Imatges de pÓgina
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shall we say of the throng of profane swearers, who
wound our ears, and pullute our language, by a hor-
rid mixture of execrations and blasphemies, in their
common conversation? "Their throats are an open
"sepulchre; their mouths are full of cursing and bit-
"terness, the poison of asps is under their lips*."
This I have to say from the word of God, that the
Lord will not hold them guiltless. In vain their
thoughtless plea, that they mean no harm; in vain
their presumptuous comparison of themselves with
others, as though these were trivial escapes that did
not affect the peace of society. If these were small
sins singly, their frequency would swell to a vast
amount; but is it indeed a small sin to rush against the
thick bosses of God's buckler, and to despise so terri-
ble a threatening as this? Surely, "the plague shall
"As
never depart from the house of the swearer.'
"he clothed himself with cursing like as with his gar-
"ment: so it shall enter into his bowels like water, and
"like oil into his bonest." A habit of swearing is a
sure sign, not only of an unsanctified heart, but of a
conscience hardened, and, as it were, seared with a hot
iron, callous, and quite insensible.

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4. Some persons who scruple expressly to mention the name of God, accustom themselves to swear by his creatures, by the heavens, by the light, or by their own souls, &c. But that this likewise is a direct violation of the law, and exposes to the same penalties, we are assured by him who best knew how to explain his own commands. Our Lord determines this point in his sermon on the mount, so as not to leave the possibility of a doubt, "I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither

Rom. iii. 13, 14.

Psal. cix. 17, 18.

course.

by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, “ for it is his footstool.---Neither shalt thou swear by

thy head, because thou canst not make one hair " thereof white or black*." " And whosu shall swear

by the temple sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth “therein; and he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth

by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereont.”

“ But let your communication be Yea, yea, Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh “ of evil.” This decision evidently condemns, not only what is usually deemed swearing, but the whole multitude of idle expletives, whether fashionable or vulgar, which have the force of affirmations in common dis

Will any who live in a Christian country, and have the Bible at hand, think to plead ignorance of these things in the great day? 5. If I should stop here, some of you

would

applaud yourselves, and perhaps not be displeased with me for what I have hitherto said. Somc who think themselves clear thus far, will join with me in saying, “ Because of swearing, the land mourns." But are there no other ways of taking the name of God in vain? Yes; many do it as often as they pray; and it is easily proved against numbers who join in our

lished worship. Let each one consider with what dispositions and desires they have engaged in the service we have already gone through this day. Our mouths bave all spoken the same things; but have they been the language of our hearts ? In the confession we acknowledge that “there is no health in us,” and speak as if we were true penitents. In the commu

Matth. xxiii. 21, 22,

* Matth. v. 34-36. $ Jer, xxjii. 19.

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nion-service, we cry for mercy as miserable sinners; we pray that the " thoughts of our hearts may be "cleansed by the inspiration of God's holy Spirit; that we may perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy name;" and for this we appeal to God, as "to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from "whom no secrets are hid." More than a few of you, at certain seasons, publicly declare, that "the remembrance "of your sins is grievous, and the burden of them is in"tolerable." Now, what apprehensions can such of you have of God as can dare to use this solemn language, when your hearts mean no such thing? Is not this to take his name in vain, in the grossest manner? Is it not plain that you think him altogether such a one as yourselves *; nay, more easily imposed upon, and more safely to be trifled with, than a fallible mortal? Strange it is to think, that many can not only content themselves with this lip-service, but make it the meritorious ground of their hope, and conceit themselves religious because they come so often to church to mock the power that made them! But hardly can any wickedness be imagined more daring, and more dreadfully provoking to the Most High, than such a religion as this. To all such worshippers I may address those striking words of St. Peter to Ananias, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto Godt."

C.

6. The whole lives of those who live in the allowed practice of known sin, under the profession of the Christian name, may be considered as one continual breach of this command. In all you say and do, you blaspheme that holy name by which you are called; and still more so, if you are declared friends and fa

Psal. 1. 21.

+ Acts v. 4.

vourers of evangelical preaching. By your means, "the ways of truth are evil spoken of*." You give occasion to those offences of which it is said, "Wo to "that man by whom the offence cometh." You injure the cause of Christ, stumble the weak in the faith, grieve the hearts of all who love the Lord, and make his enemies rejoice. "Better it would have been for

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you never to have known the ways of righteous"nesst," than thus to abuse your knowledge. You are now mingled with his faithful servants, as the chaff is blended with the wheat upon the floort. But," be"hold, the judge standeth at the door." His fan is in his hand, he will thoroughly purge his floor; and when he gathers the wheat into his garner, you will be consumed, like stubble, before the flame of his indignation. What distress and remorse will seize your hearts, when you shall see them with whom you have often joined in the same ordinances, that have lived with you under the same roof, dined at the same table, perhaps slept in the same bed, when you shall see them received into the kingdom, and you yourselves excluded, and thrust into that utter darkness, where there is weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, for ever?

From this subject we may observe, by way of inference and application,

1. The truth and propriety of that Scripture, "We "know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to "them that are under the law; that every mouth may "be stopped, and all the world may become guilty be"fore God." What person in this assembly can

2 Pet. ii. 2.; Matth. xviii. 7.
Matth. iii. 12.; James v. 9. § Luke xiii. 28.

† 2 Pet. ii. 21.

Rom. iii. 19.

plead guiltless to every part of this charge? Must we not all stand silent and self-condemned? and if you are a transgressor, what can you do, either to repair the dishonour you have offered to the Divine Majesty, or to prevent the contagious effects of your own evil example? Nothing can be more false, than a too frequent form of speech amongst us. When a man of some amiable qualifications in social life tramples without fear upon the laws of God, how often is it said, by way of extenuation, he is no one's enemy but his own? when indeed his practice declares him to be an enemy of God, an enemy to his holiness and government; and he is a most mischievous enemy to all who live under his influence, and within the circle of his acquaintance, by tempting and encouraging them to sin, to the hazard of their souls. Things standing thus with all men by nature, with what language can we answer the law's demands? Must we not adopt the pathetic confession of the prophet? "For this our heart is faint; "for these things our eyes are dim. The crown is fallen from our heads: wo unto us that we have sinned*!" 2. The necessity and value of the Gospel; otherwise how can you escape the penalty, and stand acquitted before the supreme Judge? If you refuse this,

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there remaineth no other sacrifice for sint." But if you humble yourself, and apply to Jesus, there is yet hope. He died for sinners, the chief of sinners, and the greatest of sins. For his sake, all manner of sin and blasphemy is pardonable: "he is able to save to "the uttermost." But he must do the whole, and have all the glory. Believe in his name. This is the first step; without grace derived from him, you can

Lam. v. 16, 17.

+ Heb. x. 26.

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