Page images

cannot but be a profaning of the name of God, which turns, an appeal to God for his decision unto a play. And tho' men call it fortune, it is certain that is nothing indeed but God's determination. And it will not excuse men, that they first miscall God's providence by the name of fortune, and then play themfelves with it. 2.) It gives occasion to much lin 2gainst God, as blaspheming of God's providence voder the name of fortune and ill Juck; and commend. ing good fortune, overlooking providence when it falls well. And it renders this ordinance of lots contemptible, being so used.

4. With respect to his word, men are guilty of pro• faning the name of God,

11, By misimproving and misapplying the word of God, as the Pharisees did, Matth. v. Ezek. xiii. 19.

2dly, Jefting upon it, Jer. xxiii. 33.

3dly, Vling it to the maintenance of erroneous principles, unprofitable questions, and vain janglings, 2 Tim. ii. 14. 15.

5. With respect to his works, men are guilty of profaning the name of God, when they use the works and creatures of God to finful lufts and practices.

6. Lastly, Men profane the name of God, in respect of religion and the profession of it,

:ift, By maligning, scorning, and reviling of religion, and the profession of it.

2dly, By a hypocritical profeflion,
3dly, By a scandalous walk.

To be a little more particular in these things, the name of God is profaned and abused, and this command violated,

1. By malignity, maligning the truth, graçe, and ways of God, otherwise called malignancy. It is a heart enmity and bitterness of spirit vented by word or deed against the truths, grace, and way of God, Rom. i. 29. Such malignants were the Jews, who were filled with envy, and spake against those things

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blafpheming, Acts xiii. 45. In our fathers days the spirit of malignancy run with a violent stream against the work of reformation, till it had swallowed it up, and is now again appearing in its violence. A different opinion from the truth in point of church-government is not malignancy; but when a set of men lay out themselves to bear down the Lord's work in the land and in the spirits of his people, when men pretending to be ministers bear down and discourage the power of godliness in others, and men in civil power are filled with a spirit of persecution against those whom they can find nothing against but in the matter of their God, and meaner people aid and assist these, and contribute to or rejoice at the calamities of the people of God, malignant is their paine ; for malignant is their nature and course of life. And colour it over as they will, God will not hold them guiltless ; for they are his enemies that take his name in vain.

2. By scorning of the ways of God, Pfal. i. 1. The fcorner has a high seat in the devil's court, where he sits on bell's bench, giving out a sentence of di/dain against the way of serious godliness, as unworthy of a man, and inconsistent with his honour, sentencing the ferious person to be the fool of the company. Thus Satan's madcaps whom he has blinded, make a jest of the wisdom of God; but the day comes when their fcorning shall be turned to roaring, H. xxviii. 22.

3. By reviling the truth, grace, and way of God, 1 Pet. iv. 4. Revilers are a generation of hell, who are set to gather together all the filth and vileness they can get, to throw upon religion and cover it, that the world may loath it, 1 Cor. iv. 13. And so with them religion is rebellion, foul.exercise distraction, communion with God melancholy fancies. They load men with vile calumnies; and if they can ice nothing without them, they conclude they are but hypocrites.

4. By hypocrisy, while nen pretend to religion and take up a profeffion, but have nothing of the truth of it in their hearts, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Hypocrites indeed take God's name in vain, making profession of religion, not out of conscience towards God, from lope to him, or a design to honour him, but for some finister ends, as reputation, worldly advantage, or at beft their own peace and safety, which is a horrid prostituting the name of God to cursed felf.

ist, They take his naine in vain in their hearts; for the truths of religion they know, have no suitable efficacy on their hearts or lives, Rom. i. 18. The candle of God is set up before them in their knowledge ; but in vain it wastes, for they do not work at it. Their knowledge of fin does not make loath them it. The love of Christ does not constrain them to walk in the paths of new obedience.

