against me, and God is departed from me.' 1 Sam 28: 15. A 
wicked man in time of trouble, is like a vessel tossed on the sea 
without an anchor, which strikes on rocks or sands. A sinner who has 
not God to be his God, may make a shift while health and estate 
last, but when these crutches on which he leaned are broken, his 
heart must sink. It is with him as it was with the old world when 
the flood came. The waters at first came to the valleys, but then 
the people would get to the hills and mountains; but when the waters 
came to the mountains, then there might be some trees on the high 
hills, and they would climb up to them; ay, but the waters rose 
above the tops of the trees; and then their hearts failed them, and 
all hopes of being saved were gone. So it is with a man that has not 
God to be his God. If one comfort be taken away, he has another; if 
he lose a child, he has an estate; but when the waters rise higher, 
death comes and takes away all, and he has nothing to help himself 
with, no God to go to, he must needs die in despair. How great a 
privilege it is to have God for our God! 'Happy is that people whose 
God is the Lord.' Psa 144: 15. Beatitudo hominis est Deus [Man's 
happiness is God himself]. Augustine. That you may see the privilege 
of this charter: - 
    (1) If God be our God, then though we may feel the stroke of 
evil, yet not the sting. He must needs be happy who is in such a 
condition, that nothing can hurt him. If he lose his name, it is 
written in the book of life; if he lose his liberty, his conscience 
is free; if he lose his estate, he is possessed of the pearl of 
price; if he meets with storms, he knows where to put in for 
harbour; God is his God, and heaven is his heaven. 
    (2) If God be our God, our soul is safe. The soul is the jewel, 
it is a blossom of eternity. 'I was grieved in my spirit in the 
midst of my body;' in the Chaldee, it is 'in the midst of my 
sheath.' Dan 7: 15. The body is but the sheath; the soul is the 
princely part of man, which sways the sceptre of reason; it is a 
celestial spark, as Damascene calls it. If God be our God, the soul 
is safe, as in a garrison. Death can do no more hurt to a virtuous 
heaven-born soul, than David did to Saul, when he cut off the skirt 
of his garment. The soul is safe, being hid in the promises; hid in 
the wounds of Christ; hid in God's decree. The soul is the pearl, 
and heaven is the cabinet where God will lock it up safe. 
    (3) If God be our God, then all that is in God is ours. The 
Lord says to a saint in covenant, as the king of Israel to the king 
of Syria, 'I am thine, and all that I have.' I Kings 20: 4. So saith 
God, 'I am thine:' how happy is he who not only inherits the gift of 
God, but inherits God himself! All that I have shall be thine; my 
wisdom shall be thine to teach thee; my power shall be thine to 
support thee; my mercy shall be thine to save thee. God is an 
infinite ocean of blessedness, and there is enough in him to fill 
us: as if a thousand vessels were thrown into the sea, there is 
enough in the sea to fill them. 
    (4) If God be our God, he will entirely love us. Property is 
the ground of love. God may give men kingdoms, and not love them; 
but he cannot be our God, and not love us. He calls his covenanted 
saints, Jediduth Naphshi, 'The dearly beloved of my soul.' Jer 12: 
7. He rejoiceth over them with joy, and rests in his love. Zeph 3: 
17. They are his refined silver (Zech 13: 9); his jewels (Mal 3: 
17); his royal diadem (Isa 62: 3). He gives them the cream and 
flower of his love. He not only opens his hand and fills them, but 
opens his heart and fills them. Psa 145: 16. 
    (5) If God be our God, he will do more for us than all the 
world besides can. What is that? [1] He will give us peace in 
trouble. When there is a storm without, he will make music within. 
The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in 
trouble. He will send the Comforter, who, as a dove, brings an 
olive-branch of peace in his mouth. John 14: 16. [2] God will give 
us a crown of immortality. The world can give a crown of gold, but 
that crown has thorns in it and death in it; but God will give you a 
crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Pet. 5: 4. The garland made 
of the flowers of paradise never withers. 
