Thomas Watson
The Ten Commandments
File 9
(... continued from file 8)

    (9) God shows his mercy in sanctifying us. 'I am the Lord which 
sanctify you.' Lev 20: 8. This is the partaking of the divine 
nature. 2 Pet 1: 4. God's Spirit is a spirit of consecration; though 
it sanctify us but in part, yet it is in every part. 1 Thess 5: 23. 
It is such a mercy that God cannot give it in anger. If we are 
sanctified, we are elected. 'God has chosen you to salvation through 
sanctification.' 2 Thess 2: 13. This prepares for happiness, as the 
seed prepares for harvest. When the virgins had been anointed and 
perfumed, they were to stand before the king (Esth 2: 12); SO, when 
we have had the anointing of God, we shall stand before the King of 
    (10) God shows mercy in hearing our prayers. 'Have mercy upon 
me, and hear my prayer.' Psa 4: 1. Is it not a favour, when a man 
puts up a petition to the king, to have it granted? So when we pray 
for pardon, adoption, and the sense of God's love, it is a signal 
mercy to have a gracious answer. God may delay an answer, and yet 
not deny. You do not throw a musician money at once, because you 
love to hear his music. God loves the music of prayer, but does not 
always let us hear from him at once; but in due season gives an 
answer of peace. 'Blessed be God, which has not turned away my 
prayer, nor his mercy from me.' Psa 66: 20. If God does not turn 
away our prayer, he does not turn away his mercy. 
    (11) God shows mercy in saving us. 'According to his mercy he 
saved us.' Titus 3: 5. This is the top-stone of mercy, and it is 
laid in heaven. Here mercy displays itself in all its orient 
colours. Mercy is mercy indeed, when God perfectly refines us from 
all the lees and dregs of corruption; when our bodies are made like 
Christ's glorious body, and our souls like the angels. Saving mercy 
is crowning mercy. It is not merely to be freed from hell, but 
enthroned in a kingdom. In this life we desire God, rather than 
enjoy him; but what rich mercy will it be to be fully possessed of 
him, to see his smiling face, and to lay us in his bosom! This will 
fill us with 'joy unspeakable and full of glory.' 1 Peter 1: 8. 'I 
shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.' Psa 17: 15. 
    Use one. Let us not despair. What an encouragement we have here 
to serve God. He shows mercy to thousands. Who would not be willing 
to serve a prince who is given to mercy and clemency? God is 
represented with a rainbow round about him, as an emblem of his 
mercy. Rev 4: 3. Acts of severity are forced from God; judgement is 
his strange work. Isa 28: 21. The disciples, who are not said to 
wonder at the other miracles of Christ, did wonder when the fig-tree 
was cursed and withered, because it was not his manner to put forth 
acts of severity. God is said to delight in mercy. Mic 7: 18. 
Justice is God's left hand: mercy is his right hand. He uses his 
right hand most; he is more used to mercy than to justice. Pronior 
est Deus ad parcendum quam ad puniendum [God is more inclined to 
mercy than to punishment]. God is said to be slow to anger (Psa 103: 
8), but ready to forgive. Psa 86: 5. This may encourage us to serve 
him. What argument will prevail, if mercy will not? Were God all 
justice, it might frighten us from him, but his mercy is a loadstone 
to draw us to him. 
    Use two. Hope in God's mercies. 'The Lord taketh pleasure in 
them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.' Psa 147: 11. 
He counts it his glory to scatter pardons among men. 
    But I have been a great sinner and sure there is no mercy for 
    Not if thou goest on in sin, and art so resolved; but, if thou 
wilt break off thy sins, the golden sceptre of mercy shall be held 
forth to thee. 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and let him return 
unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him.' Isa 55: 7. Christ's 
blood is 'a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.' Zech 13: 
1. Mercy more overflows in God, than sin in us. His mercy can drown 
great sins, as the sea covers great rocks. Some of the Jews who had 
their hands imbrued in Christ's blood, were saved by that blood. God 
loves to magnify his goodness, to display the trophies of free 
grace, and to set up his mercy in spite of sin. Therefore, hope in 
his mercy. 
    Use three. Labour to know that God's mercy is for you. He is 
'the God of my mercy.' Psa. 59: 17. A man who was being drowned, 
seeing a rainbow, said, 'What am I the better, though God will not 
drown the world, if I am drowned?' So, what are we the better, 
though God is merciful, if we perish? Let us labour to know God's 
special mercy is for us. 
    How shall we know it belongs to us? 
    (1) If we put a high value and estimate upon it. He will not 
throw away his mercy on them that slight it. We prize health, but we 
prize adopting mercy more. This is the diamond ring; it outshines 
all other comforts. 
    (2) If we fear God, if we have a reverend awe upon us, if we 
tremble at sin, and flee from it, as Moses did from his rod turned 
into a serpent. 'His mercy is on them that fear him.' Luke 1: 50. 
    (3) If we take sanctuary in God's mercy, we trust in it as a 
man saved by catching hold of a cable. God's mercy to us is a cable 
let down from heaven. By taking fast hold of this by faith, we are 
saved. 'I trust in the mercy of God for ever.' Psa 52: 8. As a man 
trusts his life and goods in a garrison, so we trust our souls in 
God's mercy. 
    How shall we get a share in God's special mercy? 
    (1) If we would have mercy, it must be through Christ. Out of 
Christ no mercy is to be had. We read in the old law, that none 
might come unto the holy of holies, where the mercy-seat stood, but 
the high-priest: to signify that we have nothing to do with mercy 
but through Christ our High-priest; that the high-priest might not 
come near the mercy-seat without blood, to show that we have no 
right to mercy, but through the expiatory sacrifice of Christ's 
blood, Lev 16: 14; that the high-priest might not, upon pain of 
death, come near the mercy-seat without incense, Lev 16: 13, to show 
that there is no mercy from God without the incense of Christ's 
intercession. If we would have mercy, we must get a part in Christ. 
Mercy swims to us through Christ's blood. 
    (2) If we would have mercy, we must pray for it. 'Show us thy 
mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.' Psa 85: 7. 'Turn thee 
unto me, and have mercy upon me.' Psa 25: 16. Lord, put me not off 
with common mercy; give me not only mercy to feed and clothe me, but 
mercy to pardon me; not only sparing mercy, but saving mercy. Lord, 
give me the cream of thy mercies; let me have mercy and loving 
kindness. 'Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender 
mercies.' Psa 103: 4. Be earnest suitors for mercy; let your wants 
quicken your importunity. We pray most fervently when we pray most 
    VI. Of them that love me. 
    God's mercy is for them that love him. Love is a grace that 
shines and sparkles in his eye, as the precious stone upon Aaron's 
breastplate. Love is a holy expansion or enlargement of soul, by 
which it is carried with delight after God, as the chief good. 
Aquinas defines love - Complacentia amantis in amato; a complacent 
delight in God, as our treasure. Love is the soul of religion; it is 
a momentous grace. If we had knowledge as the angels, or faith of 
miracles, yet without love it would profit nothing. 1 Cor 13: 2. 
Love is 'the first and great commandment.' Matt. 22: 38. It is so, 
because, if it be wanting, there can be no religion in the heart; 
there can be no faith, for faith works by love. Gal 5: 6. All else 
is but pageantry, or a devout compliment. It meliorates and sweetens 
all the duties of religion, it makes them savoury meat, without 
which God cares not to taste them. It is the first and great 
commandment, in respect of the excellence of this grace. Love is the 
queen of graces; it outshines all others, as the sun the lesser 
planets. In some respects it is more excellent than faith; though in 
one sense faith is more excellent, virtute unionis, as it unites us 
to Christ. It puts upon us the embroidered robe of Christ's 
righteousness, which is brighter than any the angels wear. In 
another sense it is more excellent, respectu durationis, in respect 
of the continuance of it: it is the most durable grace; as faith and 
hope will shortly cease, but love will remain. When all other 
graces, like Rachel, shall die in travail, love shall revive. The 
other graces are in the nature of a lease, for the term of life 
only; but love is a freehold that continues for ever. Thus love 
carries away the garland from all other graces, it is the most 
long-lived grace, it is a bud of eternity. This grace alone will 
accompany us in heaven. 
    How must our love to God be characterised? 
