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Deuteronomy 5:4 . The Lord talked with you face to face. That is, as the Chaldaic reads, talked to us, without a mediator; but literally, they saw no similitude. His voice was loud, for all the nation heard; at least, if they did not distinctly hear the words, they heard the thunder, and saw the appearance of devouring flames. How mild is the aspect of the gospel compared with the terrors of the law! Exodus 19:20.
Deuteronomy 5:29 . Oh that there were such a heart in them. No father can be so solicitous for the reformation of a prodigal, as God is for the conversion of sinners. The church has sustained many long and unavailing controversies on the doctrines of grace, on liberty and necessity; but it is better to adore than dispute. Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. We are saved indeed by grace, but grace harmonized with the full consent of the heart, which at last yields, and sinks all helpless into the arms of God. On this head, Augustine has a wise saying: God who made thee without thee, will not save thee without thee.
Moses having again called the congregation, opens his ministry by painting the awful scenes of mount Sinai, at the promulgation of the law; for that covenant was binding to the children, as to their fathers. To what else can ministers appeal; the covenant is the same through all succeeding ages; and if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do!
He repeated the ten commandments nearly as in Exodus, and with such new motives as the Holy Spirit thought proper to add. The Israelites are required to give rest to their servants on the sabbathday, not merely because it was so from the beginning; but because they had all been servants in Egypt, and severely oppressed by the taskmasters; a most humane and worthy consideration. Filial homage and affection are farther enforced, not only by the length, but also by the blessings of life; that it may go well with thee. This has also been noticed by St. Paul, when applying the precept to christian children.
Moses reminds the people, that while terrified with the awful appearance of the fire, and with the sanctity of the divine voice, they had requested him to be a mediator, and to receive the law from the Lord. This proposition was pleasing to God. Hence we learn, what homage and reverence are due to the sacred ministry, when delivered in conformity to the word of God. Man may rely upon its declarations, as though God himself pronounced them from his holy place. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but his word shall not pass away. He surely will realize all the promises, and all the threatenings his servants shall pronounce.
The Lord, on accepting the mediation of Moses, uttered all the good wishes of a father and the compassion of a God for the people’s happiness. Oh that there were such a heart in them: Deuteronomy 5:29. As much as to say, I have now given them my covenant presence. I have given them laws and statutes superior to those of all other nations. I have provided atonement for their sins, and enlarged the promises of the Messiah, and of his kingdom. I have called them into a high state of favour and fellowship with myself. I have set before them a blessing and a curse. More I cannot do, without invading the original laws and liberty of man. If I withdraw or diminish my grace, then they are left to follow the corruption of their heart, and to perish. If I enlarge the grace of the covenant, or of initial salvation, then I force their will, and all their obedience and love are acts of necessity, not of choice. Sin in them, so circumstanced, would be no longer sin, and virtue would be no longer virtue: or rather all their crimes would belong to me, which cannot possibly be. Oh my Israel, then, thy destruction is of thyself: but in me is thy help. I give thee a covenant abounding with alsufficient grace; and Moses will superadd his intercession that thou mayest fear me, and keep my commandments always, that it may be well with thee, and well with thy children for ever. See Ezekiel 33:11. Luke 19:41. See also on this text Dr. S. Clarke’s Sermons. Dr. Doddridge’s Lectures, first edition, pp. 36, 38, 571, 572. My translation of Ostervald’s Exercise of the Ministry, 12mo. edition, p. 113.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany