THIRTY-FOURTH LORD’S DAY.
Question 94. What doth God enjoin in the first command?
Answer. That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, invocation of saints, or any other creature, and learn rightly to know the only true God, trust in him alone, with humility and patience submit to him, expect all good things from him only; love, fear, and glorify him with my whole heart: so that I renounce and forsake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT consists of two parts: a preface and a precept. The words of the preface are: I am the Lord thy God, which hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. This preface belongs to the whole Decalogue. It describes and distinguishes God, the law-giver from all creatures, human legislators and false deities, and contains three reasons why the obedience of the first and following commandments should be performed to God. The first is, because God declares himself to be Jehovah, by which he distinguishes himself, the true God, from all creatures, that he may show that he has the supreme right and authority to rule. I, said he, whom thou hearest speaking, and announcing the law unto thee, 1 am Jehovah, the true God, who exists of and by himself, giving life and being to all things, and having, therefore, supreme authority to govern and rule all things the Creator of all things, being eternal and almighty the author and preserver of all good things: There fore thou shalt obey me. 2. He says that he is the God of his people, that he might thus, by the promise of his bountiful ness, constrain us the more effectually to render obedience to him. God is, indeed, the God of all creatures by creation, preservation and government; but he is the God of his church by the special manifestation and communication which he has made of himself: for he is properly the God of those whom he loves, and delights in above all others. It is for this reason that David calls that nation happy whose God is the Lord, saying, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Ps. 33:12.) God is now our God, when we acknowledge him to be such an one as he has revealed himself in his word, viz: as one who directs and devotes his power, justice, wisdom and mercy to our salvation, and who offers, with singular love, to be gracious to us in his Son. 3. He adds, which hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, that he might, by bringing them to recollect the recent and wonderful deliverance wrought in their behalf, show and admonish them that they were bound to render gratitude and obedience to him. It is as if he would say, I am he who is thy God; I have manifested myself to thee, and drawn thee to myself by such singular benefits. This has respect to us, as well as to the Jews; because by the mention of this one deliverance, so wonderful in its nature, there is figuratively comprehended all the deliverances of the church, and amongst them that which has been accomplished by Christ, of which the deliverance from Egyptian bondage was a type. Hence, when God in this preface declares that he is Jehovah, the deliverer of the church, he opposes himself to all creatures and idols, arid challenges for himself universal obedience, honor and worship.
There have been some who have considered this preface as the first commandment, and have taken the words, Thou shalt have no other gods before me, as the second commandment. But it is plain that the words, / am the Lord thy God, &c., are not the words of one commanding anything, but of one affirming something with reference to himself. As to the words, however, which follow, saying, Thou shalt have, &c., they evidently have the form of a commandment.
The first commandment, then, is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. The end of this commandment is the immediate internal worship of God; which is, that we acknowledge the only true God revealed in the church, and render unto him, with all our heart, soul and mind, such honor as is due him. This commandment, moreover, is negative in such a way, that it contains in it an affirmative: Thou shalt have no other gods; but thon shalt regard me, that Jehovah revealed in the church, as thy God alone. To have God, is to know and acknowledge that he is God, that he is one, that he is such an one as he has revealed himself in the church, and that he is also such a God to us: then it is to trust in him alone, with the great est humility and patience to submit ourselves to him with fear and reverence to love him and to expect all good things from him alone. It is in these things that the obedience of this commandment consists, whose parts are the virtues of which we shall presently speak. Another god is any and every thing to which we may attribute the properties, attributes and works of the true God, even though the thing itself does not possess them, and even though they are inconsistent with its nature. To have other gods is not to have the true God; which is, to have no god, or many gods, or another god, beside him that has been revealed unto us, or not to acknowledge God to be unto us such as he has made himself known to be, or not to trust in him not to submit ourselves to him in true humility and patience not to expect all good things from him alone, and riot to love or revere him. The different parts of this impiety constitute those vices which are the opposite of the virtues of which we shall speak in the ex position of this commandment. Before me, or in my sight, as if he would say: Thou shalt have no other gods, not only in thy words and actions in the sight of men; but thou shalt have none beside me in the secret chamber of thy heart, for nothing is concealed from my view; I am the searcher of hearts, and the trier of the reins of the children of men, and all things are naked and open to my view.