    (6) If God be our God, he will bear with many infirmities. He 
may respite sinners awhile, but long forbearance is no acquittance; 
he will throw them to hell for their sins; but if he be our God, he 
will not for every failing destroy us; he bears with his spouse as 
with the weaker vessel. He may chastise. Psa 89: 32. He may use the 
rod and the pruning-knife, but not the bloody axe. 'He has not 
beheld iniquity in Jacob.' Numb 23: 21. He will not see sin in his 
people so as to destroy them, but their sins so as to pity them. He 
sees them as a physician a disease in his patient, to heal him. 'I 
have seen his ways, and will heal him.' Isa 57: 18. Every failing 
does not break the marriage-bond asunder. The disciples had great 
failings, they all forsook Christ and fled; but this did not break 
off their interest in God; therefore, says Christ, at his ascension, 
'Tell my disciples, I go to my God and to their God.' 
    (7) If God be once our God, he is so for ever. 'This God is our 
God for ever and ever.' Psa 48: 14. Whatever worldly comforts we 
have, they are but for a season, and we must part with all. Heb 11: 
25. As Paul's friends accompanied him to the ship, and there left 
him (Acts 20: 38), so all our earthly comforts will but go with us 
to the grave, and there leave us. You cannot say you have health, 
and shall have it for ever; you have a child, and shall have it for 
ever; but if God be your God, you shall have him for ever. 'This God 
is our God for ever and ever.' If God be our God, he will be a God 
to us as long as he is a God. 'Ye have taken away my gods,' said 
Micah. Judges 18: 14. But it cannot be said to a believer, that his 
God is taken away; He may lose all things else, but cannot lose his 
God. God is ours from everlasting in election, and to everlasting in 
    (8) If God be our God, we shall enjoy all our godly relations 
with him in heaven. The great felicity on earth is to enjoy 
relations. A father sees his own picture in a child; and a wife sees 
herself in her husband. We plant the flower of love among our 
relations, and the loss of them is like the pulling off a limb from 
the body. But if God be ours, with the enjoyment of God we shall 
enjoy all our pious relations in glory. The gracious child shall see 
his godly father, the virtuous wife shall see her religious husband 
in Christ's arms; and then there will be a dearer love to relations 
than there ever was before, though in a far different manner; then 
relations shall meet and never part. 'And so shall we be ever with 
the Lord.' 
    Use two. To such as can realise this covenant union we have 
several exhortations. 
    (1) If God be our God, let us improve our interest in him, let 
us cast all our burdens upon him: the burden of our fears, our wants 
and our sins. 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord.' Psa 55: 22. Wicked 
men who are a burden to God have no right to cast their burden upon 
him; but such as have God for their God are called upon to cast 
their burden on him. Where should the child ease all its cares but 
in the bosom of its parent? 'Let all thy wants lie upon me.' Judges 
19: 20. So God seems to say to his children, 'Let all your wants lie 
upon me.' Christian, what troubles thee? Thou hast a God to pardon 
thy sins and to supply thy wants; therefore roll your burden on him. 
'Casting all your care upon him.' 1 Pet 5: 7. Why are Christians so 
disquieted in their minds? They are taking care when they should be 
casting care. 
    (2) If God be our God, let us learn to be contented, though we 
have the less of other things. Contentment is a rare jewel, it is 
the cure of care. If we have God to be our God, well may we be 
contented. 'I know whom I have believed.' 2 Tim 1: I2. There was 
Paul's interest in God. 'As having nothing, and yet possessing all 
things.' 2 Cor 6: 10. Here was his content. That such who have 
covenant-union with God may be filled with contentment of spirit, 
consider what a rich blessing God is to the soul. 
    He is bonum sufficiens, a sufficient good. He who has God has 
enough. If a man be thirsty, bring him to a spring, and he is 
satisfied; in God there is enough to fill the heaven-born soul. He 
gives 'grace and glory.' Psa 84: 11. There is in God not only a 
sufficiency, but a redundancy; he is not only full as a vessel, but 
as a spring. Other things can no more fill the soul than a mariner's 
breath can fill the sails of a ship; but in God there is a 
cornucopia, an infinite fulness; he has enough to fill the angels, 
therefore enough to fill us. The heart is a triangle, which only the 
Trinity can fill. 
