The PREFACE to the Commandments
"God spoke all these words—I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." Exodus 20:1-2
"God spoke all these words." This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn proclamation. Other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the mouth of the holy prophets (Luke 1:70)—but here God spoke in his own person. Observe:
(1) The lawgiver. "God spoke." There are two things requisite in a lawgiver:
 Wisdom. Laws are founded upon reason; and he must be wise, who makes laws. God, in this respect, is most fit to be a lawgiver: "he is wise in heart." Job 9:4. He has a monopoly of wisdom. "The only wise God." 1 Tim 1:17. Therefore he is the fittest to enact and constitute laws.
 Authority. If a subject makes laws, however wise they may be, they lack the stamp of authority. God has the supreme power in his hand: he gives being to all; and he who gives men their lives, has most right to give them their laws.
(2) The law itself. "All these words." That is all the words of the moral law, which is usually styled the decalogue, or ten commandments. It is called the moral law because it is the rule of life and morality. "The Scripture, as Chrysostom says, "is a garden, and the moral law is the chief flower in it." It is a banquet, and the moral law is the chief dish in it.
The moral law is perfect. "The law of the Lord is perfect." Psalm 19:7. It is an exact model and platform of true religion; it is the standard of truth, the judge of controversies, the pole-star to direct us to heaven. "The commandment is a lamp." Prov 6:23. Though the moral law is not a Christ to justify us; it is a rule to instruct us.
The moral law is unalterable; it remains still in force. Though the ceremonial and judicial laws are abrogated, the moral law delivered by God's own mouth is of perpetual use in the church. It was written in tables of stone, to show its perpetuity.
The moral law is very illustrious and full of glory. God put glory upon it in the manner of its promulgation.
 The people, before the moral law was delivered, were to wash their clothes, whereby, as by a type, God required the sanctifying of their ears and hearts to receive the law. Exod 19:10.
 There were bounds set that none might touch the mount, which was to produce in the people reverence to the law. Exod 19:12.
 God wrote the law with his own finger, which was such an honor put upon the moral law, as we read of no other such writing. Exod 31:18. God by some mighty operation, made the law legible in letters as if it had been written with his own finger.
 God's putting the law in the ark to be preserved, was another signal mark of honor put upon it. The ark was the cabinet in which He put the ten commandments, as ten jewels.
 At the delivery of the moral law, many angels were in attendance. Deut 33:2. A parliament of angels was called, and God himself was the speaker.
Use one. Here we may notice God's goodness, who has not left us without a law. He often sets down the giving of his commandments as a demonstration of his love. "He has not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments they have not known them." Psalm 147:20. "You gave them true laws, good statutes, and commandments." Neh 9:13. What a strange creature would man be—if he had no law to direct him! There would be no living in the world; we would have none born but Ishmaels—every man's hand would be against his neighbor. Man would grow wild if he had not affliction to tame him, and the moral law to guide him. The law of God is a hedge to keep us within the bounds of sobriety and piety.
Use two. If God spoke all these words of the moral law, then it condemns:
(1) If God spoke all these words of the moral law, then it condemns the Marcionites and Manichees, who speak lightly, yes, blasphemously, of the moral law; who says it is below a Christian, it is carnal; which the apostle confutes, when he says, "The law is spiritual—but I am carnal." Rom 7:14.
(2) If God spoke all these words of the moral law, then it condemns the Antinomians, who will not admit the moral law to be a rule to a believer. We do not say that he is under the curse of the law—but the commands of the law. We do not say that the moral law is a Christ—but it is a star to lead to Christ. We do not say that it saves—but sanctifies. Those who cast God's law behind their backs—God will cast their prayers behind his back. Those who will not have the law to rule them—shall have the law to judge them.
(3) If God spoke all these words of the moral law, then it condemns the Papists, who, as if God's law were imperfect, and when he spoke all these words he did not speak enough—add to it their canons and traditions. This is to usurp God's wisdom—as if he knew not how to make his own law. This surely is a high provocation. "If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." Rev 22:18. As it is a great evil to add anything to a man's sealed well, so much more to add anything to the law which God himself spoke, and wrote with his own fingers!
Use three. If God spoke all the words of the moral law, several duties are enjoined upon us:
(1) If God spoke all these words, then we must HEAR all these words. The words which God speaks are too precious to be lost. As we would have God hear all our words when we pray—so we must hear all his words when he speaks. We must not be as the deaf adder, which stops her ears. He who stops his ears when God cries, shall cry himself—and not be heard.
(2) If God spoke all these words, then we must attend to them with REVERENCE. Every word of the moral law is an oracle from heaven. God himself is the preacher—which calls for reverence. If a judge gives a charge upon the bench, all attend with reverence. In the moral law, God himself gives a charge, "God spoke all these words!" With what veneration, therefore, should we attend! Moses took off his shoes from his feet, in token of reverence when God was about to speak to him. Exod 3:5, 6.
(3) If God spoke all these words of the moral law, then we must REMEMBER them. Surely all which God speaks—is worth remembering. Those words are weighty, which concern salvation. "It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life." Deut 32:47. Our memory should be like the chest in the ark, where the law was kept. God's oracles are ornaments, and shall we forget them? "Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? No! Yet for years on end, my people have forgotten me." Jer 2:32.
(4) If God spoke all these words, then BELIEVE them. See the name of God written upon every commandment. The heathens, in order to gain credit for their laws, reported that they were inspired by the gods at Rome. The moral law fetches its pedigree from heaven. God spoke all these words. Shall we not give credit to the God of heaven? How would the angel confirm the women in the resurrection of Christ? "Lo—I have told you." Matt 28:7. I speak in the word of an angel. Much more should the moral law be believed when it comes to us in the Word of God? "God spoke all these words." Unbelief enervates the virtue of God's Word and makes it prove abortive. "The Word did not profit them—not being mixed with faith." Heb 4:2. Eve gave more credit to the devil when he spoke—than she did to God!
(5) If God spoke all these words, then LOVE the commandments. "Oh, how love I your law! it is my meditation all day." Psalm 119:97. "Consider how I love your precepts." Psalm 119:159. The moral law is the copy of God's will, our spiritual directory; it shows us what sins to avoid, what duties to pursue. The ten commandments are a chain of pearls to adorn us, they are our treasury to enrich us; they are more precious than lands of spices, or rocks of diamonds. "The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." Psalm 119:72. The law of God has truth and goodness in it. Neh 9:13. Truth, for God, spoke it; and goodness, for there is nothing the commandment enjoins—but it is for our good. O then, let this command our love.
