Well greetings to you all. Today we will continue looking in to George Whitefield’s treatment of Matt 5:34 specifically his message The heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing. Due to the nature of his writing style it will be necessary to break his sermon sometimes in an unusual place. Therefore, it may be necessary for you to go back and review prior installments to keep the flow of his thought in context. Here are the links to Pt 1 and Pt 2 if you need them. So please consider…
The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing - pt 3
Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."
But to return: It appears then from the whole tenor of our Savior's discourse, that in the words of the text he does by no means disannul or forbid swearing before a magistrate (which, as might easily be shown, is both lawful and necessary) but only profane swearing in common conversation; the heinousness and sinfulness of which I come now, more immediately to lay before you.
And here, not to mention that it is a direct breach of our blessed master's and great law-giver's command in the words of the text, as likewise of the third commandment, wherein God positively declares, "he will not hold him guiltless (that is, will assuredly punish him) that taketh his name in vain:" not to mention that it is the greatest abuse of that noble faculty of speech, whereby we are distinguished from the brute creation; or the great hazard the common swearer runs, of being perjured some time or other: not to mention those reasons against it, which of themselves would abundantly prove the folly and sinfulness of swearing: I shall at this time content myself with instancing four particulars, which highly aggravate the crime of profane swearing, and those are such as follow:
I. First, Because there is no temptation in nature to this sin, nor does the commission of it afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction.
II. Secondly, Because it is a sin which may be so often repeated.
III. Thirdly, Because it hardens infidels against the Christian religion, and must give great offense, and occasion much sorrow and concern to every true disciple of Jesus Christ.
IV. Fourthly, Because it is an extremity of sin, which can only be matched in hell.
I. The first reason then, why swearing in common conversation is so heinous in God's sight, and why we should not swear at all, is, because it has no temptation in nature, nor does the commission of it, unless a man be a devil incarnate, afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction.
Now here, I presume, we may lay it down as a maxim universally agreed on, that the guilt of any crime is increased or lessened in proportion to the weakness or strength of the temptation, by which a person is carried to the commission of it. It was this consideration that extenuated and diminished the guilt of Saul's taking upon him to offer sacrifice before the Prophet Samuel came; and of Uzza's touching the ark, because it was in danger of falling: as, on the contrary, what so highly aggravated the disobedience of our first parents, and of Lot's wife, was, because the former had so little reason to eat the forbidden fruit, and the latter so small a temptation to look back on Sodom.
And now if this be granted, surely the common swearer must of all sinners be the most without excuse, since there is no manner of temptation in nature to commission of his crime. In most of the other commands, persons, perhaps, may plead the force of natural inclination in excuse for the breach of them: one, for instance, may alledge his string propensity to anger, to excuse his breaking of the sixth; another, his proneness to lust, for his violation of the seventh. But surely the common swearer has nothing of this kind to urge in his behalf; for though he may have a natural inclination to this or that crime, yet no man, it is to be presumed, can say, he is born with a swearing constitution.
But further, As there is no temptation to it, so there is no pleasure or profit to be reaped from the commission of it. Ask the drunkard why he rises up early to follow strong drink, and he will tell you, because it affords his sensual appetite some kind of pleasure and gratification, though it be no higher than that of a brute. Inquire of the covetous worldling, why he defrauds and over-reaches his neighbor, and he has an answer ready; to enrich himself, and lay up goods for many years. But it must certainly puzzle the profane swearer himself, to inform you what pleasure he reaps from swearing: for alas! it is a fruitless tasteless thing that he sells his soul for. But indeed he does not sell it at all: in this case he prodigally gives it away (without repentance) to the devil; and parts with a blessed eternity, and runs into everlasting torment, merely for nothing.