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vanceth when every one shall appear in his true character, and when all the imaginary distinctions, as to the relative turpitude of this crime, shall be wholly obliterated. According to my text, there is no respect of persons on this subject; and, however men may palliate and soften down its detestable nature, as a “trick of youth,” or “ pardonable gallantry,” the offenders of either sex “ shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."* Labour, therefore,
Christian brethren, to impress on the minds of your children and servants a sense of the deadly consequences of moral impurity; and strive to preserve them from all contaminating contact with the wicked. And allow me also to recommend, that you do not make any unreasonable opposition, with a view to thwart the tender affection which the author of existence has planted in our nature towards the happiest condition of human life.
Finally. Let me point you to the gospel. Whither shall you turn for succour and grace, to enable you to avoid the ten thousand snares that beset you? I reply, that you will find all necessary strength in the Lord your God. He assures you, under every “messenger of Satan that may buffet
grace is sufficient for you.”+ Do you ask how you may be cleansed from pollutions of the soul already contracted? I answer, by the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit, who is the divine sanctifier of them that seek him. Do you ask, once more, if there be any power able to subdue your inveterate lusts? I rejoice to assure you there is. The Almighty Saviour, who could cast out devils with a word, can control the most obstinate passions, and heal the deepest maladies, of the human heart. Are you then mourning over past transgressions? Is your spirit humbled? Do you deplore your errors? Is the prodigal coming home in earnest to his Father? Then doubt not-fear not. “ There is a fountain open for sin and uncleanness;"* and “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.”+
. Rev. xxi. 8.
+ 2 Cor. xii. 9.
“ Bat if the wand'rer his mistake discern,
Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return;
Zech. xiii. 1.
+ 1 John i. 7.
MATTHEW v. 33–37.
“ AGAIN, YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT HATH BEEN SAID BY
THEM OF OLD TIME, THOU SHALT NOT FORSWEAR THY-
ONE among the numerous advantages which the public exposition of Scripture affords, is the opportunity it gives to discuss particular duties, which are not the subject of frequent attention in the pulpit. There are some branches of Christian morality, which, although highly important, are yet, from a variety of causes, seldom the topic of ministerial instruction. The nature of the commandment which the preceding lecture attempts to explain is one, and the subject of the present is another, of these. And it is probable, that if the plan which we are pursuing, of bringing the whole of the sermon on the mount before you,
had not been adopted, neither of them had been considered in this place. I, therefore, cheerfully avail myself of the occasion thus presented,
TO EXPLAIN THE SIN OP PROFANE SWEARING, TO WHICH THE WORDS I HAVE READ REFER US,—AND IN THE SECOND PLACE, TO ENFORCE THE DIRECTION THBY GIVE WITH REGARD TO OUR CONVERSATION
I. I SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO EXPLAIN THE EVIL OP PROFANE SWEARING, TO WHICH THE TEXT REPERS.
Now in proposing the discharge of this duty, you will perceive, that I assume the text to speak of such swearing as might be properly called profane. Commentators are not agreed as to whether it has special reference to the improper use of the Lord's name, which is so expressly prohibited in the third commandment; or whether it is designed as an exprobation of the dreadful sin of perjury, forbidden in the ninth; or whether it includes both. From the attention I have been able to give to the relative weight of evidence produced on either side, I offer the passage to your consideration this morning, as expressive of the sin of swearing profanely, both in a court of justice, and common intercourse with each other; and, therefore, that it is designed to teach us our duty on this subject, in every situation to which the providence of God may call
And that we may have a proper knowledge of this prohibition, let us enquire how far it does not, and how far it does, extend.
Oaths are of two kinds—testimonial and promissory. The first is a solemn deposition to facts of which the person swearing can speak, and which obliges him to speak " the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth.” The second is, a sacred declaration and promise to fulfil the specified engagement to which it refers. The form of taking these judicial oaths has been various, and the words employed on the occasion have also been diverse, in different nations; while all have agreed on the use of some action and mode of speech. Even among the Jews there was considerable variation of manner in this transaction. Sometimes they sware by the elevation of the right hand. Thus David, describing the baseness of his enemies, says, “ Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood :"* meaning by this, that they sware unjustly. In allusion to the same custom, it is recorded of the angel which John saw, standing with “ his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth,” that “ he lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever.”+ In the patriarchal age an oath was taken by putting the hand under the thigh of the person in whose behalf the solemn promise was made. There are two instances of this nature recorded, of Abraham and his servant, & and Jacob and the angel at Peniel.Ş Sometimes the Jews sware by their altar-in which case they laid their hand upon it; and sometimes by the temple itself; from which circumstance, it has been conjectured, arose the custom of fleeing to the sanctuary as a place of safety.
But whatever may be the mode, either in ancient or modern times, the question for determination is, how far the practice is allowable under the gospel? The time would fail me to adduce even a small proportion of the instances in which, before Christ came, both kinds of oaths were taken, and that by the Majesty of heaven himself. The fact, however, serves to show us, that the Divine Being is not opposed to oaths as such, and that
• Ps. cxliv. 8.
+ Rev. 1.1,6.
Gen. xxiv. 2.
Gen. xxxii. 25.