QUESTION 43. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?
ANSWER: The preface to the Ten Commandments is in these words: I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
ANSWER: The preface to the Ten Commandments teaches us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his Commandments.
Q. 1. What is a preface?
A. It is something spoken before, or a preparatory introduction to the following discourse.
Q. 2. Are these words, I am the Lord thy God, &c. to be understood as a preface to all the commandments, or to the first only?
A. They are to be understood as a preface to them all, though they stand immediately connected with the first, as being the ground of the particular applicatory faith in a redeeming God, which is enjoined in it.
Q. 3. Why are the above words prefixed as a preface to all the commandments?
A. Because they are designed as so many reasons and arguments to enforce our obedience to them.
Q. 4. Why does God give reasons to enforce obedience to his commands, when his will is the supreme law?
A. To manifest his amazing condescension, in dealing with us in a suitableness to our natures as rational creatures, Hos. 11:4.
Q. 5. How many reasons or arguments are there in this preface, by which God enforces obedience to his law?
A. Three; the first is, because he is THE LORD, or JEHOVAH; the second, because he is OUR GOD; and the third, because he is our REDEEMER.
Q. 6. Which of these three is the formal reason of obedience?
A. The first, namely, God's essential greatness, as he is "JEHOVAH, the Most High over all the earth," Psalm 83:18; though, at the same time, his relative goodness, as our God, and the deliverance he has accomplished as our Redeemer, are invincible arguments and motives to obey him, Lev. 19:36, 37.
Q. 7. What is the strength of the first argument for obedience, taken from God's being the Lord?
A. The strength of it lies in this, That because God is JEHOVAH, "the eternal, immutable, and almighty God, having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works:" therefore, all obedience and subjection is due to him, Lev. 20:8.
Q. 8. In what lies the strength of the second argument for obedience to God's law, taken from his being our God?
A. It lies in this, that because he makes himself over to sinners of mankind, by a new covenant grant, in the word of divine revelation; therefore, this ought to sweeten all his commands, and powerfully excite us to the obedience of them, Lev. 20:7.
Q. 9. What does God make over to us in the word, when he makes a grant of himself in it to be our God?
A. He makes over to us whatever he is, Hos. 13:4, and whatever he has, Psalm 84:11, as God, to be ours freely and eternally.
Q. 10. What does he make over to us when he makes a grant of whatever he is?
A. He makes over to us both what he is essentially, and what he is personally.
Q. 11. What does he make over to us when he makes a grant of what he is essentially?
A. All his glorious attributes and excellencies to be ours, Ex. 34:6; his infinity, to be the extent of our inheritance, Rev. 21:7; his eternity, to be the date of our happiness, John 14:19; his unchangeableness, to be the rock of our rest, Mal. 3:6; his wisdom, to direct us, Psalm 73:24; his power, to protect us, 2 Chron. 16:9; his holiness, to sanctify us, Ezek. 16:14; his justice, to justify and preserve us, Rom. 3:26; his goodness, to reward us in the way of grace, not of debt, 1 John 2:25; and his truth, to secure us in the accomplishment of all his promises, Heb. 10:23.
Q. 12. What does he make over to us, when he makes a grant of what he is personally?
A. He makes over himself in the person of the Father, to be our God and Father in Christ, 1 Pet. 1:3; in the person of the Son, to be our Redeemer and Saviour, Isa. 48:17; and in the person of the Holy Ghost, to be our Sanctifier and Comforter, John 14:16.
Q. 13. What is it that he makes over to us, when he makes a grant of whatever HE HAS?
A. As he has all the good things we can possibly need in time, or through eternity, so he makes them all freely over to us in the promise, "All things are yours," 1 Cor. 3:21:for instance, he has life, for the quickening of us who are dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. 2:1; righteousness, for the justifying of us who are guilty, Isa. 45:25; and redemption for delivering us who are lawful captives, chap. 49:24, 25. In a word, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him," 1 Cor. 2:9.
