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The Prayer. O God, by thy providence and thy grace preserve me, I beseech thee, from the way of sinners, from the society of evil men, and from the contagion of bad example. O hold thou up my going in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. Make me the companion of those that fear thee, and keep thy commandments. And after walking before thee and with thy servants while on earth, bring me at last into the glorious assembly of just men made perfect, through the merits of the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Texts to be committed to memory. Evil communications corrupt good manners. 1 Cor. XV. 23.
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil. Exud. xxiii. 2.
The companion of fools shall be destroyed. Prov. xiii. 20.
Were they ashamed, when they had committed iniquity ? yea, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Jer. vi. 15.
I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 1 Cor. v. 11.
Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful. Psal. i. 1.
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. My son, walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy feet from their paths—for their feet run to eviltheir feet
go down to death-their steps take hold on hell. Prov. i. 10, 15.
Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing. I Cor. vi. 17.
I have not dwelt with vain persons, neither will I have fellowship with the deceitful. I have hated the congregation of the wicked, and will not sit among the ungodly. Psal. xxvi. 4, 5.
A froward heart shall depart from me; I will not know a wicked person. Psal. ci. 5.
JAMES v. 12.
OF the many sins into which young men are apt to fall from the bad example of others, and their own thoughtlessness, one of the most prevalent is the senseless habit of profane swearing.
There is hardly any sinful habit which admits of so little excuse, or which more plainly indicates a want of proper reverence for God's name, an absence of serious religious principles.
The name of God is pronounced in Scripture to be holys and reverend, and you well know the respect for that holy name which is enjoined in the third commandment. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. God will not hold guiltless—will surely punish—those, who make use of his great name to confirm a falsehood, those, in other words, who knowingly take a false oath, who are guilty of perjury. Neither will he hold guiltless those thoughtless persons, who profane his holy name by using it as a light by-word. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ enforce this injunction of the third commandment. 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, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communications be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. The apostle St. James repeats this preoept of his divine Master. Above all things observe the earnestness of the apostle-ABOVE ALL THINGS, my brethren, SWEAR NOT; neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
a Psalm cxi. 9. b Exodus xx.
Now how are these precepts—thus plain, and thus earnestly enforced—how are they observed in this country? How are they attended to by men who profess and call themselves Christians, who acknowledge their obligation to obey all the precepts and commandments of Christ, and rest their hope of salvation at the last day of account on his death and bloodshedding?
The answer to such questions is painful. In our towns and villages, it is, I fear, hardly possible to meet b Matt. v. 34, 35, 36, 37.
a James v. 12.
a number of people together in their unguarded moments, especially if their passions are in any way excited, without hearing the language of profaneness, the sounds of cursing and swearing. With many thoughtless persons—the children of levity and folly -the name of God and of Christ is a usual expression of astonishment and wonder. The angry and passionate give vent to their wrath in swearing; and too often have oaths and curses become the language of authority, and the commands or threatenings of a master, or even of a parent, are enforced by imprecations. The
children in our streets often become proficients in this language of Hell. While from the spirit of our religion it is from the lips of childrenor, in the words of Scripture, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings—that the praise of God should be perfected, those lips are too often taught, by the sad example of those by whom they are brought up, almost to lisp in curses, and when they first begin to speak, to utter the language of profaneness and blasphemy. When any thing vexes or irritates threm, they are apt to vent their angry feelings in swearing, and as they advance in years, the dreadful habit grows up with them. It is hardly possible, and perhaps would be useless, to pretend to point out all the various ways in which thoughtless people incur, in a greater or less degree, the guilt of profane swearing, or of taking God's name in vain. Some of the most common, however, it may be expedient to mention, in order to make my meaning more plain.