1 JUNE (PREACHED 25 AUGUST 1776)
Only lip service
‘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.’ Exodus 20:7
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Isaiah 58:1–14
Some would applaud themselves and think themselves clear thus far, but are there no other ways of taking God’s name in vain? Yes, many do it as often as they pray. See Matthew 15:8. Do you ask what you do not desire and confess what you do not feel? Is not this to take the name of God in vain? Does it not prove that you think him altogether such a one as yourselves, nay, more easily imposed on, more safely to be trifled with, than a poor fallible mortal? Strange it is to think that many not only content themselves with this lip service, but make it the meritorious ground of their hope, and fancy themselves religious because they come so often to church to mock the power that made them. But hardly can any wickedness be imagined more daring and provoking to the most high than such a religion as this. Farther, as many of you as choose to be called Christians and live in the allowed practice of known sin, your whole lives may be considered as one continual breach of this command. In all you say and do, you blaspheme that holy name by which you are called—and still more so, if you are professed friends and favourers of the gospel. By your means the ways of truth are evil spoken of. You give occasion to those offences of which it is said, Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh [Matthew 18:7]. You injure the cause, stumble the weak, grieve the Lord’s people and make his enemies rejoice. Better it would be never to have known the way of righteousness, than thus to abuse your knowledge. Your case is awfully dangerous indeed.
FOR MEDITATION: ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’ (Matthew 6:5–6, NIV).
SERMON: EXODUS 20:7 [3/3]