(6) If God spoke all these words, then TEACH your children the law of God. "These words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently unto your children." Deut 6:6, 7. He who is godly is both a diamond and a loadstone: a diamond for the sparkling of his grace, and a loadstone for his attractive virtue in drawing others to the love of God's precepts. "A godly man benefits others more than himself." You who are parents, discharge your duty. Though you cannot impart grace to your children—yet you may impart knowledge. Let your children know the commandments of God. "You shall teach them your children." Deut 11:19. You are careful to leave your children a portion: leave the oracles of heaven with them; instruct them in the law of God. If God spoke all these words, you may well speak them over again to your children.
(7) If God spoke all these words, the moral law must be OBEYED. If a king speaks, his word commands allegiance; much more, when God speaks, must his words be obeyed. Some will obey partially, obey some commandments, not others; like a plow, which, when it comes to a stiff piece of earth, makes a balk. But God, who spoke all the words of the moral law, will have all obeyed. He will not dispense with the breach of one law. Princes, indeed, for special reasons, sometimes dispense with penal statutes, and will not enforce the severity of the law; but God, who spoke all these words, binds men with a subpoena to yield obedience to every law.
This condemns the church of Rome, which, instead of obeying the whole moral law, blots out one commandment, and dispenses with others. They leave the second commandment out of their catechism because it condemns the making of images. And to fill up the number of ten, they divide the tenth commandment into two separate commandments. Thus, they incur that dreadful condemnation: "If any man shall take away from the words of this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life!" Rev 22:19. As they blot out one commandment and cut the knot which they cannot untie, so they dispense with other commandments. They dispense with the sixth commandment, making murder meritorious in case of propagating the Catholic cause. They dispense with the seventh commandment, wherein God forbids adultery; for the Pope dispenses with the sin of uncleanness, yes, incest, by paying fines and sums of money into his coffer. So the Pope takes men off their loyalty to God. Some of the Papists say expressly in their writings, that the Pope has the power to dispense with the laws of God, and can give men license to break the commandments of the Old and New Testaments. That such a religion should ever again get a foot in England, may the Lord in mercy prevent! If God spoke all the commandments, then we must obey all; he who breaks the hedge of the commandments, a serpent shall bite him!
But what man can obey all God's commandments?
To obey the law in a legal sense—to do all the law requires—no man can. Sin has cut the lock of original righteousness, where our strength lay. But, in a true gospel sense, we may so obey the moral law as to find acceptance with God. This gospel obedience consists of a sincere and real endeavor to observe the whole moral law. "I have done your commandments" (Psalm 119:166); not, I have done all I should do—but I have done all I am able to do; and wherein my obedience comes short, I look up to the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ, and hope for pardon through his blood. This is to obey the moral law evangelically; which, though it is not to our satisfaction—yet it is to God's acceptance.
We come now to the preface itself, which consists of three parts:
I. "I am the Lord your God";
II. "who has brought you out of the land of Egypt";
III. "out of the house of bondage".
I. "I am the Lord your God." Here we have a description of God:
(1) By his essential greatness, "I am the Lord;"
(2) By his relative goodness, "Your God."
 God is described by his essential greatness. "I am the Lord," or, as it is in the Hebrew, JEHOVAH. By this great name, God sets forth his majesty. The name of Jehovah was had in more reverence among the Jews, than any other name of God. It signifies God's self-sufficiency, eternity, independence, and immutability. Mal. 3:6.
Use one. If God is Jehovah, the fountain of being, who can do what he will—let us fear him. "That you may fear this glorious and fearful name, Jehovah." Deut 28:58.
Use two. If God is Jehovah, the supreme Lord, the blasphemous Papists are condemned who speak after this manner: "Our Lord God the Pope." Is it a wonder the Pope lifts his triple crown above the heads of kings and emperors, when he usurps God's title, "showing himself that he is God"? 2 Thess 2:4? He seeks to make himself lord of heaven, for he will canonize saints there. He seeks to make himself Lord of earth, for with his keys he binds and looses whom he pleases. He seeks to make himself Lord of hell, for he frees men out of purgatory. God will pull down these plumes of pride! He will consume this man of sin "with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming." 2 Thess 2:8.
 God is described by his relative goodness. "Your God." Had he called himself Jehovah only, it might have terrified us, and made us flee from him; but when he says, "your God," it allures and draws us to him. This, though a preface to the law, is pure gospel. The word "your God," is so sweet, that we can never suck all the honey out of it! "I am your God," not only by creation—but by-election. This word, "your God," though it was spoken to Israel, is a charter that belongs to all the saints. For further explanation, here are three questions. How does God come to be our God?
Through Jesus Christ. Christ is a middle person in the Trinity. He is Emmanuel, "God with us." He brings two different parties together. He makes our nature lovely to God, and God's nature lovely to us. By his death, he causes friendship, yes, union; and brings us within the covenant, and thus God becomes our God.
What is implied by God is our God?
It is comprehensive of all good things. God is our strong tower; our fountain of living water; our salvation. More particularly, God is our God, which implies the sweetest relations.
(1) The relation of a FATHER. "I will be a Father unto you;" 2 Cor 6:18. A father is full of tender care for his child. Upon whom does he settle the inheritance, but his child? God being our God, will be a father to us; a "Father of mercies," 2 Cor 1:3; "The everlasting Father." Isa 9:6. If God is our God, we have a Father in heaven who never dies!
(2) It imports the relation of a HUSBAND. "Your Maker is your husband." Isa 54:5. If God is our husband, He esteems us as precious to Him, as the apple of His eye! Zech 2:8. He imparts His secrets to us! Psalm 25:14. He bestows a kingdom upon us for our dowry! Luke 12:32.
How may we know that God is our God, by covenant union?
(1) By having his grace planted in us. Kings' children are known for their costly jewels. It is not having common gifts which show we belong to God; many have the gifts of God without God. But it is grace that gives us a true genuine title to God. In particular, faith is the grace of union, by which we may spell out our interest in God. Faith does not, as the mariner, cast its anchor downwards—but it casts its anchor upwards. Faith trusts in the mercy and blood of God, and trusting in God, engages him to be our God. Other graces make us like God; faith makes us one with him.
