« IndietroContinua »
neighbour requires it, Neh. v. 12. For an oath for confirmation is to men an end of all strife, Heb. vi. 16.; and men might be ruined in their lives, reputation, &c. if men would refuse a juft and neceffary oath when called to it, which God's honour and our neighbour's good requires. (2.) With refpect to an unlawful oath; it is a fin, 1.) To take it or make it ; for it is a terrible profaning of that ordinance to make it a bond of iniquity, as Herod did, Mark vi. 23. 2.) To keep it and perform it, as he alfo did, ver. 26.: for what is this but to make the name of God-fubfervient to God's difhonour? And that is to be reckoned an unlawful oath, which is of any thing that is falfe, finful, unjust, or impoffible to us. (3.) When men use equivocations in oaths, or mental refervations; for fo he for whofe fake the oath is impofed, is deceived and wronged. But whatever fhifts men may ufe that way, God will reckon them as falfe fwearers. (4.) When men fwear unneceffarily, ignorantly, doubtingly, without due regard and reverence of God on their fpirits. (5) Laftly, When a lawful oath leaves no due impreffion on mens fpirits, as a facred bond which they come under to God,
5. Lastly, In lots God's name is taken in vain, (1.) When the right manner is not obferved in them, where they are lawfully ufed in weighty matters, as when God is not eyed in the lot, when they do not fingly refer and leave the matter to God's decision, and when they murmur and grudge at what falls by the lot to them,, (2.) When they are used in matters of very fmall monient, which are not worthy of an appeal to God's decifion, but without any great incon veniency might be otherwife decided. This is a very common fin, which people need no more to convince them of the ill of, but the true uptaking of the na ture of lots, as the fcripture holds it out, Prov. xvi, 33. & xviii. 18. (3.) When they are uled in games and plays. For which reafon playing at cards, dice, and all games of lottery are unlawful. For, 1.) That
cannot but be a profaning of the name of God, which turns an appeal to God for his decision unto a play. And tho' men call it fortune, it is certain that is nothing indeed but God's determination. And it will not excufe men, that they firft mifcall God's providence by the name of fortune, and then play themfelves with it. 2.) It gives occafion to much fin against God, as blafpheming of God's providence under the name of fortune and ill luck; and commending good fortune, overlooking providence when it falls well. And it renders this ordinance of lots contemptible, being fo used.
4. With respect to his word, men are guilty of profaning the name of God,
1st, By mifimproving and mifapplying the word of God, as the Pharifees did, Matth. v. Ezek. xiii. 19. 2dly, Jefting upon it, Jer. xxiii. 33.
3dly, Ufing it to the maintenance of erroneous principles, unprofitable questions, and vain janglings, 2 Tim. ii. 14. 15.
5. With refpect to his works, men are guilty of profaning the name of God, when they use the works and creatures of God to finful lufts and prac tices.
6. Lastly, Men profane the name of God, in respect of religion and the profeffion of it,
1ft, By maligning, fcorning, and reviling of religion, and the profeffion of it.
2dly, By a hypocritical profeflion.
3dly, By a fcandalous walk.
To be a little more particular in these things, the name of God is profaned and abused, and this command violated,
1. By malignity, maligning the truth, grace, and ways of God, otherwife called malignancy. It is a heart enmity and bitterness of fpirit vented by word or deed against the truths, grace, and way of God, Rom. i. 29. Such malignants were the Jews, whe were filled with envy, and fpake against those things
which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blafpheming, Acts xiii. 45. In our fathers days the spirit of malignancy run with a violent ftream against the work of reformation, till it had fwallowed it up, and is now again appearing in its violence. A different opinion from the truth in point of church-government is not malignancy; but when a fet of men lay out themselves to bear down the Lord's work in the land and in the fpirits of his people, when men pretending to be minifters bear down and difcourage the power of godlinefs in others, and men in civil power are filled with a spirit of perfecution against those whom they can find nothing against but in the matter of their God, and meaner people aid and affift thefe, and contribute to or rejoice at the calamities of the people of God, malignant is their name; for malignant is their nature and courfe of life. And colour it over as they will, God will not hold them guiltlefs; for they are his enemies that take his name in vain.
