theology

The Third Commandment

Ralphie

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

We have come from the object of worship in the first command, to the means of worship in the second command; in the third command, we are given God’s name.

Looking at the preface of these commandments, the name that God gives His people is His covenant name- Yahweh. The giving of this name will cause us to think back to the first time this name was given to Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked God in the burning bush: “Who shall I say that it is who sent me? What is His name?” And God replies with I AM THAT I AM, which in Hebrew contain the four letters, YHWH, which literally means “He is.” This is His covenant name, the name that stands in relationship with His people. And His intent in displaying His name at the time of the burning bush was to show that He is God- so Israel would know that He is God and that they are His people, so Egypt will know He is God, and that everyone will know that He is God when He does all the wondrous things for Israel and in Egypt. He is making a name for Himself on earth among all His peoples. “I AM,” YHWH stands above all other gods on earth. His name is the greatest and most honorable name upon the earth because of whom it belongs to.

What is in a name?

Let’s think of a President of the United States for a moment, or some other illustrious leader of the world. It could hardly be called a relationship if you were to take a picture of him at one point and then take it around with you. Carrying around his image does not mean that you have a relationship with the president, it may mean that you admire him, but there is no reciprocation involved. Perhaps you meet him while he is in office, yet the initial relationship you have with him would necessitate that you to call him “Mr. President” because there is still a formality of relationship. But what would it mean if he were to come back in sincerity and say “Call me George”? Now at this point you have entered into a relationship that is beyond mere formality and is moving into a more meaningful and personal relationship because he has given you his personal name, a name that only his friends and family may call him.

It is a similar situation here, it is more than a formality of relationship in this command. God had called Abraham friend, and God gives us the right to call Him by His personal name. Here, we are given the privilege to be on a first-name basis with the Sovereign of the universe. God is giving Himself to be enjoyed by us along certain lines and we are to enjoy those lines. So in this command, we have something extraordinarily precious.

We cannot be flippant or cheap when using God’s name, it is a great honor and we can’t forget who we are talking to or forget who we are talking about. Do not call on His name if you are not speaking to Him and we are to speak of Him in a manner that is worthy of Him. This command shows us that God takes great displeasure when His name is misused and we are to use it reverentially. In the Old Testament, there was a tight identity between a person’s character and their name. What you do to the name, you do to their character. If you were to insult their name, you would insult them. If we use it flippantly, we are saying something of what we think of their person. Names speak to something of the identity of the person.

However, we can use it, and we ought not be struck with such servile fear that we do not use it, like the Orthodox Jews are famous for doing. What if you refuse to use the President’s name? What are you saying about your relationship with him. By not using it, you are keeping yourself aloof, but God is not distant like that. He is near to us, intimate, and in a relationship with us, and is evident in this command by the giving of His name.

There is also the notion of acting in the name of someone. This adds an authoritative category regarding names, and a weightiness to their use. If you take their name upon you when you do something, they are involved in what you do. Like a Lieutenant carrying the orders and commands that a General gave. Yet, the Lieutenant can speak wrongly of the General’s commands and it reflects poorly on both the Lieutenant and the General. To act or speak for another person, their integrity is involved. This is certainly true with God’s people. We are called by His name and His name is implicated in everything we do. If we discover a prophet, one who comes claiming to speak on God’s behalf, to be false, the least we can do is ignore them or depose them (or in the Old Testament times, they would be stoned). But if the prophet is of God, he carries the authority of God’s command.

Practical Implications

The strict scope that this command has in mind has to do with the name YHWH. It is about not using this specific name in a vain, empty way, or without respect. C.S. Lewis picked out an issue regarding this command. In “The Abolition of Man” he imagines two people before a waterfall. One says that the waterfall is pretty, the other says “that’s sublime.” Have they both said something true? Yes, but there should be something with the words that we use that corresponds with reality. Our words should be ordered with it, not disordered. If the serial killer who says “Jesus is Lord” right before cleaving someone’s head open with an ax, is he speaking truth? One one level, yes, but on the other it is blasphemy. The context of his words have dishonored the name of Christ because his actions have not reflected this truth. We are to recognize what we are standing in front of and do it justice with our words. Our language must reflect that and when it doesn’t, it becomes flippant. Our words should not just have a grammatical context, but an emotional, spiritual, mental, and personal context, as well. So, take sufficient regard so as to speak rightly about it. To speak of God is one thing, but to speak of God rightly is another. The context counts, so our life needs to reflect who we are talking about.