(2) We may know God is our God by having the down payment of his Spirit in our hearts. "He set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Cor 1:22. God often gives the purse to the wicked—but the Spirit only to such as he intends to make his heirs. Have we had the consecration of the Spirit? If we have not had the sealing work of the Spirit, have we had the healing work? "You have an anointing from the Holy One." 1 John 2:20. Where the Spirit is, he stamps the impress of its own holiness upon the heart; he embroiders and bespangles the soul, and makes it all glorious within.
Have we had the attraction of the Spirit? "Draw me, we will run after you." Canticles 1:4. Has the Spirit, by his magnetic virtue, drawn our hearts to God? Can we say, "O you whom my soul loves?" Canticles 1:7. Is God our paradise of delight? Is he our chief treasure! Are our hearts so chained to God—that no other object can enchant us, or draw us away from him?
Have we had the elevation of the Spirit? Has he raised our hearts above the world? "The Spirit lifted me up." Ezek 3:14. Has the Spirit made us seek the things above where Christ is? Though our flesh is on earth—is our heart in heaven? Though we live here, do we trade above? Has the Spirit thus lifted us up? By this, we may know that God is our God. Where God gives his Spirit as a pledge, there he gives himself for a portion.
(3) We may know God is our God if he has given us the hearts of children. Have we obedient hearts? "When you said—Seek my face; my heart said unto you—Your face, Lord, will I seek." Psalm 27:8. Do we subscribe to God's commands when his commands cross our will? A true Christian is like a flower—which opens to the sun and shuts to the darkness. He opens to God and shuts to sin. If we have the hearts of children, God is our Father.
(4) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in him, by standing up for his interest. We shall appear in his cause and vindicate his truth, wherein his glory is so much concerned. Athanasius was the bulwark of truth; he stood up for it when most of the world were heretics. There is no better sign of having an interest in God than standing up for his interest.
(5) We may know God is ours, and we have an interest in him, by his having an interest in us. "My beloved is mine—and I am his." Canticles 2:16. When God says to the soul, "You are mine!" The soul answers, "Lord, I am yours! All I have is at your service; my head shall be your to study for you; my tongue shall be your to praise you." If God is our God by way of donation, we are his by way of dedication; we live to him and are more his than we are our own. Thus we may come to know that God is our God.
Use one. Above all things, let us get this great charter confirmed, that God is our God. God is not comfortable—unless he is ours. Let us labor to get sound pieces of evidence that God is our God. We cannot call health, liberty, estate, ours; but let us be able to call God ours, and say as the church, "God, even our own God, shall bless us!" Psalm 67:6. Let every soul labor to pronounce this Shibboleth, "My God!" That we may endeavor to have God for our God, consider the misery of such as have not to God for their God—in how sad a condition are they when the hour of distress comes! This was Saul's case when he said "I am sorely distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me." 1 Sam 28:15. A wicked man in time of trouble is like a vessel tossed on the sea without an anchor, which strikes on rocks or sands.
A sinner who has not God to be his God may make a shift while health and estate last—but when these crutches on which he leaned are broken—his heart must sink. It is with him as it was with the old world when the flood came. The waters at first came to the valleys—but then the people would get to the hills and mountains; but when the waters came to the mountains, then there might be some trees on the high hills, and they would climb up to them; ay—but the waters rose above the tops of the trees, and then their hearts failed them, and all hopes of being saved were gone. So it is with a man who has not God to be his God. If one comfort is taken away, he has another; if he loses a child, he has an estate; but when the waters rise higher, death comes and takes away all, and he has nothing to help himself with—no God to go to, he must need to die in despair. How great a privilege it is to have God for our God! "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Psalm 144:15. "Man's happiness is God himself." Augustine. That you may see the privilege of this charter:
(1) If God is our God, then though we may feel the stroke of evil—yet not the sting. He must need to be happy who is in such a condition, that nothing can hurt him. If he loses his name, it is written in the book of life; if he loses his liberty, his conscience is free; if he loses his estate, he is possessed of the pearl of price; if he meets with storms, he knows where to put in for harbor; God is his God, and heaven is his heaven.
(2) If God is our God, our soul is safe. The soul is the jewel, it is a blossom of eternity. "I was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body;" in the Chaldee, it is "in the midst of my sheath." Dan 7:15. The body is but the sheath; the soul is the princely part of man, which sways the scepter of reason. It is "a celestial spark," as Damascene calls it. If God is our God, the soul is safe, as in a garrison. Death can do no more hurt to a virtuous heaven-born soul than David did to Saul when he cut off the skirt of his garment. The soul is safe, being hidden in the promises; hidden in the wounds of Christ; hidden in God's decree. The soul is the pearl, and heaven is the cabinet where God will lock it up safely forever
(3) If God is our God, then all that is in God is ours. The Lord says to a saint in covenant, as the king of Israel to the king of Syria, "I am yours—and all that I have." 1 Kings 20:4. So says God, "I am yours!" How happy is he who not only inherits the gift of God—but inherits God himself! All that I have, shall be yours! My wisdom shall be yours to teach you! My power shall be yours to support you! My mercy shall be yours to save you. God is an infinite ocean of blessedness, and there is enough in him to fill us: as if a thousand buckets were thrown into the sea, there is enough in the sea to fill them.
(4) If God is our God, he will entirely love us. Property is the ground of love. God may give men kingdoms, and not love them, but he cannot be our God, and not love us. He calls his covenanted saints, Jediduth Naphshi, "The dearly beloved of my soul." Jer 12:7. He rejoices over them with joy and rests in his love. Zeph 3:17. They are his refined silver (Zech 13:9); his jewels (Mal 3:17); his royal diadem (Isa 62:3). He gives them the cream and flower of his love. He not only opens his hand and fills them—but opens his heart and fills them. Psalm 145:16.
(5) If God is our God, he will do more for us than all the world besides can. What is that?
 He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, he will make music within. The world can create trouble in peace—but God can create peace in trouble. He will send the Comforter, who, as a dove, brings an olive branch of peace in his mouth. John 14:16.
 God will give us a crown of immortality. The world can give a crown of gold—but that crown has thorns in it and die in it! But God will give you a crown of glory—which never fades away. 1 Pet. 5:4. The garland made of the flowers of paradise never withers!
