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their reputationishonoured, often do men reflects on theing
fence of man is often more at heart than the offence of God; and people will be at more pains to gain reconciliation with them than with the Lord himself. A small cross or loss in the world will draw tears, when sin will not draw a sigh from us; and ordinarily our afflictions lie more heavy on us than our sins.
5. When we have as much or more zeal for any thing than for God and his honour. Thus self is idolized, men being far more sensibly touched by any thing that reflects on them. selves than on God. How often do men unmoved behold God's name dishonoured, while, if ye but touch them in their reputation and honour, ye will find they are not drones in their own cause, though they are so in God's! So men idolize their own conceits, being, as the Pharisees, much more zealous for their own traditions than God's command. ments, for their own opinions than moral duties.
6. When we fear any person or thing more than God, Prov. xxix. 25. The greatest fear being due to God, if we fear any person or thing more than him, we idolize it. Thus men make a god of man, yea, and of the devil. And the fear of the wrath of man will have far more influence than of the wrath of God. This, in a time of persecution, is a special snare.
7. When we have more or as much hope in any thing as in God. Yet alas! how often will the promises of men revive us, when all the promises of God cannot do it!
8. Lastly, When we have more or as much confidence and trust in any thing, as in God, Jer. Svii. 5. Thus, power, wealth, strength, gifts, and abilities, are idolized, and what. ever men trust more to than to God.
If it be asked, Whether it consists with the state of grace to have our love and affection more on any creature than on God? Ans. 1. We must distinguish betwixt the inward disposition of the soul, the habit of love, desire, &c. and the acts thereof. The habit of love, desire, &c. towards God in a godly soul, is always more firmly rooted in his heart, than the habit of love to any creature, Eph. iii. 18. But yet the acts of love and desire towards the creature may be more strong under temptation ; but that is their sin. 2. The strength of our affections is to be distinguished from the commotion of them, which sometimes may be greater and more sensible in the affection that is less. For, as the great.
est joy is not always expressed in laughter, so the greatest affection has not always the greatest sensible stirring with it, But if people be solidly minded, and willing to forsake all for Christ, and to displease any rather than him, though they be more sensibly moved in their affection to earthly things, their affections are not therefore more on them than him.
I shall now shut up all with the consideration of these words, before me. These words, before me, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh special notice of, and is much displeased with the sin of having any other god.
First, God taketh special notice of the sin of having any other god.
1. He taketh special notice of the gross sin of idolatry. He has a jealous eye on it, and will not overlook it; for it is spiritual adultery; and the husband will overlook many faults in his wife, who will not overlook that. Idolaters have their fig-leaf covers for their idolatry. How do the Papists set their wits on the rack to frame such nice and subtle distinctions as may palliate their horrid idolatry! But though they may deceive the simple with these things, yet they cannot blind the eyes of the all-seeing God.
Seeing God takes such notice of it, how lamentable is it that idolatry makes such vast progress in this covenanted land, and is not duly noticed! How sad is it, that the sin and dishonour against God is not noticed, so as to be mourn. ed over, and to take notice of the danger of it, and that the government takes not notice of it to repress it! This is a sad sign of the danger of being over-run with it.
2. God takes special notice of heart idolatry, of whatever possesseth his room in the heart. That is a subtle kind of idolatry, so hid that others cannot, nay men themselves do not always, perceive what it is that is their idol. But God sees it very well.
(1.) The idol may be of a spiritual nature, which the man cannot discern till the law be carried home on the soul in its spiritual extent. Thus Paul's duties and seeming holiness were his idol, Rom. vii. 9.
2. It may lie in lawful things. Things unlawful in them. selves may quickly be seen with the snare in them. It is easy to discern the devil when he appears with his cloven foot, so to speak: but it is not so easy to see a man's ruin.
Jying in houses and lands, husband, wife, and children, goods and gear: yet these may be the idols.
(3.) The idol may go under the name of an infirmity. Thus many deceive themselves with entertaining reigning sins, under the name of infirmities.
(4.) Self-love acts its part here, being ready to magnify men's good, and extenuate their evil. And so they nourish their disease, and hug the viper that is gnawing at their bowels.
Lastly, There may be a judicial stroke in it. They will not entertain the discoveries which God makes them; and they shutting their eyes, the Lord strikes them blind.
