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GOD ALONE TO BE SERVED.
Matt. iv. 10.
And Him only shalt thou serve.
He that firmly believes, and rightly considers the infinite power and all-sufficiency of the Most High God, may justly wonder how it is possible for us, or any of His creatures, to do Him any service: for what can we do for Him who wants nothing, being all things in and to Himself? Wherein can we serve Him, who is neither the better nor the worse for any thing we do, but is still infinitely happy in the enjoyment of His own essential goodness and perfections? And yet in all His revealed will, there is nothing that He hath more frequently, or more expressly commanded us, than to serve Him. And therefore how this may and ought to be done, is a matter that deserves our most serious inquiry. Especially considering, that all who have any true sense of God, being sensible withal of their manifold obligations to Him, they cannot but look upon themselves as bound to do Him all the service they can. And howsoever they may differ about the way and manner of doing it, that it ought to be done in general, they all agree. Insomuch, that whatsoever opinion or persuasion men are of in the matter of religion, they still pretend, or at least would be thought to serve God in it: and yet, I fear, there are but few in the world that rightly know what it is to serve God, much fewer that truly serve Him according to their knowledge.
Hence therefore, that I may both clear up the true notion of it, and likewise excite you to a diligent performance of so
SERM. great and necessary a duty, incumbent upon all men as men,
much more upon all Christians, as such; I shall, by His assistance, explain and apply to you these words of our Blessed Saviour, which I have now read, and which were uttered by Him upon this occasion.
. The grand adversary of mankind the Devil, having prevailed with the first Adam to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, and so brought him and all mankind then contained in him, into a state of sin and misery, he had the impudence to set upon the second too, even Christ Himself, after He had fasted forty days and forty nights in the Wil
derness. And his other temptations failing, at last he gets Matt.4.8,9. Him up “ into an exceeding high mountain, and from
thence sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” To which our Lord replies, “Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” As if He should have said, I defy thee and all the proffers thou makest me, as being con. trary to the revealed will of God, in whose Holy Word it is written, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,” &c. Upon which the Devil, as despairing of victory, flies from Him, “ and behold the holy Angels came and ministered unto Him."
But here a great question may be raised in what place of Scripture this is written ? For we do not find any place in all the Old Testament, where these very words are written. All the commentators and expositors that I have met with, refer us to Deut. vi. 13, where it is written,“ Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him." But I could never persuade myself, that our Lord quoted these words from thence; for though it be there written, “ Thou shalt serve the Lord thy God," it is not written there, “and Him only shalt thou serve.” In the Greek translation by the Septuagint, I confess the word jóvw, only,' is inserted; but I do not think that it was put there by the Seventy translators themselves. For it is neither in the Hebrew, nor Samaritan copies, nor yet in the Samaritan version, nor in any of the Chaldee paraphrases; neither indeed is it in the ancient Syriac and Arabic
versions out of the Seventy. And therefore it seems to be rather taken out of these very words of our Saviour, and added there by some other hand, that so the place to which he thought our Lord referred, might better agree with what he quoted out of it. For so, many other places have been dealt with, as well as this : and particularly, that parallel place (Deut. x. 20), “ Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, Him shalt thou serve.” Some copies of the Seventy translate it, “ Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” But others, and particularly the Alexandrine, reads it, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Which being the very words of our Saviour in my text, it is very probable that they were interested there, instead of the true version of the Hebrew text.
But that which prompts me most to believe that our Lord did not intend that text, in this quotation, is, because He quotes this Scripture to prove that He ought not to worship the Devil as he desired. But in the foresaid text, there is no mention at all of worshipping, but only of fearing and serving God. And to say, as some have done, that worshipping is implied in fearing, or the same with it, is so groundless and absurd, that it is not worth confuting. Be sure our Saviour would not produce a text to prove that which was not mentioned nor designed in it.