(6) If God is our God, he will bear with many infirmities. He may respite sinners a while—but long forbearance is no acquittance; he will throw them to hell for their sins! But if he is our God, he will not destroy us for every failing; he bears with his spouse as with the weaker vessel. He may chastise. Psalm 89:32. He may use the rod and the pruning knife—but not the bloody ax. "He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob." Numb 23:21. He will not see sin in his people so as to destroy them—but their sins so as to pity them. He sees them as a physician sees a disease in his patient—to heal him. "I have seen his ways—and will heal him." Isa 57:18. Every failure does not break the marriage bond asunder. The disciples had great failings, they all forsook Christ and fled, but this did not break off their saving interest in God; therefore, says Christ, at his ascension, "Tell my disciples, I go to my God and to their God."
(7) If God is once our God, he is so forever. "This God is our God forever and ever!" Psalm 48:14. Whatever worldly comforts we have—they are but for a season, and we must part with all. Heb 11:25. As Paul's friends accompanied him to the ship, and there left him (Acts 20:38), so all our earthly comforts will but go with us to the grave, and there leave us. You cannot say that you have health and shall have it forever. You cannot say that you have a child and shall have it forever. But if God is your God—you shall have him forever! "This God is our God forever and ever." If God is our God, he will be a God to us as long as he is a God. "You have taken away my gods," said Micah. Judges 18:14. But it cannot be said to a believer, that his God is taken away. He may lose everything else—but cannot lose his God. God is ours from everlasting in the election—and to everlasting in glory.
(8) If God is our God, we shall enjoy all our godly relations with him in heaven. The great felicity on earth is to enjoy relations. A father sees his own picture in a child, and a wife sees herself in her husband. We plant the flower of love among our relations, and the loss of them is like the pulling off of a limb from the body. But if God is ours, with the enjoyment of God we shall enjoy all our pious relations in glory. The gracious child shall see his godly father, the virtuous wife shall see her pious husband in Christ's arms; and then there will be a dearer love to relations than there ever was before, though in a far different manner; then relations shall meet and never part. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Use two. To such as can realize this covenant union, we have several EXHORTATIONS.
(1) If God is our God, let us improve our interest in him, let us cast all our burdens upon him: the burden of our fears, our needs, and our sins. "Cast your burden upon the Lord." Psalm 55:22. Wicked men who are a burden to God—have no right to cast their burden upon him. But such as have God for their God are called upon to cast their burden on him. Where should the child ease all its cares, but in the bosom of its parent? "Let all your needs lie upon me." Judges 19:20. So God seems to say to his children, "Let all your needs lie upon me." Christian, what troubles you? You have a God to pardon your sins and to supply your needs; therefore roll your burden on him. "Casting all your care upon him, because he cares for you." 1 Pet 5:7. Why are Christians so disquieted in their minds? They are taking care—when they should be casting care.
(2) If God is our God, let us learn to be contented, though we have the less of other things. Contentment is a rare jewel, it is the cure of care. If we have God to be our God—well may we be contented. "I know whom I have believed." 2 Tim 1:12. There was Paul's interest in God. "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things." 2 Cor 6:10. Here was his contentment. That such who have covenant-union with God may be filled with the contentment of spirit, consider what a rich blessing, God is to the soul.
He is bonum sufficient—a sufficient good. He who has God has enough. If a man is thirsty, bring him to a spring, and he is satisfied; in God, there is enough to fill the heaven-born soul. He gives "grace and glory." Psalm 84:11. There is in God not only a sufficiency—but a redundancy; he is not only full as a vessel—but as a spring. Other things can no more fill the soul than a mariner's breath can fill the sails of a ship; but in God, there is a cornucopia, an infinite fullness! He has enough to fill the angels, therefore enough to fill us. The heart is a triangle—which only the Trinity can fill.
God is bonum sanctificans—a sanctifying good. He sanctifies all our COMFORTS and turns them into blessings. Health is blessed, estate is blessed. "I will abundantly bless her provision." Psalm 132:15. He gives the little meal in the barrel—as a pledge of the royal feast in paradise. He sanctifies all our CROSSES. They shall not be destructive punishments—but medicines; they shall corrode and eat out the venom of sin; they shall polish and refine our grace. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles. When God stretches the strings of his violin, it is to make the music better.
God is bonum select—a choice good. All earthly things are but the blessings of the footstool—but to have God himself to be ours, is the blessing of the throne. Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines—but he settled the inheritance upon Isaac. "Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac." Gen 25:5. God may send away the men of the world with gifts, a little gold and silver; but in giving us himself, he gives us the very essence, his grace, his love, his kingdom! ere is the crowning blessing!
God is bonum summum—the highest good. In the chief good, there must be delectability; it must have something that is delicious and sweet: and where can we suck those pure essential comforts, which ravish us with delight! In God's character, there is a certain sweetness that fascinates or rather enraptures the soul. "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11.
In the chief good, there must be transcendence, it must have surpassing excellence. Thus God is infinitely better than all other things. It is below the Deity to compare other things with it. Who would weigh a feather against a mountain of gold? God is the spring of all entities, and the cause is nobler than the effect. It is God who bespangles the creation, that puts light into the sun, who fills the veins of the earth with silver. Creatures do but maintain life, God gives life. He infinitely outshines all sublunary glory. He is better than the soul, than angels, and than heaven.
In the chief good, there must be not only fullness—but variety. Where variety is lacking, we are apt to nauseate. To feed only on honey would breed loathing, but in God is all variety of fullness. Col 1:19.
God is a universal good, commensurate to all our needs. He is the good in which is every. He is called the "God of all comfort." 2 Cor 1:3. There is a compilation of all beauties and delights in him. Health has not the comfort of beauty, nor beauty of riches, nor riches of wisdom, but God is the God of all comfort.
In the chief good, there must be an eternity. God is a treasure that can neither be drawn low nor drawn dry. Though the angels are continually spending what is his, he can never be spent; he abides forever. Eternity is a flower of his crown. Now, if God is our God, there is enough to let full contentment into our souls. What need have we of candlelight, if we have the sun? What if God denies the flower if he has given us the jewel? How should a Christian's heart rest on this rock! If we say God is our God, and we are not content, we have cause to question our interest in him.
