Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who takes His name in vain.
A Just ReproofExodus 20:7
A Proper Use to be Made of the Gift of SpeechF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:7
A Signal LightGreat ThoughtsExodus 20:7
A Wise ProhibitionExodus 20:7
Clothed with CursingExodus 20:7
Frivolous Use of ScriptureR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:7
God not to be Trifled WithJ. H. Thornwell, D. D.Exodus 20:7
Irreverence in PrayerExodus 20:7
No Excuse for SwearingF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:7
On OathsJ. Durham.Exodus 20:7
On Taking God's Name in VainH. Crosby, D. D.Exodus 20:7
Payment for SwearingExodus 20:7
ProfanityExodus 20:7
Profanity Known to GodExodus 20:7
Profanity Subjects the Soul to SatanExodus 20:7
ReverenceE. A. Washburn, D. D.Exodus 20:7
Reverence for God's NameExodus 20:7
Rules to Avoid ProfanityBp. E. Hopkins.Exodus 20:7
Satanic SwearingJ. Cope.Exodus 20:7
Speaking of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Exodus 20:7
Swearer RebukedExodus 20:7
Swearing ReprovedExodus 20:7
Taking God's Name in VainWatson, ThomasExodus 20:7
The Guilt of ProfanenessN. Emmons, D. D.Exodus 20:7
The Law of ReverenceW. J. Woods, B. A.Exodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentG. D. Boardman.Exodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentP. B. Davis.Exodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentExodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentR. Newton, D. D.Exodus 20:7
The Third CommandmentG. Clayton.Exodus 20:7
The Third Commandment. Profanity ForbiddenD. Young Exodus 20:7
The Moral Law - General SurveyJ. Orr Exodus 20:1-18
The Soul for God OnlyJ. Urquhart Exodus 20:3-11
The First and Second CommandmentsG.A. Goodhart Exodus 20:7, 8
This Commandment clearly comes as an appropriate sequel to the two preceding ones. Those who are Jehovah's, and who are therefore bound to glorify and serve him alone, depend on him alone, and keep themselves from all the degradations and obscuring influences of image worship, are now directed to the further duty of avoiding all irreverent and empty use of the sacred name. With respect to this, there must have been a very real danger in Israel. We have only to observe the licence of modern colloquial speech in this respect, we have only to call to mind some of the most common expletives in English, French, and German, and we shall then better understand that there may have been a great deal of the same sad and careless licence among the ancient Hebrews. Not that we are to suppose Jehovah directed this command exclusively or even chiefly against profane swearers in the ordinary sense of the term. They are included, but after all they are only a small part of those to whom the commandment is directed. It is quite possible for a man to keep above all coarseness and vulgarity of speech, and yet in God's sight be far worse than an habitual swearer. Many are concerned to avoid profane swearing, not because it is offensive to God, but because it is ungentlemanly. It needs no devoutness or religious awe to understand the couplet: -

"Immodest words admit of no defence,
For want of decency is want of sense." And there is as much want of decency in profane words as in immodest ones. The thing to be considered is not only the words we avoid, but the words we use. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak. This commandment, like the rest, must be kept positively, or it cannot be kept negatively. If we are found making a serious and habitual use of God's name in a right way, then, and only then, shall we be kept effectually from using it in a wrong one.

I. Evidently the first thing to keep us from empty words with respect to God is TO KEEP FROM ALL EMPTINESS AND SHALLOWNESS OF THOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO HIM. Thinking is but speaking to oneself; and God's commandment really means that we must labour at all times to have right and sufficient thoughts concerning him. We might almost say, take care of the thought and the speech will take care of itself. All our thinking about God, as about every topic of thought, should be in the direction of what is practical and profitable. Blessed is he who has made the great discovery, that of the unseen cause and guide, behind all things that are seen, he can only get profitable knowledge as that Great Unseen is pleased to give it. We who live amid the great declarations of the Gospel are really thinking of God in a vain and displeasing way as long as we suppose it possible to get any true knowledge of him except in Christ. Right knowledge of God, and therefore profitable thoughts of him must be gained by experimental personal search into the riches of God in Christ Jesus. Thinking of this sort will not be vain, shallow, fugitive thinking, seeing that it springs out of apprehended, personal necessities, has an immutable basis of fact, a rewarding element of hope, and is continually freshened by a feeling of gratitude towards one who has conferred on us unspeakable benefits. Surely it is a dreadful sin to think little, to think seldom, and to think wrongly of that profoundly compassionate God, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, to save it from perishing by the gift of eternal life. No thoughts of ours indeed can measure the fulness of that sublime love, and we shall even fall short of what the holiest and devoutest of men can reach; but there is all the more need why we should labour in constant meditation on the saving ways of God, according to our abilities. Put the word "God" on a sheet of paper, and then try to write underneath all that the name suggests, particularly all that it suggests in the way of individual benefit. Perhaps the writing may come to an end very soon, and even what is written be so vague and valueless as to make you feel that this commandment of God here is not a vain one so far as concerns you.

