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OF THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
Exod. 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.
A S the first command respects the object of worship, and A the second the means, so this third hath respect to the right manner of worship. In the words there are two things.
1. The command, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. It is expressed negatively, to strike into men the greater awful reverence of that glorious and great name. Now, as men by their names are known, and distinguished one from another, so by the name of God we are to understand generally, whatsoever it is whereby God makes himself known, which we learn from his word and works. • For no man hath seen God at any time,' John i. 18; nor do we know any thing of him, but what he has been so pleased to reveal of himself. So that God being thus revealed unto us, the scope of this command is to bind upon us a holy reverence of hiin, so far as he has revealed himself to us.
To take this name in vain, signifies, (1.) To a lie, or falsely. God is a God of truth; and his name must not be any ways interposed to falsehood, as they do who father their own lies on him, or call him to witness to a lie in swearing falsely. (2.) In vain ; God is great, and we must not use his name in thought, word, or writing, lightly without just cause, rashly without reverence, or unprofitably to no good purpose, God's honour, the good of ourselves or others, and much less contumeliously and wickedly, as in cursing and blaspheming.
The positive part is implied, viz. That we must hallow the name of God, treat it holily and reverently, Isa. viii. 13. interposing it only to truth, whereof he is the author, and that upon his own call, with reverence, for his honour, and the good of ourselves and others.
2. The reason annexed to this command. For thic Lord
will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Where observe,
(1.) The evil threatened against the breakers of this command. The Lord will not hold them guiltless. Two things are remarkable here. [1.] In that it is said, The Lord will not hold them guiltless, it implies, that profaners of God's name many times hold themselves guiltless. They abuse God's name, and then wipe their mouths, and say they have not sinned. Men hold them guiltless, they escape punishment from men; but while both themselves and others let the plea sleep, God will awaken it, and take the quarrel in his own hand. [2.] In that it is said, The Lord will not hold them guiltless, more is meant than is expressed, viz. that God will severely punish the profaning of his name, The less they think of it, God will think the more of it, and men shall find peculiar severe resentments of this sin from a highly provoked God. They will find, that though it lies far froin their hearts, yet it touches a holy God near.
(2.) How particular the threatening is, Hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. The sin is repeated in the threatening, to shew the heinousness of it, how ill God takes it to have his name taken in vain. And though it be a common sin, yet none shall be hid or escape among the multitude of criminals, but God will bring out this man and that man, even every man that is a profaner of his name, and judge hirn as particularly, and punish him asseverely, as if there were but one man in the fault. And though some, by their being set above others in the world, think they may take a latitude in this sin, yet, be the man who he will, him will God punish for it: were he the greatest on earth, he shall know that his tongue is not his own, but that JeHOVAH is Lord over him.
(3.) How peremptory the threatening is : it is not simply said, God will punish him that taketh his name in vain, but God will not hold him guiltless. Let him not think to escape, God will not quit his honour so, · His glory engages him to resent the dishonour done to his name, and the abuser of it shall not go free. If God's name be profaned by him, it shall be glorified upon him one way or other.
In discoursing further from this subject, I shall shew, I. What is required in this command. II. What is forbidden in it.
· III. The reason annexed to it. · IV. Make some improvement;
· I am to shew what is required in the third command. It requires the holy and reverent use of God's names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.'
And here I shall shew,
1. What is the name of God by which he makes himself known, which is to be hallowed by us.
2. What is our duty with respect to this glorious name, in all the parts thereof.
First, I shall shew what is the name of God by which he makes himself known, which is to be hallowed by us. Under this are comprehended.
1. The particular names that God takes to himself in his word, as Jehovah, Lord, God, I am, &c. Exod. vi. 3. And whereas he is one God in three persons, we take in here the names of all the three, the Father, the Son, who is also called Jesus Christ, Immanuel, and the Holy Ghost.
2. The titles of God. For as great men have titles of honour, whereby they are distinguished from others, so God has taken certain titles to himself, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Preserver of Men, Hearer of Prayer, &c. So the three persons in the Trinity have titles. The Father is called the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. the Son, King of kings, Lord of lords, Head of the Church, &c. and the Spirit, the Comforter, Sunctifier, &c. · 3. The attributes of God, that is, his perfections and properties, whereby he is distinguished from all the creatures; such as, his eternity, unchangeableness, infinity, omniscience, &c. in a word, all the glorious properties of the divine nature common to all the three persons. Each of these is as it were a letter of his name, Exod. xxxiii. 19. “I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.' Chap. xxxiv. 6. 7. “The Lord-proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. And happy they that can believingly read this name.
