Exposition of the Second Commandment.
Excerpted from The Law Unsealed, or a Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments
By James Durham.
Edited by Chris Coldwell

(Naphtali Press, 2000) unpublished. The text is based upon the eighth and twelfth editions (Edinburgh, 1735; Edinburgh, 1802).

Copyright 2001 © First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett

Exodus 20:4-6. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters 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.

This commandment is more largely set down than the former, partly to clear the mandatory part of it, and partly to press it, in which two it may be taken up.

The preceptive, or commanding part, is expressed in two things at the beginning. 1. That no image be made (Ex. 20:4). And 2. That it be not worshipped (Ex. 20:5).

Next, it is pressed three ways: 1. From a reason; 2. By a threatening; 3. By a promise. The words are multiplied, that they may the more fully and clearly express what is intended.

First, That this commandment is against all making of images for religious service, is clear from a threefold extent mentioned in the prohibition. 1. The image of nothing in heaven above, or the earth beneath, or under the earth; that is, the similitude of no creature is allowed for this end.

2. Men are forbidden to make either similitude or likeness; that is, no sort of image, whether that which is engraven in, or hewn out of stone, wood, silver, etc. or that which is made by painting; all kinds are discharged.

3. No sort of worship or religious service is to be given to them, whether mediate or immediate, whether primarily as to themselves, or secondarily with respect to that which they represent. This is understood under the second part of the commandment, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve or worship them; under which two all external reverence is discharged. Which is clear from the reason adjoined, because God is jealous, and he will not only not endure idolatry, but whatever may look like it; as a jealous husband will not abide any suspicious-like carriage in his wife.

That we may have the clearer access to the meaning and use of this commandment, let us see, 1. What is the scope of it. 2. Wherein it is different from the former.

1. The scope of this commandment is not merely and only to forbid making and worshiping of images, which is the most gross way of abusing the worship of God; but, under that, to forbid all manner of grossness in the external worship of God, and to command exactness and preciseness in it (as well as internal worship) according to the rule prescribed there[about] by the Lord. And so this commandment includes all externals commanded in the ceremonial law, and forbids all will-worship and superstition in the worship of God, all honoring him by precepts taught by men, and not by himself (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:9). So then, in the first commandment, the worshipping of the only true God is commanded, and the worshipping of any idol is forbidden; here the true worship of that God is prescribed, and the contrary forbidden. The first commandment shows who is to be worshipped; the second, how he is to be worshipped; not in the manner that heathens worshipped their idols, nor in any other manner that men shall feign and devise to themselves, but in the manner he himself prescribes.

In sum, this commandment holds forth these three things:

(1) That God will not only be served inwardly in the heart, by good thoughts and intentions (which is prescribed in the first commandment), but also outwardly, in the confessing him before men, in external service and worship, in suitable words and gestures. For the forbidding this sort of external gestures, worshipping and bowing before idols, includes the contrary affirmative in all its kinds (according to the first rule before-mentioned for the right understanding of all the commandments). Thus it takes in all ordinances of word, prayer, sacraments, ceremonies, etc. and failing in these, breaks this commandment, when even they are not rightly gone about.

(2) It holds forth this, that, in that external service and worship, God will not have men following their own humor, but will have them to walk by the rule given, or to be given by him to them; and otherwise it is in vain whatever worship men perform to him (Matt. 15:9). Hence it is said here, Thou shalt not make to thyself — that is, at thy own pleasure, without my command, otherwise what is by God’s command is made to him; and this is to be extended to all ordinances, yea, both to the worship itself, and also to the manner of that worship, all is to be done according to God’s command only.

(3) It holds forth a spiritual service due to God, or that we should be spiritual in all external service. There should not be in us any carnal apprehensions of God, as if he were like anything that we could imagine (Acts 17:29), as is fully clear from Deut. 4:15, etc. Also all rashness and carnality in external performances is here discharged under bowing to images.

So then, under these three, we take up the sum of this commandment; whereby it differs from the former. Which may also be cleared from these reasons:

The first is, that this commandment looks to external worship, and the ordering of that; which is clear:

1. Because the things forbidden in it, as making of images, and bowing to them, are external acts.

2. These are mentioned as relating to God’s worship; for they are placed in the first table of the law, and for this end images are only mentioned as made use of by heathens in all their worship (Lev. 26:1). The Lord will not have his people doing so to him (Deut. 12:3-5, etc).

3. And, that making and worshipping of images, are but one part of man’s abusing of the external worship of God, which is mentioned for all of that kind (as adultery is put for all uncleanness in the seventh commandment) and all kind of false worship, or all the several ways of men’s abusing the external worship of God, are condemned under it. (1) Because it is most gross; and, this being a most gross way of adding to his worship, it serves to show how God accounts every adding to his word, or altering of it, to be a gross and heinous sin (Deut. 4:23-25). (2) Because the nations about, especially Egypt, served their gods so, and men naturally are bent to it, as appears almost by the practice of all nations; and (Rom. 1:25, etc), by the Israelites practice in the golden calf (Ex. 32:1-7), and by Jeroboam’s practice (1 Kings 12:28). Now, the Lord will not be served so, but as he commands (Deut. 12:4): Ye shall not do so to the Lord, etc. but contrarily (Deut. 12:5), as the Lord shall carve out unto you.

A second reason, to clear this to be the meaning, may be taken from the perfection of the law, which lies in this, that it condemns all sin, and commands all duties. Now, it is a sin, not only to worship false gods, but to worship the true God in a false way; and it is a duty also to worship him rightly, according as he has appointed in his word. Now, these sins must be forbidden in this second commandment, or they are forbidden in none at all; and these duties must be commanded in this commandment, or they are commanded in none.

Next, That we may clear that it is sinful to worship God otherwise than he has commanded, it would be observed, there was a twofold idolatry found in Israel; and condemned in the scripture. The first was when groves and images were planted, and made to idols; and so the people of Israel did often to the heathen gods. The second was when they had groves, and worshipped in high places, but not to idols, but to the Lord their God, as 2 Chron. 33:17, so in that place before cited, Deut. 12:2-4, etc, you will find two things forbidden. 1. Making of images to the false gods, which the Canaanites worshipped. 2. Making use of their manner of worship, and turning it unto the true God. Both are forbidden; the first, by the first commandment; the last, by the second. Compare Deut. 12:8. (which holds forth this scope) Ye shall not do every man what seemeth right in his own eyes, with what follows, and with Deut. 12:30-31. See thou enquire not how these nations worshipped their gods, to wit, by images, etc. as if ye would do so to the Lord: no, but (Deut. 12:32), Whatsoever thing I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Which clears the scope of this command as being purposely there opened up, Ye shall not do so to the Lord your God; wherein more is comprehended than is expressed, namely, not only you shall not serve the Lord as they do their gods, but also you shall serve him as he himself prescribes.

Hence will it clearly appear, that this command is to be reckoned a distinct command from the former; because: 1. It contains distinct matter, forbids sins of another kind, and commands duties of another kind. 2. Because they are certainly ten in number, and there cannot be such a reckoning made up, if these first two be one; it being clear (as after will appear) that the last is only one, and cannot be divided into two. 3. Beside, it is the common reckoning of the ancient Jews, as may be seen from Josephus (lib. 3. 9), Ainsworth, and others. This then being laid down as a truth, we shall, I. Shortly put by some questions concerning images, for clearing the words. II. Come particularly to show what is required and what is forbidden in this commandment, and how we break it in our ordinary practice. III. Then open the reasons that are annexed.

Concerning images two things are to be enquired; [A.] If no image is lawful; and, if any is lawful, what [are they]? [B.] If any use, especially religious, of images is lawful? And if adoration of any kind is to be given to them? We say for answer,

[A.] 1. That making of pictures of creatures, which are visible, or may be comprehended, or historical fancies (to speak so) such as the senses and elements [commonly are] held forth by (which are rather hieroglyphics than real pictures); these, I say, are not simply unlawful but are so when they are abused. So Solomon made images of lions for his use; and thus the gift of engraving and painting, as well as others which God has given to men, may be made use of, when (as hath been said) it is not abused. As:

(1) When such pictures are obscene and filthy, and against Christian modesty to behold, such break this commandment, but more especially the seventh; because, as filthy communication pollutes the ears, so do they the eyes. (2) When men become prodigal in their bestowing either too much time, or too much expense on them. (3) When they dote too much on them by curiosity. (4) And many other ways they may be abused; but especially, in the fourth place, if they be abused to any religious use, then they become unlawful, as afterward shall be cleared.

