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rality. ." But, above all things, my brethren, swear not, neid "ther by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other “oath, but let your yea be yea, and your day nay, lest you “fall into condemnation."
The people to whom the apostle addressed himself were Jews and his brethren according to the flesh. Profane fwear. ing was a fin to which that 'nation was addi&ted, and Aill is throughout all their dispersions, more than any nation or people upon earth. "Above all things, my brethren, swear not." It would be needless here to spend time to prove that neither this text, nor the prohibition of our Lord, forbids the bear. ing witness for decision of controversies which arise between man and man by a lawful oath. A lawful oath is an ordinance of God, an act of solemn and religious worship instituted for the most valuable purposes. It ought not to be used, but upon important occasions, 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 whatice.
Let it be observed in answer hereto, that God himself bas constantly employed oaths both in the former and latter testament, in various instances 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 testimhny in its favour, when he says, “An "oach for confirmation is to be the end of all trife." There is the same end to be answered, and the same calls for oaths now, that ever were, and therefore ought to be continued and held as a standing ordinance both in church and Rate. All that is prohibited by Jesus Christ and our apostle is the prostitution of this facred ordinance, and the profane and common abuse of this holy istitution.
It was a common and notorious practice among the Jews, to swear by heaven, by earth, by the temple, their head or any
other thing, but never by the name Feboval, eácent on the Dios solema occasions, anil the most urgent calls. But alas ! in modern times of profanity, the tremendous and venerable name of God, seems no more regarded than inferior things, unless it be to reduce it to a more common and wicked use.
It is the impious caftom of profane curing and swearing which our apostle here condemns ; " Above all things swear “ not.” That is, in a special and distinguishing manner beware of and guard against this iniquity. Above all oiher immoralities, keep yourselves from profane curling and swearing. For this is a fin not only of a most henious nature, but above all others it has the least temptation, provocation, or induce. ment. The apostle mentions fome things usually employed in this profanity. They swore by heaven and by earth." He charges them to beware of such unprofitable offences. common use of the names, titles and attributes of God, by exclamation or otherwise ; all abuses of the facred institution of an oath ; and all rash, ill and impious words are here expressly forbidden. But, let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.". Let the whole tenor of your conversation consist of fimple affirmations or negations. This is abundantly fuficient lo afford full credit to the words of christians, to honest and upright men. Every addition of abomination always depre. ciales credibility. And the more of this is subjoined, the perfon renders himfelf less liable to be believed. This purity of conversation must be maintained, “ left you fall into condem. "nation.” That is, lect you fall into the condemnation of tich who take God's name in vain. The declaration of the judge eternal is, “ He will not hold kim guiltless.” The profane perfca mult fall under the condemnatory sentence of a violat:ilice. He will surely be punished with an awful and everlasting puritiert, uleis desp repentance and faith in the gospel prevent. iefore let 'all be ferioully exhorted to waichi against this fill, that they porili nüt forever.
The counsel beicis, " alove all things tocar not," set hov y are they who aâ in direct contradiction of this precept >> T · mind this, the last thing in the world. The common.
of the practice countenances them in the odious trans 1 on. Perhaps one reafon for the reiterated prohibitions
is fin in the divine oracles is, that it is in a peculiar manoffensive to the majesty of heaven, argues a most virulent, empt of the authority of God, and lias no incitement to it ither profit, pleasure or honor. A proper oath is a devout I religious in!ticution of God, whereto, when lawfully called, : give glory to his name as an omniscient and omnipresent jehovah ; but common and profane (wcaring is a malignant reflection upon this holy ordlistar.ce, it is trampling under foot an inftitution of heaven, and doing dispite to him, whose honor an oath was intended to promote. It is a facrilegious aliena. tion of those forms of speech, which ought to be confecrated to the glory of God, and turning them to the most impious purposes. It is an imitation of Beldalur, that moniter of ini. quity, who commanded the holy vešlels of the temple io be brought forth to grace his drunken feait. In them he fud. denly drunk his laft. So the impious ought to fear, left they perilh with profanity in their months. Some are so funk in wickedness, that they cannot transact usual business, or relate a common story, without intermingling there with mul. titudes of profane epithets. If you hint a dillike of such a cum. ber of language, or the dishonor done to God, how will they immediately, and perhaps with another evil word, declare that they did not know they swore. There are others who are only learners in the infernal tongue, and dare venture no farther than to lisp the language of hell. This may be filed not fwearing at large, but by contraction. This kind of minced profanations, to say the least of them, arc idle words, for which an account must be given in the day of judgment. They mull originate from a vain and thoughtless heart, and expose the users of there to condemnation. Let the profane tribe of curfers and swearers attend to the few following confiderasions.