The expanded scope of this command is that we are to be mindful and seek the glory of God in our use of language, especially theological language. The words used of God, about God, and to God are to be said and done in a way and context that are honorable, true, and pleasing to Him. There is always a context involved in the use of our language. In commenting on this command, The Westminster Catechism’s term “conversation” gives us the understanding that our whole form of life is used to communicate something. We are presenting ourselves. So, we must always use language in ways that maintain and reflect God’s glory and His weightiness. We are never to use language that would fail to maintain God’s glory.

Our relationship to God is a language-based relationship. And this word-based relationship is made all the more significant since the Son of God is called the Word of God. Words, conversation, prayers, preaching, knowledge, writing- all of it is important. His name has been entrusted to us as a precious gift.

Blasphemy is right out, the using of God as a curse word, and this should be first and obvious. Any “Oh my God” or “Jesus Christ” or “God damn it” as a knee-jerk discharge of words are clearly light and flip invocations of God and are demeaning to His character. We should also be careful with formulaic forms of using God’s name- like reciting the Lord’s prayer as a mantra and not in the right heart because it is too familiar, or using the name “Lord’ as a filler word in prayer. Let not His name merely be words coming out of your mouth. This also applies to speaking the name of God as it pertains to a hunch. People in some Christian circles are quick to say that “God told me,” or, “God is leading me” when people are really describing their desires. It is not always wrong to say that “God has led me…” but it is usually after the fact that we can be certain about this. There ought to be a heavy level of certainty to what you are saying before you attach God’s name to something like that.

How does this affect civil religion? After dwelling upon this command, how should one feel when a government makes its national motto to be “In God We Trust”? There are enormous dangers that can run afoul against this command with these kinds of things being used in the civil circle. Politicians will invoke the name of God here, wanting to show their religious credentials, and use godliness as a means of gain. So, out of a reverence and respect for God’s name gleaned from this command, is it better to have His name left out of this, especially if this motto no longer reflects the nation’s attitude? Perhaps there can be some discussion about this in the comments.

Theologians take a significant amount of time taking into account that that “taking” the name of God is like unto taking an oath, swearing by His name, or taking a vow of allegiance, or invoking His name to testify of the veracity of something. The Anabaptists would say that there ought to no oaths period. The Reformers would say that there is an appropriate place for an oath, and that taking an oath in God’s name can even be a call to honor and glory toward God- Calvin says in connection to Isaiah 45:23: “Now, if the bowing of the knees be a token of adoration, this swearing which is connected with it is equivalent to an acknowledgment that He is God.” Chapter 22 of the Westminster Confession says that the name of God alone should be sworn upon with all and utmost weightiness and solemnness, like if you were upon the witness stand and the weight of justice stood upon the testimony of your words. The idea behind this is like taking the name of God with you to upon your endeavors and to add credence or veracity to them. If you swear by God’s name and go about a life of dishonesty or immorality, it will cause people to think negative things about God’s name.

Calvin goes on for further heart-implications for this command- “It is silly and childish to restrict this to the name Jehovah, as if God’s majesty were confined to letters or syllables; but, whereas His essence is invisible, His name is set before us as an image, insofar as God manifests Himself to us, and is distinctly made known to us by His own marks, just as men are each by his own name. On this ground Christ teaches that God’s name is comprehended in the heavens, the earth, the temple, the altar, (Matt. 5:34,) because His glory is conspicuous in them. consequently, God’s name is profaned whenever any detraction is made from His supreme wisdom, infinite power, justice, truth, clemency, and rectitude… men should not drag in His name in light matters, as in sport or derision of it…  But since nothing is more difficult than to restrain men’s licentiousness in this respect, and to excuse or at least diminish the sin, the slipperiness of the tongue is pleaded, its punishment is here denounced: that if God’s name is rashly exposed to reproach or contempt, He will avenge it.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, 2:409-410)

So, with all of our words, we are “to speak of God and divine things with all humility, reverence of heart, and manifestation of respect… confess the Lord holily and boldly… glorify God in all that we say or do… to be zealous for His Name and cause… to  call upon the name of the Lord; that is to bow reverently before Him, worship Him due to His glory, and humbly request from Him all that you have need of in every given situation… [and] to swear by His Name in a holy manner.” (a’Brakel, 3:128-129)

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Disclaimer: The content of this series is drawn from much of my notes of Dr. Bruce Baugus’ lectures. The language and arguments are adjusted to fit an easier reading flow, the content is catered to my writing style, and may not always accurately reflect Dr. Baugus’ sentiments or statements. Other sources are also used to draw in information.

