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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Lord's Name Taken in Vain

Consists, first, in using it lightly or rashly, in exclamations, adjurations, and appeals in common conversation.

2. Hypocritically, in our prayers, thanksgiving, &c.

3. Superstitiously, as when the Israelites carried the ark to the field of battle, to render them successful against the Philistines, 1 Samuel 4:1-22 .

4. Wantonly, in swearing by him, or creatures in his stead, Matthew 5:34; Matthew 5:37 .

5. Angrily, or sportfully cursing, and devoting ourselves or others to mischief and damnation.

6. Perjuring ourselves, attesting that which is false, Malachi 3:5 .

7. Blasphemously reviling God, or causing others to do so, Romans 2:24 . Perhaps there is no sin more common as to the practice, and less thought of as to the guilt of it, than this. Nor is it thus common with the vulgar only, but with those who call themselves wise, humane, and moral. They tremble at the idea of murder, theft, adultery, & 100: while they forget that the same law which prohibits the commission of these crimes, does, with equal force, forbid that of profaning his name. No man, therefore, whatever his sense, abilities, or profession may be, can be held guiltless, or be exonerated from the charge of being a wicked man, while he lives in the habitual violation of this part of God's sacred law.

A very celebrated female writer justly observes, that "It is utterly INEXCUSABLE; it has none of the palliatives of temptation which other vices plead, and in that respect stands distinguished from all others both in its nature and degree of guilt. Like many other sins, however, it is at once cause and effect; it proceeds from want of love and reverence to the best of Beings, and causes the want of that love both in themselves and others. This species of profaneness is not only swearing, but, perhaps, in some respects, swearing of the worst sort; as it is a direct breach of an express command, and offends against the very letter of that law which says, in so many words, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." It offends against politeness and good breeding, for these who commit it little think of the pain they are inflicting of the sober mind, which is deeply wounded when it hears the holy name it loves dishonoured; and it is as contrary to good breeding to give pain, as it is to true piety to be profane. It is astonishing that the refined and elegant should not reprobate this practice for its coarseness and vulgarity, as much as the pious abhor it for its sinfulness. "I would endeavour to give some faint idea of the grossness of this offence by an analogy, (oh! how inadequate!) with which the feeling heart, even though not seasoned with religion, may yet be touched. To such I would earnestly say

Suppose you had some beloved friend,

to put the case still more strongly, a departed friend,

a revered parent, perhaps,

whose image never occurs without awakening in your bosom sentiments of tender love and lively gratitude; how would you feel if you heard this honoured name bandied about with unfeeling familiarity and indecent levity; or, at best, thrust into every pause of speech as a vulgar expletive?

Does not your affectionate heart recoil at the thought? And yet the hallowed name of your truest Benefactor, your heavenly Father, your best Friend, to whom you are indebted for all you enjoy; who gives you those very friends in whom you so much delight, those very talents with which you dishonour him, those very organs of speech with which you blaspheme him, is treated with an irreverence, a contempt, a wantonness, with which you cannot bear the very thought or mention of treating a human friend. His name is impiously, is unfeelingly, is ungratefully singled out as the object of decided irreverence, or systematic contempt, of thoughtless levity. His sacred name is used indiscriminately to express anger, joy, grief, surprise, impatience; and, what is almost still more unpardonable than all, it is wantonly used as a mere unmeaning expletive, which, being excited by no temptation, can have nothing to extenuate it; which, causing no emotion, can have nothing to recommend it, unless it be the pleasure of the sin." Mrs. More on Education, vol. 2: p. 87; Gill's Body of Div. vol. 3: p. 427; Brown's System of Relig. p. 526.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Lord's Name Taken in Vain'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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