II. THEN WE MUST NOT TAKE THE SAME OF GOD IN VAIN, IN OUR INTERCOURSE WITH OUR FELLOW-MEN. God, our God, with all his claims and all his benefits, cannot be spoken about too much in the circles of men, if only he is spoken about in a right way: but that right way - how hard it is to attain. Much speaking concerning him, even by those who do it officially, is very dishonouring to his name and hindering to his rule in the hearts of men. Preachers of the word of life and duty, the word concerning divine gifts and requirements, need to take great heed in this respect, for whenever they speak without proper impressions as to the solemnity of their message, they are assuredly taking God's name m vain. There has also to be a consideration of the audience. The words of God's truth and salvation must be as far as possible words in season, not wasted, as pearls before swine. It needs that we should strive and watch incessantly to have all attainable fitness as the witnesses of God. Jesus would not have the testimony of demons to his Messiahship, but chose, prepared, and sanctified such men as he saw to be suitable; and then when he had found fit witnesses, even though few, he sent them forth to bear their testimony, sure that it would be sufficient for all who had the right mind to receive it. It is awful, when one only considers it, in how many instances God's name is taken in vain, by the use of it to sanctify unholy ends, justify unrighteousness, and give to error what dignity and force can be gained from an appeal to divine authority. When the Scriptures were quoted to justify slavery, what was this but taking the name of God in vain? How much of it there must have been in theological controversy, where disputants have got so embittered by partisan spirit that they would twist Scripture in any way so as to get God on their side, instead of labouring as honest men to be on the side of God. Look at the glutton sitting down to pamper his stomach from the loaded table; but first of all he must go through the customary grace and make a show of eating and drinking to the glory of God in heaven, when in truth the god he really worships is his greedy, insatiable belly. We may do many things in the name of the Lord, but that does not make them the Lord's things. "Lord, Lord" may ever be on our lips, we may even get a very general reputation for our devotedness to God and goodness; but all this may not prevent us from hearing at the last, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

III. Most particularly we must guard against profanity IN OUR APPROACHES TO GOD. If we are his at all, there must be constant approaches to him, and his name therefore must be constantly on our lips.

1. We must guard against formality. We must not take a name on our lips that expresses no felt reality. To confess sins and needs and supplicate pardon and supply when the heart is far away from the throne of grace, is certainly taking God's name in vain.

2. We must guard against coming in other than the appointed way. A very elaborate and comprehensive prayer may be constructed to the God of nature and providence, but even though it may seem to be of use for a while, it will show its emptiness in the end if God's own appointment of mediation through Christ Jesus be neglected. Do not let us deceive ourselves with words and aspirations that are only dissipated into the air. For a suppliant to know of Christ and yet ignore his mediation, is assuredly to take God's name in vain, however honest the ignoring may be.

3. Then surely there is an empty use of God's name in prayer, if we ask in other than the appointed order. The order of thought in all right approach to God is such as our Great Teacher has himself presented to us. Is it the sinner who is coming, wretched and burdened? Jesus approves the prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Sinners never take the name of God in vain, if they come to him with two feelings blended in one irrepressible cry, the feeling of God's anger with all sin and the feeling of his unfailing compassion for the sinner. Or if it be the disciple and servant who is coming to God, then the order of thought for his approach Jesus has also given. We must ever think of him as our Father in heaven, and first of all of such things as will sanctify his name, advance his kingdom and procure the perfect doing of his will on earth. We must make all our approaches to God with our hearts entirely submitted to him, otherwise we shall only find that we are taking his name in vain. - Y.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
The name of God stands for Himself and for that which He has revealed of Himself, not for our thoughts about Him. It is not surprising that this great name was invested with a superstitious sanctity. Even the Jews used it rarely. There is a tradition that it was heard but once a year, when it was uttered by the high-priest on the great day of atonement. In reading the Scriptures it became customary never to pronounce it, but to replace it with another Divine name, which was regarded as less awful and august. The Third Commandment requires something very different from this ceremonial homage to His name. His name stands for Himself, and it is to Him that our reverence is due.


1. By perjury.

2. By swearing.

3. By the practice of finding material for jesting in Holy Scripture.

4. By the habit of scoffing at those who profess to live a religious life, and taking every opportunity of sneering at their imperfections.

