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private, are only an idle parade, unless we ful hesitation, and on the most solemn ocput our trust in God.
casions; either in serious discourse, or By putting our trust in God, is meant when we invoke God in prayer, or when depending upon him, as our happiness, and we swear by his name. our refuge.
In this last light we are particularly Human nature is always endeavouring enjoined to honour the name of God. Á either to remove pain; or, if ease be ob- solemn oath is an appeal to God himself ; tained, to acquire happiness. And those and is entitled to our utmost respect, were things are certainly the most eligible, it only in a political light; as in all huwhich in these respects are the most effec- man concerns it is the strongest test of tual. The world, it is true, makes us flat veracity; and has been approved as such tering promises : but who can say that it by the wisdom of all nations. will keep them? We consist of two parts, Sonie religionists have disafroved the a body, and a soul. Both of these want use of oaths, under the idea of prophanethe means of happiness, as well as the re- The language of the sacred writers moval of evil. But the world cannot even conveys a different idea. One of them afford them to the body. Its means of says, “ An oath for confirmation is an happiness, to those who depend upon them end of all strife:” another, “ I take God as such, are, in a thousand instances, unsa- for record upon my soul:" and a third, tisfying. Even at best, they will fail us in “ God is my witness.” the end. While pain, diseases, and death, To the use of oaths, others have objectshew us, that the world can afford no ed, that they are nugatory. The good refuge against bodily distress. And if it man will speak the truth without an oath; cannot afford the means of happiness, and and the bad man cannot be held by one. of securiiy, to the body, how much less And this would be true, if mankind were can we suppose it able to afford them to divided into good and bad : but as they the soul?
are generally of a mixed character, we Nothing then, we see in this world, is & may well suppose, that many would vensufficient foundation for trust: nor indeed ture a simple falsehood, who would yet can any thing be but Almighty God, who be startled at the idea of perjury*. affords' us the only means of happiness, As an oath therefore taken in a solemn and is our only real refuge in distress. On manner, and on a proper occasion, may be him, the more we trust, the greater we shall considered as one of the highest acis of feel our security; and that man who has, religion; so perjury, or false swearing, on just religious motives, confirmed in is certainly one of the highest acts of imhimself this trust, wants nothing else to piety; and the greatest dishonour we can secure his happiness. The world may wear possibly show to the name of God. It what aspect it will : it is not on it that he is, in effect, either denying our belief in depends. As far as prudence goes, he a God, or his power to punish. Other endeavours to avoid the evils of life; but crimes wish to escape the notice of Heawhen they fall to his share (as sooner or ven; this is daring the Almighty to his later we must all share them) he resigns face. himself into the hands of that God who After perjury, the name of God is most made him, and who knows best how to dishonoured by the horrid practice of cursdispose of him. On him he thoroughly ing. Its effects in society, it is true, are depends, and with him he has a constant not so mischievous as those of perjury; intercourse by prayer; trusting, that what- nor is it so deliberate an act: but yet it ever happens is agreeable to that just go- conveys a still more horrid idea. Indeed, vernment, which God has established: and if there be one wicked practice more pethat, of consequence, it must be best. culiarly diabolical than another, it is this:
We are enjoined next “to honour for no employment can be conceived more God's holy name.”
suitable to infernal spirits, than that of The name of God is accompanied with spending their rage and impoteoce in such ideas of greatness and reverence, that curses and execrations. If this shocking it should never pass our lips without sug- vice were not so dreadfully familiar to our gesting those ideas. Indeed it should ne- ears, it could not fail to strike us with the ver be mentioned, but with a kind of aw- utmost horror.
* They who attend our courts of justice often see instances among the common people, of their asserting roundly what they will either refuse to swear, or when sworo will not assert.
We next consider common swearing ; But secondly, common swearing is a a sin so universally practised, that one large stride towards wilful and corrupt would imagine some great advantage, in perjury, inasmuch as it makes a solemn the way either of pleasure or profit, at- oath to be received with less reverence. tended it. The wages of iniquity afford If nobody dared to take an oath, but on some temptations; but to commit sin proper occasions, an oath would be rewithout any wages, is a strange species of ceived with respect; but when we are infatuation. May we then ask the com- accustomed to hear swearing the common mon swearer, what the advantages are, language of our streets, it is no wonder which arise from this practice?
