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and it was originally pronounced audibly by the Almighty himself—against all such evil utterance of the tongue.

"The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Read attentively, my brethren, the ten commandments, and you will find none more solemnly enforced, or the breach of which is more solemnly condemned. You will find not the least warrant to suppose

that this command can be held in less account than any of the rest. To break, therefore, this commandment, and to allege in excuse that it was a mere act of thoughtlessness, or that it is an idle habit not involving much evil, or that you, at least, intended no harm, -what alas! is this, but to increase the offence by thinking to apologise for, and excuse one fault in confessing yourself guilty of another.

You must not be so thoughtless. It is a crime in you, not to break through and give up a habit which you affirm of

your own mouth to be not free either from objection, or blame. And to say that

you intend no harm, what is this but an idle mockery, an affront to the supreme majesty of Him, who, by the teaching of his Holy Spirit, has said, “ Be not rash with thy mouth.” Men have no right to be thus careless in a matter, whereon God hath solemnly declared his holy will and pleasure.

“ Ye shall not,” so is the commandment repeated in Leviticus, “swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.” “I am the Lord,” ever present to note and to mark down all the transactions, and all the words of the children of men. idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof at the day of judgment.” And it is a vain and indefensible thing to assert that no harm is intended by the many (we will grant unmeaning) oaths, the innumerable idle 6 Eccles. v. 2. 7 Lev. xix. 12. 8 Matt. xii. 36.

“ Every

profanations, which are hourly heard among us.

Nothing which relates to God, nothing which refers to another world, nothing which concerns the health and purity of our souls, can be of little consequence. On such points we must intend either good or evil. And whether good is intended when men curse, and consign to perdition either their own souls or limbs, or those of their comrades -judge ye ! And is it no harm, think ye, to appeal unto Heaven upon every frivolous occasion? Is it no harm to call upon your God, and upon your Saviour, in the guilty hastiness of the moment, without knowing what you are about?

But perhaps you allege that you intend no harm. Harm however there is, even present harm, and evil is made to abound. The quarrel is thereby not unfrequently provoked; the heat of anger is thereby increased; and malevolence is thereby added to what was per

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haps at first only passing anger.

And men do thus impiously take unto themselves the power and attributes of the Deity. They speak, and they denounce, and they curse, even as though the “power to cast both soul and body into hell” were a prerogative which belonged unto them, and not to God only. But the Almighty has never delegated such power unto men, and we are to be well convinced that for every such assumption of his authority we shall have to answer. The Psalmist declares concerning such, “ His delight was in cursing, and it shall happen unto him : he loved not blessing, therefore shall it be far from him. He clothed himself with cursing, like as with a raiment, and it shall come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones."9 The Almighty will not allow the created thing, the creature of dust and ashes, to wield, according to its own intemperate and foolish will, the thunderbolt of his

9 Psalm cix. 16, 17.

high wrath.

“ It is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Away, then, with the plea of thoughtlessness or inattention as excusing the heinous guilt of idle or profane swearing. It is a crime of too crimson a dye to admit of such a palliation. Neither may we think to allege as admissible in the judgment of the great day, that the angry word, or the violent behaviour of others provoked, and prevailed against us to be “partakers with them in their sin.” Brethren, there is “utterly a fault” in this matter; and it is a strictly prohibited thing in Christians to render “railing for railing."

Men of themselves involuntarily bear testimony that it is wrong.

And the most habituated swearers, however frequent their idle blasphemies, give proof at times that this fearful practice, apparently inveterate, can be restrained, and is to be conquered, and, as it were, without effort.

i Rom. xii. 19.

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