But where then is this written, which our Lord here speaks of? I answer in short, it is written in the second Commandment: the scope and design, the sum and substance whereof is this, that we must not worship or serve any thing in the world as God, but only the Lord our God. And it is very observable, that the Greek translation of the Seventy, hath both the same words there, which our Lord useth in my text, ου προσκυνήσεις αυτοίς ουδέ μη λατρεύσεις αυτούς, “Thou shalt not worship them, nor serve them.” And what our Saviour Himself, as well as His Apostles, often doth in other quotations, He may well be supposed to do the same in this, even to give us the true sense and meaning of the text He quotes, in what terms He Himself sees best. And certainly it is impossible to express the whole will of God in the second Commandment, more fully and clearly, than our
SERM. Lord doth in these words, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord
thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
Where the word 'only' hath reference not only to our serving, but likewise to our worshipping too: as if He had said, “ Thou shalt worship only the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
Here therefore are two duties which the Lord our God hath appropriated to Himself, commanding us to perform them to Himself, and to none but Himself, in a religious manner, worship and service. What we are to understand by worship, may be easily gathered from the Hebrew word used in the Commandment, and from the Greek word both there and in my text. For the Hebrew word ninnwn properly signifies to 'bow down, and so is commonly translated in that very place, as well as elsewhere, • Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them. And the Greek word #gooxúrnois, signifieth the same too, even adoration; that is, such an humble and reverent inclination or bowing of our bodies, whereby to express our obeisance and subjection. By this it is that we actually worship; and therefore must do it in a religious sense to none, but only to the Lord our God.
But that which I chiefly design to speak to at this time, is the serving of God, which is all along in Scripture distinguished from worshipping, and yet is as much God's peculiar right and prerogative, as worship itself. Insomuch, that to serve an idol, is altogether as bad as to worship it. And therefore that horrid sin of idolatry, takes its denomination from hence, even from giving that service to an idol, which
is due only to God. As Tertullian long ago observed, saying, Tertul. de Idololatria omnis circa omne idolum famulatus, et servitus:
*All attendance and service done about any idol, is idolatry.' Aug.deTrin, And so St. Augustine, Idololatre dicuntur, qui simulachris
eam servitutem exhibent quæ debetur Deo : "They are called idolaters, who give that service to images or idols, which is due to God.'
When therefore it is said in the second Commandment, “ Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth, thou shalt not
Idol. c. 3.
worship them nor serve them ;” the meaning is, that as we must not actually worship any image or idol, by bowing or prostrating ourselves to it; so neither must we be serviceable, nor contribute any thing towards its being so honoured or worshipped ; we must not assist at the making, erecting, or adorning of it; we must not build altars or temples, nor offer sacrifices, nor burn incense to it; we must not buy, nor sell, nor procure, nor fetch, nor carry any thing for that purpose; we must not keep any feasts, nor be present at any shows that are dedicated to it; we must not pray to it, nor speak, nor write in its praise and honour : in short, we must do nothing that may any way tend to its having Divine worship performed to it, or to its being reputed or honoured as a God. For he that doth any such thing to or for any image or idol, or any creature whatsoever, though he do not actually worship it, yet he serves it in a religious manner, and so transgresseth the commandment of God, and is guilty of idolatry properly so called.
From this, the right notion of serving any thing religiously besides the true God, we may plainly infer, what it is properly to serve Him, and Him only, and so what is the full intent and purport of this Divine Law, “And Him only shalt thou serye.” For hereby we are commanded in general, to do everything that we can to promote the honour and glory of the true God, that He, and He only may be acknowledged, admired, praised, and worshipped as God, as the sole Creator, Preserver, Governor, Possessor, and Disposer of all things in Heaven and earth.
For the better understanding of this, we may consider, how that the Most High God, although He be infinitely happy in Himself, yet, as the Wise Man saith (Prov. xvi. 4), “He made all things for Himself,” for His own pleasure and honour, in the exercise, and manifestation of Himself and His Divine perfections. For this end it was that He exerted and displayed His infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, in the contrivance, production, and first establishment of the world : and for this end it is, that He still continues to preserve, govern, dispose and order all and every thing that is in it. Not that He can be ever the happier in Himself for any thing that He does or makes, but that IIis