    (1) Love to God must be pure and genuine. He must be loved 
chiefly for himself; which the schoolmen call amor amicitiae. We 
must love God, not only for his benefits, but for those intrinsic 
excellencies with which he is crowned. We must love God not only for 
the good which flows from him, but for the good which is in him. 
True love is not mercenary, he who is deeply in love with God, needs 
not be hired with rewards, he cannot but love God for the beauty of 
his holiness; though it is not unlawful to look for benefits. Moses 
had an eye to the recompense of reward (Heb 11: 26); but we must not 
love God for his benefits only, for then it is not love of God, but 
    (2) Love to God must be with all the heart. 'Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart.' Mark 12: 30. We must not love 
God a little, give him a drop or two of our love; but the main 
stream must flow to him. The mind must think of God, the will choose 
him, the affections pant after him. The true mother would not have 
the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided. We must love 
him with our whole heart. Though we may love the creature, yet it 
must be a subordinate love. Love to God must be highest, as oil 
swims above the water. 
    (3) Love to God must be flaming. To love coldly is the same as 
not to love. The spouse is said to be amore perculsa, 'sick of 
love.' Cant 2: 5. The seraphim are so called from their burning 
love. Love turns saints into seraphim; it makes them burn in holy 
love to God. Many waters cannot quench this love. 
    How may we know whether we love God? 
    (1) He who loves God desires his presence. Lovers cannot be 
long asunder, they soon have their fainting fits, for want of a 
sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love with God 
desires the enjoyment of him in his ordinances, in word, prayer, and 
sacraments. David was ready to faint away and die when he had not a 
sight of God. 'My soul fainteth for God.' Psa 84: 2. Such as care 
not for ordinances, but say, When will the Sabbath be over? plainly 
discover want of love to God. 
    (2) He who loves God, does not love sin. 'Ye that love the 
Lord, hate evil.' Psa 97: 10. The love of God, and the love of sin, 
can no more mix together than iron and clay. Every sin loved, 
strikes at the being of God; but he who loves God, has an antipathy 
against sin. He who would part two lovers is a hateful person. God 
and the believing soul are two lovers; sin parts between them, 
therefore the soul is implacably set against it. By this try your 
love to God. How could Delilah say she loved Samson, when she 
entertained correspondence with the Philistine, who were his mortal 
enemies? How can he say he loves God who loves sin, which is God's 
    (3) He who loves God is not much in love with anything else. 
His love is very cool to worldly things. His love to God moves 
swiftly, as the sun in the firmament; to the world it moves slowly, 
as the sun on the dial. The love of the world eats out the heart of 
religion; it chokes good affections, as earth puts out the fire. The 
world was a dead thing to Paul. 'The world is crucified unto me and 
I to the world.' Gal 6: 14. In Paul we may see both the picture and 
pattern of a mortified man. He that loves God, uses the world but 
chooses God. The world is his pension, but God is his portion. Psa 
119: 57. The world engages him, but God delights and satisfies him. 
He says as David, 'God my exceeding joy,' the gladness or cream of 
my joy. Psa 43: 4. 
    (4) He who loves God cannot live without him. Things we love we 
cannot be without. A man can do without music or flowers, but not 
food; so a soul deeply in love with God looks upon himself as undone 
without him. 'Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like them that go 
down into the pit.' Psa 143: 7. He says as Job, 'I went mourning 
without the sun;' chap. 30: 28. I have starlight, I want the Sun of 
Righteousness; I enjoy not the sweet presence of my God. Is God our 
chief good, and we cannot live without him? Alas! how do they show 
they have no love to God who can do well enough without him! Let 
them have but corn and oil, and you shall never hear them complain 
of the want of God. 
    (5) He who loves God will be at any pains to get him. What 
pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich 
return from the Indies! Extremos currit mercator ad Indos [The 
merchant races to the farthest Indies]. Jacob loved Rachel, and he 
could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might 
enjoy her. A soul that loves God will take any pains for the 
fruition of him. 'My soul followeth hard after thee.' Psa 63: 8. 
