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Chapter 20 - Of the First Commandment

The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”

Chapter 20 – Of the First Commandment

The first table hath four commandments.

The first, teacheth us to have and choose the true God for our God. The words are these: I am Jehovah thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other God before My face.

I am. If any man rather judge, that these words are prefaced while the commandments then a part of the first, I hinder him not: Nevertheless, it is like, that they are a persuasion to the keeping of the First commandment: and that there set before it, to make way onto it; as being more hard to be received, then the rest. And this may appear, and that they threw commandments next following, which are less than this, have several reasons.

Jehovah. This word that signifies to rethink: 1. Him who of Himself, and then Himself, was from all eternity. Revelation 1:8, “Which is, who was, and who is to come.” 2. Him which give hath been to all things when they were not, partly, by creating, partly by preserving them. Which mightily cause death, that those things which he hath promised, should both be made, and continued. Exodus 6:1; Romans 4:17. The first reason of the first commandment, taken from the name of God: It is thus framed.
He that is Jehovah, must alone be thy God.

Therefore I alone must be the God.
This proposition is wanting the assumption is in these words (I am Jehovah) the conclusion is the commandment.

Thy God. These of the words of the covenant of grace, Jeremiah 31:33, where in the Lord covenant death with his people concerning the remission of sins and eternal life. Yea these words are second reason of the commandments, drawn from the quality of that relation, which is between God and his people “If God, thou again must be My people, and take Me alone for the God. But I am God: Therefore thou must be my people, and take me alone for the God. ”

Which brought. The assumption or second part of this reason is confirmed by an argument taken from God’s effects, when He delivered His people out of Egypt as it were, from the servitude of a most tyrannical master. This delivery was not appropriate only to the Israelites, but in some sort belongs to the Church of God in all ages: in that it was a type of a most surpassing delivery from the fearful kingdom of darkness. 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2, “I would not have you ignorant brethren that all our fathers were under the cloud; and all pass through the Red Sea and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the city.” Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us, from the power of darkness; and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. ” All other gods were strange gods. Their so called, not that they by nature are such, or can be; but because the corrupt, and more than devilish heart of carnal man, esteems so of them. Philippians 3:19,”who’s god is their belly.” 2 Corinthians 4:4, “whose mind the God of this world has blinded.”
Before my face. That is (figuratively) in my sight or presence, to whom the secret imaginations of the heart are known: and this is the third reason of the First commandment, as if he should say: If thou in my presence reject me, it is a heinous offense: see therefore thou do it not. After the same manner reasons the LORD, Genesis 17:1, “I am God Almighty, therefore walk before me and be thou upright. ”

The affirmative part.
Make choice of Jehovah to be thy God.

The duties here commanded are these:
1. To acknowledge God, that is, to know in confess him to be such a God, as he hath revealed himself to the His Word. Colossians :10, “Increasing in the knowledge of God.” Jeremiah 24:7, “and will give them a new heart to know me, then I am the lord, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” In this knowledge of God must we glory, Jeremiah 9:24, “let him that glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows me, for I am the lord which shows mercy, judgment and righteousness in the earth.” 2. A union with God, whereby a man is knit in heart with God, Joshua 23:8, “Stick fast unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.” Acts 14:23, “He exhorted all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave to the Lord.” Man cleaveth unto God in three ways: assurance in love, in fear of God. Assurance, is that whereby a man acknowledging the power and might of God, does steadfastly rest himself in Him, against all assaults whatsoever, 2 Chronicles 20:2″and ye shall be assured, believe his prophets and ye shall prosper.” Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” And verse 3, “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”Hence rises patients, and alacrity and present perils. Psalm 39:9,” I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” 2 Samuel 16:10,”And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” Genesis 45:5, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” 2 Kings 6:16, “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”This assurance engenders hope, which is a patient expectation of God’s presence and assistance in all things that are to come. Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass,” and verse 7, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” Proverbs 16:3 “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”The love of God, is that whereby, man acknowledging God’s goodness and favor towards him, does again love him above all things. Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”The marks of the true love of God are these: 1) Hear willingly His Word, 2) to speak often of Him, 3) to think often of Him, 4) to do His will without difficulty, 5) to give body and all for His cause, 6) to desire His presence above all, and to bewailed His absence, 7) to embrace all such things as appertained to Him, 8) to love and hate that which He loves and hates, 9) in all things to seek to please Him, 10) to draw others under the love of Him, 11) to esteem highly of such gifts and graces as He bestowed, 12) to stay ourselves upon His counsel revealed in His Word, and lastly, to call upon His name with assurance.

The fear of God whereby man acknowledging both God’s mercy and justice, doth, as the greatest evil, fear to displease God. Psalm 130:4 , ” But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Habakkuk 3:16, ” When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.” Psalm 4:4, ” Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Hence ariseth the godly man’s desire, to prove himself in all things to His God, Genesis 5:22, ” And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.” Genesis 17:1, ” And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

Out of these 3 former virtues, proceeds humility, whereby a man acknowledging God’s free bounty, and prostrating Himself before him, does ascribe unto Him all praise and glory. 1 Corinthians 1:31, “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-11, “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.” and verse 14, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”

The negative part.

Account not that as God, which is by nature no God.

In this place are theses sins forbidden: 1. ignorance of the true God and his will, which is not only not to know, but also to doubt of such things, as God has revealed in his word, Jeremiah 4:22, ” For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 9:3, ” And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.”

2. Atheism, when the heart denies either God, or His attributes: as His Justice, Wisdom, Providence, Presence. Psalm 14:1, ” The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Ephesians 2:12, ” That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Malachi 1:2, ” I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob.” Malachi 3:14, ” Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?”

3. Errors Concerning God, the persons of the Deity, or the Attributes. Here is to be reproved Hellenism, which is the acknowledging an adoring of a multiplicity of God’s. Augustine in his book 6 of the City of God, Chapter 7.

Again, Judaism here condemned which worships one God without Christ.

The like may be said of the heresies of the Manichees, and Marcion, who denied God to be the creator of the world: of Sabellius denying the distinction of three persons, and Artius who say hath that Christ the Son of God is not very God.

4. to withdraw and remove the affections of the heart from the Lord and set them upon other things. Isaiah 29:13, ” Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Jeremiah 12:2, ” Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.” the heart in many ways withdrawn from God: 1) By distrust in God, Hebrews 10:38 ” Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” 2) From this difference arise no patience in suffering afflictions; Jeremiah 20:14, ” Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.” See also verse 13, ” Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.” And also verse 18, ” Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” 3) Tempting of God, when such as distrust, or rather contempt of Him seek experiment of God’s truth in power. Matthew 4:7, ” Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” 1 Corinthians 10:9, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” See also verse 10, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” 4) Desperation, Genesis 4:13, ” And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” 5) Fullness, concerning the truth of God, or of his benefits present, or of to come. Psalm 116:12, ” What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?”

5. Confidence in creatures, whether it be in their strength, as Jeremiah 17:5, ” Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD,” or riches, Matthew 6:24, ” No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Ephesians 5:5, ” For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Or defense places Jeremiah 49:16, ” Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.” Or Pleasure, and dainties: to such their belly is there God, Philippians 3:19. Or and physicians, 2 Chronicles 16:12, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” Briefly, to this place, principally may be joined that devilish confidence, which magicians and all such as take advice of them, to put in the devil in his works. Leviticus 20:6, ” And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.”

6. The love of the creature, above the love of God, Matthew 10:37, ” He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” John 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” To this belongs self-love, 2 Timothy 3:2, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, &c.”

7. Hatred and contempt of God, when man, by reason of his declining nature from God, the fly from him, and is angry towards God when he punishes sin. Romans 8:7, ” Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 1:30, ” Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents…”

8. Want of the fear of God, Psalm 36:1, ” The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.”

9. Fear of the creature, more than the Creator, Revelation 21:8, ” But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Matthew 10:28, ” And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jeremiah 10:2, ” Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.”

10. Hardness of heart, or carnal security, when a man, neither acknowledging God’s judgments nor his own sins, dreams he is safe from God’s vengeance and such perils as arise from sin. Romans 2:5, ” But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Luke 21:34, ” And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”

11. These all do jointly engender pride, whereby a man ascribes all he hath that is good, not to God but to his own merit, and industry, referring in disposing of them holy unto his own proper credit. 1 Corinthians 4:6, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” See also verse 7, ” For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” Genesis 3:5, “” The high stairs of pride is that fearful presumption by which many climb rashly into God’s seat of majesty, as if they were gods. Acts 12:22-23, “And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

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