Page images
PDF
EPUB

violated, viz., by perjury, and by profane cursing words, as it is in the third commandment. Notand swearing. These are crimes of the very black- withstanding the strong warnings, and dread est and deepest dye, which, while they bring a threatenings of the Almighty against this sin, it very foul stain upon the character, are peculiariy is truly awful to think how prevalent it is. Turn obnoxious to God, and injurious to man. The to what hand we will, we hear men opening their former, that of perjury, needs but to be men- mouths against the heavens, and our ears are tioned to show its abominable nature. Indeed assailed with the most horrid oaths and impreI cannot conceive anything that bespeaks such cations. In the perpetration of this crime it may daring and atrocious impiety as this sin. For be justly said, that men go astray as soon as they what is it? It is a calling on God, the God of be born, for profane swearing appears as familiar veracity, and holiness, and justice, with all the to the young as to the old; the very child is solemnities of a coming judgment placed before taught to lisp an oath. This desecration manifests the mind, to bear witness to the truth of what itself in various ways. Sometimes the name of we assert, and the sincerity of the promise which God is profaned by the thoughtless sinner as a we make, although we know at the moment mere expletive in conversation; sometimes it is that what we assert is false, and what we pro. used in the company of the ungodly to give zest to mise we neither can nor intend to fulfil. Every their language, and to promote amusement; someone who thus swears invokes the omniscient God times it is employed to express more strongly the to notice and record what takes place, and calls vehemence of their rage; sometimes it is used upon the righteous Judge of all the earth to bring to heighten the denunciations of revenge, and him to account. This is the idea that is implied very often it is employed by unhallowed lips in in an oath. Now what a gross insult is thus imprecations of evil on their fellow-men. Drunkgiven to the great God! It is a direct attack enness, anger, disappointment, mere merriment, upon every divine perfection. To call on the give rise to the violation of this divine commandGod of truth to witness a lie, implies that he ment. I do conceive that of all the innumerable who does so either supposes that God does not and varied sins by which men are characterized know what he does, and therefore it is an attack and degraded, this sin is, so to speak, the most upon his omniscience; or that God is not dis- gratuitous, and betokens more than any, man's pleased with falsehood, and so it is a denial of low and sunk condition, and the deep-rooted his holiness; or that he is not able to avenge the enmity of the human heart to God. For almost indignity, and thus it derogates from his power. every one sin that can be mentioned you

discover I conceive perjury, when deliberately committed, some motive; it is indulged in for some fancied to be near akin to atheism. It is actual practical advantage, or gratification; but no one can see why atheism.

a profane person opens his mouth in imprecations, And while this sin is immediately directed why he blasphemes the name of the great God, against God, the consequences on society are but solely from the love of blasphemy, the love most pernicious. The interests of individuals are of sinning in this particular way. No acquisition not merely involved in it, but the peace and well- in any one way was ever made or expected to be being of mankind at large are subverted by it; made by profanity, and but for this fearful for what security is there for any man's life, or enmity of the carnal mind to God, one wonders character, or property, if these may be sworn how it is committed at all. O that the profane away by the miscreant who sports with falsehood, person would consider that whatever recomand dreads not the fearful solemnity of an oath? mendation his blasphemy may be of him to the Says Solomon, “a false witness against his neigh-profane like himself, he exposes himself to the bour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow;' abhorrence of the religious and the virtuous, yea, is as much to be dreaded as the most fatal weapon, even the sober-minded. A swearer is generally nothing can be mentioned that is more dangerous avoided, you dread to come in contact with him. or destructive. O what a picture does such a His language is the language of hell. He is one șinner give of the deep depravity of the human whom the young are admonished to dread, and heart! It is to be feared that the frequency of to avoid; he is branded as a nuisance to society; these solemn appeals to heaven, and allowed on he is marked as a blot in the creation of God. occasions comparatively trivial, have had a Some do pretend to excuse this vice under the powerful tendency to weaken the obligation, and plea and pretence that it is a habit with them, lessen the reverence due to an oath.