But let us specially notice what God has a special eye upon.
Secondly, God is specially displeased with our having any other god.
1. He is displeased with gross idolatry. He shews his special wrath in this life against idolaters, as against the Is. raelites for worshipping the golden calf; and against the ten tribes, for 'their idolatry at Dan and Bethel. So old Babylon was, and new Babylon will be destroyed. All idolaters will be punished in the other life, Rev. xxi. 8.
Let us then shew our displeasure against, and resolve in the Lord's strength, to oppose the spreading of idolatry, chusing rather to suffer than sin. '
2. He is displeased with the idols which men set up in their hearts. He shews his displeasure several ways.
(1.) Sometimes the Lord, in the fury of his jealousy, shovels the idol out of the way, as he did, in the case of Micah's idol, Judg. xviii. 24.
(2.) Sometimes he reduces the man to a necessity of parting either with his idol or his profession.
(3.) Oft-times the Lord makes the idol men's plague and punishment.
(4.) Lastly, Oft-times there is a rub by a torrent of temp. tation, that brings forth the idol in its own colours; as in the case of Judas? covetousness, and Demas's love of the world.
Let us therefore cast away our idols, and let nothing keep God's room in our hearts, especially in such a day when God is rising up to plead against us.
From the whole, ye may see that the commandment is ex. ceeding broad. Be humbled under the sense of your guilt in the breach of this command. And see what great need ye have to reform; and what need ye stand in of the blood of Christ for removing your guilt, and of his Spirit for cleansing your hearts, and subduing your iniquities.
OF THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.
Exod. xx. 4, 5, 6.-Thou shall not make unto thee any gra
ven image, or any likeness of any thing, that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them : for I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me ; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
MTHE second command comes now to be explained; and
I this is it, though the Papists will not allow it to be so : And it is so plain against them, that they leave it out of their catechisms and books of devotion which they put into the people's hands, joining the reason of it, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, &c. unto the first command; and so they count the third the second, the fourth the third, &c. and split the tenth into two to make up the number), though the apostle expresses it in one word, - Thou shalt not covet. And indeed they have reason to hide it; for if they should let it come to the light, it would open the my: stery of their inquity among their blinded people, and spoil the most part of their devotions, whereof idols and images have the largest share.
As the first command fixeth the object of worship, so this fixes the means and ways of worship. The scope of it is to bind us to the external worship of God, and that in the way that he himself has instituted, and that we may be spiritual in that his worship. We may take it up in two things.
1. The command itself. 2. The reasons annexed.
The command itself we have, ver. 4. and part of ver. 5. I shall first consider the command.
The command is proposed negatively; and two things are here forbidden expressly.
First, The making of images for religious use and service, Lev. xxvi. 1. And that it is thus meant, and not of civil or political images, is plain from this, that it is a command of the first table, and so relates to divine worship. And our God is very particular in this point.
1. Graven images are forbidden particularly, that is, images cut or carved in wood, stone, or the like, called statues. These are particularly expressed, not only because they were the chief among idolaters, but because they do so lively represent men, beasts, &c. in all their parts and members, that nothing seems to be wanting in them but life; and so people are most ready to be deceived by them. But that we may see it is not these only that are abominable to our God.
2. Every similitude whatsoever for religious use and service is forbidden, whether it be done by casting in a mould, painting, weaving, or made any way whatsoever, though it be merely by the imagination, and not by the hand; for the words are universal, any likeness. How particular is this coinmand in things themselves, whereof idolaters would have the images. · 1st, No graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, must be made for religious worship. By the heavens above, is meant the air, and all to the starry heavens, and the seat of the blessed. In the visible heavens are the birds, sun, moon, and stars. No likeness of these is to be made ; and therefore, to paint the Holy Spirit as a dove is idolatrous. In the seat of the blessed are God him. self, angels, and saints, i. e. the spirits of just men made perfect, all invisible; so that it is impiety, yea, and mad. ness, to frame images of them.
2dly, No graven image or likeness of any thing that is in the earth beneath is to be made for religious service, whether they be on the surface, or in the bowels of the earth. Now, in the earth are men, beasts, trees, plants, the dead bodies of men, &c. No likeness of these is to be made for religious worship.
3dly, No graven image, or likeness of any thing that is in the water under the earth, is to be made. Now, these are