Q. 14. Is this grant that God makes of himself to us in the word, to be our God, no more than a mere argument, or motive to enforce our obedience?
A. It also strengthens and enables us to obey God, Ezek. 36:27, 28.
Q. 15. How does the revelation of God's being our God, strengthen and enable us to obedience?
A. In as much as by the revelation of this, the Holy Ghost is conveyed as the immediate efficient of holiness, Gal. 3:2; and Faith is produced in the soul, as the spring and fountain of it, chap. 5:6.
Q. 16. Why does God front his law with this grant of himself as the Lord our God?
A. Because it comprehends all the promises of the covenant, and all the blessings that are wrapt up in them, and therefore is the best encouragement to the obedience of faith; for, because he is our God, he will give us one heart, and one way; he will not turn away from us to do us good, but will put his fear in our hearts, that we shall not depart from him, Jer. 32:38-40.
Q. 17. Why does God make this declaration of his grace in the present time I am and not in the future, I WILL be thy God?
A. To show that God's covenant of promise is always a solid ground and foundation for the present actings of faith, in every case and circumstance in which we can be situated, James 2:23.
Q. 18. Why does God, in this grant, address the sinner in the singular number, I am thy God?
A. That every individual sinner, to whom the revelation of his grace may come, should believe it with a particular applicatory faith, Zech. 13:9 -- "I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is MY God."
Q. 19. How may we know, if ever we have, by faith, received the offer and grant that God makes of himself in the word?
A. By our love and esteem of him, Ex. 15:by our reposing entire trust and confidence in him, Psalm 18:2; by our likeness and conformity to him, 1 John 3:3; and by our longing after the full fruition and enjoyment of him, Psalm 73:25.
Q. 20. What is the THIRD ARGUMENT, in the Preface, for enforcing our obedience?
A. It is in these words: -- which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Q. 21. How are these words explained in our Catechism?
A. Of our spiritual redemption by Jesus Christ; for, the preface to the Ten Commandments teaches us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and REDEEMER, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.
Q. 22. In what lies the strength of this argument, for enforcing our obedience to the commands of God?
A. It lies in this, that as he brought Israel of old out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivered us out of our spiritual thralldom; and therefore we should "serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life," Luke 1:74, 75.
Q. 23. In what respects did the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt resemble our spiritual redemption by Christ?
A. The Israelites were made to serve the Egyptians with rigour, Ex. 1:14; so sinners, by nature, are under the most cruel bondage and servitude to sin and Satan, 2 Pet. 2:19; the Israelites were not able of themselves to shake off the Egyptian yoke, Ex. 2:23; no more are sinners of mankind capable of extricating themselves from a state of spiritual slavery in which they are naturally inthralled, Rom. 5:6:the Israelites were brought out of Egypt, "with a strong hand and a stretched out arm," Psalm 136:12; so are we, out of our spiritual thralldom, by the mighty power of God, Psalm 110:2, 3:the Egyptians were destroyed, when Israel were delivered, Ex. 14:28; so principalities and powers were spoiled, Col. 2:15, transgression finished, Dan. 9:24, and death unstinged, 1 Cor. 15:55, when our redemption was accomplished, ver. 57.
Q. 24. Seeing the deliverance of Israel, which was typical of our spiritual deliverance, was brought about by divine power, without the payment of a price, will it follow, that our spiritual redemption was also without a price?
A. By no means; unless the similitude between the type and the antitype held in every respect, which it cannot possibly do; for, though there be a resemblance between them in some things, yet there is always a disparity in others; as might be made evident in every one of the scriptural types and metaphors, to which divine things are compared: for instance, Jonah was alive in the whale's belly, whereas Christ was actually dead in the grave.
Q. 25. Since God brought all the Israelites, without exception, out of Egypt, does it not from thence follow, that Christ redeemed all mankind from their spiritual bondage?
