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LKOTURES ON THE SHOfLTXR CATK-
OHI8M OF THB WESTMINSTBR AS-
SEMBLY OV DIVINES— -ADDRESSED
TO YOUTH.

UCTUKB XU.

The third commaBdiDeiit, which
we are now to consider, is thus ex-
pressed : —

*< Thou shalt not take the name
of the Lord thj God in vain ; for
the Lord will not hold him guilt-
less, that taketh his name in vain."

This commandment, according to
our Catechism, " requireth the holy
and reverent use of God's names,
titles, attributes, ordinances, words,
and works."

There is in the docalogue a beau-
tiful order, not I believe generally
observed, in the statement of the
duties which we owe to God. In
the first commandment, the onlj
proper object of religious worship
is clearly set before us; in the se-
cond, the only acceptable mode or
method of worship is distinctly pre-
.scribed ; and in the third, the right
•temper of mind for the performance
of God's worship is specified and
required. In view of this close
connexion of duties enjoined by
these precepts, I remark, that it is
not easy nor indeed practicable, to
treat of them separately, and ^et
distinctly and fully — they unavoid-
ably include or involve each other.
Accordingly, in the three or four
lectures which precede the present,

Vol. VU.^Ck. Mr.



a great part of what is reauired in
the third commandment, has been
anticipated. Another part we had
occasion to consider in the very be-
ginning of our course, in speaking
of the Being, attributes, word, and
works of God — subjects to which
the first tw<dve answers of our ca-
techism chiefly and directly relate.
The ordinances of divine institu-
tion, I further remark, will here-
after demand our particular atten-
tion, both as to their nature, and
the reverent manner in which they
ought to be observed. In speakine,
therefore, of what is reauired in
this commandment, I shall confine
myself to a brief notice of two or
three particulars; and

1. The names and titles of God
may need some farther explanation.
In assigning names to men, the de-
sign, you know, is to discriminate
one individual from another; and
among the ancient nations, names
were not entirely arbitrary as with
us, but were often intended to be
indicative of the character of the
individuals to whom they were ap-
plied. Agreeably to this usage* the
Supreme Being, in condescending
to niiake himseli known to men, has
assumed names that discriminate
him from all other beings, ^Md
which most impressively inilicate
his infinitely glorious nature or
character. Thus we are told that
when Moses first received a com-
mand to return from the land of

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Midian to Egypt, for the delWer-
ance of his people, he *'8aid unto
God, Behold when I come unto the
children of Israel, and shall say
unto them, The God of your fathers
hath sent me unto you; and they
shall say to me. What is his nameP
What shall I say unto them ? And
God said unto Moses, I am that I
AM : And he said, Thus shalt thou
say unto the children of Israel, I
AM hath sent me unto you." And
then after recognising his covenant
relation to their fathers, he adds —
" this is my name forever, and this
my memorial to all .generations.V
Dr. Scott remarks on this passage,

that •* I AM THAT I AM ; Or, I WILL

BE THAT I WILL BE, signifies, I am
He that exists^ and implies self-
existence, independence, unchange-
ableness, incomprehensibility, eter*
nity, and consummate perfection.
Jehovah (a name of similar signi-
fication) thus distinguished himself
from the idols of the nations, which
are nothing in the world ; and from
all creatures, which have only a
derived, dependent, mutable eiist-
ence, in him, and from him." In
the 34th chapter of Exodus we have
a remarkable passage. In which God
is said to proclaim his name; and
this name is said to consist of the
appellations of Lord, or Jehovah,
and God, with an enumeration of
his moral attributes— -"The Lord,
the Lord God, merciful and s;ra-
cious, long sufiering, and abundant
in goodnys and truth; keeping
mercy for thousands, forgiving ini-
quity and transgression and sin,
and that will by no means clear the
guilty." The relations which the
three persons of the one adorable
Godhead sustain to each other, are,
you are aware, made known to us
by the terms. Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost.

The titles of God, as well as his
names, are mentioned in the answer
we consider. The difi*erence be-
tween these, according to Fisher, Is
this—" His names set forth what he
is in himself, his titles what he is



unto others." These titles^ more-
orer, are, by the same writer, dis-
tinguished into those which belong
to the Deity "as the God of nature*
and those which are ascribed to him
as the God of grace." As the Ghid
of nature, his titles are sach as
these—" The Creator of the ends^of
the earth ; the Preserver of man ;
King of nations, and Lord of hosts."
The titles ascribed to him as the
God of grace, are the following^
amone others—" The God of Abra-
ham, Isaac, and of Jacob; the Holy
One of Israel; King of saints ; the
Father of mercies; the Hearer of
prayer; the Godof peace ; theG^d
of hope ; the God of salvation."
The most common and ordinary
title ascribed ;to God in the
New Testament, is the infinitely
amiable and encouraging one oif
The €hd and Father of our Lord
Jestts Christ. We find also in the
prayer dictated by our blessed Re-
deemer to his disciples, that he
teaches them to address the Ma-
jesty of heaven and earth as " Our
Father in heaven ;" and the apostle
Paul gives it as the language of the
spirit of adoption, that those who
possess it address God, crying,
«<Abba Father," What, ray dear
youth, can be moie condeacending
and tender than this! What a
more constraining raetive to Oorae
with holy freedom and delighl to a
prayer hearing God I

2. Oaths, vows, and lots, are men-
tioned in our larger Catechism as
included in the requisitions of this
commandment What is nnlawfel
we are to consider in speakinsof
things forbidden in the preceptl)e*
fore us. At present we conliie
ourselves to tbiags required, ipd
among these we place religioaa
oaths, or those which are taken with
religious solemnity.

"An oath is an appeal to God,
the searcher of hearts, for the truth
of what we say, and always ex-
presses or supposes an imprecation
of his judgment upon us, ii we pre-
varicate. An oath therefore in-



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SKet a belief in God and his pnrri-
ience» and indeed is an act or wor«
ship, and so accounted in Scriptxirey
as in that ezpresmon, ITiou skaU
fmur the Lord tliy Qod — and ahaU
swear hy his name. Its use in hn*
man affairs is verj great, when ma*
naged with judgment."* In the
passaee just quoted there is fn in-
spired precept, enjoining a solemn
oath; we have alifo examples in the
sacred Scripture of the Deity swear*
ing by himself; and in the New
Testament, as well as in the vOld,
the lawfulness of oaths is distinctly
recognised, where it is said *'an
oath for confirmation is the end of
all strife;" so that it cannot be
fitirlj asserted that solemn swear-
ing was a part of the Jewish cere-
monial, abolished by the advent of
die Saviour. Those who deny the
lawfulness, under the gospel dis-
pensation, of religious oaths, taken
with a view to ascertain and esta-
blish, truth, ground their principal
objections on two passages of Scrip-
ture, of which the second is nearly
a transcript of the first. Consult
them for yourselves, in Matt v. 33
- ^7, and James v. 12. But nothing
is more evident than that the Sa-
viovr (whom his apostle appears to
qnote^ when he says^ ^ Swear not
at all," ftc. speaks of profane swear-
ing, in common conversation. This
is manifest from the passaee itself,
in which a number of pnmine col-
loquial oaths, known to have been
frequent among the Jews at that
time» are distinctly specified ; and
IB which the term *«Gommuniea-
tion," (At^H) coRversoHon, or speech,
is expressly mentioned. Now, to
apply what is spoken of one sub-
ject, to another of totally a diflfer-
ent kind and character, is a gross
violation of all the laws of propriety
and just construction of latisuage ;
and if adopted, not only mi^t the
Scrtptores, but every other kiiid of
writing, be entirely perverted, and



• Witherspoon— Morftl Pbilos. Lec-
tore l$th.*



be made to say something directly
opposite to their true intentiod
and design. We are not forbidden
then, but in duty required, to take
an oath, accompanied with religious
solemnities, when called to it by the
civil maffistrate, or by an officer
duly authorized, in ecclesiastical
courts. " The oath has been adopt-
ed by all nations in their adminis-
tration of justice, ^ order to dis-
cover truth. The most common
and universal application of it has
been to add greater solemnitv to
the testimony of Vitnesses. It is
also sometimes made use of with
the parties themselves, for convic-
tion or purgation. The laws of
every country point out the cases, in
which oaths are required or admit-
ted in publick judgment. It is
howeveft* lawful, and in comn^on
practice, for private persons, volun-
tarily, on solemn occasions, to con-
firm what they say by an oath.
Persons entering on publick offices
are also often obliged to make oath
that they will faithfully execute
their trust. Oaths are commonly
divided into two kinds, assertory
and promissory — those called pur-
gatory fall under the first of these
divisions."* 1 cannot here forbear
to mention, that in Britain and the
United States, there has been a
multiplication of oaths, demanded
by the laws of these countries,
which the best moralists consider
as of a most unhappy tendency.
The frequency of an act is always
apt to diminish its solemnity, and
an oath, from its very nature,
ought not to be required, except on
important occasions. . Innumerable
perjuries, it is believed, have been
the consequence of the multiplica-
tion of oaths, especially of those
exacted in the collection of the re-
venue of the country. The hastv
and irreverent manner in which
oaths are too often administered, is
also calculated to produce the same
evil.

