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they cry, O God! O Lord! God bless us, save us, guide us, have a care of us! That it is lawful to pray for these things, none doubt. But such as are in earnest for his blessing, guidance, &c. will see them to be matters of so great mo. ment, that, when they are to seek them, they will compose themselves to a praying frame, and lift up their hands with their hearts to the heavens for them, with singleness, fear and faith, in the blood of Christ. But, to use this holy name, to give a vent to our foolish passions, is horrible prostitution of it. .
2dly, It is used vainly and irreverently, in thanksgivings to God, and salutations. How formally and lightly will many say, God be thanked, Blessed be God. when the very shew of their countenance declares they have no grateful sense of God's goodness, nor reverence of him on their spirits ? So God speed you, God be with you, are good prayers indeed, but mostly used so formally, that they are but an abusing of that holy name.
3dly, In obsecrations, wherein the name of God is interposed to beseech a person to do or forbear such a thing. They are very good when in matters of weight they are gravely and reverently used, as Rom. xii. 1. I beseech you by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.' But to use them in small inatters, as many do, intreating for God's sake, or God's love, to do so and so, is but abusing that holy name. Common beggars are very guilty this way.
4thly, In adjurations, wherein the name of God is interposed to oblige a person to do or forbear something. This is a very solemn piece of business, 2 Tim. iv. 1. and may very safely be used by those who have authority in matters of weight, and people's slighting of those solemn charges given by ministers, or other superiors, is very sinful. But it is a sin, (1.) To use these things in light matters, as to bid one do any thing we are little concerned about, in God's name. (2.) And though any person may pray to God against devils, that he would bind them up, yet it is a sin for any who have not the gift of casting out devils, to adjure the devil, or command him in the name of God to go, as the vagabond Jews did, Acts xix. 13, 14.
5thly, In appeals to God. We find the saints using them Vol. II.
reverently in matters of weight, as the apostle Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 2. but to appeal to God in trifles, is the way to bring down the judgment of God on the appellant. The serious thoughts of God's knowledge may make the best to tremble, and strike all with so much awe of his Majesty as not to make a by-word of it. § 3. When the name of God is used superstitiously, 1 Sam. iv. 3, 4, 5. So, to name the name of God over diseases, or against the devil, as if the very mentioning of that name, without faith in him, would do the business. So is that powing at the name of Jesus, used by those of the church of England, a superstitious abuse of that holy name.
4. When it is used profanely and wickedly. Under this may be comprehended, : ist, Profane swearing. Swearing is an holy ordinance, appointed by God, a piece of most solemn worship, wherein we invocate God as our witness and judge, which makes common swearing a dreadful sin. It is twofold, both of them abounding in our day. . (1.) Swearing by God and Christ. How do many glory in their horrid oaths, which may make one that has any no. tion of the greatness of that name to tremble! They have a God to swear by, but not to worship and pray to. But indeed it is wounding, that there should be others, who will *both pray to and profanely swear by that God, Jam. j. 10.
(2.) Swearing by the creatures. The papists, that worship the creatures, no wonder they swear by them too, as by the holy bread in the sacrament, by St. Mary. But what have -Protestants to say for swearing by them? Yet how frequent care oaths, by our faith, troth, soul, conscience, &c.? The mincing of these oaths will not make men guiltless; yet, alas! how few are there that want them, Ha'th Faith, Ha'd'ye, Fa’dye, Mary? This swearing by creatures is,
[1.] Impious idolatry, giving that worship to the creature which is due to God only, Deut. 8. 20. Swearing is an in"vocating of the object we swear by, to be witness of the truth
of what we affirm or deny, and so to judge and punish us if "we swear falsely; and to whom can this belong but to God?
Jer. v. 7. · [2.] The dishonour redounds to God, because these things have a relation to God, Mat. v. 34, 37. The soul is his creature, conscience is his depute, truth his innage, &c.
ent, by St.
Hezekiah broke the brazen serpent when the people ab used di it to idolatry. Take heed God break not that soul of thing on the wheel of his wrath.
As for your minced oaths, I pray you consider, (1.) That i This they are at least an appearance of evil, 1 Thess. v. 22,
(2.) That they are surely idle words, Matth. xii. 36. (3.) Are not the most serious Christians conscientious in this Phil. iv. 9. (4.) That they are offensive to the serious godly, Matth. xviii. 6, 7. (5.) That they must either be paths, or they have no sense at all. . . .
2dly, Sinful imprecations or cursings, whereby people pray for some evil against themselves or others, whether ab solutely, or conditionally. We find the saints conditionally imprecating evil against themselves, as in the case of clearing themselves of what they are wrongously loaded with, Psal. vii. 3, 4, 5. And in this we may imitate them, wlien in matters of weight we are duly called thereto,' behaving therein as in the taking of an oath; for in eyery oath there is an imprecation. Also there are examples of the saints imprecating a curse against God's incorrigible enemies, out of pure zeal to the glory of God, which they, from the Spi. rit of prophecy, apply to particular persons, Psal. cix. 6, &c. But it is a profaning the name of God.