2. Though making of images simply is not unlawful and discharged by this commandment, yet thereby every representation of God (who is the Object to be worshipped) and every image religiously made use of in worship is condemned (though civil and political images and statues, which are used as ornaments, or badges of honor, or remembrancers of some fact, etc. are not condemned). (1) Because such images cannot but beget carnal thoughts of God (as Acts 1:7, 29), contrary to this commandment. (2) Because God discovered himself (Deut. 4:15-16, etc), by no likeness, but only by his word, that they might have no ground of likening him to anything. (3) Because it is impossible to get a bodily likeness to set him out by, who is a Spirit and an infinite Spirit. So then, every such images must be derogatory to God, as turning the glory of the invisible God to the shape of some visible and corruptible creature; which is condemned, (Rom. 1:22-23), for every image supposes some likeness. Now, there can be no conceivable or imaginable likeness betwixt God and anything that we can invent; therefore it is said by the Lord (Isa. 40:18): To whom will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? Where it seems it was no idol, but God they aimed to represent by their images, which was the fault condemned (Isa. 40:25). As also, when we cannot conceive of God, and of the mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, as we ought, what presumption must it be to paint them?

Therefore, upon these grounds, (1) We simply condemn any delineating of God, or the Godhead or Trinity, such as some have upon their buildings, or books, like a sun shining with beams, and the Lord’s name, Jehovah, in it, or any other way. This is most abominable to see, and a heinous wronging of God’s majesty.

(2) All representing of the persons as distinct, as to set out the Father (personally considered) by the image of an old man, as if he were a creature; the Son under the image of a lamb or young man; the Holy Ghost under the image of a dove: all which wrongs the Godhead exceedingly. And although the Son was, and is man, having taken on him that nature, and united it to his Godhead, yet he is not a mere man. Therefore that image, which only holds forth one nature, and looks like any man in the world, cannot be the representation of that person which is God and Man.

And, if it is said, ‘Man’s soul cannot be painted, but his body may, and yet that picture represents a man;’ I answer, It does so, because he has but one nature; and what represents that, represents the person. But it is not so with Christ; his Godhead is not a distinct part of the human nature, as the soul of man is (which is necessarily supposed in every living man) but a distinct nature, only united with the manhood in that one person Christ, who has no fellow: Therefore what represents him, must not represent a man only, but must represent Christ, Immanuel, God-Man. Otherwise it is not his image. Besides, there is no warrant for representing him in his Manhood; nor any colorable possibility of it, but as men fancy. And, shall that be called Christ’s portraiture? Would that be called any other man’s portraiture, which were drawn at men’s pleasure, without regard to the pattern? Again, there is no use of it. For either that image behooved to have but common estimation with other images, and that would wrong Christ; or a peculiar respect and reverence, and so it sins against this commandment that forbids all religious reverence to images. But he being God, and so the Object of worship, we must either divide his natures, or say that image or picture [does] not represent Christ.

Again, as to what may be objected from the Lord’s appearing sometimes in the likeness of a man, or the Spirit’s descending as a dove, or as cloven tongues of fire: It is answered:

(1) There is a great difference betwixt a sign of the Spirit’s presence, and a representation of the Spirit. (2) Betwixt what represents the Spirit, as he is one of the persons of the blessed Trinity, and what resembles some gift of his. The similitude of a dove descending upon Christ, was to show his taking up his residence in him, and furnishing him with gifts and graces, and particularly holy simplicity and meekness without measure; and so his appearing in cloven tongues was to show his communicating the gift of tongues to the apostles. (3) Neither is there any warrant for drawing him in these shapes, more than to look on every living dove as representing him. And the like may be said of God’s appearing sometimes in human likeness; it was but that men might have some visible help to discern something of God’s presence, but not to give any representation of him; and these bodies were but for a time assumed, as a prelude and fore-running evidence of the Son’s [becoming a man].

From this ground also it would seem, that painting of angels might be condemned, as a thing impossible, they being spirits, which no corporeal thing can represent. Beside that, the representing of them has some hazard with it: and for those cherubims that were made by God’s direction under the old testament, they were rather some emblem of the nature and service of angels, as being full of zeal, and always (as it were) upon wing ready to obey God’s will, than any likeness of themselves. And ‘tis hardly possible to fancy representations of spirits, good or evil, but thereby men will wrong themselves in the right description of them, though we grant angels, being but finite spirits, there is another kind of danger and impossibility of representing God who is an infinite Spirit. Also, some say, that these cherubims mentioned did not represent the nature of angels, but angels appearing under such a visible shape. And we find (Ezk. 1), there are divers shapes by which they are pointed out, but it is as to their fitness and readiness for service, and not as to their nature.

3. We say that no image whatsoever, made use of for religious ends, and without [outside] the bounds of civil and politic uses, is allowable; but is by this commandment condemned as unsuitable to the Lord’s nature and revealed will. So by this, images (otherwise lawful) when abused to idolatry, become unlawful, and are not to be suffered, but orderly to be removed. We call that more than a civil or a common use, when religious worship or reverence is purposely intended to them, or there is by some one occasion or other, danger, lest they may be so abused. And of this sort (viz. dangerous ones) are (1) Images in places of worship; but it is not idolatry to have dead men’s images on their tombs or monuments in churches. (2) Images of such angels, saints, etc. which have been abused to idolatry by being worshipped, or most readily may be so abused. (3) Images erected for helping our prayers to be accepted, and which have altars, lights, or temples appointed for them (which will be clearer when we come to speak of religious worship and bowing); thus peregrinations and vows to images, touching of them with some apprehension of fruit and advantage thereby, especially when healing is expected from them; and so are they abused also, though help be expected, not from the image, but from him whom it is said to represent. And thus also, when any image, once lawful, comes to be abused, it ought to be removed, as the brazen serpent was by Hezekiah: and, under this prohibition, come in the images of false gods, as Cupid, Venus, Apollo, Jupiter, etc, which were once abused. Besides, some of these idols being nothing, the portraying of them makes them appear something. And if it was the Lord’s way to command the breaking and destroying of all idols and images of false gods, can it be suitable to retain them in memory, that a generation following might have that occasion and help to idolatry (viz. the images of old idols) from Christians? And if it was David’s and the saints way (Psa. 16:4), not so much as to mention their names, but with detestation; ought God’s people for sport or delight to look on these images? Zeal for God would abhor these curiosities; and what edification can be in them?

[B.] We are now to clear the second question, If any worship may be given, and what worship is due to images of any sort? and if it be not a breach of this command to give any religious worship to any of them? That we may answer,

1. Consider, there was a twofold worshipping of images, even among heathens. (1) The first was more gross, when the worship was given to the image, as being some godhead of itself. Thus some think the images of Baal, Ashtaroth, etc. and particular images, that have special names, were worshipped. Thus are men said properly to worship the works of their hands. This is against the first commandment. (2) There was a worshipping of images as representing God, and so the worship was gone about as a part of service done to the true God; such was (in conformity to the heathens practice) the worship given to the calf (Ex. 32:1-7), and such were the groves and sacrificings in the high places (2 Chron. 33:17). More particularly, there is an immediate worshipping of images as idols, when they in themselves, or for themselves, are worshipped: And secondly, there is a mediate worshipping of images for that which they represent, when men worship something in them, or signified by them.

This again may be distinguished with respect to the object, when the worship is directed either first to a false god, or else secondly to the true God.

2. Consider, that there are diverse sorts of worship given to the images of the true God, or of saints. (1) Some religious worship which is more than civil, yet not that which is due to God; such Bellarmine gives them for themselves properly, and calls it douleiva.