The easiest method of explaining each commandment, is to make a division of the obedience which every precept requires, into the virtues that are peculiar to it as parts, and then take up and consider the vices which are opposed to these virtues. According to this method, the parts of the obedience required by the first commandment consist of seven in number: the knowledge of God, faith, hope, the love of God, the fear of God, humility, and patience.
I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD includes such a conception of the being and character of God as agrees with the revelation he has been pleased to make of himself in his works and word, and to be moved and stirred by this knowledge to crust, love, fear, and worship this one true God, concerning which it is said: “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard.” “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (Rom. 10:14. John 17:3.)
The vices opposed to this virtue are many, of which we may mention the following: 1. Ignorance of God and of his will, which is not to know concerning God, or to doubt in reference to those things which we ought to know from the works of creation, and the divine revelation which has been made unto us. This ignorance is either innate, by which we mean an ignorance of those things of which we have no knowledge, and which we cannot understand on account of the depravity of our nature; or it is a feigned and studied ignorance of those things which our conscience tells us should be inquired into, but which we, nevertheless, do not seek to be come acquainted with from any desire of knowing or obeying God. It is said of both forms of this ignorance of God: “There is none that under- standeth; there is none that seeketh after God.” “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” (Rom. 3:11. 1 Cor. 2:14.)
2. Errors or false notions of God, as when some imagine that there is no God, or that there are many gods, as do heathen nations and the Manichaeans; or if they do not profess this in word, they, nevertheless, in fact, make many gods, by ascribing to creature those properties which are peculiar to God alone, as the Papists do, who make angels and the spirits of men which have departed this life gods; inasmuch as to address any one in prayer, is to attribute infinite wisdom and power to the person thus invoked. Hence Paul declares, that those who pray to creatures, “Change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” “They also change the truth of God into a lie; whilst they worship and serve the creature more than the Creator.” (Rom. 1:23, 25.) The angel of the Lord forbade John to worship him, assigning this reason: “I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God,” &c. (Rev. 19:10.) Those in like manner entertain incorrect ideas of God, and wander from him, who acknowledge one god, but not the true God, who has made a revelation of himself in the gospel; as the wiser philosophers, the Mahommetans, &c. The same thing may be said of those who profess that they know the true God; but yet depart from him, and worship instead of him, an idol which they make for themselves; be cause they imagine the true God, other than he has made himself known in his word; as do the Jews, the Samosateriians, the Arians, &c. “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.” “Whosoever denieth the Son the same hath not the Father.” (John 5:23. 1 John 2:23.)
3. Magic, sorcery and soothsaying. Every thing of this kind is in direct opposition to a proper knowledge of God; for it consists in a covenant or agreement entered into with the devil, the enemy of God, accompanied with certain words or ceremonies, by .the repeating or doing of which, they shall receive things promised of the devil, and these such as should be sought and received from God alone; as that by the help and assistance of the devil, they shall know and accomplish things not necessary, with a view either to gratify their wicked lusts, or to make a display, or for the purpose of obtaining the commodities of life. Magus is a Persian word, signifying a philosopher or teacher. Men feeling their own ignorance called in the assistance of Satan. It was by this means that the term came into reproach, so that magic, which we call zaubern, began to be used in the place of it.
Enchantments belong to magic, and consists in the use of certain words and ceremonies according to an agreement entered into with the devil, according to which he affects what the enchanters ask at his hands, when the words and signs have been gone through with. There is no efficacy or power in the words and ceremonies which are used; but the devil him self accomplishes what he has promised, with the design, that these persons may fall from God to himself, and that they may worship him instead of God. The Scriptures now do not only condemn magicians and enchanters themselves, but all those who countenance them by seeking their direction and assistance; for God includes both in his law when he says: “The soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, I will set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. “There shall not be found among you a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer; for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord,” &c. (Lev. 20:6. Deut. 18:11, 12.)
4. Superstition. This is to attribute effects to certain things, or to particular signs and words, which do not depend upon any physical or political causes, nor upon the word of God, and which would not take place were it not for the devil and other causes, besides those which are supposed. And although it may not include any covenant with the devil, yet it is, nevertheless, idolatry. There is included in this vice soothsaying, special attention to, and interpretation of dreams, divinations, with the signs and predictions of diviners and wizards, all of which the Scriptures condemn in the most express terms.
