A Practical Exposition of The Ten Commandments - James Durham (RBH & Naphtali Press)

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G

Puritan Board Senior
Firstly, I am no scholar, publisher, nor author....I am not even so bold as to be a blogger:cool:. I am just a laymen (in all fairness, formerly a Deacon).

According to my memory, I have spent a solid year reading this work (May 2019 - May 2020). At first, I was forced to read this book very slowly. As with older writers, I have found I need a 10-15 page mental break-in to understand the meaning of their writing without having to read every sentence 5 times. However, even after my “break-in” period, I determined to keep a slow pace with this work. YES, I recommend this to any and all believers seeking to better understand the 10 Commandments and their binding nature on the Christian today. The book will bear no surprises for a reader who already is familiar with the Westminster Standards Larger Catechism.

The book is 348 pages and comes with a very unique and interesting historical account of it’s peculiar publishing personality (let’s call it the Triple P). I quite enjoyed reading this as it made me feel more “at home” with the book.

Judging a Book by It’s Cover: The binding is certainly one of the highest qualities I own (likely not saying much). The book’s exterior and pages have a textural character that will be immediately noticed by your fingertips. The blue tones on the cover are very drawing and are only further enhanced by silver font engraving that will add a certain eye-catching twinkle to your bookshelf. At 348 pages it is a small-medium size book, which makes it nice for carrying around and holding compared to other larger works where you need a large belly or tabletop to serve as a prop.

Judging a Book by It’s Content: As if the physical properties of the publisher’s material choices were not enough, the content soon drew me away from the cover (though the page feel certainly remained a nice reminder). I am not suited well enough with words to be long winded here, but I will at least give a brief reflection on my own experience. Durham leaves few stones unturned throughout his exposition on each Commandment. Even the shortest chapter on the 9th, only 8 pages, did not disappoint in applications. Durham has clarity and piercing implications in his words, which served well to constantly remind me of my own remaining filth. I often felt his words to serve as a splitting maul into some of the deeper cavities my sin was residing. However, as quick as he was to bring me low, I soon learned it was all for the purposes of forcing me to see more clearly the holiness, beauty, and wonder of Christ and how His perfect adherence to the law was/is accounted to the true believer.

So as a Christian husband, father, and layman, I hope you will consider this review and support this work. I will leave you with a quote from the book that I read this Lord’s Day as I finished the final pages. The context is within discussion of the 10th Commandment. Durham showed me how this command, dealing with coveting, really is most fitting to be last, as it forms a “string” carrying implications through every prior command. What string is that Grant? That violations begin in our discontent hearts.

4) This indwelling corruption is one of his greatest weights; yea, it is exceeding weighty and his most grievous burden, heavier not only than all outward afflictions, but even, in some respect, than actual transgressions. For he finds that he is never sooner off his watch, but his evil inclination sets on him. This is his exercise; this mars his peace and makes him loath himself, when the world sees nothing reproveable in his conversation. This did much more pinch and afflict Paul than his persecution and make him cry out, “What shall I do, O wretched, O miserable man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” All the outward afflictions and tribulations that he met with, drew never such a word from him; he could through grace rejoice, yea, glory in the midst of them. But this makes him cry out of himself as miserable, it being indeed the thing that in itself and in the esteem of the child of God, when at himself, makes him beyond all things in the world look at himself as wretched and miserable, and if faith in Christ were not kept up, the believer in this case would despair and give it over. But it is neither the natural man’s exercise, nor yet his burden.

(5) The natural man has not a spiritual sense to savor and relish the things of God, and as little inward feeling of his corruption that is opposite to the grace of God, but outward things are only or most sweet to him. The believer relishes spiritual things; but remaining corruption mars his satisfaction even in outwards things, and the more he finds that he is satisfied with them, he is therefore the worse satisfied with himself. If he takes a glut of satisfaction in them, with more pain he vomits it up again and it troubles his stomach, as it were, till he get it cast out. God’s people get not leave to drink with full satisfaction of the things of the world, as natural men do; for the believer having two parties in him, grace and corruption, whereof (while out of heaven) he is constituted, what contents the one, can never content the other. But the natural man having but only one party and being wholly constituted of corruption, he has more delight, not only in sinful things, but also in worldly things, than the believer.

The scope of all is to discover your superficialness and overliness [carelessness] in examining yourselves, to put you to be more serious in that necessary and useful exercise and to teach you by what command you should most examine yourselves, even by this tenth command, as being that which will make the clearest and most thoroughly searching discovery of yourselves to yourselves and will best ride marches1 (mark the boarders) between you and hypocrites, to put you in thankfulness to acknowledge and with admiration to adore the exceeding great goodness of God, in providing and giving a Mediator on whom He had laid all these innumerable iniquities of all His people, which would have sunk them eternally under the insupportable weight of them; to let you see how absolutely necessary, how unspeakably useful and steadable He is to so many ways and so deeply guilty sinners, and withal to lead you to improve and make use of Him for doing them away, both as to the guilt and filth of them—which when God shall, for Christ’s sake, be graciously pleased to do, will not every believing soul have reason to say and sing to the commendation of His grace:

Who is God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity? Micah 7:18.

Bless the Lord, O my soul… who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases. Psalm 103:1, 3.

To him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion forever. Amen. Revelation 1:5–6.

1 . Marches: Borders. As in “Riding the marches, a practice retained in various boroughs, especially at the time of public markets. ‘It is customary to ride the marches, occasionally, so as to preserve in the memory of the people the limits of their property.’” Red Marches: “To settle or clear up any controverted point by nice and accurate distinctions, to settle a quarrel, S.” (Jamieson). Occurs often in Durham’s sermons. See also Lectures on Job (chapter 3 & 24), Sermons on Isaiah 53 (Sermon 20) and Commentary on Revelation (1.5; 3.1–3; 5.2; 8.2; 9.2; 11.3; 12.1&3; 22.3).
 
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Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
YES, I recommend this to any and all believers seeking to better understand the 10 Commandments and their binding nature on the Christian today.
Patience, patience! It is on my short list to read. Calvin's Institute is next up though. Chris's extolling of Durham, does make curious to see how worthwhile he has, and your review adds to that.

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G

Puritan Board Senior
Patience, patience! It is on my short list to read. Calvin's Institute is next up though. Chris's extolling of Durham, does make curious to see how worthwhile he has, and your review adds to that.

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At least remove the plastic so you can feel the textures!

I am now on to A’Brakel Vol.2 . I will not start The Institutes until I finish Vol. 4. Happy reading!
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Is that a worthwhile read? It seems like I have only heard good things.
I finished up volume one in about 6 months, mainly just reading on the Lord’s Day. It is a systematic theology that is extremely Pastoral. Brakel wrote it in hopes that it would certainly bless Pastors but more directly to the lay-men and women of his day.

I have zero regrets and it reads very smooth. When I complete it, that will be my first ST to read from cover-to-cover. I purchased the hard copies, my recommendation, but you can also find it online free in PDF.
 
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