Love is pondus animae [the pendulum of the soul]. Augustine. It is 
as the weight which sets the clock going. It is much in prayer, 
weeping, fasting; it strives as in agony, that he may obtain him 
whom his soul loves. Plutarch reports of the Gauls, an ancient 
people of France, that after they had tasted the sweet wine of 
Italy, they never rested till they had arrived at that country. He 
who is in love with God, never rests till he has a part in him. 'I 
will seek him whom my soul loveth.' Cant 3: 2. How can they say they 
love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain him? 
'A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom.' Prov 19: 24. He is 
not in agony, but lethargy. If Christ and salvation would drop as a 
ripe fig into his mouth, he would be content to have them; but he is 
loath to put himself to too much trouble. Does he love his friend, 
who will not undertake a journey to see him? 
    (6) He who loves God, prefers him before estate and life. [1] 
Before estate. 'For whom I have suffered the loss of all things.' 
Phil 3: 8. Who that loves a rich jewel would not part with a flower 
for it? Galeacius, marquis of Vico, parted with a fair estate to 
enjoy God in his pure ordinances. When a Jesuit persuaded him to 
return to his popish religion in Italy, promising him a large sum of 
money, he said, 'Let their money perish with them who esteem all the 
gold in the world worth one day's communion with Jesus Christ and 
his Holy Spirit.' [2] Before life. 'They loved not their lives unto 
the death.' Rev 12: 2: Love to God carries the soul above the love 
of life and the fear of death. 
    (7) He who loves God loves his favourites, the saints. 1 John 
5: 1. Idem est motus animi in imaginem et rem [The mind reacts to 
the likeness of an object just as it does to the object itself]. To 
love a man for his grace, and the more we see of God in him, the 
more we love him, is an infallible sign of love to God. The wicked 
pretend to love God, but hate and persecute his image. Does he love 
his prince who abuses his statue, or tears his picture? They seem 
indeed to show great reverence to saints departed; they have great 
reverence for St. Paul, and St. Stephen, and St. Luke; they canonise 
dead saints, but persecute living saints; and do they love God? Can 
it be imagined that he loves God who hates his children because they 
are like him? If Christ were alive again, he would not escape a 
second persecution. 
    (8) If we love God we cannot but be fearful of dishonouring 
him, as the more a child loves his father the more he is afraid to 
displease him, and we weep and mourn when we have offended him. 
'Peter went out and wept bitterly.' Matt 26: 75. Peter might well 
think that Christ dearly loved him when he took him up to the mount 
where he was transfigured, and showed him the glory of heaven in a 
vision. That he should deny Christ after he had received such signal 
tokens of his love, broke his heart with grief 'He wept bitterly.' 
Are our eyes dropping tears of grief for sin against God? It is a 
blessed evidence of our love to God; and such shall find mercy. 'He 
shows mercy to thousands of them that love him. 
    Use. Let us be lovers of God. We love our food, and shall we 
not love him that gives it? All the joy we hope for in heaven is in 
God; and shall not he who shall be our joy then, be our love now? It 
is a saying of Augustine, Annon poena satis magna est non amare te? 
'Is it not punishment enough, Lord, not to love thee?' And again, 
Animam meam in odio haberem. 'I would hate my own soul if I did not 
find it loving God.' 
    What are the incentives to provoke and inflame our love to God? 
    (1) God's benefits bestowed on us. If a prince bestows 
continual favours on a subject, and that subject has any ingenuity, 
he cannot but love his prince. God is constantly heaping benefits 
upon us, 'filling our hearts with food and gladness.' Acts 14: 17. 
As streams of water out of the rock followed Israel whithersoever 
they went, so God's blessings follow us every day. We swim in a sea 
of mercy. That heart is hard that is not prevailed with by all God's 
blessings to love him. Magnes amoris amor [Love attracts love]. 
Kindness works even on a brute: the ox knows his owner. 
    (2) Love to God would make duties of religion facile and 
pleasant. I confess that to him who has no love to God, religion 
must needs be a burden; and I wonder not to hear him say, 'What a 
weariness is it to serve the Lord!' It is like rowing against the 
tide. But love oils the wheels, it makes duty a pleasure. Why are 
the angels so swift and winged in God's service, but because they 
love him? Jacob thought seven years but little for the love he bare 
to Rachel. Love is never weary. He who loves money is not weary of 
telling it: and he who loves God is not weary of serving him. 