(3) If we can clear up this covenant union, that God is our God, let it cheer and revive us in all conditions. To be content with God is not enough—but we must be cheerful. What greater cordial can you have than union with Deity? When Jesus Christ was ready to ascend, he could not leave a richer consolation with his disciples than this, "I ascend to my God and to your God." John 20:17. Who should rejoice, if not those who have an infinite, all-sufficient, eternal God to be their portion, who are as rich as heaven can make them? What though I lack health? I have God who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11. What though I am low in the world? If I have not the earth, I have him who made it. The philosopher comforted himself by saying, "Though I have no music or vine-trees—yet here are the household gods with me;" so, though we have not the vine or fig-tree—yet we have God with us.
"I cannot be poor," says Bernard, "as long as God is rich; for his riches are mine." O let the saints rejoice in this covenant union! To say God is ours is more than to say heaven is ours, for heaven would not be heaven without him. All the stars cannot make a day without the sun; all the angels, those morning stars, cannot make heaven without Christ the Sun of Righteousness. And as to have God for our God, is a matter of rejoicing in life, so especially it will be at death. Let a Christian think thus, "I am going to my God!" A child is glad when he is going home to his father. It was Christ's comfort when he was leaving the world, "I ascend to my God!" John 20:17. And this is a believer's deathbed cordial, "I am going to my God; I shall change my place—but not my kindred; I go to my God and my Father."
(4) If God is our God, let us break forth into praise. "You are my God, and I will praise you." Psalm 118:28. Oh, infinite, astonishing mercy, that God should take dust and ashes into so near a bond of love, as to be our God! As Micah said, "What else do I have?" Judges 18:24. So, what else does God have? What richer jewel has he to bestow upon us than himself? That God should put off most of the world with riches and honor, that he should pass over himself to us by a deed of gift, to be our God, and by virtue of this settle a kingdom upon us! O let us praise him with the best instrument, the heart; and let this instrument be pitched up to the highest pitch. Let us praise him with our whole hearts. See how David rises by degrees. "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, and shout for joy." Psalm 32:11. Be glad, there is thankfulness; rejoice, there is cheerfulness; shout, there is a triumph. Praise is called incense because it is a sweet sacrifice. Let the saints be choristers in God's praises. The deepest springs yield the sweetest water; the more deeply sensible we are of God's covenant love to us, the sweeter praises we should yield. We should begin here to praise God's name and do that work on earth which we shall be always doing in heaven. "While I live will I praise the Lord." Psalm 146:2.
(5) Let us live as those who have God to be our God; that is, walk so that others may see there is something of God in us. Live holily. What have we to do with sin, which if it does not ruin us, will weaken us? "What have I to do any more with idols?" Hos 14:8. So would a Christian say, "God is my God; what have I to do any more with sin, with lust, pride, malice! Bid me commit sin! As well bid me drink poison. Shall I forfeit my interest in God? Let me rather die than willingly offend him who is the crown of my joy, the God of my salvation."
II. "Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt." Egypt and the house of bondage are the same; only they are represented to us under different expressions. The first expression is, "Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Why does the Lord mention the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt?
(1) Because of the strangeness of the deliverance. God delivered his people Israel by strange signs and wonders, by sending plague after plague upon Pharaoh, blasting the fruits of the earth, and killing all the first-born in Egypt. Exod 12:29. When Israel marched out of Egypt, God made the waters of the sea part, and become a wall to his people, while they went on dry ground. And he made the same sea a causeway to Israel and a grave to Pharaoh and his chariots. Well, might the Lord make mention of this strange deliverance? He wrought miracle upon miracle for the deliverance of that people.
(2) God mentions Israel's deliverance out of Egypt because of the greatness of the deliverance. He delivered Israel from the pollutions of Egypt. Egypt was a bad air to live in, it was infected with idolatry; the Egyptians were gross idolaters; they were guilty of that which the apostle speaks of in Rom 1:23. "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." The Egyptians, instead of the true God, worshiped corruptible man; they deified their king, forbidding all, under pain of death, to say that he was a man. They worshiped birds, as the hawk. They worshiped beasts, as the ox. They made the image of a beast, to be their God. They worshiped creeping things, like the crocodile, and the mouse. God mentions it therefore as a signal favor to Israel, that he brought them out of such an idolatrous country. "I brought you out of the land of Egypt."
The thing I would note is, that it is no small blessing to be delivered from places of idolatry. God speaks of it no less than ten times in the Old Testament, "I brought you out of the land of Egypt;" an idolatrous place. Had there been no iron furnace in Egypt—yet so many altars being there, and false gods, it was a great privilege to Israel to be delivered out of Egypt. Joshua reckons it among the chief and most memorable mercies of God to Abraham, that he brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham's ancestors served strange gods. Josh 24:2, 3. It is well for the plant that is set in bad soil, to be transplanted to a better, where it may grow and flourish; so it is a mercy when any who are planted among idolaters, are removed and transplanted into Zion, where the silver drops of God's Word make them grow in holiness.
Wherein does it appear to be so great a blessing to be delivered from places of idolatry?
(1) It is great mercy because our nature is prone to idolatry. Israel began to be defiled with the idols of Egypt. Ezek 22:3. Dry wood is not more prone to take fire—than our nature is to idolatry. The Jews offered cakes to the queen of heaven, that is, to the moon. Jer 7:15.
Why is it that we are prone to idolatry?
Because we are led much by visible objects and love to have our senses pleased. Men naturally imagine a God that they may see; though it is such a God that cannot see them—yet they would see it; which makes the idolater worship something that he can see.
(2) It is a mercy to be delivered from idolatrous places, because of the greatness of the sin of idolatry, which is giving that glory to an image—which is due to God. All divine worship God appropriates to himself; it is a flower of his crown. The fat of the sacrifice is claimed by him. Lev 3:3. Divine worship is the fat of the sacrifice, which he reserves for himself. The idolater devotes this worship to an idol, which the Lord will by no means endure. "My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to engraved images." Isa 42:8. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. "With their idols have they committed adultery." Ezek 23:37. To worship any other than God is to break wedlock, and make the Lord disclaim his interest in a people. "She is not my wife." Hos 2:2. "Your people have corrupted themselves;" no more my people—but your people. Exod 32:7. God calls idolatry, blasphemy. "In this, your fathers have blasphemed me." Idolatry is devil worship. Ezek 20:27, 31. "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to new gods." Deut 32:17. These new gods were old devils. "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils." Lev 17:7. The Hebrew word is hairy ones, because the devils were hairy, and appeared in the forms of satyrs and goats. How dreadful sin is idolatry; and what signal mercy is it to be snatched out of an idolatrous place, as Lot was snatched by the angels out of Sodom!