A. No; because the Israelites did not typify and represent all mankind, but the elect only, Psalm 135:4.
Q. 26. How do you prove that the elect only, and not all mankind, were redeemed by Christ?
A. From the Father's gift of them to him from eternity, John 17:6; from his representing them in his death, John 10:11:and from his intercession within the veil for them only, John 17:9 -- "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me."
Q. 27. Are the purchase and intercession of Christ precisely of the same extent?
A. Surely they are; for, his intercession being founded on his purchase, and consisting in a presentation of the merit of it before the throne, Heb. 9:24, it clearly follows, that the one can be no more extensive than the other, John 17:24 -- "Father, I will that they also Whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am."
Q. 28. How then are those scriptures to be explained, which seem to speak of a universal purchase of all mankind; such as, that Christ died for all, 2 Cor. 5:15; that he tasted death for every man, Heb. 2:9; that he is the propitiation also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2; and the like?
A. They are to be explained in a limited sense, of some only, and not of every individual of mankind; as the like general terms are undoubtedly to be understood in other places of scripture; such as Col. 1:6, and Rev. 13:3; for, if it is alleged, that the above scripture expressions prove a universal purchase, it may be said, with the same parity of reason, that they prove a universal application of it, which few will assert.
Q. 29. Does not the universal offer of Christ prove the universal redemption of all, at least within the visible church?
A. No; it only proves the unquestionable duty of all to believe, upon the call and command of God, 1 John 3:23; and the infinite intrinsic worth of the satisfaction of Christ for the salvation of all, had it been so designed, chap. 4:14.
Q. 30. Does the redemption purchased by Christ bring any benefit or advantage to the reprobate world?
A. It is owing to it that the gospel is sent among them, John 4:4; that temporal judgments are shortened, Mark 13:20; and it is on account of the elect, who are to spring of them, that they are preserved for awhile in this world, Rom 11:30; but then these, or the like benefits, are not to be considered as the fruit of Christ's purchase to the reprobate themselves, but to the elect only, who are living among them, 2 Cor. 4:15, or who are to descend from them, Isa. 6:13.
Q. 31. In what consists the spiritual bondage we are naturally under, and redeemed from by Christ?
A. It consists in our being under the wrath of God, John 3:18; the guilt, power, and pollution of sin, Rom. 8:7; the tyranny of Satan, Eph. 2:2; the snares and temptations of the world, 1 John 2:16; and in our liability to the pains of hell for ever, Matt. 25:46.
Q. 32. What right had Christ to be our Redeemer from this state of spiritual bondage?
A. He had a right of property, and a right of propinquity.
Q. 33. How had he a right of property?
A. As God, he is the original owner, Rom. 9:21; and as Mediator, he has the elect given to him by his Father, John 17:6.
Q. 34. How has he a right of propinquity?
A. He has it by the legal union which subsisted between him and us from eternity, in virtue of his being made a surety of a better testament, Heb. 7:22; and by the assumption of our nature in time, by which he became our kinsman, and "is not ashamed to call us brethren," Heb. 2:11, 12.
Q. 35. What does God's delivering Israel out of the land of Egypt teach us, with respect to his church and people in general?
A. It teaches us, that as affliction is the lot of the Lord's people, in this present evil world, so deliverance from it is secured in due time, Psalm 34:19 -- "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all."
Q. 36. What is the difference between the afflictions of the godly, and those of the wicked?
A. The afflictions of the godly are the chastisements of a gracious Father, flowing from love, and designed for their profit, Heb. 12:6, 10; but the afflictions of the wicked are the punishments of an avenging Judge, flowing from wrath, and designed for their ruin and destruction, Eccl. 5:17.
Q. 37. What improvement ought we to make of our spiritual redemption?
A. It should excite us to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage," Gal. 5:1; to ascribe all the praise of our spiritual liberty to our glorious Deliverer, Rev. 1:5, 6; and to testify our gratitude and thankfulness, to him, by a conversation becoming the gospel, Phil. 1:27.