The Second Command

Golden Calf

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

The first command dealt with the object of worship, and this command deals with the means of worship.

The scope of this command is directed at all acts of worship, from the directed and formal acts done corporately, to the worshipful ones done throughout the week. We must not approach God presumptuously, but we must worship Him on His terms for it to be legitimate worship. There are many examples in Scripture of people approaching God inappropriately: we can think of Cain’s offering to God, Nadab and Abihu burning unauthorized incense (Num. 3:2-4), Saul hastily burning an offering (1 Samuel 13:11-14), and numerous other accounts of defective worship (Is. 29:13, Col. 2:23, Ez. 20, 2 Kings 18:4, and many more).

So, it is as if He is saying, “If you want to enjoy Me, here is how and by these lines are you to do so- any other approach is impermissible.” These acts of worship are not indifferent matters to Him, but He wishes to be served according to His dictates. We ought not “be of the opinion that he will be pleased just so long as he is served,” (Brakel, 3:105; Hosea 6:6).

The thing most obviously prohibited here is using images as a means of worship or as representing God. It is not in the strict sense of God forbidding the making of images period- God commanded images to be placed within the Temple that resembled the Garden of Eden, the Cherubim upon the Ark of the Covenant, and the brazen serpents upon a pole to heal the Israelites, etc. Nor is it a prohibition for a common use of images in society- like printing a President’s face on a bill, or making art to decorate the walls of a house. So what is in view here is the worshipping of God through the instrument/channel of an image, or to create an image that we would see as representing Him.

The reason for this is because our worship forms our ideas of who God is, and if we approach Him through improper means we will come to false and reckless conceptions of Him. It could be argued that approaching Him through an improper way may suggest that one already has a false conception of who He is, which would make sense given man’s fallen nature. The natural man attempts to worship what they perceive to be God (or god with a little “g,” or the ultimate, see my blog on the first command) through their idols anyway, but the true God has revealed Himself here.

Therefore, God’s aim in this command is to bring us to the right and correct form of worship which we as His creatures owe Him, to have a spiritual worship of Him by His truth (because He is Spirit and Truth) that is not guided by the material, idolatrous, and carnal approaches by which we are so prone to follow and which profanes His worship.

Calvin, commenting on this command, said, “we dishonour him when we liken his infinite essence to a small piece of wood, stone or silver (Isa. 40:18-20; 41:7; 45:20; 46:5-7). Paul reasons similarly in his sermon to the Athenians. ‘Since we are God’s offspring,’ he says, ‘we ought not to think that his divinity is like gold, silver, sculpted stone or anything which is made by the art of man (Acts 17:29). It is clear from this that every statue [or drawing, or painting] made to represent God is repugnant to him, being an affront to his majesty,” (1541 Institutes, p. 124-5).

Isaiah 40:18 says, “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?” And a’Brakel expands upon this argument by drawing from Romans 1:23: “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” The true image of God is not to be found in the world.

We are simply to study and to learn, to think upon His Word, and to worship within His terms. All images are speculative, assumptive, and presumptuous. It is an authorial act to fill in what is not in the Book, and its meaning is significant. The Bible does not give us a description of Christ’s physical form, nor of the Father because he is immaterial, and when we draw Jesus or God, we use a presumptuous and assumptive approach, and we will falsify it every time. It communicates all kinds of things that the Bible does not.

God does have images- we are His images. The call is to you, not a painting or sculpture, only God can point to images of Himself. God has not given us the prerogative to make images, but if we want an image of God, be godly.

So, how is it that God gives Himself to us? What manner are we to approach Him?

