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berties, however intended, will certainly be considered by those who observe them, not only as disrespectful to the day and institution, but as proceeding from a secret contempt of the Christian faith :that, consequently, they diminish a reverence for religion in others, so far as the authority of our opinion, or the efficacy of our example, reaches; or rather, so far as either will serve fór an excuse of negligence to those who are glad of any :-that as to cards and dice, which put in their claim to be considered among
the harmless occupations of a vacant hour, it may be observed that few find
any difficulty in refraining from play on Sunday, except them who sit down to it with the views and eagerness of gamesters :—that gaming is seldom innocent:—that the anxiety and perturbations, however, which it excites, are inconsistent with the tranquillity and frame of temper in which the duties and thoughts of religion should always both find and leave us : and lastly we shall remark, that the example of other countries, where the same or greater licence is allowed, affords no apology for irregularities in our own; because a practice which is tolerated by public usage, neither receives the same construction, nor gives the
same offence, as where it is censured and prohibited.
OF REVERENCING THE DEITY.
In many persons, a seriousness, and sense of awe, overspread the imagination, whenever the idea of the Supreme Being is presented to their thoughts. This effect, which forms a considerable security against vice, is the consequence not so much of reflection, as of habit; which habit being generated by the external expressions of reverence which we use ourselves, or observe in others, may be destroyed by causes opposite to these, and especially by that familiar levity with which some learn to speak of the Deity, ofhis attributes, providence, revelations, or worship.
God hath been pleased (no matter for what reason, although probably for this) to forbid the vain mention of his name:- Thou shalt “ not take the name of the Lord thy God in “ vain." Now the mention is vain, when it is useless : and it is useless, when it is neither likely nor intended to serve any good purpose; as when it flows from the lips idle and unmeaning, or is applied, on occasions inconsistent with any consideration of religion and devotion, to express our anger, our earnestness, our courage, or our mirth; or indeed when it is used at all, except in acts of religion, or in serious and seasonable discourse upon religious subjects.
The prohibition of the third commandment, is recognised by Christ, in his sermon upon the mount; which sermon adverts to none but the moral parts of the Jewish law: I
say unto you, Swear not at all: but let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these,
cometh of evil.” The Jews probably interpreted the prohibition as restrained to the name JEHOVAH, the name which the Deity had appointed and appropriated to himself; Exod. vi. 3. The words of Christ extend the prohibition beyond the name of God, to every thing associated with the idea :“ Swear not, neither by heaven, for it is “ God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is “ his footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it “is the city of the Great King.” Matt. . V. 35.
The offence of profane swearing is aggravated by the consideration, that in it duty and decency are sacrificed to the slenderest of temptations. Suppose the habit, either from affectation, or by negligence and inadvertency, to be already formed, it must always remain within the power of the most ordinary resolution to correct it; and it cannot, one would think, cost a great deal to relinquish the pleasure and honour which it confers. A concern for duty is in fact never strong, when the exertion requisite to vanquish a . habit founded in no antecedent propensity, is thought too much, or too painful.
A contempt of positive duties, or rather of those duties for which the reason is not so plain as the command, indicates a disposition upon which the authority of Revelation has obtained little influence.-This remark is
applicable to the offence of profane swearing, and describes, perhaps, pretty exactly, the general character of those who are most addicted to it. Mockery and ridicule, when exercised
upon the Scriptures, or even upon the places, persons, and forms, set apart for the ministration of religion, fall within the meaning of the law which forbids the profanation of
God's name; especially as that law is extended by Christ's interpretation. They are moreover inconsistent with a religious frame of mind : for, as no one ever either feels himself disposed to pleasantry, or capable of being diverted with the pleasantry of others, upon matters in which he is deeply interested; so a mind intent upon the acquisition of heaven, rejects with indignation every attempt to entertain it with jests, calculated to degrade or deride subjects which it never recollects but with seriousness and anxiety. Nothing but stupidity, or the most frivolous dissipation of thought, can make even the inconsiderate forget the supreme importance of every thing which relates to the expectation of a future existence. Whilst the infidel mocks at the superstitions of the vulgar, insults over their credulous fears, their childish errors, or fantastic rites, it does not occur to him to observe, that the most preposterous device by which the weakest devotee ever believed he was securing the happiness of a future life, is more rational than unconcern about it. Upon this subject, nothing is so absurd as indifference ;-no folly so contemptible, as thoughtlessness and levity.
Finally; the knowledge of what is due to