5. All confidence reposed in creatures, which is evidently opposed to a correct knowledge of God, since he who places his trust in creatures makes for himself many gods. Hence God expressly condemns in his word all those who repose their confidence either in men, or in power and riches, or in any created object. Avarice, or covetousness, is included in this vice, and condemned.
6. Idolatry, which is defined in the 95th question of the Catechism. There are two forms or species of idolatry. One is, when another beside the true God is professedly worshiped, or, when that is worshiped for God which is no God. The first is the more apparent and gross form of idolatry, and belongs properly to this first commandment. The other form of idolatry is when we do not professedly worship another God, but err in the kind of worship we render unto him, or when the true God is worshiped in, a manner different from that which he has prescribed in the second commandment, and in various other portions of his word. This species of idolatry is more subtle and refined, and is condemned in the second commandment. Those who worship God in statues and images, are idolaters, not withstanding they deny that they worship any other being beside the true God; for they imagine God to be such an one as will be worshiped in images, and so change the will of God, which being done, God himself no longer remains the same.
7. Contempt of God, which is to have a correct knowledge of God without being moved and excited thereby to love and worship him; or it is to have a knowledge of the true God revealed in the church, and yet not be led by it to love, worship, fear and confide in him. The knowledge of the true God is not of itself sufficient; it must also be accompanied with suitable affections or else the devils and the Gentiles would likewise have a true knowledge of God, which the Apostle denies, when he says, “They are without excuse; because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful,” &c. (Rom. 1:20, 21.)
II. FAITH, is a firm persuasion, by which we assent to every thing which God has revealed to us in his word, and by which we rest fully assured that the promise of the free mercy of God extends to us for Christ’s sake; and is also an assured confidence by which we receive this benefit of God, and rest upon it which confidence the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in the minds and hearts of the elect, producing in them delight in God, prayer and obedience according to all the commandments of God. u Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.” (2 Chron. 20:20.) There is opposed to faith on the side of want, I. Unbelief, which includes a rejection of what is heard and known respecting God. 2. Doubt, which is neither firmly to assent to the doctrine concerning God, nor yet wholly to reject it; but consists in wavering, and vacillating so as now to incline a little this way, and then a little that way. 3. Diffidence, or distrust. This does not apply to itself the knowledge which it has of God and his promises, but through fear of being forsaken of God flies from duty, arid seeks protection out of God. It is said in reference to all these things: “He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” (John 5:10.) 4. Hypocritical and temporary faith. This includes an assent to the doctrine of the church, and a temporary joy resulting from a knowledge of this doctrine; but it does not apply to itself with full confidence the divine promise, and is also without regeneration, on account of which it is soon overcome by the force of temptation and other causes, and so casts away again the profession of piety which is made. “He that received the seed into strong places, the same he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation, or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” “Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” “Then Simon him self believed also,” &c. (Matt, 13:20. Luke 8:13. Acts 8:13.) Those things, on the other hand, which are opposed to faith on the side of excess, include, 1. Tempting God, which consists in departing from the word and order of God, and so to presume upon, or to make a trial of his truth and power, and to provoke him to anger, proudly and presumptuously by unbelief, or distrust, or contempt of God, and by a vain confidence and conceit of our own wisdom, righteousness, power and glory. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God.” “Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?” (Matt. 4:7. 1 Cor. 10:
9, 22.) 2. Carnal security, which is to live without any thought of God and his will, or of our own infirmity and danger, without acknowledging and deploring our sinfulness and without the fear of God, and yet to expect and hope at the same time for deliverance from punishment and the wrath of God. This state of carnal security is often spoken of and condemned in the holy Scriptures, as when it is said, “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:37-40.)
III. HOPE. This is a sure and certain expectation of eternal life, to be given freely for the sake of Christ, with the expectation of a mitigation of present evils with a deliverance from them, according to the counsel and will of God. Concerning this it is said: “Be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” “Hope maketh not ashamed.” (1 Pet. 1:13. Rom. 5:5.)
