“The message of the Law is needed in our congregations today as much as ever. Even where church attendance is gratifying, spiritual life is often on a rather low spiritual and moral plane… The range of topics treated in these sermons is virtually extensive with the spiritual needs and duties of our people.
“America does not realize what an inheritance she has received from Luther and the Lutheran Reformation. The best way to understand Luther is to have Luther himself speak. His writings are so extensive that there is no trouble in finding something profitable for almost every occasion and condition in life.
“There are a few questions which… often trouble our people. One is the question which has to do with the number and proper order of the commandments. Our people often, in reading, or discussing the commandments, meet with these difficulties.
" In view of the fact that God deals with men as rational, responsible creatures, whom He is anxious to bless but will not force to accept His blessings, this dealing has always had as a primary object to prove to man that God is a loving God, seeking his good, willing to pardon his faults if he would let Him do so.
“The natural man cannot but conclude that there is a God, but his conception of His nature is never a very exalted one. Even during Old Testament times, and not infrequently during the New Covenant, the ideas of God’s own children, with respect to His nature and disposition, were often rather dark and forbidding; they regarded Him as a stern, ruthless, relentless taskmaster.
“These last commandments deal with the root and source of all sin; namely, the evil desires of the heart. It is true that, in the explanation of all the commandments, we bring out the fact that they are broken first of all in the heart, and that they are kept aright only when kept in and from the heart, and that in their scope they are all-inclusive.
“God puts His emphasis on the primary things, where it belongs; but he is not unmindful of anything that concerns his people. He says: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness;’ but at the right time and with becoming eagerness, we may also seek the creature things, which, if used aright, will help us on our heavenward way, though they be but the perishing things of the earth.
“Christ speaks of the course of life through this world as a way: the broad way and the narrow way. With special emphasis do the inspired writers speak of those who live in violation of the Sixth Commandment as followers of a way, a wicked way.
“In thinking and speaking of murder, the average person usually has in mind only the actual and direct taking of human life, — as, for instance, with poison, a revolver, a dirk or some similarly deadly instrument.
“This discussion brings us to the important subject of capital punishment. Capital punishment is the legally enjoined punishment for the crime of murder. It is the conviction of many that the enforcement or non-enforcement of this penalty has much to do with the attitude of our people toward the Fifth Commandment, the first requirement of which is not to take human life.
The Fifth Commandment (“Thou Shalt Not Kill”) has not become antiquated… (In it) we have a statement of that Law of God which gives emphasis to the sacredness of human life, and throws about it the protecting shield of His care.
Listen to what the Lord says through the mouth of St. Peter: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be unto the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him.
To live means more than having food and shelter or any degree of material prosperity. Merely to vegetate, to exist, is not truly to live. To spend an existence of isolated selfishness is not really to live.
We have, in a measure, prepared the way for the consideration of this Fourth Commandment by our meditation on the Christian family. If all families were Christian families, if all parents lived and wrought in the midst of their families in the fear and love of God, and made it their chief concern to have their children follow them in this, then we should have the least possible trouble in having the Fourth Commandment fulfilled.
We are now ready to take up the study of the Second Table of God’s holy Law. This Second Table, beginning, according to our division, with the Fourth Commandment, deals with man’s relation to his fellowman.