"Hear the word of the Lord," do you say; "why what has the Lord to say to me? Certainly I do swear a bit, but what harm is there in that? I think nothing of it." Ah, that is just why we want you to hear the word of the Lord: we want you distinctly to understand what God thinks about it. God who hears every oath you utter. God says, "There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God, in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn."
You say there is no harm in it. God hears you, and says you are linked with the liar, the murderer, the thief, the adulterer. Is not every oath you utter a prayer, that you and your friends, perhaps your very wife and children, may be damned? Will it be nothing when those awful prayers are answered for ever? And how soon those prayers may be answered! It is just a week this day as we write these lines, since a youth had been invited to come and hear the glad tidings of salvation. He came and listened a little while. He went out: perhaps he thought, "Cannot a young fellow do as he likes?" He went to his work in a coal-pit: had an accident; was taken out insensible; in two hours he was dead. There he was; the writer saw him go out. We would not limit the grace of God. We know not what took place in that dark pit. Do you think he would have gone out from the preached word of God, if he had known that the sun had set for the last time on him? that in twenty hours he would have been in eternity?
Oh, swearer! is earnest constant prayer going out of thy lips for damnation; if thou knewest that in twenty hours thy prayers would be answered, would thou still swear — pray on? Says the devil to thee, "Just put that tract on the fire; all bosh, my friend, swear on." Well does Satan know that every oath is another link in the long chain of sin, by which he is dragging thee down, down to endless woe.
God may spare thee in mercy more than twenty hours. But if for twenty years, what is that compared with eternity? A woman was listening to the good news of God's forgiveness, to lost sinners, lately in Yorkshire. She became greatly alarmed about her soul. Two years after this, the same preacher was called to see a dying woman. She looked earnestly at him, and said, "Don't you remember me?" "No, I cannot say that I do," said the preacher. "Ah," she said, "two years ago I was listening to you preach the Gospel in the Mechanics' Hall. I became greatly alarmed about my soul. I felt I must decide at once for Christ, or go out of the Hall. I went out, and now I am dying; and it is so dark, so dark, so dark!" Never will that preacher forget that sight, or those words, "I am dying, and it is so dark!"
Oh! careless swearer, think of those words. "Shall be cast into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Yes, those are the words of Him that is the Truth; of Him who cannot lie. Sad words on a dying bed, "It is so dark!"
Is not swearing terrible even in this world? Linked with lying. Why does that young man swear? He knows his word is not to be relied on without a profane oath. poor vain youth, does he suppose that taking the holy name of God in vain, will lead any one to trust his word? James says to the Jews, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not at all, 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." Do you ask, "what condemnation?" The very same as the liar, the thief, the murderer, the adulterer. In God's description of the eternal state there are these words, and they are the last words that describe that state: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone." And in Hosea, the swearer is linked with these. Oh, sin-convicted swearer, or liar, murderer, or adulterer, there is yet mercy — mercy yet for thee. Still we can tell how:
"God, in mercy, sent His Son,
To a world by sin undone;
Jesus Christ was crucified,
'Twas for sinners Jesus died."
"He looketh upon men: and if any say I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not: He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." (Job. 33:27.) It is quite true that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But, reader; have you ever been brought before God saying, I have sinned, I have sinned against Thee? If not, may this now be thy state, and place, in thorough self-abhorrence, before God. He hath found a ransom: the confessing sinner shall not go down to the pit. God is righteous through the redeeming blood of the Lamb, His own spotless Son, in proclaiming a full, free, present, and everlasting forgiveness of sins to thee. "Be it known, therefore, that through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:, and by Him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
But oh! this day I beseech thee, beware of rejecting this message from God. "Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish."(See Acts 13:38-41.) Yes, "Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee." (Job 36:18.)
An infinite ransom had been given: through His death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins is preached. If thou despisest this great salvation; there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment. Yes, how soon you may be taken away with His stroke, and then no deliverance; no ray of hope. May God now speak peace to your awakened soul, through the blood of Jesus.
Do you say, This is very strange that God should proclaim forgiveness of all my sins, and wish me to know it. And really does God tell me that all that believe are justified from all things? This seems a very easy sort of salvation. Stay, my friend. Hearken to those words of Jesus, the Son of God: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:14.) There was no cure for the bitten Israelite, but a look at the brazen serpent lifted up. There is no salvation for you, but a look at Jesus lifted on the Cross.
Have you ever looked at Jesus crucified? See the Holy One lifted up between two thieves! Nothing short of this could atone for sin. He must be lifted up. He was wounded for our transgressions; bruised for our iniquities. He must be wounded. He must be bruised. He must bear our sins in His own body on the tree. Was this an easy sort of salvation for you? His blood must be shed or there could be no forgiveness for us. But, hark! the words of Jesus: "It is finished." God is glorified. God has raised Jesus from the dead. God so loved the world as to give His Son to die for us. The just for the unjust. Oh! poor swearer, God has borne long with thee. God has waited long for thee. Wilt thou still despise His great salvation? Wilt thou still reject the forgiveness of all thy sins? Wilt thou still go on taking His holy name in vain? Wilt thou still go on madly calling for damnation on thyself and all around? Be not deceived any longer. But, thou sayest, It is the fashion! Oh! yes, let us look at that for a moment. It is the present fashion, in the broad way that leadeth to destruction. Yes, a mark of a fast traveller down to hell. Great numbers of young men swear in the broad road. And wilt thou for fashion's sake go down to endless woe? It is written in the Word of God concerning the crowds on the broad road of rejection of Christ, in the last days, "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth." (2 Thess. 2:10-12.) Oh! wilt thou then longer despise the grace of God? May He bring thee, in repentance and confession of sins, to His feet, and there speak to thy soul, ere it be too late: "Thy sins are forgiven thee;" "Thy faith hath saved thee." "Go in peace!"
The reader of this little book may say, "I am not a swearer, or a profane person." May I ask then are you a saved person? Have you passed from death unto life? What does God think about you at this moment and for ever? Does He see you accepted in Christ? Have you redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins? If you have, that redemption is eternal, and God says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." What a wonderful thing, for a once lost sinner to have boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus! Do you believe God about that precious blood?