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best, is but talking for want of something to say. A poor shift for poverty of thought! and capable of exciting only pity or contempt, were it not that the ridiculous meanness of the thing is lost in the horror we are struck with at such enormous profanation. How can the rest of mankind, who yet retain some respect for Almighty God, bear to hear his holy and glorious name not only mixed with trivial, nonsensical, or lewd discourse, but mixed with it, for no better
purpose, than to daub up its gaps and broken pauses.
There are others, again, who abound sufficiently with small thoughts, and words suitably significant, which, put together, make but sorry entertainment for the hearer. To remedy this great defect, and give their conversation an air of spirit and fire, they here and there enliven their insipid sentiments with a bold dash of blasphemy, which thunders in the ears, and terrifies the minds, of such as have the misfortune to hear them. They would have us take this for the sure sign of a fierce intrepid spirit, awed neither by respect towards men, nor by the fear of God. All this, however, is mere affected flash, and the world knows it. The world knows full well, that this bullying appearance is put on only to conceal a real littleness of soul; and accordingly always regards loud and boisterous swearing as the infallible mark both of a senseless mind, and a dastardly heart. How often have we seen a wretch of this stamp, after thus insulting the Majesty of heaven, submit patiently to the vilest indignities from a man whom every-body knew to be no great hero? But we should not forget, that those worthies swear as much to shew their wit, as their mettle? And is it not equally a proof of neither? Can there be any wit in an oath? If others have used it for ages, can there be any thing clever in the repetition of a little nonsense worn threadbare by the mob in every kennel? Or hath any man reason to value himself on the invention of a new oath, wherein there cannot possibly be any thing either to surprise or please, but the bare impiety of the expression? Impiety, it is true, may please. But whom? Not, surely, the sensible or good. And it is only the fool, and the scoundrel, whom these witlings would tickle, at the expense of every thing sacred. It is perhaps unreasonable to grudge them a satisfaction so very small, for which they are to pay their souls, thus rated by them
selves, in the sight of God, at half a mite, while, in the same instance, they are paraded off to an unthinking world, as souls of the first magnitude.
These men, however, whom I have been speaking of, are a sort of Christians, and only swear by that which they seem at other times to lay some stress on. They have a little faith, which serves to give a proportionable significance to their profanation. But why swears the atheist by God; and the deist by Christ? Who hath made.converts of their tongues, and given them just religion enough to swear by? No one; their tongues are still as infidel as their hearts; but they intend their oaths for blasphemy; nay, for a sort of proofs, that there is no truth in religion; for we are to understand, that these men of genius swear only because they no not believe; and do not believe, because they have found out, that religion is a lie. And would they have us take them in this light, when they are called before a court as evidences, or sworn into a place of trust and profit? for here they will swear to some purpose, as well as in company for amusement; but the public ought a little better to consider, that the oath of an infidel can be no pledge for his fidelity.
There is hardly any vice that is not as ridiculous on the one side, as it is shocking on the other. Swearing falsely is taking God's name in vain; because, instead of clearing up the point it is applied to, it only serves to conceal the truth, and set those astray who depend on it. Here the vice looks as shocking as all the wickedness it abets, and its own horrible impiety, its own infernal treachery, can make it. Profane swearing is taking God's name in vain, because it is applied to no purpose. Here it looks as ridiculous and contemptible as the gross, the excessive folly, it springs from, can render it. Viewed altogether, it presents us with the picture of a devil playing the buffoon, whose countenance is compounded of horror and grimace.
To conclude: let the profaner of God's awful name know, that although it is beneath the dignity of the infinitely serene and majestic Being to pursue every insolent offender with immediate vengeance; yet a time shall come, when he who now lifts his head aloft, and sputters, his great words against the Most High,' must fall down over-whelmed with
despair in his presence; when the stubborn heart must melt at his looks, and the blasphemous tongue lick the dust before him. Then, at least, he must learn to fear the great, the glorious, the terrible, name of God, when the almighty arm is lifted up to vindicate its honour.