(3) It is a mercy to be delivered out of idolatrous places because idolatry is such a foolish and irrational religion. I may say, as Jer 8:9: "What wisdom is in them?" Is it not folly to refuse the best, and choose the worst? The trees in the field of Jotham's parable despised the vine-tree, which cheers both God and man, and the olive which is full of fatness, and the fig-tree which is full of sweetness, and chose the bramble to reign over them—which was a foolish choice. Judge 9. So it is for us to refuse the living God, who has the power to save us—and to make the choice of an idol, which has eyes and sees not, feet but walks not. Psalm 115:6, 7. What madness is this? Therefore to be delivered from committing such folly is mercy.
(4) It is a mercy to be delivered from idolatrous places, because of the sad judgments inflicted upon idolaters. This is a sin that enrages God and makes the fury come up in his face. Ezek 38:18. Search through the whole book of God, and you shall find no sin he has followed with more plagues, than idolatry. "Their sorrows shall be multiplied, who hasten after another god." Psalm 16:4. "They moved him to jealousy with their engraved images." Psalm 78:58. "When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel; so that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh." Verses 59, 60. Shiloh was a city belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, where God set his name. Jer 7:12. But, for their idolatry, God forsook the place, gave his people up to the sword, caused his priests to be slain, and his ark to be carried away captive, never more to be returned. How severe was God against Israel for worshiping the golden calf! Exod 32:27. The Jews say, that in every misery that befalls them, there is "an ounce of the golden calf in it." "Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues." Rev. 18:4. Idolatry, lived in, cuts men off from heaven. 1 Cor 6:9. So then it is no small mercy to be delivered out of idolatrous places.
Use one. See the goodness of God to our nation, in bringing us out of mystic Egypt, delivering us from popery, which is Romish idolatry, and causing the light of his truth to break forth gloriously among us. In former times, and more lately in the Marian days, England was overspread with idolatry. It worshiped God after a false manner; and it is idolatry, not only to worship a false god—but the true God in a false manner. Such was our case formerly; we had purgatory, indulgences, the idolatrous mass, the Scriptures locked up in an unknown tongue, prayers to saints and angels, and image-worship. Images are teachers of lies. Hab 2:18. Wherein do they teach lies? They represent God, who cannot be seen, in a bodily shape. "You saw no similitude, only you heard a voice." Deut 4:12. The soul cannot be painted, being a spirit; much less can God be pictured. "To whom then will you liken God?" Isa 40:18. The Papists say they worship God by the image; which is a great absurdity, for if it is absurd to fall down to the picture of a king when the king himself is present, much more to bow down to the image of God when God himself is present. Jer 23:24. What is the popish religion, but a bundle of ridiculous ceremonies? Their wax, flowers, candles, beads, crucifixes; what are these but Satan's policy, to dress up carnal worship, fitted to carnal minds! Oh! what cause have we to bless God for delivering us from popery! It was a mercy to be delivered from the Spanish invasion; but it is far greater to be delivered from the popish religion, which would have made God give us a bill of divorce.
Use two. If it is a great blessing to be delivered from the Egypt of popish idolatry, it shows the sin and folly of those who, being brought out of Egypt, are willing to return to it again. The apostle says, "Flee from idolatry." 1 Cor 10:14. But these rather flee to idolatry; and are herein like the people of Israel, who, notwithstanding all the idolatry and tyranny of Egypt, longed to go back to Egypt. "Let us return to Egypt." Numb 14:4. But how shall they go back into Egypt? How shall they have food in the wilderness? Will God rain down manna anymore upon such rebels? How will they get over the Red Sea? Will God divide the water again by miracle, for such as leave his service, and go into idolatrous Egypt?
And are there not such among us, who says, "Let us go back to the Romish Egypt again"? If we do, what shall we get by it? I am afraid the leeks and onions of Egypt, will make us sick. Do we ever suppose that, if we drink in the cup of fornication, we shall drink in the cup of salvation? Oh! that any should so forfeit their reason, as to enslave themselves to the pope of Rome; that they should be willing to hold a candle to a mass-priest, and bow down to a strange god! Let us rather say as Ephraim, "What have I to do any more with idols?" Hos 14:8.
Use three. If it is a mercy to be brought out of Egypt, it is not desirable or safe to plant one's self in an idolatrous place, where it may be a capital crime to be seen with a Bible in our hands. Some, for secular gain, thrust themselves among idolaters, and think there is no danger to live where Satan's seat is. They pray God would not lead them into temptation—but they lead themselves into temptation! They are in great danger of being polluted. It is hard to be like the fish, which keeps fresh in salt waters. A man who dwells among coal pits—will soon be blackened. You will sooner be corrupted by idolaters than they will be converted by you. Joseph got no good by living in an idolatrous court; he did not teach Pharaoh to pray—but Pharaoh taught him to swear. They "were mingled among the heathen, and served their idols." Psalm 106:35, 36. I fear it has been the undoing of many; that they have seated themselves among idolaters, for advancing their trade, and at last, have not only traded with them in their commodities—but in their religion.
Use four. It is a mercy to be brought out of the land of Egypt, a defiled place, and where sin reigns. It reproaches such parents as show little love for the souls of their children, whether it be in putting them out to service or matching them. Inputting them out to service, their care is chiefly for their bodies, that they may be provided for, and they care not what becomes of their souls. Their souls are in Egypt—in houses where there is drinking, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and where God's name is every day dishonored. In matching their children, they look only at money. "Be not unequally yoked." 2 Cor 6:14. If their children are equally yoked for estate, they care not whether they be unequally yoked for religion. Let such parents think how precious the soul of their child is; that it is immortal and capable of communion with God and angels. Will you let a soul be lost—by placing it in a bad family? If you had a horse you loved, you would not put him in a stable with other horses that were sick and diseased; and do you not love your child better than your horse? God has entrusted you with the souls of your children; you have a charge of souls. God says, as 1 Kings 20:39: "Keep this man: if he is missing, then shall your life be for his life." So says God, if the soul of your child miscarries by your negligence, his blood will I require at your hand. Think of this, all you parents; take heed of placing your children in Egypt—in a wicked family! Do not put them in the devil's mouth! Seek for them a sober, pious family, such as Joshua's. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Josh 14:15. Such a family as Cranmer's, which was a nursery of piety, a Bethel, of which it may be said, "The church which is in his house." Col. 4:15.
