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trator exposes himself. In such a situation, how kindly has the Lawgiver of the universe warned mankind against the perpetration, by announcing to them, in this affecting manner, the evil to which it would expose them. He saw, perfectly, their tendency to this wickedness; and with infinite mercy has been pleased to provide those means for their safety, which are best calculated to insure it.
If a child were advancing towards the brow of a precipice; how kindly would he and his parent regard a friend, who should announce to him his danger, direct him with sure guidance, and influence him with efficacious motives, to avoid it. The threat. ening, contained in this command, and, together with it, all those which are found in the Scriptures, are calculated for this very purpose. They warn us of approaching guilt: they declare to us approaching danger. Thousands and millions of the human race have been actually saved by them from impending destruction. Terrible are they indeed to obstinate sinners, because they disturb them in their beloved course of sinning, and because they intend not to cease from sin. Still they are not the less mercifully given. They are the very means, by which immense multitudes have been plucked, as brands, out of the burning.
3dly. Let me warn all those, who hear me, lo shun profaneness.
To this end, fir in your minds a solemn and controlling sense of the evil and danger of this sin. Make this sense habitual in such a manner, that it may be always ready to rise up in the mind, and present itself before your eyes. Feel, that you will gain nothing here, and lose every thing hereafter.
Under the influence of these views, keep the evil always at a great distance. Mark the men, who are profane ; and avoid their company, as you would avoid the plague. Shun the places where profaneness abounds, or where it may be expected to abound, as you would shun a quicksand. Avoid them ; pass not by them; turn from them; pass away. Remember, that these places are the way to hell; going down to the chambers of death.
Unceasingly say to yourselves, Thou God seest me. Unceas. ingly say to yourselves, The Lord will not hoid him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain. Remember, that he is most mercifully disposed to be your Father, and everlasting friend ; that he cannot be your friend, unless you regard him with reverence and Godly fear; and that, it He be not your friend, you will throughout eter. nity be friendless, and helpless, and hopeless.' What then will become of you?
Carefully avoid mentioning his great Name on any, except solemn, occasions ; and in any manner which is not strictly reverential. Never speak, never think, of God, his Son, his Spirit, his Name, his works, his Word, or his Institutions, without solemnity and awe. Never approach his House, or his Word, without rever: ence. Prepare yourselves by solemn consideration and humble
prayer for his Worship. Shun all that language which, though not directly profane, is merely a series of steps towards profane. ness; and all those thoughts of sacred things, which are tinctured with levity. At the same time, daily beseech him to preserve you; and let your unceasing prayer be, Set a watch, O Lord! before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.
4thly. Let me solemnly admonish the profane persons, in this assembly, of their guilt and danger.
You, unhappily for yourselves, are those, who take the name of God in vain ; and of course are now, or soon will be, subjects of all the guilt and danger, which I have specified. Now, therefore, thus sailh the Lord, Consider your ways. Remember what you are doing; against whom your evil tongues are directed; who is the object of your contempt and mockery.
Ask yourselves what you gain; what you expect to gain; what you do not lose. Remember, that you lose your reputation, at least in the minds of all the wise and good, and all the blessings of their company and friendship; that you sacrifice your peace of mind; that you break down all those principles, on which Virtue may be grafted, and, with them, every rational hope of eternal life; that you are rapidly becoming more and more corrupted, day by day; and that, with this deplorable character, you are preparing to go to the judgment. Think what it will be to swear, and curse, to mock God, and insult your Redeemer, through life; to carry your oaths and curses to a dying bed; to enter eternity with blasphemies in your mouths ; and to stand before the final bar, when the last sound of profaneness has scarcely died upon your tongues.
If these considerations do not move you; if they do not make you tremble at the thought of what you are doing; if they do not force you to a solemn pause in the career of iniquity ; if they do not compel you to retrace your downward steps, and relurn, while it is in your power, to reformation and safety; I can only say, that you are hurried by an evil spirit to destruction ; that you are maniacs in sin, on whom neither reason nor religion has any influence; and that you will soon find yourselves in the eternal dungeon of darkness and despair.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT. THE PERPETUITY OF THE SABBAT:.
Exodus XX. 8-11.—Remember the Sabbalh day, to keep it holy. Six days shall
thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shall not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy catlle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earlh, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
THE Command, which is given us in this passage of Scripture, requires no explanation. I shall, therefore, proceed immediately to the consideration of the great subject, which it presents to our view, under the following heads :
I. The Perpetual Establishment of the Sabbath: and
I. I shall endeavour to prove the Perpetual Establishment of the Sabbath in the Scriptures.
This subject I propose to consider at length; and, in the course of my examination, shall attempt to offer direct proof of its Perpetuity, and then to answer Objections.
In direct proof of the Perpetuity of this institution I allege, 1. The Text.
The text is one of the commands of the Moral Law. Now it is acknowledged, that the Moral Law is, in the most universal sense, binding on men of every age, and every country. If, then, this command be a part of that Law; all mankind must be under immoveable obligations to obey the injunctions, which it contains.
That it is a part of the Moral Law I argue from the fact, that it is united with the other commands, which are acknowledged to be of this nature. It is twice placed in the midst of the decalogue ; in the context, and in the fifth of Deuteronomy. This fact, you will remember, was the result of design, and not of accident: a design, formed and executed by God himself, and not by Moses.