and because they have been so much inured to it, Bat the sin of profane swearing, and that in therefore they cannot get quit of it; it has become ordinary conversation, is also denounced in these second-nature to them. Alas, alas! what is this but an aggravation of their guilt. They have very form and terms of the oath are prescribed, familiarized their minds so much to sin that they - Thou shalt swear the Lord liveth in truth, in cannot live without it; they cannot speak with-judgment, and in righteousness.' out profaning God's name; the habit is so strong Although there is no express injunction respectthat their consciences have become seared; the ing oaths under the Christian dispensation, yet, turpitude of the crime terrifies them not, and while there is nothing against the practice, there they have brought themselves to that state that is much to confirm it. This appears both from they can call good evil, and evil good!' And shall the language of the prophets in reference to gosthe Lord hold such persons guiltless ? No, no, pel days, and also from different declarations in He will not hold them guiltless, the curse is writ- the New Testament Scriptures. Thus saith the ten over them. He will bring them to judgment. Lord, by the mouth of Isaiah, • I have sworn by Jehovah in this interdict thus speaks, “I am the myself, that unto me every knee shall bow, every Lord. In casting your eye over this chapter, tongue shall swear. The apostle Paul solemnly you will observe how frequently this memento is appeals to the Almighty, as to the truth of his given, to remind men that he is a jealous, a sin- affirmation, and the sincerity of his affection: "God avenging God, 'I am the Lord,' the holy One is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in who changeth not—my views of this sin do not the gospel of his Son,' Rom. i. 9. And in his alter—mine ear is not heavy that it cannot hear epistle to the Hebrews, he tells us, that among their impiety—my arm is not shortened that men, “an oath for confirmation is to them an end it cannot punish their profanity. O let us plead of all strife. In the book of Revelation, the with the Almighty that he would check this angel is represented as lifting up his hand to heaabounding iniquity, that he would pour out a ven, and swearing by him who liveth for ever spirit of grace and godliness upon us—

that his and ever. name may be hallowed in our hearts, and extolled Still our Lord's words stand on record, “Swear by our lips, and glorified in our lives.

not at all.' Does he hereby oppose the positive law of God? does he condemn the patriarchs who solemnly invoked Jehovah's name? does he set

aside this mean suggested by the apostle for estaTWENTY-FOURTH Day.-EVENING. blishing truth, healing divisions, and settling

strife? By no means. The prohibition of the * But I say unto you, Swear not at all: neither

Saviour, had it referred to any thing but rash, by hearen ; for it is God s throne : nor by the

irreverent, and unnecessary swearing, would be earth; for it is his footstool,' &c., Mat. v. 34 contrary to the light of reason, the appointment --37.

of God, and the good of human society. It may These words of our Lord have been regarded by be observed, that it is no unusual thing in scripsome as an absolute prohibition of oaths in any ture to express that in absolute terms which yet circumstances, and on any occasion whatever. is to be understood in a limited sense, and to be This judgment has been formed without duly explained in reference to the persons and circumconsidering the object Christ had in view, and stances to which it referred: and if in one place without taking to account the character of the swearing is forbidden in scripture, and in another persons addressed.

