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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Exodus 20

 

 

Verse 1

‘THE TEN WORDS’

‘All these words.’

Exodus 20:1

By way of introduction note: 1. The harmony between the solemn surroundings of Sinai, and the solemn revelations there made by God. Dean Stanley brings this out well; and it is the subject of the impressive contrast drawn in Hebrews 12:18-24. God’s Nature is in harmony with God’s Word. Nature is like the organ that accompanies the Divine solo. 2. The importance of moral preparations for personal or national audience with the Holy God. 3. There is a question whether an actual Divine voice was heard sounding from Sinai, or whether the people were frightened by the inarticulate sound of mighty thunderings. To decide this ch. 19 should be studied.

I. The Overwhelming Solemnity of the Proclamation of the ‘Ten Words,’ as compared with the precepts of the Ceremonial Law. Those were given through Moses: these, amid accompaniments of indescribable majesty, by God Himself. They were afterwards written on tables of stone by His own finger, to be preserved for ages in the Ark of the Covenant, and immediately beneath the Mercy-seat itself.

II. The Order,—God first, man second; as in the Lord’s Prayer. Morality rests on religion. The only sure road to thorough righteousness manward is the way of holiness. Honour God, and you cannot be a bad neighbour. Love to Him soon works out in love to others. The law begins with the state of heart towards God: it ends with the state of heart towards man,—‘Thou shalt not covet.’ How important, then, to begin at the right place, to get right with God!

III. These old words judge each one of us to-day; and they search, as Jesus tells us, not the act merely, but the thought, the desire, the secret purpose. Who can abide their searching light? None. We are all verily guilty. What then? The glorious Gospel with its promise of complete salvation from the curse of the broken law, through the Atoning Lamb, and from the curse of a godless heart, by the gift both of the new spirit and of the Holy Spirit Himself to live therein as the well-spring of all righteousness, the Eternal Life.

Illustration

(1) ‘This code of commandments is a transcript of the records of conscience in the heart of men. This is to those what the great town clock is to the watches which the citizens carry in their pockets. We cannot keep this holy law, in its letter or in its spirit, as expounded by our Lord. It is high, we cannot attain to it. Every attempt is doomed to fail, as St. Paul tells us in Romans 7, which we make in the energy of our own nature. And it is only when we are filled with the Holy Spirit that we are able to realise the Divine purpose in laying down these transcendently glorious claims. We yield obedience then, not because of pressure brought to bear on us from without, but from an inward impulse, which it is our joy to obey. We are not actuated by the fear of a slave, but by the love of a child, who is animated by the spirit of his Father.’

(2) ‘The glory of the Decalogue is that, while the tables are two, the law is one, and that it unites religion and morality at a time when they were supposed to be entirely separate. Significantly, the Commandments are mostly prohibitions. “Thou shalt not” is needed in a sinful world. Negative commandments are the rough rind which guards the ripening fruit. The deliverance is basis of all, so even then a redemptive act was the foundation of God’s claim on men, and grateful love was the motive of obedience.’

(3) ‘Ah, but let me have the new spirit created in me from above—and what a change! The law is now my Father’s law, and, since all His thoughts toward me are thoughts of peace and not of evil, I am eager to please Him. It is now my Saviour’s law, and, since for my sake He emptied Himself and welcomed the death of the Cross, I cannot do enough in His service.

When the man is right, the Commandment is not grievous.’


Verse 3

THE ONLY GOD

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’

Exodus 20:3

I do not know whether you have ever noticed the great part which the Commandments play in the instruction of members of the Church of England. In the early days of our English Church every clergyman was commanded to explain the Ten Commandments every quarter. When children come to be baptised the learning of the Ten Commandments and their meaning is placed on the same footing as the learning of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. We are told to place these Commandments up in our churches; they are read at every celebration of the Holy Communion; they are the standard according to the Church of England by which you are to examine yourselves to see whether you are living a godly, righteous, and sober life, and whether you are fit and prepared to come to the Holy Communion. Therefore it is necessary for us to know what is the meaning of these Commandments; and I want to speak about this first one, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’

I. It tells you this—first, that there is a God; second, that you are to have that God for your God; and third, that you are not to have any other. Some people tell you these Commandments are old-fashioned, that they need not be read now. The man who says they are old-fashioned probably has something in his character that the Commandments touch, and he does not like that. We must judge ourselves by them as the Prayer Book tells us to do. Why is this Commandment, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,’ placed first? The reason is this—that there is no ground for morality, and truth and justice, and purity except the belief in religion and the basis of the love of God.