* Withenpo6ii; ub. isop.

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It appears from Scripture that
there hayebeeB Tarious nurms made
use of in the administratioD of an
oath. Jacob and Laban* at parting*
ate together on a heap of stoBes*
and erected a pillar as a memorial
of perpetual peace and friendship,
and then sware bj the God of Abra-
ham and Nahor, and the fear of
Isaac, that they would not injure
each other, ^^ahaih, in exacting
an oath of his servant, in regard to
taking a wife for his son Isaac,
made the servant swear by putting
his hand under his roaster's thigh.
It would seem, therefore, that the
form of administering an oath is
not essential, and may be varied.
Yet, as the highest examples re-
corded in the sacred volume to
prove the lawfulness of taking a
solemn oath, do at the same time
show in what form and manner the
parties swore, we surely shall act
wisely and safely, in following their
example. ''I have lifted up my
band unto the Lord, the most high
God, the possessor of heaven and
earth," was the language used by
Abraham to the king of Sodom, in
stating in what manner he had sworn
not to receive any part of the spoil
which was taken from the kings
they had vanquished. In like man-
ner, the aneel whom John saw in
vision standing on the sea, and
upon the earth, " lifted up his hand
to heaven, and sware by him that
liveth forever and evep— that there
should be time no longer." Nay,
the ever blessed God himself, is
said to have sworn in this manner.
He is represented (Deut xxxii. 40)
as saying — ",I lift up my hand to
heaven, and say I live fnr ever."
This indeed appears to have been
Ihe usual form of taking an oath
in ancient times. The custom of
swearing on the Bible, and of after-
wards kissing it, is certainly an
imitation of the heatlien practice of
kissing their idols, and came to us
throu^ the Romish church. It is
not required by law in this country*
and my advice to you is never to



comply with it; but in taking aar
oath to adhere strictly to the Scrip-
tural example of doing it, by so*
lemnly lifting up tha hand.

A formal religious vow is ''a aa»
lemn promise, made to God, id
which we bind ourselves to do, ov
to forbear, somewhat, for the pro-
moting of his glory."* Hence the
sacraments of the New Testament
partake of the nature of vows, inas-
much as they are seals of C2yeiiant
engagements, or promises made to
G^. In prayer, also, such pro*
mises and engagements are fre*
quently made, and on this account
prayers are somatimes called vows,
but a/orma{ vow is a separate and
distinct act, in relation to some spa-
cifick object Sach vows were com-*
mon under the Mosaick dispensa-
tion, and particular rules were
given in relation to their being
made and fulfilled (Num. xxx. et
alib.). There is no particular com-
mand, in reaard to these special
vows, in the New Testament; and
it certainly is not the genius of the
Christian dispensation to encourage
their frequent, much less their hasty
or rash formation. It appears, in-
deed, that the apostle Paul was
once under the obligation of a spe-
cial vow, and that he joined with
four other individuals, who belong-
ed to the ChristiaD church at Jeru-
salem, in the observance of the Mo-
saick ritual, relative to persons in
their circumstanees. All tketa
men, however, were Jews, who, ia
the first age of the Chnstiaa chureh^
were allowed to retain certain ob-
servances of the preceding eco-
nomy, not inconsistent with gospel
principles. Paul, it appears, was
persuaded by his brethren to join
in these observances, and Jience It
is probable that his first intenttoa
was not to have done it' Some of
the best commentators think that
his compliance, on this occaaioii,
was wrong ; and the issue was oar*
tainly disastrous. On the whole,

* Buck's The^k^icalDictiofiaiy.