All the ceremonies that God provided in the Old Testament that followed the giving of the 10 Commandments in Exodus and Leviticus, like: the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat, the altar, incense burning, showbread, the priests, etc., were mediatorial (something in between God and man) provisions of approaching God that represented and foreshadowed Christ. All of it was a ceremonial order to present Christ, the true Mediator- He is the fulfillment of all the ceremonial worship, and it is through Christ where God meets with His people. All worship of God is only acceptable through the Mediator, even in the Old Testament because those ceremonial provisions pointed to the Messiah; any impulse to approach Him through a manner that we manufacture or any other means that He’s provided is an anti-Christ and anti-grace manner because Christ Himself is that provision. The dynamic is always God-to-us. He is the one who provides, condescends, and appoints.

The Regulative Principle

We cannot devise a way to reach God, He has given it to us, and it is now presented to us by the order that Scripture has laid out for us. This leads us to a thing called the “regulative principle” of worship. The regulative principle basically states that whatever is not prescribed in Scripture for worship is not permitted.

A narrower definition- no element of worship that is not set forth in Scripture should be added as a fundamental or necessity for worship, nor should any added circumstance be presented in a manner that detracts from the fundamentals, nor should any prescribed element of worship as described in Scripture be neglected or subtracted.

The Westminster Larger Catechism answer 109 says, “The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God Himself.”  The historical, Reformed tradition qualifies this prescription by distinguishing between “elements” of worship and “circumstances.” An element is something that is certainly prescribed in Scripture (like preaching the Word), and a circumstance is the manner in how it is carried out (like what time of day on the Sabbath the people should meet to hear the preaching of the Word).

Some things are clearly prescribed as a necessary element of corporate worship through explicit commands, approved examples, and theological inference, like: preaching the Word, keeping sound doctrine, prayer, singing psalms, administration of the sacraments,  offerings, and meeting on a regular basis. Because we are under the same administration of grace, Apostolic precedence can have a prescriptive force if we see it as an example for us to follow or we find ourselves in a similar situation. Other things are more difficult to discern because they are no so clear. The matters of circumstance, as per Westminster Confession 1.6, may be necessary to be discerned by the good and necessary consequence deduced by the prudent use of the light of nature, insofar as it does not contradict Scripture. In other words, human reason within the parameters of Scripture. There are things that are for sure to be carried through the centuries, but thinks like the meeting time, the length, the language, wine v. grape juice, padded seats or not padded seats, color of the carpet, if a bell is to be rung, etc., are up to the light of nature, or sanctified wisdom.

For example, if one were to argue that instrumentation is prescribed, then the type of instrument is circumstantial. However, with sanctified wisdom, we are to determine whether or not the circumstance is conducive to worship. Not all things are conducive to the congregation’s worship, like punk/rock music, or Psalm 2 in the style of Slayer- because, A: this style is not written for a congregation to sing, but it is written for performance and therefore would not translate well, if at all, and B: it brings up the important cultural/contextual notion of “contamination by association” that may be discussed in a later blog.

There are those, like John Frame, who argue that since Scripture is to be our only guide in worship and in life, and all is to be done to the glory of God, then the regulative principle ought to be applied to the entire week, since all of life is essentially worship. Therefore, whatever application of this single, stretched regulative principle we have through the week should be also applied to the Sabbath so that we may be consistent in it (Frame, Doctrine of the Christian life, p. 473-475). In other words, there should not be much of a difference in how the regulative principle is applied throughout the week versus on the day set apart for rest, worship, and reflection.

However, I would have to partly disagree with this notion because it does not take into account the 4th command. Having this view may cause us to be overly relaxed on our Sabbath observance where we ought to give more prudent attention. There is to be a point where the Sabbath day ought to be given more care and attention because not all of life is “worship” in the strict sense, but it is worshipful. If all of life was worship in the strict sense, we would not be able to get anything done throughout the week. The public worship and its day of meeting should be guarded from the intrusions of every day life in order for it to be a day that is truly set apart and taken up with rest and worship/meditation upon God. So, perhaps it could be argued that there are two regulative principles, one for the corporate worship, and the other for the worshipful-ness of life. Or that under the one notion of the regulative principle, there are two stipulations- one for everyday life, and the other for the formal worship of God. Or one could say that this regulative principle only applies to the corporate worship of God.