Use five. Let us pray that God would keep our English nation from the defilements of Egypt, that it may not be again overspread with superstition and idolatry. Oh, sad religion! not only to have our estates, our bodies enslaved—but our consciences. Pray that the true Protestant religion may still nourish among us, that the sun of the gospel may still shine on our horizon. The gospel lifts a people up to heaven, it is "the crown and glory of the kingdom"; if this is removed, Ichabod, the glory is departed! If the top of the beech tree is cut off—the whole body of the tree withers rapidly. Just so, the gospel is the top of all our blessings; if this top is cut, the whole body politic will soon wither. O pray that the Lord will continue the visible tokens of his presence among us, his ordinances, that England may be called, Jehovah-Shammah, "The Lord is there." Ezek 48:35. Pray that righteousness and peace may kiss each other, that so glory may dwell in our land.
III. "Out of the house of bondage." Egypt and the house of bondage are the same, only they are expressed under a different notion. Egypt is meant a place of idolatry and superstition; by the house of bondage is meant a place of affliction. Israel, while in Egypt, were under great tyranny; they had cruel task-masters set over them, who put them to hard labor, and set them to make bricks—yet allowed them no straw. Therefore, Egypt is called, in Deut 4:20, the iron furnace, and here the house of bondage. From this expression, "I brought you out of the house of bondage," two things are to be noted; God's children may sometimes be under sore afflictions. "In the house of bondage." But God will, in due time, bring them out of their afflicted state. "I brought you out of the house of bondage."
God's children may sometimes be under sore afflictions, in the house of bondage. God's people have no writ of ease granted them, no charter of exemption from trouble in this life. While the wicked are kept in sugar, the godly are often kept in brine. And, indeed, how could God's power be seen in bringing them out of trouble—if he did not sometimes bring them into it? How could God wipe away the tears from their eyes in heaven—if on earth they shed none? Doubtless, God sees there is a need that his children should be sometimes in the house of bondage. "If need be, you are in heaviness." 1 Peter 1:6. The body sometimes needs a bitter portion—more than a sweet one.
Why does God let his people be in the house of bondage or in an afflicted state?
(1) He does it for probation or TRIAL. "Who led you through that terrible wilderness—that he might humble you and prove you." Deut 8:15, 16. Affliction is the touchstone of sincerity. "For you, O God tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs." Psalm 66:10, 11. Hypocrites may embrace religion in prosperity, and court this queen, while she has a jewel, hung at her ear; but he is a sincere Christian, who will keep close to God in a time of suffering. "All this has come upon us—yet have we not forgotten you." Psalm 44:17. To love God in heaven is no wonder, but to love him when he chastises us, reveals a sincere heart.
(2) He does it for PURGATION; to purge our corruption. "And this is all the fruit, to take away his sin." Isa 28:9. The eye, though a tender part—yet when infected, we put sharp medicines into it, to purge out the disease. Just so, though the people of God are dear to him as the apple of his eye—yet, when corruption begins to grow in them, he will apply the sharp medicine of affliction, to purge out the disease. Affliction is God's flail to thresh off our husks. Affliction is a means God uses to purge out sloth, luxury, pride, and love of the world. God's furnace is in Zion. Isa 31:5. This is not to consume—but to refine. God gives us more affliction—that we may have less sin!
(3) He does it for AUGMENTATION; to increase the graces of the Spirit. Grace thrives most in the iron furnace. Sharp frosts nourish the corn; so sharp afflictions nourish grace. Grace in the saints is often as fire hidden in the embers, affliction is the bellows to blow it up into a flame. The Lord makes the house of bondage, a friend to grace. Then faith and patience act their part. The darkness of the night cannot hinder the brightness of a star; so, the more the diamond is cut the more it sparkles; and the more God afflicts us, the more our graces cast a sparkling luster.
(4) He does it for PREPARATION; to fit and prepare the saints for glory. 2 Cor 4:17. The stones which are cut out for a building, are first hewn and squared. The godly are called "living stones." 1 Pet 2:5. God first hews and polishes them by affliction, that they may be fit for the heavenly building. The house of bondage prepares for the house not made with hands. 2 Cor 5:1: The vessels of mercy are seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in.
How do the afflictions of the godly, differ from the afflictions of the wicked?
(1) They are but corrections—but those on the wicked are punishments. The one comes from a father, the other from a judge.
(2) Afflictions on the godly are fruits of covenant-mercy. 2 Sam 7:17. Afflictions on the wicked are effects of God's wrath. "He has much wrath with his sickness." Eccl 5:17. Afflictions on the wicked are the pledge of hell; they are like the shackling of a malefactor, which presages his execution.
(3) Afflictions on the godly make them better—but afflictions on the wicked make them worse. The godly pray more; Psalm 130:1: The wicked blaspheme more. "Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God." Rev 16:9. Afflictions on the wicked make them more impenitent; every plague upon Egypt increased the plague of hardness in Pharaoh's heart. To what a height of wickedness, do some people come, after great sickness. Affliction on the godly is like bruising spices—which makes them give off a sweetest and fragrant aroma. Affliction on the wicked is like pounding weeds with a pestle—which makes them give off a more foul stench.
(1) We are not to wonder to see Israel in the house of bondage. 1 Pet 4:12. The holiness of the saints will not excuse them from sufferings. Christ was the holy one of God—yet he was in the iron furnace. His spouse is a lily among thorns. Canticles 2:2. Though his sheep have the earmark of election upon them—yet they may have their wool fleeced off. The godly have some good in them, therefore the devil afflicts them; and some evil in them, therefore God afflicts them. While there are two seeds in the world, expect to be under the black rod. The gospel tells us of reigning—but first of suffering. 2 Tim 2:12.