place it is allowed, the two cases must be different, It cannot be doubted that oaths have been and the nature and character of each must be disresorted to in every period of man's history. covered by the special circumstances. What our They were in use among the patriarchs long be- Lord had in view in the whole of his sermon on fore the promulgation of the law; thus Abraham the mount, of which this warning forms a part, was sware to Abimelech; and Jacob sware to Laban; to unfold the extent and spirituality of the divine and it is more than probable that such solemn law, and expose the gross corruption of the law appeals to heaven did not originate in human sug- by the traditions of the elders; and he sets his gestion, but were expressly commanded by God. own authoritative, I say, over against their It is evident that such appeals were not merely sinful explanations. He does not set aside a admissible, but were enjoined under the Jewish tittle of the divine command; but he expresses dispensation. The very prohibition of false swear- hinıself strongly against what was unlawful in ing implies the lawfulness of it in certain circum- itself, what was not commanded, and the practice stances, and for certain ends; but Jehovah ex- of which no consideration, no traditional gloss, pressly commands it, Thou shalt fear the Lord could justify. Although the Jews pretended to thy God, and shalt swear by his name;' and the I venerate the very letters of the name Jehovah, yet they had discovered a way by which they might | Oh! let the swearer bear in mind that he is guiltlessly swear in common conversation, and eminently a partaker of other men's sins; that might swear to a falsehood, and yet not perjure while he is a smoke in Jehovah's nostrils, he is themselves, and that was swearing by the hea- the pest of society; let him bear in mind that on vens, and the earth, and the temple. And that the great day of final reckoning, he must not only our Lord referred to that pernicious habit that pre- bear the burden of his own sins, but must appear vailed, and not to oaths righteously and solemnly before God as the guilty instrument of corruptadministered, and taken with awe and reverence, ing and leading others away from God, and bringand on suitable and becoming occasions, and for ing them to that misery which they, with himself, important purposes, appears from what he says must endure through eternity. May a reverenin verse 37, “Let your communication be yea, tial awe of that great and glorious name, which yea, nay, nay; for, adds he, whatever goes makes devils tremble, and fills heaven with joy, farther than this is evil ; proceeds from the evil ever be cherished by us; and let that name be the one, from a sinful principle, from an evil habit, strong tower to which we run in our hour of and ought by all means to be suppressed. danger!

This prohibition of our Lord is doubtless a loud and solemn warning to swearers of every name, and in whatever way their profanity discovers itself. Many there are who trifle with

TWENTY-FIFTH DAY - MORNING. God's attributes in common conversation. God's

'If thou wilt not obserre to do all the words of mercy, God's truth, God's curse, are utterances

this law that are written in this book, that thou which frequently issue from their lips--and like

mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Jews of old, they swear by the heavens, by

THE LORD THY GOD; then the Lord will their souls, and in other forms. All these are

make thy plagues wonderful, Deut. xxviii. 58, detestable, all obnoxious to God, all subjected to

59. the wrath and curse of God. Yes, such despisers plainly show that they are none of Christ's disci- From these words we learn that a conscienples; their shibboleth is not that of the Redeem- tious regard to all the commandments of God is er’s followers; their spot is not the spot of God's equivalent to the fear of this glorious name, the children; they have neither lot nor part in the Lord our God. These are never disunited. As salvation of Christ: for while they violate the the stream bears the character of the fountain, third commandment of the law, they disregard so he who fears God hates sin. In giving the the authority of the Lord who bought them : law from mount Sinai, God prefaced it by a they clearly manifest that neither the thunders of solemn warning of our obligation to listen and mount Sinai, nor the moving scenes of mount obey, saying, 'I am the Lord thy God. Most Calvary, influence and affect them. How then glorious and fearful is that name, gloriously does shall they escape!

it testify of his character; and fearfully does it And while this sin of profaneness, however bind us to obedience. discovered, is of a most degrading and corrupting

The Lord who made and preserves all things, character personally, it has a most pernicious whose power, wisdom, and bounty have made us tendency to corrupt all that are brought within what we are, and given us what we possess. The its influence. Profanity is a social sin. It can- Lord who ruleth over all, guiding and controlling not be committed but in company. No man was all, who holds the sceptre of universal sovereignty, profane alone.

He must have society, in order to and demands the obedience of all creation, giving indulge his impious propensity, and thus does this or taking away, casting down or raising up, to sin become peculiarly injurious. He scatters fire- whom none may say, "What dost thou?' The brands, arrows, and death, on all around. Per- Lord, omnipotent, eternal, unchangeable, all-wise, sons of all ages and circumstances are exposed all-holy, all-merciful, just, and good. The Lord to his influence; and unless fortified by grace, God, who reigns with no delegated power, but in will more or less feel its effects. Woe to the himself is to be feared and worshipped as the great young who are brought into contact with the I AM, who was, and is, and is to come; the Lord profane; they will be early inured to the language God who is to summon us into his

presence,

and of hell, and lose their reverence for what is sacred; judge us at the last day, and whose face is the while the more aged, if they are not shocked, only brightness of eternity. and turn away from the despiser, may suffer “The Lord our God, who has revealed himseverely.

