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The Evil and Danger of Profane Swearing and Curfing.
James v. 12. But above all things, my brethren, fwear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath, but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, left you fall into con
COMMON profane fwearing and curfing, are fins of a base and aggravated dye. However prevalent they may be, this renders them not the lefs henious. It calls forth the ftronger and more frequent testimony against them. Does the air of the infernal regions infect many parts of our guilty land? Where is the town or village which contains not less or more common curfers and fwearers in it. Therefore the evil and danger of this vice ought to be often pointed out, and the threatenings of heaven against it repeatedly denounced. It is abundently mentioned in the holy fcriptures, and marked with the utmost abhorrence and disapprobation. It is univerfally condemned in the Old Teftament and in the new, by the prophets and apoftles, and our Lord gives a moft felema charge
to his difciples and all others against this fin. His commandment is, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; "neither by earth, for it is his foot flool; neither by Jerufa"lem, for it is the city of the great king; neither fhalt thou "fwear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair "white or black; but let your communication be yea, yea, "nay, nay; for whatfoever is more than thefe cometh of evil." This ought to be perfectly fufficient to correct and regulate all the language of chriftians. If any addition could, be wanted to enforce the counfel, there is the third precept of the decalogue which was early given; but we need not to revert back fo far for a condemnation of this vice; common fenfe, and the propriety of language, and every form of delicacy, and decency, ftamp reprobation upon it. Whether it arifes from fashion, education, or any other fource, to hear curfing and fwearing dropping from a ladies lips, to be entertained. with the interpolations of profane expletives and exclamations, and to fee the devil bolting from their mouths, can there be a greater contraft of beauty and deformity, in nature? Behold moral uglinefs starting thro, blurring and marring every amiable feature. Can the pencils of the greateft limners produce a more odious picture than a lady that fwears. The temptations to this vice are infinitely lefs than others which would blaft her reputation forever.
Let all whether male or female, old or young, bond or free, who have indulged themselves in this abominable license of the tongue, be entreated to attend to the abfurdity and irrationality of this fin, its contradiction of the injunctions of heaven, the great difhonor it is to God, difgrace to the chrif tian religion, its tendency to promote the caufe of infidelity, and the certain deftruction, if the deepest repentance and the most thorough reformation intervene not, of the immortal foul," which worlds cannot ranfom. I beg your attention to the words of infpiration delivered by the apostle of chriftian_mo
rality. "But, above all things, my brethren, fwear not, nei
ther by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other "oath, but let your yea be yea, and your nay nay, left you "fall into condemnation."
The people to whom the apostle addreffed himself were Jews and his brethren according to the flesh. Profane fwearing was a fin to which that nation was addicted, and fill is throughout all their difperfions, more than any nation or people upon earth. "Above all things, my brethren, fwear not.” It would be needlefs here to spend time to prove that neither this text, nor the prohibition of our Lord, forbids the bearing witness for decifion of controverfies which arise between man and man by a lawful oath. A lawful oath is an ordinance of God, an act of folemn and religious worship inftituted for the most valuable purpofes. It ought not to be used, but upon important occafions, and when duly called thereto by the power of civil authority. Some have unhappily imagined that this declaration of the apostle, together with that of our Saviour's, was intended to be an abolition of all oaths whatfoever. Let it be observed in anfwer hereto, that God himself has conftantly employed oaths both in the former and latter testament, in various inftances for the confirmation of the faith of his people in the truth of his declarations. It was always the practice of the faints throughout all generations, and St. Paul gives full teftimhny in its favour, when he fays, "An "oath for confirmation is to be the end of all ftrife." There is the fame end to be answered, and the fame calls for oaths now, that ever were, and therefore ought to be continued and held as a standing ordinance both in church and fate. All that is prohibited by Jefus Chrift and our apoftle is the prostitution of this facred ordinance, and the profane and common abufe of this holy inftitution.
It was a common and notorious practice among the Jews, to fwear by heaven, by earth, by the temple, their head or any
other thing, but never by the name Jehovah, except on the moft folema occafions, and the moft urgent calls. But alas! in modern times of profanity, the tremendous and venerable name of God, feems no more regarded than inferior things, unless it be to reduce it to a more common and wicked use.
It is the impious cuftom of profane curfing and fwearing which our apoftle here condemns; "Above all things fwear "not." That is, in a fpecial and diftinguishing manner be ware of and guard against this iniquity. Above all other immoralities, keep yourselves from profane curfing and fwearing. For this is a fin not only of a moft henious nature, but above all others it has the leaft temptation, provocation, or inducement. The apoftle mentions fome things ufually employed in this profanity. They fwore by heaven and by earth." He charges them to beware of fuch unprofitable offences. All common ufe of the names, titles and attributes of God, by exclamation or otherwise ; all abuses of the facred institution of an oath; and all rafh, ill and impious words are here exprefsly forbidden. But, "let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay." Let the whole tenor of your converfation confift of fimple affirmations or negations. This is abundantly fufficient to afford full credit to the words of chriftians, to honest and upright men. Every addition of abomination always depre. ciates credibility. And the more of this is fubjoined, the perfon renders himfelf lefs liable to be believed. This purity of conversation must be maintained, "left you fall into condem"nation." That is, let you fall into the condemnation of fuch who take God's name in vain. The declaration of the judge eternal is, "He will not hold him guiltless." The profane perfen muft fall under the condemnatory fentence of a violated lev. He will furely be punished with an awful and everlating punithmment, unless deep repentance and faith in the gospel prevent. Wherefore let all be feriously exhorted to watch against this fin, that they perifh not forever.
The counfel here is," above all things wear not," yet how
many are they who act in direct contradiction of this precept » They mind this, the laft thing in the world. The common nefs of the practice countenances them in the odious tranf greffion. Perhaps one reafon for the reiterated prohibitions of this fin in the divine oracles is, that it is in a peculiar manner offenfive to the majefty of heaven, argues a moft virulent. contempt of the authority of God, and has no incitement to it of either profit, pleasure or honor. A proper oath is a devout and religious institution of God, whereto, when lawfully called, we give glory to his name as an omnifcient and omniprefent Jehovah ; but common and profane fwearing is a malignant reflection upon this holy ordinance, it is trampling under foot an inftitution of heaven, and doing difpite to him, whofe honor an oath was intended to promote. It is a facrilegious aliena. tion of thofe forms of speech, which ought to be confecrated to the glory of God, and turning them to the moft impious purposes. It is an imitation of Belafur, that moniter of ini. quity, who commanded the holy veffels of the temple to be brought forth to grace his drunken feat. In them he fuddenly drunk his laft. So the impious ought to fear, left they perish with profanity in their mouths. Some are fe funk in wickedness, that they cannot tranfact usual business, or relate a common ftory, without intermingling there with mul titudes of profane epithets. If you hint a diflike of fuch a cum. ber of language, or the difhonor done to God, how will they immediately, and perhaps with another evil word, declare that they did not know they fwore. There are others who are only learners in the infernal tongue, and dare venture no farther than to lifp the language of hell. This may be filed not fwearing at large, but by contraction. This kind of minced profanations, to fay the leaft of them, are idle words, for which an account must be given in the day of judgment. They muft originate from a vain and thoughtless heart, and expofe the ufers of them to condemnation. Let the profane tribe of curfers and fwearers attend to the few following confiderations.