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profaned, and the Author of it treated with gross irreverence, whenever it is devoted to pleasure, or to secular business: whenever we ride, or walk, when neither necessity nor mercy demands: whenever we read books of amusement, and diversion; or devote our conversation to any topics, unsuited to the holy nature of this day. Nor is it less really profaned, when we jits sacred hours in idleness, or sleep; or when, in any other manner, we refuse, or neglect, to employ them in the great duties of Religion. Equally, and more obviously, are we guilty of this profanation, when we speak of the Sabbath with contempt; and ridicule, or laugh at, others for regarding it with the reverence, enjoined in the Scriptures; decry the Institution, as useless; as injurious to the interests of mankind; and as deserving the regard of none, but weak and euthusiastic minds: or when, with direct hostility, we deny its sacred nature; labour to weaken its authority; and endeavour to destroy its holy, heavenly influence on mankind. In all these cases, we impeach the wisdom, equity, or goodness, of its Author; declare him, when instituting it, to have acted unworthily of himself; and, in plain language, cast contempt on Him, as well as on his Institution. No man ever thought of treating with contempt this holy day, considered merely as a seventh part of time; no man ever directed the shafts of ridicule at Monday. Aside from the fact, that it was instituted by God as a sacred day, the Sabbath would be no more despised, and regarded with no more hostility, than any other day of the week. The hostility and contempt, therefore, are directed against the Institution; against its sacred nature; against its holy and glorious Author. The Worship of God is profaned, whenever, for reasons plainly insufficient, we refuse to be present in his house, upon the Sabbath; or, when present, neglect cordially to unite in its solemn services; or spend the time allotted to them in sleep or diversion; or when we sport with the services themselves; or when our minds rise in hostility against the faithful preaching of the Gospel; or when we make i. worship of God an object of our scorn and ridicule. Nor are we less really guilty of this crime, whenever we allure or persuade others to the same conduct. The worship of God was designed to be the great means of leading us to eternal life. God appears in it as a forgiving God; as a God reconcileable to sinners; as redeeming them from under the curse of the law; and as re-instamping his own image on their minds. He, who will not come to meet Him, when appearing in this most venerable and endearing of all characters, or who, when he has come, will treat him with neglect, ‘...." and contempt, is guilty of an insult on the Creator, at which the stoutest heart ought to tremble. What an account of this conduct must he expect to give at the final day ! The Christian Sacraments are not often openly profaned. The elements employed have, indeed, been touched with unhallowed hands; and the ordinances themselves have, in solitary instances. been insulted by blasphemous mimicry. But the cases have been so rare, and have been regarded by those, who knew them, with such abhorrence; as scarcely to need any reprobation from me. I shall, therefore, only say, that according to the first feelings of the human mind, feelings, which seem never to have been materially weakened, unless by absolute profligacy, they are universally held in the most reverential estimation; and all disregard, thoughtlessness, and levity, are not only by the Scriptures, but b common sense also, proscribed in our attendance upon them. If we are not wonderfully insensible; we cannot fail of exercising a profound reverence, when in this peculiarly solemn and affecting manner we draw so near to a forgiving God. Private and secret Worship is much more frequently the object of levity, and contempt. Family prayer, peculiarly, has been attacked, on all sides, by loose and light-minded men; and, I doubt not, has been hunted out of many a family, and prevented from entering many others, by the sneers of scorn, and the jests of derision. Why should not men pray? Why should not families ray ? Are we not dependent creatures? Do we not need every thing at the hand of God? Who beside God, can supply our wants 2 Has he not required us to pray ? If we do not pray, will he bless us? Has he not made asking the indispensable condition of receiving 2 The man, who will not pray, is a madman. The family, which will not pray, are lunatics. God has required us to pray always with all prayer; and, therefore, to perform regularly the duties of both private and secret devotion. When we ourselves neglect either; or when we oppose the performance of them in our fellow-men; we neglect, or oppose, the command of Jehovah. He, who laughs and sneers at secret and family prayer, points his jests, his contempt, and his mockery, against his Creator. Where can folly, or frenzy, be found, more absolute than this The wretch, who is guilty of it, is a helpless, sinful, miserable, creature; dependent for existence, for enjoyment, and for hope, on the mere, ...; mercy of God; is promised all blessings, which he needs, if he will pray for them; and is assured, that, if fle will not pray, he not only will be entitled to no blessings whatever, but that those, which he regards as blessings, and which, if he faithfully performed this duty, would prove such, will be converted into curses. This wretch not only refuses to pray himself, but with gross impiety, insults his Maker anew, by preventing his fellow-men from praying also. I shall only add, that Irreverence, the same in substance with that, which has been here specified, may exist in thought, and in action, as well as in words. In some of the cases, which I have mentioned, it has been indeed supposed to terminate in thought. It may thus terminate in all cases, which do not involve our intercourse with our fellow-men. In this intercourse it may be exhibited in actions; and those of very various kinds. Of these a very few
have been mentioned. It is only necessary to observe, that, whenever our hearts teem with irreverent thoughts towards God, or towards any thing because it is his, it makes little difference, whether we express our impiety by the tongue, or by the hands. The irreverence is the same : the design is the same : the moral action is the same. It is the rising of pride, enmity, and rebellion, against God; the open, impudent contention of a creature against his Creator; the struggle, the swelling, the writhing, of a worm against Jehovah.