self to us, and by invitations, and exceeding

great and precious promises, and by the gift of his | To all who would seek to have the polluted temown Son, and by the institutions of his word, and ple of their own hearts purified and renewed; to the pleading of his Spirit, has chosen us as his have the image of God which has been effaced people, and expressed his desire to be our cove- restored, God saith, see that ye make all things nant-God. The Lord our God, to whom we according to the pattern shown thee on the were dedicated in baptism; whom in after days mount, observe to do all the words of this law we have chosen as our God, by fleeing to him that are written in this book ?' Who then that for comfort in sorrow, by owning him in his truly fears the Lord will venture to relax one sanctuary, and at his table, by laying hold of him iota, or remit one tittle of its words? Who that as our hope when death seemed approaching, and has experienced the tearful cry of Paul, O by still desiring him as our portion beyond the wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me grave, and through an endless eternity.

from the body of this death?' is not filled with How glorious then, yet how unutterably fear- the deepest anxiety, lest he carry into eternity a ful is this name, when used by God himself as fragment of the carnal heart, lest any root of the sanction of his law. 'I am the Lord thy bitterness remain te trouble his every joy, lest God,' offered to you, and accepted by you in this any lust left unmortified should shut him out character. Fearful to man, even as it is glorious from the New Jerusalem, into which entereth no to God, Fearful to those who in wayward unclean thing? folly have outraged his laws. Fearful, peculiarly He that feeleth in this way makes conscience fearful to those who irreverently sport with this of doing all the words of this law, not merely great and dread name—fearful to those who, con- striving to do that which he knows to be the scious of guilt, have found no sacrifice for sin. will of God, but observing, searching with anxious Fearful, in some degree, even to those who though care the words of this book, lest he fail of the pardoned and striving to obey his commandments, grace of God, lest he forget, mistake, or not learn yet feel the deceitfulness of their heart, and the the true mind of God. pollution of the whole man.

It is natural that they who do not fear this There is a fear that hath torment; this, how- glorious name, nor feel their obligations to obey. ever, is not the fear that God requires, or that this law, should discredit the divine threatenings, we must seek to animate us. The fear which is and persuade themselves of the improbability of desirable, and with which God seeks to occupy God's wrath overtaking them. But if there our hearts, is the fear that love begets, the fear be any thing implied in the glorious and fearful which the glorious name of the Lord our God name that gives to the law its sanction—if produces. And such also is the obedience that there be any guilt in denying the sovereignty of God claims, and that his children are desirous to the Lord our God—if there be any criminality give; an obedience that is cheerful, an obedience in disowning his propriety in us, disregarding that is universal, an obedience flowing from love, his unmeriterl mercies, and braving his threatened an obedience that has respect to all the words of wrath, then it is plain that a holy God whose God's law.' Receiving the law at the hands very nature is abhorrent to sin, must frown on of the Lord their God, as a revelation of his the guilty. To manifest such a spirit of ingratiwill, an exhibition of his nature, they say, like tude, waywardness, and rebellion in the wilful David, “the law of the Lord is perfect.' Requir- violation of any of the known commandments ing all that purity of heart which will fit them of God, were justly to deserve the threatened for the divine presence, and the abodes of bliss, penalty; thy plagues shall be wonderful. But and refusing to allow of less, they say, “the why speculate on the justice of the doom? Is statutes of the Lord are right. Little fear of it not sufficient that the Lord our God hath God can be before his eyes, who leaves the said it? Is it not enough that we behold its fulwritten law for the duties of a voluntary humility filment in God's visitations on the Jews? Have of his own devising, and no less his who would relax we not evidence of it in those deaths and woes the severity of the law of the Eternal; for while innumerable which render this world a Bochim? the purity of the law, and the extent of the law What a warning do God's chosen people against sufficeth, it is essential.

whom the denunciation was uttered, “thy plagues But how shall man know the character of shall be wonderful,' afford of the rectitude, the God? Whence can he learn the nature of that purity, the faithfulness of the sin-avenging, the purity which shall enable him to breathe at ease, in glorious and fearful God. Consider this, all ye the presence of Jehovah? Whence but from the that forget God. words of this law that are written in this book.'