(2) A divine worship due to what is typified, such many give to the images of God and Christ. This they call latreia. This Bellarmine gives them, not properly, but per accidens & propter aliud: though the first he makes properly to terminate on the image, yet Aquinas and his followers (Part 3. q. 25. 3. 4), give the images of Christ, of Mary, and of the cross latreia, properly so called.

3. Consider what this is which is called religious worship. It differs from civil and politic[al] worship (such as is given to living men; yea, from that civil respect which one will give to the image of a king, or of one they love, which is not properly worship, even civil) and consists in other circumstances of a religious consideration; and it may be known to differ from what is civil, by these things:

(1) By the thing to which the worship is given; that is, if it is a thing which passes not under a civil, but under a religious account — as bowing to a living man is one thing, to a saint’s image, a sacrament, or such like, which have nothing in them calling for civil honor, is another thing — and therefore, if any honor is given them, it must be on another account.

(2) By the actions wherein we give such worship, as if it be in prayer, or in worshipping of God, or in sacrificing; it is one thing to bow then to or before an image of man, and another thing to do it when occasionally or historically we are relating something, or doing some civil business, as tying the shoe, or such like.

(3) By the sort of worship that has been given to idols, or used in religious service to God, and not suitable, for any civil respect, to such an object; as bowing the knee, uncovering the head, praying, building temples, altars, making vows unto them, or before them, swearing by them, or before them, carrying them about with us because of some religious influence they are supposed to have, setting them up for reverence to be given to them, setting up lights about them, sacrificing, burning incense to them, etc, or something of that kind, used sometime in God’s service, or in the service of idols.

4. Consider, that what is said of images may be said of all creatures and things to which divine honor, or religious worship in the service of God is attributed; for, if the one fail, all will by this commandment be overturned: such as (1) Worshipping of angels or saints by douleiva, or the virgin Mary by ouperdoulevia, as mediators and helps in our serving the true God. (2) All adoration of the relics of martyrs, such as their bones, dust, clothes, etc; especially the adoration of the very cross (as they say) whereon Christ suffered, which has by Papists a divine sacrifice offered to it, and a divine worship given it in the highest degree. (3) The adoration of such things as are used in worship, as temples, altars, bread in the sacrament, Agnus Dei, masses, etc. (4) The images of God, Christ, saints, angels, yea, of the cross, which are said to be worshipped with respect to the true God, and not as derogatory to his service.

For further clearing of this purpose, we shall speak to a question which here necessarily occurs; namely, Whether these things mentioned, being worshipped by any sort of religious service, whether directly or indirectly, for themselves, or for such things to which they relate, or which they signify, even when men pretend the worship is not given to them, but ultimately referred to the honor of the true God; whether, I say, worshipping them so, is not idolatry, and a breach of this commandment?

In answering this question: [A] We shall clear that there may be and is idolatry committed with images, and means of God’s service, even in such worship wherein the images which men worship are not accounted gods, but only representations of God; and although these means of worship, which they worship, are made use of in serving the true God. [B] We shall clear that all such service, as being idolatry, is forbidden by this command, however it is distinguished, if it is performed as religious service; though some service be more gross, and other some more subtle and refined.

[A] First then, [we may clear in divers ways] that there is such a kind of idolatry in worshipping of images, when men rest not on the images, but direct their worship to the God represented by them.

And 1. From the heathens, who though some did, yet all of them did not account their images their gods, but only some representation of them. And (1) We may gather this from Rom. 1:22-23, where it is said of them, [1] That they knew God; and yet, [2] That they turned the glory of that incorruptible God into the similitude of beasts, and men, corruptible creatures. Their fault is not that they accounted those representations or images which they made, gods; but that they declined in their worship, in the worshipping of the true God by such images.

(2) It may also appear by the frequent changes of their images, while they retained their former gods; and by their multiplying images of one sort, and divers sorts, to one and the same god; and by their giving all these images one name. And when it is said, that Solomon and other kings set up images to Ashtaroth, Baal, etc; it cannot be thought they supposed these images to be the very gods themselves which they worshipped, but that they were only set up for their honor (2 Kings 23: 13). And when Manasses made chariots to the sun, he supposed them not to be the sun (2 Kings 23:11). Yea, was not this commonly acknowledged, that Jupiter was in heaven (as appears, Acts 19:39)? And that that image came down from him, but was not he, nor yet the feigned goddess Diana?

(3) It may appear by the heathens’ own confession, and the shifts they used when they were charged with the worshipping the works of their hands. As [1] They used to say, they worshipped but the Numen, or god which was in them, and which invisibly after their dedication of them (and not before) dwelt in them. [2] Yea, some of them would say, they neither worshipped that image, nor any devil, but by a bodily sign they beheld what they should worship. [3] When Christians further urged them, that what was signified by their images, was not the true God, but a creature; as by Neptune, the sea; by Vulcan, the fire, etc; they replied, it was not those bodies which they worshipped, but the gods which governed them. So Augustine, Psa. 113. nobis 115, concerning the idols of the Gentiles, and Augustine, de Civit. Dei, lib. 7. cap. 5, where he shows that Varro gives that reason, why the gods were rather portrayed in man’s picture (though they were invisible), because, he says, man’s soul is a spirit, and comes nearest them; and the body is the vessel of the soul, and therefore is used to represent it. See Chrysostom, 1. Eph. Hom. 18; Andrews on second command; Augustine [upon] Psa. 96 nobis 97.

(4) And it may also appear from this, that the heathen gods for the most part (even those of them that were most commonly worshipped), were some famous men, after death supposed to be deified, to whom they made statues and images; and yet still the honor was intended to those to whom they appointed the images, though they supposed that their gods in an especial manner dwelt in these images, and answered from them.

2. In the second place, this may be made to appear from the command (Deut. 12:31), where the Lord forbids not only the worshipping of idols, but of himself by images. Thou shalt not do so to the Lord thy God. That is, ‘Thou shalt not worship me by images, as the heathen do their gods.’ And therefore this is not only possible, but is also, and that most certainly, a grievous guilt, even though they pretended it was not idols, but God they worshipped; yet it was not so; they worshipped not him, but the idol.

3. We shall clear it yet further, that the true God may be worshipped (by idolaters) as they pretend; and yet in God’s account their worship is nothing but idolatry committed with their images.

We shall give four instances of this. 1. The first is from Exodus 32, where it is clear, (1) that the image they set up was not itself acknowledged to be God, but as something to represent the true God. For [1] It cannot be thought their minds were so soon darkened, as altogether to forget what God had done, and to imagine that the thing which was new made with hands, was God, though they be charged with forgetting God, because they were practical forgetters of him, and their sin did speak it out indeed. [2] The image is called Jehovah, that brought them out of Egypt, which was a mercy past before the calf had a being. And therefore the reason why they gave it this name, must certainly be because they aimed by it to represent Jehovah. [3] It is not likely that now they would have worshipped the gods of Egypt, or that they would have attributed their delivery from Egypt to them, seeing these gods were also plagued; also, that Aaron should do so, is incredible, who yet joined with them in this transgression. [4] Beside, can it be thought that so soon they thought it to be God, and yet so easily afterwards passed from it? Certainly the words, That it may go before us, that is, not to Egypt, but Canaan, whither God called them, do clearly imply that they looked on it only as a representation of Jehovah.

(2) It is clear that they sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings before this image; and this was the same service which was due to the Lord; and so it was proclaimed (Exod. 32:5), and therefore it was to the Lord, and not to the image (for itself) that they sacrificed.

(3) It is clear that they are charged for turning out of the way, and that because of their making a molten image; which seems to infer that their guilt was rather in the manner of worship, and making of that image for worship, than in quitting God altogether. and thus they grossly failed in the manner of worshipping him, by occasion [the absence] of Moses; for now they want that sign of God’s presence which formerly they had, and have not such a visible commerce (as it were) with God. It is that they complain of, and this want of a visible sign (and not of God simply) do they intend to make up by this image.

(4) This may be further confirmed from Acts 7:40-42, where it is said, that because of this sin they were given up to gross idolatry; which could not be, had this been idolatry of the grossest sort.

