Page images

adoring the Author, and giving him the praise of all.

To shut up all, we do thus use the name of God, by having a conversation suitable to that great and glorious name we profess to honour, Phil. i. 27. For we take his name in vain when our practice thwarts our profession ; for that makes the name of God to be blafphemed, Rom. ii. 24.

II. I proceed to fhew what is forbidden in the third commandment. It “ forbids all profaning or abusing " of any thing whereby God makes himself known.”

This command is broken two ways,

1. By not using the name of God as is required, Mal. ii. 2. So as many duties as are required, to ma. ny fins there are in omitting these duties. Hence this command is broken by our not hallowing and glorifying God's name, by not taking up the name of God into our minds, lips, and lives. We contract guilt against this command by not thinking and meditating on God titles, attributes, &c.; not speaking of them for the glory of God, our own and the good of others; not writing of it when men are gifted for it, and have a real call to do it. So also by not making a profession of religion ; a real profession at all times ; à verbal profeffion when men are by providence called thereto. Not using God's ordinances. Particularly it is a sin against this command, to refuse an oath touching what is good and just, when duly called thereunto.

For in all these cases there is a neglect of the duty of glorifying God's name enjoined in this command.

2. By profaning or abusing of the name of God; that is, any thing whereby God makes himself known This is the great fin forbidden in this command; a bitter root that spreads itself out with many branches, In speaking to it, I shall shew,

1. The inore plain and palpable profanations of that holy name forbidden in this command.

2. Other ways how the Lord's name is abused and taken in vain.

First, I am to fhew the more plain and papable pro fanations of that holy name forbidden in this. command. The name of God is plainly and palpably abufed,

1. When it is used ignorantly, as it was by the Athenians, whom the apostle Paul charges with worshipping God ignorantly, Acts xviii. 23. And of this all thote that are ignorant of God, Chtist, and the way of salvation, cannot but be guilty, when they do at all use that holy name: for as no man can work right in the dark, fo the darkness of ignorance on the soul utterly units. it to glorify the name of God. And ia what meafure soever that culpable ignorance lies on us, fo far are we guilty in that cafe. How is the name of God abused by ignorant persons, while they mention the name of they know not whom, and speak of him they know not what? They will call God their God, who know not the nature of that God, the covenant of grace, or the way how he becomes ours. They will call Christ their sweet Saviour, while they know not who he is, nor are acquainted with his falvation They will call his Spirit their Sanctifier, who know nothing of his fanctifying operations and influences,

2. When it is used vainly and irreverently, that is lightly and rafhly, There is so little of God in the hearts of many, that his name, that dreadful name, is much in their mouths without any neceffity or re verence in their common talk, The Jews had fa great thoughts of the name Jehovah, that they would not mention it. They permit not their children to mention the name of God till they be seven years old, If the Mahometans find a piece of paper in the way, they put it in some hole of a wall or so, because the name of God is or may be in it. But alas! among Christians io is much ufed in vain and irreverently, The name of God is thus profaned, vainly and irreve: sently used,

1, By exclamations in a way of foolish wonder. It iš fad to think how that holy name is profaned by men, when being surprised to see or hear something they wonder at, they cry, O God! O Lord! God blefs us, fave us, guide us, þave a care of us! That it is lawful to pray for thefe things, none doubt. But fuch as are in earnest for his bleffing, guidance, &c. will see them to be matters of fo great moment, that when they are to feek them, they will compose them, felves to a praying frame, and lift up their hands with their hearts to the heavens for them, with singleness, fear, and faith in the blood of Christ. But to use

this holy name, to give a vent to our foolish passions, i is horrible prostitution of it.

2dly, It is used vainly and irreverently in thankfgisvings to God and salutations. How formally and

lightly will many fay, God be thanked, Bleffed be God, when the very fhew of their countenance declares they have no grateful sense of God's goodnefs, nor reverence of him on their spirits ? So God Speed you, God be with you, are good prayers indeed, but moftly used fo formally, that they are but an abusing of that holy name.

