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We allude to the meekness, the demureness, or quietness of speech (call it by what name you please) which is observable when the man is speaking to, or in the presence of, his superiors, his “masters after the flesh :" then there will be no cursing or swearing, there will be lowliness in deportment, and modesty in language; and yet in a moment afterwards the same awe-struck individual will turn, perhaps, to some helpless inferior, and heap on him a profusion of oaths and execrations fit only for the mouth of a demon, characteristic of one accursed of God, and abhorred of man.
Great indeed is the inconsistency, and monstrous the guilt, into which men, otherwise of good character, and not without education, and ability and judgment, can suffer themselves to be betrayed.
And although no one good feeling is gratified, although no one angry emotion is thereby appeased, but is the rather aggravated; yet do men
“ make a mock at this sin,” and they will go on in despite of the most solemn warnings, as if it had never been said, “ The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Can, however, such men venture to call themselves Christians ? Can they believe there is such a thing as “ a judgment to come ?” Can they believe that truth pervades every page of the written word of God? Sad is the reflection, that men professing the Gospel of Jesus Christ shall be found so to set at nought the solemn and plain command of “ Swear not at all,” of the extensive bearings of which our Lord has not left us in ignorance !
Nevertheless the habit is with some men so inveterate ; and so fool-hardy will some be in thinking, or even in asserting, that it is scarcely of sufficient importance to be mentioned as a crime, that probably what hath been here said will have little weight: and thus alas ! it may be, that
this pernicious, this vile and ungodly practice of vain and rash swearing will still retain its mad and self-destroying abettors. Nevertheless the preacher, according to his duty and ability,—and may the imperfection and brevity of his argument not be utterly void!—hath endeavoured to declare the counsel of God concerning this sin, a sin which among seamen and soldiers is so fearfully common. Common, however, as it may be, and freely indulged in by the men of both professions; yet the general prevalence of an evil can never make that lawful, which God hath positively forbidden, and which he hath by his own mouth solemnly denounced as criminal.
If, brethren, God hath declared, that "he will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” thousands or even millions of evil-minded and thoughtless men shall not be able by their obstinacy to turn the truth of the word of God into a lie, or to alter that which
hath gone forth from his lips.” Be ye then, my brethren, and each of you individually, well convinced and persuaded that the habit of idle, or of passionate swearing is no less unprofitable and unmanly, than it is disgraceful to the character of a Christian, and exposed to that wrath which shall eventually visit to punish every unrepented sin. profane swearing will not satisfy your hunger, it will not obtain you the esteem or the friendship of any one good man, neither will it advance you in your profession. But it may, and will, make God your enemy; and you may, by persisting in this abominable and inexcusable practice, be heaping evil on your own head. You will be “ treasuring up unto yourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.'
Well, indeed, and aptly hath the pious author of the book of Ecclesiasticus
2 Rom. ii. 5.
exposed the evil of this vice; and his words may here, in conclusion, be perhaps not without profit, cited as giving us good “instruction in righteousness.” “ Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One. For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth and nameth God continually shall not be faultless."
3 Ecclus. xxiii. 9, 10.