Deuteronomy 4:1-13 -
The sacredness of the Divine Law.
Law, being the utterance of righteousness, is unalterable as righteousness itself, permanent amid all the mutations of human affairs. Its requirements are statutes, stable as the everlasting hills.
I. LAW IS THE VERITABLE VOICE OF GOD ; the manifestation of his thought; the mirror of his mind. "The Lord spake unto you." "Out of the midst of the fire" the flame of holiness and zeal—issues every command. If man's moral nature has an open ear, it may often detect the imperial voice of Heaven. 'Tis not to sight God reveals himself, but to the ear. His messengers are emphatically "a voice." "Faith comes by hearing."
II. LAW , IN ITS SPHERE , IS PERFECT . Over every work of his hands God pronounces the verdict "Very good;" and Law, being the instrument with which he works, is "holy, just, and good." For unrighteous man there may be something more precious than Law; but when restored to God, Law is his delight. In the domain of belief we cannot augment or diminish God's Law without self-injury. Perfection cannot be improved upon. In the sphere of practice, to halt short of the line of duty, or to go beyond the line, is alike an offence. Self-mutilation, or blemish, is the effect.
III. THE VERACITY OF LAW ATTESTED BY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE . Every honest minded man may discover whether or not the written Word embodies a Divine Law. If a genuine Law, its authority is ratified by an honest conscience; as sanctions, whether of commendation or curse, are witnessed by every clear-sighted eye. Every truthful man is a witness that God's laws (whether written in external nature, in man's constitution, or in Scripture) bring life to the obedient, death to the transgressor. Not a Law is revealed in the Scriptures, but it tends to righteousness, happiness, life!
IV. DIVINE LAW ASSERTS ITS AUTHORITY OVER THE WHOLE MAN .
1. Over the intellect, for it demands attention, investigation, comparison, and discrimination.
2. Authority over the affections, for it demands reverence, esteem, choice, and love.
3. Authority over the moral faculty; for it demands assent, response, and loyalty.
4. Over the active powers, for it requires watchfulness, self-restraint, uninterrupted deference, and uncompromising service.
V. LAW IS THE PATHWAY TO TRUE EMINENCE . Every successful application of science to practical life is simply a treading of the pathway of law. So long as man finds the footprints of God's Law, he moves onward. There is no real progress in any department of human life, except along the line of God's Law. To find that , and to follow it, is success. This is equally true in the spiritual province. This is the quintessence of wisdom—the stepping-stone to eminence! What men—what nation—have ever reached to permanent greatness, save they who have trodden the path of Divine Law?
VI. LOYALTY TO GOD 'S LAW BRINGS US NEAR TO GOD . As when we follow up the footprints of a man rapidly enough, we at length come up with the man himself; so, as we pursue the pathway of Law, we come soon without the hallowed precincts of God's presence. We see the working of the heavenly machinery, the movements of God's thought and purpose. We move with it, and ever come nearer to the central light and love. It is a narrow path, and few they are who find it.
VII. A SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE IS SELF - PROPAGATING . Like plants in the garden, every righteous man bears seed after his own kind. Without formal teaching, the beauty of his life will be a living lesson—the fragrance of his deeds will be contagious. They who love God's Law will be zealous to teach God's Law, and to commend it to others. A fine trait in Abraham's character comes into view when God said, "I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him." Every man bequeaths to posterity a large legacy of blessing or of bane.
VIII. THE LAW OF GOD B DESTINED TO HAVE PERMANENCE IN HUMAN LIFE . There was high significance in the fact that the Decalogue was written, not in rays of light upon the sapphire firmament, nor in legible characters upon parchment, but on stone . The stone of Sinai is said to belong to one of the oldest formations—the granite period. The forms and modes of law may undergo change to meet the growing necessities of men; but the inner sense—the kernel—of every law still abides. "Heaven and earth may pass away," all material stricture may undergo radical change—but the words of God can undergo no change. What is true once is true always! What was right a myriad of ages since, retains all its authority today, and will be obligatory world without end. The sum and substance of moral law is writ by the finger of God, and graven on the solid rock!—D.
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