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that he is here in a state of pilgrimage—that this world is a wilderness through which he is travelling to the land of promise. He, therefore, feels, that it is comparatively unimportant what may be his lot on earth, provided he succeeds in securing a title to heaven. Under this impression, he can, even in his darkest and most troubled moments, appropriate the language of the Psalmist: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Yes, his faith enters within the veil, and lifts his thoughts and hopes to regions of perpetual quietude and blessedness above the changes and the desolations of time. He looks forward to the day which shall translate him to his everlasting home, and takes courage to his soul. He rejoices, that there is a world, where trials and sorrows are unknown—a world where friends shall be called to part no more—a world, in short, where God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of his people, and render them completely and eternally happy.
Brethren, let us learn from our subject the value and the efficacy of the Christian religion. No other system can do half so much towards sustaining and consoling the human being in the season of affliction.
“The Scripture is the only cure of wo;
Its odour o'er the Christian's thorny road!" Will you send the mourner to the volumes of ancient, or of modern philosophy for comfort ? He returns as disconsolate and sad as he was before. Nor does he find any thing that deserves the name of peace and satisfaction, till he betakes himself to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
How happy is the condition of those who have secured an interest in the hopes and the promises of this religion. They have an anchor to the soul sure and steadfast. A perennial source of comfort is theirs. Yes, Christian, you need not fear the day of adversity. Your God has said, that his grace shall be sufficient for you, and on his word you may confidently rely. He will not—he cannot_disappoint you. Bow with reverence to his sceptre. Submit with docility to his providence. Let the language of the apostle be yours: “I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, por any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.
But what, dear hearers, shall we say to those who are without an interest in the hopes and promises of Christianity? How shall we undertake to speak comfort to them in the day of adversity? Alas! the word of God requires us to address them in very different language. We have no warrant for assuring them, that their afflictions will be the certain means of advancing their eternal interests. The Master whom we serve has not authorized us to deliver a message of peace to their souls, until they first repent of their sins, and believe in the name of Jesus, and devote themselves to the service of their Maker, So long as they refuse or neglect to comply with the terms of the gospel, they must remain strangers to its blessings. How deplorable is their condition, especially in seasons of bereavement and distress! No cheering radiance breaks in upon their gloom. No soothing accents whisper consolation to their hearts. And what, in such circumstances, shall they do? Why, if they still determine not to yield to the demands of the New Testament, we scarcely see what better course they can adopt, than to follow the counsel of Job's wife, and curse God and die. O! it is an awful state to which a man brings him
self, when the afflictive visitations of providence produce no salutary impression on his moral nature—when, instead of being softened and benefited by such visitations, he remains as careless and insensible as he was before! Tell us, brethren, is there the least reason to apprehend -we appeal to your consciences—that you are in this situation? If so, we must make free to assure you, that you stand on eminently perilous ground. We would at once ring in your ears the toll-bell of alarm, and admonish you of impending dangers. We would urge you to flee from the wrath to come. Believe us, you have no time to lose. Your callousness under affliction is a lamentable indication, that unless divine grace speedily interposes for your rescue, you must go down to the world of wo. Every day that you continue in your present condition, will serve only to harden your hearts, and, of course, to diminish the probability of your final salvation. And then, what a short and an uncertain thing is life! It flies like the weaver's shuttle. It vanishes as a dream of the morning. We know not what a day, or even an hour may bring forth.—Think, impenitent sinner-0! think of this solemn fact, and be persuaded to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. The alternative of everlasting happiness or everlasting misery is now set before you. Remember that you are just as free to choose in this matter, as you were to determine whether you would come to the house of God this morning. If you perish, you have only yourself to blame your ruin lies upon your own head.
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."
The first remark which we have to offer, is, that the expression, “name of God,” here used, is evidently not to be taken in its most literal acceptation. The phraseology of this commandment gives no countenance to the puerile and superstitious notions entertained by the ancient Jews, in respect to the appellation Jehovah, by which the Deity had been pleased to reveal himself peculiarly to them. And yet we find even the modern Jews adhering, in a great degree, to these notions. They still deem it a sin to pronounce this word, and accordingly, as often as they meet with it in reading the Old Testament, they substitute another in its stead. Indeed, their Talmud denounces the heaviest malediction against the individual who should presume to act otherwise. We may add, that some of their writers profess to have discovered that the angels themselves are prohibited from attempting the pronunciation of the name JEHOVAH.
We are told in the Catechism with which many of us have been familiar almost from our infancy, that the expression “name of God,” here implies 6 any thing whereby he maketh himself known.” This expression we find sometimes used in the sacred Scriptures, to denote the Divinity himself, as when the Psalmist exclaims, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name." But
in the present instance it may be more properly understood, as referring to the titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works of Jehovah. In short, it is applicable to every medium of communication which the invisible Spirit of eternity has been pleased to establish between himself and the intelligent inhabitants of earth.
From this brief definition of the expression, "name of God," we may at once perceive the scope and design of the third commandment. This commandment interdicts whatever is opposed to the reverential contemplation of any thing by which the Deity has manifested himself to man. Thus recurring to the phraseology which we have just used, we may say, that it prohibits the profane use of his titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works. It requires the possession of a devotional frame of mind, in all our efforts to comprehend and to adore the High and Holy One. It demands that all the conceptions which we form of his nature, correspond with the immaculate purity and unlimited benignity, which the sacred Scriptures assign to him. It also demands, that we never speak, nor even think of him, but under a deep conviction of the relation which he sustains to us as our Creator and Preserver, and a consequent sense of our accountability to him for our entire conduct.
The third commandment, taken in the very general sense in which we have now explained it, comprehends, the whole of practical religion. It enjoins the devout performance of every duty which we owe to our Maker, to our fellow beings, and to ourselves; so that there is scarcely a sin that men commit, which might not be shown to involve, in a greater or less degree, the guilt of taking the Lord's name in vain.
We shall now go on to mention several particulars, in which the third commandment is most obviously transgressed.