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God, to be sanctified in heart and life; to be made happy here and hereafter, are the great objects we
seek for in religion. In Jesus we have them all.
Under the Mosaic dispensation, the substance
of the doctrine of propitiation or atonement, was taught by sacrifices, which were instituted by God, to show the necessity of a Mediator, and that without shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins. This has been a prevailing notion in all ages from the remotest period of antiquity. The sacrifices of the most barbarous and idolatrous nations, are virtual acknowledgements of the sinful state of man, and of his need of atonement; and may all be adduced, as collateral evidences, that the doctrines of Christianity are true. In order therefore, to secure the salvation of man, we must find one, who not only can possess infinite merit, but who can also be capable of suffering and death. The Saviour of men must be divine, in order to atone for the infinite demerit of man's transgression; yet he must be human, in order to bear the punishment due; and in the same nature which had offended. But where is this Divine being to be found, who unites in himself Deity and humanity? We would answer in the words of the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Jesus Christ, alone was adequate to this great work, and he accordingly is held forth, as the only Saviour of the human race. It remained for him to say, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the
Christ by his death opened the gates of heaven; the cross of Christ is the only key that opens the door of glory. "We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." This alludes to the entrance of the high-priest once a year into the holy of holies with the blood of an animal as a propitiation. The entrance to this was through a veil which separated it from the holy place. It is very remarkable that this veil, which covered that sanctified part of the temple where the great high-priests of former ages had glimpses of the glory of God, was on the occasion of the death of Christ rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, without hands; which signified that every obstruction to our entrance into heaven was removed by the death of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; and that we might for the future draw near to God, and hold direct communion with him ourselves, through the atonement which his Son had made for our sins. Let us then pray that we may feel the utmost efficacy of the blood that has been shed for our sins, and the utmost power of the Spirit in destroying the works of the devil. Then shall Christ dwell in
our hearts by faith we shall be perfect in holiness and the fear of God, and be capable of comprehending the full power of the love of Christ, and be filled with the fulness of God.
AIMING AT HEAVEN. " 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."
It is much to be regretted that the habit of swearng, and invoking the name of the Deity on every silly occasion, should be so prevalent. It is chiefly amongst the humbler classes of our fellow-nien that this vice exists to any extent; though it is practised by some, who from education and connexion ought to know better. The Greeks and Romans, whose notions of piety arose merely from their innate perceptions of what is good and virtuous; whose gods were the heroes of former days, endowed with the attributes of immortality, from the fancies of their poets,—even these, whose religion was a form, considered it at once silly, indelicate, and profane, to invoke and swear by the gods, unless upon particular occasions.
The sin of taking the name of God in vain, and the practice of what is denominated cursing and swearing, are so intimately connected that we cannot separate them; and perhaps at no time were they ever so extensively prevalent as at present. From the earliest periods we find, that those countries which had made any progress toward refinement, universally reprobated the practice of swearing as belonging only to poltroons and cowards. In
the days of chivalry, when the superstitions of papistry were at their height, the most frequent invocation was on the name of the Virgin; and the common oath "by the mass," "by the rood," or some other thing connected with their forms, or rites of worship; but we never read of a direct appeal in this light manner, to the infinite and immortal God: never we believe was it done except in notable and solemn cases; at least we have no doubt but such a piece of profaneness would have subjected the offender to a heavy punishment or pennance from the clergy. Even the light and comparatively unimportant expressions above quoted, were by no means common. It was considered a disgrace for a knight to use one of them in the presence of a lady, or superior, and not at all becoming his dignity to use them in any case. With respect to cursing, now so common, that the most bitter malediction scarcely excites a passing thought in its object, they had notions of horror and dread. A curse, or evil wish upon a person, it was supposed, unless revoked by the party who made it, would inevitably be followed by its consequences at some period; and the bold baron, who could without a feeling of fear rush with his followers into the midst of a phalanx of spears, would tremble and turn pale at the anathema of a feeble old woman.
In the present day the custom is every where scouted, though so universally practised. Any man in a genteel mixed society, though it were an as
semblage of infidels, who should make use of an oath, would be considered a brute. These feelings prevailing, and the policy of the thing so universally acknowledged, it is astonishing that this disgusting practice should not be discontinued. It is allowed on all hands to be "neither brave, polite, nor wise.” Why then should it be used? Man's propensity to sin can here be of no excuse. There is neither passion, appetite, or feeling of any kind gratified. It is merely the uncalled for repetition of words, which to say nothing of their sinfulness, are acknowledged even by those who use them, to be exceedingly vulgar and abhorrent.
What shall we say, then, when we take into consideration the impiety, the presumption of such language? When God gave forth his commandments to Moses, his presence was so terrible that the mountain quaked, and the people trembled with fear. Among many important rules for our conduct, he did not neglect to intimate the extent of his own tremendous majesty. The three first commandments, treat wholly upon the duties to be shown to himself. He implies that even their thoughts must not wander from Him with too much respect to any thing inferior. In the third he displays his infinite exaltation, by commanding that even his name shall not be used but for the purpose of adoring him.
Some there are, we have no doubt, who are guilty of swearing and profaneness under the influence of strong passions, from the mere force of habit. But