2. The second instance is from Judges 17, where you will find that that idol, which Micah made, is not by him or his mother accounted God, but is made use of by them, as they think, for furthering them in God’s service; as appears: (1) From this, that it gets not the name of any strange god. (2) That he seeks a Levite for a priest to it, and promises to himself God’s blessing from that; not that the idol would bless him, but Jehovah (Judg. 17:13). (3) That it is said, the priest asked counsel of Jehovah for the Danites (Judg. 18:6).

3. The third instance is that of Jeroboam, who did sin, and made Israel to sin, by the calves he set up at Dan and Bethel. That they were not intended to be worshipped as idols for themselves, but as means whereby they might be helped to worship the true God, may appear:

(1) From Jeroboam’s motive, which was not to divert the people from the true God, at least as he supposed, or to make them alter their God, but to alter their manner of worship, and to divert them from going up to Jerusalem to worship, from which his fear of their revolt to Rehoboam arose. Hence the calves are not provided to prevent worshipping of God, but are put in place of their going up to Jerusalem; as the color of reason pretended by him for this alteration, shows. And so, one service is put for another, without changing their God. As all the reproofs that his sins meet with from the prophet run at this, that he altered the manner of God’s worship in putting up new signs in new places, and appointing new sacrifices and priests.

(2) It appears from this, that as it was distinct from that way of serving God, which was in Judah; so was it from the way of the heathens; yea, from the way used by such idolatrous kings as Ahab, who are said to do worse, because they did set up strange gods (which the calves are not called) and Baalim; and Jehu, when he destroyed the false gods, yet he retained this manner of worship. And there were no cause to discriminate Jeroboam’s sin from Ahab’s, or to look upon it as any thing lesser, if all the difference had been only in the change of worshipping the image of one idol into the worshipping of the image of another. But the difference was in this, that the one worshipped the true God in these images, the other idols indeed.

(3) Hence there was still some knowledge of God in that land, and prophets sometimes sent them by the Lord. Yea, when they were led captive, and others sent into their place, it is said (2 Kings 17:26, etc.), They learned the manner of the God of the land — that is the true God — though they corrupted themselves with serving their idols also. And thus the Samaritans continued worshipping they knew not what, though they pretended to worship the true God (John 4:22).

4. The fourth instance is that corrupt practice used sometimes in Judah, of setting up high places and groves; when yet they did not thereby intend to serve idols, but the true God. And yet they are reproved for this, as a gross corrupting of the worship of God.

And it would seem clear sometimes in Judah, and often in Israel, even when they are charged with idolatry, that yet the knowledge of the true God was not obliterate[d] among them, nor they so brutish in their worship as other nations about them. We take it then for a clear truth, that they often did worship the true God by images, when they did not worship the images directly.

[B] The second thing may be easily cleared and made out; to wit, that all worshipping of God by images, though the worship be pretended to be given to the true God, and not to the image, but to the thing signified or represented by the image, is yet unlawful, and idolatry; forbidden by this commandment, whatever sort of worship it be, if it be religious, as has been said. And this we shall make out by these arguments.

1. The first is from the general scope of this command, which is to forbid not only the overturning of God’s service, but also all will-worship, though mixed in with the service (as it seems that was, which is mentioned, Col. 2:8, of worshipping angels, which yet was so subtle, that they pretended they were far from taking from God anything that was his due). That this is the scope of this command is clear from Deut. 12:8, to do what seemeth good to every one in his own eyes. But so it is that the worshipping of God before images, etc, is will-worship, etc, till it be shown that it is prescribed by God.

2. That way of worshipping God is clearly condemned by the more particular scope of this command, which is: (1) To discharge all gross thoughts of God or his service; which scope, as it says God cannot dwell in temples, so neither can he be worshipped by men’s hands; that is, by images made with men’s hands, as these in Athens did (Acts 17:24-25); for they ignorantly worshipped the true God. (2) To show that he should not be served [by images], as idolaters served their gods (Deut. 4; 12:30-32). This binds us to the word for all instituted worship, as well as from their idols. Thou shalt not do so to the Lord thy God. Note, that so set down (Deut. 12:4), relates to groves, images, high places, etc. mentioned, (Deut. 12:3), which place does not only discharge such service to be given to idols, but the giving of any such service to God himself, who will have no such service. And if it is clear that worshipping him by groves and high places is condemned, why not worshipping him by images also; for the prohibition, so, looks to all?

3. This command has a general prohibition in it that leaves no image out, whether of God, saint, or any other thing, for any religious use, under whatsoever shape. For (1) It discharges the making of any image of any thing, for any religious use. (2) It discharges all worship to be given them, whether outward by bowing, or inward by service, or whatsoever follows on these. And therefore no distinction used by idolaters can salve the matter, or avoid the strength of this command; especially considering that it directs men in the manner how they should serve the true God, and does not simply prescribe who is to be acknowledged as true God, which is done by the first command.

4. If by this command heathenish idolatry, or the serving God by images, is condemned; then the serving of God by images also amongst Christians is here condemned. But the heathens serving God by images is here condemned; ergo, etc.

If it is answered, that heathens did represent by their images that which was not God, and that this was their fault; I answer: It is not like[ly] that all did so, nor that any at first did so; but some had a notion of the invisible Godhead (as Rom. 1:28), though they changed it into an image, like to a corruptible creature. (2) Yet here the argument holds; If heathens, who worshipped, suppose, Jupiter, Vulcan, etc, and their images of gold, silver, etc, were held for idolaters, not only as worshipping Jupiter and Vulcan, and these idols which were so represented, but also as worshipping gold and silver, and such images and things as they made use of to represent them; then also Christians must be said, not only to worship what is represented by those images, but the images themselves, and so to guilty of idolatry on that account. The reason will hold alike in both. And if their exception, that they worshipped not the images, but what they represented, did not exempt them from being found guilty of worshipping such images in particular, neither will Christians upon that plea be found exeemed [freed] from this guilt; for a quatenus ad omne valet consequentia.

5. Fifth argument, if that idolatry committed by the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 32), and that which was set up in Israel by Jeroboam, and that of Manasses (2 Chron. 33), are to be condemned as idolatry; then that which is practiced amongst the Papists in worshipping of their images, and God by them, is to be condemned as idolatry. But the former is condemned in scripture as gross idolatry, because it falls off, and declines from the way of worship the Lord has prescribed, and turned God’s people like to idolaters in their way. Therefore also the latter is to be condemned as idolatry.

There is no exception, which the Papists give in here against this argument, but the like have been given by the Irsaelites.

For (1) If they say, they worship not the true God before these images, that is answered already.

(2) If they say, it was condemned because they represented him by such images, that is not enough. For [1] The command forbids all images of any thing. [2] The opposition mentioned, Deut. 4, Thou sawest no likeness, or image, but heardst a voice, has no middle, but argues against all alike. Hence these images, Psa. 115. that had noses and mouths, but smelled not, and spoke not, were condemned, as well as those complained of, Rom. 1.

(3) If they say, it was not lawful then, but is lawful now; this were to say, that the gospel admits of more carnal ordinances than the law; whereas its service is more spiritual without all doubt.

From all which we may clearly conclude that in such service there is a twofold idolatry committed. 1. In that because of some holiness and venerability that is supposed to be in such images, relics, etc, religious worship (though inferior to what is attributed to God) is given to them for themselves, according to the decrees of that second council of Nicea. 2. In that they pretend by such service to worship the true God, though in an idolatrous manner forbidden by him, besides what Aquinas and his followers maintain, who give to the images of God, Christ, Mary, and the cross, latreia itself (part 13. q. 25. a. 1, 2, 3). And reason says it is a snare unto them that worship them, and a scandal to others. For as Augustine says (speaking against the expressions used by heathens, from Psa. 113, and from that of the apostle, Rom. 1, after he had rejected their images, and their interpretation, and excuses also): He who worships and prays towards an Image, is an idolater. For, Who, he says, worships and prays toward an image, who is not affected with it, as if it heard him?

