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am the Lord thy God: therefore “ I will be merciful to thy un. righteousness, and thy sins and iniquities will I remember no more." I am the Lord thy God: therefore “ I will put my Spirit within thee, and cause thee to walk in my statutes, and thou shalt keep my judgements, and do them." And fo of all the other promises of the covenant; they are all “ yea and amen in him," who is the Lord thy God.' He who is so kind and good, as to make over himself to thee as thy God, will in. fallibiy make out and make good every promise; and thou mayst trust him, with assured confidence, that he will do it, be. cause he has said, I am the Lord thy God. O let not the frequent repetition of these words make them unsavoury; for there is more than ten thousand millions of heavens of glory in them to the soul that views them with the eye of faith in the light of the Spirit.
I might further add, for the believer's comfort, that this promise, I am the Lord thy God, draws along with it the sweets est and most endearing offices and relations that can be imagined. To instance in a few.
1. He who is thy God, is thy fun to enlighten, direct, warm, and fructify thy soul with his benign and gracious influences, Psal. Ixxxiv. 11. The day-spring from on high hath begun to visit thee, the day-star hath arisen in thy heart; and though clouds may overcast thy sky, yet the Sun of righteousness will break through them, and return with the refreshing visits of everlasting kindness; for “ his goings forth are prepared,” or secured, “ as the morning. Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall,” Mal. iv. 2.
2. The Lord thy God is a shield to protect and defend thee against all the attacks of thy temporal or spiritual ene. mies. When fin, Satan, and the world, come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against them. He is “the strength of the poor, the strength of the needy in their distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” Thy God is “ the shield of thy help, and the sword of thy excellency; he rides in the heaven for thy help, and in his excellency on the skies.”
3. Thy God is thy reward : “ Fear not,” says the Lord to Abraham, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward,” Gen. xv. 1. He is not only thy rewarder, but he himself is thy reward. And thy God being thy reward, it must be exceeding great, great beyond all expression or imagination ; it is exceeding great beyond what eye ever saw, or ear heard, or
hath entered into the heart of man to conceive. Sure such a reward cannot be of debt, but of grace only. It is the reward, not of our service or obedience, but the reward of the obedience and death of our glorious Surety. He is the righteous new Heir, and we are “ heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”
4. Thy God, believer, is thy friend. There is a covenant of friendship implied in my text, I am the Lord thy God. It is said of Abraham that he was "the friend of God;" and the friend. fhip is mutual. Whatever kind offices ever one friend performed to another, these doth thy God perform unto thee. Thy God as a friend, sympathises with thee in all thy afflictions, Il. Ixiii. 9. ; supplies thy needs, Phil. iv. 19. ; imparts his secrets to thee, the secrets of his covenant, and mysteries of his kingdom, which he hides from the rest of the world, Matth. xiii. 11. ; promises to bear thee company through fire and water, life, and death, If. xliii. 2. As a friend, he will pay you kindly visits, and meet you more than half way when you come to visit him : " Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways.”
5. Thy God, believer, is thy Father : 2 Cor. vi. 16. 17. “I will be their God, and they ihall be my people.” And, ver. 18. it is added, “I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty. Behold, what manner of love is this, that we should be called the sons of God!” Let men and angels wonder at it, that we who are sprung of hell, should be dignified with a name among the general assembly and church of the first-born. Thy God is thy Father; and, as a tender-hearted father, his eye is upon thee for good, his ear is open unto thy cry, his heart follows thee where ever thou goeit, his hand is ready to help thee and hold thee up, his Spirit, in and by the word, to counsel and com. fort thee, his house of many manfions prepared and ready to receive thee, whenever thou art dislodged from the earthly house of this tabernacle.
6. Thy God is thy husband : Il. liv. 5. “ Thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeem. er the holy One of Israel.” Thy name before him is Hephzi. bah and Beulah; he rejoices over thee, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride. There is a complication of interests betwixt him and thec; and thy concerns are so much his, that whatever action the iaw has against thee, he is bound by virtue of his relation to thee as a husband, to cover and defend thee against all deadly.
7. Thy God, believer, is thy very life, yea, the strengh of thy life; Pfal. xxvii. 1. " The Lord is the trength of my life,
of of whom shall I be afraid ?” Thy God lives ; and “ because he lives, thou shalt live also. The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my falvation be exalted.” Thus you see by these little hints, what this promise, I am the Lord thy God, draws after it for the confolation of the believer, who has by faith laid hold of it, and so obeyed the first command. O Sirs, faith's views of the grace wrapped up in this pronuise, would make us all to join issue with David, Psal. xxxi. 19.“ O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee, before the sons of men !" So much for the use of comfort.
The laft ufe I make of this subject is of Exhortation. 1. To all in general. 2. To believers.
