On Honouring God's Holy Name
Consider first, those words of the divine commandment, Exod. x 7, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take his name in vain.' This commandment obliges us to show all respect to the holy name of the Lord our God, and not profane it by the heinous crime of blasphemy, (which flies in the face of God's infinite majesty,) or of perjury, (which insults his truth, and makes him witness to a lie.) O let no such dreadful evils as these be ever found in the inheritance of Christ, or amongst the professors of the Christian name! it would be wonderful if any nation were suffered to continue upon earth that should encourage, or even tolerate such monstrous guilt. Moreover this commandment forbids also all profane swearing and cursing, and all other irreverent use of the sacred name of God. Ah! how common is this guilt amongst Christians! and how dismal are the consequences of it, in the manifold judgments of God inflicted in punishment of those sins, both in this world and in the next. O true it is, 'The Lord will not hold him guiltless, that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain.' Hence the wise man tells us, Ecclus. xiii. 12, 'A man that sweareth much shall be filled with iniquity, and a scourge shall not depart from his house.'
Consider 2ndly, the different ways by which unhappy mortals daily violate and profane God's most sacred name. How they swear by it at every turn; often falsely, often unjustly, generally rashly; and thereby continually expose themselves to the evident danger of that most enormous sin of calling on their God to be witness to their lies. Ah, how often do they with equal rashness and profaneness, by their curses and imprecations, presume to cite his divine majesty to serve them in quality of executioner, to execute the damnation which every humour or passion of theirs pronounces against some or other of his creatures! How often in their madness do they pronounce the like sentence, and call for the like vengeance, even upon their own souls! How often is the sacred name of God brought in, even by the better sort, without rhyme or reason, to express every passion or emotion of their souls! Alas! what liberty is here taken by these worms of the earth with the tremendous majesty of the God of heaven! And shall all this pass unpunished? Oh! to what a low ebb is Christianity come, when so many thousands of those that call themselves Christians are more guilty by far of profaning the holy name of God, than either Turks or pagans; and even glory in their guilt! And thou, my soul, hast thou never gone into their council; or hast thy glory never been in their assembly? O, see thou detest all such wickedness; and reclaim as many as thou canst from these ways of death. And if at any time thou hearest God's holy name thus profaned, lift up thy heart to heaven, and join with all the choirs of blessed spirits there, in adoration, praise, and love of the divine majesty, to make what amends thou canst for all these outrages offered to the king of heaven.
Consider 3rdly, that the great business of a Christian is to glorify the name of God both by his tongue and by his life. We glorify his holy name by the tongue whenever we praise him and extol his mercies, when our words and conversation are always directed to promote God's glory and the edification of our neighbours. We glorify his holy name by our lives when we live as becomes his children and his people, when our light so shines before men, that they have occasion from hence to glorify our Father who is in heaven. For as it is written concerning wicked livers, that through them the name of God is blasphemed amongst the nations, so the lives of God's true servants are the sweet odour of Christ in every place, and not only give continual glory to God themselves, by the exercise of all virtues, but also bring many others to glorify him by the efficacy of their example.
Conclude to keep a great guard upon thyself, that for the future thou mayest never use the holy name of God but with respect and devotion. And as for whatsoever profanation thou hast hitherto been guilty of, repair that guilt, to the best of thy power, with penitential tears, and by dedicating the whole remainder of thy life to procure the great glory of God's name.