In short then, the idolatry that strikes against this command may be summed up in these particulars:

1. When by some visible sign, representation, or image, the Godhead is wronged, as being thereby made like to it; this is against Deut. 4:15-17, where every image, made to represent the true God, is condemned as unsuitable to him.

2. When by our worship we tie the presence of the true God to some place, image, statue, or relic, as if they had something in them, or communicated to them, more divine than any other thing; or, as if God heard our prayers better at images, and by them; or, as if there were a more special presence of God there, or a more special dispensation of grace granted by them, as heathens supposed their gods dwelt invisibly in their images, and did answer them there. Now, the supposing that there is any thing, something venerable and worthy of such respect is the ground of all idolatry. The inward leaning to it, and trusting in it, is against the first command; but the outward expressing of this esteem and trust, is against the second command. Thus men sin in praying to things that are (though rational creatures) as angels and saints; or to things that are not, or to lifeless creatures, as the cross, bread, etc.

3. It is idolatry, when idolatrous worship, used in the service of idols, is given to God, contrary to his command. So Deut. 12:30-31 — Thou shalt not do so to the Lord thy God — and 2 Chron. 33:17, their keeping up of groves for the worship of God, and that invention of Jeroboam’s calves, are condemned as idolatry.

4. When anything of that external worship, which is due to the true God, is given to any other; even though it be with a purpose not to shut him out altogether from his due, yet, when it is in part given to any other thing, as to the cross, saints, images, etc, it is called worshipping of them. See Ex. 32, compared with Psa. 106:19-20. There they worshipped the images of gold and silver, etc; yea (Psa. 106:37), devils, though they intended to worship God in these images.

5. When anything of this worship, due to God, is given to servants or means, as if something adorable and to be worshipped were in them, although they be not accounted God himself. Thus Cornelius sinned in worshipping Peter (Acts 10:25-26), when he knew he was not God; and Peter rejected it on this ground, that he was a man, and not God; and that therefore it was due to none but God. Which reason rakes off all that can be said by men for palliating this kind of idolatry. Thus the scope of the command, and the reason and ground of worship being considered, it is evident that all these are idolatry.

II. We would now further consider, first, the positive part of this command; and next, what is forbidden in it.

And, first, For the positive part of this command, we conceive it reaches, 1. To all external ordinances, such as doctrine, worship, government, and discipline: We are here enjoined to keep all these pure, according to his word. Thus any error breaks this command, when it is vented and made public, as secret errors break the first.

2. It reaches to all external obedience, such as, receiving the truths of God, submitting to the government and discipline of his house, entering therein as Church-members, often hearing the word, not only on the sabbath, which is required in the fourth command, but at all occasions, when God shall give the opportunity, it being a special part of his worship; right using of the sacraments, and worthy receiving of them; praying externally, internal prayer being required in the first command; outward confession of sin, when called for; confession of the truth in times of trial, etc. And this obedience is to be extended to extraordinary duties, as well as ordinary; as vowing, swearing, fasting, etc. when they shall be required in providence; external covenanting with God, an ordinance necessary for keeping pure public service, etc. Also it is to be extended to secret duties, and to provide duties in families, and Christian fellowship, as well as to public, and to diligence in them all.

3. It reaches to the right manner of doing duties; especially it requires it, (1) That they be not done in hypocrisy, for God will not be so worshipped in any duty. (2) That all our worship and duties be directed to God in and through the Mediator; and that none come to God but by him, who is the appointed High Priest. (3) That all our obedience and service be spiritual.

4. It takes in all external gestures, and outward reverence in praying and hearing, etc, as that the eye be fixed, and the carriage not light, but decent; that there be no laughing; that the looks be stayed and grave; these in a special manner, in worship, are to be looked unto.

5. It requires every means that may further God’s public service; as educating and training up men for the ministry, entertaining them, providing places and accommodations for public worship, and everything of that kind without which the external worship of God cannot be performed.

6. It requires the removing of all lets [hindrances] and impediments of God’s worship, or whatever is contrary thereto, according to our places and stations; such as heresies and heretics, by condign [appropriate] censuring of them; removing all idolatrous worship, and whatever may be occasions of it, or whatever has been, or may be abused to it; purging the house of God from corrupt and insufficient ministers and corrupt members.

But let us see, in the next place, what is forbidden in this command, and how it is broken.

In the first command, what immediately reflects upon God himself is forbidden; here, what immediately reflects on his ordinances and appointments, contradicting them, and him in them, is discharged. There is none of the commands more frequently broken, and yet men most readily think themselves free of the breach thereof; and therefore you should consider that it is broken:

1. In doctrine, or doctrinally. 2. In practice. 3. In both, when the doctrines vented and published against truth, have external practices following on them, as that doctrine of image-worship has, which we have spoken to already, and is the gross breach of this command; and the Lord instances it as being the greatest, because, where this is, all sorts of idolatry are. For it supposes idolatry against the first command, and that some esteem and weight is laid upon that creature we worship, beyond what is its due; as if there were in it some divine or ability to help, whereby it is thought worthy of such honor; whereupon follows that external worship which is given to it upon that account. And so, because saints are thought able to hear and help, men pray to them; and, because the cross is thought holy, men worship it, etc. And as this idolatry is manifold among the Papists, so it is palpable when prayer is made to saints, relics, bread, the cross, images, etc.

1. Now, that we may further explain this, consider, that this command is three ways broken doctrinally (all which have a great influence upon men’s breaking of it in their practice); or, the service and worship of God is three ways wronged by the doctrines of men. (1) When something is added to his service, which he has not commanded; and this is superstition and will-worship largely so taken. Of this kind are, [1] The five Popish sacraments added to those two the Lord appointed. [2] Other and more mediators than the one Mediator Christ. [3] More meritorious causes of pardon and justification than the blood and merits of Christ. [4] More officers in his house than he has appointed; such as, bishops, cardinals, etc. [5] More ceremonies in worship, as salt, spittle and cream added in baptism to water, and kneeling, etc. in the Lord’s Supper. [6] More holy days than God has instituted. [7] Other things to be acknowledged for the worship of God than the scripture, as the traditions, Apocrypha, etc. and many such things, whereof (for the most part) Popery is made up.

(2) It is broken when his ordinances are diminished, and anything which he has commanded is taken away from them, as is clear from Deut. 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought therefrom. And thus they break this command by taking away the cup from laics (as they call them) in the Lord’s Supper, and the use of the Bible from the people in their own language. Also it is broken by taking away baptism from infants, and discipline or excommunication from the church, and by taking away the Sabbath day and public singing of psalms, or such like; not to speak of that blasphemous, and some-way Pagan heresy of Quakerism, overturning most, if not all the ordinances of God, destructive to all true religion and Christianity, and introducing, at least having a native tendency to introduce, old Paganism and barbarity.

(3) This command is broken by corrupting of God’s worship; as when the word is misinterpreted and misapplied, prayers are used in a strange tongue, the word is mixed with errors, and the church both left without discipline, and abused in civil things, which tends to the corrupting of God’s service; unqualified men put into the ministry, and kept in it; when sacraments are rested on and worshipped, even as the brazen serpent was abused; and the temple, though appointed by God at first for good ends, was afterward rested on and idolized.

2. Again, this command is practically broken four ways. (1) By gross profanity, and neglect of the practice of known duties of worship. This way are guilty all profane contemners of sacraments, word, discipline, etc; all neglecters of them when they may have them; and all these that set not themselves to go rightly about them, in secret, in families, or in public. And when many opportunities of gospel-ordinances are, this sin is the more frequent. And so all atheists that contemn religion, and these that would only serve God with a good heart and intention, as they pretend, without any outward worship, are condemned here; and also those, who for fear or advantage give not testimony to the truth and ordinances of Christ, when such a testimony is called for.

(2) Men sin against this command, when they practice will-worship and superstition, in serving God by duties he never required. Whether [1] It be will-worship in respect of the service itself; as when that is gone about as duty, which is not in itself lawful; as when such and such pilgrimages and penances are appointed by men to be done as service to God.