First, consider the enmity such language expreffes against the glorious and fearful name of the blessed God. It is maa king his truth, justice and omniscience, as far as is in the power of a wretched creature, to attend all the extravagances of an ungoverned paffion and unbridled tongue. From whence can such wickedness proceed, but from carnality of mind which is enmity against God, and is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. Hence the Pfalmist says, “ Thine en « emies take thy name in vain.” As iho' none but the enemies of God could be guilty of such profanation. There is no lust in the depraved heart can be gratified by this tranfgreffion. Hence no reason can be given for profaning the name of Jehovah, but that finners delight and take pleasure in fin for its own sake. It appears to be a mere in vention of Satan to op. pore the commandiments of heaven. Perhaps, if there had not been a precept of God, saying, “ Thou shalt not take the 6 name of the Lord thy God in vain,” the evil one would not have thought worth his while to have introduced this vice into the world. But the destroyer of souls when there was nothing in the corruption of man to incline him to violate this commandment, being determined to oppose the whole law of God by every means that was posible, devired this method of comnion and profane curfag and swearing, and inipired their Couls with the poisonous air. Therefore swearing is of all vices the most inexcusable; it is a transgreffion absolutely wil. ful without any cause, but pure hatred to God. The finner cannot adduce in its favour any internal propensity, nor ternal temptation. Wherefore let fuch finners consider and reflect upon the extreme folly which aggravates the maligni. ty of this fin.
“ Be not deceived, God will not be mocked." Shall he not visit for such things as these?-Will not his fou! be avenged on such outrageous offende:s? -Yea, when the day of recompence comés, all such will end, « That vengeance is & the Lord's and he will repay it according to his word.”
Secondly, consider what striking evidence profane language is against you, that you have not the fear of God before yone! eyes. If you neither fear God nor' regard man, why throw out a foolisa-lignal of your abominable wickedness to all that pass by? Why hould you declare your fin as Sodom, or publith it abroad that Satan is king in your hearts? You certainly dare not proclaim open war against heaven, raise. the standard and wave the banners of the gloomy prince of darkness. Is it not enough that your hearts are unholy, without displaying to the world that you are both fearless and gracelets. When Peter was accused of the dreadful crime of being a disciple of Christ, he immediately took the most effe&ui më thod to disprove the charge ; he not only denied the fag, but presently he began to curfe and swear that he knew not the man ; this in a moment convinced and filenced his accusers, for wicked as they were, they knew that this was not the language of a follower of Jesus. Let none take occasion froni hence to imitate this unhappy example, left they intend hereby to fignify that they, difown Christ and all religion. Peter was foon brought to bitter repentance ; if you transgress in like manner, you must foon repent in brokenness of heart, and bewail your offences in many tears, or be loit to all eterTilly. Allow me to beseech you, my brethren, in all the bowels of tender compaflion, while there is a poffibility of your be coming heirs of heaven, and of obtaining an inheritance among the saints of light, that you prove not yourselves the children of destruction by speaking the language of the regions of dark. Hess. Common curfing is imprecating evil upon ourselves or others. This fin is an eminent instance of the degeneracy and depravity of human nature. All the arches of ilie infernal domes resound herewith. There is nothing but corses in a throng repetition prayed upon themfelves and others, upon God and devils, angels and nief, upon heaven and hell. Are there any so hardened as to imitate this fpeech before they descend into the burning pit ? O how brutish and how unnatural is it to imprecate curses upon ourselves. It is a contradiction to the great principle o iclf preservation, and a violation and an ar