that people make light of oaths on every It will be difficult io point out one.- occasion, and that judicial, commercial, Perhaps it may be said, that it adds strength and official oaths, are all treated with to an affirmation. But if a man common- much indifference. ly strengthen his affirmations in this way, Thirdly, common swearing may be con. we may venture to assert, that the practice sidered as an act of great irreverence to will tend rather to lessen, than to confirm God; and as such, implying also a great his credit. He shews plainly what he him- indifference to religion. 'If it would disself thinks of his own veracity. We never grace a chief magistrate to suffer appeals prop a building till it becomes ruinous. on every trifling, or ludicrous occasion;
Some forward youth may think, that an we may at least think it as disrespectful to oath adds an air and spirit to his discourse; the Almighty.-- If we lose our reverence that it is manly and important; and gives for God, it is impossible we can retain it him consequence. We may whisper one for his laws. You scarce remember a comsecret in his ear, which he may be as- mon swearer, who was in other respects sured is a truth. These airs of manliness an exact Christian. give him consequence with those only, But, above all, we should be deterred whose commendation is disgrace: others from common swearing by the positive he only convinces, at how early an age he command of our Saviour, which is foundwishes to be thought profligate.
ed unquestionably upon the wickedness of Perhaps he may imagine, that an oath the practice: “ You have heard,” saith gives force and terror to his threatenings— Christ, “ that it hath been said by them of In this he may be right; and the more old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself: horribly wicked he grows, the greater ob- but I say unto you, swear not at all: neiject of terror he may make himself. On ther by heaven, for it is God's throne; neithis plan the devil affords him a complete ther by the earth, for it is his footstool ; pattern for imitation.
but let your communication, that is, Paltry as these apologies are, I should your ordinary conversation) be yea, yea, suppose the practice of common swearing nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than has little more to say for itself. Those, these cometh of evil.”—St. James also, however, who can argue in favour of this with great emphasis pressing his master's sin, I should fear, there is little chance to words, says, “ Above all things, my brereclaim. But it is probable, that the greater thren, swear not; neither by heaven, neipart of such as are addicted to it, act ra- ther by the earth, neither by any other ther from habit than principle. To deter oath: but let your yea be yea, and your such persons from indulging so pernicious nay, nay, lest you fall into condemnation." a habit, and shew to them, that it is worth I shall just add, before I conclude this their while to be at some pains to con- subject, that two things are to be avoided, quer it, let us now see what arguments which are very nearly allied to swearing. may be produced on the other side.
The first is, the use of light exclamaIn the first place, common swearing tions, and invocations upon God, on every leads to perjury. He who is addicted to trivial occasion. We cannot have much swear on every trifling occasion, cannot reverence for God himself, when we treat but often, I had almost said unavoidably, his name in so familiar a manner; and give the sanction of an oath to an untruth. may assure ourselves, that we areindulging And though I should hope such perjury a practice, which must weaken impressions, is not a sin of so heinous a nature, as that ought to be preserved as strong as what, in judicial matters, is called wilful possible. and corrupt; yet it is certainly stained Secondly, such light expressions, and with a very great degree of guilt.
wanton phrases, as sound like swearing,
are to be avoided; and are often therefore shadowed by the ceremonies of the Jewish indulged by silly people for the sake of the law, was marked in stronger lines by the sound; who think (if they think at all) prophets, and proclaimed in a more intelthat they add to their discourse the spirit ligible language. The office of the Mesof swearing without the guilt of it. Such siah, his ministry, his life, his actions, his people bad better lay aside, together with death, and his resurrection, are all very swearing, every appearance of it. These distinctly held out. It is true, the Jews, appearances, may both offend, and mis- explaining the warm figures of the prolead others; and with regard to them- phetic language too literally, and applying selves, may end in realities. At least, to a temporal dominion those expressions, they shew an inclination to swearing: and which were intended only as descriptive an inclination to vice indulged, is really of a spiritual, were offended at the meanvice.
Gilpin. ness of Christ's appearance on earth; and
would not own him for that Messiah, 108. Honour due to God's Word- whom their prophets had foretold; though What it is to serve God truly, &c. these very prophets, when they used a less
figurative language, had described him, As we are enjoined to honour God's as he really was, a man of sorrows, and holy name, so are we enjoined also “ to acquainted with grief. honour his holy word.”