Hope springs from faith, because he who has the assurance that he now enjoys the good will of God, may be certain of it also in time to come, inasmuch as God is unchangeable. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29.) These two graces, however, are not the same. Faith embraces the present benefits of God, and his will towards us; whilst hope includes and has respect to the fruits of the present and un changeable good will of God, which are still future. Hence it is said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” “We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth,, why doth he yet hope for? “(Heb. 11:1. Rom. 8:24.) That which is opposed to hope, as it respects the want thereof, is, 1. Despair, which is to regard one s sins as being greater than the merits of the Son of God, and therefore not to accept of the mercy of God offered in his Son, our mediator, and so not to look for the benefits promised to the faithful; but to be tormented by a sense of the dreadful wrath of God, and by the fear of being cast into everlasting punishment, and so to dread the mention of the name of God and to hate him, as cruel and tyrannical. It was under a sense of despair that Cain exclaimed, My sin is greater than can be pardoned. (Gen. 4:13.) Paul also exhorts in view of this, “Not to sorrow as those who hare no hope.” Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (1 Thes. 4:13. Rom. 5:20.)
2. Doubt in reference to future benefits, such as eternal life, defence and deliverance from temptations, and final perseverance, which are all promised in the word of God.
As it regards the opposite side of hope, or that which is opposed thereto by reason of excess, we may mention of carnal security, of which we have just given a definition. And as carnal security is everywhere condemned in the word of God, so spiritual security is everywhere commended and required in all the godly. This spiritual security assures us of the grace of God against all the reproofs and accusations of conscience, and is nothing else than faith and hope joined with true repentance, which does not fear being deserted and rejected of God, because it is fully persuaded that his will and favor are unchangeable. Hence it is said in reference to. this, “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31, 32.)
IV. THE LOVE OF GOD consists in acknowledging him to be good and merciful in the highest degree, and that not only in himself, but also to wards us, and therefore to love him supremely to desire more earnestly to be united and conformed to him, and to have his will accomplished in us, than to enjoy all things beside, and to be willing to suffer the loss of all things, -which we have, sooner than be deprived of his favor. Or, it is r from a knowledge of the infinite goodness of God. so to love him, that we would rather suffer the loss of all things, than to be deprived of communion with him, or offend him in any thing. True love comprehends two things. First) a desire of the safety and preservation of that which we love; and, secondly, a desire to be united with the object of our love, or to have it united to us. In reference to this it is said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Deut. 6:5. Luke 14:26.)
There is opposed to the love of God, on the side of want, 1. A rejection of the love of God, or a contempt and hatred to God, which is to flee from God, who accuses and punishes the wicked for their sins, and to indulge enmity towards him, arising from the aversion which our nature has to God and his justice, arid the propensity which it has to sin. It is said of this sin: “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 7: T.) 2. An inordinate love of self, and of other creatures, which is to prefer our own lusts, pleasures, life, honor and other things to God, and his will and glory, and to disregard and offend him rather than to suffer the loss of those-things which we love. “Whosoever loveth father, or mother, more than me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37.) 3. A feigned, hypocritical love of God. In regard to this virtue there can be no excess, for the reason that we never love God as strongly as we ought.
V. THE FEAR OF GOD is to acknowledge his infinite wrath against sin, his power to punish it, and to regard an offence against God, accompanied with aversion to him, the greatest evil, and for this reason to hate and detest sin; and to be willing to suffer all other things sooner than offend God in the smallest matter. Or it is an unwillingness to offend God, resulting from submission to God and a knowledge of his wisdom, power, justice, and the right which he has over all creatures. “Thou shalt fear thy God; I am the Lord.” “Who would not fear thee, King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain; forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nation arid in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.” (Lev. 19:14. Jer. 10:7.)
Obj. The highest good cannot be feared, because fear includes the shun ning of evil. God is the highest good. Therefore, he cannot be feared. Ans. The highest good cannot be feared in as far as it is such; but in this respect, as it is also something else. So God is feared, not as he is the highest good, for in this respect he is loved; but as he is just, and able to punish; or he is feared in respect to the evil and punishment of destruction which he is able to inflict.
