Blasphemy is a crime that aims at God, but does its chief harm to the one that fires it off.
So I compare it to a piece of imperfect firearms to which the marksman puts his eye, and, pulling the trigger, by the rebound finds himself in the dust.
I tell you a story, Oriental and marvellous. History speaks of the richest man in all the East. He had camels, oxen, asses, sheep, and what would make any man rich even if he had nothing else—seven sons and three daughters. It was the custom of this man’s children to have family reunions. One day he is at home, thinking of his darling children, who are keeping banquet at their elder brother’s house. Yonder comes a messenger in hot haste, evidently, from his looks, bearing evil tidings. Recovering himself sufficiently to speak, he says: “The oxen and the asses have been captured by a foraging party of Sabeans, and all the servants are butchered except myself.” Another messenger is coming. He says that the sheep and the shepherds have been struck by lightning. Another messenger is coming. He says that the Chaldeans have come and captured the camels, and killed all but himself. Another messenger, who says: “While thy sons and daughters were at the feast, a hurricane struck the corner of the tent, and they are all dead!” But his misfortunes are not yet completed. The old man is smitten with the elephantiasis, or black leprosy. Tumors from head to foot; face distorted; forehead ridged with offensive tubercles; eyelashes fall out; nostrils excoriated; voice destroyed; intolerable exhalation from the whole body; until, with none to dress his sores, he sits down in the ashes, with nothing but broken pieces of pottery to use in the surgery of his wounds. At this point, when he needed all consolation and encouragement, his wife comes to him, and says, virtually: “This is intolerable! Our property gone, our children slain, and now this loathsome, disgusting disease is upon you. Why don’t you swear? Curse God and die!”
But profanity would not have removed one tumor from his agonized body; would not have brought to his door one of the captured camels; would not have restored any one of the dead children. Swearing would have made the pain more unbearable, the pauperism into which he had plunged more distressing, the bereavement more excruciating.
And yet, from the swearing and blasphemy with which our land is cursed, one would think there were some great advantage to be reaped from the practice. There is to-day in all our land no more prevalent custom, and no more God-defying abomination, than profane swearing. You can hardly walk our streets five minutes without having your ears stung and your sensibilities shocked. The drayman swearing at his horse; the tinman at his solder; the sewing-girl imprecating her tangled thread; the bricklayer cursing at his trowel; the carpenter at his plane; the sailor at the tackling; the merchant at the customer; the customer at the