    God is bonum sanctificans, a sanctifying good. He sanctifies 
all our comforts and turn them into blessings. Health is blessed, 
estate is blessed. He gives with the venison a blessing. 'I will 
abundantly bless her provision.' Psa 132: 15. He gives us the life 
we have, tanquam arrhabo, as an earnest of more. He gives the little 
meal in the barrel as an earnest of the royal feast in paradise. He 
sanctifies all our crosses. They shall not be destructive 
punishments, but medicines; they shall corrode and eat out the venom 
of sin; they shall polish and refine our grace. The more the diamond 
is cut, the more it sparkles. When God stretches the strings of his 
viol, it is to make the music better. 
    God is bonum selectum, a choice good. All things, sub sole, are 
but bona scabelli, as Augustine says, the blessings of the 
footstool, but to have God himself to be ours, is the blessing of 
the throne. Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines, but he 
settled the inheritance upon Isaac. 'Abraham gave all that he had to 
Isaac.' Gen 25: 5. God may send away the men of the world with 
gifts, a little gold and silver; but in giving us himself, he gives 
us the very essence, his grace, his love, his kingdom: here is the 
crowning blessing. 
    God is bonum summum, the chief good. In the chief good there 
must be delectability; it must have something that is delicious and 
sweet: and where can we suck those pure essential comforts, which 
ravish us with delight, but in God? In Deo quadam dulcedine 
delectatur anima, immo rapitur [In God's character there is a 
certain sweetness which fascinates or rather enraptures the soul]. 
'At thy right hand there are pleasures.' Psa 16: 11: In the chief 
good there must be transcendence, it must have a surpassing 
excellence. Thus God is infinitely better than all other things. It 
is below the Deity to compare other things with it. Who would weigh 
a feather against a mountain of gold? God is fons et origo, the 
spring of all entities, and the cause is more noble than the effect. 
It is God that bespangles the creation, that puts light into the 
sun, that fills the veins of the earth with silver. Creatures do but 
maintain life, God gives life. He infinitely outshines all sublunary 
glory. He is better than the soul, than angels, and than heaven. In 
the chief good, there must be not only fulness, but variety. Where 
variety is wanting we are apt to nauseate. To feed only on honey 
would breed loathing; but in God is all variety of fulness. Col 1: 
19. He is a universal good, commensurate to all our wants. He is 
bonum in quo omnia bona [the good in which is every good], a son, a 
portion, a horn of salvation. He is called the 'God of all comfort.' 
2 Cor 1: 3. There is a complication of all beauties and delights in 
him. Health has not the comfort of beauty, nor beauty of riches, nor 
riches of wisdom; but God is the God of all comfort. In the chief 
good there must be eternity. God is a treasure that can neither be 
drawn low, nor drawn dry. Though the angels are continually spending 
what is his, he can never be spent; he abides for ever. Eternity is 
a flower of his crown. Now, if God be our God, there is enough to 
let full contentment into our souls. What need we of torchlight, if 
we have the sun? What if God deny the flower, if he has given us the 
jewel? How should a Christian's heart rest on this rock! If we say 
God is our God, and we are not content, we have cause to question 
our interest in him. 
    (3) If we can clear up this covenant-union, that God is our 
God, let it cheer and revive us in all conditions. To be content 
with God is not enough, but to be cheerful. What greater cordial can 
you have than union with Deity? When Jesus Christ was ready to 
ascend, he could not leave a richer consolation with his disciples 
than this, 'I ascend to my God and to your God.' John 20: 17. Who 
should rejoice, if not they who have an infinite, all-sufficient, 
eternal God to be their portion, who are as rich as heaven can make 
them? What though I want health? I have God who is the health of my 
countenance, and my God. Psa 42: 11. What though I am low in the 
world? If I have not the earth, I have him that made it. The 
philosopher comforted himself by saying, 'Though I have no music or 
vine-trees, yet here are the household gods with me;' so, though we 
have not the vine or fig-tree, yet we have God with us. I cannot be 
poor, says Bernard, as long as God is rich; for his riches are mine. 