Wherever that line is drawn, a’Brakel closes us with some virtues that are enjoyed by this command: “The virtues enjoined in this command are, first of all, the full surrender of one’s self to the service of God in all things, with all things, and at all times… Secondly, the serving of God according to His will; that is, our entire conduct is to be governed by the will of God as revealed to us in His Word… Thirdly, the serving of God with the soul; that is, with the spirit, in a spiritual manner, and with the intellect, will, and affections… Fourthly, the serving of God with a perfect heart; that is, without a divided heart, having and seeking something in addition to God… Fifthly, the serving of God with a joyful zeal; that is, it must not be a burden, but a delight, rejoicing in the fact that God as yet wishes to be served by us.. Sixthly, the opposing of false religion and eradication of idols and images. Everyone must do so according to his station,” (3:116-117).

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Disclaimer: The content of this series is drawn from much of my notes of Dr. Bruce Baugus’ lectures. The language and arguments are adjusted to fit an easier reading flow, the content is catered to my writing style, and may not always accurately reflect Dr. Baugus’ sentiments or statements. Other sources are also used to draw in information.

Hebrews 1

“God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Jesus is set in juxtaposition with the fathers and prophets that have gone before. The purpose that God had for these men in the past was to communicate truth to His people, namely His will for them, and through this to reveal something of Himself to them. Though Christ has been set apart for a similar task, He has been lifted up in a manner that is far superior to these men. All of what has been said before has led up to this One and is fulfilled by this One. It is completed. There is a finality in the mood of this text evinced by the word “in these last days.” They are the last days because there is no more need for more prophets to be risen up, we have received the perfect One. God has spoken for the last time through His Son, and the Apostles, with the Spirit of Christ, testify of what was already revealed.

Christ is a far worthier speaker and revealer of the Father because this One is far more qualified to do so. He is made much better than the angels who are, compared to men, much wiser, purer, and powerful. Then how much weightier are His words if He is greater than what is greater than men? He is the heir of all things and sits at the right hand of the Father- so we are all under His authority, none can surpass it, not even Moses, and all things are done for the good of His redemptive, sin-purifying interests. So, how much more should we bend our ears to listen to His words, knowing His authority? He is the creator of the world- not as an instrument, but by Him because in Him is all the eternal wisdom of God and power, through His word, to form, order, and uphold the world. How much more, then, should we trust His word knowing its efficacy? And Christ is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person- there is no greater way to make God known than by the One who is His express or exact image and impression, He cannot but reveal the Father. But more, there is no other way than by Christ, for all knowledge and revelation must beam and radiate through Christ for it to be a true reflection of God. So, what other way is there for us to comprehend the Incomprehensible if not through the only true image, His Son?

There can be no other revealer after this. And we ought not look for another. None can be greater than this.

Why Was Adam Barred From the Tree of Life?

tree of life

I have often had trouble understanding the meaning of this verse: Genesis 3:22, “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'” Is this saying that Adam truly became like God? Would he really live forever if he ate of the tree? Is God implying that His plan has been foiled and is making  a strategic move?

Then, naturally, I always thought that this banishment was a matter of God’s grace. By removing Adam from the Garden, it would keep him from eating of the tree of life and physically living forever in a state of misery and sin. But this enlightening installation of a’Brakel gives a different insight on this verse, one that I am beginning to favor.

p. 362-363

“Sixthly, this [the Covenant of Works] is also confirmed by the tree of life. Here two trees are contrasted with each other. Since the one symbolizes eternal death, why would the other one not symbolize eternal life? The name also indicates this, for it is expressly called the tree of life. What else can be deduced from this than that it was a sacrament, that is, a sign and seal of life? There is not the least indication that the meaning here is limited to corporal life, and thus we may not do so either. Moreover, if Adam lost corporal life, he at once also lost the spiritual life which e possessed. Therefore, by the word life we must understand both the corporal and spiritual life which he then possessed, as well as eternal felicity which generally is comprehended in the word ‘life,’ even tough the word ‘eternal’ is not added to it. ‘If thou wilt enter into life…’ (Mat. 19:17); ‘Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life’ (Mat. 7:14). This is stated in many other texts as well. For this reason, after Adam had lost this life, the Lord no longer wanted him to be a partaker of this seal of eternal life By means of an angel, the Lord expelled him from Paradise, ‘… lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’ (Gen. 3:22)