To these books are added several others, By God's holy word, we mean, the Old poetical and moral, which administer much Testament and the New.
instruction, and matter of meditation to The books of the Old Testament open devout minds. with the earliest accounts of time, earlier The New Testament contains first the than any human records reach; and yet, simple history of Christ, as recorded in in many instances, they are strengthened the four gospels. In this history also are by human records. The heathen mytho- delivered those excellent instructions logy is often grounded upon remnants of which our Saviour occasionally gave his the sacred story, and many of the Bible disciples ; the precepts and the example events are recorded, however imperfectly, blended together. in prophane history. The very face of To the gospel succeeds an account of nature bears witness to the deluge. the lives and actions of some of the prinIn the history of the patriarchs is exhi- cipal apostles, together with the early
state bited a most beautiful picture of the sim- of the Christian church. plicity of ancient manners; and of genuine The epistles of several of the apostles, nature unadorned indeed by science, but particularly of St. Paul, to some of the impressed strongly with a sense of reli- new established churches, make another gion. This gives an air of greatness and part. Our Saviour had promised to endignity to all the sentiments and actions dow his disciples with power from on high of these exalted characters.
to complete the great work of publishing The patriarchal history is followed by the gospel: and in the epistles that work the Jewish. Here we have the principal is completed. The truths and doctrines of events of that peculiar nation, which lived the Christian religion are here still more under a theocracy, and was set apart to unfolded and enforced : as the great preserve and propagate* the knowledge of scheme of our redemption was now finishthe true God through those ages of igno- ed by the death of Christ. rance antecedent to Christ. Here too we The sacred volume is concluded with find those types, and representations, which the revelations of St. John; which are the apostle to the Hebrews calls the sha. supposed to contain a propheticdescription dows of good things to come.
of the future state of the church. Some To those books, which contain the le- of these prophecies, it is thought on very gislation and history of the Jews, succeed good grounds, are already fulfilled ; and the prophetic writings. As the time of the others, which now, as sublime descriptions promise drew still nearer, the notices of its only, amuse the imagination, will probaapproach became stronger. The kingdom bly, in the future ages of the church, be of the Messiah, which was but obscurely the objects of the understanding also.
* See the subject very learnedly treated in one of the first chapters of Jenkins's Reasonableness of Christianity.
The last part of our duty to God is, “ to vial in his sight. The world may sooth ; serve him truly all the days of our life.” or it may threaten him : he perseveres
“ To serve God truly all the days of steadily in the service of his God; and in our life,” implies two things : first, the that perseverance feels his happiness every mode of this service; and secondly, the day the more established. Gilpin. term of it.
First, we must serve God truly. We $ 109. Duties owing to particular Persons must not rest satisfied with the outward
-Duty of Children to Parents-Respect action; but must take care that every
and Obedience in what the former conaction be founded on a proper motive. It
sists-in what the latter-succouring is the motive alone that makes an action
a Parent-brotherly Affection-Obediacceptable to God. The hypocrite “may
ence to Law-founded on the Advanfast twice in the week, and give alms of
tages of Society. all that he possesses :" nay, he may fast From the two grand principles of " lovthe whole week, if he be able, and give ing our neighbour as ourselves, and of doing all he has in alms; but if his fasts and his to ers as we would have them do to us, alms are intended as matter of ostentation which regulates our social intercourse in only, neither the one, nor the other, is general, we proceed to those more conthat true service which God requires. fined duties, which arise from particular God requires the heart: he requires that relations, connexions, and stations in life. an earnest desire of acting agreeable to Among these, we are first taught, as inhis will, should be the general spring of deed the order of nature directe, to consiour actions; and this will give even an der the great duty of children to parents. indifferent action a value in his sight. The two points to be insisted on, are
As we are enjoined to serve God truly, respect and obedience. Both these should so are we enjoined to serve him “all the naturally spring from love; to which padays of our life.” As far as human frail. rents have the highest claim. And indeed ties will permit, we should persevere in a parents, in general, behave to their chilconstant tenor of obedience. That lax be- dren, in a manner both to deserve and to haviour, which, instead of making a steady obtain their love. progress, is continually relapsing into for- But if the kindness of the parent be not mer errors, and running the same round of such as to work upon the affections of the sinning and repenting, is rather the life of child, yet still the parent has a title to rean irresolute sinner, than of a pious Chris- spect and obedience, on the principle of tian. Human errors and frailties, we duty; a principle, which the voice of naknow, God will not treat with too severe ture dictales; which reason inculcates; an eye; but he who, in the general tenor which human laws, and human customs, of his life, does not keep advancing to- all join to enforce; and which the word wards Christian perfection; but suffers of God strictly commands. himself, at intervals, entirely to lose sight
The child will shew respect to his paof his calling, cannot be really serious in rent, by treating him, at all times, with his profession: he is at a great distance deference. He will consult his parent's infrom serving God truly all the days of his clination, and shew a readiness, in a thoulife; and has no scriptural gtound to hope sand nameless trifles, to conform himself much from the mercy of God.