The love arid fear of God differ from each other in the following respects:
1. Love follows the good, even God, and desires to be united to him. Fear turns away from the evil, even the displeasure and wrath of God, and dreads a separation from him. Or we may express it thus: Love is unwilling to be deprived of the highest good; whilst fear dreads to offend the highest good. 2. Love arises from a knowledge of the goodness of God; fear from a knowledge of the power and justice of God, and from the right which he has over all creatures.
The fear of God which man had before the fall was different from that which is now in the regenerate in this life. The fear of God as it was in man in his state of original holiness, or as it now is, and will be in the blessed angels and man in eternal life, is a strong averson to sin and to the punishment of sin, which, however, is without grief or pain; because they neither have sin in their., nor experience the punishment of it; and have the assurance that they never will sin, or be punished of God. “He will swallow up death in victory; the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” (Is. 25:8.) The fear of God which is in the regenerate in this life is an acknowledgment of sin and the wrath of God, and a sincere sorrow arising from a view of the sins we have committed, from the offence we have offered God by our sins, and from the miseries we and others endure in consequence of sin, accompanied with a fear of future sins and punishment, and an ardent desire to escape these evils, by reason of the knowledge of the mercy of God made known to us in Christ. It is said in reference to this fear: “Dost not thou fear God? ““Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Luke 23:40. Matt. 10:28.) This fear is usually called filial fear , because it is such as children cherish towards their parents, who are sorry on account of a father s anger and displeasure, and fear lest they should again offend him and be punished; and are, nevertheless, continually assured of the love, and good will of the father towards them. Hence they love him, and are more deeply grieved on account of the love which they cherish towards him, whom they have offended. Thus it is said of Peter, that “he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:75.)
Servile fear , such as the slave has for his master, which consists in fleeing punishment without faith and without a desire and purpose of changing the life, being accompanied with despair, flight and separation from God such a servile fear differs greatly from that which is filial. 1. Filial fear arises from confidence and love to God; that which is servile arises from a knowledge and conviction of sin, and from a sense of the judgment and displeasure of God. 2. Filial fear does not turn away from God, but hates sin above every thing else, and fears to offend God: servile fear is a flight and hatred, not of sin, but of punishment and of the divine judgment, and so of God himself. 3. Filial fear is connected with the certainty of salvation and of eternal life: servile fear is a fear and expectation of eternal condemnation and rejection of God, and is great in proportion to the doubt and despair which it entertains of the grace and mercy of God. This is the fear of devils and wicked men, and is the commencement of eternal death, which the ungodly experience already in this life. “I heard thy voice in the garden and I was afraid.” “The devils believe and tremble.” (Gen. 3:10. James 2:19.)
We must here observe that the love and fear of God are frequently taken in the Scriptures for the whole worship of God, or for universal obedience to all the commandments of God. “By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God, and keep his commandments.” “Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (1 John 5:2. 1 Tim. 1:5. Prov. 1:7.) The reason of this arises from the fact, that the love and fear of God constitute the cause of our entire obedience, inasmuch as they spring from faith and hope; for those who truly love and fear God will not willingly offend him in any thing, but will endeavor to do whatever will be pleasing to him. There is opposed to the fear of God on the side of want, profanity, carnal security and contempt of God. And on the side of excess servile fear and despair, of which we have already spoken.
VI. HUMILITY is to acknowledge that all the good which is in us, and done by us does not proceed from any worthiness or excellency which we possess, but from the free goodness of God, and so by an acknowledgment of the divine majesty, and our own weakness and unworthiness, to submit ourselves to God, to ascribe the glory of all the good which is in us to him alone, and so to fear God, to acknowledge and deplore our imperfections and faults, and not to desire any higher position for ourselves, than that which God has assigned to us, nor to be dissatisfied with our gifts, but by the help of God to remain contented and satisfied with our calling and position in life, and not to despise others who are placed in more desirable situations than ourselves, nor to hinder them in the discharge of their duty, but to acknowledge that others are, and may also become profitable instruments of God; and therefore to attribute and yield to them willingly the place and honor due them, and not to attribute to ourselves, or attempt that which it is not in our power to accomplish, nor claim for ourselves a higher degree of excellence than others possess, but to be contented with the gifts and position which God has assigned us, and so to devote all our gifts and endeavors to the glory of God and the salvation of our fellow men, even of those who are of the lower and more unworthy class, and not to murmur against God, if our hopes are disappointed, or we are despised, but in all things to attribute to God the praise of wisdom and righteousness. “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it.” “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” “Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (1 Cor. 4:7. 1 Pet. 5:5. Matt. 18:4. Phil. 2:3.)