3dly, In obsecrations, wherein the name of God is interposed to beseech a perfon to do or forbear such a thing. They are very good when in matters of weight they are gravely and reverently ufed, as Rom. xii

. i. I beseech you by the mercies of God, that je present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service

. But io use them in small matters, as many do, entreating for God's fake or God's love to do so and fo, is but abusing that holy name. Common beggars are very guilty this way.

4thly, In adjurations, wherein the name of God is interposed to 'oblige a person to do or forbear fome. thing. This is a very folemn piece of business, 2 Tim. iv. 1. and may very fafely be used by those who have authority in matters of weight; and people's flight

ing of those solemn charges given by ministers or 0ther superiors fo, is very sinful. But it is a fin, (1.) To use these things in light matters, as to bid one do any thing we are little concerned about in God's name. (2.) And although any person may pray to God against devils, that he would bind them up, yet it is a fin for any who have not the gift of cafting out devils, to adjure the devil, or command him in the name of God to go, as the vagabond Jews did, Acts xix. 13. 14.

5thly, In appeals to God. We find the saints.uling them reverently in matters of weight, as the apostle Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 2.; but to appeal to God in trifles, with a God' knows, &c. is abominable. The omniscience of God is no matter of sport. To appeal to God in trifles, is the way to bring down the judgement of God on the appellant. The serious thoughts of God's knowledge may make the best to tremble, and strike all with so much awe of his Majesty as not to make a by-word of it.

3. When the name of God is used fuperftitiouly, I Sam. iv. 3. 4. 5. So to name the name of God over diseases, or against the devil, as if the very mentioning of that name without faith in him would do the business. So is that bowing at the name of Jefus used by those of the church of England, a superstitious abuse of that holy name. 4•

When it is used profanely and wickedly. Under this may be comprehended,

1/1, Profane swearing. Swearing is an holy ordinance appointed by God, a piece of most folemn worthip, wherein we invocate God as our witness and judge, which makes cominon swearing a dreadful lin. It is twofold, both of them abounding in our day.

(1.) Swearing by God and Christ. How do many glory in their horrid oaths, which inay make one that has any notion of the greatness of that name to tremble! They have a God to swear by, but not to wor fhip and pray to. But indeed it is wounding, that

there should be others who will both pray to and profanely swear by that God, Jam. iii. 10.

(2.) Swearing by the creatures. The Papifts that worship the creatures, no wonder they swear by them

too, as by the holy bread in the facrament, by St Mary. · But what have Protestants to say for swearing by

them? Yet how frequent are oachs, by our faith, troth, foul, conscience, G.?. The mincing of these oaths will not make men guiltless; yet alas! how few are, there that want them, Ha'th, Faith, Ha'd'

ye, Fa’d'ye, Mary? This swearing by creatures is,

[1.] Impious idolatry, giving that worship to the creature which is due to God only, Deut. x. 20. Swearing is an invocating of the object we swear by, to be witness of the truth of what we affirm or deny, and fo to judge and punish us if we swear falsely; and to whom can this belong but to God? Jer. v. 7.

[2.] The dishonour redounds to God, because these things have a relation to God, Matth. v. 34. 37. The foul is his creature, conscience is his depute, truth his image, &c. Hezekiah broke the brazen serpent when the people abused it to idolatry. Take heed God break not that, foul of thine on the wheel of his wrath.

As for your minced oaths, I pray you consider, (1.) That they are at least an appearance of evil, i Theff. v. 22. (2.) That they are surely idle words, Matth. xii. 36. (3.). Are not the most serious Chriftians conscientious in this ? Phil. iv. 9. (4.) That they are offensive to the serious godly, Matth. xviii. 6. (5.) That they must either be oaths, or they have no sense at all.

2dly, Sinful imprecations or cursings, whereby people pray for some evil against themselves or others, whether absolutely or conditionally, We find the saints conditionally imprecating evil against them. felves, as in the case of clearing themielves of what they are wrongously loaded with, Pfal. xii. 3. 4. 5. And in this we may imitate them, when in matters



[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »