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many of the oaths, which are everywhere so rife, too horrifying to be repeated or written?

Bad as all this is in those who make no pretension to religion, how much worse is it in those who make even a high religious profession? And yet how true, alas ! is this in the case of too many religious professors ? Thus, as in the days of Hosea, many, who profess to be the people of God, “ break out by swearing,” as well as “by lying,” and the Lord may be said to “have a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.” Or, not to speak of other sins, it may too truly be said of our times, as of the times of Jeremiah, that “because of swearing the land mourneth ;” and especially so, when we think of the renewed ravages of the pestilence, and of the long-impending scourge of war at length inflicted. Besides, while swearing may, of all sins, be said to be the least pleasant and the least profitable -although there is no true pleasure nor profit in any sin—has not God emphatically declared, that he “will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain ?” Has he not, also, often punished this sin with instantaneous death, in modern as well as in ancient times, even when the oath was in the mouth, or only half-articulated ?

Being, then, as this atrocious sin is so characteristic of men in their natural state, and so con

trary to what is seemly as well as right, does not our blessed Saviour say to his disciples in all ages, what he said of old, “swear not at all, 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; neither by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black;" “neither by any other oath," as the Apostle James adds; “but let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay ; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil,” or of the Evil One. So far, also, from effecting any good, do not oaths, and even strong asseverations, solemn protestations, or powerful appeals, when employed in conversation, invariably shake, rather than strengthen, our confidence in the person who employs them; and lower, rather than raise, him in our esteem ? The more frequently, likewise, and the more boldly they are repeated, does not our confidence, as well as our esteem, become proportionally the less ? Is not this true to a proverb, even among the most truthless ?

In reference, therefore, not merely to gross swearing, but to every kind of it, may it not justly be said to all who name the name of Christ, “ be not conformed to this world ?” In this sense, also, should there not prevail the most marked distinction between them and the men of the world? With you, my dear readers, who profess to be Christ's, is it so in this respect ? If not, it is not too much to say that

you

have not the fear of God in your heart, nor before your eyes; that you have not learned, as you ought to have done, to set a watch over the door of your lips in a most important sense, and that you want a most essential property of all God's people; and, consequently, that you are neither true practical non-conformists to the world, nor true Christians.

CHAPTER III.

NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD

IN EVIL-SPEAKING.

“ The man, who governs well his tongue,

Is perfect; all his course is pure;
Though his temptations may be strong,
The Lord will make his progress sure.”

AGAIN, all true Christians must “not be conformed to this world” in the practice of any thing like evil-speaking. In the fearful, but faithful, picture which the Apostle James gives of the “ little” but “ boasting " and troublesome member, when he says, "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; it is set on fire of hell, and no man can tame it,” we find him adding, “it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Each of these latter properties, not to speak of the others, might easily be illustrated in the many wicked ways in which it is employed, or rather misemployed; but in no way more strikingly than in evil-speaking. At first sight, indeed, the “evil,” or “poison,” that flows from the tongue in this sense may not appear so great as in lying, or swearing. The more carefully, however, that “evil” or “poison” is looked at in itself and in its effects, the more aggravated it will be found. For, in addition to the heinous sin which it involves, what an incalculable measure of mischief springs from it, in private and in public?

For example, does not evil-speaking often so break the peace of the family and relative circle that it is never afterwards rightly healed ? Does it not, also, frequently so prey upon the vitals of the friendly and social circle as to “eat as doth a canker,” and almost prove its ruin? And when it enters within the sacred or Christian circle, does it not uniformly occasion the greatest discord and disgrace? Yet, how much are we all naturally addicted to this odious vice ? How common is it not only in the world, but in the Church, privately and publicly; not only among the female sex, who “ wander about from house to house, being tattlers, and busybodies, speaking about things which they ought not,” but among the male sex; and not only among members, but office-bearers, of the Church, ministers as well as elders, who have a high name for superior sanctity, or pre-eminent piety! For while many such persons shrink from every thing like evildoing, too frequently they indulge most freely in

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