II. Are we putting it first? That is the question which we have to ask. It was first put to the Jews because they were tempted to have a great many gods. We know that one of their great sins was idolatry, that they made images and worshipped them, and so God says: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ But that is not the temptation with you and me. We are not likely to have a number of gods of that nature. The temptation to us is to have no God at all. Somebody says: ‘You never would think I would say there is no God.’ No; I have never met a man yet who said there was no God. I have read about them. But many of us act as if there were no God, and that is just the same thing. Whether we believe in a God does not depend on what we say, but it depends upon the life we live.

III. Look at the gods which your forefathers had. Take the Egyptians, for instance. The Egyptians worshipped the river Nile. Why? The river Nile is the fertiliser of Egypt. That is the reason that when there was a famine in the land of Canaan there was still corn in Egypt. The Egyptian said: ‘The river Nile is good to me. It makes the corn and the rice grow in my country. I will thank it and bow down to it.’ What a beautiful spirit, though he was wrong in his worship! Does he not set us a beautiful example? We know that it is not the creature but the Creator Who made the river, Who caused it to overflow its banks. Do we turn to the Creator with the same thankfulness as the old Egyptian turned to the Nile? Or take your own forefathers. They looked up to the sun, and they said: ‘The sun warms us, gives us light, makes the things grow in our land. Oh, the sun is good! We will bow down and worship it. It is the kindest thing we know.’ And so they worshipped the sun, and the sun was one of their gods. We know that we ought not to worship the sun, and moon, and stars, and suchlike, because we know that we must go behind those to the Creator Who made them. But have we the same spirit of thankfulness and praise to Him Who gave the sun to shine on us, to Him Who sends every good and every perfect gift to each one of us, and has given the Saviour to die for us? Do we thank Him, worship Him, bow down before Him as these heathen did to the river, and the sun and the moon? But is there nothing that we are likely to make a god of? I think there is. I am perfectly certain there is many a person in this church who is making a god of something. Anything which comes between you and the great God Himself is your god. Now, is there anything? Look into your own life and soul. You can find numbers of examples in the Bible of people who put things before their God. Nobody and nothing must stand between you and God. Your love must always be submissive to the Will of God. ‘I am to be first,’ God says; and if there come a conflict between God’s Will and your own, then God’s Will must come first.

IV. Is there anybody here who is putting all his life and soul into getting money? There are hosts of men and women who do it. The one thing in life is money, to some people. It is getting such a power in the world that everybody is grasping after it. Money is their god. If they do anything in the pursuit of this money which is contrary to the law of God, in which they have to shut God from their eyes and dare not look at Him, then that is their god. Do you think there is anything necessary in your life that God will not give you? Of course there is not. It is because we do not trust Him, it is because we grasp things which are not necessary to our life, that we have to do such things as that. There are others who put their pleasure first, and who, if there is a conflict between duty and pleasure, will take the pleasure and leave the duty to their God. They must have their pleasure whatever else comes. Then pleasure is their god.

Oh! do not let us put things before God. Let us try day by day to be conscious of the Presence of God. It is a wonderful strength and power which God has given you, which will help you whatever trials and difficulties come in your life. You must make an effort to be really conscious of your God. That is the only way to make Him really your God, and place Him first.

V. How can I do this? How am I to be conscious of Him? Well, my answer is, It is a very slow process, and a very difficult one. The first thing you do should be to ask God to help you to be conscious of His Presence. If you do not, it will become a habit in your life when a difficulty comes to you to turn and try to realise the fact that you are in the presence of God; and God is only our God when it becomes natural to us in all difficulties to turn our mind to Him. But you can never do anything that is worth anything without work and labour. You cannot set God as your God before everything else without an effort. Oh! a tremendous effort it will be sometimes, and the more you try the more you may depend upon it the devil will try to take God out of your presence. But do not be afraid. The Lord Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan, and it is not a sign that you are getting on when the devil does not trouble you. Life is full of difficulties and trials, and it sometimes seems as if you are going to give way. That is the time when you are making real progress. ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’