to it. He will never peevishly contradict That man, whether placed in high estate his parent; and when he offers a contrary or low, has reached the summit of human opinion, he will offer it modestly. Rehappiness, who is truly serious in the ser. spect will teach him also, not only to put vice of his great Master. The things of the best colouring upon the infirmities of this world may engage, but cannot engross his parent: but even if those infirmities bis attention; its sorrows and its joys may be great, he will soften and screen them, affect, but cannot disconcert him. No as much as possible, from the public eye. man, he knows, can faithfully serve two Obedience goes a step further, and supmasters. He hath hired himself to one- poses a positive command. In things unthat great Master, whose commands he lawful indeed, the parental authority canreveres, whose favour be seeks, whose dis- not bind; but this is case that rarely pleasure alone is the real object of his fears; happens. The great danger is on and whose rewards alone are the real ob- other side, that children, through obstijects of his hope. Every thing else is tri- nacy or sullenness, should refuse their pa
rents'lawful commands; to the observance ing of the precept is, that we ought to live of all which, however inconvenient to in dutiful submission to legal authority. themselves, they are tied by various mo- Government and society
are united. We tives; and above all, by the command of cannot have one without the other; and God, who, in his sacred denunciations we submit to the inconveniences, for the against sin, ranks disobedience to parents sake of the advantages. among the worst*.
The end of society is mutual safety and They are farther bound, not only to obey convenience. Without it, even safety the commands of their parents ; but to could in no degree be obtained : the good obey them cheerfully. He does but half would become a prey to the bad ; nay, his duty, who does it not from his heart. the very human species to the beasts of
There remains still a third part of filial the field. duty, which peculiarly belongs to chil- Still less could we obtain the convenidren, when grown up. This the catechism ences of life; which cannot be had withcalls succouring or administering to the out the labour of many. If every man de necessities of the parent; either in the pended upon himself for what he enjoyed, way of managing his affairs, when he is how destitute would be the situation of less able to manage them himself; or in human affairs ! supplying his wants, should he need assist- But even safety and convenience are not ance in that way. And this the child should the only fruits of society. Man, living do, on the united principles of love, duty, merely by himself, would be an ignorant and gratitude. The hypocritical Jew would unpolished savage. It is the intercourse sometimes evade this duty, by dedicating of society which cultivates the human to sacred uses what should have been ex- mind. One man's knowledge and expepended in assisting his parent. Our Sa- rience is built upon another's; and so the viour sharply rebukes this perversion of great edifice of science and polished life duty; and gives him to understand, that is reared. no pretence of serving God can cover the To enjoy these advantages, therefore, neglect of assisting a parent. And if no men joined in society; and hence it bepretence of serving God can do it, surely came necessary, that government should every other pretence must still be more be established. Magistrates were created; unnatural.
laws made; taxes submitted to; and every Under this head also we may consider one, instead of righting himself (except in that attention, and love, which are due to mere self-defence), is enjoined to appeal to other relations, especially that mutual af- the laws he lives under, as the best security fection which should subsist between bro- of his life and property. Gilpin. thers. The name of brother
the highest degree of tenderness; and is gene
§ 110. Duty to our Teachers and Instrucrally used in Scripture, as a term of pecu
tors arising from the great Importance liar endearment, to call men to the prac
of Knowledge and Religion-und the tice of social virtue. It reminds them of
great Necessity of gaining Habits of Alevery kindness, which man can shew to
tention, and of Virtue, in our Youth If then we ought to treat all man
Analogy of Youth and Manhood to this kind with the affection of brothers, in what
World and the next. light must they appear, who being really We are next enjoined “to submit oursuch, are ever at variance with each other'; selves to all our governors, teachers, spicontinually doing spiteful actions, and ritual pastors, and masters.” shewing, upon every occasion, not only a ther species of government is pointed out. want of brotherly kindness, but even of The laws of society are meant to govern common regard ?
our riper years; the instructions of our The next part of our duty is “to ho- teachers, spiritual pastors, and masters, are nour and obey the king, and all that are meant to guide our youth. put in authority under him.”
By our teachers, spiritual pastors, and By "the king, and all that are put in masters,” are meant all those who have the authority under him,” is meant the various care of our education, and of our instrucparts of the government we live under, of tion in religion; whom' we are to obey, which the king is the head: and the mean- and listen to, with humility and attention,
* Rom. i. 30.