The opposite of humility, as it respects the want of this virtue, is pride, or arrogance. Pride consists in attributing the gifts which we possess, not to God, but to our own worthiness, and natural powers, and so includes an admiration of self and of our gifts. He who is possessed of pride does not fear God, neither does he acknowledge or deplore his imperfections he is continually aspiring after a more elevated position and calling in life, and attributes to himself not in the strength of God, but in that of his own powers, what he does not possess attempts things beyond his strength, and foreign to his calling despises those who are above him in life, yields to none, but desires to go before and excel others, and directs his gifts and counsels to his own praise and glory is displeased with God and man, and frets and speaks against God when his desires and projects are not realised, and even accuses God of error and injustice when the divine arrangements do not fall in with the opinions and wishes of men. Or to express it more briefly, we may say, that pride consists in an admiration of self and of one s own gifts and attainments, attributing these gifts to itself, attempting things that do not properly fall within its sphere, and fretting against God, when disappointed in the gratification of its own wishes and desires. Of this vice it is said: “God resisteth the proud.” “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” (1 Pet. 5:5 Prov. 16:5.)
A feigned modesty or humility is the opposite of this virtue as it respects the other extreme. This affected modesty consists in courting the praise of humility by denying those things which any one in his own mind attributes to himself, whether he really possess them or not, and by refusing those things which he desires and endeavors to obtain secretly. “Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matt. 6:16.) Aristotle terms it affected niceness, as though he would call it a feigned fastidious ness. Some translate the words used by Aristotle, vain glorious dissemblers.
The words of Aristotle (Ethic, lib. 4. cap. 7.) may be rendered thus: “Those who dissemble in things that are small and manifest, are called skilful dissemblers, and are generally despised; and sometimes it consists in pride, as the wearing of a Lacedemonian attire.” This counterfeit humility is, therefore, a pride that is two-fold.
VII. PATIENCE consists in obeying God and submitting to him under the various evils and adversities which he sends upon us, and desires us to endure, arising from a knowledge of the wisdom, providence, justness and goodness of God does not murmur against God on account of the sufferings to which these evils expose us, and does nothing contrary to his commands; but in the midst of our sufferings retains confidence and hope in God that he will afford us his grace and help seeks deliverance from God, and by this knowledge and confidence mitigates the griefs and sufferings to which we are exposed. Or, we may define it more briefly thus: Patience is to obey God in submissively enduring the various evils which he sends upon us, from a knowledge of the divine majesty, and from an assurance of God s assistance and deliverance, according as it is said: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” “Wait on the Lord and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee.” (Ps. 37:7, 84.)
Humility and patience belong to the first commandment, not only because they are parts of that internal obedience which God requires us to render immediately to him, but also because they follow, or grow out of the true knowledge, confidence, love and fear of God, as necessary effects. The opposite of patience, on the side of want is impatience, which is an unwillingness, arising from an ignorance and distrust of the divine wisdom, providence, justice and goodness, to obey God by enduring the evils and adversities which he requires us to suffer, and to speak against God on account of the suffering to which we are subject, or to violate his commands, and not to seek or expect help and deliverance from God, and so not to assuage or moderate our grief by the knowledge and assurance which we have of the divine will, but to indulge in it, and being broken thereby to be driven to despair. Saul and Judas are examples of this impatience; Job, also, gave evidence of it in the complaints which he uttered in his distress, which may, also, be true of the godly in their sufferings.
Thoughtlessness or rashness is the opposite of patience on the side of excess, and consists in rushing unnecessarily into danger, from imprudence, ignorance or inconsiderateness as it respects the danger, or our own calling and the will of God, or from a vain and presumptuous confidence. He who loves danger will perish in it.
We may here remark, that often in this and other commandments the same vices are opposed to many and different virtues. So in this commandment carnal security stands opposed to faith, hope and the fear of God; tempting God is opposed to hope, the love of God, humility and patience; whilst idolatry is utterly at variance with a true knowledge of God and faith. The same thing may be seen, and should be observed in the virtues and vices of other commandments.
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