II. It is not enough to avoid the sin of profanity; WE ARE BOUND TO CULTIVATE AND TO MANIFEST THAT REVERENCE FOR GOD'S MAJESTY AND HOLINESS WHICH LIES AT THE ROOT OF ALL RELIGION, We have to worship Him. It is the "pure in heart" who see God, and only when we see God face to face can we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

I. The first expression to which I refer is, "THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD," or strictly, "the name of Jehovah thy God." The name of the Lord is not, on the one hand, the mere articulate sound by which the mouth expresses the idea of Deity, nor is the phrase, on the other hand, a simple synonym for God. It holds up God in His special character of Jehovah, the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God of His own dear people. "The name of Jehovah" means God, known and served under His revealed aspect of mercy, God appreciated as the pardoner of sin and giver of the Spirit, the Jehovah or keeper of His precious promises to His people. For example, of the antediluvian piety it is said: "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord" — i.e., it was then that distinctive recognition was made of God's special provision of mercy for sinners. His name of Jehovah was received as indicating His relation to His believing people. A name is an expression of the personal substance — an exhibition of the essential character. God's name by which He delights to be known among men, is Love. His character of compassion is especially displayed in His Word, and hence the Psalmist says: "Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name" — that is, of all revelations of God's character, all expressions of His being, the written Word is most full and complete. Here is the way of pardon and acceptance clearly portrayed. Another conspicuous display of God's character, but only local and temporary in its personal contact, while universal in its possible application, is in the Lord Jesus Christ; and so Jesus is in a high sense "the name of Jehovah." If. The second expression to which our attention should be directed is the phrase, "TO TAKE IN VAIN." The literal rendering is, "Thou shalt not lift up the name of Jehovah thy God lightly. Taking God's name in vain is the flippant and thoughtless use of God's name. It is the taking up the name in the vacant, purposeless way in which we pluck off a leaf as we pass along the road — the use of the name, not only where the purpose is evil, but where there is no defined purpose at all. Again, there may be not only an absence of evil purpose, but, beyond an absence of all purpose, there may even be a purpose of good, but this purpose may be seized upon in so rash and ill-advised a way that the use of the Divine name in it is a taking the name in vain, just as Uzzah's touching the ark of God, even to stay it upon the cart and prevent its fall, was a sin of profanity, and called for the Divine punishment.

1. In respect to God's verbal name, we are not to be satisfied with our freedom from the coarse profanity which culture and good breeding forbid, but we are to remove the habit of using the holy name in ordinary conversation in which the use has no religious character. We are not to call a wretched and forlorn person or thing "God-forsaken," or to hail a gift as a "God-send," when, in using these epithets, we have no design to use their full meaning, and therefore have not the proper attitude of mind for their utterance.

2. In respect to God's written Word, we are to take it up with reverence both in our hearts and on our tongues.

3. But chiefly, in relation to Jesus and the great eternal truths which the Holy Spirit introduces to the soul. To each man comes through his conscience a summons from God to give heed to his future spiritual and eternal condition. If you slight that summons, given to you in the gospel, you are taking God's name in vain.

(H. Crosby, D. D.)


1. Forbids perjury.

2. Forbids hypocrisy — insincere worship.

3. Forbids profanity.

II. THE DIVINE WARNING. Being in its very nature the most godless of sins, God from His very nature cannot allow it to go unpunished. Did you ever read that remarkable assertion of the famous mathematician, Charles Babbage, in the "Ninth Bridgwater Treatise," to the effect that the slightest word, though it be but a whispered interjection, vibrating in the air, sets in operation a series of changes which undulate to the very outskirts of creation, rising and falling like an everlasting tide? The whole material universe is a mighty whispering-gallery, in which the Infinite One is everlastingly hearing every word, every whisper, breathed by every human being, from the day Adam pronounced his first vocable in Eden to the day when human time shall be no more. If, then, the scarcely audible rustle of an unconscious aspen leaf sets in inexorable motion atom after atom — from leaf to tree, from tree to earth, from earth to star, till the whole material creation responds in undulation — think you that an oath, spoken by conscious, responsible man, will ever die away, or go unpunished? Oh, no! Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.

(G. D. Boardman.)

There are other ways besides making an image of Him by which the conception of Deity can be lowered. Man by his words embodies his thoughts of God as really as when by his hands he carves an image of Him. It bears significantly upon certain usages which tend, though perhaps unconsciously, to dissociate the name of God from the, deep reverence which should invest it. Among these is the habit, formed often unthinkingly, of using frequent and almost meaningless repetitions of the name of God in prayer. Akin to this evil, and one equally opposed to the spirit of the Third Command, is the familiar and endearing use of God's name in prayer. Some, while praying, employ epithets as if they were on terms of special intimacy, and almost of equality, with their Heavenly Father. Christ has, indeed, taught us to call God "Father"; but He has, in the same breath, bid us gather around the name these reverent words, "which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name." And there is nothing in Scripture to indicate a less hallowed aspect toward Christ in prayer than toward the Father. With what unvarying reverence do Paul and John, in their Epistles, refer to the ascended and glorified Redeemer! A true acquaintance with God produces reverence for Him; a correct knowledge of Christ exalts Him far above all principality and power, and gives Him a name that is above every name.

(P. B. Davis.)

I. WHAT IS REQUIRED. The holy and reverent use of God's names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.

II. WHAT IS FORBIDDEN. All profaning or abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known. This command is broken two ways —

1. By not using the name of God as is required (Malachi 2:2). So as many duties as are required, so many sins there are in omitting these duties. Hence this command is broken by our not hallowing and glorifying God's name, by not taking up the name of God into our minds, lips, and lives.

2. By profaning or abusing of the name of God; that is, anything whereby God makes Himself known.

1. When it is used ignorantly, as it was by the Athenians, whom the apostle Paul charges with worshipping God ignorantly (Acts 18:23).

2. When it is used vainly and irreverently, that is, lightly and rashly.

3. When the name of God is used superstitiously.

4. When it is used profanely and wickedly.(1) Profane swearing.(2) Sinful imprecations or cursings, whereby people pray for some evil against themselves or others, whether absolutely or conditionally.(3) Perjury is falsehood confirmed with an oath.(4) Blasphemy, which is a wronging of the majesty of God, by speeches tending to His reproach.Having spoken of the more gross and palpable breaches of this command, I shall now consider other ways how the Lord's name is abused and taken in vain.

1. With respect to His names and titles. They are taken in vain —(1) When they are not improved for those uses to which they natively attend (see Malachi 1:6).(2) When we make an ill use of them, either to encourage ourselves in sin by them, or to drive us away from Him by terror, or to any other use dishonourable to God, and contrary to the intent of the revelation of them to us.

2. With respect to His attributes, God's name is abused —(1) By the working of unbelief against them, doubting of, questioning, and denying them.(2) By the aversion of the heart unto them, and its rising against them (Romans 8:7).(3) By using them to wrong ends and purposes. Thus the mercy of God is. abused to encouragement in sin; His patience to continuance in it; His justice to desperation, etc. (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Romans 2:4, 5).

3. With respect to His ordinances. The name of God is abused in ordinances when we do not go about them after the right manner, etc.

4. With respect to His Word, men are guilty of profaning the name of God —(1) By misimproving and misapplying the Word of God, as the Pharisees did (Matthew 5; Ezekiel 13:19).(2) Jesting upon it (Jeremiah 23:33).(3) Using it to the maintenance of erroneous principles, unprofitable questions, and vain janglings (2 Timothy 2:14, 15).

5. With respect to His works, men are guilty of profaning the name of God, when they use the works and creatures of God to sinful lusts and practices.

6. Men profane the name of God, in respect of religion, and the profession of it.(1) By maligning, scorning, and reviling religion, and the profession of it.(2) By a hypocritical profession.(3) By a scandalous walk.

III. THE REASON ANNEXED. This is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape His righteous judgment.

1. Whence it is that men think so lightly of the profaning of the name of God, so that in effect they hold themselves guiltless.(1) It proceeds from that wicked and malicious spirit the devil (James 3:6).(2) it springs from the low and mean thoughts they have of God and His dreadful name (Psalm 36:1, 2).(3) There are many profanations of the name of God, that untender men will not allow to be such. They are not and will not be convinced of a fault in them, as in obsecrations, appeals to God, adjurations, etc. But a due sense of the majesty of that name would clear people's minds in these things (Matthew 5:37).(4) There are many profanations of that name which men do not at all observe, as profaning that holy name in duties by formality, and want of faith and fervency.(5) It proceeds from the passion of anger or malice.(6) Custom in taking the name of God in vain takes away the sense of it.(7) Swearing proceeds from unwatchfulness.(8) In some it proceeds from vanity and hellish bravery.

2. Whence it is that profaners of the name of God escape punishment from men.(1) Little zeal for God's honour.(2) Those who ought to put in operation the laws against swearing are themselves often guilty of that sin.

3. I proceed to show how God will not let men escape with it; that He will by no means hold them guiltless. Consider that the profaning of the name of God is a sin —(1) That brings wrath upon a land (Hosea 4:1, 2; Jeremiah 5:7, 9).(2) It brings wrath upon families (Zechariah 5:3, 4).(3) It brings a curse upon particular persons.

4. What is the great evil of this sin, that it is so severely punished?(1) It is a sin that is directly against God, His glorious greatness and infinite majesty.(2) It is a direct violation of the law of God, "Swear not at all"; "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Have you no respect to the authority of God?(3) It is not only a violation of the law of God, but a breach of men's laws.(4) It is a sin that has a peculiar contempt of God in it, striking most directly against His honour (Psalm 139:20).(5) It is most directly contrary to the great end of all Divine revelation. The first petition in the Lord's Prayer is, "Hallowed be Thy name."(6) It has a particular malignity in it, and in a most special manner proceeds from the devil, as it has less to carry us to it than ordinary sins have. What profit or pleasure can be derived from it?(7) Common swearers and cursers will be found to be men either of consciences already seared, or next door to it. I shall conclude all with a very short word of improvement.

