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EXODUS XX. VII.
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.
F the various vices, into which mankind SERM. are betrayed by passion or inattention, there is no one which is committed on such slight temptation, and of consequence with such little excuse, as the vice of common swearing. The folly of it is on an equality with the guilt. That from all other sins some present profit or pleasure is either VOL. I. O
SERM. reaped or expected, even those, who are XIII. most averse from them, cannot but ac
knowledge; but the joys or hopes of the swearer, none, I believe, but himself can conceive. Yet some satisfaction he must have, some end he must propose to himself, however strange it may appear, but it is worth his consideration, whether they are adequate to the heinous guilt and extreme danger which he incurs.
The practice is strictly forbidden in those tables which were delivered by Moses to the Jews, and which were written immediately by the finger of God: "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." The meaning of which is-Thou shalt not on any but the most serious occasions mention the name of the Lord thy God, for if thou doest, the Lord will look upon thee as extremely guilty, and will most severely
verely punish thee. But perhaps it may be SERM. said, this was only binding on the people of Israel, and might merely be meant, as it is well known the chief part of their ceremonial law was, to preserve them from the idolatry of the nations around them; but it happens that Christ, our master and law-giver, has repeated and even extended the prohibition:-" Ye have heard that it "hath been said of them of old time, Thou "shalt not fors wear thyself, but shalt per
form to the Lord thy God thy oaths; but I say unto you, swear not at all, nei"ther by heaven, for it is God's throne, "nor by earth, for it is his footstool, nei"ther by Jerusalem, for it is the city of "the great king, neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one "hair black or white, but let your com"munication be Yea, Yea, Nay, Nay, for "whatsoever is more than these cometh " of evil."
These oaths, which are here forbidden, were, it seems, customary among the Jews; they perhaps thought by them to evade the third commandment, and to reap the advantage of swearing (whatever it is) without incurring the guilt; but our Saviour teaches his disciples a different lesson; he tells them, that every thing beyond a serious affirmation or denial proceedeth from something bad in the disposition, and is dictated by the devil:-" Whatsoever is "more than these cometh of evil, or of the "evil one," the same word being used in the original language, which is applied on other occasions to our grand adversary.
These express prohibitions of the Almighty and his Son, together with the assurance of the extreme guilt, which we contract by the practice of this vice, and the knowledge that it is the great enemy of our souls who tempts us to commit it, ought alone to be sufficient to make us abstain from