Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

to mercy and to liberality, than he is to severity; like as also in another place he professeth that he is very slow to wrath, and most ready to forgive.

Mast. By all this that thou hast said, I see thou understandest that God made special provision that the worshipping of him, which ought to be spiritual and most pure, should not be defiled with any gross idolatry or superstition.

Scho. Yea, he most earnestly provided for it. For he hath, not only plainly and largely, reckoning up all forms of images, decreed it in a manner in the first part of his Law, as a thing that principally concerneth his majesty, but also hath confirmed this Law with terrible threatenings to the offender, and on the other side offering most great rewards to the observer of it. So that it may well seem more than wonderful that this Commandment was not understood, as being obscure, or not espied, as being hid in the multitude, or not regarded, as light or of small charge, yea, that it hath been as it were wholly neglected of all men, as if it had been no Commandment, with no threatenings, no promises adjoined unto it.

CHAPTER IV.

Of the Third Commandment.

SECTION I.

The Third Commandment regards a distinct branch of that duty which is declared in the First to be exclusively claimed by the one true God; and in the Second, to require such an external religious worship, as is suitable to the majesty and spiritual nature of the sublime Object of it. The substance of the Third Commandment is, that we endeavour by every possible means to promote the honour and praise of God's most holy name, and that we abstain from every thing which either does, or may, derogate from the reverence and love that are his due. To this precept, which is negatively expressed, is annexed an awful sanction: "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."

§2. In the terms of the Commandment are to be remarked the words, "thou shalt not take," which refer principally to the use of the tongue, and may be rendered, "thou shalt not speak of." As in the Second Table there is a Commandment almost en

[ocr errors]

tirely confined to the government of the tongue, the unruly member," which is the chief instrument of communication with our neighbour;-so in the First Table is this one precept intended primarily to put a restraint, which is no less needful, on all utterance of ideas relating to God and sacred things.

By" the name" of God is to be understood God Himself, as he has revealed himself in his word and works, the titles by which he is designated in the inspired Volume,-his nature and attributes, so far as they can be comprehended by finite intellectual powers, from the communications which have at various times been made to the sons of men, and from the display of moral perfections in the operations of nature and of grace. Under the same denomination must also be included all things ultimately associated with him; heaven his residence, and earth his dominion: and all things connected with the service and worship of the ever blessed Trinity, the ordinances, sacraments, ministers, and universal Church of God.

"In vain" will here signify every wanton and idle use, and much more every blasphemous and sacrilegious abuse of the sacred name of God, or of any thing consecrated by it.

§ 3. The immediate requisition of this Commandment is, not only to utter and to employ the awful name of the Sovereign of the universe in a manner consistent with his exalted dignity and power; but also to revere and to sanctify, to laud and to honour by our thoughts, words, and actions, the God whom we acknowledge, and profess to worship;-to ad

minister, and to take, oaths seriously and solemnly when they are legally required, that is, either by the authority of the Church, of the civil magistrate, or in consideration of the importance of the occasion which may demand them for the establishment of truth, and for the purposes of justice and judgment;

-to swear only what we know to be true, and to hallow the oath by due reflection on the majesty and omniscience of Him in whose name we swear, and whom we summon to bear that unerring witness, which he alone can bear, to our veracity ;-to beware that our oaths-or vows, which so far partake of the nature of oaths, as they are solemn engagements made in the name and the immediate presence of the omniscient,-be not uttered on trivial or unnecessary occasions, with irreligious or immoral views, or in any language but that of profound reverence and regard for the great Being to whose justice and scrutiny we venture to appeal.

§ 4. The duties virtually enjoined in the Commandments, are all those which particularly tend to the praise and exaltation of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. The chief of these are the setting forth of God's glory by such a pure and unfeigned confession of Christian faith, and by such a holy and virtuous course of life, as must necessarily conduce to the honour and promulgation of that perfect religion which is the measure of our belief, and the rule of our conduct--as shall make our light so to shine before men, that they, seeing our good works, may investigate the source from which they spring, and may be led, as surely they will thus be led, to

glorify our Father which is in heaven ;-frequent, humble, and devout conversation with respect to God and heavenly things;-the keeping of a careful watch over our thoughts and words;-the avoiding of all evil company, and every temptation to pursuits, which may betray us into licentious, or profane communication.

§ 5. The precept expressly prohibits every thing which either directly or indirectly dishonours God, or opposes and prevents his receiving the honour and praise which ought to be ascribed to him on all occasions. Herein are forbidden not only the more flagrant sins of Blasphemy,-Perjury,-and prophane Cursing, or imprecation-in their most open and flagitious character; but every lesser degree of these several modes of taking in vain the holy name of Jehovah, which, under other denominations, may not at first sight appear to belong to the class of the more enormous transgressions. Such are-irreverent appeal to God by word of mouth ;-frivolous, indecent, or disrespectful exclamations, which either allude to, or mention, the sacred Persons of the Godhead ;—actions of every description which have a tendency to cast contempt, or provoke indignity, on the Deity himself, or on any thing, person, or place, conseerated to his name and service ;-acts which may, even remotely, derogate from the majesty, or cause the perfections and providence of God to be lightly esteemed or spoken of ;-all oaths which are not required by competent authority, or by the importance of the matter to be affirmed or denied; and all vows but those which are prescribed by the ritual of the Church for religious or ecclesiastical purposes, or

« ÎnapoiContinuă »