« PreviousContinue »
PROVERBS, vi. 16, 17, 18, 19.
These six things doth the Lord hate ; yea, seven are an abomination unto him; a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations ; feet that be swift in running to mischief ; a false witness that speaketh lies, and him that soweth discord
The law of God, which was given at Mount Sinai, was written by the finger of God upon two tables of stone. The first table contained the four first commands, which pointed out our duty to God. On the second, were written the six last, which contain our duty to our neighbour. The violation of any of these commandments is sin; and every sin, whether immediately against God, or our neighbour, is exceedingly great, because it is the violation of the law of Jehovah. Yet some sins are more aggravated than others. And of such, those are to be so considered, which are a violation of the first table of the law; this, doubt.
less, is the reason, why they are placed first. Sins against God, such as idolatry, blasphemy, &c. are in themselves more heinous, than those of the second table, because they more immediately respect God; and therefore it is the voice of inspiration, “If a man sin against his neighbour, the judge shall judge him ; but if a man sin against God, who shall intreat for him?” Implying as much as this, that some sins are more aggravated in the sight of God than others, and that those which most directly reflect upon him are the most aggravated. But all sin is great, because directly, or implicitly against God. And I would remark, with respect to the text, that the Spirit of inspiration is not here comparing sins against God directly, with those more directly against man; or those of the first, with those of the second table, and representing the latter as the greatest; but is representing sins against our neighbour as very hateful in the sight of God; and enumerates seven particular sins, which are peculiarly so. “ These six things doth the Lord hate ; yea, seven are an abomination to him.”
In treating on this text, I shall say something on cach of the sins mentioned, and then show why they are an abomination to the Lord.
1. I am to notice each of the sins here mentioned.
The first abomination is a proud look, which is here used to express the general deportment, and appearance of a man. Pride has its seat in the heart, as have all virtues and vices. This denominates all our actions, which are of a moral nature, either good or bad. The look, or countenance is here mentioned, because
the face is that part of man, which especially discovers the temper, and inward feelings of the heart to others. Love, hatred, desire, joy, grief, confidence, despair, admiration, contempt, pride, modesty, cruelty, compassion, and all the other affections are expressed by the countenance. These feelings of the heart, are often strongly expressed in the countenance, and is a kind of language which is understood even by children. A proud look is therefore hateful, as it is the index of a proud heart, and the natural expression of its feelings. This is the reason why a proud look is hateful to God and man ; it shows pride at heart. A proud, haughty, disdainful heart, which thinks, feels and acts, as if vile self were better, more worthy of the notice of God and man, than others, is a most base, sinful temper. Pride is a spirit of self exaltation, by which a person is led to think too highly of himself and too meanly of others. Hence it displays itself in envying superiors, and in treating equals and inferiors with contempt. It is a disposition to esteem self, though ever so little and vile, better and more deserving than any other being; hence it refuses to give God his place, or to take its own. But how despicable and vile must that worm of the dust appear in the eyes of the infinite Majesty of heaven and earth, who is swollen with pride and self conceit? “God hath made of one blood” all men; and it is a selfish partiality in any, to esteem himself better by nature than others. There are those among mankind, who are distinguished by natural endowments, this is a reason why they should be thankful ; but not why they should be proud. Such are indebted to God for all they have. And for a man to be proud of any thing he has more than his neighbour, is overlooking the hand from whence he received it. And this is one, principal reason why pride is so hateful to God, because it is a spirit of independence, and involves the basest ingratitude ; and is cof all things the most unsuitable temper for a poor, dependent, vile creature, whose proper place is the dust, out of which he was taken, to which he belongs and is rapidly hastening. , As well might one worm swell with pride, because he is one hair's breadth longer than his fellow worm, as for a man to cherish a spirit of pride, because he knows a little more, or has a little more of this world's goods at his disposal, than another.
The second abomination mentioned in the text, is lying tongue. The proper notion of lying is, the using fixed signs out of their common use, with an inintention to deceive. Speech is an excellent gift of God, the design of which is to convey to others the ideas of ourown minds, and to be a bond of union, and a mutual comfort and advantage to mankind.
But to use our tongues to deceive and impose on mankind, and lead them into errour and mistakes, is a direct perversion, and vile abuse of language, and directly tends to destroy the end for which it was given. Words often are used aside from their common use, or to convey different ideas from those, with which they are connected by custom, through ignorance, and others are deceived by them. But he who deceives others ignorantly and undesignedly is rather to be pitied, than blamed, especially, if he has not had advantages to know the use of words. But no excuse can be made for him, who uses language contrary to established use, with an intention to deceive his neighbour. This is lying in the strictest sense, and cannot be done without a wicked heart, and is directly contrary to the command of God. “Let every man speak truth with his neighbour.” Truth is likewise a part of natural justice which we owe to one another.
For whenever we lie to our neighbour, we lead him into wrong notions of persons and things, and mistakes in either may prove very
in. jurious to him. So that to speak truth to our neighbour is a branch of that justice by which we are obliged to do no man any wrong. ' Society could not exist without truth, because a false and lying tongue destroys all confidence, and tends to dissolve every bond of union. Such a tongue is vile, because it proceeds from a false, deceitful heart. It is from within, out of the heart, that this evil comes; and a deceitful, false heart, commonly discovers itself in a lying tongue. That such a tongue, and such a heart are an abomination to the Lord, is sufficiently evident from the dreadful doom of all liars.
The third abomination mentioned in the text is hands which shed innocent blood. The sin here intended is murder ; which consists in taking away the life of a person unjustly. He therefore, who takes away the life of an innocent person, one who has not forfeited his life, according to the laws of God and his country, is a murderer. And he who takes away the life of one who deserves to die, if, at the same time, he be