Illustration

‘The First Commandment sounds as if moulded by consideration for the comparatively rude people of the Exodus, for it does not proclaim monotheism as plainly as later prophets would probably have done, but confines itself to strictly enjoining forbidding polytheism for Israel. It leaves the question of the existence of “other gods” undealt with, only sternly demanding that they shall not be recognised by the people. Surely that tone is a trace of the early origin of the Decalogue. This Commandment has no reason annexed; the reason lies in the redemptive act just spoken of. Idolatry is forbidden in the Second Commandment. We cannot realise the tremendous force of the temptation to worshipping a visible representation of God which still holds so many peoples in its grip; but we can see that even now it has not lost all its seducing power, and that fibres of that root of bitterness still remain even in the soil of the church.

For Israel the temptation was overwhelming. To stand alone against the world was beyond them. Let us not blame them harshly, since we have little of their temptations, and since some parts of the church are not wholly free from their sin.’


Verse 4

NO GRAVEN IMAGE

‘Thou shalt not make … any graven image,’ etc.

Exodus 20:4

I. The primary meaning of this commandment no longer needs enforcement.—There is no longer any disposition to worship Jehovah under any symbolical form, whether of a calf or anything else. Even if anywhere excessive honour seems to be paid to pictures and statues of our Lord or His Mother, this can hardly be strictly said to be a breach of the Second Commandment. For the essential sin, against which the Second Commandment is directed, is the low conception of the Divine Being which is involved in representing Him as adequately symbolised by any created thing; and this would not be involved in any excessive reverence for statues or pictures, which only attempt to portray Christ’s humanity. When God came in such a form, that He could be seen and handled as the Son of Man, He satisfied that craving which in earlier ages required restraint. He showed that God could be seen and known and worshipped as man without danger of idolatry. No doubt pictures and images of Christ may be held in a superstitious reverence, and may in that way weaken our sense of unseen realities. But it would be as uncharitable to stigmatise the reverence paid to them as idolatrous as to call our regard for the relics of a dead child or friend idolatrous. Iconoclasm, under whatever guise it poses, is as wanting in lucidity as it is in charity; while the faults of character which it breeds and fosters are certainly far more serious than any which it is likely to cure. It is possible, but only just possible, that a very uneducated Christian might think that the material atoms composing a painting or statue, which represented Christ, were more sacred in themselves than the atoms composing a chair or a table. Such an idea would show a certain confusion of thought, but it would not involve a breach of the Second Commandment.

II. The Second Commandment has still a meaning; it is the safeguard of the imagination.—It bids us, first of all, think of God as He has revealed Himself—as the Father; it forbids the misuse of the imaginative faculty in thinking of Him as other than He is. This is its deepest lesson. It is the germ-thought which prescribes all high and reverent thought about God. God is to be honoured with our imagination. And then, in order that we may make it capable of honouring Him, its use is to be strictly restrained; it must not run riot and construct false views of life, or paint false and bad pictures within us and dwell on them. It needs restraint; it needs also cultivation. It can never be said too strongly that to use your imagination aright you must spiritualise it. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’—they and only they. You must keep its delicate fibre untarnished; otherwise you cannot see that which is, the real, the Divine.

The Second Commandment is the safeguard of the imagination; it keeps us true to high conceptions of God: it forbids us to imagine Him as a God from whom we should shrink if He were a man—a non-natural Being; it forbids any degradation in our thought of Him. In order to lay hold of its spirit, we must discipline the imagination so that we may be able to use it aright: we must train it by keeping it from degradation, but especially by filling it with all that is beautiful and true. For both in the disciplining of the imagination in ourselves and in the training of it in others, the ‘Thou shalt not,’ the mere laws of prohibition and restraint are of little use. Practically we shall find that the only way not to exercise the imagination wrongly is to exercise it rightly. If we would keep it from base uses, we must put it to noble uses. ‘We must walk in the Spirit’ if we are not to ‘fulfil the lusts of the flesh.’ The Divine law for us is positive. The grim sign-posts that keep us out of the woods by assuring us that guns and man-traps are to be found there, will not give us of themselves the benefits of healthy exercise: they may keep us from dangers, they will not give us fresh air. The only way of keeping the imagination from poison is by presenting it with its true food. Give it real loveliness to dwell on and it will reject the sham, the pretentious, the unworthy.