I argue it, also, from the fact, that this command, together with the remaining nine, was spoken with an awful and audible voice from the midst of the thunders, and lightnings, which enveloped Mount Sinai. The splendour and Majesty of this scene were such, that all the people, who were in the camp,
And when they saw the thunderings, and lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed, and stood afar off : and said unto Moses, Speak thou with us; and we will hear; but let not God speak with
US, lest we die. Even Moses himself exceedingly feared and quaked.
this doctrine also from the fact that this command was written
by the finger of God, on one of the two tables of stone, originally prepared by himself, and destined to contain nothing, but this and the other precepts of the Decalogue. It was afterwards written again by the same hand, after these tables were broken, on one of two similar tables, prepared by Moses. A table of stone, and a pillar of stone, were, in ancient times, direct symbols of the perpctuity of whatever was engraved on them. This very natural symbol God was pleased to adopt in the present case, to show the perpetual obligation of these commands. The remainder of the law, given by Moses, was all written in a book; and was here intentionally, and entirely distinguished, as to its importance, from the Decalogue. The tables of stone on which these commands were written, were fashioned by the hand of God himself. This also, forms a peculiar article of distinction between the Decalogue, and the rest of the Jewish law. Nothing but the Decalogue ever received such an honour, as this. It was written on one of these ta. bles by the finger of God. This also is a distinction peculiar to the Decalogue.
When Moses, in his zeal to destroy the idolatry of the Israelites, had broken the two tables of stone, fashioned and written upon
in this manner; God directed him to make two other tables of stone, like the first. On these he was pleased to write the same commands a second time. In this act he has taught us, that he was pleased to become, a second time, the recorder of these precepts with his own hand, rather than that the entire distinction between these precepts, and others, should be obliterated.
Every part of this solemn transaction, it is to be remembered, was the result of contrivance and design; of contrivance and design, on the part of God himself. Every part of it, therefore, speaks a language, which is to be examined, and interpreted, by us. Now let me ask, whether this language is not perfectly intelligible, and perfectly unambiguous. Is it not clear beyond every rational de bate, that God designed to distinguish these precepts from every Other part of the Mosaic law, both as to their superior importance, and their perpetuity? Is it not incredible, that God should mark, in so solemn a manner, this command, together with the remaining nine, unless he intended, that all, to whom these precepts should come, that is, all Jews and Christians, or all who should afterwards read the Scriptures, should regard these Commands as possessing that very importance, which he thus significantly gave them should consider them as being, in a peculiar sense, his law; and hold them as being perpetually, and universally, obligatory?
It is further to be remembered, that this command is delivered in the same absolute manner, as the other nine. There is no limitation to the phraseology, in which it is contained. Honour thy father and thy mother,
is obligatory on all children, to whom this precept Thou shall not steal, is a precept, prohibiting the
stealing of every man, who shall know it. Every Gentile, as well as every Jewo, who sinneth under the law, will, according to the spirit of the Apostle's declaration, be judged by the law. Agreeably to this equitable construction, every person, to whom this precept shall come, is bound to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
But it is acknowledged, that “all the remaining commands are indeed universally obligatory ; being in their own nature moral, and having therefore an universal application to mankind. This, however, is plainly a Command merely positive, and therefore destitute of this universality of application. It may, of course, be dispensed with ; may be supposed to have been delivered to the Jews only, like their ceremonial and judicial law; may have been destined to continue, so long as their national state continued; and, thus may have been designed to be of neither universal, nor perpetual, obligation."
To this objection, which I have stated at full length, that I might be sure of doing justice to it, I give the following answer.
First; it appears to me evident, that, so far as my information extends, the distinction between moral and positive commands has been less clearly made by moral writers, than most other distinctions. It will be impossible for any man clearly to see, and to limit, exactly, what they intend when they use these terms. Το remove this difficulty, so far as my audience are concerned, and to enable them to know what I design, while I am using these words, I will attempt to define them with some particularity.
A moral precept, is one, which regulates the moral conduct of Intelligent creatures, and binds the will and the conscience. It is either limited, or universal : it is universal; or, in other words, is obligatory on the conscier.ces of Intelligent creatures, at all times, and in all circunstances, when their situations and relations are universally such, as to render the conduct required in these precepts their duty invariably, and in the nature of things. Of this kind, the number of precepts is certainly very small. We are bound to love God, and our neighbour, invariably. But the fifth command, in its obvious sense, can have no application, where the relations of parent and child do not exist; the sixth, where rational beings are immortal; the seventh, where the distinction of sex is not found. To these precepts, therefore, the criterion of universality, generally regarded as the principal mark of the moral nature of precepts, is plainly inapplicable ; and it is altogether probable, that these precepts will have no existence in any world, but this. Limited moral precepts are those, which require the duties, arising from such relations and circumstances, as exist only for limited periods, or among certain classes or divisions of Rational beings. Thus various moral precepts found in the judicial law of Moses obligated to obedience none but the people of that nation, and strangers dwelling among them. Thus, also, he, who has no parents, is not required to perform the duties, enjoined upon a