    (3) It is advantageous. There is nothing lost by love to God. 
'Eye has not seen, &c., the things which God has prepared for them 
that love him.' 1 Cor 2: 9. Such glorious rewards are laid up for 
them that love God, that as Augustine says, 'they not only transcend 
our reason, but faith itself is not able to comprehend them.' A 
crown is the highest ensign of worldly glory; but God has promised a 
'crown of life to them that love him,' and a never-fading crown. 
James 1: 12. 1 Pet 5: 4. 
    (4) By loving God we know that he loves us. 'We love him 
because he first loved us.' 1 John 5: 19. If ice melts, it is 
because the sun has shone upon it; so if the frozen heart melts in 
love, it is because the Sun of Righteousness has shone upon it. 
    What means should be used to excite our love to God? 
    (1) Labour to know God aright. The schoolmen say truly, Bonum 
non amatur quod non cognoscitur; 'we cannot love that which we do 
not know.' God is the most eligible good; all excellencies which lie 
scattered in the creature are united in him; he is Optimus maximus. 
Wisdom, beauty, riches, love, all concentrate in him. How fair was 
that tulip which had the colours of all tulips in it! All 
perfections and sweetnesses are eminently in God. Did we know God 
more, and by the eye of faith see his orient beauty, our hearts 
would be fired with love to him. 
    (2) Make the Scriptures familiar to you. Augustine says that 
before his conversion he took no pleasure in Scripture, but 
afterwards it was his chief delight. The book of God discovers God 
to us, in his holiness, wisdom, veracity, and truth; it represents 
him as rich in mercy, and encircled with promises. Augustine calls 
the Scripture a golden epistle, or love-letter, sent from God to us. 
By reading this love-letter we become more enamoured with God; as by 
reading lascivious books, comedies, romances, &c., lust is excited. 
    (3) Meditate much upon God, and this will promote love to him. 
'While I was musing, the fire burned.' Psa 39: 3. Meditation is as 
bellows to the affections. Meditate on God's love in the gift of 
Christ. 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,' 
&c. John 3: 16. That God should give Christ to us, and not to angels 
that fell, that the Sun of Righteousness should shine in our 
horizon, that he is revealed to us, and not to others; what 
wonderful love is this! 'Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not 
be burned?' Prov 6: 28. Who can meditate on God's love, who can 
tread on these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love? Beg a 
heart to love God. The affection of love is natural, but not the 
grace of love. Gal 5: 22. This fire of love is kindled from heaven; 
beg that it may burn upon the altar of your heart. Surely the 
request is pleasing to God, and he will not deny such a prayer as 
'Lord, give me a heart to love thee.' 
    VII. And keep my commandments. 
    Love and obedience, like two sisters, must go hand and hand. 
'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' John 14: 15. Probatio 
delectionis est exhibitio operis [We show our love by performing the 
work]. The son that loves his father will obey him. Obedience 
pleases God. 'To obey is better than sacrifice.' 1 Sam 15: 22. In 
sacrifice, a dead beast only is offered; in obedience, a living 
soul; in sacrifice, only a part of the fruit is offered; in 
obedience, fruit and tree and all; man offers himself up to God. 
'Keep my commandments.' It is not said, God shows mercy to thousands 
that know his commandments, but that keep them. Knowing his 
commandments, without keeping them, does not entitle any to mercy. 
The commandment is not only a rule of knowledge, but of duty. God 
gives us his commandments, not only as a landscape to look upon, but 
as his will and testament, which we are to perform. A good 
Christian, like the sun, not only sends forth light, but makes a 
circuit round the world. He has not only the light of knowledge; but 
moves in a sphere of obedience. 
    [1] We should keep the commandments from faith. Our obedience 
ought, profluere a fide 'to spring from faith.' It is called, 
therefore, 'the obedience of faith.' Rom 16: 26. Abel, by faith, 
offered up a better sacrifice than Cain. Heb 11: 4. Faith is a vital 
principle, without which all our services are opera mortua, dead 
works. Heb 6: 1. It meliorates and sweetens obedience, and makes it 
come off with a better relish. 
    But why must faith be mixed with obedience to the commandments? 
    Because faith eyes Christ in every duty, in whom both the 
person and offering are accepted. The high-priest under the law laid 
his hand upon the head of the slain beast, which pointed to the 
Messiah. Exod 29: 10. So faith in every duty lays its hand upon the 
head of Christ. His blood expiates their guilt, and the sweet odour 
of his intercession perfumes our works of obedience. 'He has made us 
accepted in the beloved.' Eph 1: 6. 
    [2] Keeping the commandments must be uniform. We must make 
conscience of one commandment as well as of another. 'Then shall I 
not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.' Psa 
119: 6. Every commandment has jus divinum, the same stamp of divine 
authority upon it; and if I obey one precept because God commands, 
by the same reason I must obey all. Some obey the commands of the 
first table, but are careless of the duties of the second: some of 
the second and not of the first. Physicians have a rule that when 
the body sweats in one part, and is cold in another, it is a sign of 
a distemper; so when men seem zealous in some duties of religion, 
but are cold and frozen in others, it is a sign of hypocrisy. We 
must have respect to all God's commandments. 
    But who can keep all his commandments? 
    There is a fulfilling God's commands, and a keeping of them. 
Though we cannot fulfil all, yet we may be said to keep them in an 
evangelical sense. We may facere, though not perficere [build, 
though not complete]. We keep the commandments evangelically: (1) 
When we make conscience of every command, when, though we come short 
in every duty, we dare not neglect any. (2) When our desire is to 
keep every commandment. 'O that my ways were directed to keep thy 
statutes!' Psa 119: 5. What we want in strength we make up in will. 
(3) When we grieve that we can do no better; weep when we fail; 
prefer bills of complaint against ourselves; and judge ourselves for 
our failings. Rom 7: 24. (4) When we endeavour to obey every 
commandment, elicere conatum. 'I press toward the mark.' Phil 3: 14. 
We strive as in agony; and, if it lay in our power, we would fully 
comport with every commandment. (5) When, falling short, and unable 
to come up to the full latitude of the law, we look to Christ's 
blood to sprinkle our imperfect obedience, and, with the grains of 
his merits cast into the scales, to make it pass current. This, in 
an evangelical sense, is to keep all the commandments; and though it 
be not to satisfaction, yet it is to acceptation. 
    [3] Keeping God's commandments must be voluntary. 'If ye be 
willing and obedient.' Isa 1: 19. God required a free-will offering. 
Deut 16: 10. David will run the way of God's commandments, that is 
freely and cheerfully. Psa 119: 32. Lawyers have a rule that adverbs 
are better than adjectives; that it is not the bonum, but the bene; 
not the doing much, but the doing well. A musician is not commended 
for playing long, but for playing well. Obeying God willingly is 
accepted. Virtus nolentium nulla est [Righteous deeds done 
unwillingly are worthless]. The Lord hates that which is forced; 
which is paying a tax rather than an offering. Cain served God 
grudgingly; he brought his sacrifice, not his heart. To obey God's 
commandments unwillingly, is like the devils who came out of the men 
possessed, at Christ's command, but with reluctance, and against 
their will. Matt 8: 29. Obedientia praest and adest non timore 
poenae, sed amore Dei [Obedience is the chief thing, and this not 
through fear of punishment, but for love of God]. God duties must 
not be pressed nor beaten out of us, as the waters came from the 
rock, when Moses smote it with his rod, but must drop freely from us 
as myrrh from the tree, or honey from the comb. If a willing mind be 
wanting, the flower is wanting to perfume our obedience, and to make 
it a sweet-smelling savour to God. 
    That we may keep God's commandments willingly, let these things 
be well weighed: (1) Our willingness is more esteemed than our 
service. David counsels Solomon not only to serve God, but with a 
willing mind. 1 Chron 28: 9. The will makes sin to be worse, and 
duty to be better. To obey willingly shows we do it with love; and 
this crowns all our services. 
    (2) There is that in the law-giver which may make us willing to 
obey the commandments, which is God's indulgence to us. [1] God does 
not require the summum jus as absolutely necessary to salvation; he 
expects not perfect obedience, he requires sincerity only. Do but 
act from a principle of love, and aim at honouring God in your 
obedience, and it is accepted. [2] In the gospel a surety is 
admitted. The law would not favour us so far; but now God so 
indulges us, that what we cannot do of ourselves we may do by proxy. 