Illustration

‘Nothing could be more repugnant than for us to bow in worship to an idol. Every instinct of our souls would rebel. But have you never bestowed on a friend, on your business, on your money, on yourself, the love and adoration which belong to God? And there is a still more special modern peril. We may not have placed a material idol in the shrine where we ought to have worshipped the true and living God, but we have seated upon His throne that impersonal energy called force. Talk about the fascination and danger of idol worship! Here is a peril a thousandfold more terrible. Millions of us (unconsciously, perhaps) are prostrating ourselves before force and law instead of before mind and heart. These fearful abstractions are benumbing and paralysing our emotions of love and devotion. I believe that a century of such prostration (it cannot be called worship) will have as deadly an influence on the soul as did the worship of Astarte and Baal. Sceptics may sneer at the idea of God’s being “jealous” as immoral, but one thing is certain, and that is that Nature, or Force, or whatever you wish to call that supreme power that shapes the destinies of men, will never let them worship anything but the highest. With a fearful and inexorable judgment, he (or it) “visits the iniquity” of worshipping anything less than the highest with infinite misery and shame. If this jealousy can be in nature without subjecting it to reproach, why should it be a reproach to nature’s God!’


Verse 7

THE HOLY NAME

‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’

Exodus 20:7

Though every feeling of reverence and gratitude bids us use the wondrous name of God with awe and recollection, we can offer no mere ceremonial homage to His name. It is Himself we reverence, it is Himself in His nature, His will, His character, for being what He is and what He has told us that He is.

I. Our reverence for Himself spreads over all that is connected with Him—over man made in His image whatever may be his outward conditions; over all that is affected by His name, all that is associated with His worship, the Bible, the Ministry, the Sacraments. Our reverence is shown, not by unwillingness to mention His name, but by that inward prostration of heart and soul and spirit before Him which affects and colours all our outward actions. All external reverence is the result of this inward awe. This is very much misunderstood, and it may be well to say a few words about it. We are often exhorted to reverence in these days as if it were an outward thing; there are certain outward acts said to be reverent, and we are told that to omit them is to be wanting in reverence. To make it quite clear, such outward acts as bowing to the Altar and making the sign of the Cross are said to be reverent. Certainly they are, if they mean anything at all. If making the sign of the Cross means that you are filled with a sense of the great love of our Master and only Saviour in dying for you, that you desire to keep it alive in that fashion, it may be a token of real reverence. But if it is made as a mere form, it becomes the most shallow and meaningless ceremony.

Certainly the body has its share in reverence; the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the Lamb. Certainly no one full of reverence could possibly sit on a chair and stare in front of him, while imploring God to have mercy on him. Kneeling in prayer, standing in praise, bowing the head at the name of Jesus, are outward tokens of reverence, but they are not reverence itself. Reverence is an inward thing; it comes from the sight of God, from the spiritual vision. ‘Woe is me!’ cries Isaiah, ‘for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

II. This Third Commandment is, when we consider it deeply, not only the safeguard of reverence; it is also the protection of truth and honesty. Falsehood arises really from indifference to the real nature of God. If God is a fetish, then you may lie. If He is a living Person, you cannot. To lie is to take God’s name in vain. We have almost forgotten that the Third Commandment gives the strongest support to truthfulness, that its meaning for us Christians is that in every word we speak, we speak in the name of God, as His representative, and in His Presence.

III. There is one other effect of entering into the spirit of this Commandment which must be dwelt on, because there are signs in our conversation and our literature of its necessity. We take God’s name in vain assuredly when we scoff at anything which either is good or tries to be; when we sit and criticise those who are labouring to make the world better, when we laugh at their failures and misrepresent their motives.

Let it be said once and for all that people who try to live Christian lives are sure to present some inconsistencies. They must be inconsistent—all of them for awhile—some of them always. They must be inconsistent because their standard is a very high one, and it is hard to attain to it in this world: only those who try to attain to it know how hard it is. The Christian position is so often misunderstood that it is always worth while restating it. The Christian does not profess to be better than other people; he acknowledges that he often breaks God’s Commandments, that he is a sinful man, that he needs redemption; he knows far better than his critic that he often fails, he weeps bitter tears about these very inconsistencies over which they are chuckling, he is conscious of his sinfulness and of his inability to cure it without help from above, he is clinging to Christ as his Saviour from those very inconsistencies at which the scoffer is jeering. Seen in this light, is not then the whole attitude of scoffing brutal and inhuman? It is like laughing at a wounded soldier on the battle-field; it is like jeering at a fever-stricken patient in a sick-room. If you are doing nothing yourself to hallow God’s name, to make His nature, His character and will known and loved by men, at least beware how you scoff at those who, with whatever inconsistencies and whatever infirmities, are trying to maintain His cause.

