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what will become of the Infidel? Should they not; what will be lose by believing them? Where, then, is the place for his sport? where the foundation for his trifling?
Could the contempt, or the ridicule, which he employs, really affect the question; and exhibit it in any new light to the understanding of man; something, at least, might be pleaded in extenuation of this conduct. But ridicule, however gross the banter, or refined the wit, cannot be proof. A sneer cannot be an argument. The question, after every effort of this nature, is left just where it was : while the inquirer is ensnared, deceived, and ruined. How melancholy an employment, to destroy a soul for the sake of uttering a jest!
To complete this wretched pursuit of this wretched purpose, the Infidel assaults the Scriptures with obscenity. In periods and places, in which coarse manners prevail ; when the animal side of man is left naked; and the feelings and conduct of the brute obtrude themselves without a blush; this obscenity breaks out in gross ribaldry, and the shameless dialect of the workhouse and the brothel. In more chastened society, the impurity, lest it should be too offensive, is veiled by decency of expression; steals upon the mind in an innuendo; glances at it in a hint, and peeps from behind an obscure suggestion. What a shocking mixture is here presented to the thoughts of a sober, and even of a decent, man! Obscenity, blended with the truths, contained in the Word of God. How obviously must the mind, which can voluntarily, which can laboriously, unite these things, be the habitation of devils; the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird! How irreverent, how profane, how abominable, how filthy, must it appear to Him, in whose sight the heavens are unclean!
3dly. This irreverence is, perhaps, not less exercised toward the Institutions, or Ordinances, of God.
God has instituted, as important means of displaying his own character, preserving his worship, and promoting his religion, in the world, the Sabbath; public and private prayer and praise ; the preaching of the Gospel ; public and private humiliation and fasting; the Church of Christ; its communion; its sacraments ; and its discipline. As all these are his Institutions; and seen to be his; it is obvious, that irreverence towards them is irreverence towards himself; and in this manner has the subject ever been considered in the Christian world. It will be easily seen, that the various ways, in which this numerous train of sacred things is profaned, are so many, as to render it impracticable to specify them on the present occasion. I shall, therefore, attempt only to mention such, as are most usual, or most prominent.
The Sabbath is undoubtedly the great support of Religion in the world; for wherever it is unknown or unregarded, Religion is upknown. Accordingly God has been pleased to make it the subject of one of the Commands of the Decalogue. This holy się profaned, and the Author of it treated with gross irreverence, whenever it is devoted to pleasure, or to secular business : whenever we ride, or walk, when neither necessity nor mercy demands: whenever we read books of amusement, and diversion; or devote our conversation to any topics, unsuited to the holy nature of this day. Nor is it less really profaned, when we spend its sacred hours in idleness, or sleep; or when, in any other manner, we refuse, or neglect, to employ them in the great duties of Religion. Equally, and more obviously, are we guilty of this profanation, when we speak of the Sabbath with contempt; and ridicule, or laugh at, others for regarding it with the reverence, enjoined in the Scriptures; decry the Institution, as useless; as injurious to the interests of mankind; and as deserving the regard of none, but weak and euthusiastic minds: or when, with direct hostility, we deny its sacred nature ; labour to weaken its authority ; and endeavour to destroy its holy, heavenly influence on mankind. In all these cases, we impeach the wisdom, equity, or goodness, of its Author ; declare him, when instituting it, to have acted unworthily of himself ; and, in plain language, cast contempt on Him, as well as on his Institution. No man ever thought of treating with contempt this holy day, considered merely as a seventh part of time; no man ever directed the shafts of ridicule at Monday. Aside from the fact, that it was instituted by God as a sacred day, the Sabbath would be no more despised, and regarded with no more hostility, than any other day of the week. The hostility and contempt, therefore, are directed against the Institution; against its sacred nature; against its holy and glorious Author.
The Worship of God is profaned, whenever, for reasons plainly insufficient, we refuse to be present in his house, upon the Sabbath; or, when present, neglect cordially to unite in its solemn services; or spend the time allotted to them in sleep or diversion; or when we sport with the services themselves; or when our minds rise in hostility against the faithful preaching of the Gospel; or when we make the worship of God an object of our scorn and ridicule. Nor are we less really guilty of this crime, whenever we allure or persuade others to the same conduct. The worship of God was designed to be the great means of leading us to eternal life. God appears in it as a forgiving God; as a God reconcileable to sinners; as redeeming them from under the curse of the law; and as re-instamping his own image on their minds. He, who will not come to meet Him, when appearing in this most venerable and endearing of all characters, or who, when he has come, will treat him with neglect, opposition, and contempt, is guilty of an insult on the Creator, at which the stoutest heart ought to tremble. What an account of this conduct must he expect to give at the final day!