O let the saints rejoice in this covenant-union! To say God is ours, 
is more than to say heaven is ours, for heaven would not be heaven 
without him. All the stars cannot make day without the sun; all the 
angels, those morning stars, cannot make heaven without Christ the 
Sun of Righteousness. And as to have God for our God, is matter of 
rejoicing in life, so especially it will be at death. Let a 
Christian think thus, I am going to my God. A child is glad when he 
is going home to his father. It was Christ's comfort when he was 
leaving the world, 'I ascend to my God.' John 20: 17. And this is a 
believer's deathbed cordial, 'I am going to my God; I shall change 
my place, but not my kindred; I go to my God and my Father.' 
    (4) If God be our God, let us break forth into praise. 'Thou 
art my God, and I will praise thee.' Psa 118: 28. Oh, infinite, 
astonishing mercy, that God should take dust and ashes into so near 
a bond of love as to be our God! As Micah said, 'What have I more?' 
Judges 18: 24. So, what has God more? What richer jewel has he to 
bestow upon us than himself? What has he more? That God should put 
off most of the world with riches and honour, that he should pass 
over himself to us by a deed of gift, to be our God, and by virtue 
of this settle a kingdom upon us! O let us praise him with the best 
instrument, the heart; and let this instrument be screwed up to the 
highest pitch. Let us praise him with our whole heart. See how David 
rises by degrees. 'Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, and shout for 
joy.' Psa 32: 11. Be glad, there is thankfulness; rejoice, there is 
cheerfulness; shout, there is triumph. Praise is called incense, 
because it is a sweet sacrifice. Let the saints be choristers in 
God's praises. The deepest springs yield the sweetest water; the 
more deeply sensible we are of God's covenant-love to us, the 
sweeter praises we should yield. We should begin here to eternise 
God's name, and do that work on earth which we shall be always doing 
in heaven. 'While I live will I praise the Lord.' Psa 146: 2. 
    (5) Let us carry ourselves as those who have God to be our God; 
that is, walk so that others may see there is something of God in 
us. Live homily. What have we to do with sin, which if it does not 
break, will weaken our interest? 'What have I to do any more with 
idols?' Hos 14: 8. So would a Christian say, 'God is my God; what 
have I to do any more with sin, with lust, pride, malice! Bid me 
commit sin! As well bid me drink poison. Shall I forfeit my interest 
in God? Let me rather die than willingly offend him who is the crown 
of my joy, the God of my salvation.' 
    II. Which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Egypt and 
the house of bondage are the same; only they are represented to us 
under different expressions. The first expression is, 'Which have 
brought thee out of the land of Egypt.' 
    Why does the Lord mention the deliverance of Israel out of 
    (1) Because of the strangeness of the deliverance. God 
delivered his people Israel by strange signs and wonders, by sending 
plague after plague upon Pharaoh, blasting the fruits of the earth, 
and killing all the first-born in Egypt. Exod 12: 29. When Israel 
marched out of Egypt, God made the waters of the sea to part, and 
become a wall to his people, while they went on dry ground; and he 
made the same sea a causeway to Israel, and a grave to Pharaoh and 
his chariots. Well might the Lord make mention of this strange 
deliverance. He wrought miracle upon miracle for the deliverance of 
that people. 
    (2) God mentions Israel's deliverance out of Egypt because of 
the greatness of the deliverance. He delivered Israel from the 
pollutions of Egypt. Egypt was a bad air to live in, it was infected 
with idolatry; the Egyptians were gross idolaters; they were guilty 
of that which the apostle speaks of in Rom 1: 23. 'They changed the 
glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to 
corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping 
things.' The Egyptians, instead of the true God, worshipped 
corruptible man; they deified their king Apis, forbidding all, under 
pain of death, to say that he was a man. They worshipped birds, as 
the hawk. They worshipped beasts, as the ox. They made the image of 
a beast to be their god. They worshipped creeping things, as the 
crocodile, and the Indian mouse. God mentions it therefore as a 
signal favour to Israel, that he brought them out of such an 
idolatrous country. 'I brought thee out of the land of Egypt.' 