Or [2] When worship or service under the gospel is astricted to such a place, as if it were holier to pray in one place than in another, and that therefore God did hear prayer there more willingly and easily than in another place.

Or [3] In respect of bodily posture, as if there were more religion in one posture than in another; as in receiving the Lord’s supper kneeling, or praying in such and such a posture, except in so far as it is decent, and otherwise rightly regulate by rules of prudence and nature’s light.

[4] When it is without a divine warrant tied to such a time only; as Christmas (commonly called Yule) Easter, Pasch, etc. which is an observing of times that God has not appointed.

[5] When it is tied to such an occasion or accident, as to pray when the clock strikes, or when one neeses [sneezes], which Plinius marked of Tiberius, who was no religious man, yet could not abide one who lifted not his hat when he [sneezed], and said not, ‘God bless;’ and he observes it among these things he can give no reason for: The prayer is good, but the timing of it so, and astricting it to that thing, is superstitious. So your light-wakes and dirges (as you call them) are upon this account to be condemned, either as superstitious, or as profane, or at the best as the relics and causes or occasions of both: For {1} Once in times of Popish darkness they were so used, or rather abused. {2} Why are your visits stinted to such a time more than another? It profits not the defunct [deceased], and it hurts the person you come unto; a multitude not being fit for comforting or instructing. And yet it cannot be called a mere civil visit, being trysted [joined] with such an occasion; but certainly it suits not, nor is it a Christian carriage toward the dead, and after the burial of the dead, to spend time together in such a way as is commonly used. Beside, it is superstitious when a thing without reason is astricted to such a time or occasion, as giving and receiving gifts on New-years-day, too common amongst Christians, though a heathenish custom which day, as Gratian observes, was dedicated to their devil-god, Janus. He asserts likewise, that such Christians as in his time did observe it, were excommunicated. And Alcuin, with others, write that the whole catholic church appointed once a solemn public fast to be kept on a New-years-day, to bewail those heathenish interludes, sports, and lewd idolatrous practices that had been used on it.

[6] When some weight is laid on the number of words, or set repetitions of prayers, Ave Maria’s, or Pater noster’s, or on the reading so many chapters, or saying so many prayers.

[7] When any take a word of scripture at the opening of the bible, or by a thought suggested, as more befitting their condition because of that, without weighing the word itself, and lay more weight upon that word than upon another that has the same authority and suitableness to their case; which is to make a weird [fate] or fortune-book of the book of God, for which end he never appointed it. Thus also men are guilty when they account sacraments more valid, or lay more weight on them, because dispensed by some ministers, than when dispensed by others, though having the same warrant, or because of the difference of persons that partake therein with them.

However some of these things may be in themselves good, yet they are abused by some one circumstance; as in unwarrantable timing them, or in laying that weight on them which is not warranted in the word. Which, [1] Alters the way that God has laid down. [2] Brings us to prefer one circumstance to another, without any warrant. [3] Makes a necessity where God has left us free, and so brings us into bondage.

(3) We may go wrong in practicing lawful duties many ways, as to the manner of performing them, when they are not so done as is required. As [1] When we do not propose to ourselves the right end we should have before us. [2] When they are not done from a right inward principle. [3] When they are done in hypocrisy and formality, and rested on. All which may go along with men in all duties and ordinances; and generally all our shortcomings in the right manner of commanded duties strike against this commandment.

(4) We may also consider the breach of this command, by taking a view of what is opposite to everything required; and so want of reverence in worship, want of zeal against error or false worship, not stretching ourselves in all lawful endeavors to entertain and maintain the true worship of God, are here forbidden. So likewise the putting in, and keeping in unworthy ministers; the traducing, holding out, and putting out of faithful men; the withdrawing and sequestering their maintenance from them; the diminishing of it, or straitening them in it. Horrid sins, though little thought of, and lightly looked on by men, drawing no less deep before God than obstructing the free course of the gospel, breaking up the treaty of peace betwixt God and sinners carried on by faithful ministers, as the ambassadors of Jesus Christ and saying on the matter, that he shall not see of the fruit of the travail of his soul in the salvation of the souls of men, to his satisfaction, so far as they can impede it, by outing and discountenancing his ministers, the instruments made use of by him for bringing that about. And thus also, all sacrilege, simony, and the like, come in as breaches of this command; and all partiality in church proceedings, toleration of errors, countenancing the spreaders of them, slighting of discipline, conversing unnecessarily and unwarrantably with such as are excommunicate, and all unwarrantable innovating in the external worship of God; and when we are not aiming and endeavoring to have our children and servants, and all under our charge, brought under subjection and conformity to the ordinances and service of God, as well as ourselves.

But, because this command in an especial manner looks to public ordinances, let us see a little more particularly how it is broken in these. [A] In respect of preaching and hearing. [B] Public prayer. [C] Praising. [D] Sacraments. [E] Fasts. And in all these, there are faults of three sorts. 1. Some going before the performance of these duties. 2. Some following after. 3. Some going along in the performance of them. And again, 1. Some are guilty of the breach of this command, by neglecting these duties. 2. Some are guilty in the wrong manner of going about them.

[A] And, first, before hearing the word, men break this command, 1. In not praying for the speaker.

2. In not praying for themselves, in reference to this end, that they may profit by the word.

3. In not setting themselves to be in a spiritual composed frame for such a work.

4. In not watchfully preventing what may divert them or distract them, or straiten their minds when they come to hear; not ordering their other affairs so, as they may not be a hindrance to them in meeting with the blessing of the gospel.

5. In not aiming to have the right esteem of the word.

6. In not blessing God for it, or for any good received before by it.

7. In not coming with hunger and thirst, as newborn babes, having laid aside what may hinder its being received with desire (2 Pet. 2:1-2).

8. In not denying our own strength as to the right discharge of that duty, that so we may make use of Christ.

9. In not minding, that when we are called to hear, it is to tryst [meet] with God in his ordinances.

10. In going to hear with prejudice.

11. In coming without expectation of, and longing for the presence of God, or of meeting with him.

12. In not coming from respect to the honor of God, nor out of conscience, but from custom, and for the fashion.

Secondly, men sin against this command, when they are come to hear, and while they are about this duty of hearing:

1. In not looking to God, or not receiving the word as God’s word, but as man’s.

2. In extravaging[1] and wandering in their minds and thoughts (Ezk. 33:31).

3. In sleeping when they should hear.

4. In letting the word slip out of their mind, and not retaining and laying up what they hear.

5. In not yielding their ears and memories, or yielding only their ears and memories, but not casting open their hearts to the word, to let it sink down in them.

6. When though it be heard, yet it is not understood (Matt. 13:13).

7. When, though understood, it is soon forgotten.

8. When there is not a peculiar trembling and fear in our waiting upon the ordinances (Isa. 66:2; Eccl. 5:1-2; and Mal. 2:5). There is a special fear which we ought to have before his Name.

9. When there is not faith mixed with hearing, giving credit to the word; it must be a great fault not to believe God’s word when we hear it (Heb. 4:1-2).

10. When we fret and canker at the reproofs of the word.

11. When we needlessly stumble at any expression; especially, when we carry so lightly as to laugh at what is spoken, to the prejudice of the ordinances.

12. When we are more for knowing than for doing; more for informing the mind, than for reforming the heart and life.

13. When there is carping at the word, or censuring of it rather than ourselves.

14. When we make no application of it to ourselves, and try not whether we have such a fault, or if we perform such a duty, etc.

15. When we are not present, as before God, to hear, as Cornelius was (Acts 10:33).

16. When we itch after novelty of expressions, or words, or things, rather than thirst after the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby.

17. When these novelties are more entertained and laid weight on than known duties or truths.

18. When the word is heard with respect of persons, and the same truth, or expression, or scripture cited by one, is not so respected and received, as when spoken by another; contrary to James 2:9.

19. When there are vain looks, as well as idle thoughts.

20. When there is a wanton, light, irreverent carriage.

21. When there is immodest and strange apparel unbecoming that ordinance.

22. When there is speaking or talking, out of the case of necessity, in time of sermon, though it were by way of prayer, it is sinful, except it were ejaculatory in reference to what is at present spoken.