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^ tte gospel, without encboraging a
' freqaent resort ttf special vows,
does not forbid them, and the great
apostle of the Gentiles, in one in-
stance, did make a special tow.
There may be cases, therefore, in
which the J are not sinful, but expe*
dient. Yet the cases are not nu-
merous, and no person ought to
nake such a tow but on serious,
mature, and prayerful deliberation.
The object of tne vow ought to be
deartj lawful, and when made, the
obligation to performance should be
regarded as most sacred ; unless
some providential dispensation ren-
ders it utterly impracticable, or
clearlj inexpedient - -Those who in
sickness, or in other imminent peril,
make vows and promises to devote
their lives to God, if he shall spare
them, are cei'tainlj and sacredlj
bound to the performance of what ^
diey thus engage. In the Romish *
church, however, the three vows
which are made to constitute an in*
dividual what thej denominate a
religioi»^ihe vows of poverty^ ee-
Ubaey, and obedience^-^re without
the shadow of authority from the
sacred Scripture. Thej are indeed
characteris ticks of the *<man of
sin," and are not binding on anj
one after he is enlightened to see
the truth, and beosmes convinced
that these vows ought never to have
been made* -

Of lots I cannot speak at length,
although volumes have been writ-
ten on their nature and use. Mj
own opinions, on this subject, coin*
cide very much with those express-
ed by Ridglej in his ''Body of Di-
vinity;" and as what he says is very
snmmaril^ expressed, I snail eive
it to you in his owa words. " When
lots were an ordinance, by which
GNkI in an extraordinary manner
determined thinss that were before
noknown, (they b^ng an instituted
means of appealing to him for that
end, as in the case of JBlchafit and
others,) then lots were not to be
used in a common way, for that
would btf t }im f f^SSim^ ft H:



cred institution. But since this *
extraordinary ordinance is now
ceased, it does not seem unlawful,
so as to be an instance of profane-
ness, to make use of lots in civil
matters ; provided we do not con-
sider them as an ordinance which •
God has appointed, in which we
think we have ground to expect his
immediate interposure, and to de-
pend upon it as though it were.' a
divine oracle: In this view it would
be unlawful, at present, to use lots
in any respect whatsoever."

As to those that are denominated
games of ckance^ such as cards, dice,
and all lotteries for money, I hold
them to be unlawful; and I exhort
you to renounce and avoid them
altogether. If there were no other
objection to these games than the
infatuating influence which all ex-
perience shows thej have on the
mind, and the portion of precious
time which is wasted by all who
become addicted to them, this
would of itself be a sufficient rea-
son, why a prudent and conscien- ,
tious person should have no con-
cern with them. But there are
other and weiehty considerations,
why you should altc^ether abstain
from them. They are not only of
bad report with all serious Chris-
tians, but to gain money, or to lose
it, in the use of these games, ap-
pears to be morally wrong. The
successful gamester sometimes ob-
tains property (o a lar^e amount, in a
few hours, without either labour or
skill ; and this amount is lost with'
equal rapidity by others, to their
great inconvenience, and sometimes
to their utter ruin. The atrocious
crimes of theft, highway robbery,
and even suicide itself, liave often
been the bitter fruits of gambling.
Surely, every person who is not lost
to all moral sensibility, must desire
and resolve to have nothing to do
with practices which may lead to
such fearful consequences. Games
of chance are found in experience
to be more enticing and pernicious
thftfi gWl?9 of skin ; ana the roa-

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son
may



probablj is, that the former
^ be indulged in, with little men-
tal'talent or exertion ; whereas the
latter require an exercise of mind
and ingenuity which gamblers dis-
like, and of which the most of them
are incapable. Another reason maj
be, the speed with which, in games
of chance, a decision is made, in
regard to the stake at issue. But
games of skill, when money is play*
ed for, as it sometimes is, are to be
condemned equally with games of
hazard ; and indeed a fondness for
them, simply as a matter of amuse-
ment, often leads to such a . mis-
spending of time as a truly con-
scientious person will by no means
consider innocent. •

S. The name of God, and all his
titles, attributes, and ordinances,
are to be used with holy reverence;
and this feeling or sentinient is to
be preserved and cherished, even in
contemplating his works of creation
and providence. Deep and habi-
tual reverence for every thing con-
nected with the honour and glory
of God, is a discriminating mark of
a truly devout and pious mind. On
such a mind there ever is, and must
be, such a strong impression, at
once of the transcendent majesty
and the infinite excellence and
amiableness of the Lord Jehovah,
that every thin^ by which he mani-
fests himself will be regarded with
a mixture of awe and love. These
are, as it were, the signatures which
mark the feelings and exercises of
all good beings, whether angels or
men— See a remarkable instance of
this, in the sixth chapter of the pro-
phecy of Isaiah. How strikingly,
also, were these sentiments exem-
plified by Abraham, in the whole
of his plea for guilty Sodom — in-
creasins in intensity as he proceed-
ed in his intercession — ** Behold
now 1 have taken upon me to speak
unto the Lord, which am but ,dust
and ashes — Oh let not the Lord be
angnr, and I will speak — Oh let not
the Lord be angry, and 1 will speak
yet but this once." What a con-