1. How can these lands escape a stroke that have so much of this guilt to answer for?

2. I warn all gross profaners of the name of God to repent and flee to the blood of Christ for pardon; certifying, that if ye do not, ye shall lie under the wrath of God for ever.

3. Let us endeavour not only to reform ourselves, but contribute to the reformation of others in this point.

(T. Boston. D. D.)



1. We take God's name in vain when we use it lightly or without thinking.

2. It is taking this name in vain when we use it falsely, or speak what is not true in connection with it.

3. But we break this commandment also when we use God's name profanely.


1. Because it is useless.

2. Because it is cowardly.

3. Because it is vulgar.

4. Because it is wicked.

5. Because it is dangerous.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

1. God has forbidden all profane language, in a manner the most solemn, and best adapted to make the deepest impression on the hearts and consciences of men.

2. Taking the name of God in vain is destructive of all religion. A profane person cannot love, nor fear, nor obey, nor trust in God.

3. The profanation of God's name tends to weaken and destroy the force and obligation of every civil government. The profanation of God's name directly tends to bring religion and oaths into contempt; and when these are brought into contempt, how can civil government be administered to preserve the property, liberty, or lives of the subjects?

4. Profane swearing is the most unnatural sin in this wicked world. It does not originate from any natural propensity, instinct, or appetite in the human mind, but is contrary to every dictate of reason and conscience. No one ever heard profane language for the first time without being shocked. No child ever uses it until he has learned it from others.

5. To use profane language is below the dignity of any man. It requires no superior knowledge, learning, or intellectual talents to take the name of God in vain, or to rise to the highest attainments in the art of swearing.

6. Profane swearing is a vice which never lives alone. Who ever knew a profane swearer that was free from every other vice? It is true, a profane swearer may not be a liar, a thief, or a drunkard; but it is the nature and tendency of his profaneness to lead him into these and all other vices. For it takes off the most powerful restraints that can be laid upon the human mind.

7. Profane swearing is a land-defiling iniquity. It is a moral infection, a spreading leprosy, and more infectious than any natural disease. It is a sin which can be more easily and oftener repeated than any other sin. The profane man can utter his oaths and imprecations every hour in the day, and every day in the week, wherever he is, and wherever he goes, as long as he lives.

8. Profane swearing is a sin, which exhibits infallible evidence, that those who are guilty of it are pursuing the broad road which leads to future and endless ruin.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

There is a three-fold swearing forbidden.

1. Vain swearing; when men in their ordinary discourse let fly oaths.

2. Vile swearing; horrid, prodigious oaths not to be named.

3. Forswearing; this is a heaven-daring sin: "Ye shall not swear by My name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God." Perjury is a calling God to witness to a lie. In righteousness, therefore, it must not be an unlawful oath. In judgment, therefore, it must not be a rash oath. In truth, therefore, it must not be a false oath.

4. We take God's name in vain by rash and unlawful vows.

( T. Watson.)

What God approves is not the parade of homage for the letter, but the inward homage of the soul for what the name represents.


1. Perjury. Worthily to take an oath being one of the loftiest of human actions, it follows that to take it unworthily is one of the most infamous of crimes. The perjurer professes to believe in God. His pretence is that he confides in the presence, truth, majesty, justice of God. Yet he dons this fair cloak of piety that he may get a lie believed! It is a dastardly attempt to make the righteous God his partner in wronging the innocent, by leading a jury to an unjust verdict, and a judge to an unrighteous sentence.

2. Blasphemy: to impute evil to God; to scoff at the holiness and power of God; to assume the prerogatives of God.


1. Profane swearing. Leave expletives to those who have more words than ideas, and more tongue than brains. Be sure that reverence is the saving salt of society, and the very soul of virtue.

2. Flippant talk of sacred things.


1. They who are in the pulpit are there on purpose to lift up the name of God like a standard. Let them beware that they do not, through utterance of false doctrine, lift it for a lie! Let them beware of turning their piety into a mercantile profession, or using it for unworthy ends! Let them beware of preaching Christ out of strife, and of the opposite vice of perfunctory utterance; or unawares they may lift up the name of God for a thing of nought!

2. They who are in the pew need the warning also. We want reverence in the house of prayer — reverence in attitude, reverence in demeanour, reverence in worship.

(W. J. Woods, B. A.)

1. For the matter of an oath, assertory oaths must be of things that are —



(3)They must be such to our knowledge.Again, promissory oaths must be things just and lawful, possible, profitable, and in our power, and which to our knowledge are such.