Firi, A word of exhortation to all in general, to obey and keep the first commandment, by taking hold of this covenante grant, I am the Lord thy God: which is all one, as if I should exhort you to believe in Christ, or receive and rest upon him alone, &c. When a Ginner believes in Chrift, what does he else but receive God in Chrift, as his God, by virtue of the covenant of grace, placing his only rest and happiness through eternity in the enjoyment of him alone? And is not this the very thing required in the first commandment, or a having no other gods before him? The gospel, holding forth the object of faith, and the command requiring the obedience of faith, has been one and the same in all ages of the world, howa ever differently expressed and difpenfed. We generally look upon the law of God, delivered to Israel at mount Sinai, as binding and obligatory upon us; and no doubt it is the rule of obedience to all mankind unto the end of the world, who shall read or hear of it. And I am so far from thinking, or teaching, that the obligation of the holy law is dissolved by the grace of the gospel, that I think it plain, from the connection Infinite Wisdom nas laid betwixt them here, it is simply impoffible any man can share of the grace of the gospel, but in a way of obedience to the very first commandment of the law, as already explained. And therefore my exhortation to every one hearing me is, to yield obedience to this first commande ment of the law; lay claim by faith unto a God in Christ as your God, by virtue of the covenant, where he says, I am the Lord thy God; and see that you have no other gods before him. Do not think that I exhort you to this, as though I fuppofed you had any strength or power of your own to obey ; no, we are naturally without ftrength, wholly impotent to do any thing spiritually good : but when I exhort you to obey this commandment, 1 exhort you to obey it in a depend
ence upon the grace of him who commands you to have him as your own God, and who engages himself by covenant to be our God, and so to be the author and finisher of our faith.
Now, to quicken your compliance, to excite your obedience, consider these few particulars, which I thall not much enlarge upon.
1. Consider, that, by the breach of the first covenant, you and I have forfeited all claim and title to the Lord as our God. Indeed he never ceased to be our sovereign Lord-Cream tor; in no state can this relation to God be diffolved; this re. lation stands even in the state of the damned. But, I say, by the violation of the holy law, we have lost our covenant-relation to God, as our God, our Father, our friend, our portion : and having lost our God, we have lost our life, peace, comfort, and happiness for ever; and not only fo, but are under his wrath and curse, and so are liable to all miseries in soul and body through time and eternity. Now, by hearkening unto this exhortation, all this unspeakable loss is repaired. Here you have God coming in a new and better covenant, even in a covenant of grace, saying, I am the Lord thy God; yea, requiring thee, by his sovereign authority, to take him again as thy own God, and thy only God, upon the footing of this new grant of grace. O what finner is it, that considers his own eternal interest, but will comply with this command, in knowing and acknowled. ging the Lord as his God! Who would not take back the forfeiture upon such an easy ground !
2. Consider who it is that says, I am the Lord thy God; who it is that issues out this command, Thou falt have no other gods before me. It is he “ whose name alone is Jehovah, the most high over all the earth ;" he who doth whatever pleases him in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; he who humbles himself when he beholds things in heaven, cherubims and seraphims, angels and archangels. Q what altonishing grace and condescension is it in this God, to come to a finful worm of the fallen family of Adam, saying, I am the Lord thy God! O shall we not fall in with the design of such condescending grace,and say, We will have no other gods before him! “ This God is our God for ever and ever!” If we do not, we reject the counsel of God against ourselves, and despise the riches of his grace.
3. Consider, that this is the very first duty of natural and re. vealed religion, to know and acknowledge God as the only true God, and our God. The light of nature teaches us to own him as our creating God, upon the ground of that revelation he makes of himself to us in the works of creation and pro
vidence. Revealed religion teaches us to own him as our God in Christ, upon the ground of his own promise and grant, I am the Lord thy God. So that, till this command be obeyed, a man is an Atheist, an idolater, without God in the world, and is an utter stranger both to natural and revealed religion. Wc, wo, wo to the man or woman that is in such a case; thou art condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on thee, because thou rejects Jehovah in the person of the Son as thy God and Redeemer; and upon the matter, sayest, I will have other gods before him, I will not have him as the Lord my God.
4. Conader, thou can perform no duty of the law acceptably until thou obey this command, and close with this covenant. grant, as was cleared already. All thy acts of obedience to the other commandments, they are but fplendid fins, an abomination to God, till this covenant-grant be received, in obedience to the first precept of his law. The soul of all obedience is wanting, till a man begin here; hence all his works are but dead works.
5. Consider, how willing he is to be thy God, even thine own God, o finner. If he were not willing, would he ever speak in such a dialect to thee as here, saying, I am the Lord thy God? Would he ever lay thee under such a command of love, as to say, Thou shalt have no other gods before me? thou shalt know and acknowledge me as thy own God and portion, as thy only hope and happiness in time and through eternity ? O do not fufpect his candour and ingenuity; for “ the strength of Israel will not lie;" he hates it in others, and therefore it is impossible he can be guilty of it himself. We would reckon that man a blafphemer, who, with his mouth, should utter such words as these, It is not as God says, he is not the Lord my God : and yet this blasphemy every unbelieving finner is guilty of; he makes God a liar, and denies that God speaks the truth in his heart, when he says to him, I am the Lord thy God; and, at the same time, rebels against his authority, requiring him to make faith's application of this covenant-grant to his own foul.
6. Consider, there is an absolute necessity that thou lay hold on this covenant-grant in obedience to this command. Why, there is no living, and no safe dying, without God. Without God, thou art without hope in the world : withouc God, thou, and all thou hast in a world, are curfed ; cursed in thy basket and store, in the house and field, in thy outgoings and incomings. Without God you cannot die, without dying the second death, as well as the first : “ They that are far from thee shall. perish. What wilt thou do,” O'linner, " in the day of viVOL. II.