trast between the spirit anil Hie
language here exhibited, and the
style and manner of address we too
onen hear in prajer! But pro*
found reverence for the Supreme
Being is not peculiar to uninspired
men. It characterizes, as you have
heard, all good men; and may, in-
deed, be considered as a kind of
measure, to ascertain the degree of
their goodness. The eminently en-
lightened and pious Robert ^yle,
is reported to have been in the
habit of always making a pause,
both before, and after he pro«
nounced the awful name of God.

Cultivate, mjr young friends, tbie
deep reverential regard for all thatia
sacred . Never use the name of God
with levity, and rarely in coranoB
conversation, mver mention his
titles or attributes but with solem*
nity. Never read his holy word,
nor even open the sacred volume*
in a hasty and careless manner.
Never attend on his ordinances but
with recollected thouebt, and a
truly devout spirit. Oh there is
much profaneness— shocking pro-
faneuess— in the professed worship
of God; in the very service in
which we profess to honour him*

Nor should the works of God be
contemplated, without seeing in
them the wisdoas, power, and good-
ness of their great Autirar. ** The
heavens declare the glory of God»
and the firmament ahoweth his
handy work. Day unto day atter*
eth speech, and night unto nigbt
showeth knowledge. There is no
speech nor language where their
voice is not heaid." The 19tk
Psalm, from which these words are
taken, presents us with an inimita-
ble meiditation ^n both the works
and the word of Ckxl, and of the
manner in which the devout mind
of the Psalmist passed from tbeose
to the other, and concluded botk
with solemn rejection and earnest
praver. The 104th Psalm is a com*
position of unrivalled sublimttj on
the. works of God, both in ereatioa
and providence. To "lookthiHUjI'

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nature op to nature's God,'' should
be the mquent exercise, not only
of the philosopher, but of everj or-
dioarj Ctiristian. Yet it is an ex-
ercise tea much neglected by Chris-
tiaos in general. Doubtless the
great work of redemption trans-
cends in ^lory, every other display
of the dirine attributes. Yet ail
the works of God should lead us to
admire, love, and praise him ; they
every where strike our senses, and he
who, in surveying them, habitually
chertehes a devout train of thought,
such as that of which the pious Mr.^
Hervey has given us some excellent,
specimens, will bav# in himself a*
source of the purest and most su-
blime pleasure, and will also be
constantlf making advances in the
divine life. In such a life may we
all advance, tilt it shall be perfected
in the iiqmediate vision and full
fruition of God our Saviour. Amen.



FOB THX CHBI8TIAV ASTOCATX.
A PLEA VOR THE BIBIJB.

Among the distinguishing fea*
tures of the present age, that which
will mark its history with impe-
rishable glory, is the struggle at
this moment pending, and with no
dubious prospects, between moral
light and darkness. An immense
mass of talent, of learning, and of
hallowed benevolence, is on the
march of conquest The system
which, thirty years ago, began its
efforts againsf the vice and misery
* of the world, baa ^own and ex-
panded with a rapidity unknown to
lormer generations. Moral enter-
prise has attained, is our country,
a magnitude and boldness, which
cannot be viewed by any inquiring
and observant mind without the
deepest interest Nor can it be
demed that the spring which has
given this new impulse to the hu-
n»n heart, is the Christian faith.
" £J»« glorious gospel of the blessed
God*' elaims exclusive honour, as



343

the moving principle of all the
virtue and happiness which have
sprung up in the path of benevo-
lence. The history of the world
affords no instance of similar exer-
tions to diffuse the influence of any
other religion. That of the Arabian
impostor was indeed widely spread,,
but with a zeal as fierce as its pre-*
tensions were groundless. Like a
stream of lava it marked its course
with desolation. Its baleful in-
fluence on the highest interests of
man, moral and political, needs no
witness but the Mahometan Empire
as it now exists. The religion of
Christ bears no sword but the sword
of the Spirit, the word of God. It
carries no torch, but the light of
truth. Its Con<}uest8 correspond
with its pretensions. Its *< fruit"
"is love, joy, peace, long suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith."



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