Jesus Christ is 'a Surety of a better testament.' Heb 7: 22. We fall 
short in everything, but God looks upon us in our Surety; and Christ 
having fulfilled all righteousness, it is as if we had fulfilled the 
law in our own persons. [3] God gives strength to do what he 
requires. The law called for obedience, but though it required 
brick, it gave no straw; but in the gospel, God, with his commands, 
gives power. 'Make ye a new heart.' Ezek 18: 31. Alas! it is above 
our strength, we may as well make a new world. 'A new heart also 
will I give you.' Ezek 36: 26. God commands us to cleanse ourselves. 
'Wash you, make you clean.' Isa 1: 16. But 'who can bring a clean 
thing out of an unclean?' Job 14: 4. Therefore the precept is turned 
into a promise. 'From all your filthiness will I cleanse you.' Ezek 
36: 25. When the child cannot go, the nurse takes it by the hand. 'I 
taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.' Hos 11: 3. 
    (3) There is that in God's commandments which may make us 
willing. They are not burdensome. 
    [1] A Christian, so far as he is regenerate, consents to God's 
commands. 'I consent to the law that it is good.' Rom 7: 16. What is 
done with consent is no burden. If a virgin gives her consent, the 
match goes on cheerfully; if a subject consents to his prince's laws 
because he sees the equity and reasonableness of them they are not 
irksome. A regenerate person in his judgement approves, and in his 
will consents, to God's commandments and therefore they are not 
    [2] God's commandments are sweetened with joy and peace. Cicero 
questions whether that can properly be called a burden which is 
carried with delight and pleasure. Utrum onus appellatur quod 
laetitia fertur [Is a task performed with joy rightly so called]? If 
a man carries a bag of money that has been given him, it is heavy, 
but the delight takes off the burden. When God gives inward joy, it 
makes the commandments delightful. 'I will make them joyful in my 
house of prayer.' Isa 56: 7. Joy is like oil to the wheels, which 
makes a Christian run in the way of God's commandments, so that it 
is not burdensome. 
    [3] God's commandments are advantageous. They are preventive of 
evil; a curb-bit to check us from sin. What mischiefs should we not 
run into if we had not afflictions to humble us, and the 
commandments to restrain us! God's commandments keep us within 
bounds, as the yoke keeps the beast from straggling. We should be 
thankful to God for precepts. Had he not set his commandments as a 
hedge or bar in our way, we might have run to hell and never 
stopped. There is nothing in the commandments but what is for our 
good. 'To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which 
I command thee for thy good.' Deut 10: 13. God commands us to read 
his word; and what hurt is in this? He bespangles the word with 
promises; as if a father should bid his son read his last will and 
testament, wherein he makes over a fair estate to him. He bids us 
pray and tells us if we 'ask, it shall be given.' Matt 7: 7. Ask 
power against sin, ask salvation, and it shall be given. If you had 
a friend who should say, 'Come when you will to me, I will supply 
you with money,' would you think it a trouble to visit that friend 
often? God commands us to fear him. 'But fear thy God.' Lev 25: 43. 
There is honey in the mouth of this command. 'His mercy is on them 
that fear him.' Luke 1: 50. God commands us to believe, and why so? 
'Believe, and thou shalt be saved.' Acts 16: 31. Salvation is the 
crown set upon the head of faith. Good reason then have we to obey 
God's commands willingly, since they are for our good, and are not 
so much our duty as our privilege. 
    [4] God's commandments are ornamental. Omnia quae praestari 
jubet Deus, non onerant nos sed ornant. Salvianus. 'God's 
commandments do not burden us, but adorn us.' It is an honour to be 
employed in a king's service; and much more to be employed in his 
'by whom kings reign.' To walk in God's commandments proves us to be 
wise. 'Behold, I have taught you statutes: keep, therefore, and do 
them; for this your wisdom.' Deut 4: 5, 6. To be wise is a great 
honour. We may say of every commandment of God, as Prov 4: 9: It 
'shall give to thy head an ornament of grace.' 