TWENTY-Fiftu DAY.--EVENING. “God so loved the world that he gave his only

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus should not perish, but have everlasting life. The Christ,' 1 Pet. i. 3.

mind is overwhelmed. Reason staggers in the vain This is the name by which, above all others, the attempt to fathom that mystery of love. Intelliapostles loved to designate and describe the God gence higher than ours desires to look into this whom they worshipped. By it they expressed, adorable mystery; and through eternity it will and in it they recognised, the attributes of God form the song of angels and cherubim, as well which most filled their souls with wonder, love, as redeemed and ransomed sinners. O! how and praise. As t'e God of nature they blessed adorable is that name in all that it reveals and him all-wise, all-powerful, and kind. As the God makes known of the divine character-adorable of providence they adored him, the incompre- in all the blessings it bespeaks and offers to ushensible Being who preserves, and governs all his for while it plucks us from everlasting burnings, creatures and all their actions. As the Lord their it awakens hopes, and creates joys, which will God they bowed to him, confessing the authority rise in infinite succession, exhaustless through and purity of him who commands. As the eternal eternity. God, they felt the glories of his name, and fell pro- Most encouraging is it to the weary soul to strate before him. But most of all did they bless, know this name. Who that knows it need stand and adore, and magnify him as the God and Father afar off, or sit down in despair ? Be it the case, of our Lord Jesus Christ. And why? Because as that under a sense of sin we feel our own just such he was, and they knew him to be, the Father deservings to be wrath for ever. Let it be that of mercies, the God of peace, the Author of sal- stripped of every plea of self-righteousness, that cation-a pardoning, an accepting, a reconciled denuded of every hope of earning and meriting God. Glorious and fearful then is his name as pardon, we feel that we are undone and helpless

, the Creator, the Preserver, the Ruler of the this name gives encouragement. This is the universe. Glorious, when in the brightness of his very state and character of those for whom he holiness he stood at the gate of Eden, a con- came into the world, and for whom he died. suming fire. Glorious, when in unapproachable · He came to seek and to save the lost.' To majesty he stood on the mount that might not such his doctrine provides a balm of healing be touched, proclaiming the law. But blessed, power

. “God was in Christ, reconciling the unutterably blessed, when by signs and wonders world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses he declared himself the God and Father of unto them. Christ was “wounded for our transhim who came to preach the acceptable year of gressions, and bruised for our iniquities,' and thua the Lord; and when, by a voice from heaven, is the righteousness of God declared in the remishe announced, This is my beloved Son, in sion of sin—thus are we convinced that God can whom I am well-pleased; hear ye him.' O how be a just God, and yet the Saviour of sinners. blessed to the sin-distracted soul is the name But while many are so far encouraged as to say, which confirms the errand, the doctrines, the “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;' invitations, the promises of the gracious Saviour, how many refuse to believe it possible that God the crucified Redeemer, the name that tells us, will welcome them, how many, who deem it prethat in the peace-securing, the peace-offering sumptuous in such as they, to expect such favour! Jesus we behold the character, the desires, the But what dishonour is thus put upon God! attitude of the unseen God, against whom we When God freely sent his Son to die for us, have so deeply sinned, whom we have so griev- | and testified his approval of all that he taught, ously offended.

and did, and suffered, when as the Father of our Infinitely adorable is God as thus made known Lord Jesus Christ he invites all, and rejects none, to us, in the person, the character, and work of the can we doubt that he is willing to save, to save Lord Jesus Christ. All his character is there dis- to the uttermost all that come to him through closed in a brightness at once effulgent and lovely. Christ. ( what soul is so tempest-tossed as to His abhorrence of sin, his unbending justice, ap- find no encouragement in this gracious name! pear more dreadful far in the groans of Gethse- While this name is thus adorable to all; while mane, and the aconies of Calvary, than amid the it is encouraging to those that seek for life and thunders of Sinai and the desolations of the flood. salvation, it is peculiarly endearing to all who God's love, too, ever witnessed and experienced in can call Christ theirs—who can say, “our Lord all his dealings, liere spreads out into an ocean of Jesus Christ, who can worship God as the

wrasureable I readth and unfathomable depih. Father of their Lord. One with Christ, all

« PreviousContinue »