Illustration

‘Profanity is the most puzzling of all vices, for it looks so improbable that its effects should be so profound. No man realises beforehand what damage it will do him, nor afterwards what it has done him. This discovery is left for others. They know that he has been coarsened, vulgarised, and brutalised. I knew a man who wouldn’t believe how coarse and vulgar and brutal profanity was, until, one day (to teach him a lesson), his beautiful wife began to swear like a pirate. It gave him such a shock of horror that he never uttered another oath. The Devil has some sort of reward for every vice but swearing, and this dirty service he gets men to perform for nothing. It gratifies no passion, it promotes no interest, it gives no pleasure. On the other hand, it destroys reverence, offends all decent people, and insults God. An oath in the mouth is a worm in a flower, a serpent in a bird’s nest.’


Verse 8

THE DAY OF REST AND WORSHIP

‘The Sabbath Day.’

Exodus 20:8

I. The first word of the Fourth Commandment reminds us that the Sabbath Day was already established among the Israelites when the law was delivered on Sinai. That law created nothing. It preserved and enforced what God had already taught His people to observe by another method than that of formal decrees.

II. In this Commandment work is enjoined, just as much as rest is enjoined. Man’s sin has turned work into a curse. God has redeemed and restored work into a blessing by uniting it again to the rest with which, in His Divine original order, it was associated.

III. God rests; therefore He would have man rest. God works; therefore He would have man work. Man cannot rest truly unless he remembers his relation to God, who rests.

IV. It is not wonderful that the Jews after the Captivity, as they had been schooled by a long discipline into an understanding of the meaning of the Second Commandment, so had learnt also to appreciate in some degree the worth of the Fourth. Nehemiah speaks frequently and with great emphasis of the Sabbath as a gift of God which their fathers had lightly esteemed, and which the new generation was bound most fondly to cherish. His words and acts were abused by the Jews who lived between his age and that of our Lord’s nativity, and when Christ came, the Sabbath itself, all its human graciousness, all its Divine reasonableness, were becoming each day more obscured.

V. Jesus, as the Mediator, declared Himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath, and proved Himself to be so by turning what the Jews made a curse into a blessing. He asserted the true glory of the Sabbath Day in asserting the mystery of His own relation to God and to His creatures.

Rev. F. D. Maurice.

Illustration

(1) ‘The observance of the Sabbath is the one piece of ritual, or form of worship, in the Decalogue. It is founded in Exodus on the divine rest from creation, while in the version of the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5 it is based on kindliness to servants, accentuated by the remembrance of Israel’s servitude in Egypt. Both reasons point to the fact that the Sabbath was instituted primarily as a day of rest from worldly toil, while the place of the Commandment among the “religious duties” points to the no less important fact that the Sabbath rest is used for its highest purpose when it is welcomed as giving opportunity for devout meditation, united worship, and gracious ministries of beneficence. The machine of the body needs a seventh-day rest, and the spirit no less needs a seventh day on which it may be recreated, calmed, and stimulated by communion with God and the vision of the invisible.’

(2) ‘In the East some attend early morning service in their respective churches, and, having done their duty in this respect, pass the rest of the day, like any other “aied” (feast day), in visiting and promenading, etc. Butchers and small tradesmen find it their most profitable day for business, but mechanics and labourers, if lazily inclined (as is usually the case) maintain their right to rest. However, not principle, but inclination, guides them in this respect, for some are willing to work on the Sabbath if you will employ them.’