23. When there is reading of something (even though scripture) unseasonably.

24. When there is insisting on good thoughts, that tend to divert from hearing.

25. When men are observing vanities in time of hearing, such as the apparel that others have on, or the painting that is on the house, or the couplings of the roof, or such like.

26. When there is not an intermixing of ejaculatory prayer for ourselves and others; and the speaker, that God would help him, and them, and us, to keep such a word to the time when we may have need of it; and when God is not blessed when a word is rightly spoken.

27. When there is any quenching of convictions, or the motions or stirrings of affection wakened up by the word.

28. When there is diverting to a doting love of the speaker, or the thing as spoken by such a speaker, or the manner of expressing; and a delighting in these, more than in God, or a respecting of him or our own profiting.

29. When we do not look upon, and make use of the preached word as a means to convert, but only as a means to confirm.

30. When we do not make use of promises offered in preaching, and directed by God to us by an authorized ambassador, and do not so lay weight on them as from him.

31. When we reject the many sweet offers of the gospel, and come not to the marriage of the King’s Son.

32. When we do grieve God’s Spirit, who presses it upon us.

33. When we tread underfoot Christ’s blood by our little esteem of it.

34. When we give no credit to, nor lay due weight upon, threatenings.

35. When we have not the faith of God’s providence, or of the Judgment to come.

36. When there is not an accepting of Christ.

37. When there is not employing of him.

38. When there is not reverence in removing from our hearing of the word.

[Thirdly] After hearing also there are many ways whereby we are guilty of the breach of this command.

1. Forgetting what we have heard.

2. Letting the heart unnecessarily look back again to other objects, and follow other thoughts, and not meditating on what has been heard.

3. Not comparing what we have heard with the scriptures.

4. Not following the word with prayer for the watering of it.

5. Needless falling to other discourses immediately after hearing of the word.

6. Casting it all aside as to practice (Psa. 50:16-23).

7. Fretting at some things that have been spoken.

8. Spreading censures.

Or 9. Commendations of the thing preached, or of the instruments that preached, as if that were all.

10. Not following the word with self-searching, prayer, and fruits suitable, endeavoring to practice what is required.

11. Not trembling at its threatenings, nor forbearing what was thereby discharged.

12. Not helping others to make use of it.

13. Not repenting of faults committed in the time of hearing.

14. Little delight in remembering of it.

15. Finding out shifts to put by its directions or challenges.

16. Applying them to others rather than to ourselves.

17. Misconstructing the minister’s end in pressing of them.

18. Misinterpreting his words.

19. Misreporting, or misrepresenting them.

20. Not being troubled, or fruitlessness in hearing, without any use, but being as a stone without sense or feeling.

21. Leaning on hearing, as if having been in the church were a piece of holiness, though no fruit follow on it.

22. Profane abusing words of scripture, or phrases used in preaching, in men’s common discourse; much more when they are mixed in wanton and profane sports, or jests and gibes.

All these ways men may sin when they come to hear the word; they sin also by absence when they come not, neglecting the opportunities of the gospel. There are also diverse sins which men are often guilty of in reference to hearing, even on weekdays. As 1. Little love to the word, or delight in the opportunities of it on such days. 2. Too much love to some other things, that procures lukewarmness in hearing. 3. Contemning occasions of hearing the word on such days. 4. Improvidently bringing on a necessity on ourselves that we cannot hear. 5. Caring little to have a ministry, whereby we may be instructed at all times; and therefore we want [lack] such occasions. 6. Setting ourselves, and using our wits to discourage the ministers we have. 7. Not being weighted with our absence from weekday sermons. 8. Mocking at them who are present. 9. Disrespecting the ordinance for some worldly or personal respects, preferring any sinful trifle thereto, etc.

[B] Secondly, let us instance the breach of this command in public prayer, which is a part of worship which very nearly concerns the glory of God; and certainly, when it is wronged through the unsuitable and not right discharging of this duty, this command is in a special way broken.

We shall not here look to everything, but especially to what concerns public prayer. Indeed we fail also in secret prayer, and in giving thanks, both alone and in our families. 1. By contempt of this excellent ordinance. Many slight prayer in secret and in their families (Jer. 10:25), which is a clear breach of this command, as well as neglecting it in public, when men do not countenance sermon or prayer, though at the same time walking idly in the streets or in the fields. 2. By calling up of prayer to others, reproaching it, calling it hypocrisy, and those who use it hypocrites. 3. By mocking the Spirit’s work in prayer.

First, before we come to prayer, we sin, 1. By not watching to keep the heart in a frame for praying always.

2. By not watching over every opportunity that we may have for prayer, whereby many occasions are lost.

3. In not longing for opportunities of prayer.

4. In not stirring up ourselves to seriousness when we are about to pray.

5. In letting the heart run loose when we are about other things, which indisposes for prayer.

6. In having a selfy [selfish] particular end before us in our prayers.

7. In our little respecting God for strength and fitness, and little looking to him for his Spirit to ourselves, or these who are to go before us in this duty of prayer.

8. In our little examining ourselves that we may know what to pray for, and what distinctly to confess.

9. In our not meditating on what we are to say, that we may, as to the matter of our prayers, speak in faith.

10. In aiming more to find and exercise gifts, than to have grace acting in us.

11. In our rushing rashly on such a weighty and spiritual duty.

Secondly, in prayer. And, first, on the speaker’s part there are diverse ways whereby this command is broken.

As 1. By rashness and senselessness, not exercising the spirit, but the mouth; telling over our prayers as a tale without life.

2. Praying in our own strength, without looking after the influence of the Spirit.

3. Not drawing near to God by faith in Christ, but leaning too much on our prayers, from a secret false opinion or prevailing more with many words well put together, than by exercising faith on Christ, and resting on him, as if God were persuaded with words.

4. Inadvertent praying, uttering unadvised petitions and expressions without understanding.

5. Not praying humbly and with soul-abasement.

Nor 6. Singly to please God, but men, seeking expressions that are pleasant rather than sensible.

7. Saying many things we think not; not being touched with the weight of sin when we confess it, nor with the desire of holiness when we mention it; counterfeiting sometimes liberty and boldness, sometimes restraints and complaints more than is real.

8. Limiting God in particular suits.

9. Cold in what is of greatest concernment.

10. Want of reverence and holy fear.

11. Want of a right impression of a present God.

12. Not praying for others, and little respecting the condition of those we pray with; or, what we do of this kind, is either but cold, and for the fashion; or, if there be more apparent zeal and seriousness for others, it would be adverted that it be not upon design to flatter and please them, rather than to obtain spiritual blessings to them.

13. Desiring things for satisfying ourselves more than for God’s honor.

14. Breaking off before we come to liveliness and liberty, having begun lazily, and without life.

15. Not insisting to wrestle with God when under bands.

16. Precipitating with the words before the heart ponder them, or the affection be warmed.

17. Posting [hastening] through it, as duty, only for the fashion, without respect to God, or love to the exercise, or driving at any profit by it.

18. Wearying, and not delighting in it.

19. Not aiming at God’s presence or sensible manifestations in it, or at hearing in that which we pray for.

20. Being more desirous of liberty in public than in private.

21. Fretting when we are put, or kept under bonds.

22. Growing vain and light when it goes well with us, and turning carnal and unwatchful when we get liberty.

23. Impertinent making use of [the] words [of] scripture either ignorantly or vainly.

24. A secret expectation of something for our prayer, and so resting upon the work done, as if there were merit in it.

25. Using expressions not easily understood.

26. Using indecent gestures, and scurrile expressions.

27. Not observing God’s dispensation to us, nor his dealing with our souls in the time of prayer, that we may conform our suits accordingly, as we find many of the saints have done, who end in songs after they had begun sadly.

28. Not praying with fervency for Christ’s kingdom, and for Jews and Gentiles.

29. Exercising gifts rather than grace, when we pray. These are sins upon the speaker’s part.

Next, you should consider the sins of them that join. And, beside what is general and common in the duty of praying, we fail often in joining.