2. By fcorning of the ways of God, Pfal. i. 1. The fcorner has a high feat in the devil's court, where he fits on hell's bench, giving out a sentence of difdain against the way of ferious godlinefs, as unworthy of a man, and inconfiftent with his honour, fentencing the ferious perfon to be the fool of the company. Thus Satan's madcaps whom he has blinded, make a jeft of the wisdom of God; but the day comes when their fcorning fhall be turned to roaring, If. xxviii. 22.
3. By reviling the truth, grace, and way of God, 1 Pet. iv. 4. Revilers are a generation of hell, who are fet to gather together all the filth and vilenefs they can get, to throw upon religion and cover it, that the world may loath it, 1 Cor. iv. 13. And fo with them religion is rebellion, foul exercife diftraction, communion with God melancholy fancies. They load men with vile calumnies; and if they can fee nothing without them, they conclude they are but hypocrites.
4. By hypocrify, while men pretend to religion and take up a profeffion, but have nothing of the truth of
it in their hearts, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Hypocrites indeed take God's name in vain, making profeffion of religion, not out of conscience towards God, from love to him, or a design to honour him, but for fome sinifter ends, as reputation, worldly advantage, or at beft their own peace and fafety; which is a horrid proftituting the name of God to curfed felf.
1st, They take his name in vain in their hearts; for the truths of religion they know, have no fuitable efficacy on their hearts or lives, Rom. i. 18. The candle of God is fet up before them in their knowledge; but in vain it waftes, for they do not work at it. Their knowledge of fin does not make loath them it. The love of Chrift does not conftrain them to walk in the paths of new obedience.
2dly, In their mouths. They may go about duties, but they go about none in the right manner. words are good, but their heart is not upright, Ezek. xxxiii. 30. Hence their prayers are an abomination, their best works are but gliftering fins, like a potfherd covered over with filver drofs. (1.) Their largest duties are but half-duties, and that the worst half, as wanting fpiritual worship, which is the foul and life of worship. (2.) Their fervice is but felf-fervice. All the ftreams of the hypocrites duties difburden in the dead fea, felf.
3dly, On their foreheads; for there hypocrites bear it in an external profeffion, but in vain: for though they wear Chrift's livery, they are but the devil's drudges. If they be not fuch as fulfil the defires of the flesh, they fulfil the defires of the mind; they are under the power of fpiritual plagues.
5. By being afhamed of religion, Mark viii. ult. Religion is our glory; men will not mifs in a profane world to have it turned to fhame; but to be ashamed of it is a fin of naughtiness of heart, and want of experience of the power of truth on the fpirit. It is a horrible affront to the majefty of God, to be ashamed
of his badge: for that is to be afhamed of him, as a Mafter.
6. Lastly, By being a shame to it,
ift, By an unconformable unfuitable walk, Phil. i. 27. The world takes notice of the agreement that is betwixt the principles and practice of profesfors; and a difagreement there reflects difhonour on religion itself before them, as if it were all but fham and trick.
2dly, By an unwife walk, Eph. v. 15. We fhould be wife as ferpents, and harmless as doves; for the imprudencies of profeffors are no fmall handle to the I enemies, and much improved for the reproach of religion. There is much need of continual dependence on the Lord for wisdom, especially that we may walk in wisdom toward them that are without, Col. iv. 5. 3dly, By an unfruitful walk, If. v. 4. The fruitfulness of the vineyard is the honour of the husbandman, and the unfruitfulness thereof reflects difhonour on him, Rom. ii. 24. The fruits of holiness are the best teftimony to the divine original of ordinances and inftitutions; and while men have been violently running down thefe, their credit has been fupported that way. But alas! now their credit is. impaired by the barren and unfruitful lives of profef fors.
4thly, By an offenfive fcandalous walk, Rom. ii. 23. 24. The fcandals of profeffors are the ftumblingblocks whereon the blind world break their necks, Matth. xviii. 7. They are the reproach of religion, and the dishonour of God. They harden the wicked, and grieve the truly godly.
Lastly, By backfliding from it, Gal. iii. 1. 2. Apoftates caft hame on the name of God in a peculiar manner; for having tried both ways, they practically prefer the way of evil.
III, I come now to confider the reafon annexed to the third commandment, which is, That " however