As to you, who may have hitherto been less scrupulous than you ought about the truth of what you swore to, put your heart in deep mourning for the horrible offence; tremble and repent before the all-knowing Judge of angels and men; and let me earnestly press you, as you fear God, and regard your soul, to a fixed resolution never to swear for the future, but when the clearing up of some weighty truth necessarily requires it. As often as this shall be the case, feelingly, fearfully, consider what you are going to do. Consider, that the property, the credit, the liberty, perhaps the life, of your neighbour, is to be determined by your oath; for the truth of which, you are not only to kiss the Bible, but to appeal to Almighty God with a solemnity suitable to his majesty, and the importance of the cause you are called to. These things duly laid to heart, let it be your business to swear exactly in the same manner as if you were summoned to your oath before the throne of God at the last day; for, whether it is here, or there, that you swear, consider, it is in the presence of that God who knows all things, who forgets nothing; of that just and almighty Being, who speaks to you in my text, saying, "You shall not swear falsely by my name, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord' that is, I am he who now governs, and will hereafter judge, the world, I am he who can and will reward the man of true piety and integrity with the joys of heaven; and I also am he who will punish the vile offender, that swears falsely by my name, and profanes it, with the torments of hell. I am the Lord, gracious to the good, and terrible to the wicked. I am the Lord, who execute righteousness and judgment.' I will bless him who sweareth to his hurt, and changeth not; but my curse shall enter into the house of him that sweareth falsely by name. Mine eyes run to and fro through the earth; and behold, because of swearing the land mourneth; for there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God, in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adul
tery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Shall I not visit,' shall I not execute vengeance, for such things as these? 'Yes; I will be a swift witness against the false swearer.' I will convict him, not only of his prevarication, but of all those other crimes which he hath concealed and encouraged by his perjury."
Such is the sin of perjury; such the sin of taking God's holy name in vain; and such his indignation against both. Let us feelingly lay these things to heart. Let us consider, that we ought not to be insolent, merely because God is patient; for vengeance is his, and, in due time, he will surely repay. Art thou a profaner of God's awful name? Detestable fool! What pleasure, what profit, accrues to thee from this abominable practice for the present? And how dost thou set thyself up as a mark for the arrows of the Almighty, when patience, long abused, shall kindle into indignation, and mercy itself call for vengeance on thy head? Or hast thou the boldness to call on God to attest a lie? Know, odious deceiver, that, if there is a God, thy own horrible crime, and every other sin concealed, abetted, encouraged, thereby, shall, with accumulated judgment, be fearfully punished in thee. Know, dark infernal monster, that, if there is a devil, his fate and thine must be the same; for thy soul is black, treacherous, and impious, like his. Know, O thou vilest of men! thou rebel to God! thou pest of human society that, if there is an hell, there must be thy portion for ever; and think what it is to dwell with everlasting burnings.' Think, think, and repent.
Let us now earnestly beseech Almighty God to fill us with an awful fear of his holy and glorious name, that we may never presume to utter it, but with the deepest reverence; nor appeal to it, but with the utmost regard to truth. Grant this, blessed Father, for the sake of Christ Jesus our Redeemer; to whom, with thee, and the Holy Ghost, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now, and for evermore. Amen.
CHRISTIANS MUST FOLLOW CHRIST.
PHIL. II. 5.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
It was the intention of the apostle, in the passage from whence this text is borrowed, to press the Philippians to humility, unanimity, and patience, by the glorious example of our Saviour. It was impossible to urge an argument of greater force; for besides that nothing hath a stronger influence upon the actions of men than the example of those they admire, whereas this was the example of a person they adored; they were moreover, as the disciples of Christ, under an indispensible duty, under an absolute necessity, of following their great leader, in order to accomplish the same blessed design, and arrive at the same happy place, to which he had shewn them the way.
For this purpose it was necessary they should be acted by the same principles, nnd governed by the same mind and spirit, which was also in Christ Jesus.' Again, as members of his sacred body, the church, they must have been willing to renounce their own foolish minds, their own carnal hearts, and give themselves up entirely to the government of that infallible mind: for no man can be really a member of Christ's body, who is not governed by the mind of Christ. A man may indeed have the name, and claim the outward privileges, of a Christian, by being baptized and continuing in the profession of Christianity; but if he is still the slave of his own passions, if he is governed by his own mind and will, how can he call himself a member of Christ's body? Does he not know that in the great day, when the wheat and the chaff shall be separated, there shall be neither spot nor wrinkle left in the body of Christ, but that it shall be holy and without blemish?' How then can he imagine, that a dis