“When he had sinned by eating from the one tree, which he ad no right to do, God was not willing that he should also eat from the other tree. Would he have lived eternally if he nevertheless would have been able to gain access to this tree and have eaten from it? most certainly not, for there was no inherent power in this tree to restore the spiritual life and communion with God which had been lost. Adam certainly knew this. What could corporal life have benefited him without spiritual life? Neither was there any inherent power in the tree to nullify and rescind God’s threat, ‘Thou shalt surely die.’ Even if he were able to preserve his corporal life, Adam knew very well that he would not be able to do so. Why then did God say, ‘… and live forever’? My response is that this is a rebuking and reprimanding manner of speech, as is evident in that same verse, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us’ (Gen. 3:22). It is as if God said, ‘Behold the man, who thought that by eating of the forbidden tree he could become as one of us. Behold, how he now resembles us!’ God said as it were, ‘how he has been deceived in his objective, for instead of becoming like one of us, he has become unlike us.’ This is also the manner of speech in the phrase, ‘and live forever,’ meaning, ‘for he would again be deceived in his objective and opinion, if he were to think that by eating of this tree he would live forever.’

“‘And live forever’ therefore refers to that which he would imagine, as if after having sinned this tree would continue to be a sacrament of life. God did not want him to abuse the sacrament since he had forfeited the matter itself, that is, eternal life. it was the Lord’s will that he would now turn away from the broken covenant of works, and, being lost in himself, would put all his hope in the seed of the woman, which was promised to him immediately after the fall.”

Did Adam Need a Law?

Wilhelmus_à_Brakel

For my anthropology class in my systematic theology course, one of our assigned readings is Wilhelmus a Brakel’s “A Christian’s Reasonable Service.” I am currently reading the chapter in his first volume that is on the covenant of works before Adam’s fall into sin. I find it to be an excellent read. It is straightforward, clear, and is educating me on this fascinating issue, and I am discovering that I am fairly ignorant of the vast details of this doctrine. Since I enjoy it so much, I will share the bits that I have found striking, enlightening, or stimulating, and I won’t limit it strictly to things found in this chapter

This first post will piece together two select quotes that I think succinctly show Adam’s need of a law. It shows that mankind’s natural knowledge or rationale does not determine what is good, nor is it knowing that something is good is that which makes it good. Also, by virtue of Adam’s dependency upon God, not only for his physical existence and sustenance, but especially for his rationale and will that moves him, a law was necessary.

p. 356

“The first matter to be proved is that God gave a law to Adam, this being such a law which in content is identical to the ten commandments. The law is given of God to be a regulative principle for man as far as his inner man and actions are concerned. It declares what is good and evil, and by virtue of its divine authority obligates man to obedience. [emphasis mine]

“Man’s rational intellect, be it ever so perfect and capable of a proper perception of the requirements of the law, is not a rule for good and evil. A matter is neither good nor evil merely because a proper perception determines to be so. A proper perception does not obligate man to obedience; it is merely a means to know and acknowledge both the law and one’s obligation. The divine law and its divine authority are the rule for good and evil, and obligate to obedience.”

p. 357-8

“…the nature of God as well as the nature of Adam requires that Adam have a law. By virtue of His nature God is the foremost and supreme Lord who is worthy to be honored and served. As soon as a creature appears upon the scene, He stands above that creature and the creature is subordinate to Him. This is also true for man as a rational creature, not merely because He has created man or has entered into a covenant with him or even because man has sinned, but more particularly due to God’s nature, since He is Jehovah. Adam, being a creature, was of necessity dependent upon His maker in all things, for otherwise he would be God himself. One cannot view the nature of the creature as being anything but dependent.

“If Adam is dependent upon God, this is not only true for his being, but also for his motions. This is not merely true in relation to the motions he has in common with the animals, but also relative to his rationality enabling him to function intelligently. If God by virtue of His nature is supreme and independent, worthy to be honored, served, and feared (‘Who would not fear thee, O king of nations? for to Thee doth it appertain’) (Jer. 10:7), and since man is dependent in his nature, activities, and intellect, then man in his perfection had a rule by which his nature and activities had to be regulated, that is, a law. This law was embedded in Adam’s nature so that he did not have to search for it as one who was ignorant of his obligations, or be concerned that being weak he would be led astray by his lusts to do otherwise. Knowledge of and conformity to the law were embedded in his nature.”

One of my professors translated a Brakel’s volumes- Here is his site: http://www.abrakel.com/