2. The form must be, By the true God, it being a peculiar part of His worship.

3. Its rise must be edification, that is, God's glory, our own vindication, or our neighbour's good, or the call of a magistrate putting us to it.

4. As to the expressions in which it is conceived, or the thing sworn, it is required that it sought not only truth to, and in the man's meaning that sweareth, but that the expressions be plain and intelligible to his meaning and understanding to whom the oath is given; otherwise it deludeth, but doth not clear.

5. As to the right manner of swearing, these things ought to be noticed —(1) That it be in judgment, that we understand the thing we swear, and the nature of our oath, and Him we swear by (Jeremiah 4:2).(2) Fear and reverence in going about it, as being in an especial way in God's own sight.(3) Singleness in the end, that it be not to deceive any, but to express the truth only and faithfully, called righteousness (Jeremiah 4:2).

(J. Durham.)

"For the Lord," etc.

1. This implies that the sin under consideration may be lightly thought of, and rarely punished, among men.

2. It is an aggravation of this sin, that there seems to be very little temptation to the commission of it.

3. In the next place, it is a sin most pernicious to those who indulge it, and to those with whom they are connected.

4. In conclusion, I observe that God notices, records, and will certainly, in this world or the next, avenge the insults done to His majesty by a violation of this command.

(G. Clayton.)

1. Beware of the first rudiments and beginnings of oaths, if thou wouldst not learn them.

2. Subdue, as much as you can, all inordinate passion and anger.

3. Labour to possess thy heart and over-awe it with the most serious considerations and apprehensions of the greatness and majesty of God.

(Bp. E. Hopkins.)

The Third Commandment shows man at the head of the material creation with the crowning glory of intelligent speech, and, as a social being, possessing the power of speech as the highest instrument of his social nature. God reveals Himself to him by word, by name, as to a speaking being, making language a bond of union between Him and man. God commands him to use this great gift in His worship, in honouring Him.

1. The tongue is the glory of man, and the glory of the tongue is to voice the praises of God. All nature praises God as it obeys His laws. Man stands at the head of creation to take up its many notes of praise and give them intelligent utterance. He stands thus not as a single individual, a great High Priest, but as a race whose myriad voices are to join and mingle in a vast chorus of intelligent and harmonious praise. We are to speak of Him, and to Him, with adoration. He is our Creator, Preserver, Governor, and Judge. We are to speak of Him, and to Him, with love and praise. Our lips should quiver with emotion when we speak of Him who is our Father and our Saviour. We are to speak to Him in His worship, and of Him to each other, only in such a way as shall promote His worship in our own hearts and in the hearts of others.

2. The command is in the prohibitory form. Man has broken this law, and is prone to break it. His voice is silent often when it should be praising God. A man uses the name of God as an exclamation of surprise at some trivial thing or assertion of another, or to sustain some unimportant statement of his own. Sometimes a story is dull, and the story-teller seasons it with a few oaths; or some joke is without point, and so a curse is used to awaken a laugh. Man calls God to make sport for him. A man has become accustomed to exaggerate or to speak falsely, and, conscious that others hesitate to believe him, he continually calls upon the truth-loving God to witness to his lies. Sometimes he becomes heated in argument, or angry under contradiction, or in a quarrel, and he calls upon God to curse him if he is not right, or in his anger he calls upon God to curse the one who irritates him. Sometimes he so loses control of himself that curses pour out of his lips as dense smoke out of a chimney.

(F. S. Schenck.)

The swearer tries to excuse himself. "I did not mean it. I was only in fun." There are some things not the proper subjects of fun. Surely a man ought not to make fun of God, or of invoking the wrath of God upon himself or others. But the swearer says: "It is a relief for me to swear. It cools off my heated spirits." Often it is the reverse, adding fuel to the flame, not only to himself, but to others, especially those he curses. But if it is a relief, what is it a relief of? It is a relief to the storm-cloud to throw out its lightnings, because it is over-charged with electricity. So it is a relief for you to throw out your cursing because you are over-charged with cursing. Your heart is so full of hatred that when stirred in anger it overflows in curses. You had far better bring such a heart to God with a strong cry for mercy. Again the swearer says: "I know it is wrong, but it is a habit I have fallen into to such an extent that I often swear without knowing it." Do you not see that habit does not excuse but rather aggravates the offence? No one can become wicked at once. Your habit only shows how often you have sinned, how far you have gone down in this kind of wickedness. Again the swearer says: "I may as well say it as think it." You should not think an oath or curse. But it is worse to speak it. The letter of the law forbids the word, and so checks the evil in the heart, and at any rate prevents its injuring others. You gain inward control by outward control. Come toward the spirit of the law, checking the thought by obeying the letter. You keep yourself also from being a curse. The swearer is a moral blight in a community, his oath-speaking is a spreading infection, he is himself a curse to others.

