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The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


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In the general sense of this word we readily understand that by doing any act contrary to God's holy law, such as breaking the Sabbath, touching holy things with polluted or defiled hands, and the like, we profane them. But while these things are plain enough, and cannot well be mistaken, there are some other cases where the word to profane is used in Scripture, that may not be so generally apprehended.

In the law of Moses we find this precept, Deuteronomy 20:6 "And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it." In the margin of the Bible the word is rendered, instead, of eaten, hath not made it common, that is, profaned it. And agreeably to this we find the general precept concerning the fruit of the vineyard, Leviticus 19:23-25 "And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof; I am the Lord your God." It should seem very evidently by these Scriptures, that things were considered uncircumcised and unclean in the first product of them; but after the time limited they were no longer unclean, but were now brought into common use, and were profane; that is, were to be considered fit for common use. So that the word profane means common. Hence the prophet Jeremiah was, commissioned to tell the people, that when the Lord returned again the captivity of his people, "they should yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria, and that the planters should plant and eat them as common things." In the margin of the Bible it is, shall profane them. (Jeremiah 31:4-5) The sense is, that they should enjoy them in common as privileged things.

Let us add one Scripture more in proof. Our blessed Lord, in the days of his flesh, walking through the cornfields, and his disciples eating of the ears of corn on the Sabbath-day, were reproved by the pharisees for it. The Lord made this answer: "Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?" (Matthew 12:5) Now it doth not appear from what we meet with in the law, that the priests did any thing particularly on the Sabbath-day of defilement; therefore the profaning Christ speaks of cannot mean what, in the common acceptation of the word, we should call profaneness. But if we interpret this expression of our Lord concerning profaning the temple by the analogy of Scripture, and not our ordinary sense of the word, it would follow that the priests were considered blameless in the temple in using the Lord's blessings, of what kind soever they were, to the Lord's glory, when the three years of their uncircumcised state had passed as appointed by the Lord. Then those things were, as the prophet Jeremiah had observed, to be eaten as common or profane things.

If these observations serve to throw a light on the Scriptural word profane, they also serve to give a clear apprehension of our Lord's meaning concerning the profaneness of the priests in the temple, and remaining blameless. In this sense the whole is clear; but without it there is a great difficulty in accepting the word profane in the ordinary way of somewhat that is defiled, and the priests defiling the temple, and yet being free from blame.

The sense of the name given to Esau is upon this ground plain and intelligible. He is called a profane person, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (Hebrews 12:16) The expression of profane person doth not simply mean a defiled person, for in this sense all the Jacobs of God are unclean and defiled as well as the Esaus; but the profaneness means, the low esteem which Esau had to the birthright of the promise in Christ, which he despised, and to shew his contempt of it sold it for a morsel of present food. He regarded not Christ.

Will the reader indulge me with humbly offering one thought more on this subject? We find by the law that the fruits of the trees in Canaan were prohibited for three years, and the reason given was, that they were uncircumcised; but that then in the fourth year, after a circumcision had taken place, all the fruit was declared holy unto the Lord; and the fifth year the fruits were deemed profane for use. I do not presume to speak decidedly upon the subject—I rather write humbly to enquire than to decide; but I would venture to ask, whether these things were not typical of the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation? When, by the three years of Christ's ministry and death, redemption-work was completed, and believers by the circumcision of the Spirit are brought into a state of regeneration and justification before God, all the fruits of the Spirit are like the plants upon Samaria; they shall then profane them as common things; they shall do as the priests did, and be blameless; they shall enter into the full enjoyment of them as common things. "To the pure all things are pure." What God hath cleansed we are commanded not to call common or unclean. (Titus 1:15; Acts 10:15)

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Profane'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

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