2dly, In their mouths. They may go about duties, but they go about none in the right manner. Their words are good, but their heart is not upright, Ezek. xxxiii. 30. Hence their prayers are an abomination, their best works are but glistering fins, like a potsherd covered over with silver dross. (1.) Their largest duties are but half duties, and that the worst half, as wanting spiritual worship, which is the foul and life of worship. (2.) Their fervice is but felf-service. All the streams of the hypocrites duties disburden in the dead sea, felf.

3dly, On their foreheads; for there hypocrites bear it in an external profeffion, but in vain : for though they wear Chrift's livery, they are but the devi's drudges. If they be not such as fulfil the desires of the flesh, they fulfil the desires of the mind; they are under the power of spiritual plagues.

5. By being ashamed of religion, Mark viii. ult, Religion is our glory; men will not miss in a profane world to have it turned to shame; but to be ashamed of it is a sin of naughtiness of heart, and want of experience of the power of truth on the spirit. It is a horrible affront to the majesty of God, to be ashamed

i. 27

of his badge: for that is to be ashamed of him as a Master.

6. Lastly, By being a shame to it, ist, By an unconformable unsuitable walk, Phil.

The world takes notice of the agreement that is betwixt the principles and practice of profeffors; and a disagreement there reflects dishonour on religion itself before them, as if it were all but sham and trick.

2dly, By an unwise walk, Eph. v. 15. We should be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; for the imprudencies of professors are no small handle to the enemies, and much improved for the reproach of religion. There is much need of continual dependence on the Lord for wisdom, especially that we may walk in wisdom toward them that are without, Col. iv. 5.

3dly, By an unfruitful walk, II. v. 4. The fruitfulness of the vineyard is the honour of the husbındman, and the unfruitfulness thereof reflects ditho. nour on him, Rom. ii. 24. The fruits of holiness are the best testimony to the divine original of ordinances and institutions; and while men have been violently running down there, their credit has been supported that way.

But alas! now their credit is impaired by the barren and unfruitful lives of profeffors.

4thly, By an offensive scandalous walk, Rom. ii. 23. 24. The scandals of profeflors are the stumblingblocks whereon the blind world break their necks, Matth. xviii. 7. They are the reproach of religion, and the dilhonour of God. They harden the wicked, and grieve the truly godly.

Lastly, By backliding from it, Gal. iii. 1. 2. Apostates cast ihame on the name of God in a peculiar manner; for having tried both ways, they practically prefer the way of evil.

III, I come now to consider the reason annexed to the third commandment, which is, That “ however

46 the breakers of this commandment may escape pu“ nishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not ci fuffer them to escape his righteous judgement." Here I will shew,

1. Whence it is that men think fo lightly of the profaning of the name of God, so that in effect they hold themselves guiltless.

2. Whence it is that the profaners of the name of God escape punishment from men.

3. How God will not let men escape with it.

4. What is the great evil of this fin, that it is so feverely threatened.

Firt, I will shew whence it is that men think fo lightly of the profaning the name of God, so that in effect they hold themselves guiltless. Nothing is plainer, than that little is thought of the taking of God's name in vain, especially by those that are most guilty. They heap up guilt this way, and yet in effcct hold themselves guiltless.

1. It proceeds from that wicked and malicious fpirit the devil, Jam. iii. 6. He is the sworn enemy of God, and does what he can to make men difhonour him. There is so little of the world or the flesh in it, that it seems in a special manner to come from the devil.

2. It springs from the low and mean thoughts they have of God and his dreadful name, Pfal. xxxvi. 1.2. They fee not the glory and majesty of his names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works : hence they treat them as common things. A view of God in his glory, would cure this profane disposition of fpirit. When proud Pharaoh contemns God, and must needs be a god to himfelf, what wonder he regards not that holy name? Exod. v. 2. Paul unconverted was a great blafphemer ; but when he saw the light and heard the voice, he got fuitable thoughts of Chrift, and so was cured of that.

3. There are many profanations of the name of God, that untender men will not allow to be such.

« PreviousContinue »