View Deuteronomy 5 in the note window.
The general intent of the Ten Commandments as a
covenant between God and Israel, ver. 1 - 5.
The Commandments, ver. 6 - 21.
God writes them, and grants the people's request,
that he would speak by Moses, ver. 22 - 28.
Exhortations to obedience, ver. 29 - 33.
1: All Israel - Namely by their elders, who were to impart it to the
3: Not with our fathers - Only: but with us, who are all alive - He
saith not, that all who made the covenant at Sinai are now alive, but
this covenant was made with all that are now alive; which is most true, for
it was made with the elders in their persons, and with the rest in their
parents, who covenanted for them.
4: Face to face - Personally and immediately, not by the mouth or
ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men talk face to
face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you.
5: Between the Lord and you - As a mediator between you, according to
your desire. The word of the Lord - Not the ten commandments, which God
himself uttered, but the following statutes and judgments.
7: There being little said, concerning the spiritual sense of the
Ten Commandments, in the notes on the twentieth of Exodus, I think it
needful to add a few questions here, which the reader may answer between
God and his own soul. Thou shalt have none other gods before me - Hast
thou worshipped God in spirit and in truth? Hast thou proposed to
thyself no end besides him? Hath he been the end of all thy actions? Hast
thou sought for any other happiness, than the knowledge and love of God?
Dost thou experimentally know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he
hath sent? Dost thou love God? Dost thou love him with all thy heart, with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength; so as to love nothing else but in
that manner and degree which tends to increase thy love of him? Hast thou
found happiness in God? Is he the desire of thine eyes, the joy of thy
heart? If not, thou hast other gods before him.
8: Thou shalt not make any graven image - Hast thou not formed any
gross image of God in thy mind? Hast thou always thought of him as a pure
spirit, whom no man hath seen, nor can see? And hast thou worshipped him
with thy body, as well as with thy spirit, seeing both of them are God's?
11: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain - Hast
thou never used the name of God, unless on solemn and weighty occasions?
Hast thou then used it with the deepest awe? Hast thou duly honoured his
word, his ordinances, his ministers? Hast thou considered all things as
they stand in relation to him, and seen God in all? Hast thou looked upon
heaven as God's throne? Up on earth as God's footstool? On every thing
therein as belonging to the great king? On every creature as full of God?
12: Keep the sabbath - day, to sanctify it - Dost thou do no work on
this day, which can be done as well on another? Art thou peculiarly careful
on this day, to avoid all conversation, which does not tend to the knowledge
and love of God? Dost thou watch narrowly over all that are within thy
gates, that they too may keep it holy? And dost thou try every possible
means, to bring all men, wherever you are, to do the same?
16: Honour thy father and mother - Hast thou not been irreverent or
undutiful to either? Hast thou not slighted their advice? Hast thou
chearfully obeyed all their lawful commands? Hast thou loved and honoured
their persons? Supplied their wants, and concealed their infirmities? Hast
thou wrestled for them with God in prayer? Hast thou loved and honoured thy
prince, and avoided as fire all speaking evil of the ruler of thy people?
Have ye that are servants done all things as unto Christ? Not with
eye - service, but in singleness of heart? Have ye who are masters, behaved
as parents to your servants, with all gentleness and affection? Have ye all
obeyed them that watch over your souls, and esteemed them highly in love
for their work's sake?
17: Thou shalt not kill - Have you not tempted any one, to what might
shorten his life? Have you tempted none to intemperance? Have you suffered
none to be intemperate under your roof, or in your company? Have you done
all you could in every place, to prevent intemperance of all kinds! Are you
guilty of no degree of self - murder? Do you never eat or drink any thing
because you like it, although you have reason to believe, it is prejudicial
to your health? Have you constantly done whatever you had reason to believe
was conducive to it? Have you not hated your neighbour in your
heart? Have you reproved him that committed sin in your sight? If not,
you have in God's account hated him, seeing you suffered sin upon him.
Have you loved all men as your own soul? As Christ loved us? Have you done
unto all men, as in like circumstances, you would they should do to you?
Have you done all in your power to help your neighbours, enemies as well as
friends? Have you laboured to deliver every soul you could from sin and
misery? Have you shewed that you loved all men as yourself, by a constant,
earnest endeavour, to fill all places with holiness and happiness, with the
knowledge and love of God?
18: Neither shalt thou commit adultery - If thou hast not been guilty
of any act of uncleanness, hath thy heart conceived no unclean thought?
Hast thou not looked on a woman so as to lust after her? Hast thou not
betrayed thy own soul to temptation, by eating and drinking to the full, by
needless familiarities, by foolish talking, by levity of dress or behaviour?
Hast thou used all the means which scripture and reason suggest, to prevent
every kind and degree of unchastity? Hast thou laboured, by watching,
fasting, and prayer, to possess thy vessel in sanctification and honour?
19: Neither shalt thou steal - Have you seriously considered, that
these houses, lands, money, or goods, which you are used to call your
own, are not your own, but belong to another, even God? Have you
ever considered, that God is the sole proprietor of heaven and earth? The
true owner of every thing therein? Have you considered, that he has only
lent them to you? That you are but a steward of your Lord's goods?
And that he has told you expressly the uses and purposes for which he
intrusts you with them? Namely, for the furnishing first yourselves, and
then as many others as you can, with the things needful for life and
godliness? Have you considered, that you have no right at all, to apply any
part of them to any other purpose? And that if you do, you are as much a
robber of God, as any can be a robber of you?
20: Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour - Have
you not been guilty of evil - speaking? Of needlessly repeating the real
fault of your neighbour? If I see a man do an evil thing, and tell it to
another, unless from a full and clear conviction, that it is necessary to
mention it just then, for the glory of God, the safety or good of some other
person, or for the benefit of him that hath done amiss; and unless I then do
it only so far, as is necessary to these ends, that is evil - speaking.
O beware of this! It is scattering abroad arrows, fire - brands, and
21: Neither shalt thou covet any thing that is thy neighbour's - The
plain meaning of this is, thou shalt not desire any thing that is not thy
own, any thing which thou hast not. Indeed why shouldst thou? God hath
given thee whatever tends to thy one end, holiness. Thou canst not deny it,
without making him a liar: and: when any thing else will tend thereto, he
will give thee that also. There is therefore no room to desire any thing
which thou hast not. Thou hast already every thing that is really good for
thee, wouldst thou have more money, more pleasure, more praise still? Why
this is not good for thee. God has told thee so, by withholding it from
thee. O give thyself up to his wise and gracious disposal!
22: Out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick
darkness - That was a dispensation of terror, designed to make the gospel
of grace the more welcome, and to be a specimen of the terrors of the
judgment - day. He added no more - He ceased for that time to speak
immediately, and with that loud voice unto the people; for the rest were
delivered to Moses, and by him communicated unto them. This he did to
shew the preeminence of that law above the rest, and its everlasting
25: Why should we die? - For though God hath for this season kept us
alive, yet we shall never be able to endure any farther discourse from him
in such a terrible manner, but shall certainly sink under the burden of it.
26: Flesh - Is here put for man in his frail, corruptible, and mortal
29: O that there were such an heart in them! - A heart to fear God,
and keep his commandments forever! The God of heaven is truly and earnestly
desirous of the salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof
that he is so: he gives us time and space to repent; by his mercies invites
us to repentance, and waiteth to be gracious: has sent his son to redeem
us, published a general offer of pardon, promised his spirit to those that
pray for him; and has said, yea and sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the
death of a sinner!