(1.) When people unnecessarily imprecate a curse on themselves or others, conditionally, if they do not şo or so, or if it be not truth that they say, as wishing,-confound them, they may be hanged, or never stir out of the bit, &ç, if matters be not so or so, when there is no necessity for it, or edification by it. In that case, the name of God is pro faned ; and though the name of God be not expressed, it is still abused; for it is God that must be the executor of the sinful wish,
(2.) When people serve their passions against themselves or others, by their curses. Thus people şin in their fits of discontent, wishing evil to themselves, and, in their fits of passion and revenge against others, praying, Shame fall, ilk chance, &c. This is the product of a bitter Spirit, highly dishonourable to God, whose name is prostituted to serve men's hellish passions,
(3.) When people use them to confirm a lie, or to bind them to sin. Thus people are doubly guilty, and dare the vengeance of heaven, cursing themselves if such a thing bę
true, which yet they know is not true; or binding them. selves to do some evil, by a curse.
(4.) Neither is the matter mended by invocating the devil instead of God. Much' homage gets the devil from some, who are often found praying to the devil to take themselves or others. So they mention, Foul Fiend, &c. which are only other names of that wicked spirit. . "
3dly, Perjury is falsehood, confirmed with an oath. It is twofold.
:: : (1.) There is perjury opposite to an assertory oath; and that is, either when a inañ swears a thing to be true which is false, or a thing to be false which is true. It is opposite to swearing in truth, which is swearing so as a man's mind agree with his words, and his words with the thing. So that a man is not only perjured when he swears against his mind and knowledge, as the false witnesses against Naboth did ; but also when he swears against the truth of the thing, though not against his mind, being mistaken; for in both cases God is called to witness' to 'a lie”; though indeed the former is far more heinous than the latter. And therefore it is, that no man can lawfully swear what he doubt's of; that is to run a dreadful risk. : :" '* . !
(2.) There is a perjury opposite to a promissory oath; and that is, either when a man promiseth something upon oath which he has no mind to perform even when he takes the oath ; or though he minded to perform it when he took the oath, yet afterwards changes his mind, and does it not, when he both ought and can do it. Only remember, that the breaking of an unlawful oath, so far as it is unlaw ful, is not perjury. It is a sin indeed to take such an oath; but it is no sin, but duty to break it. And the case is the same in vows, 1 Sam. xxv. 22, 32, 33. The sin of perjury is dreadful.“ For,
[1.] It is a most solemn affronting of an omniscient and just God, and is near akin to atheism. It is a calling of God to be witness to’a lie; it is a playing with infinite justice, a daring of heaven's vengeance, while men devote their souls to destruction wilfully; because in 'every oath men invocate God to judge them according to the truth or falsehood of what they swear.
[2.] It is most provoking in the sight of God; a sin which God's anger smokes against in a peculiar manner;
swear falsen not bind mewherefore such of human society of
Zech. v. 4. Mal. iii. 5. This seems to be engraven espe. cially on the consciences of men; so that this sin amongst the heathen was reckoned most atrocious; and even men that otherwise have little religion, will yet tremble at the thoughts of perjury.
[3.] It is a sin that deservedly makes men infamous, so that their testimony is not afterwards to be regarded among them: for what respect can they have to truth that will swear falsely? It looses the bond of human society; for if an oath cannot bind men, the world would have no security of one another. And therefore such deserve to be hissed out from among others, as the plagues of human society
4thly, Blasphemy, which is a wronging of the majesty of God, by speeches tending to his reproach. This şin is the most atrocious of all sins; and of this kind is the unpardonable sin. As among men it is a great fault not to believe the word of a faithful prince; yet greater to rebel against him; greater yet to reproach him, disgrace him, speak of and use him contumeliously. Men may be guilty of blasphemy against God two ways.
(1.) As they partake with others in their blasphemies. And this we may do several ways; particularly, (1.) When we give no testimony against the blasphemy of others. The custom of the Jews was to rend their clothes at the hearing of blasphemy. And they must needs haye a stout heart that can hear it without one way or another manifesting their abhorrence of it. (2.) Much more when men shew any ap. probation or satisfaction with it, as smiling or laughing at it, when they hear how freely hellish mouths vent their reproachful speeches against God. (3.) When by our deeds we give occasion to wicked men to blaspheme, Rom, ii. 24. Thus particularly, (1.) Oppressors and persecutors are guilty of blasphemy, Acts xxvi. 11. (2.) Professors of religion, by their scandalous walk, 2 Sąm, xii. 14. (3.) Inferiors, by their undutifulness to their superiors; as subjects, i Pet ii. · 13, 14, 15; wives, Tit. ii. 5 ; and servants, 1 Tim. vi. 1,
(2.) As they themselves are formally the blasphemers. And so there are two ways that men blaspheme:
[1.] There is a blaspheming of God mediately, when, though men do not expressly speak against God himself, yet with the sword of the tongue they thrust at him, through the sides of his word, way, people, ordinances, works, &c,