(F. S. Schenck.)

The positive side, underlying the negative, is the requirement that our speech of God shall fit our thought of God, and our thought of Him shall fit His name; that our words shall mirror our affection, and our affection be a true reflection of His beauty and sweetness; that cleansed lips shall reverently utter the name above every name, which, after all speech, must remain unspoken; and that we shall feel it to be not the least wonderful or merciful of His condescensions, that He is "extolled with our tongues."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

It is enough to make the blood curdle, to think of the name of God bandied about as a bauble and plaything of fools. This offence cannot go unpunished. If there be a God, He must vindicate His own majesty and glory. It is the very spirit and essence of all evil, the very core of iniquity. If you could see it as it is, in the naked enormity of its guilt, you would flee from it as from the very pestilence of death. You may sport with the whirlwind and trifle with the storm, you may lay your hand upon the lion's mane and play with the leopard's spots, you may go to the very crater of a burning volcano, and laugh at the lava which it belches out in thunder; you may trifle with any and everything; but trifle not with God. Let there be one holy thing upon which you dare not lay a profane hand, and let that be the name of God.

(J. H. Thornwell, D. D.)

To swear by his gods was the most common usage of the heathen; and it grew out of a worship that of necessity debased the heart of moral reverence. Unbelief comes oftener from irreverent association than intellectual doubt. The sneer of a Voltaire has killed more than all his arguments; for, in Paley's keen words, "who can refute a sneer?" The youth who grows in the midst of profane minds imbibes a scorn of truth before he has searched a single doctrine, as the breath of an infected garment may engender disease. In this light you perceive how this old commandment covers the whole ground of our Christian conduct. So shall we build our piety, as Israel built the Temple; without, the costliest work that faith could rear; the walls overlaid with gold, each door carved with cherubim and palms and open flowers: each pillar with its chapiters and wreaths; its vessels, its lamps, its censers of the beaten gold of Ophir; a house of God, finished throughout all the parts thereof; but within, the Holy of Holies, where the unseen God dwells alone behind the veil of the heart!

(E. A. Washburn, D. D.)

Nothing is more easy than to create a laugh by a grotesque association of some frivolity with the grave and solemn words of Holy Scripture. But surely this is profanity of the worst kind. By this Book the religious life of men is quickened and sustained. It contains the highest revelations of Himself which God has made to man. It directly addresses the conscience and the heart, and all the noblest faculties of our nature, exalting our idea of duty, consoling us in sorrow, redeeming us from sin and despair, and inspiring us with the hope of immortal blessedness and glory. Listening to its words, millions have heard the very voice of God. It is associated with the sanctity of many generations of saints. Such a book cannot be a fit material for the manufacture of jests. For my own part, though I do not accept Dr. Johnson's well-known saying, that "a man who would make a pun would pick a pocket," I should be disposed to say that a man who deliberately and consciously uses the words of Christ, of apostles, and of prophets, for mere purposes of merriment, might have chalked a caricature on the wall of the Holy of Holies, or scrawled a witticism on the sepulchre in Joseph's garden.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

An aged minister told me, says a correspondent of the Morning Star, that when he was a young man, he had, on a certain occasion, been praying in a family, and in his prayer he had made a very frequent and energetic use of the terms "Good God," and "God Almighty." At the close of his prayer, a little child, about four years of age, came to his mother and said, "Mother, I don't like to hear that minister pray." "Why?" inquired the mother. "Because," replied the child, "he swears so when he prays." This reproof from the child broke the minister of swearing when he prayed. Prayer is petition, and no one would use the name of a ruler to whom he was making a petition in as harsh a manner as many use the name of the great God.

A coachman, pointing to one of his horses, said to a traveller, "That horse, sir, knows when I swear at him." "Yes," replied the traveller; "and so does your Maker."

Mr. Meikle, a gentleman of eminent piety, was a surgeon at Carnwath, in Scotland. He was once called to attend a gentleman who had been stung in the face by a wasp or bee, and found him very impatient, and swearing, on account of his pain, in great wrath. "Oh, doctor," said he, "I am in great torment; can you any way help?" "Do not fear," replied Mr. M., "all will be over in a little while." Still, however, the gentleman continued to swear, and at length his attendant determined to reprove him. "I see nothing the matter," said he, "only it might have been in a better place." "Where might it have been?" asked the sufferer. "Why, on the tip of your tongue."

"What does Satan pay you for swearing?" asked one gentleman of another. "He don't pay me anything," was the reply. "Well you work cheap — to lay aside the character of a gentleman; to inflict so much pain on your friends and civil people; to suffer; and, lastly, to risk your own precious soul, and for nothing — you certainly do work cheap, very cheap indeed."