(2) Affliction is not always the sign of God's anger. Israel, the apple of God's eye, a peculiar treasure to him above all people, was in the house of bondage. Exod 19:5. We are apt to judge and censure those who are in an afflicted state. When the barbarians saw the viper on Paul's hand, they said, "No doubt this man is a murderer!" Acts 28:4. So, when we see the viper of affliction fasten upon the godly, we are apt to censure them and say, these are greater sinners than others, and God hates them. But this rash censuring is for lack of wisdom. Was not Israel in the house of bondage? Was not Jeremiah in the dungeon, and Paul a night and day in the deep? God's afflicting is so far from evidencing hatred, that his not afflicting is evidence of his hatred. "I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom." Hos 4:14. God punishes most—when he does not punish; his hand is heaviest—when it seems to be lightest. The judge will not burn him in the hand—whom he intends to execute at the stake. "Ephraim is attached to idols; leave him alone!" Hosea 4:17
(3) If God's own Israel may be in the house of bondage, then afflictions do not of themselves demonstrate a man miserable. Indeed, sin unrepented of makes one miserable; but afflictions do not. If God has a design in afflicting his children—to make them happy—then they are not miserable. "Happy is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." Job 5:17. The world counts them happy who can keep out of affliction, but the Scripture calls them happy who are afflicted.
How are the godly happy—when they are afflicted? Because they are more holy. Heb 12:10. Because they are more in God's favor. Prov 3:12. The goldsmith loves his gold, when in the furnace. Because they have more of God's sweet presence. Psalm 91:15. They cannot be unhappy who have God's powerful presence in supporting, and his gracious presence in sanctifying their affliction. Because the more affliction they have, the more degrees of glory they shall have; the lower they have been in the iron furnace, the higher they shall sit upon to throne of glory; the heavier their crosses, the heavier shall be their crown. So then, if afflictions make a Christian happy, they cannot call him miserable.
(4) See the merciful providence of God to his children. Though they may be in the house of bondage, and smart by affliction—yet they shall not be hurt by affliction. What hurt does the winnowing fan do to the corn? It only separates the chaff from it. What hurt does the lance do to the body? It only lets out the abscess. The house of bondage does that which sometimes ordinances will not; it humbles and reforms. "If they are held in cords of affliction, he opens their ear to discipline, and commands that they return from iniquity." Job 36:8, 10. Oh! what a merciful providence is it that, though God bruises his people—yet, while he is bruising them, he is doing them well! It is as if one should throw a bag of money at another, which bruises him a little—but yet it enriches him! Affliction enriches the soul and yields the sweet fruits of righteousness. Heb. 12:11.
(5) If Israel is in the house of bondage—if the Lord deals so with his own children—then how severely will he deal with the wicked! If he is so severe with those he loves—how severe will he be with those he hates! If those who pray and mourn for sin are so severely dealt with—what will become of those who swear and break the Sabbath, and are unclean! If Israel is in the iron furnace, the wicked shall lie in the fiery furnace of hell. It should be the saddest news to wicked men—to hear that the people of God are afflicted. Let them think how dreadful the case of unrepentant sinners will be! "Judgement must begin at the house of God; and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of those who obey not the gospel?" 1 Pet 4:17. If God threshes his wheat, he will burn the chaff. If the godly suffer castigation, the wicked shall suffer condemnation. If God mingles his people's cup with wormwood—he will mingle the wicked's cup with fire and brimstone!
(1) If Israel is in the house of bondage—do not entertain too hard thoughts of affliction. Christians are apt to look upon the cross and the iron furnace as frightful things and do what they can to shun them. Nay, sometimes, to avoid affliction—they run themselves into sin. But do not think too hardly of affliction; do not look upon it as through the multiplying glass of fear. The house of bondage is not hell. Consider that affliction comes from a wise God—who prescribes whatever befalls us. Persecutions are like pharmacists—they give us the medicine which God the physician prescribes. Affliction has its light side, as well as its dark one. God can sweeten our afflictions, and candy our wormwood. As our sufferings abound, so does also our consolation. 2 Cor 1:5. Argerius dated his letters from the pleasant garden of the Leonine prison. God sometimes so revives his children in trouble, that they had rather bear their afflictions—than lack their comforts. Why then should Christians entertain such hard thoughts of afflictions? Do not look at its grim face—but at the message it brings, which is to enrich us with both grace and comfort.
(2) If Israel is sometimes in the house of bondage, in an afflicted state, think beforehand of affliction. Say not as Job (29:18), "I shall die in my nest." In the house of mirth—think of the house of bondage. You who are now Naomi may be Mara. Ruth 1:20. How quickly may the scene turn, and the life of joy end in a catastrophe! All outward things are given to change. The forethoughts of affliction would make us sober and moderate in the use of lawful delights; it would cure all excess. Christ at a feast mentions his burial—this is a good antidote against excess. The forethought of affliction would make us prepare for it; it would take us off the world; it would put us upon search of our evidence for heaven.
We should see what oil we have in our lamps, what grace we can find, that we may be able to stand in the evil day. That soldier is imprudent who has his sword to sharpen when he is just going to fight. He who forecasts sufferings will have the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit ready, that he may not be surprised.
(3) If afflictions come, let us labor to conduct ourselves wisely as Christians, that we may adorn our sufferings; that is, let us endure with patience. "Take, my brethren, the prophets for an example of suffering affliction and patience." James 5:10. Satan labors to take advantage of us in affliction, by making us either faint or murmur; he blows the coals of passion and discontent and then warms himself at the fire. Patience adorns sufferings. A Christian should say as Jesus Christ did, "Lord, not my will but you're will be done." It is a sign the affliction is sanctified when the heart is brought to a sweet submissive frame. God will then remove the affliction—he will take us out of the iron furnace.
We may consider these words, "Who brought you out of the house of bondage," either,  Literally; or  Spiritually and Mystically. In the letter, "I brought you out of the house of bondage;" that is, I delivered you out of the misery and servitude you sustained in Egypt, where you were in the iron furnace. Spiritually and mystically, by which "I brought you out of the house of bondage," is a type of our deliverance by Christ from sin and hell.
 Literally, "I brought you out of the house of bondage," out of great misery and slavery in the iron furnace. The thing I note here is that, though God brings his people sometimes into trouble—yet he will bring them out again. Israel was in the house of bondage—but at last, was brought out.
We shall endeavor to show:
1. That God does deliver out of trouble.
2. In what manner.
3. At what seasons.
4. Why he delivers.
5. How the deliverances of the godly and wicked out of trouble differ.