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waste the works of art and nature together, covering the cultivated land with desolation, and cutting off from the crouded city man and beast, are all the
messengers and ministers of God: and we Rom. viii. know that they all, for we know that all
things, work together for good to them that love God.
JAMES v. 12.
SWEAR NOT; NEITHER BY HEA-
served to be predominant, the preacher fets himself to oppose it with all his might. He draws out all his train of reasons and arguments; and if he find himself furnished with any stores of eloquence also, he scruples not to make use even of that dangerous weapon. He represents the irregularity against which he is engaged, as the most heinous of offences: whatever other crime we overlook, he requires us to beware of this capital evil; and prohibits every action that but approaches near it, in the most comprehensive expressions, and under the severest penalties. For the making of necessary exceptions, and limitations, we are left to our own reflections, to nature, to experience, and the common sense of ail the world. In the mean time, Casuistry being no part of his province, he presses forward to dissuade, rebuke, and threaten. He stays not to look around, and collect all the cases where his maxinis may give way; nor lets the force and flame of his exhortations die, under the weight of unseasonable and frigid distinctions.
Above all things, my brethren, swear not. How! Is the sin here forbidden, the worst of all sins? Grows there no other offence so rank in that soil, fertile of vice, the heart of man? It is indeed utterly inca
pable pable of defence, or excuse; foolish, profane, and hurtful; dishonourable to the Supreme Being, and detrimental to mankind. But so, alas! are many other vices. All indeed are so, either directly, or in their consequences. But some there are surely in themselves so odious, in their effects so fatal, that they may be allowed to claim this infamous preeminence; so that he who swears, and that inconsiderately and falsly, by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath, however liable to blame and punishment, will hardly fall into a greater condemnation.
Above all, taking the shield of faith,
16. above all things, have fervent charity.
1 Pet.iv.8. We need not set the graces and virtues of our religion in competition with each other; we distinguish best, when we are poffefsed of all. It is not necessary to weigh the vices in so exact a balance, The very fame Apostle, who is in this initance so urgent, above all things, my bre
thren, swear not, has already taught us, James ii. that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and
yet offend in one point he is guilty of all.
Matth.v. The text of St. James is taken from
the words of our Lord in his fermon on the mount. I say unto you, 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; and so on. After this follows almost immediately: I say unto you, that ye refijt not evil: whosoever shell smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. What! not hold his hand at least, if ic were stretched out to murder me? If God ever give himn the grace to repent, it will alleviate the anguish of his remorse, that the crimne which he had the wickedness to attempt, he had not the unhappy success to execute. Turn to him ihe other also: How! will you deny me the use of that prudent precaution, which is even com
manded by our Lord himself? when they Matth.x. persecute you in one city, flee unto another.