    The thing I would note is, that it is no small blessing to be 
delivered from places of idolatry. God speaks of it no less than ten 
times in the Old Testament, 'I brought you out of the land of 
Egypt;' an idolatrous place. Had there been no iron furnace in 
Egypt, yet so many altars being there, and false gods, it was a 
great privilege to Israel to be delivered out of Egypt. Joshua 
reckons it among the chief and most memorable mercies of God to 
Abraham, that he brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, where 
Abraham's ancestors served strange gods. Josh 24: 2, 3. It is well 
for the plant that is set in a bad soil, to be transplanted to a 
better, where it may grow and flourish; so it is a mercy when any 
who are planted among idolaters, are removed and transplanted into 
Zion, where the silver drops of God's word make them grow in 
    Wherein does it appear to be so great a blessing to be 
delivered from places of idolatry? 
    (1) It is a great mercy, because our nature is prone to 
idolatry. Israel began to be defiled with the idols of Egypt. Ezek 
22: 3. Dry wood is not more prone to take fire than our nature is to 
idolatry. The Jews made cakes to the queen of heaven, that is, to 
the moon. Jer 7: 15. 
    Why is it that we are prone to idolatry? 
    Because we are led much by visible objects, and love to have 
our senses pleased. Men naturally fancy a god that they may see; 
though it be such a god that cannot see them, yet they would see it. 
The true God is invisible; which makes the idolater worship 
something that he can see. 
    (2) It is a mercy to be delivered from idolatrous places, 
because of the greatness of the sin of idolatry, which is giving 
that glory to an image which is due to God. All divine worship God 
appropriates to himself; it is a flower of his crown. The fat of the 
sacrifice is claimed by him. Lev 3: 3. Divine worship is the fat of 
the sacrifice, which he reserves for himself. The idolater devotes 
this worship to an idol, which the Lord will by no means endure. 'My 
glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven 
images.' Isa 42: 8. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. 'With their 
idols have they committed adultery.' Ezek 23: 37. To worship any 
other than God, is to break wedlock, and makes the Lord disclaim his 
interest in a people. 'Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not 
my wife.' Hos 2: 2. 'Thy people have corrupted themselves;' no more 
my people, but thy people. Exod 32: 7. God calls idolatry, 
blasphemy. 'In this your fathers have blasphemed me.' Idolatry is 
devil worship. Ezek 20: 27, 31. 'They sacrificed unto devils, not to 
God; to new gods.' Deut 32: 17. These new gods were old devils. 'And 
they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils.' Lev 17: 7. 
The Hebrew word La-sairim, is the hairy ones, because the devils 
were hairy, and appeared in the forms of satyrs and goats. How 
dreadful a sin is idolatry; and what a signal mercy is it to be 
snatched out of an idolatrous place, as Lot was snatched by the 
angels out of Sodom! 
    (3) It is a mercy to be delivered out of idolatrous places, 
because idolatry is such a silly and irrational religion. I may say, 
as Jer 8: 9: 'What wisdom is in them?' Is it not folly to refuse the 
best, and choose the worst? The trees in the field of Jotham's 
parable, despised the vine-tree, which cheers both God and man, and 
the olive which is full of fatness, and the fig-tree which is full 
of sweetness, and chose the bramble to reign over them - which was a 
foolish choice. Judg 9. So it is for us to refuse the living God, 
who has power to save us, and to make choice of an idol, that has 
eyes and sees not, feet but walks not. Psa 115: 6, 7. What a prodigy 
of madness is this? Therefore to be delivered from committing such 
folly is a mercy. 
    (4) It is a mercy to be delivered from idolatrous places, 
because of the sad judgements inflicted upon idolaters. This is a 
sin which enrages God, and makes the fury come up in his face. Ezek 
38: 18. Search through the whole book of God, and you shall find no 
sin he has followed with more plagues than idolatry. 'Their sorrows 
shall be multiplied that hasten after another god.' Psa 16: 4. 'They 
moved him to jealousy with their graven images.' Psa 78: 58. 'When 
God heard this he was wrath, and greatly abhorred Israel; so that he 
forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh.' Verses 59, 60. Shiloh was a city 
belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, where God set his name. Jer 7: 
12. But, for their idolatry, God forsook the place, gave his people 
up to the sword, caused his priests to be slain, and his ark to be 
carried away captive, never more to be returned. How severe was God 
against Israel for worshipping the golden calf! Exod 32: 27. The 
Jews say, that in every misery that befalls them, there is uncia 
aurei vituli, 'an ounce of the golden calf in it.' 'Come out of her, 
my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive 
not of her plagues.' Rev. 18: 4. Idolatry, lived in, cuts men off 
from heaven. 1 Cor 6: 9. So then it is no small mercy to be 
delivered out of idolatrous places. 