And 1. In this, that many think when another prays they need not pray, but let the speaker be doing alone.

2. When we observe not what is spoken, that we may go along in what he prays for, and be upon our watch that we may join, and that we may do it in judgment.

3. The mind wavering or wandering, and we hearing, but not praying.

4. Censuring the words or gestures of the speaker.

5. Fixing our eyes or minds on some other things, and giving way to other thoughts that may divert from joining.

6. Sleeping in time of prayer.

7. Confusedness in that exercise, and not distinctly joining with what agrees to ourselves, and our own case, nor with what agrees to others joining with it for them.

8. More cold and indifferent in what concerns others, than in what concerns ourselves.

9. More careless of being heard and answered when we speak not, as if we were less concerned, thinking it enough to be present, although in our heart we join not; and not being affected with the prayer of another, nor acting faith in it, we soon weary when others pray.

10. Not being edified by the praying of another, nor taking up our sins in his confessions, nor our duty in his petitions.

11. Much hypocrisy in such duties, while we seem to be joining, but are doing nothing.

12. Not endeavoring to have affections, suitable to what is spoken, stirred up in us.

13. Not praying that the speaker may be suitably guided and helped in bringing forth petitions that may answer our wants.

14. More indifferent that another who speaks, as mouth for the rest, want liberty, than when we are put to speak ourselves, although it be God’s ordinance.

15. Not rightly touched with any expression we cannot join with, but rather stumbling at it.

16. Our being ignorant of the meaning of many expressions through our own fault, so that we cannot join in them.

17. Muttering words of our own, and not joining with what is said.

18. Indistinctness in consenting, or saying, Amen, at the close.

Thirdly, after prayer, both speaker and joiners fail: 1. That they watch not over their hearts, but soon return to other things, as if then they might take liberty.

2. Not waiting for an answer, nor observing whether prayers be answered or not.

3. Not being thankful for answers when they come.

Nor 4. Entreating and pressing for an answer, if it be delayed.

5. Not reflecting on our failings, whether in speaking or joining.

6. Not remembering what we have uttered in prayer, but presently returning to a carriage that is very unlike those things we have been speaking before Him.

7. Not keeping up a frame for new opportunities of prayer.

8. Not pressing after a constant walk with God betwixt occasions of prayer.

9. Resting on prayer after we have done, and thinking something of it, if we seem to have been helped to pray.

10. Carnally heartless and displeased, if it has been otherwise.

11. Not being humbled for the sinfulness and defects of our prayers.

12. Not having recourse by faith to the blood of sprinkling for pardon of these sinful defects.

[C] We are to consider how men break this command in praise and thanksgiving. And here there is a failing in general: 1. In the utter neglect of this necessary duty. Alas! what of that duty do we in secret? And yet it is singularly for God’s honor, and as clear a duty as prayer. 2. In mocking praise often, by profaning psalms for our carnal mirth. 3. In neglecting and slighting of it, though not altogether, yet by infrequent going about it. 4. In accounting it to be almost no duty at all, and in being but little challenged for slighting of it, or for irreverent using of it.

Secondly, we sin before we go about this duty: 1. In not preparing for it. 2. In not praying for the Spirit to fit and enable us to praise (1 Cor. 14:15), and for a fixed heart for that work (Psa. 108:1). 3. In our not aiming at a spiritual disposition for such a spiritual duty. 4. In our not endeavoring for a right impression of the majesty of God. And 5. For clearness of our interest in him. And 6. For an impression of the excellency of his way, and meaning of his word; all which are exceeding necessary unto the right performance of this duty, and without them we cannot praise suitably.

Thirdly, we are guilty of many faults in the time of praising. 1. Doing it without respect to God’s glory, and for the fashion.

2. Hypocrisy, not praising him with the whole heart, performing it only with the lips when the heart is away.

3. Ignorance, when we want understanding of the words we express.

4. No suitable impression of God’s greatness and goodness upon our hearts when we praise.

5. Not aiming at communion with God in this duty, as desiring, minding, and hoping to praise him forever.

6. Not being taken up with spiritual and heavenly delight in him, and in the work of his praise.

7. Lightness, laughing, or mainly affecting of, and carnally doting upon, some tone or voice, more than being suitably affected with the matter, and making melody in the heart to the Lord.

8. Forgetting what we do sing, and not knowing or considering what it is we sing, the heart not being present nor fixed.

9. Not being constrained by love to praise, but some custom or natural conscience constraining us to it.

10. Not offering up our praises in and through Christ Jesus (Heb. 13:15).

11. Soon satisfied in our praising, as if we were little troubled to be fitted for it; and, because little of ourselves lies in it, we are the less careful how we discharge it, but stint [curb] and limit ourselves to some certain customary matter, which puts us to few prayers before, and makes but few challenges after.

12. Not intermixing ejaculatory prayers in our praising.

13. Much hypocrisy, when we sing the cases of others, or their thoughts and estimation of God, and study not to be something like their frame and exercise.

14. Not framing our affections in praising to the subject of our praise; whether it be some sad case, or some cheerful condition, or some historical or prophetical subject; and, when imprecations are a part of the song, we soon fall off, or praise one and the same way in all.

15. Not serious in blessing God for former mercies to his servants, if it be not so well with us in the mean time; nor cheerfully acknowledging his former deliverances of his church and people, in which we have not personally shared.

16. Not being affected with his keeping of us free of many sad cases we sing, and others have been in; nor blessing him for delivering them.

17. Not letting the word of the Lord, which we sing, sink down in us, for engaging our hearts to, and cheering our spirits in good.

18. Not assenting to, and giving him glory in the acknowledgment of the justness of his severest threatenings, and the most fearful scripture imprecations.

19. Not rightly observing those things that are the subject matter of scripture songs, so as to put a difference between some things we are to tremble and fear at, such as the falls of the saints; and other things which we are to imitate and follow for our edification.

20. Gadding in idle looks, so that some scarce look on their books (although they can read) that they may the better have the sense of what they sing.

21. Not putting a difference betwixt praying a petition that is in a psalm, and singing of it, which should have a sweetness with it, that may encourage us to pray for, and expect what others before us have obtained.

22. Wanting such considerations about the matter sung, when it suits not our present case, as may suitably affect us, and fit us to glorify God in that duty. As when we sing of the eminent holiness of some of the saints, we are to bless him that ever any was so holy, whatever be our sinfulness; and that we have hope of pardon, though under many failings, and much unlikeliness [dissimilarity] to that case we sing.

23. Not singing with the voice at all, although the tongue be given us as our glory, that we may therewith thus glorify God.

Fourthly, after we have been about this duty of praise, we sin 1. By falling immediately into a carnal frame. 2. Not looking back or examining, when we have done, how we carried it in praising God. 3. Few challenges for our many failings in praise. 4. Little repentance for those failings. 5. Not keeping the heart right for a new opportunity of praise. 6. Not keeping a record of his mercies in our memories, and upon our hearts, to engage us to praise him. 7. Not walking in this exercise of love, which would sweetly constrain us to this duty, and make us delight in it.

These are but a few of the many iniquities that are to be found in our holy things (Ex. 28:38). It is good we have a high Priest to bear them. O what if all our sins were reckoned, how heinous would they be! And what a sum will they come to, if our performances of holy duties have so many sins in them! And, when the sins of a Sabbath are counted, how many will they be! Hundreds of diverse sorts, in praying, hearing, and praising; and multiply those to every loose thought, and every declining or wavering of the heart, how many times may they be multiplied! Ah how many unholy words do we let slip! And then, consider all the Sabbaths and sermons, prayers and praises we have had, how many hundred thousands will they amount to! It is sad that men should lie under all these with few or no challenges, or without minding repentance, or thinking of the necessity of employing the high Priest for doing them away; therefore we should accept these challenges, and give him employment, who only can bear the iniquity of our holy things. If this [does not] bring down self-righteousness, and convince you of the necessity of a Mediator, what will do it?

Second Commandment Part Two

[1] [Ed. Extravage – To deviate in discourse from the proper subject; to speak incoherently as one deranged. Jamieson.]