(3) ‘You can judge a man’s intellectual, moral, and spiritual attainments by the use he makes of his Sabbaths. If they bore him, it is as certain that he has not achieved true culture as is his being bored by literature and art. If he devotes them to idleness or pleasure, it is like letting a pianola stand closed, or using it to play rag-time music. I would be more ashamed not to know how to make my Sabbath days a supreme joy and blessing than not to know how to spend a thousand pounds to my own advantage. Men need to bathe their souls in their peace and quiet as they need to bathe their bodies in pure water. It takes time to be holy. Men can no more be holy without quiet hours of exposing themselves to the influence of the Divine Spirit than an apple can get mellow without weeks of hanging in the sun. You may be able to keep honest and industrious and faithful by being everlastingly on the hop, skip, and jump, but holy (calm, serene, tranquil, at rest in moral equilibrium) you will never be without your hours and days of meditation and worship. Men are not polished into holiness by being eternally rolled along the shore of the ocean of life, like pebbles. Don’t try to keep Sunday holy, but your self.’


Verse 12

REVERENCE FOR PARENTS

‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’

Exodus 20:12

I. Consider various ways in which a man may honour his father and mother: (1) by doing his best in the way of self-improvement; (2) by habits of care and frugality; (3) by keeping himself in soberness, temperance, and chastity.

II. Honour to parents is only the principal and most important application of a general principle. The Apostle bids us honour all men, and again, ‘In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.’

III. From the conception of love due to father and mother, we rise to the conception of the love due to God. When God calls Himself our Father, the clouds which conceal Him from our sight seem to break and vanish, and we feel that we can love and honour Him. Above all, we can recognise Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in Him, and through His incarnation, has adopted us into the highest condition of sonship, and made us heirs with Him of eternal life.

—Bishop Harvey Goodwin.

SECOND OUTLINE

I. The Israelite, when he came into the land which the Lord God gave him, may have found many temptations not to honour his father and mother; and unless he believed that God knew what was good for him and for all men, and was commanding the thing that was right and true, and unless he believed that God would give him strength to obey that which He commanded, he would yield continually to his evil nature. But the words would be fulfilled to him. His days would be long in the land which the Lord his God gave him.

II. We too have the land for our inheritance. Our fathers and mothers belonged to it, as their fathers and mothers did, and while we reverence them, every one of us may feel that his days are indeed very long in this country. Yes, for they are not bounded by our birth, or by our death either. The country had people in it who belonged to us before we came into it; it will have those belonging to us when we have gone out of it. It is the Lord God who is, and was, and is to come, who has watched over our family, and will watch over those who shall come hereafter.

III. Count this commandment which God gives thee to be thy life. So out of the earthly honour there will spring one that is eternal. The vision of the perfect Father, the joy and blessedness of being His child, will dawn upon thee more and more, and with the higher blessing there will come a greater enjoyment and appreciation of the lower.

Rev. F. D. Maurice.

Illustration

(1) ‘The Commandment bears the impress of the antique mode of thought in another respect, in that what it enjoins is neither obedience nor love, but “honour.” On the one hand, mere obedience to parental precepts would not suffice; but, on the other, the modern tendency to slur over the idea of parental authority, and melt all other filial duties into that of affection, is entirely alien from the spirit of the Old Testament. “If I be a father, where is mine honour?” says God through the last of the prophets. The Romans made much of the patria potestas, the parental authority, and the Jewish father was to “command his household after him.” The relation seems austere and cold to us, but it would be all the better for many an English household if modern fathers commanded, and children obeyed, a good deal more.’

(2) ‘There is a saloon-keeper in Cincinnati who dwells in a beautiful house, while his old father and mother live in a hovel. Some one asked him why he did not help them. “Help them!” he answered hotly. “Why should I help them?” “Why? Why?” exclaimed the gentleman in surprise. “Because they are your parents, and brought you into the world.” “But I didn’t ask them to bring me. I am under no obligation to them for it. Life is no blessing in itself. They didn’t consult me!” he replied. Now I want to ask any one who does not believe that life is a gift of God, and is (in its potentiality) a good, how is he going to get around the saloon-keeper’s argument? I cannot help thinking that it is into just that awful selfishness that atheism, and perhaps even agnosticism, will land men. Either life is a blessing, and the gift of a loving God, or else it is of no value in itself, and a man has a perfect right to neglect, and even curse, the beings who brought him into it without his consent. On this supposition, what becomes of civilisation? Does anybody believe that civilisation could be perpetuated on the creed of the saloon-keeper? Reverence for children (and childhood) and for parents (and old age) are the two rails on which the car of civilisation runs, and you will ditch it if you take up either one.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 20:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/exodus-20.html. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 4th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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