A thoughtless, conceited young man was boasting of the number of languages he knew. In French he was a complete Parisian; Spanish and Portuguese were as familiar to him as his old gloves. In Italy he had passed for a native. Now and then he popped out an oath, swearing that he thought he knew almost all languages. An elderly man, who had listened attentively to his address, suddenly stopped him by asking him if he were at all acquainted with "the language of Canaan."

(J. Cope.)

A good old man was once in company with a gentleman, who occasionally introduced into conversation the words "devil, deuce," etc., and who at last took the name of God in vain. "Stop, sir," said the old man, "I said nothing while you only used freedoms with the name of your own master, but I insist upon it that you shall use no freedoms with the name of mine."

It is interesting to know that when St. Paul's Cathedral was in building, Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, caused a printed notice to be affixed to the scaffolding, threatening with instant dismissal any workman guilty of swearing within those sacred precincts.

In ancient feudal times, when a man paid a small "peppercorn rent" to the landlord, it was in token of submission. It was no onerous burden. But when the "landholder" fell to fighting with some neighbouring chief or baron, or when he was summoned by the king to join the royal army into France, the "peppercorn submission" brought its corresponding penalty and danger. The payee was bound to follow in the baron's train, to make any sacrifices required by the landholder, and encounter any dangers, even death, in his service. Such are "profane expressions." They are tokens of submission to Satan, and the prince of darkness does not scruple to make the utterers testify their allegiance whenever it suits him. Oaths are light things. Blasphemies are rents too readily paid to the "prince of this world"; but they bring in their train heavy responsibilities from which there is no escape, except by sincere repentance.

The perniciousness of profanity is its vulgarizing names that should never be uttered save with reverence and awe. The old monks, in their cloistered work on sacred manuscripts, wiped the pen and breathed an invocation before writing the name of the Most High. A great deal of the religious apathy of our day is the natural recoil of the heart from language about Deity and sacred things which shocks the sensibilities and makes piety seem akin to blasphemy.

That great and good man, the Hon. Robert Boyle, a nobleman, a statesman, and an author, during his lifetime, before he ever said the name of God, always made a hush, a pause!

Great Thoughts.
I once knew a sweet little girl called Mary. Her papa was the captain of a big ship, and sometimes the went with him to sea, and it was on one of these trips that the incident, of which I am going to tell you, happened. One day she sat on a coil of rope, watching old Jim clean the signal lamps. "What are you doing?" she asked. "I am trimming the signal lamps, miss," said old Jim. "What are they for?" asked Mary. "To keep other ships from running into us, miss; if we do not hang out our lights, we might be wrecked." Mary watched him for some time, and then she ran away and seemed to forget all about the signal lights; but she did, not, as was afterwards shown. The next day she came to watch old Jim trim the lamps, and after he had seated her on the coil of rope, he turned to do his work. Just then the wind carried away one of his cloths, and old Jim began to swear awfully. Mary slipped from her place and ran into the cabin; but she soon came back, and put a folded paper into his hand. Old Jim opened it, and there, printed in large letters — for Mary was too young to write — were these words: "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." The old man looked into her face, and asked: "What is this, Miss Mary?" "It is a signal light, please. I saw that a bad ship was running against you because you did not have your signal lights hung out, so I thought you had forgotten it," said Mary. Old Jim bowed his head and wept like a little child. At last he said: "You are right, missy. I had forgotten it. My mother taught me that very commandment when I was no bigger than you; and for the future I will hang out my signal lights, for I might be quite wrecked by that bad ship, as you call these oaths." Old Jim has a large Bible now, which Mary gave him, and on the cover he has painted: "Signal lights for souls bound for heaven."

(Great Thoughts.)

I remember, some time since, hearing of a rich man who had a large plantation. He was the most terribly profane man that had ever been known in the neighbourhood. He could hardly speak a word on any subject without mingling it with oaths. It was perfectly shocking to hear him speak. At length he was seized with a stroke of something like paralysis. This left him in good health, only he had lost the use of his limbs. And the remarkable thing about it was, that the power of speech was taken away from him, except that he could still swear. Profane words were all that he could utter. He used to be carried about his plantation by his servants in a sort of hand-carriage, and the only words that ever felt from his lips were dreadful oaths and curses. How awful this must have been! What a terrible illustration it affords of that passage of Scripture in which God says that because the wicked "love cursing it shall come into their bones like oil, and they shall clothe themselves with cursing like a garment!" (Psalm 109:17-19) Surely this man was so clothed. A dreadful garment it must have been to wear!

As the Rev. Dr. Gifford was one day showing the British Museum to some strangers, he was much shocked by the profane language of a young gentleman belonging to the party. Taking down an ancient copy of the Septuagint, he showed it to the youth, who, on seeing it, exclaimed, "Oh! I can read this." "Then," said the doctors "read that passage," pointing to the Third Commandment.

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