    [5] The commands of God are infinitely better than the commands 
of sin, which are intolerable. Let a man be under the command of any 
lust, and how he tires himself! What hazards he runs to endangering 
his health and soul, that he may satisfy his lust! 'They weary 
themselves to commit iniquity.' Jer 9: 5. And are not God's 
commandments more equal, facile, pleasant, than the commands of sin? 
Chrysostom says true, 'To act virtue is easier than to act vice.' 
Temperance is less troublesome than drunkenness; meekness is less 
troublesome than passion and envy. There is more difficulty in the 
contrivance and pursuit of a wicked design than in obeying the 
commands of God. Hence a sinner is said to travail with iniquity. 
Psa 7: 14. A woman while she is in travail is in pain - to show what 
pain and trouble a wicked man has in bringing forth sin. Many have 
gone with more pains to hell, than others have to heaven. This may 
make us obey the commandments willingly. 
    [6] Willingness in obedience makes us resemble the angels. The 
cherubim, types representing the angels, are described with wings 
displayed, to show how ready the angels are to serve God. God no 
sooner speaks the word, but they are ambitious to obey. How are they 
ravished with joy while praising God! In heaven we shall be as the 
angels, and by our willingness to obey God's commands, we should be 
like them here. We pray that God's will may be done by us on earth 
as it is in heaven; and is it not done willingly there? It is also 
done constantly. 'Blessed is he who does righteousness at all 
times.' Psa 106: 3. Our obedience to the command must be as the fire 
of the altar, which never went out. Lev 6: 13. It must be as the 
motion of the pulse, always beating. The wind blows off the fruit; 
but the fruits of our obedience must not be blown off by any wind of 
persecution. 'I have chosen you that ye should go and bring forth 
fruit, and that your fruit should remain.' John 15: 16. 
    Use. They are reproved who live in a wilful breach of God's 
commandments, in malice, uncleanness, intemperance; and walk 
antipodes to the commandments. To live in a wilful breach of the 
commandment is: 
    (1) Against reason. Are we able to stand out against God? 'Do 
we provoke the Lord, are we stronger than he?' 1 Cor 10: 22. Can we 
measure arms with God? Can impotence stand against omnipotence? A 
sinner acts against reason. 
    (2) It is against equity. We have our being from God; and is it 
not just that we should obey him who gives us our being? We have all 
our subsistence from him; and is it not fitting, that as he gives us 
our allowance, we should give him our allegiance? If a general gives 
his soldiers pay, he expects them to march at his command; so for us 
to live in violation of the divine commands, is manifestly unjust. 
    (3) It is against nature. Every creature in its kind obeys 
God's law. [1] Animate creatures obey him. God spake to the fish, 
and it set Jonah ashore. Jonah 2: 10. [2] Inanimate creatures. The 
wind and the sea obey him. Mark 4: 41, The very stones, if God give 
them a commission, will cry out against the sins of men. 'The stone 
shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall 
answer it.' Hab 2: 11. None disobey God but wicked men and devils; 
and can we find no better companions? 
    (4) It is against kindness. How many mercies have we to allure 
us to obey! We have miracles of mercy; the apostle therefore joins 
these two together, disobedient and unthankful, which dyes sin with 
a crimson colour. 2 Tim 3: 2. As the sin is great, for it is a 
contempt of God, a hanging out of the flag of defiance against him, 
and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, so the punishment will be 
great. It cuts off from mercy. God's mercy is for them that keep his 
commandments, but there is no mercy for them that live in a wilful 
breach of them. All God's judgements set themselves in battle array 
against the disobedient: temporal judgements and eternal. Lev 26: 
15, 16. Christ comes in flames of fire, to take vengeance on them 
that obey not God. 2 Thess 1: 8. God has iron chains to hold those 
who break the golden chain of his commands; chains of darkness by 
which the devils are held ever. Jude 6. God has time enough, as long 
as eternity, to reckon with all the wilful breakers of his 
    How shall we keep God's commandments? 
    Pray for the Spirit of God. We cannot do it in our strength. 
The Spirit must work in us both to will and to do. Phil 2: 13. When 
the loadstone draws, the iron moves; so, when God's Spirit draws, we 
run in the way of his commandments. 

Watson, The Ten Commandments
(continued in file 10...)

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