4. The ordinances of God. These are his name by which he is known in the world, Micah iv. 5. with Luke i. 6. VOL. II.
the twunfolded, borbiy know ead by us, or
Such are prayer, praise, the sacraments, &c; oaths, for swearing by the name of God when we are duly called thereto, is a part of religious worship, and a very solemn and awful ordinance of God, Deut. x. 20. So are lots an ordinance of God, wherein the decision of any thing is committed to Divine Providence, and thereby God makes his will known. Prov. xvi. 33. Acts i. 24, 26.
5. His word, which we have in the holy scriptures, Psal. cxxxviii. 2. This is to be read by us, preached and heard, that we may thereby know our God; for therein is his name unfolded, both in the law and in the gospel, which are the two parts thereof.
6 Lastly, His works. By these is he known, viz. bis works of creation, Psal. xix. 1; and of providence, whether of mercy, Acts xiv. 17; or of judgment, Psal. ix. 19.
Secondly, I come now to shew what is our duty with re spect to this glorious name in all the parts thereof. We may take it up in these two things.
1. We are to use it in all the parts thereof as we are cal. led. God has laid it before us for our use, and we ought to take it up. This is plainly implied in the command, not to take it in vain: for (observe) there is a great difference betwixt the orders Heaven gives concerning the name of other gods, and the name of the true God, Exod. xxiii. 13.
Make no mention of the names of other Gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth;' compared with this command, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. And indeed when God gives us his names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works, if we use them not we take them in vain, 2 Cor. vi. 1. Now, there are three ways how we may be said to use this name.
ist, In thought, whether by simple conceiving of it, and the several parts of it, or by settled me fation upon it. Thus we are to take up the name of God into our minds, thinking and meditating upon his names, titles, attributes, &c. And thus that question, What is his name? Prov. XXX. 4. may be our continual study, our every day's lesson; and it will serve us to learn as long as we are in the world; and no wonder, for it is what the saints in heaven are learning, and will learn through eternity. This is our duty, and would be a most profitable study, being a great part of the life of faith, whereby the soul feeds on God himself.
2dly, In words, whether by speaking of it, or writing of it. And thus we are to take it up in our lips and pens. The first is the duty of all; the second of some only, whom God calls and has fitted thereunto, as he did the prophets, apostles, and others, who by their writings have been useful to particular persons, or to the church of God. To speak of God is the great end of speech that is given to man, made to be the mouth of the creation; and therefore our tongue is called our glory, by which we ought to contribute to the displaying of the glory of God, in his names, titles, &c.
3dly, In deeds; and so we are to take up this holy name in our practice, making conscience of the practice of the duties enjoined in God's word and ordinances, praying, reading, hearing, communicating, swearing by his name, when in a lawful oath duly called thereto, &c.' Thus a practical profession of religion, as well as a verbal profession, is a duty of this command. And,
(1.) A verbal profession is necessary at some times; that is, when we are by the providence of God called thereunto, to give a testimony unto the truth, 1 Pet. iii. 15. For then it is asked, as it were, By what name are we called? and then we must not be ashamed of our Father, before men, but meekly though boldly declare it even in words, Rom. X. 10; and so take up his name before the world ; owning his names, incommunicable titles, attributes, ordinances, &c.
(1.) A real or practical profession is necessary at all times Rev. xiv. 1. having our Father's name written in our fore. heads; that is, we must not only be, but give out ourselves in our way and carriage to be the servants of God, following the duties of religion, whereby we are distinguished from the world that have no profession; and so professing his name in the several parts thereof.
Three things ma this threefold use of the name of God necessary.
[1.] The glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. Lev. X. 3; for by his name he has made his glory shine; but if we use it not, we do what in us lies to put that glory under a bushel. Whereas for his honour we should use it in all the parts thereof.
[2.7 Our own good, Jer. xxxii. 39. The name of God' is good at all times, but especially in a time of trouble, Prov. xvii. 10. - The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the