THE LAW OF GOD.--THE DECALOGUE.—The THIRD commANDMENT.--THE GUILT OF PROFANENESS.
Exodus xx. 7–Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain.
IN the preceding discourse, I proposed, after making several introductory remarks, to examine,
I. The Nature;
II. The Guilt; and,
III. The Danger; of the Sin, forbidden in this Command.
The first of these I considered, at length, in that discourse. I shall now proceed to make some observations concerning the second; viz. the Guilt of this sin. The guilt of this sin is evident,
1st. From the tenour of the Command.
Profaneness is one of the eight great crimes, which God thought I. to make the express subjects of prohibition in the Decaogue. . In the order, in which he was pleased to speak, and to write, them, it holds the third place. All the importance, which this wonderful Law derived from being uttered by the voice, and being written with the finger, of God; from his manifest appearance in this lower j. and from the awful splendour, and amazing majesty, with which he appeared; this precept, equally with the others, challenges to itself. In addition to these things, it is the only precept in the whole number, which annexes an express threatening to the crime, which is prohibited. From all these circumstances it is abundantly evident, that the Guilt of this sin is of no common dye in the sight of Jehovah. All these circumstances were intended to be significant, and are obviously significant, in a manner pre-eminently solemn and affecting. How should we ourselves feel, if the Creator of the Universe were to inform us by the mouth of an acknowledged prophet, that he would appear in this world on an appointed i. to publish his awful pleasure to mankind! With what anxious, too, expectation should we wait for the destined period! With what solemnity and apprehension should we .."the day dawn . With what silent awe should we see the cloudy chariot descend; and hear the Archangel proclaim the approach of his Maker! How should we shudder at the sound of the trumpet, and the quaking of the earth! Would not our hearts die within us, when the thunders began to roll; the lightnings to blaze; and the flames of devouring fire to rise up to the heavens? In the midst of these tremendous scenes, with what si
lent, death-like amazement should we listen, to hear the voice of the Almighty! Would it not seem wonderful; would it not appear delirious; for any man to call in question the authority of his commands, or the absolute rectitude of his pleasure; to refuse the duties, which he enjoined, or to perpetrate the crimes, which he forbade? Who, after hearing from the mouth of God the awful prohibition, Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain ; and the fearful threatening, annexed to it, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who taketh his name in vain; would not quake with terror at the very thought of committing a sin, thus alarmin ly forbidden! Who would demandan argument to convince him, . such a sin was eminently evil in the sight of his Maker? 2dly. This sin is an Immediate Attack on God himself, and is, therefore, peculiarly guilty. The hostilities of mankind against any Intelligent being may be carried on mediately, or immediately: Mediately, against his property, if he be a human being, or against his other external interests : Immediately, against his character, and person. In the same manner we may attack our Maker by attacking our fellow-creatures; and violating such commands of his, as regulate our duties to them; appropriately, and usually, styled the duties of Morality. Or we may attack him, immediately, ł. violating those commands which respect his person and character, and enjoin the various duties of piety. All the transgressions, which I have recited, are directed against objects, confessedly belonging to God, and known to be his, in immediate possession: his §. his Titles, his Works, his Word, and his Institutions. As his only, do they become the objects of irreverence at all. In all these cases, therefore, as here described, we attack God in the most direct manner, which is in our power. A king or a parent, may be insulted by an affront, offered immediately to his officer; his messenger; or any other, acting under his authority. No person will deny the affront, here, to be real; nor, as the case may be, to be very serious. Still it was probably never questioned, that, when this same affront was offered directly to the parent, or the king, himself, it became far more gross; an insult of greater magnitude, and greater guilt. *..."; such affronts have been always more seriously resented, and more severely punished. In all the cases, mentioned in the preceding discourse, God is necessarily, and most solemnly, present to the mind of man. Whatever impiety, therefore, whatever irreverence, whatever profaneness, is exhibited in these cases, is directed immediately against him; against his character; against his person. He, who is the subject of it, stretcheth out his É. against God; and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. He runneth on him, even on his oneck; upon the thick bosses of his buckler. How can the man who **mmoned to take a solemn oath, who is employed in the em*ntly solemn duty of prayer, or in the pre-eminently solemn duty