    Use one. See the goodness of God to our nation, in bringing us 
out of mystic Egypt, delivering us from popery, which is Romish 
idolatry, and causing the light of his truth to break forth 
gloriously among us. In former times, and more lately in the Marian 
days, England was overspread with idolatry. It worshipped God after 
a false manner; and it is idolatry, not only to worship a false god, 
but the true God in a false manner. Such was our case formerly; we 
had purgatory, indulgences, the idolatrous mass, the Scriptures 
locked up in an unknown tongue, invocation of saints and angels, and 
image-worship. Images are teachers of lies. Hab 2: 18. Wherein do 
they teach lies? They represent God, who cannot be seen, in a bodily 
shape. 'Ye saw no similitude, only ye heard a voice.' Deut 4: 12. 
Quod invisibile est, pingi non potest. Ambrose. God cannot be 
pictured by any finger; not the soul even, being a spirit, much less 
God. 'To whom then will ye liken God?' Isa 40: 18. The Papists say 
they worship God by the image; which is a great absurdity, for if it 
be absurd to fall down to the picture of a king when the king 
himself is present, much more to bow down to the image of God when 
God himself is present. Jer 23: 24. What is the popish religion but 
a bundle of ridiculous ceremonies? Their wax, flowers, pyres, agnus 
Dei, cream and oil, beads, crucifixes; what are these but Satan's 
policy, to dress up a carnal worship, fitted to carnal minds? Oh! 
what cause have we to bless God for delivering us from popery! It 
was a mercy to be delivered from the Spanish invasion, and the 
powder treason; but it is a far greater to be delivered from the 
popish religion, which would have made God give us a bill of 
    Use two. If it be a great blessing to be delivered from the 
Egypt of popish idolatry, it shows the sin and folly of those who, 
being brought out of Egypt, are willing to return to it again. The 
apostle says, 'Flee from idolatry.' 1 Cor 10: 14. But these rather 
flee to idolatry; and are herein like the people of Israel, who, 
notwithstanding all the idolatry and tyranny of Egypt, longed to go 
back to Egypt. 'Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt.' 
Numb 14: 4. But how shall they go back into Egypt? How shall they 
have food in the wilderness? Will God rain down man any more upon 
such rebels? How will they get over the Red Sea? Will God divide the 
water again by miracle, for such as leave his service, and go into 
idolatrous Egypt? Yet they say, 'Let us make a captain.' And are 
there not such spirits among us, who say, 'Let us make a captain and 
go back to the Romish Egypt again'? If we do, what shall we get by 
it? I am afraid the leeks and onions of Egypt will make us sick. Do 
we ever suppose that, if we drink in the cup of fornication, we 
shall drink in the cup of salvation? Oh! that any should so forfeit 
their reason, as to enslave themselves to the see of Rome; that they 
should be willing to hold a candle to a mass-priest, and bow down to 
a strange God! Let us not say we will make a captain, but rather say 
as Ephraim, 'What have I to do any more with idols?' Hos 14: 8. 
    Use three. If it be a mercy to be brought out of Egypt, it is 
not desirable or safe to plant one's self in an idolatrous place, 
where it may be a capital crime to be seen with a Bible in our 
hands. Some, for secular gain, thrust themselves among idolaters, 
and think there is no danger to live where Satan's seat is. They 
pray God would not lead them into temptation, but led themselves. 
They are in great danger of being polluted. It is hard to be as the 
fish, which keeps fresh in salt waters. A man cannot dwell among 
blackamoors, but he will be discoloured. You will sooner be 
corrupted by idolaters, than they will be converted by you. Joseph 
got no good by living in an idolatrous court; he did not teach 
Pharaoh to pray, but Pharaoh taught him to swear. They 'were mingled 
among the heathen, and served their idols.' Psalm 106: 35, 36. I 
fear it has been the undoing of many; that they have seated 
themselves amongst idolaters, for advancing their trade, and at last 
have not only traded with them in their commodities, but in their 

Watson, The Ten Commandments
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