The Christian Sacraments are not often openly profaned. The elements employed have, indeed, been touched with unhallowed bands; and the ordinances themselves have, in solitary instances,
been insulted by blasphemous mimicry. But the cases have been so rare, and have been regarded by those, who knew them, with such abhorrence; as scarcely to need any reprobation from me. I shall, therefore, only say, that according to the first feelings of the human mind, feelings, which seem never to have been materially weakened, unless by absolute profligacy, they are universally held in the most reverential estimation ; and all disregard, thoughtlessness, and levity, are not only by the Scriptures, but by common sense also, proscribed in our attendance upon them. If we are not wonderfully insensible; we cannot fail of exercising a profound reverence, when in this peculiarly solemn and affecting manner we draw so near to a forgiving God.
Private and secret Worship is much more frequently the object of levity, and contempt. Family prayer, peculiarly, has been attacked, on all sides, by loose and light-minded men ; and, I doubt not, has been hunted out of many a family, and prevented from entering many others, by the sneers of scorn, and the jests of derision. Why should not men pray? Why should not families . pray? Are we not dependent creatures? Do we not need every thing at the hand of God? Who beside God, can supply our wants? Has he not required us to pray? If we do not pray, will he bless us ? Has he not made asking the indispensable condition of receiving ? The man, who will not pray, is a madman. The family, which will not pray, are lunatics.
God has required us to pray always with all prayer; and, therefore, to perform regularly the duties of both private and secret devotion. When we ourselves neglect either; or when we oppose the performance of them in our fellow-men; we neglect, or oppose, the c.mmand of Jehovah. He, who laughs and sneers at secret and family prayer, points his jests, his contempt, and his mockery, against his Creator. Where can folly, or frenzy, be found, more absolute than this ? The wretch, who is guilty of it, is a helpless, sinful, miserable, creature ; dependent for existence, for enjoyment, and for hope, on the mere, sovereign Dercy of God; is promised all blessings, which he needs, if he will pray for them; and is assured, that, if he will not pray, he not only will be entitled to no blessings whatever, but that those, which he regards as blessings, and which, if he faithfully performed this duty, would prove such, will be converted into curses. This wretch not only refuses to pray himself, but with gross impiety, insults his Maker anew, by preventing his fellow-men from praying also.
I shall only add, that Irreverence, the same in substance with that, which has been here specified, may exist in thought, and in action, as well as in words. In some of the cases, which I have mentioned, it has been indeed supposed to terminate in thought. It may thus terminate in all cases, which do not involve our intercourse with our fellow-men. In this intercourse it may be exhibited in actions; and those of very various kinds. 'Of these a very few
have been mentioned. It is only necessary to observe, that, whenever our hearts teem with irreverent thoughts towards God, or towards any thing because it is his, it makes little difference, whether we express our impiety by the tongue, or by the hands. The irreverence is the same: the design is the same : the moral action
It is the rising of pride, enmity, and rebellion, against God; the open, impudent contention of a creature against his Creator; the struggle, the swelling, the writhing, of a worm against Jehovah.
is the same.
W OF GOD.-THE DECALOGUE.TH T
XENT. THE GUILT OF PROFANENESS.
Exodus 32. 7.—Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in pain : for the
Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain.
In the preceding discourse, I proposed, after making several introductory remarks, to examine,
1. The Nature ;
The first of these I considered, at length, in that discourse. I shall now proceed to make some observations concerning the second; viz. the Guilt of this sin. The guilt of this sin is evident,
1st. From the tenour of the Command.
Profaneness is one of the eight great crimes, which God thought proper to make the express subjects of prohibition in the Decalogue. In the order, in which he was pleased to speak, and to write, them, it holds the third place. All the importance, which this wonderful Law derived from being uttered by the voice, and being written with the finger, of God; from his manifest appear. ance in this lower world; and from the awful splendour, and amazing majesty, with which he appeared; this precept, equally with the others, challenges to itself. In addition to these things, it is the only precept in the whole number, which annexes an express threatening to the crime, which is prohibited. From all these circumstances it is abundantly evident, that the Guilt of this sin is of no common dye in the sight of Jehovah. All these circumstances were intended to be significant, and are obviously significant, in a manner pre-eminently solemn and affecting. How should we ourselves feel, if the Creator of the Universe were to inform us by the mouth of an acknowledged prophet, that he would appear in this world on an appointed day, to publish his awful pleasure to mankind! With what anxious, trembling expectation should we wait for the destined period! With what solemnity and apprehension should we behold the day dawn! With what silent awe should we see the cloudy chariot descend; and hear the Archangel proclaim the approach of his Maker! How should we shudder at the sound of the trumpet, and the quaking of the earth! Would not our hearts die within us, when the thunders began to roll; the lightnings to blaze; and the flames of devouring fire to rise up to the heavens? In the midst of these tremendous scenes, with what si