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It is of all sins the most pernicious in its consequences. Common profaneness leads to perjury, and thus weakens the social security, which de. pends much on the efficacy of oaths.
Profaneness, though unreasonable and without apparent temptation, is yet exceedingly infectious. By this, one sinner destroys much good.
The profane swearer is heaping guilt on his soul. If for every idle word, which men speak, they must give an account, how heavy will be the account, and how awful the punishment of that man, who daily multiplies his impious and profane words!
The case of such a man is the more dangerous, because he defeats the means of repentance. What avails it to tell a man of the wrath of God, when he has banished the fear of God from his mind? What avails it to tell him of death, judgment and damnation, when he can familiarly imprecate these on himself and others? What avails it to tell him of the evil and danger of this sin, when he can make a mock of all sin ?
He who can trifle with the name and perfections of God, can as casily laugh at reproof and admoni. tion. Some great distress and imminent danger may perhaps bring him to consideration ; but the calm methods of reason, argument and persuasion will have no effect, in his ordinary state, because he has fortified himself against them. The peculiar dangers of such sinners the Apostle more than intimates, when he says, “Above all things swear not, lest ye fall into condemnation.'
God has declared, that he will not hold such persons guiltless, that he will be a swift witness against them, that he will send his curse upon them here, and execute distinguished punishment upon them hereafter.
Let those who have accustomed themselves to this sin, consider the guilt they are bwinging or their own souls, and the irreparable mischief they are doing to the souls of others. Or if these considerations are too grave and serious ; at least let them consider, how much better they would be esteemed, and how much more useful they would be in the world, if they would lay aside their impiety, and use only that sober, graceful and sound speech, which cannot be condemned.
Let those who have escaped this iniquity, and particularly the young, realize the shamefulness and danger of it, and learn to look upon it with horror, and on the persons, who practise it, with pity. Let them shun all particular connexions with the profane ; and if they are called into the company of such persons, keep their mouth with a bridle.
Let your minds be impressed with a sense of your dependence on God. To obtain his favour and protection, prayer is necessary. But how absurd it is to mingle impiety and devotion together, to think of prevailing with God in your prayers, while you defy him in your ordinary language and behaviour ! Let all endeavour, in their several places, as to forbear themselves, so to reform in others every kind of iniquity ; and this in particular, which the scripture so solemnly forbids and so awfully condemns" Above all things, my brethren, swear not, lest ye fall into condemnation ; for the Lord will come to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodlily committed, and of all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
The importance of the present season, or the Door
of Heaven now open, and soon to be shut.
Communion Sermon, preached on New Year's Day.
- And the Door was shut,
You doubtless remember the connexion in which these words stand-a connexion, which ought to awaken our earnest attention, and deeply to impress our hearts. They are a part of the well known parable of the ten virgins, in which Christ represents to us the nature of the kingdom of hea. ýen, the terms of admission into it, and the charac. ter of those who shall be excluded.
“ The kingdom of heaven is likened to ten vir: gins, that took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom,” who, according to the custom of the day, being to conduct his bride home in the night, had invited a number of young female friends to wait at his house, and rejoice with him and his bride on their arrival. These guests, on notice of his approach, were to go forth with lighted lamps, to meet him on the road, accompany him home, and participate with him in the festivity prepared on the occasion. Some of these virgins, considering the uncertain hour of the bridegroom's arrival, and not knowing how long they must wait for him, prudently took with them a supply of oil, that they might keep their lamps burning. The others neglected this precaution. At midnight the cry was made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Then the wise virgins, whose lamps still burned, though they had slumbered, arose and trimmed them, and went forth. The foolish, finding their lamps expiring, could not accompany their companions, but went anoth. er way to procure oil. In the mean time, the bride. groom came, “and they who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.” What became of the others? They returned, and called on the bridegroom to open to them. But it was too late. The hour was past ; none were now to be admitted. He answered them, “I know you not.”
As this parable was designed to illustrate the kingdom of heaven, or the terms of our salvation, it deserves our serious attention.
The shutting of the door implies, that it had been open. There is a time, when the door of Christ's kingdom is open, and when they who come, may be admitted.
By the law of God the door of heaven is shut. This condemns those who continue not in all things written therein to do them. As all have sinned, and, in construction of law, none are righteous; so by that, the door is shut against all; and it can. not be opened by any works which they do ; by any prayers which they offer ; by any efforts which they make.
But.. Christ has set before us an open door: He openeth and no man shutteth ; and when he shutteth, no man can open.” He in our behalf has obeyed the precepts and suffered the penalty of the law; and by his blood we have liberty to enter into the most holy place in that new and living way, which he has consecrated. · Through him we may draw near in the full assurance of faith, and in the strong confidence of hope, that we shall obtain ad. mittance into his heavenly kingdom, whither he has entered for us, as a forerunner.
But what are the terms of admittance ?
As we are transgressors of the law, we must come to the Saviour by repentance.
The law is holy, just and good; we must condemn ourselves, where that condemns us. We cannot be received to favour, while we justify our transgressions and delight in our iniquities. "The law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”. It gives us a knowledge of our sins, and makes them appear exceedingly sinful; and thus shews us our weakness, and our dependence on divine mercy. If we seek pardon from the mercy of God, we must feel and confess our desert of punishment. Application to mercy implies a conviction of personal guilt. One who imagines, that he deserves no punishment, will not supplicate exemption from it as a gift of gráce, but will demand it as a debt of justice. Repentance therefore is a necessary condition of our acceptance. As Christ came to save sinners, so he came to call them to repentance. This, as a condition of salvation, is proposed, not by the law, but only by the gospel. As the law offers no forgiveness, it makes
no provision for re.