Deuteronomy 4* Earnest exhortations to obedience, and dissuasives fromidolatry. (1-23) Warnings against disobedience, and promises ofmercy. (24-40) Cities of refuge appointed. (41-49)1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made theground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings;and although there is much reference to their national covenant,yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. Whatare laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedienceas individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the onlyevidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which iseternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how manytemptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires wehave in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts withall diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly.Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry.He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thoughtaright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, wereonly blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to allnations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those thatwere made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant ofthe Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forgetour religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps againsta bad memory. 24-40 Moses urged the greatness, glory, and goodness of God.Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, weshould surely make conscience of our duty to him, and not dareto sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who willnever forsake us, if we are faithful unto him? Whither can wego? Let us be held to our duty by the bonds of love, andprevailed with by the mercies of God to cleave to him. Mosesurged God's authority over them, and their obligations to him.In keeping God's commandments they would act wisely forthemselves. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Those whoenjoy the benefit of Divine light and laws, ought to supporttheir character for wisdom and honour, that God may be glorifiedthereby. Those who call upon God, shall certainly find himwithin call, ready to give an answer of peace to every prayer offaith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine law arejust and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any ofthe nations. What they saw at mount Sinai, gave an earnest ofthe day of judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealedin flaming fire. They must also remember what they heard atmount Sinai. God manifests himself in the works of the creation,without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, #Ps19:1,3|; but to Israel he made himself known by speech andlanguage, condescending to their weakness. The rise of thisnation was quite different from the origin of all other nations.See the reasons of free grace; we are not beloved for our ownsakes, but for Christ's sake. Moses urged the certain benefitand advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with,ver. #1|, That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; andthis he concludes with, ver. #40|, That it may go well withthee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them thattheir prosperity would depend upon their piety. Apostacy fromGod would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foreseestheir revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shallfind God to their comfort, who seek him with all their heart.Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, by the graceof God working with them, many are thus brought back to theirright mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to theLord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Letall the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religionhas not reason on its side. None cast off the government oftheir God, but those who first abandon the understanding of aman. 41-49 Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon,Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the followingchapters. He sets the law before them, as the rule they were towork by, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them,as the glass in which they were to see their natural face, that,looking into this perfect law of liberty, they might continuetherein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly comeout of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these lawsin charge, while they encamped over against Beth-peor, an idolplace of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerfulargument for obedience. And we should understand our ownsituation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious covenantto which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to usthan ever Israel saw from mount Sinai; greater mercies are givento us than they experienced in the wilderness, or in Canaan. Onespeaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses;who bare our sins upon the cross; and pleads with us by Hisdying love.
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